A biomedical revolution throws previous medical research into question as it opens new doors to wellness
What causes disease? What can we do to improve our health?
Modern medicine’s answer to these questions lies in its understanding of the human body as a complex machine. Like any mechanical contraption, the body is bound to break down. Doctors serve as specialized mechanics who wield sophisticated tools and procedures to address our malfunction. They can numb our pain, carve out and radiate our cancers, trigger or suppress our immune systems, recalibrate our neurotransmitters, and they may soon be able to retool the genetic flaws thought to be the progenitors of disease.
Compare this body-as-machine philosophy to the traditional medicine practices of our ancestors that looked to the natural world as a guide toward health. These old philosophies may seem primitive in comparison to the high-tech industry of modern health care, but they also hold an understanding that today’s doctors and scientists are still working to comprehend: that our bodies possess the power to heal themselves.
Details of this mysterious self-healing superpower can be found in a new book: “Regenerate: Unlocking Your Body’s Natural Resilience Through the New Biology,” by Sayer Ji. The book examines how our understanding of health and the human body has evolved over the last few 100 years, and how new research has forced us to reconsider everything we thought we knew.
While it sounds a bit mystical, there is objective evidence of this self-healing characteristic. Ji talks about the “immortal thread within our stem cells” to describe the body’s amazing regenerative ability. One example is an entire category of stem cells released from the bone marrow called endothelial progenitor cells, which are constantly at work to heal the damage caused to the lining of our blood vessels.
“We really are this miracle that we can barely explain,” Ji said.
Ji’s credentials include being co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed, a reviewer at the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, and advisor to the National Health Federation.
His book falls in line with those interests and relies heavily on research to tell the tale. But for Ji, the story is personal. He came into the world a sickly infant and grew into a depressed, overweight, and asthmatic teen. Over the course of his young life, he was examined by at least a dozen doctors. They performed surgeries and prescribed an ever-increasing regimen of pharmaceuticals in an effort to suppress his symptoms. But Ji said the treatments he received were more traumatic than helpful. As his hope of healing dwindled, Ji believed he was doomed to a short and miserable life.
Ji’s health finally began to turn around during his first year of college when he discovered a new kind of medicine—one that traded the surgery and drugs he had known his whole life for a more natural approach. Decades later, Ji has become an outspoken advocate for natural medicine. Despite his sad and sickly youth, today he runs marathons, feels stronger than ever, and hasn’t taken any pharmaceuticals in years.
“I wouldn’t be alive today had I not discovered natural medicine,” Ji said.
But how is this possible? A core belief of modern medicine is that it has the most effective treatments ever developed, far superior to anything our ancestors relied on for health. So how did Ji create vibrant health with some of the oldest forms of treatment—herbs, diet, and lifestyle changes—when modern medicine failed?
While ancient medicine practices are based on things like tradition and observations of nature, with lessons passed down to future generations who verify that knowledge through their own observation, modern medicine demonstrates its worth through science. Peer-reviewed studies and medical journals show proof. This is what is known to the modern health care system as “evidence-based” medicine.
But Ji says the science for much of what our evidence-based system stands on isn’t as strong as we’re led to believe.
“It’s eminence-based medicine. It sounds like evidence, but it’s really eminence-based, or science-by-proclamation. It’s all based on smoke and mirrors, and belief structures. When you look at the literature and tease it apart, and you look at funding sources, rarely do you ever see anything of value,” Ji said.