Aug 8, 2017

An important health lesson to learn from animals

 A couple of weeks back, my pet cat sprained her ankle and was limping badly. It was hard to see her suffer and we wanted to take her to the vet. But we also felt that she would be more traumatised by the trip to the doctor. So we decided to wait it out for a day and then decide if we should take her to the vet or not.

The first day, she curled up under the bed for the most part. She neither ate a single bite of her cat food nor sipped her milk. There were absolutely no meows either. I was worried and I tried talking to her but she didn’t respond though she was looking at me intently. Then around 3PM, she slowly limped and came to the balcony where the sun was shining brightly. She somehow managed to jump onto the swing and relaxed under the sunshine. By evening, she was able to move around a little more easily, ate a little bit and slept. 

The next day, she was almost back to normal, though her movement was restricted. She spent the whole afternoon in the balcony, soaking in the sunlight with little food to keep her going. In the night, she was back to her cheerful self, greeting my husband returning from work with her meows. She went out for her usual prowl and guess what, she hunted a rat and brought back.

She healed herself in less than 2 days.

How did she manage to do that? 
Ample rest, no communication, little to no food, relaxing under the sunshine.

Our human bodies too have this amazing ability to heal themselves of any dis-ease, provided we don’t intervene with our quick fixes.

Over the last 3 years, I have stopped taking pain-killers or medications for common ailments like cold, cough, sore throat, mild fever, indigestion, headache etc. 

I remember many years back that I used to pop a pain-killer as soon as I felt the onset of a migraine. It gave me relief for that instant but I used to end up with acidity and burning sensation in the stomach. Pregnancy and lactation made me become aware and conscious of such over-the-counter (OTC) pain-killer medications. Later, as I read up more about the side-effects of such medications, I realised what a grave mistake I had been doing to my body.

Most of us have a dedicated “medicine cabinet” in our homes with strips of Crocin, Saridon, Cold Act, a big bottle of Digene, packs of Enos fruit salt etc. I have come across people who would gulp a spoonful of Digene after every meal for “just-in-case” digestion issues or pop a Cold Act tablet the moment they sneeze a couple of times. Not exaggerating, that's the reality unfortunately.

Pain-killers and paracetamol tablets address only the symptoms but the real cause of the pain persists and it keeps coming back. If you are getting frequent headaches, instead of popping a pill every time, think of the reasons behind it:
- Are you drinking enough water?
- Are you drinking too many cups of tea or coffee?
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Are there any specific foods that are triggering acidity and/or bloating?

These days, when I end up with any of the common ailments, 
1. I try to give myself rest. I sleep for more time than usual. 
2. I don’t over-stretch or take up strenuous tasks. 
3. I eat basic, easy-to-digest foods like rasam rice, idli, kichdi etc in small portion sizes. 
4. I support my body’s ability to heal with simple home remedies.
- Headache - warm water with few drops of lemon juice and black salt (brings down acidity)
- Sore throat - adathoda tea / warm water / honey
- Running nose - dry ginger coffee / turmeric milk
- Indigestion - tea made with ajwain, fennel seeds and cumin

Amazingly, my body heals faster with these steps and WITHOUT any side effects. 

Gut health is a popular topic these days. One of the reasons why our gut bacteria gets affected is due to the consumption of OTC medications. Next time, when you face a headache, mild body ache, sore throat etc, try to avoid the pain-killer and give yourself rest. Take a day off from work. Yes, the world can run without you for a day. “Sick leaves” are meant to be taken when you are sick. There’s no need to feel guilty about it. If you feel your boss will deny your leave request, then maybe it is time for you to look for another job.

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