Together, let’s put an end to deteriorating health

Reductionist Thinking In Medicine: The Good and the Bad of It

Dear Friends,

How do the policies for sustainable economy, environmental quality and social equity interact with the equation of health?

Over the last nine months we have been discussing, in our weekly newsletter, the phenomena of de-evolution; the reality that life on planet earth has become less hospitable for the more highly evolved phyla, in particular the human species. As I have of late been drilling deeper into this topic through looking at the cellular components and communications between the GI tract microbiome and the cells of the gastrointestinal mucous membrane, the underlying immune system, nervous system and endocrine system, it is easy to become enthralled with the complex networks of communicating molecules, pathways and feedback loops; the world of cytokines (chemokines, lymphokines, TNF, interleukins, interferons), hormones and neurotransmitters; cytokines being messengers of the immune system, hormones messengers of the endocrine system and neurotransmitters messengers of the brain and nervous system, and yet there is so much more to explore! But today we need to step back and look at the big picture, grasp the system and its interacting parts as a whole live system.

I liken my experience to that of doctors, charged with the task of discovering the causes for their patients’ illnesses. Trained in the mechanics and physiology of the body, viewing our bodies as metabolic machines, taking in food as fuel, capturing the energy within foods to run our thousands of metabolic processes within each cell, and no question—the detailed understanding of these metabolic pathways and processes involved has been a productive path for modern western medicine—and yet, looking at and understanding of the workings of the parts doesn’t result in a complete understanding of the whole. The reality of the whole is more than the sum of the parts. This is the awakening that modern systems theory imparts.

So lets refresh and enlighten our perspective by looking at the bigger picture driving the calamity of chronic illness across the world. To understand how de-evolution is slowly and surely progressing, we need to see the holism of our existence.

The Systemic View

Modern mainstream medicine has been governed by a reductionist model that presupposes that the truth about disease can fully be discovered by dividing the whole into part, endlessly dividing, which means increasingly specializing in the minutia. Much knowledge about the workings of life has been gained by this approach but the whole of the human organism and ecological relationships to the world outside itself has been forsaken, to the point where fast foods have been adopted as acceptable nutrition.

Our food system has been co-opted worldwide by a handful of giant transnational corporation, abusing agricultural practices in many countries around the world, causing environmental havoc, economical hardships and poisoned food with herbicides and pesticides, consequentially giving the world’s citizen food of little wholesome value for the maintenance and repair work that our bodies need. And worse yet—our body has to perform in the inhospitably toxic environment, the earth we call home!

So the health issues we are experiencing have both micro and macro components, and the whole must be considered by the medical doctor in seeking solutions to heal their patients.

The danger of mainstream medicine today is its historic reliance on reductionist thinking as the ultimate method to determine the truth about disease. From general practice to specialties, from specialties to specialties of specialties, doctors have moved deeper into the abyss of detailed minutia in the search for answers to disease dilemmas. The belief that disease can be understood, explained fully by looking at the parts in greater and greater detail is proving to be far from the whole.

The shift in medical thinking that must occur on a large scale— across all disciplines of medicine—is that a human is an organism that is intimately connected to all life forms, to our ecosystem, and to the world around us. How we handle our relationships with all the elements around us has a direct implication on our health. Hence, our deep concern for focusing on such imperatives as creating economic sustainability, environmental quality, and social equity: a holistic system of viewing our existence and every day life activities.

Optical Delusion by Albert Einstein:

A human being is a part of a whole, called by us —universe— a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Sincerely yours,

Seann Bardell

Clinical Note: Obesity is rampant in the world. One billion people are overweight or obese. We can certainly see it here in the USA: 65% of Americans—193 million people are overweight. What is going on?

A living organism is characterized by continual flow and change in its metabolism involving thousands of chemical reactions. We eat, taking food in, combining organic molecules with oxygen, capturing the energy within the sugar in an energy-carrying molecule to be transported within the cell to the various centers needing fuel. The energy can be used for metabolic functions or can be stored as fat. People are in the excess storage business today.

Consider the usage of fiber rich foods to slow down absorption of sugars, and increase the metabolic expenditure of energy. Combine the fiber rich Beta Glucan Synbiotic Formula with protein powders, or yogurts or both, adding organic fruit to create a wholesome, filling meal or snack. (Add a teaspoon of the Cruciferous Sprouts to enhance liver performance and increase antioxidant protection). Interchange with the Original Synbiotic Formula.


The Last Quiz Answer: The Amur Leopard, native to the Russian Far East, is one of the rarest felines in the world with an estimated 30 to 35 individuals remaining in the wild. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has deemed the emerald leopard critically endangered, meaning that it is considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

Raj Patel is right on the mark as to the big picture in his book, Stuffed and Starved (2007). “The hunger of 800 million happens at the same time as another historical first: that they are outnumbered by the one billion people on this planet who are overweight… the route to eradicating world hunger is also the way to prevent global epidemics of diabetes and heart disease” (p.1). The following is a video of a talk given by Dr. Patel in Berkeley.

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