Posts Tagged ‘Primitivism’

We Need Our Symbiotes

Monday, December 14th, 2009

My next post will be on avoiding food poisoning, but before I post on that issue I need to point out that there obviously exists a balance between living in disease causing filth and being obsessively hygienic.  A lot of research suggests that we need various probiotics in order to be healthy, and that a large number of health problems occur because we have cleaned up our environment so thoroughly that we don’t have the necessary symbiotes in our bodies any more. 

The hygiene hypothesis seems to be gradually being refined into what has been called the Old Friends Hypothesis.  The shift is from one of believing that we benefit from infections with various organisms in general sort of way, to saying that bad organisms are bad for us, and good organisms (symbiotes) are good for us.  So, obviously we should try to avoid the bad ones and seek out the good ones.  Here are two previous blog posts of mine that touch on this issue The Umami Hypothesis – Lost Wanderer and Apitherapy & Biotherapy – Lost Wanderer

Here is a general survey of some of this material by Gut Buddies: ‘Friendly’ bacteria: side-lined healers - Gut Buddies (Some of the friendly bacteria (and products) referred to by Gut Buddies in this post are: segmented filamentous bacterium, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, Puritan’s Pride, Lactobacillus reuteriB. infantis 35624, Lactobacillus F19, L. acidophilus NCFB 1748 and B. lactis Bb12, Advanced Oral Hygiene with S. salivarius and B. coagulans, PerioBalance with Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentis, Halofuginone, and Bacillus polyfermenticus). 

Helminths (hookworms and whipworms, etc.) have been apparently very effective in helping with numerous allergic and autoimmune conditions, including allergies, asthma, autism, Crohn’s Disease, Eczema, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Psoriasis, Sjögren’s Syndrome, and Ulcerative Colitis. (AutoimmuneTherapies) (Hookworms are our Little Friends - Lost Wanderer)

Similar immune-modifying symbiote-based therapies might help with many other diseases and conditions: 

Alzheimer’s (Alzheimer’s Inflammation May Trigger Alzheimer’s Disease via Autoimmune & biotherapy news 2009/7/9 – Gut Buddies) (See also: Alzheimer’s – Lost Wanderer)

Aortic dissection (Inflammation Critical in Aortic Dissection, Researchers Find via The worm’s next success? – Gut Buddies)

Autism (Autism May Be Linked to Mom’s Autoimmune Disease (type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease) via Autoimmune & biotherapy news 2009/7/9 – Gut Buddies) (See also: The Vitamin D Theory of Autism – Lost Wanderer)

Dental Issues (Probiotic lozenges promote oral health - Gut Buddies (GUM PerioBalance (Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentis) and Advanced Oral Hygiene lozenges (S. salivarius and B. coagulans)

Depression (Is Dirt the New Prozac? by Josie Glausiusz (concerning the common soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae)

Diabetes (Diabetes- Lost Wanderer)

Diarrhea (Kefir benefits the sickest young children on antibiotics - Gut Buddies)

Flatulence Odor (You Can be a God/Goddess – Lost Wanderer (Odafree/Whiff withYucca Shidgera from desert Yucca, Fructo-oligosacharides from Jerusalem artichokes, and Copper Chlorophyllin from alfalfa. Local inventor clearing the air on pill that helps you breathe)

Gastric reflux (Reflux Esophagitis Due to Immune Reaction, Not Acute Acid Burn via The worm’s next success? – Gut Buddies)

Migraine Headaches (Migraine Headaches - Lost Wanderer)

Narcolepsy (Narcolepsy Is An Autoimmune Disorder, Stanford Researcher Says via Autoimmune & biotherapy news 2009/7/9 – Gut Buddies)

Obesity (Study Confirms: Your Hidden Food Allergies Are Making You Fat via Give microbes to mum for less-allergic young - Gut Buddies)

(Probiotics may reduce belly fat in women (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) via Obesity As An Immune Disorder – Matt Metzgar)

(Early differences in fecal microbiota composition in children may predict overweight (Staphylococcus aureus) via Obesity As An Immune Disorder II – Matt Metzgar)

(Childhood: Food Allergies May Be Linked to Obesity by Nicholas Bakalar and The Effect of The ALCAT Test Diet Therapy for Food Sensitivity in Patient’s With Obesity via Obesity As An Immune Disorder III – Matt Metzgar)

(Obesity – extending the hygiene hypothesis via Microflora - Matt Metzgar)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (Link Discovered Between Antibodies To Strep Throat Bacteria And Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (and Tourette syndrome) In Mice (Group A beta-hemolytic streptoccoccus (GABHS)) via The worm’s next success? – Gut Buddies

