and Wisdom of the Body (WOB)
Despite an ongoing turnover, our organism maintains an equilibrium known as Homeostasis. You meet your friend and it seems as if he did not change since yesterday, nevertheless all his constituents are different. His unchanging appearance is the hallmark of homeostasis. Yet how is it maintained? In the twenties of previous century the British physiologist E. H. Starling maintained that even if all physiological processes were known and understood, they would not provide any clue on how homeostasis is maintained. The body has a wisdom by which it maintains homeostasis, and this Wisdom of the Body still eludes medical research. At the same time the American physiologist W. B. Cannon published a book on physiology by the name Wisdom of the Body.
Health and Disease
The healthy body maintains homeostasis, which in acute conditions is disturbed. Medicine thus tends to associate disease with disequilibrium. Which does not apply to chronic conditions, like essential hypertension. Blood pressure does not rise in a continuous fashion, rather it rises in steps. For short periods of time blood pressure may remain constant. Then it rises somewhat to remain at its new level, and so on. The same applies to the blood sugar in diabetes mellitus which also rises in steps. While blood pressure, or blood sugar drive the system upward it continually adjusts its equilibrium to the new conditions.
Homeostasis in cancer
The same applies to the growing child. Growth is accompanied by an ongoing adjustment of homeostasis. Might this apply also to cancer? Medicine claims that the tumor defies the organism’s control. Cancer is driven by the accumulation of erroneous mutations which initiate uncontrolled growth of the tumor. Yet it seems as if the tumor drives the organism in the same way as elevated blood pressure does.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
This condition may be detected by accident. During a routine check up of an applicant for a new job his white blood cell count (WBCC) is elevated. Apart from this finding these individuals were healthy. Previously they were not treated since they maintained the elevated WBBC for a while. With time it rose in steps and remained constant for some time similar to essential hypertension.
During the sixties of the previous century, scientists in Brookhaven National Laboratory developed an x-ray machine for extra corporeal blood irradiation. Patients were connected to the machine with two catheters. One drove arterial blood from the forearm into a tube which was irradiated by the machine. At the other end the tube was connected to a second catheter through which irradiated blood returned to the forearm. Since leukemic cells are more sensitive to x-rays than other WBC, their count dropped.
This dramatic achievement was followed by a disappointment.
Within three days WBCC returned exactly to its pre-treatment level.
Neither higher nor lower. And so was the result of repeated irradiations.
Disappointed with their treatment failure, scientists abandoned the machine
and the experiment was forgotten. However they ignored its
significance. In chronic leukemia WBCC is tightly controlled, since
after irradiation WOB
replenished the exact amount of WBC which were depleted by the procedure.
Tumor growth is controlled
Medicine maintains that processes involved in tumor growth are unrestrained. Now imagine the following situation. Mammography revealed a tiny tumor in a woman’s breast. Otherwise she is healthy. Obviously all processes not involved in tumor growth will maintain homeostasis, while a relative small subset of processes may not. Which is hardly acceptable. Since all processes in the body interact and since most processes are not involved in tumor growth, the majority will obviously impose equilibrium on the entire organism. Which is the central tenet of this site, and rejected by medicine.
In other words form the inception of cancer, tumor and organism maintain an equilibrium. The tumor grows for two reasons. Either tumor becomes more aggressive, or the organism weakens. In both cases the organism will maintain homeostasis.
Two therapeutic modalities
Treatment ought to involve both modalities, weakening the tumor or strengthening the organism. Medicine applies only the first and ignores the second, which is left to holistic medicine. The therapeutic objective depends on the extension of cancer. When localized, traditional medical treatment might suffice, however when spread into other organs, medical treatment may not suffice, particularly since tumor becomes resistant to chemotherapy. Now the aim is to prolong remission, or to induce tumor dormancy. Occasionally cancer stops progressing, and become quiescent, which is known as tumor dormancy, whose mechanism is not understood and ignored. Yet initiation of dormancy is the preferred therapeutic objective in metastatic disease, which is the rational of chemotherapy. However when cancer becomes resistant to chemotherapy medicine has nothing more to offer and the task is left for holistic medicine to step in.
Long survival with metastasis
The cancer survival report No. 5 describes survival of 3369 patients
with regional breast cancer diagnosed during the years 1950-1954. Treatment
consisted of mastectomy with or without irradiation.
Axtell LM, Ardyce J, Asire MS, Meyers MH. Cancer patient survival report
No.5 DHEW Publ No. (NIH) 77-992,1976.
