When I was in medical school, I spent my summers working for a stonemason. By the end of each summer I had thick, grizzly calluses on my hands. The cause was clear: continual irritation to the area led the body to adapt by thickening the skin in order to prevent repetitive damage. Calluses did not attack me and they did not occur over night.
Chronic diseases occur in the same way. They are the result of the body’s own adaptive physiology straining to react to a continual stress over time. Dis-ease is a state of not being at ease or balance. Chronic dis-eases, such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune conditions, etc. do not occur over night, but are a process of time. The effects accumulate and eventually cause symptoms.
We then have the option to palliate or heal. Palliation is taking something for a symptom to stop the symptom. The person feels better, but the reason why they got the symptom and what they were straining against has not been addressed. The symptom is merely the body’s way of sending a warning signal that there is a problem, much like the check engine light in the car. But the symptom is not the problem. Putting a piece of duct tape over the warning light does not fix the underlying problem beneath the hood. For example, a person is fatigued and a lab test shows they have hypothyroid (low thyroid hormones). If replacement thyroid hormones are given as the treatment the person will have increased energy and feel better, but the reason why the thyroid was not producing enough hormones has not been resolved. This is palliation. Natural therapies and treatments can be just as palliative as prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
True healing occurs when this deeper source has been identified and addressed, after which no therapies are required, the symptoms do not return, and worsening conditions do not develop. To determine if healing has occurred, there needs to be markers other than just the person’s symptoms. The overall health of the person needs to be evaluated, and thus health needs to be defined in universal terms. A healthy person has a sense of balance, purpose, creativity, connection, freedom, strength, and energy in life. The healthy person is not just symptom free.
It is essential to distinguish between palliative treatments verses healing treatments because continual palliation leads to suppression. With suppression the problem is driven deeper in the body. The body will eventually send a more alarming signal (symptom) as it continues to strain against the deeper initial problem. The fatigue/hypothyroid symptom is replaced by ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, or some other severe symptom.
There is nothing wrong with palliation, as long as the cause of the problem is pursued while palliating. Identifying and resolving the cause of chronic dis-eases may take months or years as it often began much earlier in life and has been continually progressing. The body does have the inherent ability to heal itself when The Source of irritation and obstacles are removed. My calluses resolved when I left the mattock and basalt slabs for the clinic. Years of chronic dis-ease will take longer to heal than calluses, but the end result is much better than suppression.
Dr. Lou Walters is a licensed naturopathic physician in the state of Montana practicing at The Source Wellness Center. He earned his doctorate degree at the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM), where he graduated summa cum laude. Dr. Walters is certified in homeopathy from the New England School of Homeopathy and Applied Kinesiology from the International College of Applied Kinesiology. Dr. Walters works with pediatrics and adults to restore and optimize health and prevent diseases. He focuses on treating the individual person not the disease name.