Adaptogens, Bioregulatory Systems Medicine and Network Pharmacology

Have you ever wondered how life on Earth has managed to survive in the midst of volcanos, ice ages and asteroids? The answer is adaptation. Humans are remarkably adaptable. We’ve been able to adjust to almost any condition on the planet, while continuing to thrive as a civilization.

Think about this:

  • No other species lives in such a variety of places, including the Arctic, in deserts, in jungles, at sea, or in barren wastelands.
  • No other species has the ability to eat and digest such a wide variety of foods.
  • No other species is able to reconstruct their living environment to the degree that humans do.

Charles Darwin said it well: “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent of the species that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

Hormesis: The Key to Adaptation

The biological phenomenon of this adaptogenic quality of life is called “hormesis.” The principal pillars of my approach to health are to enhance adaptation, energy transfer efficiency, protection, and reproduction (hormonal health). Perhaps the most important of these is adaptation, but really, they are all interconnected. Everything is networked. Thus, the best approach to health is to support the networks of the body as a whole, to enhance robustness and our ability to auto-regulate and auto-organize at the molecular, cellular, and organ system levels. 

This is why adaptogenic formulas are the first step in building and enhancing robust health, and the most important supplemental support you can provide to your body. Every other supplement you take should be secondary to adaptogenic formulations.

Our approach to health and healing is not a fixed line, but a circle that is alive and in constant motion. It is not functional, but rather responsive, so although everything in our body has a function, ultimately what makes us alive and human is how our bodies respond.  Response implies a life-force that activates and regulates all components of energy transfer. This life-force is capable of listening to the “orchestra” (ie; network) and providing direction while constantly adapting. To function is robotic and programmed, while response is connected to wisdom and is alive. 

Medicine today continues to view the body in a fragmented way, including body systems, parts, genes, and microbiomes. Very few people, particularly in the medical profession, see the whole, but we have complex diseases that are characterized as polygenic and multifactorial. We are therefore best served with medicines—specifically plant medicines—that are pleotrophic, gentle, nourishing, strengthening, and assist in normalizing, or auto-regulating.

Thinking Outside the Current Medical Model

Herbal formulations contain multiple components that dock to multiple target sites and synergistically exert beneficial effects throughout a wide range of pathways. Through many years of clinical practice, I’ve realized that it is neither possible or appropriate to try and fit herbal medicine into or alongside the current conventional model. That is why I developed the Mederi Care model as a new way of thinking and combining various approaches that is inclusive of both holistic and allopathic medicine. The soul of this approach, however, is rooted in botanical medicine, combined with nutritional supplementation, food as medicine, life-style modifications, and spiritual care. Once this foundation is in place, then it is appropriate to evaluate if more specific, “heroic” (ie; pharmaceutical) medicine is needed, and if so, where it fits within the whole systems, unitive approach.

The molecular pathways that govern human disease consist of molecular circuits that coalesce into complex, overlapping networks. These network pathways are presumably regulated in a coordinated fashion, but such regulation has been difficult to decipher using only reductionistic principles. The emerging paradigm of “network medicine” proposes to utilize insights garnered from network topology (ie; the static position of molecules in relation to their neighbors) as well as network dynamics (ie; the unique flux of information through the network) to understand better the pathogenic behavior of complex molecular interconnections that traditional methods fail to recognize.[1]

Bioregulatory Systems Medicine

Bioregulatory Systems Medicine (BrSM) is a comprehensive, innovative approach in medicine. It embraces the complexity of diseases by supporting the general idea of autoregulation and addressing underlying dysregulating biological networks.

The objective of Bioregulatory Systems within the Mederi Care approach is to improve patient outcomes by supporting a patient’s autoregulatory capacity. This is accomplished through the Mederi Care toolboxes, specifically botanical and nutritional medicine, which is applied in a gentle, synergistic way. Botanical and nutritional medicine practiced within Mederi Care is primarily directed at enhancement of ‘Self-regulating Internal Community Networks,’ supporting and even directing, while allowing the freedom to improvise.

The poet and philosopher Mark Nepo says: “To be the best we can be, we have to meet the outer world with our inner world. I’ve always believed in the amazing resilience of the human spirit.” Nepo believed that life has been made just hard enough that we need one another. Through experiences of great suffering and great love, we are reduced to what is essential.

