Inflammations and Infections: Their Importance In Childhood

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By: Philip Incao, M.D.

All common childhood ill­nesses are inflammations. "Infection" is the wrong word for them because it suggests that we get sick from germs which invade us. This is misleading. We are always exposed to and often har­bor germs, yet we only occasionally get sick. Why do we get sick when we do?

In order to be healthy we must keep an inner balance in body and soul while all the time growing and changing from birth to death. Child­hood is a time of most rapid growth and dramatic change, and the body is remodeled and renewed many times as children grow. Every re­modeling job requires some demoli­tion—a breaking down of part of the inherited bodily structure in order to rebuild it better.

This breaking down of old cells and tissues results in debris which must be cleaned up before the body rebuilds itself. It is the immune sys­tem which does the breaking down by creating fever and inflammation to destroy and digest foreign or out­worn bodily material. And it is the immune system which cleans up the digested material and debris by push­ing them out of the body. That is why children so often have skin rashes and discharges of mucus or pus, because their immune systems are ac­tively working. Debris that remains in the body may act like a poison, or may cause allergies or repeated in­flammations later on. Germs do not "attack" us, but they often multiply wherever the body's living substance is dying, breaking down and being discharged. Germs don't cause ill­nesses; they feed on them.

Every childhood inflammation, every cold, sore throat, earache, fe­ver and rash is a healing crisis and cleansing process; a strong effort by the child's spirit to remodel the body so it can be a more suitable dwell­ing. Anthroposophic and homeo­pathic remedies help and promote this cleansing process and help the illness to work its way out of the body for healing to occur. Antibiot­ics, aspirin, Tylenol and other anti-inflammatory drugs cool down and suppress the "fire" of the immune system so that the symptoms subside before the illness has fully worked its way out of the body.

It rarely happens in healthy people that the inflammatory re­sponse of the immune system may get out of control. In such cases an antibiotic is indicated. Although an antibiotic may be life-saving, it never heals an inflammation — it only sup­presses it. The causes of the inflam­mation must still be healed after the antibiotic treatment, otherwise the immune system may remain weak­ened.

There are three time-honored methods of healing inflammatory ill­nesses that every folk medicine throughout the world recognizes. They are fasting, purging and sweat­ing. From a physical-chemical view­point these three processes are ways that our body detoxifies, discharging the poisons that rapidly accumulate in an inflammation. From the view­point of spirit — or "energy" — fast­ing, purging and sweating are ways that the body externalizes the fire that has been working intensively within.

"Every remodeling job requires some demolition—a breaking down of part of the inherited bodily structure in order to rebuild it better."

In the alternating rhythms of chilling and sweating, contracting and expanding, internalizing and ex­ternalizing, an inflammation gradu­ally burns its way out of the child, leaving behind a weak but renewed body. As the body heals and strengthens during convalescence, we can usually observe with wonder and gratitude how the soul seems to shine through it with a greater light than before. This is the higher pur­pose and meaning of children's in­flammatory illnesses — to make their body a more transparent vessel for their spirit and soul.

Since 1973, Philip Incao, M.D., has built a busy general practice of anthroposophical medicine.



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