Pills, Pills & More Pills…

It’s spell-bounding and worrisome to see how many pills an average person consumes on a regular basis. Pills for headache, fever, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, high blood sugar, low blood sugar, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, hormonal pills to get pregnant, to not get pregnant and the list continues. It almost makes me feel that we were born with numerous manufacturing defects and we try to fix everything with pills.

What confuses me is in one hand we call ourselves a superior species, and on the other hand, no other wild animal out there actually needs any pills to live a healthy life. A thing worth noting though is the fact that we feed pills to domesticated animals, in turn making them dependent on it. They share a lot of the diseases that we have. I wonder if we did that to ourselves as well. In most cases, our bodies are designed to heal itself – be it a physical issue or a mental one. Here are a few of them that comes to my mind right away (I’m sure you are aware of most of them, but I thought its worth mentioning them anyways):

  • If you have a virus in your body, your body creates antibodies to fight them off
  • If you break your bone, it grows back
  • If your body is over-heated, it sweats to cool you down
  • If you feel cold, you get goosebumps that makes your body hair to stand up, thus reducing the heat loss
  • When you are about to drown underwater, your body gets into the mammalian reflex mode, reducing the consumption of oxygen. Read more about it here.

When you feel that your body is not quite balanced, all you need to do is provide the right fuel (nutrition, NOT pills) for the body and give it time to heal itself. An unbalanced body almost always give constant signals to you in the form of fevers, aches, etc. What they really mean is there is something deeper going on in your body. However, when we come across these signals, the first thing we do is switch off the signals. We do this by taking paracetamols, painkillers, etc. The signal goes away, but the cause of the signal is still there, only this time, you don’t know its there because you switched off your senses. This is analogous to your house being on fire and how you respond is by shutting down your eyes so you don’t see it.

I would like to dig a bit more into fever as I recently came across a very interesting article on it. Fever had been a shady thing for a very long time. We did not quite understood how does it help us. But recent studies provided detailed explanation of why exactly we get fevers.

In essence, our blood mainly comprises of two types of cells: the red blood cells and the white blood cells. T cells are a type of white blood cells. These are technically the infection warriors in our bodies. They generally are in the patrolling mode, whereby they quietly flow through your body, just observing.

When unwanted alien microbes manage to enter your body, their main task is to find a suitable environment to multiple as quickly as possible so as to spread the germ. Now we have lymph nodes scattered all around our bodies. Think of them nodes as prisons that are masters in trapping the microbes. Sometimes when you have cold or flu, you may have a little lump of swelling on your neck, under your jaw or behind your ears. That is simply your lymph node doing its job, trapping microbes as prisoners. Now despite being in prison, the microbes continue multiplying and hence your swollen lump gets bigger in size. They need to be checked and killed. That’s what the T-cells are good at.

The T-cells rush to the lymph node where the prisoners are trapped. Its not easy though for a T-cell to just enter into a lymph node and start killing whatever is in there. The T cells float in the blood stream – think of it as a hose through which blood and all its constituents are gushing through at super high speed. Its like you are floating in a high speed river and you need to find and hold on to one specific thing on the bank of the river. The T-cells need to attach themselves to the lymph node first in order to enter it. They do this by creating two types of molecules. These two together forms a sticky surface for the T-cell. It’s almost like a velcro. This allows the T cells to glue themselves to the walls of the blood vessel near the lymph node. Once enough T-cells manage to attach themselves to the lymp node, they get inside the prison and kill the prisoners. Now there is one vital ingredient to generate these two very important molecules in the T-cells, and that is heat. Without a higher temperature, the T-cells will not create the velcro, will not be able to cling on to the lymph node and will not be able to kill the harmful microbes. This higher temperature is fever. Taking paracetamol to get rid of the fever will not allow the T cells to do their work and the will allow the microbes to multiply and grow in your body.

Pills Infographic

There are times though when the level of infection is super high in your body and the temperature sores way above normal. This certainly enhances the efficiency of the T-cells, but at the same time the super high temperature could do permanent damage to other parts of your body, like the brain. Possibly a good way to deal with it could be to provide some time to your body so it could try to heal itself. And may be if the temperatures sores to 38 deg Celsius (100 deg Fahrenheit), go for a pill.

The point of this post is not to convince people that pills are bad. Its rather to make people realise the power of healing that your body possesses – do not underestimate your body and do not overestimate pills.

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