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What is the Value of a Symptom?

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A symptom can be defined as “something that indicates the existence of something else, especially of an undesirable situation.”  For example, if your car suddenly has a flat tire, this is a symptom of that tire not having enough air in it to function.

The medical definition of a symptom is “a noticeable change in the body or its functions that indicate the presence of a disease or other disorder.”  For example, if you experience heartburn or gastric reflux, this is a symptom of your stomach not being able to digest or break down food properly.

Simply put, a symptom is a very helpful tool in identifying dysfunction of some sort and allows us to determine what is needed to correct the dysfunction. Where our body is concerned, a symptom is a valuable message that signals “we have trouble and need help or support.”

If your tire is suddenly flat, what the tire needs is to have the correct amount of air added  or repair the source of air leaking, right?  We wouldn’t continue to drive down the highway knowing that a tire is flat and needs air, hoping that the symptom will stop.  Our car will no longer be able to move at some point if we do not repair the flat tire.

What Symptoms Tell You About Chronic Illness

Interestingly, when our body experiences heartburn or gastric reflux, what it needs is to find the source of the indigestion.  Is it an infection? Is it a food allergy or sensitivity causing inflammation of the stomach lining and esophagus?  Unfortunately, we do not first try to identify the cause of the symptom, give the system rest, and correct the dysfunction.  Instead, we have been programmed in this country to immediately look for a way to turn the symptom off or stop it.  The result of this approach actually puts up a roadblock for our body to do its work in digestion and healing itself.  To stop the symptom of reflux or indigestion, most drugs’ main action is to stop acid production in the stomach.  These are called proton-pump inhibitors or PPIs.

Our digestive system is actually a very tightly regulated system where stomach acid is produced by cells in our gastric (stomach) glands.  This acid plays a key role in digestion of proteins by activating digestive enzymes.  The cells in the lining of the stomach are coupled in an amazing feedback system to increase acid production when needed.  Other cells in the stomach produce bicarbonate, a base, to buffer the fluid, ensuring that it does not become too acidic.  These cells produce mucus, which forms a viscous physical barrier to prevent gastric acid from damaging the stomach.  This system keeps the pH of our gastric acid at 1.5 to 3.5, which is essential for digestion.  Our proton pump is what regulates and keeps this acidity maintained.  Interfering with or turning off this pump’s action causes a cascade of miscommunication in our body’s natural process.  It does not actually correct or “fix” the problem!  The problem is what is creating the excess acid production, not the actual acid.

The excess acid our stomach produces is actually protecting itself and sending signals to other organ systems to “help out.”

In my Flowtrition practice, we teach clients that the value of a symptom is priceless.  This is an opportunity to actually listen to our body, evaluate the current condition, then determine what is needed to support the body’s immune system in its work of repairing and healing.

A fever can be a symptom of our body fighting a bacterial or viral infection.  This is evidence of the immune system working overtime to protect from the intruders (virus or bacteria).  To turn this system off is much like knowing you are being robbed and turning off your security system and turning out all of the lights!  Instead of shutting off the fever, what most bodies need is extra support in the form of increased fluids and rest to prevent dehydration and to allow the body ample energy stores to continue to fight off the infection.

Pain can be a symptom of multiple disorders and have multiple origins, but it is basically a message stating “I am stressed or strained and having difficulty functioning.”  This is certainly not a message we want to turn off!  If some part of our body was having difficulty functioning, therefore causing pain, wouldn’t it make sense to stop using this area as it is in danger of breaking or giving out?  Or at the very least, wouldn’t this cause us to take a break, evaluate the body’s situation and determine what is needed to support the immune system in its efforts to repair and heal?

Unlike a car, our body will still continue to move or run if a dysfunction is not corrected right away (in most instances, that is).  The human body is such an amazing self-regulating system that it has the ability to continue operating even with multiple systems having dysfunction.  Our body instinctively knows how to handle inflammation or trauma and redirects energy where it is needed the most to keep functioning.  That is, for a period of time of course.  Eventually, as other organ systems have to work harder to make up for the dysfunction of another system, the body begins to have breakdown.  This breakdown can come in the form of diseases and disorders such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, GERD, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, just to name a few.

Flowtrition is an approach to encourage total body wellness by dropping tension throughout the body and increasing awareness within the nervous system (central control). The more perceptive the nervous system is, the more a person can be aware of what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how it can be influencing their life.  We encourage clients to look at a symptom in an entirely different way. Not as something that is “good” or “bad” or something we want to turn off, but as something we want to take note of and honor the message our body is sending us.

This is not a symptom-based approach and is not about “fixing” or “correcting” anything in particular, such as back or neck pain.  Flowtrition is about allowing a body to change or drop tension from within by creating clear communication via our central nervous system.

Everything that we experience is communicated to us through the nervous system.

Sometimes we are holding a pattern of tension (which can create symptoms such as pain, tenderness, fear, anxiety, etc.) due to an emotional or physical trauma from long ago.  Even though the event or trauma is over and we are safe and have moved on, the body may be responding or protecting as if it is still occurring.  This reaction can be a result of the nervous system being profoundly affected.  These patterns of tension can be seen in disorders such as PTSD, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression and anxiety.

Flowtrition gives the nervous system the opportunity to change, which is extremely beneficial to the body on a physical and emotional level.  Allowing this change from within is much more empowering for a body than trying to force something to change when the body is not ready.

We must learn to listen carefully to our body’s messages — symptoms — without judgment and see the perfection of our system.  If we provide support when and where it is needed, we will once again learn to trust in the body’s own intelligence and ability to heal.

“The body cannot begin to heal while in a constant state of tension.”
~ Lisa Adams ~
This article was first published on ProHealth.com on March 9, 2017 and was updated on October 15, 2020.

Lisa Adams is a Certified Flowtrition Practitioner, nurse, and health and wellness educator who has combined over 24 years of experience as a registered nurse with training in Flowtriton as well as therapeutic massage and bodywork to provide her clients with the most comprehensive and holistic approach to preventive healthcare.  Lisa believes that wellness starts from within and that if we have trust in our body’s ability to heal as it is designed, amazing things happen.  She also believes that optimal health is achieved in a multi-system approach that includes body, mind and spirit.  Lisa’s passion to increase awareness in individuals about they way their body functions.  This is essential to making changes.

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