Schizophrenia (Schizophrenia - Lost Wanderer) (Immune System Activated in Schizophrenia via The worm’s next success? – Gut Buddies)

Vaginosis (Bacterial vaginosis treatments: Probiotics can increase effectiveness of some antibiotic therapies via Autoimmune & biotherapy news 2009/7/9 - Gut Buddies)

Recently, Matt Metzgar has been posting a lot on the topics of probiotics (1) and prebiotics.  Matt began by pointing out the site Paleobiotics, which discusses how the ancient diet influenced people’s gut flora.  The diets of hunter gatherers would have had a lot of indigestible fibers in them, which were instead consumed by our gut bacteria.  Since we no long eat this sort of diet we harbor somewhat different colonies of bacteria, to the likely detriment of our health.  Matt points out that in one study (Can vegetables help you resist infection?) that men who took prebiotics massively increased their good gut bacteria, but the group only taking a probiotic didn’t benefit very much. (See also: Eat Bugs. Not Too Much. Mainly With Plants via Prebiotics versus Probiotics - Matt Metzgar) 

Conditions that Matt talks about that might be influenced by the types of bacteria we harbor include:

Allergies  (The role of Probiotics in allergic diseases, Maternal breast-milk and intestinal bifidobacteria guide the compositional development of the Bifidobacterium microbiota in infants at risk of allergic disease, (bifidobacteria) Babies, Bacteria and Breast Milk: Genome Sequence Reveals Evolutionary Alliance (Bifidobacterium longum supsp. infantis) via Balancing Bacteria - Matt Metzgar and Babies and Bacteria – Matt Metzgar)

Anxiety, in patients with chronic fatigue (A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria) via Probiotics and Mood – Matt Metzgar)

Chronic diarrhea (Don’t poo-poo technique: Fecal transplant can cure superbug, doctors say via Transplanting Good Bacteria - Matt Metzgar)

Cold and flu symptoms in children (Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children, (Lactobacillus acidophilus or L acidophilus NCFM in combination with Bifidobacterium animalis) and HOWARU  (Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) via Probiotics for Children – Matt Metzgar)

Dental Issues (EvoraPlus via Probiotics and Oral Health - Matt Metzgar)

(The effects of manuka honey on plaque and gingivitis: a pilot study, Streptococcus mutans in saliva of normal subjects and neck and head irradiated cancer subjects after consumption of honey via Honey and Oral Health - Matt Metzgar)

(Peelu, Comparative effect of chewing sticks and toothbrushing on plaque removal and gingival health, Subgingival plaque microbiota in Saudi Arabians after use of miswak chewing stick and toothbrush, Chewing sticks versus toothbrushes via Chewing on Fiber II - Matt Metzgar)

(Toothbrushing with vegetable oil: a clinical and laboratorial analysis via Brushing with Vegetables - Matt Metzgar)

(Dietary fiber intake and dental health status in urban-marginal, and rural communities in central Mexico  and A longitudinal study of the relationship between diet intake and dental caries and periodontal disease in elderly Japanese subjects via Chewing on Fiber - Matt Metzgar)

(See also: Dental Related Information – Lost Wanderer)

Hypertension (The Improvement of Hypertension by Probiotics: Effects on Cholesterol, Diabetes, Renin, and Phytoestrogens via Hypertension and Probiotics – Matt Metzgar)

(1) In addition to the conditions mentioned in this post, probiotics might also help with such things as lactose intolerance, colon cancer, cholesterol, improving immune function and preventing infections, improving mineral absorption, preventing harmful bacterial growth under stress, and managing urogenital health.  (Probiotic – Wikipedia)

Wound Licking and Zoopharmacognosy

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Wound licking is instinctively practiced by many animals and humans.  It seems likely that saliva retards infection and promotes healing, since it contains antibacterials, antivirals, and growth factors.  Also such an evolved behavioral trait would have long ago been selected out if it were overall highly unhealthful.  A number of societies have even institutionalized the practice, for example in ancient Greece at the shrine of Aesculapius dogs were trained to lick patient’s wounds.  

Wound licking is an example of natural self doctoring by animals, a practice which is called Zoopharmacognosy.  Probable examples of this include placenta eating, eating clay and charcoal, applying honey to wounds, and eating toxic plants.  (See Really Wild Remedies)  Another example was discovered when Capuchin monkeys in Venezuela were observed rubbing millipedes over their fur.  It turned out that they were using the arthropod’s defensive secretions as an insect repellent.     


