By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN
Many seem to think that health and disease are random things, matters of chance. How else can they explain how people can live under virtually the same conditions – same home, same foods, same water, same products, same air – yet have totally different health outcomes?
One person gets heart disease. One gets cancer. Another gets Alzheimer’s. Some may develop type 2 diabetes; some, arthritis or thyroid disease. Ad infinitum.
And most of us these days are sick. According to the CDC, about half of all American adults have at least one chronic health condition. One in four have at least two. Seven of the top 10 causes of death are chronic diseases. Just two of them – heart disease and cancer – led to nearly half of all deaths. Most health care spending – 86% – goes toward people with chronic medical conditions.
What accounts for so much sickness? Just the random luck of having parents who gave you bad genes? Or is it what happens to those genes over the course of a lifetime?
Our regular readers and longtime biological patients alike know that the answer is in epigenetics – the impact of environment on gene expression.
Mass Media & the Disease-ification of Symptoms
The human body is an amazing organism. Every cell, every organ, every ounce of fluid, every structure of our body is masterpiece of perfection.
Just think about that for a moment. Realize that your body is made up of about 37 trillion cells. The synchronicity of all those cells working together to maintain life is truly a wonder!
Health is largely a matter of giving those cells what they need to keep that beautiful synchronicity going. It takes things like an optimal, natural diet; pure water; clean air; sufficient rest and quality sleep – the essentials for replenishing and refurbishing our bodies on a daily basis. If we’re able to maintain such a healthy lifestyle, we’re doing all we can to enjoy a happy, disease-free life for as long as possible.
And it follows that in so far as we fall short – either through our own choices or through environmental exposures we have little control over – we will court illness in all its various manifestations. Yet the majority of medical researchers seem just as stumped about the causes of disease as they were more than 50 years ago, when I was taking general pathology at the University of Washington.
Of course, part of the problem stems from the tendency to confuse symptoms with disease – as in, notoriously, all the drug ads we see in the media these days: Have to go to the bathroom a lot? You may suffer from this disease! Are your knees sore? You might have this disease! Ask your doctor….
No doubt, this “disease-ifying” of symptoms has much to do with our soaring rates of illness – not just in overdiagnosis but the effects of continually feeding ourselves drugs, synthetic chemicals our bodies were never designed to consume.
Yet consume, we do – in so far as we buy the messages we’re sold, whether through drug ads or corporate-influenced news or movies and other fictions written by people who have bought into popular ideology.
Directly or indirectly, mass media tells the public what to think about world issues and stories. It delivers an image of what the world “should be like,” which lingers in the subconscious. The more this view is endorsed by the majority, the more we may come to accept as “reality” ourselves.
A patient of mine, a former drug sales rep, once shared with me how so much of what we see in mainstream news today is what’s called “pre-produced news” from PR agencies and marketers. How many of those “breakthrough drug” and “medical miracle” stories are actually covert commercials for Big Pharma? Yet NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and the rest play them out like they’re actually real news.
Children especially absorb such media messages with ease. Recently, I read a story on a blog about a grade schooler who went with his mother to the pediatrician and asked, “Hey, can I have some Lunesta? There’s a pretty butterfly in the commercials!”
Direct-to-consumer marketing has certainly swollen the bottom line for the drug industry, or they never would have lobbied it into existence. So of course they’ll attack any challenge from functional, integrative, or complimentary medicine.
But we don’t have to buy what they’re selling – neither their drugs nor their broader, cultural message about what health is and isn’t. Just as we can accept the conventional wisdom, we can question and challenge it. And we should. It’s the only way progress is made. It’s the only way growth happens.
The Proper Understanding of Disease
Of course, biological medicine is one major challenge to the status quo. Based on Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg’s Theory of Homotoxicology, it holds that
each living organism is a dynamic flow system constantly adjusting to the surrounding environment and attempting to remain in a state of balance. We are constantly in contact with substances that influence our flow system. Substances that disturb this flow are toxins (homotoxin refers to toxins that affect the human organism.) When the body encounters homotoxins it attempts to eliminate them by activating the defense systems of the body. The symptoms associated with a disease are a manifestation of the body attempting to heal itself.
This view understands that disease never crops up all at once but evolves over time as the body responds to various influences. Epigenetics follows naturally from this concept.
(If you missed our last issue, you may want to read my previous article before continuing here, as well as our booklet “How Illness Happens,” for an intro to the biological terrain and the concept of pleomorphism.)
Modern medicine dates back to the introduction of good quality, high power microscopes, as well as the formation of the theory – by German biologists Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann – that all plants and animals are composed of cells, each featuring a membrane, nucleus, and body.
The idea that illnesses are based on pathological changes in the cells was first proposed by German physiologist Johannes Mueller in the early 1850s. His student Rudolf Virchow expanded on this work. He explained that human diseases arise in the organs and tissues, and can be traced directly to abnormal life conditions in the body’s individual cells.
