Disease pathogenesis versus causes of disease.

Any condition you have, even if quite sudden and unexpected, came on by a process called disease pathogenesis.

It didn't just happen. A chain of events was involved, stretching back days, weeks, months or years - perhaps even to "past lives¹."

If you come down with the flu or measles, there will have been an “incubation period” during which the virus was silently multiplying in your body. Before that you may have been burning the candle at both ends and run down, so that you were a sitting duck² for the next virus that came along.

Any long standing condition³ can be assumed to need attention to the relevant causes, if it is to be eliminated entirely – or even managed adequately.

This requires us to be clear on what are causes and what are parts of our response to the causes (the subsequent disease process.).

The plural here is deliberate. Multiple causes can operate in parallel (together at the same time) or in series (one after the other, at different stages of the process.) One example is multistage carcinogenesis⁴<span style='font-size: 50%'>,12 – initiation, promotion and progression.

From Hoffer and Osmond⁸...

There are few things in life which have one cause. There are no diseases where single causes operate. On the contrary, there is no limit to the number and diversity of causes which may work together in producing any disease.

Quoting Dr. Archie Kalokerinos (1979)...

There must be thousands of factors, but if you can remove the main ones, then maybe you can tolerate the ones that you can't remove and you will lessen the risk of any problem. For example, if you have six legs on a table, you can probably cut up to three of them off and the table will still stand. Then you cut another off and the table will fall.

Genes, where our personal disease pathogenesis starts (?)

Gregor Mendel's experiments⁵ with garden peas made it sound quite simple. It was believed that one gene allele (particular variety of this gene)causes one result.

We now know however, that genes can be turned on and off (expressed or not) and can have different effects in different circumstances or in different combinations with other genes.

Despite our obvious differences, chimpanzees and humans genomes are 90% to 95% the same. The same genes are doing different things in two animals.

In our body skin, muscle and brain cells look and function quite differently, but all have exactly the same genes in their nuclei.

Maybe you chose your genes¹, and certainly you chose how to express them subsequently (through diet and lifestyle.)
This “epigenetic modification"⁶ is passed on to the new cells when the involved cell divides into two to replace a worn out cell, so it is passed on in that individual.

Dr. John Harrison, in his outstanding book "Love Your Disease. It's Keeping You Healthy," says...

"Predisposition to diseases are often not passed on in a physical sense (that is, through transmission of faulty genes), but rather through the messages parents give their offspring and the living habits and diet they pass down."

This is not about beating yourself up over past decisions nor about blaming your parents.
It is all to do with accepting that change can happen, in suitable circumstances. In fact it does happen all the time, dependant on circumstances.
Disease pathogenesis can be reversed.

Louise Hay says it all in the title of her wonderful book ...”You Can Heal Your Life.”

Anything can be healed.

Ainslie Meares was a psychiatrist in Melbourne who let his medical qualification lapse so that he could pursue his chosen field. This was of a form of hypnosis meditation therapy. He wrote a best selling book called “Relief Without Drugs.”
He collected case histories from all over the world, of spontaneous recovery from proven cancers.

One I remember was of an unmarried woman in Japan who had been “sent to Coventry” by her family after she had an illegitimate child. She was confined to a barn and no-one spoke to her. Her food was placed at the door. She developed cancer and the family then forgave her and took her back in, and the cancer recovered spontaneously.

Anita Moorjani's NDE healing account is a wonderful example. Her book "Dying to be Me" is a good read, as is her account at nderf.org http://www.nderf.org .

So it's not “just the way I am” (inevitably, due to my inheritance) but a work in progress – a job needing doing.

Our microbiome, the proverbial elephant.

To quote Rodney Dietert and Ellen Silbergeld15...
"The field of environmental research has benefited greatly from the concept of biomarkers, which originally expanded our thinking by opening the “black box” between environmental exposures and manifestations of disease and dysfunction in exposed populations, as laid out in a highly influential article published in 1987 by an expert committee convened by the National Research Council. Advances in biomedical research now challenge us to revise this concept to include the microbiome as a critical stage in the progression from exposure to outcome."

In an excellent review article, Marvin Whiteley et al wrote
"In humans, most cancers of the ascending colon are associated with biofilms. These cancer-linked biofilms are both highly invasive, with bacteria penetrating into intestinal crypts, and polymicrobial. Interestingly, when comparing the composition of paired communities from cancerous mucosa with normal mucosa in the same patient, it was found that they are highly overlapping, indicating that it is not the enrichment of particular pathogenic species but rather the spatial organization of the community into a biofilm that can intimately associate with the epithelium that may be responsible for carcinogenesis.
However, it is important to note that so far these studies are correlative. It is also possible that changes that occur, independently of the microbiota, in environments in which tumours develop are conducive to both tumorigenesis and the re-organization of the microbiota into biofilms."

Where to look for causes of diseases.

Multidetermination in human phenomena was one of Sigmund Freud's main hypotheses, along with the importance of unconscious mental processes and biological drives.

In disease pathogenesis, lots of factors work together or one after the other, often towards a final common pathway of dysfunction.

