I love to challenge the perspective of a reductionist. I don’t do this because I believe I have all the answers. I do it, because of their lack of positive end-results. That’s because many therapies based on a reductionist point of view often fail.
My desire is not to reinvent the wheel but rather bring ‘back to life’ the simple wheel that provides the best results because it honors the human body as a whole interconnected system.
So with that, here are some common questions I receive about the whole body and the immune system...
Q: What is a reductionist and what do you mean when you refer to a reductionist point of view?
A: A reductionist is someone who only looks at the parts and doesn’t understand that the whole is always greater than the sum of the individual parts. When I speak of a reductionist point of view I am referring to the understanding and approach of how they look at the body’s ability to heal itself. If you have a bowl of fresh berries and next to it a bowl of pills that represent the nutrients and phytochemicals found in those berries, a reductionist would see them as one and the same. To a reductionist, those pills or “parts” put together are equal to or greater than the whole. Piecing together parts of the whole never produces any true understanding. What it does produce is knowledge of the workings of the individual parts
An example is an athlete who tears a muscle in the belly. Once it is healed, it will never be quite the same as the original whole muscle. The reason is that part of the repair process is going to leave some scar tissue. This will always be a compromised area subject to injury. The sum of the parts are never as strong as the whole.
Q: How does a reductionist perspective of the immune system differ from a whole body perspective?
A: A reductionist looks at each system in the body as an independent system. While to a certain extent they are correct, no system works on its own without the help of all the other systems in the body in order to make the whole body function properly. This fact, in and of itself, gives the reductionist a bad starting point. How can one be expected to support the immune system without understanding the effect it has on the rest of the body, or, the effects the rest of the systems have on the immune system.
The other aspect that a reductionist believes has relevance is how specific parts of the immune system function on an independent level. This is often what we hear about in the news when a new drug comes out that effects a specific function within a system. For example, a therapy that raises b cell or t cell levels. The reason they often fail is because the parts of that system do not work as independent contractors. They all effect and rely on one another. The end results are often a system in disarray.
Q: In regards to positive end-results, how would someone with a whole body view approach immune system health?
A: If someone has a true understanding of how the immune system functions as a part of the whole body, they would begin by implementing a protocol which supports the elimination channels of the body (bowels, liver, gallbladder, kidneys and bloodstream). This portion of the protocol would ensure that nothing is standing in the way of one’s healing responses. The other part of this program would be implementing a proper nourishment plan that would support the body’s ability to have a healthy immune system and stress response. Nutrition in and toxins out.
Q: What do you see as a reductionists biggest downfall in regards to understanding and supporting immune system health?
A: I personally think the way our reductionist medical system is set up is a double-edge sword. The fact that we have a specialist for every system of the body is both a good and bad thing. The positive is that we have a better understanding of the system itself. The downfall is that because all system work together and support one another, understanding the small details is not truly relevant to the big picture. This has been proven time and time again with the failure of therapies that focus on only one function of a specific system.
Q: What do you think is one of the greatest factors affecting the body’s ability to have a healthy immune system response?
A: How we respond to external stressors is our true first line of defense in regards to a healthy whole body healing response. This is why making sure we keep our elimination channels uncluttered and open and giving our body the nourishment and support it needs is of such vital importance.
The end-result of reductionist thinking is always being one step behind. Nothing in the body was designed to work on its own without the help of some other system or process. If you were at a horse race and one of the horse’s legs were tied to the starting gate, I think it is safe to say, not only would that horse be several steps behind, but, his chances of winning are slim to none depending on whether he can free his leg in the first place.
Don’t be left one step behind simply because you are focused on the nose rather than the powerful whole.
About Michael Stuchiner
Michael Stuchiner is an experienced Master Herbalist, the Head of Education for Z Natural Foods, a teacher and an accomplished author. With a 16-year specialization in medicinal herbs, Mike also has a vast knowledge in tonic and adaptogenic herbalism. Mike has enjoyed a 25-year career as an elite-level competitive powerlifter where he learned to heal his ‘mind and body’ as an avid user of herbal remedies.
As an “in-the-trenches” herbalist, Mike has done more than 85 speaking engagements, consulted with clients ranging from young to elderly, worked with athletes in virtually all sports and with clients who have “dis-ease” states of a wide variety. Mike also mentors student Master Herbalists and will continue to teach the next generation to grow a deeper wisdom of the human body through appropriate herbal remedies.
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