By Mr. Steven Horne
The Disease Tree model (illustrated below) shows that disease takes root in the soil of our constitutional weaknesses through one of four root causes:
To understand the concept of biological terrain, we need to zoom in on a sample tissue in the body and examine the conditions under which the cells of the body live.
The Lymphatic "Ocean"
The lymph forms a type of internal "ocean" in which all of the cells of our body live. In order for cells to be healthy, this ocean of lymph must be free of toxic waste, comfortably warm and loaded with a proper balance of oxygen and nutrients. This lymphatic ocean is the internal environment or biological terrain of the body. It is the "soil" in which all our cells grow. As long as the biological terrain is conducive to cell growth, we will be healthy. When the biological terrain is out of balance, we become ill.
The four root causes of disease are the four external environmental conditions that can disrupt the balance of the internal environnent, the biological terrain. These disruptions create a cascading sequence of events that initiate and sustain the disease process. There are four stages in the disease process, each of which creates a different kind of imbalance in the biological terrain. In addition to these four stages of disease, there are two additional disease states that deal with the flow of fluids and energy through the body. This makes a total of six possible imbalances in biological terrain.
Stages of Disease
Later, we'll learn about the two additional tissue conditions that complete our model of biological terrain. These states are constriction and relaxation. This means there are only six basic imbalances we need to learn to correct to bring the body back into balance.
In the 1930s, Dr. Alexis Carrel, a Nobel prize winning medical research scientist, led a team that kept a piece of embryonic chicken heart tissue alive in a flask for over 30 years. Dr. Carrel stated the following about the amount of fluid required to keep this tissue alive. "A fragment of living tissue, cultivated in a flask, must be given a volume of liquid equal to two thousand times its own volume in order not to be poisoned within a few days by its own waste products." [Alexis Carrel, Man the Unknown, p. 83.] As a matter of comparison, it would take a swimming pool sized test tube to keep all the cells in the human body in a healthy state.
For example, the red and white blood cells and the platelets cannot pass through the pores; they are too big. Something else that cannot get through these pores is the plasma (or blood) proteins albumin, globulin and fibrinogen. These proteins (albumin in particular) are what keep most of the fluid in the blood stream.
Once the lymph reaches the cells, the cells take the nutrients and oxygen from the lymph and exchange them for wastes. Cells do this through their own semi-permeable membranes, which contain little "gates" which "open and close" to let nutrients in and waste out.
Some of the lymph fluid that is forced into the tissue spaces is drawn back into the blood stream by osmosis. It returns with carbon dioxide and other waste material so the various organs of elimination can get rid of it. However, there is not enough pressure to force the larger protein molecules (the albumin) back into the blood stream. The blood stream also cannot pick up damaged cells or other large particles and carry them away. That's why we have an alternate route, a back alley, called the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system travels one-way, moving the lymph out of the tissue spaces through the lymphatic vessels and back into the circulatory system.
The illustration below shows the healthy state of the cells.
At the bottom of the illustration is a lymphatic capillary, which picks up excess fluid and protein to keep the tissues in their normal "dry" or subatmospheric pressure condition. As you can see, there is very little fluid around the cells.
Recent medical research suggests that even serious chronic and degenerate diseases have their roots in chronic inflammation. For example, it is now known that heart disease begins with an inflammatory process, which sets the stage for hardening of the arteries. lnflammation is the first, or acute stage of disease and corresponds to a tissue state we call irritation. Here's what happens.
When cells are damaged, they burst and release certain chemicals into the surrounding tissues. One of these substances is called histamine, another is bradykinin. There are several others but these are the two most important ones.
Even if you have never heard of histamine, you are still probably aware of the existence of antihistamines (drugs which block histamine reactions). Histamine reactions are well-known for their involvement in allergic responses, but they are also involved in all inflammatory reactions. Bradykinin is also involved in inflammatory reactions, particularly the symptoms we experience with the common cold.