Socio-economic and geographic factors hide a multitude of more fundamental causes.
If you lived in Love Canal, exposure to dioxins would be part of the story.
Location at higher latitudes could result in lower vitamin D production in your skin.
Living in Pakistan, India or Bangldesh could result in arsenic poisoning from groundwater.

The basic causes have to be too little or too much of something.

Dietary intakes of essential trace elements, vitamins, essential fatty acids, phytonutrients, good quality protein and water are commonly below optimum even in “developed” countries.

Even good intake may not be enough. Elite sports, overactive thyroid gland or genetic polymorphisms⁹ can require greater than normal intakes for optimal functioning.

Like a small child, you have to repeatedly ask the same question..."why"

For instance, intake and assimilation of the above nutrients might be reduced by poor digestion or appetite from some infection or chronic disease.

You will be progressively unravelling the steps of the disease pathogenesis, back towards the basic causes which you need to address.

About diagnosis or labelling of diseases

One of my patients, when asked by a friend what ailed him, replied “nothing I don't know about.”
Another patient told me “We can handle anything as long as we know. (Otherwise) you imagine everything under the sun.”

Certainty is more comfortable than uncertainty. “the devil you know...”

Naming something gives us the feeling that we understand it, or that our health professional hopefully understands it.

Naming is potentially powerful¹<span style='font-size: 50%'>. Thus it may be considered inappropriate, as in the Jewish tradition not to name God - the tetragammaton YHVH was unutterable. In the Harry Potter stories people could not name voldemort.
Naming the illness may help give us a feeling of being in control.

We tell our story and have a physical examination. Our health professional decides on a differential diagnosis (a list of  likely categories of illness.)

Further direct questions, more detailed examinations, pathology and imaging tests may then be used to reduce the possibilities to hopefully just one label.

This labelling involves applying a systematic body of knowledge, and the system used restricts the possible diagnostic categories.

There are many systems available, such as modern western, traditional Chinese or Ayurvedic medicine.
Each system has a different idea of how disease pathogenesis works.

Other systems include homeopathy, Dr.Ryke Geerd Hamer's German New Medicine, Dietrich klinghardt's pyramid, homotoxicology stages of disease, Sam Queen's six subclinical defects⁷, reactive organs and meridians in kinesiology and Huneke's neural therapy interference fields - all with good scientific background and/or practical value.

Prof. Trevor Marshall talks about successive infections modifying the immune function progressively and the role of vitamin D and its receptor. This is a very good page, well worth reading carfully.

Commercial airliners have multiple backup hydraulics systems. Jet fighters have two completely different computor systems. When one has serious illness, reliance on just one paradigm for sorting it, is likely to be inadequate. Modern western medicine definitely does not have all the answers.

Association, causality, reverse causality

There was a well known thief in Dimboola, too cunning to ever be caught. He stole some hay once and the police thought the evidence cast-iron, with a trail of hay leading from the victim's home to his. He defended himself successfully by accusing the victim of stealing his hay.

If a particular circumstance and a condition occur together more than explained by chance, this doesn't prove cause and effect. Both may be caused by some other unsuspected factor, or the "condition" may have caused the "circumstance."

Someone used an analogy of a car trip¹¹. Researchers trying to separate data variables into drivers and the passengers, while they may all be passengers just be along for the ride with an as yet unknown variable actually doing the driving.

In the observational "Nurses Health Study" hormone replacement therapy was associated with better outcomes over the years. This was used to justify prescription of HRT for more than simply relief of hot flushes.

Later, in the "Women's Health Initiative" trial, the earlier understanding was turned on its head dramatically. This was a randomized, placebo controlled intervention trial. It proved that HRT was not responsible for the better outcomes seen in the observational trial. Nurses who chose to take HRT had obviously made other lifestyle and diet choices which gave them better health.

Uncertainty is the norm, not the exception

The scientific evidence base for most of medical practice is really quite meagre. It is increasingly being modified by commercial interests.

In everyday practice, this is something one just has to live with. See the uncertainty principle page

To quote James B. Beal¹⁴...

"Life processes are of an extremely complex nature. They are dynamic processes involving systems and subsystems, forever changing through a constant holding pattern right on down to the atomic level and beyond (fields within fields!). We understand little about the single cell and its functions. What happens when you put billions of cells together to form brain and body and then expose to another dynamic variable, the environment? Several orders of magnitude of complexity exist to challenge our technical capabilities. Thus, it is not surprising that occasionally hierarchical [higher order] phenomena may occur in healing (and other areas) which cannot be explained by conventional means."
Modern attempts to deal with this complexity use a lot of computer power and "iteration" to explore the networks of potential causes and effects on the different levels of organization in our bodies. This is called "systems biology."
From this article...
"Common human diseases originate from a more complex interplay between constellations of changes in DNA (both rare and common variations) and a broad range of factors such as diet, age, gender and exposure to environmental toxins."

The anniversary reaction

From Dr. Denise Moffat's biography¹³...

