The human body is designed to heal itself. Given good nutrition, clean water and a healthy environment, that is generally what it will do. We often turn to treatments or medicines in an effort to hurry the process. When treating symptoms, we can either choose to palliate, suppress, or copy them.
The Low Down on Palliation
Palliation offers rapid relief of symptoms, even though it will not correct the underlying problem that caused them.
The term palliation, comes from a Greek word that means “to hide or disguise”. Palliation “hides” the symptoms, giving short-term relief from their unpleasantness. Palliation can be achieved by medicines, therapies, or treatments. For example: the pain of a twisted ankle can be temporarily relieved by an analgesic; sluggish bowels can be stimulated by senna or fruit; eczema can be reduced by cortisone; or chronically cold feet can be warmed with a bowl of hot water.
They offer a “quick fix” but the symptoms will return once the treatment has been stopped or the medicine wears off.
In acute ailments, the body is usually able to heal itself even when no treatment or medicine is given. The sprained ankle, for instance, will get better in time but an analgesic and anti-inflammatory such as Aspirin will palliate the pain in the process. With chronic ailments, palliation can bring short-term relief of symptoms but will not correct the underlying problem. The symptoms of the constipation, eczema, and cold feet, for example, though temporarily masked, will return as soon as the treatment has worn off.
The Facts of Suppression
Suppression is similar to palliation in that it provides symptom relief but never fixes the underlying problem. Suppression differs from palliation in that it completely stops the return of symptoms. These symptoms have not been eradicated, however. They have only been driven inward where, sadly, they will be exchanged for a new set of symptoms at a deeper level. Let me explain further.
In a strange way, when we are unwell, our symptoms keep us alive. They act as a vent, or a relief valve, for the pressure of the deeper energetic imbalance that is the true source of our ill-health. Without this vent, the imbalance would increase to the point where life would eventually be lost.
Forcible or frequent palliation of symptoms acts as a plug in this vent, stopping the symptoms of the imbalance from being dispersed. When this has been achieved, suppression takes place. Immediate symptoms are relieved but to the long-term detriment of health.
When an body is in a state of imbalance, the Vital Force always chooses to vent symptoms in the least harmful way possible such as through a superficial organ system like the skin. If stopped from doing this, it will seek out one of the deeper organs, such as a joint or lung, to use as a relief valve. In this way, a simple eczema appearing on the skin may change over days, months, or even years into asthma or arthritis if continually palliated or suppressed by a cortisone cream.
If the replacement symptoms of asthma or arthritis are again suppressed, more important organs such as the heart or brain will eventually be involved as the Vital Force further seeks to relieve the disturbance. In effect, the real disease (the imbalance) is driven inwards to reappear in a more serious form. (Cassie’s story of her indigestion during pregnancy is a good illustration of this phenomenon. It can be read at the end of this article.)
The person who is unwell often thinks they are getting better during the early stages of suppression. After all, the thing that was causing concern, the eczema, has gone. At this point, unless he or she and their prescribing physician fully understand how the body manages disease, the person will not recognise that they are really getting worse; that over time, their suppressed minor problems are being replaced by more serious ones. As new health problems emerge, the connection is not made with what went before. Suppression of the new problem will only lead to a further deterioration in health.
Suppression also damages and weakens our vitality. It actively works against what the Vital Force is trying to do. The strength of the Vital Force naturally declines with age but suppression will weaken it further. No longer able to maintain health, it will allow the development of chronic disease upon chronic disease as a final attempt to preserve life. For this reason, many of us end up on an increasing number of medicines, and with worsening health and quality of life as we age. It is time to “wise up” – life was not meant to end like this!
Please Just Copy the Symptoms and Give Me the Cure
The simple way to stop this process is to be wise about symptoms and work with our body rather than against it. Healing only ever comes from the body. The chemicals, treatments, and therapies we use only try to remove the obstacles to cure, or harness and stimulate the body’s innate self-healing ability. Symptoms have to be recognised as the by-product of an energetic struggle rather than the disease itself. They are sign-posts to cure, giving us vital information on how to help the body in its own healing efforts. Palliating or suppressing them only works against what it is trying to achieve.
The much smarter way to treat our health problems is with medicines or treatments that actually mimic the symptoms we want to remove. This is what Hahnemann discovered all those years ago and this is why the application of the Law of Similars, or like treating like, is still the bedrock of homeopathic practice. Working with the body in a “like treats like” approach and reinforcing its own efforts to correct the energetic imbalance is still the best way to restore health and vitality.
So, how are you managing your symptoms? Are you seeing them as positive signs of the body’s way of healing and choosing to support the body in that process – or have you decided to palliate or suppress them? The choice you make about this important issue will largely determine the quality of life you have in the future.
I am seven months pregnant. Recently, I had a lot of indigestion with loud burps, which seemed to be caused by rich fatty foods, especially icecream. To stop the pain I took a Panadol (Editor’s note: paracetamol) at night before going to bed. This allowed me to go to sleep but the indigestion returned the next day.