The most effective way to reduce the possibility of poor health and disease is to keep the root system healthy and robust. Adaptogenic herbs in combination have a synergistic and pleotropic effect.

Synergism Enhances the Actions of Plant Medicines

Synergistic plant medicines contain bioregulatory properties. Their actions are determined by both chemistry and synergy, as their biological activity often results from the additive or synergistic effects of their components.

Synergy means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their parts.”

― Buckminster Fuller

These synergistic strategies can be much more comprehensive and broader in their scope of effects than single-component drugs[2]. This concept is not new to science. Synergy is an ubiquitous phenomenon in nature, and is widely used in numerous scientific disciplines, including thermodynamics, biophysics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and neurobiology.[3]

Herbal medicines are often combinations of botanical extracts that have additive or synergistic effects.  For example, combining the four herbal (S. baicalensis, D. morifolium, G. uralensis and R. rubescens) extracts significantly enhanced their activity compared with extracts alone in a prostate cancer model.[4]

It is important not to confuse synergistic effect with additive effect. Synergy occurs when two or more drugs/compounds are combined to produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual agents while an additive effect is an add up of individual effects where each individual agent is not affecting the other (no interactions).[5]

The synergy of biological effects of plants in medicine is well documented, and encompasses synergistic multitarget effects, physicochemical effects based on improved solubility, antagonization of resistance mechanisms, and elimination or neutralization of toxic substances.[6] As such, multi-combination and/or multi-system low dose medications, preferably of natural origin, are well suited for the bioregulatory medical approach and offer the potential for a graded response to treatment.[7]

Generally speaking, herbal and nutritional medicine within this model exhibits four fundamental advantages of a multicomponent, combinatorial strategy over a single-component strategy:

1. Synergistic effects target a wider range of information flow in disease-related biological networks;

2. Modest modulation allows for more efficient control of biological networks;

3. Low concentrations ensure higher safety of the whole combination;

4. Drug resistance is much less probable.[8]

According to Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), every living thing is sustained by the balance of two opposing forces of energy, Yin and Yang. Together they make up Qi (pronounced ‘chee’), which is the vital energy that flows in, through and around the body.

Network Pharmacology: A New Way of Understanding Herbal Formulations

Network pharmacology stems from several pioneering works. The holistic theory and practice of TCM, as well as other herbal medicine systems, play a key role in the origin and rapid development of network pharmacology. The original hypothesis referring to the biological associations between TCM syndromes, herbal formula, and molecular networks was proposed in 1999 and 2002.[9]

Network pharmacology has been used to study multiple protein/gene target diseases. It describes the relationship between biological systems, drugs, and diseases from the perspective of the network. This is consistent with the holistic pattern differentiation theory of TCM[10] as well as Mederi medicine.

Mitochondrial Network Medicine

The mitochondrial network is constantly in a dynamic and regulated balance of fusion and fission processes, which is known as mitochondrial dynamics. Mitochondria make physical contact with almost every other membrane in the cell, thus impacting all cellular functions.[11] 

“Qi,” as noted above, describes energy-dependent body functions. This can broadly be correlated with mitochondria-energy dynamics.

[12]

The term adaptogen was first proposed in 1940 by a scientist from the USSR. Lazarev described Schisandra chinensis and other herbs as plant-derived adaptogens that non-specifically enhance human physiology.[13]

Adaptogens are the material basis of the bodily response to the external environment and can act on the immune system and the stress response system, as shown below.

The non-specific response mode, especially the hormone response mode, occurs when homeostasis is not the driving force.[14]

Schisandra Fortifies Mitochondrial (Qi) Antioxidant Status

Schisandra

Schisandra berry or Wu-Wei-Zi, meaning the “the fruit of five tastes” in Chinese, is a commonly used herb in TCM. Ancient Chinese herbalists noted the berry’s beneficial effect on the “Qi” of the five visceral organs.  Schisandra is one of the main researched primary adaptogens that I use in adaptogenic formulations.  It is perhaps my favorite adaptogen, but I believe combination formulas have many advantages over single herbs.

Schisandra berry is well-known for it’s “Qi-invigorating” properties. The herb has been shown to fortify mitochondrial antioxidant status, thereby offering the body generalized protection against noxious challenges, both of internal and external origin. Given the indispensable role of the mitochondrion in generating cellular energy, the linking of Schisandra chinensis berry extract (SCBE) to the safeguarding of mitochondrial function provides a biochemical explanation for its “Qi-invigorating” action.[15]

SCBE is a potent adaptogen, and has been shown to improve disease and stress tolerance, while increasing energy, endurance, and physical performance.

