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Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Chapter 5 Does the Cognitive Top-Down Systems Biology Approach, Embodied in Virtual Scanning, Provide Us with a Theoretical Framework to Explain the Function of Most Complementary and Alternative and Most Orthodox Biomedical Techniques?
Graham Wilfred Ewing Additional information is available at the end of the chapter http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/50441
1. Introduction Perhaps the greatest challenge faced by advocates of complementary or alternative therapies is the lack of a theoretical concept to explain why such techniques can have a therapeutic or diagnostic effect. If there is not a theoretical concept or explanation it follows that the use of such techniques often cannot be adapted in a methodical or scientific manner. If there is not an objective and/or accurate means of identifying the emergence of the health problem then there cannot be an objective means of treating the problem. It may also mean that the outcomes of such techniques are experiential and unreliable, different practitioners get variable results, different techniques or combination of techniques could have adverse side- effects, etc. The lack of a robust theoretical concept to explain the body’s dysfunction and the role of drugs, which are only circa 50% effective in 90% of the population 1, is also a fundamental limitation of orthodox biomedicine. No-one has yet been able to explain how the body regulates its function.
Many clinical studies have illustrated that some CAM techniques are able to provide a diagnostic or therapeutic effect. Moreover many drugs and medical techniques have their origins in what we know as CAM. The therapeutic application of plant extracts, the development of penicillin, the use of X-rays, etc; are all derived from naturally occurring phenomenae.
© 2012 Ewing, licensee InTech. This is an open access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
82 Complementary Therapies for the Contemporary Healthcare Any explanation for CAM techniques must fit into established concepts and theories which prevail in science. Anything which cannot be thus explained should be discarded in favour of more robust explanations. If a technique has a proven diagnostic or therapeutic effect it will be adapted for use by the medical profession although perhaps in recent years it has become more difficult to introduce new technologies into the major regulated markets i.e.
due to the increased cost of developing and validating such techniques, lack of basic research in non-pharma techniques, and perhaps also opposition from those with established market share and hence of vested interests who seek to maintain the status quo.
Nevertheless if the technology has a commercial significance entrepreneurs will evaluate the opportunity, invest and develop the opportunity e.g. light-based techniques are used in different forms of optometry.
Orthodox biomedicine has selectively assimilated CAM research into its realm e.g. the pharmaceutical company GSK has been researching polyclonal antibodies which are more typically associated with the antibody response in homeopathy, yet despite the proliferation/dominance of pharmacological research there is not an accepted understanding of the processes which lead to morbidity and mortality. There is no accepted understanding of how the body regulates its function 2. Moreover, the requirement for medical care has increased by a factor of ten or more in the last 30 years. No-one has yet been able to offer a significant explanation for this explosion of morbidity. Despite the emphasis upon vaccines and drugs the occurrence of cognitive and physiological dysfunction in society continues to increase. Morbidity and mortality are associated with genetic and non-genetic changes. This leads us to consider the various factors (i) which lead to genetic change and (ii) which suppress the processes which the body requires to maintain its regulated function and which we recognise as our health and wellbeing i.e. the effect which viruses and hence of vaccines, bacterial infections, psychological or environmental stresses, genetically modified foods, and drugs have upon the body’s function.
In general, drugs are designed to treat the symptoms of disease. As most disease is caused by the aforementioned factors it becomes evident that drugs do not and cannot treat the cause of disease but instead act upon the biological processes of dysfunction which arise from the dysregulation or destabilisation of the body’s function. Drugs modulate, suppress or alter the production of metabolites from pathological processes and/or otherwise adapt the use of pharmacological entities to modify the body’s function and reduce the symptoms of disease and associated causes of discomfort and morbidity. It is perceived that such effects may allow the natural process of regulation or homeostasis to be re-established. This overlooks that the brain is continually seeking, assessing and computing the means to better maintain or reestablish the body’s physiological stability i.e. it will in many cases compensate for the effect which drugs have on the body’s function. For example (i) psychological traumas influence heart function e.g. bereavement, divorce 3, social isolation 4, illnesses. In such cases drugs treat the symptoms of dysfunction caused by the trauma. (ii) Diabetes may be the first step in a cascade of pathologies leading to heart dysfunction, Alzheimer’s disease, circulatory problems, etc. It is ultimately caused by the cognitive dysfunction and altered behaviour 5 which governs calorific intake and the expenditure of energy.
Does the Cognitive Top-Down Systems Biology Approach, Embodied in Virtual Scanning, Provide Us with a Theoretical Framework to Explain the Function of Most Complementary and Alternative … 83 The idea that autonomic regulation takes the body back to a base or homeostatic state lacks validity. Every change to genotype and phenotype makes changes which are to some degree reversible or irreversible. Some genetic changes can be reversed, some relatively quickly, others more slowly over a longer period, and others may be irreversible e.g. changes to our DNA due to viral or vaccinal RNA, may be relatively short-lasting (months), or may last for the duration of our lifetime.
