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Doctor in the hospital

“We read the world wrong and say it deceives us.”

~Rabindranath Tagore 

A month ago, a headline from the New York Times read,” Coronavirus Patients Betrayed by Their Own Immune Systems.”  I have actually heard different versions of this statement in venues of medicine over the years.  When we approach our body as a betrayer, there is no real hope for us.  We are at war with Nature, with our own nature, and guess who wins that war?

Before I decode the proclamation from The New York Times, we must contemplate the question of how we arrived here, at this place in history where we actually view our body as a betrayer.  I see this way of thinking as a disease of our perception. Rather than blaming our bodies for responding in the ways, they do it may be wiser to look at the effects our lifestyle choices have that elicit unhealthy responses from our bodies.  

COVID19 is a lifestyle virus.  It trips switches in our body if we have altered its fundamental and foundational matrix by unhealthy lifestyle choices that are unsupportive to its operational systems.  With a sedentary lifestyle, processed, genetically modified, and pesticide-laced foods, industrial meat, dairy, and sugar-laden diets, our bodies have become inflamed and toxic. This makes it impossible for our delicately balanced organ systems to work collaboratively to support our health.  

Five fundamental systems of our body have to work systemically with one another for us to have a healthy foundation, as well as a protective immune response:

  1. The gut microbiome
  2. The liver
  3. The nervous system
  4. The immune system
  5. The hormonal system

The main two systems that regulate the others are the gut microbiome and the liver.  They work together to run the body in its functions of detoxification, inflammation, immune balance, and nervous system support.  When the liver and gut microbiome isn’t healthy (due to unhealthy lifestyle choices) the body is unable to work efficiently, affecting the healthy functioning of the remaining systems.  These organs are vital in preventing co-morbidities, and their normal function depends upon our choices. In fact, evidence shows that when the liver and microbiome are not healthy, the prognosis of survival from a COVID19 and other infections is negatively impacted. 

How did we arrive at this state of poor health in the Western world?

The seeds of our modern way of viewing the body were sown in the 17th century with Rene Descartes. Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist whose treatise proposed separation between the mind and the body.  His proclamation, “I think therefore I am” heralded a paradigm shift in the Western world.  Before the 17th century, the dominant worldview was organic.  People lived close to nature and perceived their own needs as subordinate to the community.  Natural science had its basis in reason and faith; the material and spiritual were inextricably linked.  By the early 17th century, this worldview had changed.  

Rene Descartes introduced a way of thinking that was mechanistic.  His strategy was “to consider false, any belief that falls prey to even the slightest doubt.” This way of thinking greatly influenced the mindset of the Western world, including Medicine, and the paradigm shifted to the one we have today. It introduced the idea of ‘the body as a machine which is still the prevailing paradigm in Medicine.  It influenced our reductionistic view of the body.  Reductionism reduces the body into its component parts.  This way of viewing the body has harmed us for the past 400 years.

In Traditional Medicine, our approach to the body focuses on its component parts with specialties in Medicine claiming expertise and dominion over organ systems, with no collaboration with one another. But the body works as a community of systems, each system influencing and dependent on others, as in an organic, interdependent community.

It is time for this mechanistic/reductionistic paradigm to be laid to rest and replaced by one that approaches our bodies and our health from a “system approach“which sees our body as a system of interconnected and interdependent parts that work together to maintain health. In addition, this way of viewing our bodies is aligned with how nature functions as well.  

This shift in perception can heal our disconnected relationship with our bodies and assist us in consciously supporting it and making lifestyle choices that promote health. This approach is the only way we can restore health and wholeness after being disconnected for so long. This also depends upon our fundamental understanding of how our body works and clearly our perceptual paradigm of how we can assist it in remaining healthy.

Now more than ever, we must shift this paradigm of erroneous perception.  COVID19 has more than ever made this an imperative and urgent necessity.  If we view the mechanism of how the Sars-CoV2 virus operates to overwhelm the immune response when the liver and microbiome are compromised and compare it to infection in a person with a healthy liver and microbiome, we will be able to glean how a healthy foundation can eclipse an exaggerated immune response and restore health in a short time when under attack.  Our body is wired for health.  Let us offer it what it needs, to do what it does best, to support and protect us from harm.  For that, it relies on us to make conscious choices.

This paradigm shift can save us from a diminished quality of life and an untimely death from not just COVID19, but all other co-morbidities as well.  

Being healthy is ultimately a choice, whose time has finally arrived.

 ©September 2020 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO, and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI.   Author of 2nd Edition – Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife 2014, Medial Press. She is currently accepting new patients-call 262.695.5311 for an appointment.  During this time of the COVID19 pandemic, she is offering both telephonic or in-person appointments for those people free of symptoms. 

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Evidence Based Integrative Medicine