Why Your Body Knows Best

Your body is beautifully designed and built to last. It can withstand a wide range of pressures and cope with an enormous number of environmental hazards.

Even when you are ill or in danger your body can help you get well again.

So, learn to understand your body and learn to appreciate your own self-healing skills.

When you fall ill you do not necessarily need to have anything done to you. Your body is equipped with such an enormous range of subtle and sophisticated feedback mechanisms that it can look after itself very well.

Your body contains internal mechanisms designed to enable you to deal automatically with minor damage, cope with pain, improve your eyesight, keep out the cold and stay slim forever.

If you cut yourself you expect the blood to clot and the wound to heal. It doesn't seem like anything special or particularly complicated. In practice, however, the blood clotting mechanism that you take for granted is part of a magnificently sophisticated defence system.

If you go out for the evening and drink several pints of fluid then your kidneys will get rid of the excess. On the other hand if you spend a hot day hiking and you drink very little then your kidneys will reduce your fluid output. While they are regulating the fluid flow, your kidneys will also ensure that the salts, electrolytes and other chemicals in your body are kept balanced.

If you have been drinking in a pub and you have eaten too many salted peanuts your body will balance your intake of fluid and salt against your body's needs for these two ingredients.

There are mechanisms which are designed to keep your internal temperature stable. Sit in the sun and your skin will go pink as more fluid flows through the surface vessels of your body. This increase in superficial blood flow will enable your body to get rid of heat simply because the blood will lose heat to the surrounding air. You will sweat too, as your body cunningly uses the fact that when water evaporates heat is lost.

Should a speck of dust find its way into one of your eyes tears will flood out in an attempt to wash the irritant away. The tears contain a special bactericidal substance designed to kill off any infection. Your eyelids will temporarily go into spasm to protect your eyes from further damage.

When you have a fever, the rise in tissue temperature is probably a result of your body trying to help you cope more effectively with any infection that may be present. The temperature rise improves the capacity of your body's defence mechanisms while at the same time threatening the existence of the invading organisms.

Your body's powers are truly extensive and amazing.

Researchers have shown that the human brain contains a natural drug designed to help anxiety, that pain thresholds and pain tolerance levels increase quite naturally during the final days of pregnancy, that breast milk contains a substance designed to tell a baby when he has had enough to eat, and that during the years when a woman is fertile the walls of her vagina produce a special chemical designed to reduce the risk of any local infection developing. Do a lot of kneeling on a hard surface and your knee caps will acquire a soft, squashy, protective swelling. Eat something infected and you will vomit. Get something stuck in your windpipe and you will cough it up. Spend a lot of time in the sun and special pigmented cells will migrate to the surface of your skin to provide you with a layer of protection against the sun's rays.

Your body cannot always cope, of course.

There will be times when even your sophisticated self-healing mechanisms will be overwhelmed and will need support.

But to dismiss these internal healing mechanisms on the grounds that they don't provide a complete answer to all health problems is like arguing that it isn't worthwhile learning to swim because occasionally you may need the help of a lifeguard.

I firmly believe that if you learn to use the power of your own body you will benefit in two main ways.

First, of course, you will reduce the risk of being injured by a health care professional. Every year thousands of people suffer because of treatments used by orthodox and alternative practitioners.

Second, you will benefit because when an interventionist treats an illness he usually tries to oppose your body's own internal responses, as well as whatever outside agent may have triggered those responses in the first place. This isn't necessarily a good idea. All symptoms are merely signs that a fight is taking place inside your body. Unless the interventionist treatment is carefully designed to support and aid the fight, the treatment applied may well end up damaging and even weakening your body's internal mechanisms - eventually making you more vulnerable and more reliant on interventionists and their treatments.

Try to be aware of your body's recuperative powers. Learn to use those powers and learn to recognise precisely when you need professional support. Retain overall control of your body and bring in the healers as advisers and technicians.

There are, of course, times when you will need outside help. You mustn't avoid asking for medical help and if you are in doubt about whether or not you need the professionals you should err on the side of caution. But even when you need a doctor, remember that your body's healing mechanisms can help speed your recovery.

Once you have mastered the idea of using your body's own healing powers you will find yourself enjoying a freedom that you might otherwise never know.

Remember: your body knows best.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2003