SCBE is helpful in the treatment of neurological, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal disorders. It has been shown to decrease fatigue, relieve insomnia, reduce obesity, and provide protection from mitochondrial dysfunction. SCBE stimulates immunity, acts as a tonic, and exerts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anticancer, anti-aging, anti- diabetic, and liver- and skin-protecting activities.

Effects of Schisandra chinensis fruit extracts and their bioactive compounds in mitochondria.

[16]

SCBE has been shown to restore impaired mitochondrial function, acting as a mitoprotective agent. Studies show that schisandrin, the identified active ingredient in SCBE, restored cytochrome c oxidase activity, and protected the opening of mitochondrial permeability transition. Furthermore, schisandrin improved ATP production, citrate synthase activity, and the process of mitochondrial fusion and fission.[17]

Recent studies investigating the various active compounds within schisandra identified a total of 78 compounds consisting of 13 prototype lignans and 65 metabolites (including isomers).[18]

Combining schisandra extract with other adaptogens and tonic herbs provides hundreds to thousands of active compounds swimming together, bathing the cells and molecules throughout the body. Complex formulas no longer act like the single herb, but in an entirely new way. Think of an orchestra, and perhaps what a single member playing an instrument might sound like. Then consider the entire orchestra, and all of the instruments working in harmony. As a jazz musician and an herbalist with an interest in network pharmacology, this is a perfect analogy for the way that herbs work together when combined in appropriate formulations.

On Pubmed alone, there are now 30 articles illustrating the increasing interest in network pharmacology and traditional herbal medicine.[19] Understanding network pharmacology and Bioregulatory Systems Medicineis the foundation of Mederi Care. I am grateful that this comprehensive, harmonious system of healing is gaining the recognition it deserves.

References


[1] Chan SY, Loscalzo J. The emerging paradigm of network medicine in the study of human disease. Circ Res. 2012 Jul 20;111(3):359-74. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.258541. PMID: 22821909; PMCID: PMC3425394

[2] Lila MA. 2007. From beans to berries and beyond: Teamwork between plant chemicals for protection of optimal human health. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci.1114:372–80

[3] Corning PA. 1998. “The synergism hypothesis”: On the concept of synergy and its role in the evolution of complex systems. J. Soc. Evol. Syst.21(2):133–72

[4] Adams LS, Seeram NP, Hardy ML, Carpenter C, Heber D. Analysis of the interactions of botanical extract combinations against the viability of prostate cancer cell lines. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2006 Mar;3(1):117-24. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nel001.

[5] Zhou, Xian et al. “Synergistic Effects of Chinese Herbal Medicine: A Comprehensive Review of Methodology and Current Research.” Frontiers in pharmacology vol. 7 201. 12 Jul. 2016, doi:10.3389/fphar.2016.00201

[6] Wagner H. Synergy research: approaching a new generation of phytopharmaceuticals. Fitoterapia. 2011 Jan;82(1):34-7. 

[7] Bioregulatory Systems Medicine. White Paper. Published February 2019 – Copyright © Biologische Heilmittel Heel GmbH. Rights Reserved

[8] Kong DX, Li XJ, Zhang HY. Where is the hope for drug discovery? Let history tell the future. Drug Discov Today. 2009 Feb;14(3-4):115-9. 

[9] Li S. (2007). Framework and practice of network-based studies for Chinese herbal formulaZhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 5, 489–493.  10.3736/jcim20070501

[10] Zhang R, Zhu X, Bai H, Ning K. Network Pharmacology Databases for Traditional Chinese Medicine: Review and Assessment. Front Pharmacol. 2019 Feb 21;10:123.

[11] Pijuan J, Cantarero L, Natera-de Benito D, Altimir A, Altisent-Huguet A, Díaz-Osorio Y, Carrera-García L, Expósito-Escudero J, Ortez C, Nascimento A, Hoenicka J, Palau F. Mitochondrial Dynamics and Mitochondria-Lysosome Contacts in Neurogenetic Diseases. Front Neurosci. 2022 Jan 31;16:784880.