The figure depicts two important phenomena:
1) From the third year an on the hazard rate declines,
and the chances of
the patient improve from year to year. The longer she lives the better her
chances to survive.
More on this topic
2) 24% of patients with regional disease survived 20
years. Most of the time they were in remission and appeared healthy. Since
ultimately dying from their disease, retrospectively we may conclude that
all carried undetected micro metastases, and yet the hazard rate declined.
Some carried metastasis for at least 19 years.
Take a woman that lived with micro metastasis that long.
During this prolonged remission her organism apparently "knew"
how to live with, and adapt to micro metastasis. The nature of this "force
of adaptation" is still unknown. Suppose medicine could harness it for
another 20 years, cancer would turn into a benign disease.
The average age of these women was 50y. Now our hypothetical patient is 70 years old. By prolonging her “force of adaptation” (remission) for another 10 years, she might carry the hidden cancer into her grave. If we knew how to harness this force to prolong her life, the riddle of cancer might be solved without understanding its true nature.
About 30 years ago Ms. Susan Sontag found a lump in her breast. Susan Sontag was a famous writer who lived in New York. After recovering from the treatment she started contemplating about her disease and its unusual name: Cancer, (crab in Latin). Her thoughts were published as a book "Illness as Metaphor" (1978). Cancer has become the predominant disease metaphor in our culture. An evil disease. It is the only disease that we wage a war on, with deadly rays, poisons, and nuclear isotopes.
Politicians call their enemies cancer, like Saddam Hussein, who was the cancer of the Middle East. Could you imagine politicians proclaiming Saddam Hussein as Heart Disease of the Middle East? I decided replace the metaphor of Evil with a better one, “Cancer-Yogi”. It highlights the patient’s capability to live with cancer in peace and good health. It alludes to the spiritual powers of the Hindu Yogi who controls involuntary functions of his body. Otherwise this metaphor is unrelated with Yoga. The long survivors are cancer yogis and so was Susan Sontag. For 20 years she lived with cancer and was healthy, believing that she was cured. Yet several years ago cancer flared up, she was then treated and it became quiescent again.
Many cancer yogis live among us
When studying the whereabouts of other cancer yogis I discovered that most of them turned to holistic medicine for help. I decided therefore to study the different holistic approaches,met healers and practitioners. Each discipline has its own philosophy and language which are incomprehensible to the modern practitioner. In this site I tried to articulate these ideas within the framework of modern medicine. The common denominator for these methods, which applies also to modern medicine, conditioned reflex.
Ivan Petrovich Pavlov
Pavlov studied salivation physiology in dogs. Salivation is induced whenever the dog smells or sniffs food. In an experiment Pavlov rang a bell when feeding the dogs with meat and measured the amount of saliva. After two weeks of training he rang the bell without feeding the dogs, and the animals salivated as if they were sniffing meat.
Here are some definitions:
Unconditional stimulus (US), here the meat.
Conditioned stimulus (CS), the tone.
Unconditional response (UR), salivation when sniffing meat.
Conditional response (CR), salivation when hearing the bell, in the absence of meat.
In the course of the training, the CS is repeatedly presented together (or slightly before) with the US; eventually the subject forms an association between the US and the CS. The trained dogs thus associated the tone (CS) with a food-reward which was manifested by saliva production to the CS alone (CR).
The bell is a co-factor in a physical-chemical process
First we ought to realize that the bell activated all digestive organs, digestive tract, liver, pancreas etc. Between meals they are inactive and quiescent. They do not produce digestive juices nor saliva, which are activated only during meals. Take for instance the enzyme pepsin, which between meals is stored in its inactive form known as pepsinogen and becomes activated during meals. The bell activates this chemical reaction, it is its co-factor.
Imagination is a co-factor in a physical-chemical process
Enzymes may be activated also by imagination. Find a secluded place and imagine a tasty steak. Soon you start salivating and feel how your insides start moving . The entire digestive system is preparing for a non existent meal. Your imagination activated among other the pepsinogen which became pepsin.
Now a days you hear that we lack free will. Neuroscientists claim that the brain is deciding for us even before we are aware of our will. How can a brain decide for you when and where you will imagine a steak? Your will activated pepsinogen, and was a co-factor in this process. Actually your will is a co-factor in all processes.