The historical evolutionary pathways of medicine have resulted in what we know as physiology and psychology i.e. the function of the body and the brain are studied separately. This historical legacy continues to influence the prevailing psychological/physiological paradigm and regards the brain’s function to be almost completely separate from the body’s function. In recent years there has been greater research in the biological processes taking place in the brain however this neuroscientific approach often overlooks the significance of visceral pathologies upon brain development, brain plasticity and hence upon neural function. In principle, this means that psychology is the mirror of physiology i.e. that what we see/experience from our external environment influences our internal environment and what we experience in our internal environment influences our cognition and behaviour i.e. the development of pathologies influences our behaviour (mood, emotional response, the way in which we behave, etc). In other words one person’s output or behaviour (or that of external influences) can influence another person’s sensory input and their expectations. This can be illustrated if we consider how the medical profession benefits from the power of association i.e. when a patient’s ailment has reached the stage that they decide to consult their doctor (i) they make an appointment to see the doctor who (they perceive and better than anyone else) can improve their health; (ii) they travel to their local health clinic confident that this is the place where better health is prescribed; (iii) they meet the doctor who receives them in a positive yet sympathetic manner, who examines them and advises how their ailment can be cured; (iv) they are prescribed a pill or potion which the doctor assures them will alleviate their symptoms; (v) they are prescribed time away from the stresses of life. Irrespective of the healing power of the pharmaceutical product this is a hugely powerful psychological therapy or placebo effect.
By contrast the psychological environment in a hospital is a more complex and potentially more brutal environment. The patient attends the hospital in varying degrees of trepidation.
The experience is largely negative i.e. they are in varying degrees of ill-health; feel vulnerable, lonely and perhaps scared; do not know anyone, and hence mistrust those involved in their treatment. The wards in which they reside during their hospital treatment often have abnormal levels of natural lighting or ventilation. The beds are often standard issue hospital beds which may leave them in some degree of discomfort. They will be advised of both positive outcomes and the risk of increased morbidity and the potential of mortality although they can expect to receive reassurance from staff. They will see others who have been treated leave the hospital in better health but also can expect to see the problems faced by other patients. It is a stressful environment lowering the level of the immune response which is not conducive to the healing process - hence the current 84 Complementary Therapies for the Contemporary Healthcare emphasis upon getting patients to recuperate in their home environment at the earliest opportunity.
i. Sensory input: light/sight, odour/smell, sound/hearing, taste, touch and voice.
The sensory perception i.e. of vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch and the vocal spectrum; is influenced by the extent of prevailing pathologies.
• Flashing lights can cause photosensitive epilepsy and migraine but can be also adapted to treat photosensitive migraine and dyslexia. They are indications of systemic function and dysfunction.
• The EEG frequency(s) are indicators of the physiological significance of an event e.g.
Changes to cell morphology are associated with the EEG or resonant frequencies e.g. theta frequencies are associated with pain management, altered cell morphology, the subconscious thought processes and fixation of memories whilst delta frequencies are linked to physical damage (e.g. in the comatose state) and the processes of repair (e.g. which require sleep to facilitate or enhance the production of essential hormones). They are the evidence for the body’s multi-level function.
Does the Cognitive Top-Down Systems Biology Approach, Embodied in Virtual Scanning, Provide Us with a Theoretical Framework to Explain the Function of Most Complementary and Alternative … 85
• Accordingly knowledge of the resonant or frequency-related properties of organs and organ systems may be adapted with therapeutic effect e.g. to stimulate healing processes, to re-establish homeostasis, to improve sensory perception and coordination, to improve the fixation of memories, etc.
This is an area of research in which eminent Russian researchers have excelled 7,8 for many years.
iii. Visceral input: breathing/air, temperature/warmth, acidity/pH, moisture/dry, food/diet, and drink.
These environmental influences are our phenotype: each altering the rate at which physiological reactions and extractions proceed. It is through these mechanisms that we interact with our environment and deal with adverse influences.
Figure 1. Sensory Input from the External Environment
The nature, structure and conformation of our genes influences the nature and level of the proteins which are expressed however it is our phenotype (influences such as pH and temperature) which influence protein conformation, the levels of minerals and cofactors, and the rate at which expressed proteins react.
An adequate level of exposure to light is essential to maintain the levels of calcitriol (vitamin D3), bilirubin, nitric oxide and many other neural and visceral processes. Light of specific 86 Complementary Therapies for the Contemporary Healthcare wavelengths activates many of the physiologically significant proteins 9. The action of light stimulating the production of Vitamin D3 influences the function of up to 3,000 of the estimated 10-25,000 genes which encode for proteins and the production of an estimated 200 antimicrobial peptides.
Light comprises an estimated 85% of sensory input and hence is the predominant way in which we experience and perceive our environment. It is therefore the dominant way in which we experience the positive and negative (stress) influences. For instance if we see a car crash but cannot hear, smell or touch the event it becomes somewhat surreal. It takes the combined effect of vision and hearing to transmit the significance of the event and of the urgency to act e.g. to extract car passengers from further danger and injury. For instance a person who does not have hearing may be oblivious of impending danger even if they see the danger unfolding e.g. someone running towards them – with what purpose?