Chronic Diseases of the 21st Century
DISEASE DELUSION – Anna’s commentary
The father of Functional Medicine Jeffery Bland asks you to cast your mind back to the late nineteenth century and recall the diseases that brought fear and loss to many.. diphtheria, whooping cough, pneumonia, influenza, even plague routinely swept our county.
These diseases were the reality for many that decimated and destroyed our communities throughout our ages. At the time it was believed that noxious vapours from decaying matter were that cause, and to be avoided.
Scientists such as Lister, Koch, Pasteur revolutionised the way illness was perceived from the previous ages, which in turn transformed medicine. Medicine no longer sought to avert the population from poisonous vapours, but to instead target and hunt for germs! And with that, the germ theory was born.
And so too was the age of antibiotics and vaccinations as these methods greatly succeeded in treating infectious diseases very well.
But!, did we get it 100% correct?
On his death bed, Pasteur admitted that his germ theory was flawed. Bechamp’s theory of environmental influence was to supersede Pasteur’s germ theory in practice at least. Which, translates into how the cell responds to its environment, whether it be the petri-dish or the body, it is the environment within which it is placed. Also known as our Bio-terrain / body-terrain.
As hygiene improved, so pathological disease did decline. But in tandem with vaccination, to considerably blur the picture.
Germ theory, although discredited, remained the model of allopathic medicine.
A new family of illnesses did also grow in prevalence and severity over the last 100 years. These are Chronic Complex Health Diseases.
Chronic Diseases are defined by their nature, in that they never really ever go away. On the contrary, the picture deepens, as the individual becomes more susceptible to reaching a lowered state and thresh-hold to stress. Over time the severity of symptoms often increases, disabling and draining the life out of every cell.
Chronic Complex Health Diseases are on the increase
- Heart and blood-vessel diseases like type 1 & 2 diabetes, gout, high blood pressure, and dementia.
- Autoimmune disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorders and autism
- Digestive diseases: gastric reflux, duodenal ulcer, and inflammatory bowel
- Bone loss diseases like osteoporosis
- Obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma
- Muscle pain and weakness from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia
- Kidney and liver ailments
- Vision problems like macular degeneration and retinopathy
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic diseases are not self-limiting. The common cold is self-limiting. It runs its course and then it is gone.
Chronic diseases do not have a single cause. And this is very important to understand, both within diagnosis and treatment. Which is why General Practice medicine is so bad at dealing with chronic diseases. When it looks for a single diagnosis and treatment or for a single organism it does not find the answer it seeks for.
Chronic illnesses have complex symptom profiles, with hard to specify causes of no single origin.
Which means that they don’t go away, rather too frequently they get worse and worse over time as we attempt to palliate but not successfully obliterate the condition.
Fortunately, the model of medicine that is becoming increasingly recognised and respected, Functional Medicine, looks at patterns, not pathologies. Addressing dysfunctions that underly modern-day chronic diseases. And fortunately offering a model of care that can prevent and even reverse these illnesses.
Functional Medicine looks at genotype predispositions via nutrigenomics and epigenetics. It also considers interactions between our biological systems (circulatory, digestive, nervous, respiratory, etc) and well as endotoxins and exotoxin stressors found within our environment.
Functional Medicine understands that our biological systems function successfully in an orchestra, even to the brink of chaos, but that our robust adaptogenic capacity can become maladaptive and even collapse over time. Some chronic diseases only manifest once we can no longer adapt healthily to stressors in a healthy hormetic capacity. Environmental toxicity and nutrient availability will have everything to do with how well we continue to adapt to stress. Not forgetting our predispositions to stress, described by our inborn epigenetic enzyme deletions known as SNP’s, which shape our shape us, even before we interface with the increasingly toxic and stressful environments.