[12] Tian J, Huang Y, Wu T, Huang HD, Ko KM, Zhu BT, Chen J. The Use of Chinese Yang/Qi-Invigorating Tonic Botanical Drugs/Herbal Formulations in Ameliorating Chronic Kidney Disease by Enhancing Mitochondrial Function. Front Pharmacol. 2021 Jun 24;12:622498. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.622498. PMID: 34248614; PMCID: PMC8264145.

[13] Liao LY, He YF, Li L, Meng H, Dong YM, Yi F, Xiao PG. A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chin Med. 2018 Nov 16;13:57.

[14] Panossian A, Wikman G, Wagner H. Plant adaptogens. III. Earlier and more recent aspects and concepts on their mode of action. Phytomedicine. 1999 Oct;6(4):287-300.

[15] Ko KM, Chiu PY. Biochemical basis of the “Qi-invigorating” action of Schisandra berry (wu-wei-zi) in Chinese medicine. Am J Chin Med. 2006;34(2):171-6. 

[16] Kopustinskiene DM, Bernatoniene J. Antioxidant Effects of Schisandra chinensis Fruits and Their Active Constituents. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Apr 18;10(4):620. doi: 10.3390/antiox10040620.

[17] Piao, Z.; Song, L.; Yao, L.; Zhang, L.; Lu, Y. Schisandrin restores the amyloid -induced impairments on mitochondrial function, energy metabolism, biogenesis, and dynamics in rat primary hippocampal neurons. Pharmacology 2021, 1–11.

[18] Wu Z, Jia M, Zhao W, Huang X, Yang X, Chen D, Qiaolongbatu X, Li X, Wu J, Qian F, Lou Y, Fan G. Schisandrol A, the main active ingredient of Schisandrae Chinensis Fructus, inhibits pulmonary fibrosis through suppression of the TGF-β signaling pathway as revealed by UPLC-Q-TOF/MS, network pharmacology and experimental verification. J Ethnopharmacol. 2022 May 10;289:115031. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2022.115031. Epub 2022 Jan 26. PMID: 35091014.

[19] Lai, Xinxing et al. “Editorial: Network Pharmacology and Traditional Medicine.” Frontiers in pharmacology vol. 11 1194. 4 Aug. 2020, doi:10.3389/fphar.2020.01194

   Send article as PDF   

What We Now Know about the SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccine Delivery System that Should Concern Us

I have always been a proponent of medical freedom and believe that individuals should weigh the risk-to-benefit ratio when deciding anything when it comes to modern medicine. Unfortunately, so much of what we’re led to believe about the safety of the novel coronavirus vaccine is false and mis-leading. Although there many reputable doctors and scientists willing to voice concerns and openly debate the risks, their voices are not being heard by the majority of the public and their professional careers and reputations are being threatened and often smeared, distorted, and censored by the media. It is more important than ever to have truth and transparency when it comes to new technologies in medicine.

Traditional vaccines present the entire virus in a live-attenuated form (measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, rotavirus, Sabin oral poliovirus, yellow fever, and some influenza vaccines) or an inactivated form (Salk poliovirus, hepatitis A, rabies, and some other influenza vaccines), leading to a polyclonal response to not just one, but a number of viral proteins. This multiplicity of humoral and T cell responses probably explains why no convincing vaccine escape strains have been documented for these viruses; with the exception to this being the influenza virus.[1] The mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 however, are engineered in an entirely different way, with a far more complex design and effect.

Continue reading “What We Now Know about the SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccine Delivery System that Should Concern Us”

Faith, Death, and Resurrection

“Faith is much better than belief. Belief is when someone else does the thinking.”

– Buckminster Fuller

If you ask most people, they will tell you that faith and belief are the same thing. But in truth, they are not.

According to Webster, the definition of belief is: “An opinion or judgement in which a person is fully persuaded.” Belief often comes from someone else. For example, your parents follow a certain religion, which is defined by a certain set of beliefs. Therefore, you take on that same belief system.

Belief or Faith?

Belief is in the mind, whereas faith is in the heart. They can intersect though, and even unite as one.

Faith comes from within, is spiritual, and sees love. This includes our own self-realization that forms or confirms our beliefs. But it is bigger than that. Faith requires action. If our faith doesn’t move us to do something or say something—to actually take action—it’s not really faith. “So you see, faith by itself isnt enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” – James 2:17.

Faith is taking the first step even when you dont see the whole staircase.”

  Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Difference Between Belief and Faith

Many of the people I work with have cancer. Many have advanced cancer, and often, their doctor tells them how long they have to live. The doctor may pronounce, “You have three to six months, perhaps a year to live,” and the person takes that to be the ultimate truth. And they begin to believe it, based solely on the doctor’s words, which is usually based on statistics and assumes few, if any, will beat the odds. Obviously, trying to predict how long someone has to live has serious effects on their well-being by imposing a belief that seems certain and final, and takes away any sense of hope and faith in a higher power.

I have many patients who are living many more years than anyone ever expected. And more than just surviving, they are thriving. I frequently tell my patients, “Don’t believe what you are told. Instead, focus on doing the best you can to live, and to live well. I will do the same, and hopefully, your healing team will embrace that same approach. As long as we’re doing the best we can, there is nothing to worry about.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” ~ Proverbs 3:5

Wisdom from the Desert Fathers

The Desert Fathers were Christian hermits who lived in the Egyptian desert in the third century AD. Following the example of Jesus, the monks devoted themselves to lives of prayer and austerity. The first Desert Father was Paul of Thebes, and the most well-known was Anthony the Great, who became known as both the father and founder of desert monasticism.

The Desert Fathers

Father Paul once visited Anthony when he was teaching three monks about a very difficult matter of faith. Paul withdrew into a corner and waited silently until Father Antonius was ready.

Antonius asked the youngest of the three monks what he thought about the matter. The young man responded immediately; what he lacked in knowledge, he supplemented with fire and enthusiasm. When he was finished, Father Antonius remained silent for a while, then said, “You havent found the right answer yet.

Then the second one got the floor. He was a little older, had read some books, and had more life experience. He chose learned words and formulated them more carefully. When he was finished, Father Antonius said, “You too have not found the right answer yet.

Finally, the oldest of the three was allowed to give an answer. He spoke thoughtfully, and you could tell he had read many books and had a long prayer experience. When he was finished, Father Antonius remarked, “You havent found the right answer yet.

The moment he opened his mouth to say something about the very difficult issue of faith himself, he turned to the old abbot and asked, “Father Paul, could you possibly say something about this?” Finally, Paul said: “I dont know…”

Father Anthony turned to his three disciples and with a raised finger, he said, “Father Paul has found the right answer.

These old stories prove to be relevant for today. “I dont know, is the correct answer to complex theological issues. How beautiful is that? It’s good to remember the next time you end up in a discussion or question in a matter about faith.

Faith, Courage, and Patience

Faith will empower our patience. Courage will sustain our perseverance. With that faith and courage, we can live with the forces of change. We will not set ourselves against them defiantly, as we are first inclined. And as we abide the changes in good faith, trusting that our life will unfold as we dreamed, or as it was intended, our despair and doubt fade. For we realize that our personal power and peace need not be the victims of things we do not know. We discover that those times of confusion and doubt need not undermine our connection to God and his universal wisdom. For that wisdom is living itself out in our lives, expressing its Divine guidance in ways we did not know.[1]

The Question of the Resurrection

Although Judaism does not have a definitive answer to the question of what happens after we die, resurrection has played an important role in Jewish eschatology.

“From the Torah: for it is written: ‘And the Lord said to Moses, Behold you shall sleep with your fathers; and this people will rise up’ [Deuteronomy 31:16]. From the Prophets: as it is written: ‘Your dead men shall live, together with my dead bodies shall they arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in the dust; for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out its dead.’ [Isaiah 26:19]; from the Writings: as it is written, ‘And the roof of your mouth, like the best wine of my beloved, like the best wine, that goes down sweetly, causing the lips of those who are asleep to speak’ [Song of Songs 7:9].” Rabbi Meir also answered this question saying: “As it is said: ‘Then will Moses and the children of Israel sing this song unto the Lord’ [Exodus 15:1]. It is not said ‘sang’ but ‘will sing’; hence the Resurrection is deducible from the Torah.”[2]

For many Christians, ‘belief’ in the resurrection is fundamental to their religion. Most rehearse this belief every Easter Sunday, but then stick it away in the closet for the rest of the year. 

