Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Only the Phonies

“Only the phonies don’t end up enlightened.”
Or so, Adya’s teacher told him.
Or so, I keep reminding myself.
“Otherwise, we’re chasing what someone told us.”

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gerson Therapy Rationale: Part I

In my last post I included a video which has two doctors criticizing the Gerson Therapy for both lack of evidence of efficacy and of any rationale:
If you think of what’s in Gerson Therapy, you wouldn’t really expect it to cure cancer.
Skeptical Doctor in Dying to Have Known

Well, the rest of the film clip rebutted this opinion. But, I find the arrogance and ignorance behind such a statement to be really annoying, if not destructive, because I also have these words ringing in my memory:
The biggest thing we’re up against, when you hear that you have cancer, is that you walk into… “the morphic field” of cancer. There’s a force field that’s been created around the word cancer that’s so big, it’s like a locomotive. You step into this world where all the subconscious and collective unconscious definitions of cancer come hurtling at you. Of course it is synonymous with death in a lot of people’s minds.
Leigh Fortson, cancer survivor

And then there’s Dr. Candace Pert’s catchy little phrase:
Your body is your subconscious mind.

My irritation with scientists who make uninformed statements about the Gerson Therapy is that they support and create a belief system that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to heal.
I’d like to spend some time here as a molecular geneticist to explain why I think there’s every reason to expect the Gerson Therapy to heal.
To my surprise, I haven’t found this rational explained anywhere by the Gerson camp itself. So, please consider this an update and information meant to be shared.

The National Cancer Institute posts this rationale for the Gerson Therapy straight from Gerson’s own work:
Central to the therapy is an abundance of potassium and the lack of sodium. Gerson had observed that as soon as his cancer patients started on the diet regimen, they released large amounts of sodium in their urine. He noticed that cells in the patients’ bodies that had been bloated with fluid started to shrink as the fluid was released. After studying the research in cancer cell biology available to him at the time and noting the ratio of potassium to sodium in cancer cells versus healthy cells, he deduced that the reason for this sodium excretion was that the diet regimen was correcting generalized tissue damage caused by excess sodium. Healthy cells had a high ratio of potassium to sodium; diseased cells had a low ratio of potassium to sodium or an abundance of sodium… This belief is the theoretical basis for Gerson’s choice of high-potassium, low-sodium fruits and vegetables in his prescribed diet: a high intake of potassium was needed to restore a normal ratio of potassium to sodium in the cell.

This is old biology. It feels like what I learned when I took a seminar in cancer as an undergrad in 1970. It does not explain a thing (to me) or lead to any hope.

So, I did a search of PubMed, the NIH National Library of Medicine.
My search words were “carrot juice” and “juice cancer”. I only had to look at papers from the past couple years to be blown away by the obvious: fresh juices contain small organic molecules that turn on and off hundreds of genes that regulate cellular metabolism.

Cancer is supported by several process each involving scores of gene products (enzymes, transcriptional regulators, micro RNAs). These processes include:
Oxidative damage
Chronic Inflammation
Angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels to support tumor growth)
Cell adhesion and migration (causing metastasis)

There was so much basis for a rationale, I gave up trying to logically summarize it in a table. So, let me simply share some quotes and another video clip.
Traditional medicine and diet has served mankind through the ages for prevention and treatment of most chronic diseases. Mounting evidence suggests that chronic inflammation mediates most chronic diseases, including cancer. … nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) and STAT3 have emerged as major regulators of inflammation, cellular transformation, and tumor cell survival, proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis. Thus, agents that can inhibit NF-κB and STAT3 activation pathways have the potential to both prevent and treat cancer.
In this review, we examine the potential of one group of compounds called triterpenes, derived from traditional medicine and diet for their ability to suppress inflammatory pathways linked to tumorigenesis.
These triterpenes include avicins, betulinic acid, boswellic acid, celastrol, diosgenin, madecassic acid, maslinic acid, momordin, saikosaponins, platycodon, pristimerin, ursolic acid, and withanolide.
This review thus supports the famous adage of Hippocrates, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food".
Yadav VR, Prasad S, Sung B, Kannappan R, Aggarwal BB.
Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

So much for inflammation and the thoughts of a leading Cancer Center.
Discovering the link between angiogenesis and cancer won Folkman the Nobel Prize. One of his students, William Li, gave this TED Talk entitled, Can We Eat to Starve Cancer ?:

Dr Li started the Angiogenisis Foundations which has a link to Eat to Defeat Cancer Initiative. This site lists foods and rationales with delicious facts like: the plant compound phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) found in watercress can block this process by interfering with and ‘turning off’ a protein called hypoxia inducible factor (HIF), a key stimulator of angiogenesis. HIF is produced in response to hypoxia, a lack of oxygen, which is usually the critical first step in tumor angiogenesis.

