Disease is really a process that goes through several stages before it appears as a diagnosable disease. This alternative health concept is quite different than the medical concept that disease can appear suddenly where there was only health before. Likewise, in treatment for disease, alternative health differs from the medical concept of healing.
Alternative health sees the first three stages of disease as normal body processes to combat the toxic influences on the body. A cold helps to more rapidly detoxify the body with a runny nose and fever. From an alternative health point of view, it should be allowed to run its course. The body is handling the cause of future ill health by rapidly (if unpleasantly) detoxifying. Medicine sees the same cold symptoms and prescribes something to stop the symptoms (the sneezing, runny nose and fever) and therefore doesn’t address the actual cause of the cold.
You might look at “cold/flu season” as as nature attempting to clean out the body following the “holiday season” with its ritual overeating of meat and rich, sweet, alcoholic foods. If this detoxification is prevented, future problems are allowed to grow.
Tina Johnson and Dr. Chris Morris, a naturopathic doctor (one who uses food, herbs, water and natural means to cure; not surgery or drugs) explain it this way: The body becomes ill by stages. (I have used different names for these stages in the hope that the names below are more recognizable.)
Elimination — When the body is first presented with toxic substances that impede the body’s normal function, the body attempts to eliminate them. Such substances could be from normal digestion such as uric acid from digesting meat; a bacterial infection such as strep throat; a bee sting or even pesticides. These would be neutralized by the liver and then eliminated through pooping, peeing, coughing, sweating or exhaling.
Irritation — When the body is overwhelmed by toxins and the normal elimination channels are not sufficient to expel all the toxins as they come in, the body throws additional means of elimination into gear. Such means might include skin rashes, bad breath, diarrhea, etc.
Inflammation— When even the additional means of elimination are overwhelmed and insufficient to handle the toxic load, the body tries to localize the toxins and the resulting location becomes inflamed: red, swollen, hot and painful. Calling it tonsillitis just says the toxins “have taken up residence” in the tonsils; tendonitis says they’ve accumulated in the tendons (the tough white bands at the end of muscles that anchor them to the bones). Fever, from an alternative health point of view, is very favorable as the high temperature kills viruses and bacteria if it is not prevented. A cold is the body’s way of eliminating toxins on a faster, broader scale.
All the above stages are usually quickly resolved and health restored if we catch the problem early and apply remedies to help the body heal itself. However, if they are ignored and the toxic load continues to overwhelm the body, the disease that is now obvious becomes very difficult to cure.
Chronic disease — If the body is prevented, instead of assisted in eliminating toxins, the body attempts to quarantine the toxins by sacrificing a particular organ or system to prevent death. Here, after all three of the preceding stages, we find growths and chronic disease such as ulcers, irritable bowel, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.
Organ failure, cancer — Unable to reverse the chronic disease(s), the body begins to die.