The Umami Hypothesis

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Seth Roberts has proposed an interesting hypothesis, that humans like complex tastes (umami) because we evolved to like the taste of bacteria in food.  He believes that bacteria from natural pickling is harmless, and actually improves our immune function.  As reported in Conditioning Research, Roberts points out that explorer Vihjalmur Stefansson reported that Eskimos ate lots of bacteria fermented fish, which he also grew to enjoy.  Supporting this theory, Conditioning Research also tells of University of Michigan paleontologist, Dan Fisher, who butchered a draft horse and cached the meat in a stock pond.  The lactobacilli in the water pickled the meat, which it emitted a slightly sour odor that put off scavengers when it floated to the surface.  Fisher cut and ate the meat from February until midsummer to prove its safety, showing how hunter gatherers might have once stored their large animal kills.  As I blogged in an earlier post, fermented foods also are known to be good sources of vitamin K2.

Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Here is a study from Pubmed which found that a 2-3 minute cold shower of 20 degrees C (preceded by a 5 minute adaptation to reduce shock) performed once or twice daily, over several weeks to months was effective at relieving depression.  It also had an analgesic effect, and didn’t have noticeable side effects or create addiction.  The study was small, statistically insignificant, and needs to be replicated.  They speculate that several mechanisms might be involved, such as activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the release of noradrenaline, and the level of peripheral nervous system signals to the brain.  The idea is that our ancestors would have been subject to these sorts of environmental stressors, and the lack of them in the modern world might help explain some cases of improper brain functioning.

“Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing” by Robert Wolff

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Here is several snips from a review of Original Wisdom by Thom Hartmann:

“After I grew to know the Sng’oi, the People, and when I knew they accepted me, I apologized for having spoken of them as slaves before I knew what they called themselves. …(snip)

“This time, again, one person answered. He – a rather adventuresome young man, I was told later – spoke slowly, simply, for my benefit perhaps. “No,” he said, “we do not mind when others call us Sakai. We look at the people down below – they have to get up at a certain time in the morning, they have to pay for everything with money, which they have to earn doing things for other people. They are constantly told what they can and cannot do.’ He paused, and then added, ‘No, we do not mind when they call us slaves.”…(snip)

“Similarly, many of the Europeans wanted to become “savages” and live among the Indians:”

“Over the next hundred years, as more and more Whites encountered Native Americans, the incidence of Whites joining Indian tribes dramatically increased. Derisively termed “White Indians” by the colonists, thousands of European immigrants to the Americas simply walked away from the emerging American society to join various Indian tribes. Ethnohistorian James Axtell wrote that these early settlers joined the Indians because “they found Indian life to possess a strong sense of community, abundant love, and uncommon integrity�” Axtell quoted two White Indians who wrote to the people they�d left behind that they�d found, “the most perfect freedom, the ease of living, the absence of those cares and corroding solicitudes which so often prevail with us.”

In 1747, Reverend Cadwallader Colden wrote of the growing exodus of Whites for Indian life: “No Arguments, no Intreaties, nor Tears of their Friends and relations, could persuade many of them to leave their new Indian Friends and Acquaintance; several of them that were by the Caressings of their Relations persuaded to come Home, in a little Time grew tired of our Manner of living, and ran away again to the Indians, and ended their Days with them.”

While most people in the modern world think of contemporary tribal people as hungry to join our civilized world, wolff found the Sng�oi just as happy with their own democratic culture as Colden found Native Americans in the 1700s.

Similarly, Colden wrote: “�Indian Children have been carefully educated among the English, cloathed and taught, yet, I think, there is not one Instance, that any of these, after they had Liberty to go among their own People, and were come to Age, would remain with the English, but returned to their own Nations, and became as fond of the Indian Manner as those that knew nothing of a civilized Manner of living.”

Not being fettered to eight or more hours of work a day to enrich some person or corporation at the top of an economic food chain, people in democratic indigenous cultures spend much of their time interacting with their children. James Bricknell, who was captured by the Delaware in the early 1800s and lived among them for several years before returning to his family, wrote in 1842: “The Delawares are the best people to train up children I ever was with� Their leisure hours are, in a great measure, spent in training up their children to observe what they believe to be right� They certainly follow what they are taught to believe right more closely, and I might say more honestly, in general, than we Christians� I know I am influenced to good, even at this day, more from what I learned among them, than what I learned among people of my own color.”

The Worst Mistake In The History Of The Human Race by Jared Diamond

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

In this article Jared Diamond points out what a disaster the transition from a hunter gatherer lifestyle to an agricultural one was for most of humanity.  When that transition occurred about 10,000 years ago skeletal remains show that people shrank in stature.   People’s diet was much less varied, and enamel defects give good evidence of malnutrition.  Life expectancy went down, and class and gender inequality came about.