Illustration of Christ’s empty tomb, shown from the inside, looking out the opening to His cross with the sunrise behind

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”

– Saint Augustine

Easter, referred to as Pascha within the Eastern Christian religion, is considered to be the most important Orthodox holy day of the year. Pascha comes from both the Greek and Latin words for “Easter,” the day celebrating when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The verbal form of this word, pascho in Greek, means “to suffer.” Originally, the Hebrew word pasach referred to the Passover feast (Exodus 12) that was celebrated during the same week Jesus was crucified.

Faith Requires Trust and Intimacy

Father Richard Rohr believes that we can only experience true intimacy when we are willing to be vulnerable ourselves. He goes on to say that intimacy could be described as our capacity for closeness and tenderness toward things. It makes all love possible, and yet it also reveals our utter incapacity to love back as the other deserves.

I think that many of us are afraid of intimacy, of baring our deepest identity to another human or even to God. Yet people who risk intimacy are invariably happier and much more authentically human. Soulful intimacy is a gateway into the sacred realm of human and divine love.[3]

According to Father Richard Rohr:  The big and hidden secret is this: an infinite God seeks and desires intimacy with the human soul. The mystics (those who personally know the inner space of God) are aware that they have been let in on a big and wondrous secret. Anyone not privy to this inner dialogue would call such people presumptuous, foolish, or even arrogant. This is without a doubt “God’s secret, in which all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden (Colossians 2:3).”[4]

The Radical Transformation of a Caterpillar

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”

– Buckminster Fuller

There is no scientific basis for resurrection. There is no way a living form could die, dissolve away, and be reassembled into another creature. Hold onto that thought…and now, start to imagine the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Truly, it is a miracle. If science was to look for evidence of death followed by resurrection, they wouldn’t need to go very far. It happens every day. Caterpillars die and are resurrected as butterflies, using the same fluids as the original life form.

I believe in God, only I spell it as Nature.” ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Within its protective casing, the caterpillar radically transforms, eventually emerging as a butterfly or moth. But what does that radical transformation entail? 

Scientists have long been astonished by the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies. Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly or moth—discs for its eyes, for its wings, its legs and so on. The caterpillar eats voraciously during its entire lifespan, presumably to accumulate sufficient nutrients for the coming transition. When the time is right, the caterpillar spins itself into a silk coverlet (a cocoon) and digests itself. During the larval phase, the release of enzymes kills the caterpillar and destroys all of its organs, turning into a mushy soup, with nothing left of its former self. If one opens a larva, there is no sign of the original caterpillar; it is gone, except for the “imaginal cells” that survive.[5]

Then, through a miraculous sequence of events, a new set of instructions takes hold, and the amino acids in the larval soup are rearranged, carefully and meticulously, into an entirely new organism. The imaginal cells emerge, armed with genetic instructions for the transformation. Initially, the caterpillar’s immune system rejects the imaginal cells, but they continue to multiply. Finally, the imaginal cells begin to clump together, forming the organs of an entirely new organism with completely different anatomical features, including long legs and wings.

The fact that the caterpillar’s immune system attacks the new cells of the butterfly demonstrates that biologically, the two insect forms are entirely distinct life forms. Essentially, the caterpillar dies and is resurrected.[6]

One of the songs from the popular new Disney movie “Encanto” is “Dos Oruguitas,” the first Oscar-nominated song written entirely in Spanish. Dos Oruguitas translates into “Two (Little) Caterpillars.” The song is performed beautifully by the Colombian singer Sebastian Yatra.

The song describes two caterpillars in love. They rejoice in their togetherness, holding each other, staying together constantly through good and bad weather. Just as soulmates do! But somehow, they know that very soon, they will need to let go. The time comes when they turn into larvae, re-emerging as butterflies. There is nothing the caterpillars can do to stop the inevitable. The song and images evoked are beautiful, and state something that carries us beyond the mundane ordinary and into the truly meaningful extraordinary—the thought that we are called to live in the image of GOD.  There, we will go from crawling to flying and be truly happy.

Life After Death

Religions have debated the concept of death and resurrection for tens of thousands of years. And during the millennia, scientists have generally been silent about the likelihood of rebirth. After all, from an empirical point of view, there is nothing to say. There is no experiment that one can perform to prove or disprove the existence of life after death.[7]

Generally speaking, woman are in many ways stronger than men, and the bible highlights this as it regards faith. Other than John, it was all women at the cross, and the first witnesses of the Resurrection are women. This is beautiful, and I believe it is profoundly insightful.