This is science I can believe. It’s current, it’s rational and it’s hopeful. And then it crossed my mind I ought to see if the original Gerson rationale had any modern basis. Here is one item that I found:
Voltage gated potassium channels have been extensively studied in relation to cancer. In this review, we will focus on the role of two potassium channels, Ether à-go-go (Eag), Human ether à-go-go related gene (HERG), in cancer and their potential therapeutic utility in the treatment of cancer. Eag and HERG are expressed in cancers of various organs and have been implicated in cell cycle progression and proliferation of cancer cells. Inhibition of these channels has been shown to reduce proliferation both in vitro and vivo studies identifying potassium channel modulators as putative inhibitors of tumour progression.

Seems to me Gerson was onto something all along. But then, so was Hippocrates. We just needed science to catch up. And now, we need to pay better attention to what the research literature is saying:
Small organic molecules derived from higher plants have been one of the mainstays of cancer chemotherapy for approximately the past half a century.
Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy, The Ohio State University

Friday, February 17, 2012

On Healing & Beliefs

Art by Joseph Rael
Last summer a woman came to me whose mother was going to have surgery on her hip. I said I was willing to dedicate a dance that we’d be doing in Australia in October for her mother’s healing, and, since I wouldn’t be going to Australia for another three months, her healing would be retroactive. Her mother went to the doctor two days later. They didn’t have to operate because, apparently, the hip was healing… I said her healing would be retroactive because Spirit told me to say it, though it didn’t make much sense at the time.
Joseph Rael, House of Shattering Light.

I have been poking around trying to better understand the role of consciousness in healing.
Consciousness includes many levels: Spirit, emotions, beliefs. So, in this regard I came across an interesting article not so long ago. It was scientifically tight enough to have been listed in the NIH’s National Library of Medicine archives (Pubmed). The article is looking at the results of a study out of Harvard on the effects of prayer. It is discussing experimental design – how we need to think differently when studying consciousness with proper scientific controls.

Here is the passage that has stuck in my head the past few weeks. Let me also point out that the healing Joseph Rael describes occurred not only retroactively in time, but also at a distance, i.e. “non-locally.” The article describes an experiment designed to test just such a possibility:
Israeli immunologist Leonard Leibovici highly skeptical of claims of intention/prayer studies designed an experiment that only some kind of nonlocal linkage could explain… in 2000, Leibovici identified 3,393 adult patients each of whom suffered from a bloodstream infection while in the Rabin Medical Center between 1990 and 1996 – that is to say four to ten years earlier. All of these patients were long out of the hospital. These patients were randomized into two populations; 1, 691 were assigned to the intervention group and 1,702 to the control group. The treatment group was the focus of therapeutic intention in the form of prayer… the study discovered that “length of stay in hospital and duration of fever were significantly shorter in the intervention group than in the control (P=.01 and P=.04 respectively).” …For this study to have worked, it seems that therapeutic intention from the “future” must have affected the “past” when it was the present to produce a biased outcome – not to have changed the past, but to have produced the original effect in the first instance.
Nonlocality, Intention, and Observer Effects in Healing Studies: Laying a Foundation for the Future

This is all very curious to me. Time is trickier than you think. Meditators learn this, as do physicists:
People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between the past, the present and the future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
Albert Einstein

I think about my father. I have come to think of him as “a man ahead of his time” as it seems like every major discovery that I’ve made, Pop was already there. When I called home from college in 1969, wanting to learn TM but a bit scared to take the step, Pop knew all about it and encouraged me. When I discovered homeopathy, Pop knew about that too and shared his books with me. When I crashed badly after an awakening, Pop was the one who said “You have kundalini burnout.” I had never heard the term. And so it was with this precedence that in the early ‘80s Pop explored the Gerson Therapy. He met Charlotte Gerson. He attended seminars and talked with cancer patients who had survived the supposedly incurable. He bought all the books and tried to spread the word.

