Issue #28, February 2010
In This Issue:
Overcoming Challenges – A New Understanding of Illness & Healing – Beyond Just Brushing
JoAnne’s Motivational Minute: Overcoming Challenges
By JoAnne Boettcher-Verigin
As I walked through my garden this morning, I saw that the early bulbs have already begun to bud and bloom. No doubt their growth has been sped along by the blessed abundance of rain we’ve had this winter. The jays, sparrows, robins and other familiar birds were active and singing, almost as if spring – a time of new life, new beauty and new opportunities – were already here.
I’m sure many of us think spring’s gifts can’t get here fast enough. This past year has been one of great challenges, and it looks like those challenges will continue. The state of the global economy is frightening. There’s great unrest and uncertainty in our own country and abroad. Just how do we get through it – not only coping but thriving in spite of it?
To persevere is to “persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement.” And the key to perseverance is to first know what that purpose, idea or task is. Then comes commitment. Then comes movement.
I was born at the end of the Great Depression. During the Midwestern dustbowl years, my parents, many of their siblings and their parents moved to the West in hope of making better lives for themselves. They didn’t have a lot of material things, but they did have their vision of a preferred future and were willing to do what it took to achieve it. And when new obstacles arose or got thrown in their path, they inevitably heeded the advice of our then-president FDR: “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen. – Frank Lloyd Wright
Of course, as a child, I was mostly oblivious to the challenges my family faced. Now I have come through years of challenges, and new ones regularly appear – just as they do for you. The easiest things to do are negative – despair, complain, give up – but only if we have failed to commit ourselves to our beliefs and goals, and to nurture that commitment through positive thoughts, relationships and actions. For perseverance is an expression of optimism: the belief that all shall be well even when times are really tough. For no one perseveres who thinks they can’t make it to their goal.
With springtime fast approaching, the wonders of nature’s renewal are a stimulus we should not ignore – a stimulus to renew ourselves and our commitment to ourselves, our loved ones and all the things we want to achieve.
It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before…to test your limits…to break through barriers. And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful thatn the risk it took to blossom. – Anaïs Nin
Dr. Verigin’s Comment: A Biological Dentist’s Perspective of Living Systems
Part 1: A New Understanding of Illness & Healing
By Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN
The history of modern scientific thought falls into two distinct eras: before and after Einstein.
Before, Newtonian thought ruled. Named after the work of Sir Isaac Newton, this kind of thinking is rational, linear, law-driven and materialistic. (“Materialism” is the belief that only matter exists, and everything that happens results from interactions of matter.)
It’s also the foundation of modern Western medicine, which views human beings as complex, cybernetic machines. It sees the body as a kind of biological computer made up of structural or specialized tissues, organs, enzymes, amino acids and membrane receptors all controlled by the central and peripheral nervous systems. Thus, establishment dentists see surgical treatment as their main intervention. If a cavity forms, the dentist will clean out the decay and restore the tooth with metal, composite or ceramic. If a tooth’s pulp dies, the dentist will perform a root canal or remove the tooth since you can’t restore circulation to the pulpal complext once its tissues have started to decay.
So this is the modus operandi of Newtonian medicine: remove the “diseased” component or destroy abnormally functioning cells or tissues, but don’thelp the individual heal him or herself.
When Einstein came along in the early 20th century, his experiments in high energy particle physics changed our understanding of the universe. Unfortunately, they had less effect on many people’s understanding of the human body. They should have, though, starting with Einstein’s great insight that matter and energy are really two forms of the same thing. Matter can be turned into energy and, on the particle level, energy can be turned into matter. This one-and-the-same thing is the universal substance of which we are all composed: a sea of vibrating energy.
Rather than seeing ourselves as biological computers, then, it makes more sense to know ourselves as dynamic energy systems vibrating at specific frequencies that can be affected by positive or negative energy. We are likewise affected by our nutritional intake, our living environment, emotions and spiritual beliefs. All together, these influence our physical and cellular systems of growth and physical expression.
A New Understanding of Illness & Healing: Homotoxicology
I was first introduced to nontoxic dentistry by the great German physician Reinhard Voll in 1984, when he gave a talk called “East Meets West: Integrating Concepts from Asia and Europe.” He spoke of how toxic dentistry makes it hard, if not impossible, for doctors to adequately help their patients heal. But some of his most captivating material was on Dr. Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg’s concept of illness. Reckeweg called it homotoxicology, since it involves both toxicology (the study of how toxins affect the human body) and pathology (the study and diagnosis of disease).