"For about 20 years after the NDE at a certain time of the year, around the anniversary of the experience, I found myself subconsciously looking for a way out of living. One time I swallowed a huge bottle of orange-flavored aspirin because I was hungry and needing a midnight snack–Got my stomach pumped then. Once I nearly drowned in the local swimming hole and was rescued by my blood father–I found I didn’t even resist and try to swim. Lights were flashing all around me and it was so peaceful, then he yanked me out. Another time I choked on a cherry and was rescued by a friend. The next summer I was almost hit by a car. Once you’ve seen the other side you’re not afraid to go back. That drive to return to heaven can be strong and I do believe that it is a common undiagnosed cause of depression."

One's course after disease diagnosis.

To quote Dr. Julian L. Seifter

"I always tell them that it is serious, but it’s not the end of all possibilities — you’re alive till you are dead. It’s not over till it’s over."

This interview is a good read, on how he encourages people to take up very satisfying new possibilities when disabled by illness.

Too often the pathogenesis of disease doesn't stop with a diagnosis, but includes progressive deconditioning and emotional fragility. If you're watching this happening to a loved one or to yourself, this little note may help you think outside the box.

Aaron Antonovsky had a term for the opposite of pathogenesis, salutogenesis. This process of health development can be started at any stage, particularly by involvement in things which are satisfying and help to make life more interesting.

Disease pathogenesis notes and references.

1. Soozi Holbeche wrote "Journeys Through Time A guide to reincarnation and your immortal soul." 1995 Piatkus ISBN 0-7499-1466-1

The following are exerpts from her book...

p 43

“we are not mere physical creatures moving from birth to death, but spiritual creators of our own reality.”


“A body, like an artist's painting, is a unique expression of imagination and creativity. It is a living record of everything that has ever happened to it....Every cell, muscle, tissue as well as the bones and systems of the body, contain memory...When new cells are born into a a particular matrix of thought and emotion, they hold that memory....This is why many therapists when doing various types of bodywork pick up or diagnose the source of a patient's problems, instead of the symptom."

P 62 - 63

“Strange lumps, bumps and scars often bear witness to how a past-life personality died – especially when it was a violent death....Titu, whose story I told at the beginning of the chapter, has a purple birth-mark in the exact spot where the bullet hit him when he was Uma's husband....It is as if the child has so strongly integrated the traumatic memory of his past death that he uses his new body to say: 'Look what happened to me!'”

p 118

“...our first earthly experiences had to be those of observers rather than participants. As we evolve in intelligence and understanding, we incarnate into a physical body, through which we can then consciously participate in life. Today many 'new-to-planet-earth-souls' get their observer experience in bodies that suffer from cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome, autism, mental retardation, paralysis or other life-restricting diseases. (Of course, this is not the sole reason for such problems.)”

2 I do like mixing metaphors. If this confuses you, my apologies.

3. Any experience at all, even if only brief, has some sort of significance for us. Sometimes this is obvious, as when a previously elusive memory suddenly surfaces in response to a cue from our surroundings.

4. Human colorectal carcinoma – Fusobacterium nucleatum infection probably causative (http://genome.cshlp.org/content/22/2/299.abstract,) 5 genes mutated – APC, MCC P53, DCC and ras

At the level of Chemical messenger molecules, complement Decay Accelerating Factor (CD55), vascular endothelial growth factor, HLA-G, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β, cyclo-oxygenase (COX)-2, histamine and Interleukin-10 are all overproduced in colon cancer and contribute to the cancer escaping damage from the immune system.

5. Gregor Mendel experimented in the 1860's when genetics were not understood. He used different varieties of garden peas, and showed patterns of inheritance much later understood as due to paired genes on the two DNA molocules.

6 Chemical changes in genes or their promoters, which can be passed on to the progeny of the cell and which change how the information in the genes shows up in the cells form or function.
Brain, skin and muscle cells all have exactly the same DNA but look and act entirely differently because of their specific epigenetic modifications – which are passed on to each new brain, skin or muscle cell.

7. Sam Queen has a "health model" rather than a disease model. His six subclinical defects operate across the whole spectrum of named "diseases." They are acid/base imbalance, anaerobic metabolism, free calcium excess, chronic inflammation, connective tissue breakdown and oxidative stress.

See http://designed2win.com/blog/?author=3

8. Abram Hoffer and Humphry Osmond: How To Live With Schizophrenia: Citadel Press 1974

9. Genetic polymorphisms are just inherited differences, which may involve only one of a string of thousands of nucleotide bases in a gene. An extreme example is vitamin B 6 dependency, where 100 times the usual level of B6 is needed to prevent convulsions.

10. Reciting The Lord's Prayer, Hindu mantras such as "Om Namah Shivaya" and Stuart Wilde's "I am eternal, immortal, universal and infinite" etc link one into goodness, invoke the Godhead. The mind which recites these, acknowledges oneness with the Godhead.

Naming a condition similarly invokes a large body of information agreed upon by many stakeholders.

11. Exceptionally Brash, commenting on a blog by Denise Minger, on 28th December 2011. The-truth-about-ancel-keys-weve-all-got-it-wrong/

12. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe1412902

14. http://frontpage.simnet.is/vgv/jim1.htm

From disease pathogenesis page back to main index page

13. naturalhealthtechniques.com/category/about_us

15. Biomarkers for the 21st Century: Listening to the Microbiome


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