Body, heal thyself

Today doctors and other health care professionals are responsible for a horrifying amount of illness. They admit that when a patient has to be admitted to hospital there is a one in ten chance that he needs help because he has been made ill by a doc

The real sadness is that many of the people who are injured by doctors never needed medical treatment in the first place. They went to see a doctor because they had been taught that when they were sick they always needed to ask for professional advice. They didn't know just how often they could manage without outside interference.

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 can heal itself, protect itself and guard itself against a thousand different types of threat. 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, stay slim forever, deal with anxiety and even fight against diseases as threatening as cancer.

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, and also ensure that the salts, electrolytes and other chemicals in your body are kept balanced.

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'll 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.

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.

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.

There will be times when even this sophisticated self healing mechanism will be overwhelmed and will need support. Try to be aware of your body's recuperative powers. Learn to use those powers and learn to recognize when you need professional support. And when you do, be sure to retain overall control of your body and bring in the healers only as advisers and technicians.

Your body knows best. Learn to listen to it.

!ADr Vernon Coleman

Excerpted with permission from Dr Coleman's book Toxic Stress and the Twentieth Century Blues (Chilton Designs Publishers, Preston House, Kentisbury, Barnstaple, Devon EX31 4NH, £10.95)