“Medicine qua medicine comes into existence when it appropriates knowledge and skills, no matter what their origin, in order to further its healing purposes.” — Edmund Pellegrino
The world population is aging with a rapid increase in the very elderly aged 80 and up. Those who make it to 100 and beyond (centenarians) are considered an exceptional human model of healthy aging and extreme longevity.
In general, centenarians appear to escape—or at least significantly delay—the diseases of aging that normally cause mortality at earlier ages. In an attempt to understand why some people live well beyond what is currently considered to be the ‘normal’ lifespan, gerontologists have identified a variety of factors that centenarians share. These include not smoking, a healthy diet, regular exercise, avoidance of stress, family connectedness, and a positive attitude.
distribution of community outbreaks of the current global pandemic shows
seasonal patterns associated with latitude, temperature, and humidity, which is
similar to the behavior of seasonal viral respiratory tract infections.
of many viral infections is associated with a lack of sunlight, which results in
low 25(OH)D concentrations and an uptick in diseases such as respiratory
syncytial virus (RSV) infection.,,While it’s
obvious that winter in temperate climates interferes with sufficient exposure
to ultra violet rays, the rainy season in tropical climates also results in low
Almost daily, we are warned of the dangers of exposure to toxins from pollutants in our air, water, food, home, and workplace. The reality of modern life is that no matter how careful we may be, we are inevitably exposed to a variety of toxins. For many people, knowing that toxins are linked to cancer, cardiovascular, neurological, and other diseases creates a great deal of anxiety.
What most people don’t realize is that virtually any substance can be toxic—even pure water. We’re constantly encouraged to drink plenty of water, but drinking too much water in a short period of time can cause hyponatremia (basically, water intoxication). In severe cases, water intoxication can lead to seizures, coma, and even death.
The example of water as a potential toxin makes it obvious that not all potential toxins are toxic at any level. And it raises the question: Should we take extreme measures to aggressively detoxify and rid our bodies of substances deemed toxic?
Fear and Misunderstanding Concerning Toxins
The reality is that it is impossible to avoid toxins in our modern world (and in truth, there have always been toxic substances in our environment). A vast industry has arisen that plays into the fear and misunderstanding of toxins. Many companies promote products that claim heavy duty “cleansing” of our organ systems, encouraging extreme approaches that can actually cause more harm to the body than the exposure itself.
In my observation, far too many people today are merely surviving instead of thriving. I attribute most of the erosion of well being and resilience—including the growing prevalence of chronic, degenerative diseases—to the increased stressors of contemporary society. Although the role of stress in disease has long been recognized, it is now more fully understood through the advances of scientific research.
Perhaps the biggest breakthrough in cancer has been the discovery of the relationship between the sympathetic nervous system and cancer growth and reoccurrence. This was first detected though observational research showing a strong association between cancer patients on beta-blockers and a reduction in reoccurrence rates, a slowing of cancer growth, and decreased angiogenesis. 1-6 Researchers studying the relationship of vagal nerve activity (measured through heart rate variability) and the neuro-modulation of tumors found improved overall survival rate in cancer patients when the parasympathetic nervous system (the system responsible for calming the body) is activated.7
These are exciting discoveries, and support my life’s work on the importance of using herbal adaptogens and nervines to help the body adapt to physical and emotional stressors. Neither disease nor treatment of disease, including natural approaches through health optimization, can be described in a linear reductionist model, which is what almost everyone attempts to do. It is the collective effect of the perturbations in multiple underlying networks that result in the symptoms of disease, thus effective treatment should be directed at strengthening and harmonizing all systems of the organism. Continue reading “Adaptogens – Essential Support for Restoration, Protection, Resilience, and Longevity”
The science of epigenetics is turning what we’ve long held true about biological destiny upside down. Although it remains true that our DNA—our genetic code—provides the blueprint for our physiological makeup, researchers have discovered that there’s something extra controlling our genes—and food and herbs may in fact be the most important factors in our genetic well-being.
That extra “something” controlling our genes is the epigenome, the cellular material that sits on top of the genome (the complete set of genetic material present in a cell or organism). While epigenomes do not alter the genetic code, they direct genes to switch on (becoming active) or off (becoming dormant) through a variety of biological mechanisms. This intriguing finding means that your genetic heritage is not the primary determinant of your health, disease risk, or longevity.
With the advent of a growing scientific field of study called nutrigenomics, the old adage “you are what you eat” is proving to be much more than folk wisdom. Nutrigenomics takes into consideration the relationship between diet and genetics, and identifies the beneficial or detrimental health effects of various dietary components. What researchers have discovered is that there is far more to dietary health than proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and that simply meeting the minimum daily requirements for vitamins and minerals isn’t enough for optimal health and disease prevention.