by Larry Malerba, DO
September 18, 2012
Larry Malerba, DO,
DHt is a physician, educator, and author whose mission
is to build bridges between conventional medicine,
holistic healing, and spirituality. He is the author of
Green Medicine: Challenging the Assumptions of
Conventional Health Care.
He is writes for
Huffington Post, Natural News, and the American Holistic
Medical Association. He is board certified in
Homeotherapeutics and is Clinical Assistant Professor at
New York Medical College.
He is a board
member of The Healers and past president of the
Homeopathic Medical Society of the State of New York.
Dr. Malerba is a
dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland and has a private
practice in upstate New York.
Most doctors and patients have some awareness of the concept of
suppression as it applies to medicine - but what is it really and
what impact does it have upon health?
The average person tends to describe suppression in immunologic
terms; in other words, it is believed to be a type of weakening of
the immune system, which can result in greater susceptibility to
While this is partially true,
suppression needs to be understood in its much broader context.
No symptom is random, no matter how superficial or odd. We must
begin with this basic understanding - each symptom has a purpose
within the greater whole of the human organism. That purpose may not
always be discernible, but all symptoms must be seen in the larger
context as expressions of imbalance of the underlying vital life
energy that animates each human being.
When the life force becomes compromised, it generates symptoms that
reflect its degree of distress. Symptoms can manifest on any or all
levels: physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual. Frequent
vomiting is a more serious sign of distress than, say, a runny nose
or facial pimple. A tendency to jealous rage is a more serious
symptom than a flare-up of hemorrhoids.
Symptoms commonly jump from one level to another.
The reason for this is that all
symptoms, at bottom, are driven by the status of the underlying
bioenergetic life force. The
energetic focus of a condition can easily shift, for example, from
migraines to anxiety and back to migraines again. Herein lies the
limitation of a conventional medical understanding of health and
illness, which is steeped in materialism and fails to acknowledge
the energetic dynamics of human health.
A comparatively healthy life force will tend to generate more
superficial, less threatening symptoms, such as sneezing, temporary
sadness, or a patch of itchy skin.
A more compromised life force will often
generate more serious symptoms, whether they are acute symptoms,
such as sudden facial paralysis or intense abdominal pain, or
chronic symptoms, such as loss of interest in life or arthritic hip
When we understand the above, it becomes clear why most normal
healthy babies tend to get diaper rashes, stuffy noses, and fevers.
In contrast, less healthy adults tend to complain of symptoms such
as headaches, stiff joints, and bouts of sleeplessness.
Adults with more compromised states of
health tend to develop high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, and
mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Is illness simply a function of getting older or is there more to
it? After all, not all people become burdened with serious chronic
illness as they grow older. There are plenty of relatively happy,
healthy adults out there who lead active, creative, productive
lives. Nevertheless, there is a rapidly rising incidence of chronic
illness that is affecting not only older people but young people
This trend, in my opinion, is a direct
consequence of the rise of
the pharmaceutical industry.
A conventional medical colleague once
told me that he could guesstimate the number of pharmaceuticals that
his patients were taking based upon their age. Patients in their
forties took four drugs, patients in their fifties took five drugs,
and so on.
What accounts for the difference between healthy adults and
chronically ill adults, or healthy and not so healthy kids for that
The answer requires that we return to
the phenomenon of suppression. The long-term trajectory of one's
health lies largely in the way that each given individual handles
symptoms and illness.
When suppressive measures are employed,
the long-term outcome is much more likely to be chronic illness.
When the methods used respect the intent of symptoms and work with
the vital energy, rather than against it, the outcomes tend to be
Here is a comparative example that illustrates the effects of
Jack and Jill were healthy children.
Their only medical issues were
patches of eczema on the elbow creases of each child. Jack's
parents applied topical cortisone cream just a few times until
the eczema vanished, never to return. Jill's parents used
alternating applications of calendula and chamomile creams with
a moderate degree of success.
At times her eczema would fade and
at other times it would resurface, but it remained generally
tolerable over the course of several years.
Within a couple weeks of the disappearance of Jack's eczema, he
developed an ear infection. It was successfully treated with an
antibiotic, but Jack developed five more ear infections over the
course of the following year, and each was treated with another
round of antibiotics.
During this time, Jack's demeanor
became more grumpy and whiny and he became pickier about the
foods he would eat. Meanwhile, while Jill still had a touch of
eczema that fluctuated over the months, the only other problem
that she had was one minor head cold, which was treated with a
combination of vitamin C and honey lemon tea.
By the age of five, Jack ceased to have ear infections, but they
were replaced by annual bouts of bronchitis that could last for
weeks, and these were also treated with rounds of antibiotics.
