A double-whammy of dismay this week, as NH21 Weekly comes to you alarmed at that lengths it seems science is willing to go, in order to mimic what nature achieves so effortlessly. As orthodox medicine strives for ever more fantastical technological ‘advances’, one wonders how the human species ever managed to survive at all, with its primitive biochemistry and antiquated system of internal organs.
‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’ was a hugely popular tv show in the mid-late 1990s, as celebrity chefs showcased the ease at which delicious, home-cooked meals could be prepared by the gastronomically ill-inclined.
‘Can’t Move Won’t Move’ appears to be the latest spinoff, as scientists led by Ronald Evans at the Salk Institute in San Diego found that an experimental drug, known as GW501516, allowed mice to run on a treadmill for 270 minutes before exhaustion set in. (1)
The institute, which claims to “explore the very foundations of life for the benefit of all” (2) found that the drug changed the activity of nearly 1000 genes, and noted that mice that went without the drug lasted only 160 minutes before reaching their physical limit.
Somehow considering this to be advantageous to the obese, or to diabetics, the authors of the report seem impressed that such findings “mean you can improve endurance to the equivalent level as someone in training, without all of the physical effort.”
This as the European Athletic Association consider cancelling all world records set before 2005 amid repeated and consistent concerns of drug use in sport, and following the abandonment of previous trials on GW501516 over fears that the compound was carcinogenic.
Yet, unperturbed by the minor issue of initiating cancer, which itself changes the activity of healthy genes; nor any concern that body tissues might burn themselves out, as might a car if driven flat-out to twice its normal capacity; Louise MacKenzie, a pharmacologist at the University of Hertfordshire, believes that the drug is a good starting block for scientists hoping to find new ways to treat patients, noting that she “can definitely see a future where the problems are solved. You just need to have enough clever scientists working on them.”
Elsewhere, these “clever scientists” have managed to fuse biology and technology in order to control blood sugar levels in mice with diabetes, by using a smartphone to control the activity of living cells inside the unfortunate creatures. (3)
The idea, that “could be applied to a wide range of diseases and drug treatments” excites Prof Mark Gomelsky, a molecular biologist from the University of Wyoming, who said the study was an “exciting accomplishment”, adding that we might soon, “expect to see people on the street wearing fashionable LED wristbands that irradiate implanted cells engineered to produce genetically encoded drugs under the control of a smartphone.”
Indeed, how unfashionable the lowly pancreas is, with its enzymes and digestive juices secreting into our bloodstream; thank goodness for the much needed fusion of high fashion and healthcare!
The pancreas is a multifunctioning compound gland; acting as an accessory organ of the digestive system, an exocrine gland secreting pancreatic juice into ducts, and an endocrine gland involved in the production of important hormones such as insulin and glucagon. It is roughly 15cm long and lies behind the stomach, nestled between the duodenum and spleen.
Clusters of cells called ‘Islets of Langerhans’ are distributed throughout the pancreas; these secrete the hormones and enzymes that will be released into the small intestine to digest lipids, carbohydrates and proteins as they are eaten.
Of its many functions, the best known are those of blood sugar regulation. The concentration of glucose in the blood is maintained by the body at around 5mmol/l by a variety of hormones, principally insulin and glucagon.
After a meal is consumed it is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream where it can be distributed throughout the rest of the body. A proportion of each meal will be inevitably be sugars, causing blood serum glucose levels to rise and resulting in a temporary state of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
The pancreas responds to increased blood glucose by secreting the hormone insulin, which acts as a ‘key’ to ‘unlock’ cell membranes, promoting the uptake of glucose by the cells where it can be utilized for energy.
Conversely, too little blood sugar causes a state of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which can result in dizziness, trembling, headaches and blurred vision. The pancreas will then secrete glucagon to stimulate the release of glycogen stores from the liver and skeletal muscles, to recalibrate blood glucose levels and restore homeostasis.
The speed at which glucose enters the bloodstream is dependent on a variety of factors including what, when and how much is eaten. The pancreas will secrete either insulin or glucagon in response to blood glucose levels.
If a person skips a meal, or eats fewer carbohydrates, blood sugar will decrease causing the pancreas to release glucagon. On the other hand, if a person eats lots of sugar and highly refined carbohydrates, serum glucose will rise causing the pancreas to release insulin.
The irony is that highly refined sugars can actually result in low blood sugar levels. Due to their rapid uptake into the bloodstream, the pancreas becomes overstimulated and produces too much insulin, unlocking a great many cells and resulting in a sudden drop of serum glucose levels.
Typically, people eat too many refined carbohydrates and simple sugars. Over time, as levels are consistently elevated, tissues become resistant to the effects of insulin; a condition known by a variety of terms including insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and syndrome X; each of which are a precursor to pancreatic failure and commonly lead to the development of diabetes.
Both hyper- and hypo- glycaemia, as well as diabetes, are manifestations of the same basic problem; the inability of the body to effectively regulate blood sugar. This situation results from poor hormonal control of the uptake of sugar by body tissues; and can be stabilized by improved diet, regular exercise, weight management and stress reduction.
COLD HARD CASH
It is stretching the imagination to the extreme, to suggest that tablets and smartphones could be considered effective treatments for health conditions brought on by sedentary living and poor dietary practice. And, like the mice stretched to their physical capacities, it is even more misguided to imagine these examples of science gone awry have anything to with public health concerns, when profits is clearly the sole objective.
If it were simply a case of free-market economics we need not be overly concerned, for who amongst us doesn’t want to make money? Yet dressed up as healthcare, and promoted as therapeutic to those most in need, is a disgrace that spits in the face of the cardinal tenet of medicine; First Do No Harm.
To the unfortunate souls who may put their faith in such malicious pseudo-medical practices as these, you have my condolences. For any who may read the opinion piece of a lowly natural health practitioner, the hope is the message be received in time to avert such a clear and chilling example of medicine in the modern, macroeconomic world.