Advertising, What Your Body Really Needs, and God
The above title is one of the most important titles you will ever see. I hope that you will write it down and permanently engrave it in your memory banks or, at the least, stick it to your refrigerator door with magnets. Advertising copywriters, along with public relation flacks, do an outstanding job of manipulating the way you think, feel, and behave---often, if not always, they do this to your detriment.
A classic example of this is aspirin. Now aspirin is a very valuable resource, and I urge you to use it appropriately. However, if you follow the messages of the advertisers, you would tend to overuse aspirin, and that overuse can cause serious damage. For example, advertisers would want you to use aspirin as the primary response to headaches and just about all types of pain. Such a use of aspirin tends to result in a covering over of the very important symptom the headache or pain represents. Symptom of what? Too much stress in your life? Work or family problems that need to be dealt with? Some other type of medical problem that should be addressed?
But how about the use of aspirin to bring down a temperature when you are sick? Yes, you definitely want to use aspirin in this way…….BUT, be careful as to how you employ it even here. Dr. Clifford Saper, of the Harvard Medical School, has studied how the brain and body respond to aspirin. When you have a cold or the flu, "In an effort to turn up body temperature and kill the bug…the brain activates the hypothalamus, which acts as the body's thermostat. But the hypothalamus regulates appetite and sleepiness, too, and so these may also get out of whack. In addition, the immune system produces prostaglandin E2, a hormone that helps infection-fighting cells move into the brain through its protective barrier. But this, too, has an unintended consequence: on its way through the brain, prostaglandin E2 trips chemical switches that leave people feeling drowsy and lethargic. It also acts on pain-sensitive nerves, producing headache and body aches. Aspirin and other pain relievers block the release of prostaglandins, which is why people feel better after taking such agents. But Saper warns that unless the fever is dangerously high, taking aspirin may actually keep the infection around longer. An unchecked fever kills the germ faster and sends a message to the immune system to fight even harder" (Jamie Talan, "You Can Fight a Fever---But Don't Kill It" Psychology Today, March/April 1998, p. 9).
So, back to the title. Aspirin can be good for you and it can also harm you. Much of the pharmaceutical and medical system that we tend to rely on can both help and harm you. The advertising industry tends to encourage the use of their product rather than prevention. You need to pay more attention to symptoms and move toward prevention. Most importantly, you need to understand how God has created a wondrously self-healing body for you and how God has designed your body in such a way that when you take good care of it, it tends to be healthy or minimize the impact of any health problem you may experience.Back to the syllabus