At the time, Pop’s deep interest in a cancer therapy, when no one in the family was affected, struck my sister as more than a little morbid. She fussed to me that she was afraid that this strange preoccupation would perhaps make Pop himself sick.
Now, I wonder if he was merely being true to something in his nature: he was a scientist open to the evidence. He was ahead of his time - at least in regards to his children’s interest. And he had an unwavering intention to always help and be there for us.
Thus, it was very natural this January when Evie needed to try yet another approach to cure her cancer, for us to turn to Gerson. Pop had done the due diligence research for us years ago.

My father died in 1996, but his prayer for us is clear and I am not so worried anymore about locality and time.
I am more concerned with being open to the gift. I’m discovering that with cancer being open means not only dealing with the body but dealing with our very understanding of reality. And the scientific moorings of our culture can make that very difficult. So, I’ll continue to look at beliefs both scientific and mystical as Evie walks her path of healing.

Dying to Have Known: A ten minute clip from a film about the Gerson Therapy that illustrates the solidity of the cultural beliefs that surround us as supposed truths.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dancing Daffodils

Shadows by Seeking Tao
Shadows, a photo by Seeking Tao on Flickr.
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Williams Wordsworth

I have one lone daffodil growing up outside my front door by the driveway.
Yesterday, morning to my surprise and joy I noticed it had begun to bloom. As I sat in my car, waiting for the motor to warm, I stared down at the little daffodil. It didn’t look so healthy. It has a washed out color, not the classic bright yellow. Looking closer, I noticed that it looked to me like some animal had chewed away the petals just a bit. That was strange and I kept looking.
That was when I noticed the little fellow was shaking and bobbing just a bit. I enjoyed that – until I noticed, there wasn’t the least bit of wind. That was simply odd.
I put the car into reverse and drove away.

That evening when I got home, I sat for a moment in the car, looking once again down at the daffodil.
Yes, it seemed a bit chewed around the edges. And yes, there it was again, bobbing and shaking its head, in the wind… except there wasn’t the slightest stir of air anywhere around.
How odd. And I got out of the car to collect my mail.

Would "true perspective" mean "the perspective that correctly and accurately describes reality as it is, beyond perspectives?"
If so, I'd say that it's an incoherent notion…
Perceptions that are usually called "physical" occur as a kind of language that has no inside or outside… But there's nothing Out There to which any of these ideas refer.

Greg Goode

This morning, as I came out to my car, I was looking up at the sky thinking about Greg Goode and his tight philosophical reasoning that there are many, many ways that we can describe reality. I was thinking, it was even something of a prayer, “Please let me be open to seeing from the different angles. Please let me be open.”
Then once more I noticed the daffodil. I sat there in my car. “Hey, are you shaking now?”
It was not. It was still as any other object in my un-kept garden area.
Then, I felt awareness drop from in my head and open softly in my chest.
“How are you doing today?” I felt the thought leave me in a gentle, caring, consciousness to consciousness manner.
I noticed that simple change within myself. And, at that moment the daffodil began to twitch and shake.
Stunned, I started crying and the daffodil stood silent.
I bowed internally to the flower, “Thank you for that teaching.” And the daffodil immediately responded with a bobbing and a shimmy.
Again, I looked around for currents and a breeze. Again, there wasn’t the slightest motion anywhere.
I looked once more at the flower. Back in my head, I wanted to try for yet a third time. Yet, I knew going in this time once more in the mode of scientist I would not get a response.
And there was none – at least not from the flower.

For me, this was a huge confirmation. It may sound silly to many others and a proof of nothing.
But, all I know was I felt myself get out of my head and into my heart.
I felt a connection with the flower. And there was communication.
There was also a deep, deep blessing.

Apparently our eyes are locked to the daily perceptual reality we live in; therefore we program our eyesight not to see too many vibrations in our lives. That is because we do not want to be distracted… Once I apply “puuh” (to-be –cast –awayness) I can then see with deer eyes, not only the image of the physical plant, but additionally the spirit that usually steps outside and stands beside its plant home and talks telepathically.

The plants taught me to eat them for their medicinal properties because they enjoyed traveling the human digestive tract, through the pleasing landscapes that could only be found in the human anatomy. I would eat the leaf of a plant, and then I would wait fifteen counts. The plant part I had eaten would send back a report to the plant that had given the leaf and translate the messages of the eaten plant leaf back to me. The transmission had to be done quickly because after fifteen to twenty seconds the eaten leaf of the plant went into a pure bliss state and connections were lost.

Joseph Rael