Another problem, which Diamond doesn’t discuss, is that now “work” became necessary.  Animals tend to evolve to enjoy the things they have to normally do in their natural environment to stay alive.  This is because those animals which enjoy what they are doing will tend to do it better, and they will on average win the genetic competition.  In this regard people are no different since they are, of course, animals.  On average men especially liked hunting, and women especially liked gathering.  And, as a reminder of our hunter gatherer past, most people appreciate being out in nature.  After the transition people had to really “work” for a living, that is they had to spend much of their time doing such things as plowing fields, tasks they weren’t naturally wired to enjoy. 

It is said that play is the work of the child.  Some people I know have nostalgia for childhood as a wonderful time of such endless “work.”   As they grew up these people gradually transitioned into adulthood, where they have to work at jobs they often hate.  I think this sort of nostalgia is an artifact of civilization, and I’d predict that if you talked to a group of hunter gatherers they wouldn’t have such a depressing perspective, because the “work” they are doing as adults is just as enjoyable to them as play is to a child.  If this idea is correct, then in a sense many people know somewhat what a hunter gatherer life was like.  If you were raised in a setting that allowed you to play outside in nature, and had an otherwise normal childhood, all you have to do is to remember what it was like to be out of second grade for the summer playing with your friends in the woods.  I don’t want to paint a too idealistic picture because not everything was always going well for hunter gatherers, but then it isn’t always going well in childhood either.

Before the Fall Evidence for a Golden Age By Steve Taylor

Friday, July 24th, 2009

I don’t necessarily agree with all of Steve Taylor’s points in his article, but these are spot on as far as I’m concerned:

…”Many of the world’s cultures have myths that refer to an earlier time when life was much easier, and human beings were less
materialistic and lived in harmony with nature and each other. In ancient Greece and Rome this was known as the Golden Age; in China it
was the Age of Perfect Virtue, in India it was the Krita Yuga (Perfect Age); while the Judeo-Christian tradition has the story of
the garden of Eden. These myths tell us that, either as a result of a long degeneration or a sudden and dramatic “Fall,” something “went
wrong.” Life became much more difficult and full of suffering, and human nature became more corrupt. In Taoist terms, whereas the
earliest human beings followed the Way of Heaven and were a part of the natural harmony of the Universe, later human beings became
separated from the Tao, and became selfish and calculating.  Many of these myths make clear references to the hunter-gatherer way
of life – for example, the Greek historian Hesiod states that during the Golden Age “the fruitful earth bore [human beings] abundant fruit
without stint,” while the early Indian text the Vaya Purana states that early human beings “frequented the mountains and seas, and did
not dwell in houses” (i.e. they lived a non-sedentary way of life).  The garden of Eden story suggests this too. Originally Adam and Eve
ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge, until they were forced to leave the garden and forced to “work hard and sweat to make the soil
produce anything.” It appears that, at least in part, these myths are a kind of “folk memory” of the pre-agricultural way of life. The
agricultural peoples who worked harder and longer, had shorter life spans and suffered from a lot more health problems must have looked
at the old hunter-gatherer way of life as a kind of paradise.”…

Why Dirt is Good: 5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends by Mary Ruebush

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Author Dr. Mary Ruebush is an expert in medical genetics, microbiology, and immunology.   On a radio call in show online she discusses the hygiene hypothesis, which is the theory that we need germs in order to be healthy.  With one caller she discussed the fact that researchers are experimenting with helminthic (worm) therapy.  

“the most delightful sights for a parent should be a young child covered in dirt from an active afternoon of outdoor play.” Her thesis, reiterated throughout, is that obsessive cleanliness is counterproductive: a “young, naïve immune system” needs exposure to germs “to build the ability to produce the right response quickly.” Arguing that evolution has conditioned us to coexist with the microscopic threats around us-a human body typically harbors “some 90 trillion microbes”

Alienation and Animism

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

I am not religious at all,  but if I were ever to adopt a belief system this would be it.  It’s the original one we were designed for.

