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Nobody likes to be sick. Most mums hate their kid being sick even more! It can be so scary to see our little ones looking so vulnerable, even minor symptoms can get turned into major meltdowns in our minds…
Yet I come from a natural health background. I have a slightly different take on disease than many other people I know, so much so that I see many illnesses as good and helpful (even as my mind, too, can go into overdrive – I need to work to keep it in check, sometimes). And amidst it all, I always remember that Rudolf Steiner believed that childhood illnesses – if completely expressed (not repressed) – actually have a cleansing effect on the body which in turn liberates the mind. What he observed was that following a bout of illness, especially one which includes a fever, a child often experiences a developmental leap.
Now, the theory that illnesses can actually be good for us – that they are an outward sign of the body’s activation of an ’emergency cleaning protocol’, when the congestion/pollution get to overwhelming levels – is not exclusive to Steiner by any means. All naturopaths and homeopaths hold some version of this vision of health and disease. This school of thought holds that the body is always acting in our highest interest and doing its utmost to return to balance using the means it has at its disposal (including excretion through skin, lungs or colon and through fever). In this way of looking at health, it is our responsibility as stewards of our own bodies to nourish, trust and support our body in its every effort to keep us healthy – including through acute illnesses, such as those commonly experienced in childhood like measles, chickenpox and the like. Steiner’s take is interesting because he adds this childhood-developmental-leap twist. Could it be that diseases, when ex-pressed fully (that is, when all the morbidity, toxicity and waste of the body are expelled through the skin as rashes, through the bowels, through mucous, etc. with none of the symptoms being suppressed) are helping to keep not only the body but also the mind tip-top, ‘clean’ and functioning to its highest potential?
Let’s be careful here, I am not saying ‘don’t treat illness’ or anything of the sort but we can treat it in different ways. If we chose to approach imbalance by supporting the body to mobilise its defenses and handle it itself, the body responds in a different way. You can, for example, chose to build the body’s defenses, help clear elimination pathways and eat only simple, natural foods and herbs that help the healing process – as opposed to just suppressing (admitedly scary) symptoms without concern for the impact on the rest of the body in the short and long term. What I realise is that when you help the body do its work it, in turn, repays you…
The question is, now that you have heard this about illness and fevers clearing the way for developmental leaps, will you see it? I heard this theory of Steiner’s years ago and have been looking out to see if it did or did not hold true with the children I know. So far, I have got to say, I so often see a child bounding back from an illness (one that has been completely resolved, that is) with renewed energy and even with mastery over new skills – as if they had just had a month’s rest followed by a breakthrough :) With an open mind, I ask: could it be?
And now I have the chance to witness it it with my own child. This week we have all been sick. I got the stomach bug first, followed by Nica, then NinjaDad. We all got different manifestations of it. It was not fun. But yesterday, as the fever passed, along with the other symptoms, Nica was talking up a storm, with crazy-long sentences, and even her imaginative play seemed to kick-up to a whole new level with a visit to the ‘store’ followed by a ‘picnic’ in our living room. My curiosity remains peeked. What about yours?
What has been your experience? All fear aside, once the disease (the emotional bit for us mums) is resolved naturally, without use of antibiotics or other suppressive medicines, did you see a cognitive or developmental leap occur with your child? This is purely anecdotal, of course, but stay tuned and come share your experiences…
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Disclaimer: the above represents my personal views and should not replace the advice of a qualified medical practioner. If your child is or becomes ill please take care and consult with their pediatrician, immediately.
Take Good Care of Your Body – Louise L. Hay – Heal Your Life.