I bought some antacid tablets and took a dose before going to bed. The next day all of my symptoms got worse. They moved from simple indigestion, to loose bowels and exhaustion. I took antacid tablets for a couple of days more. They provided relief from the indigestion but I needed to take more and more of them as they seemed to become less and less effective. The indigestion would only go away for a short period of time.
After a week of worsening symptoms I looked up “pregnancy and indigestion” in my homeopathy self care book and chose Pulsatilla. At first all of my symptoms got worse. The indigestion burned for ten minutes and I had to run to the toilet, but then it all stopped and did not return.
I think I have cured myself!
Cassie’s story is a nice example of how her problem with indigestion was first palliated, then suppressed, and finally cured when she used a remedy that copied what her body was trying to do.
When Cassie’s indigestion first began, she did what we all try to do when we know no better – she took a tablet (paracetamol) to stop the pain so she could get some sleep. Paracetamol, however, is unable to produce the symptoms Cassie was experiencing and so, it was never in a position to truly cure them. It could only exert a chemical control over her body to stop it from feeling the pain for a short period of time. Her indigestion was palliated. Cassie slept well that night but the pain returned the next day so she took herself “off to the shops” for an antacid.
Again, Cassie was able to palliate her problem with the antacids to get a good night’s sleep but in the process she produced a state of suppression. Her indigestion was exchanged for the more serious and troubling symptoms of diarrhoea and exhaustion.
Interestingly, Cassie’s account shows that she has a strong vitality. Her Vital Force struggled against the suppression by still trying to relieve its imbalance through the safer symptom of indigestion – and it was winning until Cassie again tried to suppress her symptoms by stronger and more frequent doses of the antacid. Had she continued in this manner, one of two things would have happened. Either her indigestion would have been exchanged for a worse state of health as it was fully suppressed by the antacid or a different medicine, or, her Vital Force, if it was strong enough, would have continued to release the energetic imbalance through the symptom of indigestion – the antacids would have been ineffective.
Remember, Cassie’s unborn baby is also part of this unfolding drama – what is happening to Cassie on an energetic level is also happening to her baby. If Cassie’s indigestion is suppressed, her baby may be born with his or her own energetic imbalance to deal with. This is a common occurrence but, sadly, not usually recognised.
The minor and not so minor health problems of newborns and infants are usually just seen as part of life when in fact the truth may be very different. Fortunately, Cassie knew a little bit about homeopathy and “wised up” at this point of time. Using her home-use kit she matched her symptoms to the homeopathic remedy Pulsatilla, and decided to use it.
Pulsatilla, when tested in past trials on healthy people, produced among other things the symptom of indigestion following rich, fatty foods such as ice cream. Since then it has also been used extensively to cure indigestion with burping during pregnancy (when other Pulsatilla symptoms have been present). Obviously then, Pulsatilla clearly matched the symptoms Cassie was experiencing. Because of the Law of Similiars, or “like treats like” effect (i.e., what a substance can produce in the healthy it can also relieve in the unwell) Pulsatilla was able to match, smother, and replace the original energetic imbalance that was producing Cassie’s symptoms, after she took a dose. With the original energetic imbalance removed and replaced by a similar imbalance from the Pulsatilla, all that remained was for Cassie’s Vital Force to rebound strongly and restore health as the effects of the Pulsatilla wore off – and that is exactly what it did!
But why did Cassie’s symptoms intensify before they got better? The answer is that the dose of the remedy was a little too strong for what was needed. When an energetic remedy replaces the symptoms of an imbalance with those of its own, the effect is usually only experienced only on the energetic level and not on the physical – the person only notices that they are getting better. Occasionally, a person is sensitive enough to experience physically some of the replacement symptoms of the remedy before it leaves their body.
This is called a homeopathic aggravation or a “healing crisis” and this is exactly what happened to Cassie. It is a non-toxic effect, usually of “nuisance value” only, and a positive sign that the correct remedy has been chosen; improvement will soon follow. To prevent this happening should future doses of the remedy be needed, the person can take smaller doses in a more dilute form.
- Homeopathy: an Introduction
- Tutorial 1 – The Law of Similars
- Tutorial 2 – Law of Similars Discovered
- Tutorial 3 – Potentisation
- Tutorial 4 – Three Scales of Potency
- Tutorial 5 – Benefits of Potentisation
- Tutorial 6 – Provings
- Tutorial 7 – The Vital Force
- Tutorial 8 – Potentised Remedies and the Vital Force
- Tutorial 9 – Palliation, Supression or Cure?
- Tutorial 10 – Direction of Cure
- Tutorial 11 – Return of Old Symptoms
- Tutorial 12 – Homeopathy and Other Medicinal Therapies
- Tutorial 13 – Finding a Good Homeopath
- Tutorial 14 – That First Appointment
- Tutorial 15 – What to Expect (Part A)
- Tutorial 16 – What to Expect (Part B)
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