Issue #35, November 2011

In This Issue:
Nostalgia Connects – Aging Cells & Biological Medicine – About Those Flu Shots

JoAnne’s Motivational Minute

Nostalgia Connects

By JoAnne Boettcher-Verigin

There are a couple of quotes I’ve seen bouncing around online, both attributed to Doug Larson and both defining nostalgia. One calls it “a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days;” the other, “a device that removes the ruts and potholes from memory lane.”

Nostalgiaville billboard

But nostalgia also keeps us aware of meaningful memories that help us make sense of the present. This bridge between Then and Now gives us a continuity, a reminder of those “good old days” when families and friends stayed more connected.

No surprise, then, that so many of those memories are of holiday happenings when friends and family come together.

I remember the Christmas snowstorm. Usually, we enjoyed quite mild winters up in northwestern Washington. This year, the snow started on Christmas Eve. Mother had just finished her day of baking and Dad had come in from evening farm chores. My sister and I were arranging – and rearranging – those gifts already under the tree and talking excitedly about what our aunts and uncles might bring us the next morning.

Of course, when Dad told us about the snow, we wanted to go out and play in it immediately! He assured us that there’d be plenty of snow in the morning and that we could go out and build our snowman before everyone began to arrive. I went to sleep picturing our snowman greeting family and friends as they drove in.

In the morning, we looked out and saw more snow than we’d ever seen in Skagit Valley! The drifts were taller than us! And, we soon discovered, they had closed down our road. How would anyone get through?

Mother picked up the phone and, after returning the operator’s greeting of “Merry Christmas!” asked to be connected to Uncle Del’s number. He lived nearby, so soon arrived to help Dad get out the tractors and start clearing the road. Mother continued making calls, adjusting plans to deal with the new circumstances.

Within a couple hours, Dad and Del had opened our road. Slowly, more family began to arrive with gifts, food for the feast and the wish to make it a merry Christmas regardless.

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.
– Henry Ford

We hope this holiday season is joyful, festive and fun for you and your family – a wonderful close to the current year and marvelous start to the new! We’re grateful to be a part of your lives – and that you’re part of ours.

Happy holidays sign

I have noticed that people are dealing too much with the negative, with what is wrong….
Why not try the other way, to look into the patient and see positive things,
to just touch those things and make them bloom?
— Thich Nhat Hanh

3 Reasons to Use Your 2011 Dental Benefits Now

  1. If you’re paying your premium, you should get what you pay for. If you don’t have dental work that needs to be done, you still should have regular cleanings and exams to prevent more expensive problems from cropping up down the line. This is even more important if you have gum disease. (About 75% of Americans have some form of it!)
  2. Your benefits don’t roll over. As the saying goes, “Use ’em or lose ’em.”
  3. Your deductible doesn’t roll over either. If you don’t meet it this year, you have to start over from scratch next year.

Give us a call at (209) 838-3522 to make your next appointment before 2012 arrives!

The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change.
The realist adjusts the sails.
– William Arthur Ward

Dr. Verigin’s Comment

Biological Medicine in These Transformative Times, Part 1

By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN

As soon as I finished my last article for Biosis, I began thinking about how to follow up. Now reflecting on the past few months, I see lots of loose threads becoming whole cloth.

One thread was my finding some exciting new books on one of my favorite subjects – vital energy medicine. Then my daughter (and our editor, blogger and webmaster) introduced me to the wonders of Google Translate. Suddenly, I had access to all kinds of new articles from German medical journals and practitioner websites. So much new information to digest!

But I did take a break in mid-September, when my wife and I spent a week on the Oregon coast. Our first Sunday there, our son and his wife drove down from Portland and treated us to a wonderful brunch. Later, I put some football on the TV and began to browse the newspapers. That’s when I first learned of Occupy Wall Street.

After returning home, I followed news of the occupations daily. Nearly two months later – and just after the raid on Zuccotti Park – Fortune quotedAdbusters co-founder Kalle Lasn as saying that he thinks the movement is “peaking now and probably moving into its second phase, where people will go home and initiate myriad projects of all kinds.” What’s certain is that actions like the recent police crackdowns have only strengthened the 99%’s resolve.

Thinking of this and the earlier Arab Spring and other demonstrations around the world, you can’t help but sense we are in a transformative time – one in which old systems and old ways of knowing are dying out as new possibilities come into being.

