There are many opposing paradigms in medicine. An example of this is the germ versus terrain debate.
Are chronic infections a root cause of many health problems or is it more of a terrain issue?
One paradigm states that germs are the root cause of many diseases.
This paradigm focuses on the use of antibiotics for treatment. The main concept of this group is that microorganisms invade us and are responsible for disease.
The other paradigm looks at the “terrain”.
This paradigm focuses on the need to tonify and strengthen the body.
The main concept of this paradigm is that the micoorganism only took over the host because of an underlying weakness.
It is possible that oversimplification and reductionist attitudes in medicine do our patients a disservice?
Perhaps we need to embrace both paradigms.
What does it mean to “Address the Terrain”?
By addressing the terrain, we look at all areas of the body to determine what is not working well.
In chronic disease states, we will likely find adrenal insufficiency, nutrient depletion, sleep abnormalities and poor food choices.
The gut microbiome may be disturbed from many years of not feeding it prebiotic foods such as inulin and potato starch.
Our adrenal glands may be taxed from the amount of anti-inflammatory hormones that they need to produce to combat the stress that has been placed on the body.
The adrenals may no longer be able to provide the body with energy (cortisol) to fight the infection.
In addition, when addressing the terrain, it is important to “look beyond the body”. Medicine in our society often segregates the mind and the body.
Either one has a disease of the body or a disease of the mind.
In taking a holistic approach, it is necessary that we begin to look at both the mind and the body in relationship to disease and wellness.
Many of us have toxic thoughts and emotions.
How many of us compare ourselves to others, measuring our success in relationship to theirs?
How many of us have had thoughts about our “lacks”, our imperfections and our self-dissatisfaction?
These are stresses that we are placing on ourselves.
These sorts of thoughts can negatively impact health, motivation and adrenal response. Therefore, in addressing the terrain, it is essential that we include the mind.
One way we can do this is practicing techniques such as mindfulness. This can mean meditation, but does not have to.
By taking moments throughout the day to look gain presence, we can improve our mental terrain.
The first step to this is often awareness.
Many times we can be unaware that we are even having the toxic thoughts. Acknowledgement is often the first step to change.
Once we have achieved acknowledgement, we can proceed to give ourselves more positive suggestions.
This does not mean that we have an argument with the toxic thought, nor does it mean self punishment for having it.
It is simply to see the thought as an interesting opinion and then preceding to give the mind a more positive suggestion.
One example is a client who drops things frequently and when she does says to herself “I am stupid”.
The first step is awareness, which she has achieved. The second step is to offer another suggestion.
Another suggestion could be “dropping things provides an opportunity for me to slow down and be present.”
By reframing the idea, we can begin to take the emotion and the toxic thought out of the equation.
Another way the mental terrain challenge shows up is in the case of chronic disease.
And most people with latent chronic infections have some pretty unfortunate long-term symptoms.
One thing that I have seen in both myself and others is the thought, “I will be okay when… “. It shows up in the clinical model often as statements such as “I will be okay when I eradicate this parasite.”
The challenge in these statements is that health is not a smooth sailing scenario at all times.
We can contract disease.
Sometimes, our bodies will breakdown.
The amazing thing is, our bodies are so great at repairing themselves when given the rights support.
When we say “I will be okay when”, we are setting up a state to only be okay when we are in times when nothing is wrong.
As we work to reach a state of better stress resilience we find that we are okay, calm, peaceful and mentally well, even when faced with challenge.
How does one do this?
This comes back to presence. When we feel our body reaching a more stressful state, we can work to gain a better awareness of our surroundings.
We can look around at our surroundings to notice what is happening around us.
As we do this, we usually discover, that while we might be on a deadline with too much on our plate, there is nothing that is acutely threatening our life occurring right now.
When we do this, we begin to take better control of our thoughts, our mind and this part of our terrain.
Now, if we have an infection, it is wise to address that too.
Analyze the Infection:
In our clinical practice, we test for chronic viral infections with the use of Nagalase.
We find that about 70% of those that we are testing have positive Nagalase levels. To put this in context, we are only testing those that seem likely to have a chronic viral infection.
Viruses that we currently think as laying dormant in our body such as ebstein-barr (mono), human herpes 6, and varicella (chicken pox) are commonly contracted in our society.
