The next time you or your dog get sick, go beyond treating the symptoms (e.g., diarrhea, hot spot, high blood pressure, cancer, Parkinson’s disease) and consider the cause. Instead of classifying an illness as one disease or another that affects one part of the body or another, consider the possibility that the ‘disease’ is actually a symptom of a wider, systemic problem.
Let’s use cancer as an example. We are learning that our thinking about cancer is flawed. We label two people as having breast cancer, but in reality they may have two entirely different conditions, having different causes and requiring different treatments. Classifying cancer by body site (e.g., breast, colon, prostate, etc.) ignores differences in underlying causes, mechanisms, and pathways involved.
The conventional approach to treating cancer is to focus on the tumor – to shrink, burn, or cut it out. And then, to wait to see if it comes back. Gene therapy has helped to improve some outcomes, but the results have generally been disappointing.
A new group of researchers, some from the National Cancer Institute, are beginning to investigate cancer as a systemic (i.e., body as a whole) problem.
It is well known that cancer cells occur in our body every day, but in most of us, our natural defenses keep them at bay. So, what goes wrong in people (and pets) who develop cancer? Why didn’t their natural defenses snuff out those first cancer cells? Maybe the problem is in the natural defense system and how well it can perform in the body’s biological and energetic terrain. (The body terrain can be likened to the garden soil in which plants grow.) Diet, lifestyle, thoughts, and environmental toxins can all interact with our genes to alter the terrain. Interestingly, the scientific literature offers abundant evidence that diet, exercise, thoughts, feelings, and environmental toxins also influence the initiation, growth, and progression of cancer.
The immune system and body terrain also have a role in the development of other conditions, suggesting that all disease really boils down to these two things –a weakened immune system and a depleted terrain. But just as it is challenging to salvage crops from a garden that was ignored too long, waiting until you or your dog is sick to improve the immune system and manage the terrain will make recovery more challenging.