Sunrise

We see this in medicine, too, as new research solves conventional Western medicine’s mysteries – mysteries that German biological medicine has long since solved with its synthesis of Eastern, traditional and Western concepts. In fact, we can see this research as validating the biological model. Such is the case with the work that’s been done on senescent cells.

Two articles on this work really caught my attention. The first ran in the New York Times:

In a potentially fundamental advance, researchers have opened up a novel approach to combating the effects of aging with the discovery that a special category of cells, known as senescent cells, are bad actors that promote the aging of the tissues. Cleansing the body of the cells, they hope, could postpone many of the diseases of aging.

The findings raise the prospect that any therapy that rids the body of senescent cells would protect it from the ravages of aging. But many more tests will be needed before scientists know if drugs can be developed to help people live longer.

Senescent cells accumulate in aging tissues, like arthritic knees, cataracts and the plaque that may line elderly arteries. The cells secrete agents that stimulate the immune system and cause low-level inflammation. Until now, there has been no way to tell if the presence of the cells is good, bad or indifferent.

The answer turns out to be that the cells hasten aging in the tissues in which they accumulate. In a delicate feat of genetic engineering, a research team led by Darren J. Baker and Jan M. van Deursen at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., has generated a strain of mouse in which all the senescent cells can be purged by giving the mice a drug that forces the cells to self-destruct.

Rid of the senescent cells, the Mayo Clinic researchers reported online Wednesday in the journal Nature, the mice’s tissues showed a major improvement in the usual burden of age-related disorders. They did not develop cataracts, avoided the usual wasting of muscle with age, and could exercise much longer on a mouse treadmill. They retained the fat layers in the skin that usually thin out with age and, in people, cause wrinkling.

Of course, you can’t go changing the genes of humans as you can those of mice.

Another study, also published in Nature, looked at mechanisms involving senescent cells.

At the end of their life cycle or if their genetic information has been damaged or modified, cells either pass through a precisely organized programme of cell death or decline into a kind of “hibernation”, the so-called senescence. This resting state prevents defective cells from proliferating in an uncontrolled way and thus avoids the formation of tumors. Professor Lars Zender, head of the HZI research group Chronic Infections and Cancer, and his team were able to demonstrate that the immune system plays a crucial role in the continuous surveillance of these resting cells. “By this means the body avoids further alterations of cells that possibly result in cancer”, explains Lars Zender.

For the investigation of the association between senescence, immune defense and cancer development, Lars Zender and his team used molecular biological methods in order to induce the senescence programme in liver cells of laboratory mice. “We were distinctly able to see that the immune system initiates a reaction against the modified cells”, says Zender. After a few weeks the modified cells were eliminated.

Chief among those reactions is the persistent, low-level inflammation we see in so many chronic illnesses. Interestingly, some of the most common of these were not so common 100 years ago when infectious diseases were the bigger concern:

Leading Causes of Death, 1900

Leading Causes of Death, 2007

  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Diarrhea & enteritis
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Injuries
  • Cancer
  • Senility
  • Diphtheria
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases
  • Unintentional injuries
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Diabetes
  • Influenza & pneumonia
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis
  • Septicemia

What accounts for such differences? On the one hand, better hygiene and sanitation did much to cut down the rates of infectious diseases. What establishment medicine can’t explain so well, though, are the emergence of Alzheimer’s and the broad increase in inflammatory conditions, including non-lethal but chronic “enigmatic” illnesses of recent origin such as CFS, MCS and fibromyaligia.

What gave rise to this culture of illness we’ve created? Chip Ward gives as good an explanation as any in this excellent article. One thing’s clear: We can’t just keep throwing money at the problem (as if Americans aren’t already spending far too much on “health care” – 400% more today than in 1970, according to Bill Clinton’s new book, and 700% more on insurance).

The medical establishment tells us that “age is the main risk factor for disease,” as if getting older equals getting sick. But conventional Western practice understands very little about the mechanisms involved. German biological medicine tells us a lot.

Founded on solid science, German biological medicine shows that by stimulating the immune system – the living matrix – to remove bioaccumulations of toxins, the body can self-regulate and return to healthy homeostasis. The toxins come from both external sources (e.g., pollution, diet, drug use, infection) and internal (e.g., byproducts of metabolic processes). The body’s reaction to them – all its attempts to remove them, successful or not – triggers the cell aging associated with chronic disease.