These organisms are seemingly highly under diagnosed and can contribute to a wide variety of health symptoms.
Chronic hidden viral infections can be linked to many conditions such as chronic fatigue, arthritis and fibromyalgia.
However, medicine that focuses only on the removal of the pathogen, is only addressing one part of the scenario.
Another solution for testing for and monitoring viral infections is through the use of nagalase. We are about to go through some technical information.
If this feels to be too technical for you, you can skip down to the summary to get the “cliff notes” version.
What is Nagalase?
Nagalase, otherwise known as α-N-acetylgalactosaminidase, is an enzyme. It is often elevated in patients with viral infections as well as in cancer patients.
With cancer, the activity of nagalase has been correlated in the research to be a predictor of tumor aggressiveness and progression.
Research shows elevated nagalase in cases of influenza, HIV and more. Other examples of conditions that are affected by nagalase include chronic herpes (cold sores), lyme disease, and many other viral infections.
Thus making nagalase an excellent marker for chronic viral infections.
Using Nagalase testing is wise. The symptoms of chronic viral infection may imitate the symptoms associated with other conditions such as Lyme disease and mold toxicity.
As treatments are often different, it is helpful to have good clinical data to work with.
How does Nagalase work?
In cancer patients as well as virally infected patients, Nagalase causes an inactivation of macrophage activating factor (Gc-MAF).
Gc-MAF activates MAF, which works as a receptor-based signal that alerts our immune system to kill cancerous cells or other pathogens.
That’s not all….
What is this saying?
Basically, this is telling us that nagalase is an enzyme that will lead to immunosuppression.
One part of the survival mechanism of cancerous cells and viruses is likely through the induction of nagalase and a subsequent decrease in our immune capability.
Therefore, once we have contracted a viral infection, the virus works to suppress our immune system leading to more difficulty with fighting it.
What a smart defense mechanism!
Administration of Gc-MAF has been shown to reverse early stage cancers, to inhibit cancers from creating their own blood supply.
This study was done on chicks, but shows potential for more research here for using this to decrease cancer’s ability to grow and survive.
Gc-MAF use is not approved by the FDA at this time.
The precursor to Gc-MAF known as Gc-globulin can be decreased in situations such as trauma. (3) Thus showing that trauma can have an effect of lowering our immune function.
What can we do about it?
Gc-MAF is Vitamin D dependent, so it is often necessary to supplement with vitamin D for the optimal functioning of this protein.
Therefore, vitamin D may be a necessary supplement for all people with a viral infection.
In working with viruses we should consider the use of herbs and supplements that activate macrophages, which will help our immune system fight the virus.
Herbs such as goldenseal and Oregon grape contain a component called berberine.
Berberines have been shown in research to activate macrophages, which is likely part of the mechanism behind why these herbs work well for viral infections.
In addition, many species of mushrooms have been shown to activate macrophages. Research directly looks at maitake and agaricus for their macrophage activating response.
In addition, the cell walls of fungus have a component of beta glucans, which enhance the function of macrophages showing a likelihood of mushrooms such as shitake, reishi, maitake and oyster having benefits in viral infections by their positive effects on the immune system.
The Chinese herb, Ku Shen (Sophora Root) also shows some promising antiviral effects in studies with hepatitis and coxsackie viruses.
Essential oils are also a consideration as they have been shown to have antiviral activity.
Oils such as thyme, basil, melaleuca, and melissa.
In addition, boswellic acids (found in frankincense) have been shown to increase macrophage activity.
We have seen in clinical practice individuals whom are treated with conventional medicine without supporting the terrain.
Conventional medicine has provided great advantages to our survival and certainly has saved many lives.
The trouble is with chronic disease and symptoms, just treating using conventional medicine to eradicate the pathogen does not address why the pathogen was able to proliferate in our body to begin with.
Natural medicine bears the same responsibility.
Using natural products to eradicate the pathogen, while not supporting the terrain is also only addressing part of the concern.
The moment we reduce our treatment to that of just treating the microbe or just addressing the terrain, is the moment we have done a disservice to our patient.
As we work to eradicate the infection and address the terrain together, we make ourselves stronger, more resilient and able to face the physical, mental and emotional challenges and growth opportunities that life presents.