Some people often appear concerned about a future without medicines. Their fear is that drug companies may no longer have enough incentive to develop and market good medicines unless they are allowed to manufacture and sell them under generic names. Indeed, generic drugs could check the power of the pharma lobby to sell their patented medicines at prices that are thousands of times their real cost.
The fear is an unfounded one. As a doctor and teacher, every day I pray for a world without reductionist chemical medicines. The leading causes of death today seem to be the adverse drug reactions of those reductionist molecules.
Most, if not all, diseases begin in the human mind: that is the only reality in this world of biocentrism. This world is created by our consciousness. In this context, there is no room for any reductionist thinking.
Take the example of high cholesterol levels being considered a sign of disease. If your cholesterol level goes up, no one asks or answers the question why it went up in the first place. We have a limited reductionist thinking: if the level goes up, it needs to be brought down. We therefore create drugs, which create misery through their side-effects.
Functions of cholesterol
Cholesterol has many functions and it is created in the liver for our own survival. Trillions of body cells have their cell membrane made up of it. Billions of cells age and die daily and are replaced: this process requires cholesterol. It is needed to manufacture steroids, or cortisone-like hormones. This, in turn, controls myriad bodily functions. Bile acids are manufactured in the liver with the help of cholesterol. These are essential for the digestion and absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins. Cholesterol is needed for the formation of the myelin sheath, a neuron consisting of fat-carrying cells that insulate the axon from electrical activity. This ensures the proper functioning of our brains by aiding the routes of electrical impulses.
The absence of cholesterol might lead to memory loss and difficulty in focussing. Cells cannot talk to one another without the help of cholesterol. The levels of such a vital substance, 80 per cent of which is produced in the liver, cannot be lowered forcibly by drug use, without causing serious collateral damage.
The body produces excess cholesterol only when the need arises. When one needs more steroids, bile acids, myelin, and cortisol, the liver puts more cholesterol in circulation. Steroids and cortisol levels go up when one is in the fright-flight-fight mode. Anger, jealousy, fear, greed, hostility, pride and super-ego produce the fight-fright-flight state. Cortisol is needed when you see a tiger in a forest, in order to arouse your defence mechanisms, and not on a chronic basis. Of course, if one is in that dangerous mode on a daily basis the cholesterol level goes up.
Overeating, especially of fatty food, necessitates more bile acids to aid digestion. The liver responds by producing extra cholesterol to assist in making fatty acids in the liver. Sedentary living does not encourage cholesterol catabolism.
When the question, why does the cholesterol level go up in the first place, is viewed holistically, the foolish (reductionist) need for drugs to lower cholesterol disappears. All that one needs to do is to get into the parasympathetic mode in daily life with exercise and moderate eating. Together these will obviate the need for high cholesterol production by the liver.
There is a double whammy here. The load on the liver to produce extra cholesterol in the fight-flight-fright mode is removed, saving it from chronic damage. And the need for anti-cholesterol drugs disappears.
One can enjoy a proper and hearty meal as long as one remains within limits. There is no need to shun any food, including fatty ones, when consumed in moderation. The immune system, the body’s inner healer, works wonders in wherever physiology goes astray — as long as we live sensibly and in tune with nature.
Paul Dudley White, the American physician and cardiologist, wrote: “A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” That should be food for thought.