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Systemic Health: Inquiring from within


By Annelize Ferreira, February 2016

I often come across clients whose physical manifestations of discomfort are closely related to their systemic health (whole body system including internal health).

Without the entire internal system being healthy the aches and pains do not respond as well, or at all with physiotherapy treatment. Often, things feel a bit better after treatment but soon the aches and pains come back despite improved movement patterns, postures and habits. In some cases physiotherapy may even worsen the symptoms significantly for days or weeks after a session. The patient may be hyper sensitive to the lightest amount of touch or load.

Here are some of the most common systemic issues that can interfere with the desired outcome of treatment:

  1. Systemic Inflammatory Arthritic conditions targeting the whole body i.e. RA, fibromyalgia
  2. Endocrine disorders i.e. Diabetes Mellitus
  3. Poor digestive health
  4. Chronic exposure to stress/fatigue
  5. Hormonal imbalances
  6. Poor sleep
  7. Multi-mineral deficiencies
  8. Anxiety
  9. Depression etc.

Many of these issues co-exist. One can lead to another and vice versa.

Poor digestion and diet can play a significant role in our systemic health. Constipation and IBS type symptoms can be signs of poor digestion. Every time we eat or drink we have the potential to influence our gut motility and biochemistry, which informs our hormones and inflammatory responses. If any of these responses goes out of balance we can feel out of ‘wack’ and manifest aches and pains.

Chronic stress has one of the biggest influences on our overall systemic health. Stress causes our adrenal glands to release more hormones, and move our body from a relaxing, digesting, healing state to a fight or flight state.

When we are exposed to ongoing stress our body’s energy is shifted from being involved in tasks such as growing beautiful hair, metabolizing, making hormones, digesting and repairing itself to, excessively producing cortisol and adrenaline that is pumped through our veins so that we can keep going.

This response should mainly be reserved for when we have to run away from real danger and should not be triggered by day- to- day stuff such as television noise and other nuisances. If this process continues we start running out of vital nutrients and minerals and the body’s ability to heal itself reduces. Our adrenal glands are depleted and we feel drained, exhausted, struggling to sleep and with this anxiety and depression starts setting in.

My views are that the biochemistry of our bodies plays a significant role in predisposing us to many of the above issues. Through the correct diet and mental training we can restore our body’s innate capability to heal and repair itself. It is important to recognize the aspects of our lives that may be influencing our biochemistry i.e. poor diet, poor mental wellbeing, toxic relationships, stressful job, over-training, not training enough etc. etc.

Over the years I have gathered a few useful resources regarding the food-mood relationship, hormonal balance, mineral and vitamin deficiencies and what we can do ourselves to influence a healthier systemic system. I hope this adds to your existing knowledge or deepen your understanding of the importance of systemic health. Enjoy!

Helpful websites:







  • Fibromyalgia and Muscle Pain: Your Guide to Self-Treatment by Leon Chaitow (2015)
  • You Can Conquer Pain by Leon Chaitow ( 2012 )
  • The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean (2006) 
  • Your Hormone Doctor by Leah Hardy and Susie Rogers (2014)