When we work on healing, it can be helpful to differentiate factors that initiate the illness, maintains it, and supports healing from the illness.
These three groups of factors sometimes overlap and sometimes are different from each other. For instance, if we identify healing factors, it doesn’t mean those are the same as the ones initiating or maintaining the illness (although they may be).
Simple vs complex illnesses
When the illness is simple, acute, and relatively well understood, the three types of factors may be more or less the same. I get an infection. It’s maintained by the bacteria. And the healing comes from eliminating the bacteria – either through allowing the body to take care of it or using antibiotics.
When the illness is more complex, chronic, or less well-understood, differentiating the three may be helpful. The maintaining factors may be different from the initiating factors, and we may need to address both. Also, we’ll often need to take a holistic approach and focus on supporting our body in its healing process in any way possible, independent of the specific initiating and maintaining factors.
Not jumping to conclusions
I sometimes see people working in alternative healing modalities confuse these. For instance, with a complex and chronic condition, it can be helpful to work on any emotional issues that create stress and this is one component in supporting the body in healing itself. That, of course, doesn’t mean that any one emotional issue created the illness or was even a (major) component in the onset of the illness. It may be, but it also may not be. We often don’t know, and for healing purposes, we may not need to know.
Similarly, if we know what caused a chronic illness, it doesn’t mean that addressing other things isn’t helpful for the healing. Often, we need to take a holistic approach
My own experience
I am perhaps especially aware of the importance of differentiate these three types of factors because of the chronic fatigue (CFS) I have had at varying levels since my teens.
In my case, the initiating factors may be a combination of genetics, mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus), teenage stress (social anxiety), and possibly mold (I lived in a basement apartment). When the CFS returned strongly some years ago, it was likely triggered by another infection (pneumonia) combined with mold and possibly stress.
I am not sure what the maintaining factors are although stress, an overactive flight/fight/freeze (FFF) system, diet, and climate are likely to each play a role.
When it comes to the factors supporting healing, some address possible maintaining factors and some support the body in healing itself.
In the first category, a priority is to remove any Epstein-Barr virus still in the system, reducing stress and supporting the FFF system in normalizing, changing the diet to (mostly) avoid processed foods and foods I have an intolerance to, and – as much as possible – spend time in a sunny, dry, and warm climate.
In the second category, I have found the following helpful: herbal medicine (mostly large doses adaptogens), get plenty of rest and sleep, learn to listen to and take seriously the signals from the body, supporting and strengthening my energy system, and working on any emotional issues creating stress and possibly preventing healing. One of the things I haven’t wholeheartedly focused on yet is detoxing.