Inflammation and Infection

boy-694763__180By Philip Incao, MD
Winter 1996, The Childhood - Issue #6


"All common childhood illnesses are inflammations." A 11 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 out worn 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, be cause 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 inllammabon_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"_fasti ng, purging and sweating are ways that the body externalizes the fire that has been working intensively within.

In the alternating rhythms of chilling and sweating, contracting and expanding, internalizing and externalizing, an inflammation gradu ally 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 in Harlemville, NY, and has served as th Medical Director of Camphill Village in Copake, NY Having now passed this work on to Dr. Steven Johnson, Dr. Incao will move to Denver, CO, i September 1996, to begin with coworkers a new practice located one block away from the Denver Waldorf School. His new practice will be called Steiner Medical Associates of Denver.