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No beating about the bush.
A reductionist western science is incapable of answering the ‘why’, science can only seem to answer the 'how'. Does science need to borrow from spirituality and vice-a-versa?
Nobel laureates, like Peter Medawar, tell us that science is designed to answer only certain (mundane) questions and not answer esoteric questions like ‘what after death’? Or ‘why does the heart contract’, etc. He compares science to a railway engine designed to run on a track but not fly like an aeroplane, in his classic, Limits of Science. The reductionist Western science is incapable of answering the ‘why’, although it tries to answer ‘how’ or ‘how much’. Unfortunately, answers needed are only for the ‘why’ questions.
As a doctor for more than five decades, I am disillusioned by modern Western science. Why does a young man, apparently healthy, die suddenly of a massive heart attack, despite his having done everything scientifically correctly, while an elderly gentleman, with advanced coronary artery disease, still jugs on beyond 80? Science is simply making models which are mathematical constructs and, with verbal jargon, they are supposed to work. When one sees liquid helium climb up the sides of its container to overflow one wonders what happened to all our laws of thermodynamics. Liquid helium, kept in a silicon bowl, leaks out through its intact base!
When we claim that the heart, a small muscular structure weighing just 300 grams, pumps blood into a capillary system of totally 500,000 kilometres, which are thinner than our hair, not letting even a red blood cell to pass through easily, we are not being truthful. But neither did we ask such questions nor do we let our students do that.
When I read science books which are more than one 100 years old, the authors did have sentences like: “My God, only God can answer this question!” Today’s science wants to be all-knowing and the concept of God does not seem to exist.
A recent science study in biology, of experiments with rats, showed that the sex and sweat smell of the researcher affects the results to the extent of 40%—male researchers being more effective. Observer’s consciousness does affect the results. Quantum physics is absolutely right when it says everything exists as energy vibrations but collapses into matter on observation. That final awareness, observation of the observer, his/her consciousness, makes this world come alive. How very true indeed!
Robert Lanza, a genius of a physician and his co-author, Bob Berman, a maverick astronomer, have written that wonderful book, Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, where they claim that the world lives around life and for life—bio-centrism—as they call that all-encompassing consciousness—which is at the root of all science.
Hopefully, medicine would become bio-centric and not drugs- and surgery-centric reductionism. Candace Pert, a daring young researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, did show to the world for the first time that opiate receptors also exist outside the brain. Now we know that the human mind resides in every single cell at the cell membrane called MemBrain.
Providentially, I had written in my book, Holistic Living, in 1993 that there is a possibility of a mind in every cell. The editor of the publication had questioned my serendipitous thinking.
Recent research at Oxford, led by Professor Bingel, elegantly showed that all healing occurs, NOT because of our medicines but because of the patient’s belief in the doctor and the medicines he gives, true placebo effect, another brainchild of consciousness.
Only one thinking scientist in the Western world, Max Planck, has written that “I regard consciousness is fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.” I don’t think that the best surgeon will not able to heal a surgical wound in a dead body without consciousness!
Caring and sharing is spirituality in essence. Occult healing methods were used in healing in many civilizations and with success. We will have to re-invent them, for the good of mankind. Let us get out of our arrogant mind-set that only science can solve all our problems. This is partly due to the success of reductionist science-based technologies, like the semiconductor, etc, which have apparently made us more comfortable at the cost of our good health. Let wisdom prevail and God help mankind.
Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.
Medical developments from around the world
The Great Calcium Myth
Our profession takes its post-graduate education primarily from the pharma company literature. So, I am sure many who read this column are already on calcium supplements for good health in old age, especially elderly women after menopause, to prevent osteoporosis and fractures. The vital mineral for good health is magnesium.
To cap it all, when one takes calcium supplements, more calcium from your bones leaves through the kidney as the kidney exchanges calcium for sodium in the distal tubule. So, the more you take by mouth, the more you lose through your kidney. The wise thing to do would be to reduce sodium intake as you age to keep the bone calcium intact. The next best thing to keep your bone calcium is exercise—daily walk and exposure to sun as much as you can to get nature’s best vitamin D3—the foundation stone of human immune system.
Looking at the sun before 9am and after 4pm is another very important health-giving act. Do not directly look at the sun but look above, below and on the side of the sun. This will help the whole retina to get sun’s UV rays which stimulate the pineal and pituitary glands to tune up your endocrine orchestra.
In addition, the retina needs sunlight. We destroy that also by wearing sunglasses even inside the buildings. When I see dark glasses, I come to two conclusions. Either s/he is a politician who cannot look you in the eye or he is an underworld don.
We are told that, as one ages, free radicals float around in the system and they, in turn, damage the cells and the chromosomes. They need to be mopped up and destroyed. In retrospect, I suspect this myth was created by the industry which wanted to sell antioxidant supplements, to make big money.
The advertisements for antioxidant vitamins and creams, etc, are so persuasive that even a sceptic would buy and consume them. The correct science is that these free radicals are there to help ageing cells to die by apoptosis, a natural process of cell suicide which, in turn, facilitates new cell formation to keep one healthy. By destroying these free radicals, we are only hurting the body’s normal phenomenon of self-regulation.
If we prevent cells from dying by apoptosis, we are encouraging these cells to outlive their life span and get mutated. A mutated rogue cell is the beginning of cancer! In addition, when we discourage apoptosis, we are encouraging cell death by necrosis, a very dangerous proposition as the cell contents spill into its environment encouraging inflammation, cancer growth and many other ills.
Apoptosis is a process where the cell dies by shrinking and not breaking its wall, as in necrosis. The shrunken cell loses its morphology and becomes amorphic to be eaten by the phagocytes.
This beautiful working of the human body is nature’s way of letting the human being live well. The reductionist scientist always thinks that s/he is smarter than nature and tries to misunderstand nature’s efforts and tries to interfere from outside. The hapless common man gets caught in this.
In fact, this is why adverse drug reactions cause maximum deaths these days. The higher the number of drugs that come into the market, the more the illnesses.
I teach my students that if the bedside clinical picture does not fit into any textbook description of a disease, think of adverse drug reactions whose protean presentations can fool the best medical brain. Most antioxidant and vitamin tablets have caused more misery, illness and precocious death.
Please do not jump to the wrong conclusion that fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants are also bad. On the contrary, they help good health and healthy ageing. How they work is still a mystery but what science does not know is that they have many other health-giving elements in them that our in-vitro tablets do not have. Nature keeps her secrets.
Long back, a large study of post-menopausal women in Canada had shown that fruits and vegetables reduced diseases and postponed death while capsules and tablets containing the same ingredients did the reverse!