Pope Francis said, “and they had accompanied him to the very end.” Even though the women initially reacted with fear, it is their “loving remembrance of their experience with the Master that enables the women to master their fear, and to bring the message of the Resurrection to the Apostles and all the others.” The Apostles and disciples found it hard to believe in the Risen Christ, not the women! “The women,” he attested, “are compelled by love and know how to welcome this announcement with faith.”

The Butterfly Effect and Transforming Ourselves

The “butterfly effect”  is the phenomenon whereby a small change at one place in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere. For example, a butterfly flapping its wings in Rio de Janeiro might change the weather in Chicago.[8]  I believe that everyone matters, everything matters, and every moment matters.  We are only scratching the surface of what we are capable of.  For all of us, limitations are a lack of faith and trust.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:28

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.” Matthew 6:28

Happiness is not living without pain or suffering; but is the mastery within, to embody peace, joy, compassion, kindness and love. God has created us for interdependence as God has created us in God’s image—the image of a divine fellowship and Divine love. We must find the divinity within and in a sense resurrect twice, once in the world, and then again after the world. We are to be Kenosis, which in Eastern Christian theology means to empty oneself and become entirely receptive of God’s Divine will.

We all are aware that death will come eventually. The important questions are: What are we seeking in this life? What is our faith? How much do we trust? Are we willing to be authentically our Divine selves and through intimacy share that with others without limitation? In this way, we begin our own resurrection. This is our transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, from crawling on the earth to flying freely.

References


[1] © Leigh Sanders 99

[2] Ariela Pelaia, Resurrection in Judaism, Updated on March 28, 2019, https://www.learnreligions.com/jewish-view-of-resurrection-2076764; “Jewish Views of the Afterlife” by Simcha Raphael. Jason Aronson, Inc: Northvale, 1996.”The Jewish Book of Why” by Alfred J. Kolatch. Jonathan David Publishers Inc.: Middle Village, 1981.

[3] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2013), 159–160, 171–172, 174. 

[4] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2013), 164–165, 166, 167, 168–169.

[5] Ferris Jabr, How Does a Caterpillar Turn into a Butterfly?, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, a Division of Springer Nature America, Inc. Aug 10, 2012, Copyright © 2012, Scientific American, Inc.

[6] Milton Packer, MD, Medscape Today, 02/22/2022, https://www.medpagetoday.com/opinion/revolutionandrevelation/97215?xid=nl_mpt_blog2022-02-16&eun=g1065123d0r&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MiltonPacker_021622&utm_term=NL_Gen_Int_Milton_Packer_Active

[7] Milton Packer, MD, Medscape Today, 02/22/2022, https://www.medpagetoday.com/opinion/revolutionandrevelation/97215?xid=nl_mpt_blog2022-02-16&eun=g1065123d0r&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MiltonPacker_021622&utm_term=NL_Gen_Int_Milton_Packer_Active

[8] https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/butterfly%20effect

   Send article as PDF   

God as Our Mother

Icon Sophia within the dome of St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, we often refer to “Our Father” when speaking of the cosmic, all-encompassing God. Because God is not really man or woman, referring to God as “he” or “she,” when taken out of context, can be controversial.

But if we were to view God as two sides of the same coin, rather than exclusively one or the other, it might be more helpful. I see God as both masculine and feminine, and the feminine, although more hidden perhaps, is the stronger of the two.

I believe what the world needs now is the Divine Wisdom (Feminine) to be made manifest within all of us.

Continue reading “God as Our Mother”

Anabolic Nutrients: The Key to Optimal Health and Fitness

According to statistics, Americans are living longer than ever before in history. But are we living well as we age, or do we merely exist in a state of poor health and low vitality? The reality is that even in the absence of life-shortening malnourishment, disease, or accident, our bodies will naturally age and deteriorate. Generally speaking, from youth to old age we go from a state of thriving to a state of merely surviving. What causes these changes? And what measures can we take to prevent disease and maintain health as we age?

If you’re interested in optimizing your health and fitness—and even slowing down the aging process—you’ll benefit from an understanding of anabolism and catabolism. Although you may not be familiar with these terms, they are the basic metabolic activities that manage your life energy and health. Addressing anabolic and catabolic processes is a fundamental aspect of my approach to supporting people in enhancing their health and vitality.

Continue reading “Anabolic Nutrients: The Key to Optimal Health and Fitness”