By the time that process has begun, the terrain is already very disordered and polluted. Its attempts to self-regulate appear as pathological reactions – like mistakes or malfunctions. But in fact, it’s behaving exactly as we’d expect, as I discuss this in detail in my e-book How Illness Happens: An Introduction to the Biological Terrain [PDF].

I strongly encourage you to read – or re-read – this book now to familiarize yourself with the concepts that underlie the rest of this article. What’s to come may sound complicated, but it’s important to me that you understand the science. Only then can you profoundly understand your current health situation, what we need to do to restore your terrain to health and how the progression of disease may be reversed.

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. – Japanese proverb

From Our Blog:

Why Doesn’t Everyone Exposed to the Virus Get the Flu?

It’s that time of year again: The annual insistence on flu shots.

Flu shot ad

But wait! This year, there’s a twist!

In an unusual turn of events, this year’s flu shot is exactly the same as last year’s, but experts say you should get it again anyway.

The vaccine usually changes annually to combat the three primary forms of the ever-shifting influenza virus circulating that year. You need a new shot because the virus is different enough from its past incarnations that your immune system won’t recognize it.

This time, health officials say you need to get another shot because last year’s may have worn off.

And who is this “you”? The Centers for Disease Control says “everyone 6 months or older.” And flu shots are often especially stressed for those in “high risk groups”: the very young, the elderly and those with certain chronic health conditions. But while the shot is said to be effective for “young, healthy adults,” it’s

Adjacent signs, prayer & flu shots

not as effective for very young children, the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems. One argument for vaccinating everyone every year is that it protects the people who are most vulnerable to flu, but also least likely to have a powerful response to the vaccine.

Yes, the flu can be a life-threatening disease, but let’s keep things in perspective. Only a small portion of the US population gets the flu in any given year: 5 to 20%, according to the CDC. Between 1976 and 2006, annual flu-related death estimates ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. By way of comparison,

  • Deaths from heart disease: 616,067
  • From cancer: 562,875
  • From stroke: 135,952
  • From chronic respiratory diseases: 127,924
  • From accidents: 123,706
  • From Alzheimer’s: 74,632
  • From diabetes: 71,382

Walgreen's sign advertising flu shotsNotably, except for accidents, all of these conditions are largely preventable, not by vaccines but healthy, balanced lifestyle choices. And the flu can be prevented just as naturally.

No doubt, you know people who have stayed healthy through flu season without getting the shot. You probably also know people who have come down with the flu despite having been vaccinated. The simple fact is, it takes more than a virus to cause the flu. As the authors of arecent study in PLoS Genetics put it, “Exposure to influenza viruses is necessary, but not sufficient, for healthy human hosts to develop symptomatic illness.”

To see how the body responds when exposed to a flu virus, this research team

infected 17 healthy people with the flu virus and discovered that everyone who is exposed to the flu actually is affected by it, but their bodies just have a different way of reacting to it. Half of the study participants got sick; the other half didn’t notice a thing.

“Many people might conclude that if you are exposed to a virus and you don’t get sick, it’s because the virus didn’t stick or it was so weak, it just passed right through your system and your system didn’t notice. That’s not a correct notion,” says Alfred Hero, professor at the University of Michigan College of Engineering and author of the study….

He continues, “There is an active immune response which accounts for the resistance of certain people getting sick, and that response is just as active as the response we all know and hate, which is being sick with the sniffles, fever, coughing and sneezing. It’s just that the responses are different.”

Exactly. And this is entirely in line with what scientists such as biologist Antoine Béchamp and physiologist Claude Bernard established way back in the 19th century: In and of themselves, “germs” don’t cause disease. Rather, disease – and health – are dictated by the state of the body’s internal environment, the biological terrain. When it’s healthy, clean and well-ordered, a person resists disease with a robust immune response. When it’s not, the body can’t self-regulate as it evolved to do but still tries to recover from injury or the assault of toxins, be they natural (like a flu virus) or human-made (like chemical residues). We experience this failure as illness.

In either case, the body responds. There’s always a reaction. The question is what kind of reaction it will be. Illness is one response; fending off illness is another.

To learn more about the biological terrain and its role in illness and health, see Dr. Verigin’s articles here.

For more articles like this one, as well as health news, tips and video, visit our blog, Know Thy Health.

If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it. – Toni Morrison

Image credits (via Flickr)


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