In some ways, and especially at first, homotoxicology is a tough concept to grasp fully. But doing so is worth the time and effort since it gives us a new and better understanding of how illness happens – and thus how healing can happen. So we’ll take some time here to cover the basics and lay the groundwork for future articles in which we’ll explore the healing process.
Everything that happens in and to the body does so from the transformation of chemical compounds. Some of these resulting homotoxins can be harmful to human health. The body does all it can to defend itself against them, but if they accumulate, the body ultimately becomes sick or dysfunctional.
There are two main sources of homotoxins: lifestyle factors and environment. (As we shall see later, these are also the two main sources of health.) The former include things like poor diet/nutrition (I urge you to see the film Food, Inc. for information about the impact of industrially produced food), sedentary habits, lack of sleep, drug use (licit and illicit) and chronic stress. The latter include polluted air and water, and chemical exposure from a wide range of consumer products, especially health and beauty products.
Additionally, doctors sometimes place toxins in our bodies, such as when they give vaccines or drugs. Toxins may also be implanted by dentists who unknowingly place restoration materials to which the individual is sensitive or knowingly place mercury amalgam fillings.
In waging its war against homotoxins, the body tries to repair itself. The reactions of this self-repair are what Western school doctors call “symptoms” but Reckeweg rightly called illness. Understood in this way, illness is a biologically goal-oriented and useful process. Illness is the expression of the body’s defense systems trying to eliminate, neutralize or compensate for toxins.
Now, no illness or disease just happens all of a sudden. It develops over time, and the longer it’s allowed to progress, the worse it gets. Specifically, it goes through distinct stages, as Reckeweg showed in his “Table of Homotoxicosis.” This table can be used as a sort of road map to follow the progression of disease – or its regression when healing occurs. In fact, it served as Reckeweg’s guide for the selection of pro-life homeopathic and herbal remedies in treatment. (Medicines such as antibiotics are literally anti-life.)
Table of Homotoxicosis – Click here to download a PDF of the table.
The table presents the six phases of illness in left to right order, from minor ailments to the fatal. The first three are:
- Excretion, in which toxins are excreted through orifaces – for instance, via sweat through the pores or coughing through the mouth,
- Inflammation, in which inflammatory processes kick in to destroy the toxins,
- Deposition, in which toxins become trapped within layers of the body’s internal environment, the biological terrain.
All together, these make up what Reckeweg called the Humoral Phase of illness. This is because the body’s intracellular systems aren’t yet much disturbed. Its defense systems are still mostly intact and able to remove the homotoxins. Once cellular and immune systems are compromised, though, we move into the next trio of phases – Impregnation, Degeneration and Dedifferentiation – collectively known as the Cellular Phase. At this point, the body’s defense systems have an increasingly hard time removing toxins. Eventually, they become so rigid, they can no longer do so. Illnesses become graver, developing into what Reckeweg called the constitutional diseases. During Degeneration, the entire being may be involved in the illness, but in Dedifferentiation, the cell genome itself is damaged. The biological terrain fails to protect the genetic code. This is the stage in which we see diseases such as cancer. Physical degeneration is the norm.
This process, moving from health through disease, is known as progressive vicariation.
The illnesses charted by Reckeweg can be sorted further into tissue groups that correspond with the four blastocytes that are present in the human embryo:
- Ectoderm – central and peripheral nervous systems; the sensory tissue linings of the ear, nose and eye; skin; mammary glands; subcutaneous glands (glands just under the skin) and tooth enamel
- Endoderm – linings of the GI and respiratory tracts, urinary bladder and urethra, tympanic cavity of the ear and the Eustachian tube; tonsils, thyroid, parathyroids, thymus, liver and pancreas
- Mesoderm – kidneys, reproductive system and heart; serous membranes that line the heart, lung and abdominal cavities and cementum of tooth roots
- Mesenchyme – connective tissue and cartilage; the skeletal, hematopoietic (blood component producing) and lymphatic systems, including the spleen
Outright symptoms of definitive disease or illness may be absent until the damage is quite widespread.
Additionally, what Reckeweg called the Physiological Defense System – or what Pischinger called the body’s Basic Regulative System – can also be sorted into five subdivisions, each with a common overlap and inter-connectedness. These systems similarly work together to remove homotoxins or compensate for them and the damage they do.
