Non-Suppressive Pediatrics

The practice of medicine took an interesting turn in the United States roughly a century ago. The net result of that turn is that the majority of interventions are suppressive in nature. This is particularly true in the field of pediatric care.

Symptoms and illness are not always a bad thing. In fact, more often than not they are evidence that the body is doing what it has been programmed to do. Whether that design came as a result of eons of evolutionary magic or at the hand of Providence or perhaps a little of both, the complex systems which constrain to homeostasis are a marvel to behold.

The immune and nervous systems play a particularly important role in maintaining the balance we know as health. Childhood, from a health perspective, is the time in which a future adult’s body grows accustomed to the xenobiotics present in the natural and man-made environment. The immune and nervous systems develop, grow and mature through exposure and many of the symptoms confused with illness are nothing more than the body working with the tools at its disposal to cleanse itself (nasal discharge, fever, etc.) and restore balance.

You may have heard a grandparent encourage to you let your children play in the dirt and not to worry too much about washing their hands afterward and there is plenty of scientific evidence which shows that such an approach does in fact promote health. But wait! Before you click off of my blog and wash your hands with anti-bacterial hand soap, read on. It gets better.

Your body is a remarkable collection of cells, but possibly more importantly, an impressive assemblage of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and archaea. You may have thought of your body as being primarily cellular, but microbiologists will tell you that there are at least ten times as many bacteria than cells in your body.

It is estimated that there are 500 to 1,000 species of bacteria living in the human gut and approximately the same number living on human skin. This microbiota performs millions of functions in your body, including supporting your immune and nervous systems in their tireless and life-promoting work.

So here’s the rub. We now live in a society where parents are trained to run to the doctor, to the drug stores as soon as symptoms appear in their children. Since the industrial revolution we’ve seen downtime as the nemesis of productive living and as a result we’ve grown to favor hard-hitting, fast-acting suppressive interventions over letting the body restore balance through its inherent and intelligent design.

Unfortunately, bypassing the body’s systems for dealing with imbalances can produce unwanted side-effects. Give a child acetaminophin to reduce a fever, and the body, which was using the fever to burn off xenobiotic that it could not handle using less drastic measures, has to resort to another strategy to handle the invader. Plan B is never as elegant, efficient or safe as Plan A, and it is precisely on this basis that acute illness is transformed, over time, into chronic disease. The body in its almost infinite wisdom effectively buries the problem, as bees coat contaminants in the hive that they are unable to remove with propolis. Unfortunately, to do so is always a compromise that invariably leads to health complications later on.

Many of the symptoms that we’ve have come to see as “bad” are really just evidence that the body is healthy and functioning as it should. Health does not mean the absence of symptoms, especially given the fact that we live in an increasingly toxic world. Don’t get me wrong, modern medicine has its place, but I have to wonder if we as a society have let it evolve into a system that favors disease management over health care.

My company, Energetix Corporation, is doing a lot of interesting work in relation to non-suppressive pediatrics and adult care. If you’d like to learn more, please call us for a referral to a health care practitioner near you who is trained in this type of approach.

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12 Responses to Non-Suppressive Pediatrics

  1. Ricardo B. says:

    Thanks for highlighting this to your readers. As part of the growing body of healthcare providers working in the field of preventive medicine, I have learned firsthand the importance of taking care and grooming, if you will, this microbiota that you speak of. Without the over 100 trillion different microorganism that live with us in synbiosis, our bodies could not live one single day – they cover everything from the digestion of our meals and the detoxification of harmful pollutants to the marshalling of our immune defenses and the arrest of rogue cancer cells. They have over 300 times the genetic expressive capabilities of our own native cells. Clearly, nature intended life to function in such close coordinated company.
    The future of our own well-being lies in how well we will respect this inherent design. Nature will always triumph in the end, and with new legions of harmful microorganisms spawning from a fundamental misunderstanding of how our bodies work (think the reality and implications of antibiotic resistance as reported recently in the news), our very lives are at stake in future generations; at the very least, for you and I, all of us, it impacts the quality of our lives and how effectively we live today and how we age.
    Life is meant to be lived vigorously and there are very specific requirements that need fulfillment for this to be the case; it’s not even as much as one may think really. I certainly am one who passionately supports the notion of preventive medicine for needless suffering and pain and all that goes with that (great personal and national financial burdens) can certainly be a different story were we all to adopt a more holistic view and respect nature’s ways.

  2. Kimberly says:

    We treat any type of illness today as a monumental inconvenience. The worst part of being sick is the feeling that precious time is being wasted, we have to put our plans on hold or change them completely. I’ve never thought of not suppressing my symptoms in favor of carrying on. I have many friends that use home made remedies for colds etc. Interesting post!

  3. MMc says:

    This makes sense. The body is just trying to do it’s job. I guess as a parent the balance has to be found in when you should suppress or support the bodies efforts. I read about our modern plagues like ADD, ADHD, autism etc and I still suspect many of the suppressing efforts of the last 75 years or so. The drug companies have become too big to challange. Glad to see some pediatricians looking for other answers. Thanks for the info.

  4. James says:

    Thanks, Gregg, for mentioning this critical topic!

    Looking forward to seeing how effectively this message can be spread. It is obviously a delicate balance and it takes a lot of faith in the healing power of the body to know when is and when isn’t an opportune time to take action in any particular situation.

    But I think if we all took time to understand the subtle forces at play, it would open us up to the almost infinite capacity the body has to heal.

    • Gregg Hake says:

      Faith in the process must be balanced by a sensitivity to knowing when a more aggressive approach is required for this approach to work. I think it is clear, though, that swatting at a fly with a baseball bat is not safe or effective in the long run.

  5. Brad says:

    The body really is an amazing creation. All we need to do is give it the tools it needs to do the job it already knows how to do.
    Thank you for bringing this topic to light – as a parent it’s a great reminder to hold steady with a sick child. Freakin’ out and running to the doctor doesn’t necessarily help the situation.

  6. David R says:

    This is so well summarized, and a vital area for everyone to understand. There is a new era of medicine coming, and I’m always grateful for those who have the courage and resourcefulness to follow the leads and discover approaches more akin to the natural state of things.

    As awful as it may be to say, we as a race have a tradition of sacrificing our children in many ways, and often with the best of intentions. Looking at that may be painful, but it is a necessary first step to a more enlightened order.

  7. So many times we think of the most complicated solutions when the simplicity of the intelligence of the body will serve us the best. I have had the honor of being a part of the simplicity and power of the body’s healing process for a long time in my practice. Long enough to see that working with the body’s healing template and assisting the body to overcome obstacles to healing leaves us as individuals in a much better place than invasive and suppressive therapies. Things that are true are often quite simple.

  8. Colin says:

    There are so many things that we are doing to our environment (be it internal or external to ourselves) that are more about forcing a situation to work in a way we see is the best rather than allowing that situation to be resolved with as little force as possible. We think we know best about medicine, but in reality while we know more about certain medical approaches than we did, most of how the human body really works is still a mystery to us.
    It seems to me that in every age, we look at the past and say “how were they so unwilling to even comprehend the idea that they might be wrong or have incomplete information?” As well as being unwilling to look at a different perspective, the person who had the different perspective that turned out to be true was sometimes vilified as well!
    Let’s not make the same mistake we did in the past. While we do know more about medicine than we did, let’s not pretend that we have anything close to a complete picture. Following that logic, it is prudent to make sure that the changes we are making are the ones we really want to make, and that unintended consequences are not so severe that we are unable to recover from them.

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