Your Body’s Natural Defences

I’m in awe of the body’s ability to heal itself. Have you ever cut or scratched yourself and marvelled at how the skin knits back together? It’s like magic. Did you know that if you break a bone, the body immediately starts producing new cells to heal the damage? I’ve listened to an Aboriginal elder speak of nomad tribes where a broken bone could be healed in twenty-four hours! While this might be a considerable stretch for your mind, your body is an incredible healing machine.

Much of this ancient medicine man’s wisdom has been lost in the commercialisation of health and wellbeing. Let’s look at some of the fundamentals of your body’s wisdom.

The human body is designed to eliminate substances that don’t belong in the body. It makes sense. If the body didn’t have a way to detoxify itself of all the harmful things you breathe, drink, eat and get on your skin, you would be sick all the time.

So what does occur when you cut the skin? One of the most important jobs of the skin is to keep harmful bacteria out. As soon as the skin is broken, the body goes into a series of coordinated processes to seal the gap. Immediately the platelets in the blood clot to stop the bleeding. White blood cells remove the dead and injured cells, and new healthy cells repair the damaged tissue. As part of the healing process, extra collagen protein is used, which causes the skin to be stronger than before by scarring.

You have many natural detoxifying systems in your body. The kidneys filter excess toxins and remove waste and extra fluid, which flush out as urine. Your large intestine destroys parasites and other hurtful organisms and, takes undigested parts of food, and fluid from the digestive system and transports them out of the body in the form of faeces. The lungs filter the air we breathe and exhale carbon dioxide while the tiny fibres called cilia within the lungs push containments out. The liver’s function is to filter the blood and change toxic chemicals into easier absorbable or non-toxic substances. Mucus traps foreign materials, acids in various organs kill organisms and phagocytes, a type of white blood cell, destroy invaders.

Toxins come from many different places. Artificial toxins include fumes from car exhausts and cleaning products. There are toxins in heavily processed food, alcohol, and over the counter medications. We are exposed to toxins daily, and many substances go unnoticed and are safe in small qualities. The challenge comes when exposed to larger amounts of toxins over a prolonged period. Again your body will work to detoxify in some clever ways such as coughing, sneezing, fever (sweating), through the skin, e.g. a rash or pimple, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue (wanting to sleep), or headaches.

Many factors stop our body from healing naturally, and some are listed below…

  • Lack of diaphragmatic breathing and clean air – pollutants in the air and shallow breathing can lower the immune system.
  • Reduced hydration – water helps protect your body’s organs and tissues. It carries the nutrients and oxygen to the cells. Water reduces the kidneys and liver burden by flushing out the waste products.
  • Not enough high-quality sleep – a large portion of regeneration of your cells happens while you are asleep. Not enough quality sleep has been shown to weaken the immune system and leave you more susceptible to illness.
  • Lack of exercise – moving your body stimulates blood flow, giving your cells oxygen and nutrients. Exercise also helps you sleep better.
  • Poor nutrition – the body requires a nutrient-rich diet for optimal health and energy. Consuming high inflammatory foods such as gluten, casein, dairy, and highly processed foods can lower the immune system considerably.

In this busy world we live in, with the frenetic nature of production, being busy and getting work done, being sick and taking time out of the daily and weekly schedule often feels impractical, selfish or impossible. It seems easier to take a pill, a potion or have a procedure than take the time for the body to rest, rejuvenate and heal.

According to internationally renowned “wholefood medicine man” Don Tolman, when you reach for the ‘quick fix’, you interrupt the body’s natural defences. He says that when you start coughing and take some syrup to stop it, the body then looks for another way to eliminate the toxin. Maybe your body creates a headache in an attempt to have you stop and rest. You are too busy and take a pain killer tablet. Still trying to rid the impurities, your body decides to vomit or cause diarrhoea. There are more pills and potions to take to stop this. Don goes on with dramatics… “Ooooo,” thinks the body. “I’ll use the largest organ in the body to purify me.” The skin. A red rash appears. Another cream is slathered on to create a barrier so the contaminant can’t escape. Getting more serious and sombre, Don then goes on to contemplate when all the body’s natural ways to eliminate toxins have been thwarted, the body builds a container to isolate the pollutant. This, he says, is called cancer. It is the body’s ultimate way to confining the impurities.

Accordingly, there is no substitute for making healthy choices. Self-care is not going for a quarterly massage or having an occasional bubble bath. It is not something you force yourself to do because you know it is good for you. It is caring for yourself deeply every day. It’s the little things you do every day, not just in the school holidays. This includes moving your body, meditating, breathing deeply, eating nutrient-rich foods, drinking water, practising gratitude and getting quality sleep. It is also listening to your body and taking time to rest and allowing your body to do what it does naturally – heal.


Disclaimer: This article does not replace medical advice nor seeks to diagnose or treat any symptoms or illness. It is an educational article based on research and having attended many well-being courses in the last thirty years.


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Published on Friday, April 22nd, 2022, under Health & Wellbeing, Life lessons, Personal

Karen Tui Boyes is a champion for Life Long Learning across nations, industries and organisations. Winner of the NZ Educator of the Year 2017 and 2014 and the NZ Speaker of the Year award in 2013 & 2019, Karen is a sought after speaker who continually gets rave reviews from audiences around the world. Her dynamic style and highly informative content—which turns the latest educational research into easy-to-implement strategies and techniques — sets her apart from others in her field.

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