Placebo and placebo effect
The placebo effect is "any dummy medical treatment; originally, a medicinal preparation having no specific pharmacological activity against the patient's illness. . ." This definition summarizes the attitude of modern medicine to a placebo: a useless and undesired side-effect of treatment. Which is unfortunate since placebo is a process activator. The bell activating salivation in Pavlov’s dogs is their placebo.
The placebo effect depends on expectation which by itself is conditioned. Consider the following thought experiment. A baby got headache and cries. No placebo pill will relieve it, while the same headache in the adult might be relieved by an inert pill. The baby still lacks an expectation that pills help which is required for the placebo effect. This and other expectations are conditioned stimuli (CS) which the growing child assimilates. Expectations require a mind to reside in, which the baby lacks. Generally these conditioned stimuli are provided by the society in which the child is raised.
Similar to the ringing bell and the imagined steak, expectations promote placebos to the role of co–factors in physical-chemical processes. Placebos activate physical-chemical processes. Actually expectations are at the root of Shamanism.
Functional MRI (fMRI)
Recent studies with fMRI imaging provide new information about the nature of the placebo as co-factor. The fMRI method uses a blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) contrast. The signal arises from changes in magnetic characteristics of blood related to differences in the relative amount of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin. In two fMRI experiments neuroscientists found that placebo analgesia was related to a decreased brain activity in pain sensitive brain regions, providing evidence that placebos alter the experience of pain.
A volunteer is placed in a MRI instrument which scans his brain. A bearable painful stimulus is applied to his arm, and some brain regions lighten up. He then swallows a pill and is not told whether it is a pain killer or a placebo. In both instances the brain reacts in a similar way.
Placebo treatment of chronic rheumatoid arthritis
Consider a patient with a chronic disease that requires
adrenal steroids. Prolonged treatment is accompanied by undesirable side-effects.
Several studies have shown that by interleaving placebo tablets in the treatment
regimen, the total amount of drug can be reduced with less side effects. Such
an interleaved placebo activates the same processes
as adrenal steroids do.
You sit in front of a computer screen and watch
your brain waves dancing. They are transmitted from your head to the
computer. Now you are asked to change the height of your alpha waves. You
have not the slightest idea how to go about it, and start experimenting. You
frown, blow air through your mouth, move your shoulder. In short, you search
for actions which might do the job. You look for associations between
seemingly unrelated actions and brain wave manipulation. A Pavlovian auto
- conditioning. In addition you start imagining
how the computer might be controlled. You visualize your guardian angel
and ask him to help, or 'irradiate' the computer in your mind. After many
seemingly futile experiments, the waves on the screen yield to your will.
It does not matter what one imagines, it simply works. You created a new
co-factor for the myriad biochemical processes that generate brain waves.
You don’t need a mind to activate physical-chemical processes. The hypnotized individual shuts out his mind and accepts the instructions of the hypnotist. He is ready to replace his beliefs with those of the hypnotist. Hypnosis may be induced directly without the reliance on rituals. Like by touching the neck, drumming, or playing a monotonous, loud and deep sonorous tune. These act directly on the WOB and do not require the mediation of the mind. WOB directed hypnosis is a means to influence unconscious processes controlled by WOB, and can be applied also to a patient in coma.
The purpose of a guided imaging is to get the body relaxed and focused. The focus is used to create a pure moment of imagination. Here is a simple prescription:
Lay down on your back on a comfortable surface. Make sure your hands are on the floor and you palms are facing upwards. Your legs should also be on the floor, and your feet should be pointing outward a bit. Let a breath drop in. Feel it warm you up. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Each breath flows seamlessly in through the nose and out through the mouth. Keep breathing regularly. Focus on the parts of your body where the tumor resides. Imaging the breath dropping into this area. As you exhale, the tumor strength flows out of your body with the breath and it weakens. Find another area which requires your assistance, and release the tension there, too, etc.
Guided imaging is called also as auto-hypnosis, and may be directed to activate unconscious processes. It is a way to create co-factors in processes.
All of the above was an introduction to our main topic: The medical interpretation of Holistic Medicine. From our perspective the practitioners of holistic medicine apply diverse means to create co-factors for processes in the organism, whose end effect is promotion of healing and wellness. Although “most of their ways lead to Rome”, not all are equally effective. It is not the intention of holistic medicine to evaluate their methods for their efficiency, which is left to us. Some of their methods are more effective than whatever medicine has to offer. Like in disseminated cancer when chemotherapy fails. Modern medicine has the best means to sort these co-factors for their efficiency. The time has come to investigate what holistic medicine has to offer.