Histamine and bradykinin cause the capillary pores to enlarge. This, in turn, allows massive amounts of fluid, including the plasma protein albumin, to flood the tissue spaces. So, our smashed finger begins to swell. Fluid and protein rush out of the blood stream and into the spaces around the cells, filling them with fluid. This takes the cells out of their normal "dry" state and slows down the exchange of oxygen. It also causes waste material to accumulate in the spaces between the cells. In effect, the cells start "drowning."
Our "side" cells are surrounded by excess fluid and plasma protein which has "leaked" out of the circulatory system through the enlarged pores. The cells are pushed apart and the lymphatic system is trying to draw away the excess fluid.
The Acute Stage of Disease Irritation
The other two symptoms of inflammation are redness and heat. That's why it's called inflammation. These symptoms arise from three primary causes. In response to the situation, tissues become hyperactive. They speed up their metabolism trying to clear out the surrounding area and repair the damage. There is also a tendency for oxygen radicals to form and cause free radical damage in inflamed tissues. In effect, oxygen spins out of control and starts "burning" tissues. The cells, of course, send out a distress signal-a cry for help that we call pain. The final cause of the "flames" in inflammation is the activity of white blood cells which are drawn to the area as a "clean-up crew." White blood cells will use oxygen radicals to "burn up" and destroy microbes and toxins that may be present at the site of injury.
Anytime we see the symptoms of heat (elevated temperature either locally or generally as in fever), swelling, redness and sharp pains we are dealing with an inflammatory condition. In other words, tissues have been chemically injured and are in a state of acute distress. The Latin word for inflammation is itis. So anytime you have an -itis, you are dealing with inflammation, whether it is tonsillitis, sinusitis, laryngitis, or bronchitis.
It is the job of the lymphatic system to "suck up' the debris and clean up the area. The lymphatic system captures the proteins that have escaped from the circulatory system and carries them, along with the fluid they attract, back to the circulatory system through a series of one-way check valves. If the body can successfully discharge the irritant and clean up the area via the lymphatics, then the problem is solved and it ends there.
The Subactute Stage--Tissue Stagnation
This creates a kind of swampy condition in the tissues in which fluids are no longer moving rapidly. Toxins build up in the tissue spaces, further weakening and damaging cells. The heat dissipates as the cells tire and start to become underactive. We have now entered the subacute stage of disease characterized by the tissue state we call stagnation.
As the stagnant pools persist, tissues continue to be starved for oxygen and nutrients. They also become increasingly poisoned in their own metabolic wastes. This causes them to become chronically underactive or weakened. In this chronic state of disease there is a lack of tissue activity, so the tissues are said to be depressed because they will not respond properly to normal stimuli.
This stage of disease can last for months and even years. There may be periodic times when tissues attempt to heal, in which case the subacute or even acute stages of disease will reappear. However, there is a chronic feeling of malaise, lack of energy and perhaps dull, aching pains.
In the chronic stage of disease, we can also encounter heat again. This heat is not over activity of the cells, however. It is the heat that one encounters in a compost pile. It is brought on by the action of infection and decay. The weakened tissues are susceptible to the activity of microbes, which create heat as they feed on weak and dying tissue.
The Degenerative Stage of Disease--Atrophy
Think of atrophy as the condition of a leaf after it has fallen off the tree in the fall and has dried out. When the leaf was on the tree, it was supple, flexible and green. Now, it is brown, dry and brittle. This is the condition of atrophied tissues.
Fortunately, as long as there is life remaining in any tissues, they have the capacity to regenerate, to overcome the process of breakdown and decay and renew themselves. This is what the healing process is all about-supplying the right conditions so that the process of life can regenerate and repair damaged tissues.
StevenH. Horne is apastpresident and professional member of the American Herbalists Guild, a certified iridologist with the International Iridology Practioners Association, and a gifted teacher and consultant in the field ofnaturat health care. He is president of Tree of Light Publishing.
The Body Systems: The Digestive System
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