That they work together in this way is something that brings us hope and optimism, for progressive vicariation is not the only option. It is not inevitable. For just as one can move left to right along Reckeweg’s chart, one can also move right to left. This movement is called regressive vicariation, and it involves the gradual improvement in the in ability to eliminate toxins. It is movement toward health. It is healing.
In our next issue, we’ll get into the matter of how to cause this improvement, particularly with respect to individuals considering the removal of dental obstacles and burdens in order to enhance their healing.
When our focus is toward a principle of relatedness and oneness, and away from fragmentation and isolation, health ensues. – Larry Dossey
From Our Blog:
For Healthy Teeth and Gums, Just Brushing Isn’t Enough
Conventional wisdom says that you should brush your teeth after meals or at least twice a day to avoid tooth decay. But it doesn’t follow that so long as you brush regularly, you’ll get no cavities. A number of other factors work together to determine this – things such as dietary habits and genetic susceptibility. It’s also not just important that you brush. How you brush matters just as much.
Consider a study recently published in the Swedish Dental Journal.
The study examined 500 randomly selected adolescents from Västra Götaland (Fyrbodal and Skaraborg). “On average, these adolescents had plaque on half of all tooth surfaces, which is certainly too much. Seven out of eight adolescents had more plaque than is currently deemed acceptable,” explains doctoral student Jessica Skoog Ericsson.
Gingivitis was also identified as a common problem resulting from poor oral hygiene. This can generally increase the risk of future dental problems as well as tooth-loosening.
This study shows that the vast majority of adolescents, 76 per cent, brush their teeth at least twice a day. Four per cent of adolescents also use dental floss daily, but just as many don’t clean their teeth at all some days.
76% brush twice daily. Nearly 90% have too much plaque – dental biofilm – on their teeth. Something doesn’t add up here.
Of course, we have to wonder whether one problem might be that the teens overstated how much they brushed.
“There may be some who are less than honest and say that they brush their teeth more regularly than they actually do, but other studies have shown that adolescents do generally brush their teeth on a regular basis. Poor oral hygiene is probably therefore due to them not brushing correctly and not using dental floss,” says Kajsa Henning Abrahamsson, a senior lecturer in odontology at the Sahlgrenska Academy.
Incorrect brushing may involve any number of things. For instance, if you don’t brush long enough or with the brush properly angled, you may leave some of the biofilm (plaque) intact. This lets it keep on colonizing, raising the risks of tooth decay. On the other hand, if you brush too aggressively, you can damage the gingival tissues (gums) to the point of exposing some of the tooth root, leaving the tooth “sensitive” – typically to sweet, hot or cold foods.
Another cause of sensitivity is erosion of or damage to the tooth enamel. This damage can come from excess intake of acidic foods and beverages – especially energy and sports drinks, and soda. In themselves, these can damage teeth (for more info, see this and this and this), but even more so if you brush shortly after consuming these high acid substances.
Similarly, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – a foaming agent commonly used in mass market toothpastes – can damage the gums, as can fluoride. The damage may further contribute to gum recession and sensitivity.
So how do you brush correctly?
- If eating or drinking highly acidic foods, wait at least a half hour after consumption before brushing your teeth.
- Use a soft-bristled brush.
- Use a toothpaste that is SLS-free, as well as fluoride-free.
- When you brush, do so for two minutes, or 30 seconds on each quadrant. Keeping the brush at a 45° angle to the gum line, brush towards the top of each tooth. Clean each tooth individually, overlapping as you move through your mouth. In front, where your dental arches narrow and curve, use the tip of your brush.
Of course, brushing alone is not enough. Flossing is vital to good oral health, too, as it cleans areas most toothbrushes miss or can’t get to: between teeth and around their stems to the gumline. If not regularly cleaned well, the gums become puffy and swollen. They may bleed during flossing or when probed by a dentist. These are signs of gum disease. Eventually, pockets will form between the gums and teeth, leading to greater infection, inflammation and ultimately bone and tooth loss. (The progression of periodontal disease is shown clearly in this slide show.)
Flossing is one of the best things you can do to keep this from happening, but again, it’s important to know how to floss correctly and well.
For taking good care of your teeth between dental visits is the best insurance you can have for keeping a healthy and attractive smile.
For more articles like this one, as well as health news, tips and video, visit our blog, Know Thy Health.
Health is an active pursuit, not a passive result. – Noni Kaufman