From Medical Hypotheses: “Alienation is the feeling that life is `meaningless’, that we do not belong in the world. But alienation is not an inevitable part of the human condition: some people do feel at one with the world as a consequence of the animistic way of thinking which is shared by children and hunter–gatherers. Animism considers all significant entities to have `minds’, to be `alive’, to be sentient agents. The animistic thinker inhabits a world populated by personal powers including not just other human beings, but also important animals and plants, and significant aspects of physical landscape. Humans belong in this world because it is a web of social relationships. Animism is therefore spontaneous, the `natural’ way of thinking for humans: all humans began as animistic children and for most of human evolutionary history would have grown into animistic adults. It requires sustained, prolonged and pervasive formal education to `overwrite’ animistic thinking with the rationalistic objectivity typical of the modern world. It is this learned abstraction that creates alienation – humans are no longer embedded in a world of social relations but become estranged, adrift in a world of indifferent things. Methods used to cure alienation and recover animistic modes of thinking involve detachment from the social systems that tend to maintain objectivity and rationality: for example, solitude, leisure, unstructured time and direct contact with nature. Many people also achieve similar results by deliberately inducing altered states of consciousness. Animistic thinking may emerge in meditation or contemplation, lucid dreaming, from self-hypnosis, when drowsy,… Animism is not a religious or philosophical doctrine, neither is it an `error’ made by people too young or too primitive to know better; animism is nothing less than the fundamental mode by which human consciousness regards the world [1] and [2]. Consciousness just is animistic [3] and [4]. And this perspective is a consequence of human evolutionary history.”

“Humans evolved sophisticated brain mechanisms for dealing with the complex social situations that formed a dominant selection pressure throughout primate evolutionary history [6] and [7]; and in animistic thinking these social mechanisms are flexibly applied to interpret complex aspects of the world in general. Information on animals, plants and landscape are fed-into a system that codes them into social entities with social motivations, and models their behaviour in social terms.”

“Human consciousness is therefore essentially a social intelligence, designed by natural selection for dealing with people, but accidentally highly applicable to understanding, predicting and controlling a wide range of phenomena. Unless suppressed during upbringing, this way of looking at the world is spontaneously generalised beyond the social sphere, so the significant world is seen as composed of `agents’, having dispositions, motivations and intentions. Humans see the world through social spectacles [3].”

“The significant features of the natural world are seen as sentient and evaluated using social intelligence modes of thinking. Therefore, for an animistic thinkers significant events do not `just happen’ – like inert billiard balls bouncing-off one another – instead events occur because some entity wants them to occur. Every significant event is intentional and has personal implications.” 

“Animism is an extremely effective way of dealing with the natural world under the conditions of hunter–gatherer societies. For instance, each species of animal has its own nature, each member of a species its own character, knowledge of which enables behaviour to be predicted with considerable precision in real world situations [1] and [2]. Even with the advantages of scientific biology, `anthropomorphism’ still remains the best system for understanding, predicting and manipulating animal behaviour – especially among large social mammals: successful animal trainers usually develop and use elaborate anthropomorphic characterizations of dogs, cats and horses [8].” 

“Furthermore, because other people were so important in evolutionary history [6] and [7] social information is especially vivid: it grabs and sustains our attention and mobilises our emotions. In an oral culture that depends on human memory, the best way of transmitting important information is by the medium of animistic stories and songs….”

Animism: An Overview

“It is often extended to include the belief that personalized, supernatural beings (or souls) endowed with reason, intelligence and volition inhabit ordinary objects as well as animate beings, and govern their existence (pantheism or animatism). More simply, the belief is that “everything is alive”, “everything is conscious” or “everything has a soul”.”

“It has been further extended to mean a belief that the world is a community of living persons, only some of whom are human. It also refers to the culture or philosophy which these types of Animists live by, that is, to attempt to relate respectfully with the persons (human, rock, plant, animal, bird, ancestral, etc.) who are also members of the wider community of life….”

“In some animistic worldviews found in hunter -gatherer cultures, the human being is often regarded as on a roughly equal footing with animals, plants, and natural forces. Therefore, it is morally imperative to treat these agents with respect. In this worldview, humans are considered a denizen, or part, of nature, rather than superior to or separate from it. In such societies, ritual is considered essential for survival as it wins the favor of the spirits of one’s source of food, shelter, and fertility and wards off malevolent spirits….Most animistic belief systems hold that the spirit survives physical death. In some systems, the spirit is believed to pass to an easier world of abundant game…Rituals in animistic cultures are often performed by shamans or priests, who are usually seen as possessing spiritual powers greater than or external to the normal human experience….”

Placenta Eating to Avoid the Baby Blues

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Some groups, such as Placenta, strongly believe that new mothers should engage in placentophagy, or consuming the placenta.  They believe this is nature’s way of reducing post partum depression, lessening bleeding, increasing milk production, and helping the uterus to return to normal size after birth.  If placentophagy were widespread in humans during the Paleolithic, evolution might have selected for this as a natural healthful practice.  This wouldn’t be surprising since many animals do it.