Jack was also given an inhaler when his pediatrician detected
some wheezing during a couple of his bouts with bronchitis.
Over time he began to complain of
stomachaches, and he remained finicky about his food choices.
His dietary staples had been reduced to hotdogs, chicken
fingers, pasta, and cheese sticks. Jill, on the other hand,
continued to be generally healthy with just an occasional cold
and a recurring touch of eczema.
At the beginning of his middle school years, Jack showed signs
of having greater difficulty. He stayed home some days
complaining of stomach pain but his parents suspected that this
was also partially due to his inability to complete some of his
His doctor prescribed a couple of
acid reflux drugs, to no avail. He was now taking daily doses of
medication to prevent asthma but he continued to miss school
days with respiratory illnesses especially in the winters. Jill
adjusted to middle school comparatively well.
brought her to a
homeopathic practitioner to see if anything
could be done for her eczema.
To their surprise, the eczema seemed
to vanish completely after a few months of treatment during
which time she seemed to blossom into a socially active and
academically successful teenage girl.
Frustrated with Jack's lack of overall progress both health-wise
and academically, his parents sought help from the pediatrician
who suggested a trial treatment with an antidepressant.
Jack seemed to improve for a few
months but thereafter took a dramatic turn for the worse. He
began acting out in school, failed to turn in assignments, and
wound up in detention several times. His doctor changed his
prescription to an attention deficit medication.
Meanwhile, Jill continued to thrive
in school with little difficulty and almost no health problems.
By now, I hope you are beginning to see
a very clear trend.
I could go on until Jack turns fifty
years old with heart disease and diabetes, but I won't belabor the
point. The more important point is that this type of scenario is
Long-term health is almost a direct function of the way in which
symptoms and illnesses are handled. The outcomes, in terms of who
remains healthy and whose health deteriorates over time, are not at
all random. Suppressive treatments often result in very poor
When we consider that almost all drug
therapies are fundamentally suppressive, the implications for our
collective health are staggering.
All symptoms represent the human organism's best efforts to heal
itself. The vast majority of the time, this self-healing mechanism
works just fine without outside intervention - most conditions
resolve on their own after their purposes have been served.
But sometimes symptoms are too intense,
or dangerous, or remain unresolved. This is when outside assistance
becomes desirable. While very threatening symptoms may necessitate
temporary suppressive measures, most illnesses do not fall into this
category. Nevertheless, conventional medicine, by default, opts for
a suppressive approach in almost all cases.
A shortsighted approach seeks to suppress the immediate symptoms
without regard for the context in which they are occurring or
without concern for the greater whole.
Put another way:
a painkiller may dull a headache but
it is not necessarily good for you. Tylenol may lower a fever
but it is not necessarily in the best interest of overall
health. And cortisone may make eczema disappear but it is
definitely not good for long-term health.
Suppression drives illness deeper into
the system, thus causing it to mutate into more serious conditions.
The life force manifests its distress in
the most favorable way possible, given the parameters of each
situation. A strong life force will focus its energy toward the
periphery, thus generating relatively superficial symptoms such as a
simple skin eruption or a runny nose. As the life force weakens and
becomes compromised, illnesses manifest on deeper levels.
There is a general hierarchical relationship in terms of the way
symptoms manifest in the human organism - and it proceeds roughly in
body > heart > mind > spirit.
Therefore, when a physical illness is
prevented from occurring, usually by means of suppressive
medications, the life force seeks to express the disturbance in
There is a tendency for the disturbance
to eventually "metastasize" to another, deeper level. When it is
forced away from the physical level, the energetic disturbance often
resurfaces on the emotional or mental levels. Since conventional
medicine does not acknowledge this phenomenon, it never owns up to
the role it plays in generating mental, emotional, and spiritual
So, how do we know if a treatment is suppressive or not?
The answer lies in the longer-term
direction that one's overall health takes over time. Is overall
health generally improving or declining? Note that this is very
different from asking whether the eczema or headaches are improving
If a child with successfully treated
eczema ultimately winds up with migraines, it is likely that
suppressive treatments contributed to this outcome. If strong
painkillers are then used to suppress the migraines to the point
that they cease to recur, but the child then develops depression, it
is almost certain that suppression led to an overall decline of
True healing works in a direction opposite to suppression.
If a method that respects the body's
innate healing capacity is employed, we might expect that as the
depression recedes, the migraines may temporarily resurface. And as
the migraines recede, the eczema may erupt once again.
While suppression concerns itself with
eradicating the symptom at hand without regard for the whole, any
truly effective healing method is always cognizant of the greater
whole and longer term overall direction of a person's health status.
Most green holistic healing modalities
respect the wisdom of the body, seek to work with symptoms of
illness rather than against them, and contribute to positive