Suppression, Palliation & Cure

I bring this blog to help decipher how illness is expressed, how it can be influenced and parameters which we may take into account. I often hear of people being confused about how things are unfolding with either their health or the health of a furry loved one.  In order to be able to appreciate wellness and illness I believe we must understand suppression, palliation and cure. 

Let us first define suppression.  Medically it is defined as the cessation of any physiological process; the act or process of suppressing or the condition of being suppressed.  What does this mean in terms of treatment and expectations applying to health?

We are very familiar with the idea of suppressed emotions having an affect on a person.  The same is true with physical health because in its desire to maintain balance, there is a cause and effect that takes place. You are probably asking how health can be suppressed.  Think of suppression as the ultimate body expression change.  For example, if an animal has a malignant tumor on its leg and you amputate that leg to rid it of the cancer you have suppressed that animal’s health.  There is no way that tumor can grow back on that leg, the leg is gone for good so it is physically impossible. The leg may have needed to be removed to spare that animal pain and improve quality of life but it is what it is; suppressed.  How often have you heard of someone saying “My dog had cancer and it was removed but now he’s suffering from liver failure?  I don’t understand why he’s gotten so many diseases in his life.” This is often the case.  When one condition has been truly suppressed the body often expresses it elsewhere because there is no physical way to express it in the original way again. 

Now let’s talk about palliation which will help clarify suppression.  Medically it is defined as to relieve the symptoms of a disease or disorder; to make less severe or intense.  How can one apply this to health and wellness?

Palliation is a more common when treating illness.  For example, let’s say you have a dog that has a small growth on its leg and it can be removed easily and amputation is not needed.  That surgery goes well but 9 months later, a tumor is back; maybe in the same area or perhaps in a new area.  This is because the body was palliated with the first lump removal.  It was not cured or suppressed.  If the body were cured, no growths would ever return.  If the body were suppressed, the tumor may come back far more aggressively, perhaps this time warranting amputation. Another example would be medication dispensed for an ear infection.  Often the ear condition is palliated (goes away) but comes back shortly after the medication is discontinued because he has not been cured or suppressed.   

I give the example of the boy with his finger in the dyke at my seminars.  He puts his finger in the hole only to have water spout out of a new hole; the body will “leak” in one spot and if the band aid is applied to that spot, it often pops out in a new spot.  This is how I think of palliation.

Finally, let’s define everyone’s favorite; cure.  Medically it is defined as to effect a recovery from; to restore to health; the act or process of preserving a product.  Isn't this what we all strive for in health? 

In my opinion, cures rarely occur within this definition because we are living things.  We are constantly aging and changing.  As a result maintenance needs to be done, much like to a car or a house or even a relationship.  Time has to be spent “curing” and it’s a job that is never over.  If we get lax about how we care for someone or something, damage is often done and that damage cannot always be corrected.  It may be because of the type of damage and/or simply the natural aging process.  If we are fortunate enough to cure a condition, that condition will go away, never to return and never to come back as a worse condition.  In my experience cures are mostly seen in acute situations.  For example, if a patient comes in for a laceration, that cut is sutured and he is cured.  Another example is mushroom poisoning because if the patient survives and does not eat mushrooms again, he is cured.


Different modalities can create different levels of suppression, palliation and cure. Some of the more natural treatments like Acupuncture, Homeopathy and Chiropractics rarely cause suppression.  Some of the more radical conventional treatments like invasive surgeries and chemotherapy often do suppress.  Almost all treatments can do some level of palliation yet we always want to believe in and strive for a cure.  

I think if we embrace these 3 definitions they may help influence the treatment options we ponder.  We can process the problem at hand and apply our knowledge to aid us in making good logical decisions.  It may help clarify expectations and perhaps then we are less disappointed with the outcomes.  In a future blog I will discuss treatment types and outlining if they should or should not be pursued. 


The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival  - Aristotle