I had my tonsils removed at age 7—I didn't have a choice. I was told I was being taken on vacation and was instead deposited in a hospital, spanked on the bottom and put into bed, where I proceeded to scream my little head off for the duration of my time there. My parents thought they were sparing me the stress of knowing what was going on (and perhaps sparing themselves the stress of telling me they were sending me off to have my body parts yanked out) for my own good.

I mentioned to a doctor years later on a routine visit that perhaps my immune system was compromised as a result of not having my tonsils. "Nonsense," he told me. "Tonsils are not necessary. If something is infected, take it out. That's what we're here for."

"Hmm," I thought. "Fancy our creator giving us all these body parts we don't really need and that are eventually going to cost us several days off work, much stress and discomfort—not very forward thinking."

After my traumatic hospital visit, I was quite happy to hear the nurse recommending to my mother to give me ice cream—a just reward, I felt, for what I had just been put through. Oh, if only I knew then what I know now. That very reward and my love of all things sweet, creamy and comforting was the devil that had put me in that hospital in the first place. Isn't it tragic how the very things that so seductively tempt our palate and offer us moments of sheer bliss can turn out to be our worst enemies? Wouldn't it have made more sense to make everything that's bad for us taste so disgusting that we wouldn't ever let it pass our lips?

These days, I tend to choose medical doctors who have integrated a more holistic approach to health and medicine. The body is an intricate machine, and there is a valid purpose for all the body parts we come endowed with. From my personal experience, disease is very often a result of my actions and choices. When I accept responsibility for my part in creating these health conditions, then I see it as something I can change by making healthier choices.

"Integrative health" is a phrase we're hearing more about these days—a mind/body/spirit approach to health. It integrates conventional medical practice with alternative or complementary treatments like herbal medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, massage, dietary therapies and stress-reduction techniques. I have had the opportunity over the years to work with many people with various health conditions, and I'm always excited to witness the transformations and miracles that can happen when some simple dietary and lifestyle changes are implemented.

As part of the lymphatic system, tonsils are a vital component of the immune system. They are our first line of defense against potentially harmful bacteria and viruses that may enter the body via the nose and mouth. They fight off infections, particularly infections of the upper respiratory tract. It is no coincidence that I developed pneumonia shortly after my tonsils were removed and was much more susceptible to colds and flu. When any part of a system is taken away, it obviously puts more stress on the rest of that system, which must work harder to make up for the missing link. The thymus gland, spleen and bone marrow are other components of the immune system, and when they have to work beyond the call of duty, it's more likely that other health issues will occur.

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