Why we get ill


It’s probably true to say that more than anyone Dr. Candace Pert has influenced my ideas about what it means to be healthy. Her idea is that every system of the body communicates with all other systems, and all the systems work together symbiotically to make a fully-functioning whole. None of this could work if there wasn’t constant communication throughout the whole body.

Dr. Pert doesn’t only mean the physiological body systems, that’s old news. Under her paradigm, the emotions and thoughts – and even, whisper it, the soul – are all linked. She’s the one who discovered the emotion receptors and molecules that make sense of how our our emotions can sometimes take over the show. Here’s a quote from her website now:

“Each cell in our body is constantly vibrating, often in several different shapes, and our receptors vibrate as well. It’s a dance that’s constantly taking place in our bodies, and very cell is talking to every other cell in a rhythmic, ongoing way. In fact, the frequencies of your cells are even in sync with the audible sounds around you, which is why music and words can be very healing. Every cell is a mirror. One great way of feeling good is to eliminate the excess static in your life, and the antidote of negativity in our lives is positive affirmations. Research has shown that neurons are strengthened by repeated phrases and empowering words.”

(For more on affirmations, read my blog post here.)

It’s the communication between the myriad systems that keeps the whole operation running. By extension, if you are not happy, you get ill.

In a holistic view of the body, microbes and viruses exist within us at all times. In fact, it would be kind of weird if they didn’t, as microbes and viruses have been around for a whole lot longer than humans. It’s also true to say that our body couldn’t function without legions – possibly up to 100 trillions – of microscopic organisms doing their thang in our lower intestines:

“Several diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, colorectal cancer, obesity, type II diabetes, Crohn’s disease and others are significantly associated with a reduction in gut microbial diversity,” 

explains research from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. (Source: News Track India)

So how is it that when someone sneezes on us we catch a cold?

The fact is that we are constantly absorbing viruses and bacteria, but because we have excellent self-defence systems we don’t get ill. According to a holistic view of health, trouble begins when we are:

  • tired – short-term
  • stressed – long term
  • hungry
  • thirsty
  • cold 
  • sleep deprived
  • in need of loving, close relationships with family, friends or lovers
  • surviving on poor quality food: processed, over-sweet, -fatty or -salty

Then the body needs us to rest, and as a consequence we become ill, perhaps with a cold or flu, so that we are forced to lie down and pay attention to our body. If we don’t heed the call, and we consistently run on empty, forgo breaks and regular, nutritious meals, we might get a stomach ulcer or an auto-immune disease. This is a clarion call to you to take rest urgently. 

For example, and at the risk of coming over as totally obsessed at how intestines work, (see my blog post on How I Beat Crohn’s Disease), in the case of stomach ulcers brought on by over-work, if care is not taken to lessen stress and improve self-care, the virus that causes the stomach ulcers can develop into stomach cancer. The Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) virus is present in 80% of people but only 10% of the population ever develops ulcers (source: good old Wikipedia). New research mentioned on the National Geographic website shows that the Heliobacter is in fact necessary to our overall health and lacking it may lead to auto-immune diseases such as asthma – possible cause: too many antibiotics. Why do we take antibiotics? Because we are unwell, from a cold or flu. 


Of course, this is a massive generalisation, but like all blanket statements, quite a lot of it is true. So, then, take the time to unwind, relax, laugh, and do whatever it is that makes you feel good, eat a meal with friends, make time for running – feeling happy boosts your whole well-being – body, emotions, mind and soul. It’s pointless having expensive health insurance if you don’t take care of your whole body in the first place. 

Avoiding stress is also key: a new study from the University of British Columbia has found that the more you check your e-mails, the more stressed you are:

“People find it difficult to resist the temptation of checking email, and yet resisting this temptation reduces their stress” (source: Siasat)

I’m guessing taking time out from Facebook falls into that category too. 

Do you know someone who is burning the candle at both ends? Do you yourself constantly feel guilty about how you are running your body down? Or do you spend a few moments every day just experiencing your body and giving thanks for the incredible work it does for you every moment of every day and night? If you are one of those people who knows they need to spend more time doing meditation, but just can’t face the whole idea of it, read my post here.

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