During the late 19th century, bacteriologists Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur and botanist Ferdinand Cohn performed pioneering research in microbiology from which came the concept of monomorphism: “bacteria appear in a constant growth form and cannot change.” It wasn’t long, though, before they were challenged by a trio of German researchers who insisted that the bacteria indeed showed variability. Microorganisms, they showed, can go through different stages of development and evolve into different forms throughout a single life cycle.
This concept of pleomorphism – pleo meaning “many,” morphism indicating “changes” – was picked up next by Antoine Bechamp. In 1883, this chemist and biologist postulated that all animal and plant cells contained molecular granules – autonomous living elements he called “microzymes” [small ferments]. Under certain conditions, he said, these granules could evolve into other microorganisms.
Thus, in this understanding, viruses, bacteria, and fungi are nothing more than various developmental stages of a certain species of microbes. As such, they appeared as the indestructible transition between living and non-living matter.
Disease therefore had its origins inside the body, not outside, he deduced.
This was the idea that French physiologist Claude Bernard ran with in asserting that the idea that bacteria cannot change was “an enormous mistake.” “Le microbe c’est rien,” he wrote, “le terrain c’est tout” – “The microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything.” It’s the body’s attempts to self-regulate the terrain – the internal environment – that generate the symptoms that doctors then classify into diseases.
Gunther Enderlein & the Missing “Missing Link”
Then there was Gunther Enderlein, the German zoologist and bacteriologist who used a darkfield microscope to view microorganisms in live blood. His main discovery came in 1916, when, working on typhus, he showed the presence of specific microbes at different evolutionary stages. He saw many tiny moving elements which joined with more highly organized bacteria. After this union, the elements were no longer visible.
He named these tiny organisms “spermits” and maintained that they lived in harmony with the body’s own cells, performing functions beneficial to health. They were the same thing Bechamp had called “microzymes,” and not independent organisms but microbes in various stages of transformation. That transformation happens when the body’s internal environment is polluted. Microbes transform from simple bacteria to complex fungi and viruses, which just add to the pollution.
The more compromised the environment, the more severe the illness.
Enderlein published his major work, Bakterien-Cyclogenie, in 1925. His arguments and proofs for pleomorphism have yet to be refuted.
Still, far too many researchers seem oblivious to this solid body of research. You see them searching for the missing link yet wind up grasping at straws. Perhaps nowhere is this more clear than in the field of immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy is based on the promise of being able to use a body’s own immune system to attack cancer in the way it responds to other foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. The challenge has been that cancer is a trickier foe than others and has ways of putting the brakes on our immune system. Researchers are working on two different ways to get around this issue. One involves supercharging your immune cells to create “armies” that can attack cancer. The other involves what are known as “immune checkpoint blockade inhibitors,” which Parker describes as “retraining” the “troops” to be able to get around cancer’s defenses.
Yet there is bafflement over why it doesn’t work for everyone.
The treatments have worked wonders in some patients, especially those with melanoma, but have not worked or have even been toxic for others. Those patients who we thought were lucky because they respond well to immunotherapy aren’t actually lucky. There’s something about their genetic or biological makeup that determines how they react, and the institute is launching a series of studies to systematically look at all of the different factors that may play a role.
Similarly, in another Washington Post article:
Scientists don’t know why some patients benefit from immunotherapy and others don’t. In many trials, for example, less than a third of patients have had a positive response. Researchers think that proportion can be increased by combining these “checkpoint inhibitor” drugs — three have been approved by the government, with several more in development — or by adding conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
Ah, yes, throw more drugs at it – force the body to react in preferred ways rather than stimulate its inherent healing mechanisms! That’s always the answer – at least when you neglect the work of Enderlein, Bernard, Reckeweg, and so many others; when you remain oblivious to the role of the extracellular matrix in Ground System Regulation.
Those Who Cannot Remember the Past…
Enderlein’s theories go far in explaining the genesis of diseases like cancer, as well as things like the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and why oral bacteria are linked to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer.
Those disease manifestations are your cells’ response to environmental triggers. Your body naturally has within itself all the controlling mechanisms and potential necessary to produce unfriendly microforms and all the symptoms that initiate. They evolve because of an unfriendly, unphysiological, compromised terrain.
This is why, again, any true healing can only begin with improving the state of the terrain. Improve the terrain, and the body will return to proper function.
In 1952, Reckeweg wrote,
Perhaps the most insidious aspect of these illnesses gradually develops over a period of time and initially are not diagnosable….that chronic illnesses tend to develop in burdened tissues (terrain) and organs.
This is why treating the illness makes no sense. Rather, we focus on restoring coherence and proper function to the proper environment – to help the body unburden itself and heal.
To focus on illness is to lend proof to philosopher George Santayana’s famous aphorism, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The exception to the rule? Those who possess the attributes of critical thinking and complex reasoning in order to maximize their patients’ longevity and quality of life.
Melancholy image by Andrew Mason;
cell image by Kelvin Song, via Wikimedia Commons
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Originally from Gary M. Verigin, DDS, inc.