The Synergy of the Microbiome
We assume the worst of our bodies. We cover ourselves in anti bacterial soaps, take antibiotics, disinfect ourselves and our spaces. When we get sick we see our bodies as our enemies. Everyone has a complaint about something their body does. We don’t like to feel out of control- and our bodies sometimes seem to take the reigns without giving us insight as to why. Our symptoms may feel chaotic or inexplicable.
We use this in all our conventional belief systems around bodies. We fight to lose weight, we struggle to gain muscle, we get injured and have to have surgeries, we get sick and have to take medication. We are always locked in conflict with our bodies. When severe illness hits, we may feel seriously betrayed by our bodies, not understanding why we have been hit with such uncomfortable and even debilitating symptoms. Why can’t our bodies just behave? It does feel like they are out to get us sometimes.
But this doesn’t fit in with an evolutionary perspective of us being finely tuned organisms aligned with natural and innovative processes of survival. What if we assumed that the body was doing nothing against us- and rather everything for us? What if we assumed our bodies were doing everything intentionally? That there was an important and underlying reason for every process that unfolds in our body- no matter how uncomfortable, miserable, or even deadly they are.
First of all, we have to understand that we are mostly microbes. Non human cells greatly outnumber human cells in the body. We are not separate from nature and the ecosystems around us- we are in fact a part of them, and we cannot be understood distinct from the concept of an ecosystem.
In an ecosystem there is competition between species, and there is also synergy. Different organisms have their roles, or “niches”, where they have very specific and important purposes that have developed in harmony and negotiation with each other over time. The roles and relationships between organisms are highly complex. It is incredible that we can understand the convoluted interactions and behaviors of organisms in an ecosystem at all. It is no wonder that sometimes their behavior sometimes seems inexplicable.
In a systemic perspective, the whole picture is greater than the sum of its parts. That is- you cannot break down the internal ecosystem and examine it species by species, interaction by interaction, to have a complete understanding. You have to look at the over arching functions without getting caught in the weeds of individual symptoms or particular species that are overgrown.
If we take a systemic, ecological approach, we can assume the immune system has a purpose for every move that it makes. Being vastly complex, we may not always be able to completely understand it, but we can trust that there is a functional pattern of survival and healing unfolding in our bodies at all time.
Symptoms can be reframed as a protective mechanisms. As much as you may be uncomfortable or even debilitated by your symptoms, your immune system always has your survival in mind. It has decided that whatever symptom it is causing is less dangerous to your survival than whatever the symptom is protecting you from.
Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride discusses in her book “Gut and Physiology Syndrome” (the long awaited update to her ground breaking “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”) the underlying function of many common immune system related symptoms. For example, she discusses the function of candida, which is to protect us from toxic compounds lodged in our tissues. Similar to the function of fungus in soils, candida comes in to mop up toxins. This explains why people will do numerous candida cleanses and anti fungal medications and still the candida will come back. Until the underlying toxicity is addressed, the immune system will allow this fungus to over grow again and again.
Similarly, she explains how collagen disorders are another condition related to toxicity. Toxins tend to lodge in our fat and collagen cells. When the immune system comes in to break down these toxins, collagen is broken down as a side effect, causing symptoms such as bruising, hypermobility, and other nervous system related disorders. The body is not malfunctioning and “attacking” its own collagen- it is prioritizing detoxification over the discomfort of not having enough collagen in the body.
Again, the body always has a reason for what it is doing, even if it is causing distressing and debilitating symptoms. We need to work with the immune system, not against it, to promote whole body health and healing.
I do not support the allopathic model of going in with intensive detox and “kill protocols” (heavy use of anti microbials, whether pharmaceutical or herbal in nature). These protocols simply override the body’s own wisdom. What the body needs to heal is support in what it is already trying to do.
My approach uses gentle detoxification support but primarily focuses on rebuilding the immune system with nutrition and lifestyle practices. Once the immune system is being properly fed and supported, the body can naturally do what it has been trying to do all along: detoxify and rebalance itself. I often tell my clients, “My treatment plan is not healing you. You are healing yourself. My treatment plan simply supports your own innate ability to heal.”
Later on in your healing journey, there are appropriate times to push more intensive detoxification, such as heavy metal chelation, and perhaps even intentional use of anti microbial herbs in relation to stubborn symptoms. The immune system can sometimes use a little “nudge” at this stage to help it out of a no longer necessary pattern. Order of operations is important here, and many practitioners jump to this route far too quickly.
To embark on the journey of rebuilding the immune system requires deep trust in your body’s innate wisdom. We see forests thrive without human intervention, and the body is no different. Millions of years of evolution have created a profoundly powerful system of checks and balances, and an innate wisdom for self protection. Believing that we can override this system through modern medical technology is not only misguided, it is based in a human ego driven attitude towards nature and the world. Returning to nature, and to the support of our natural immune and detoxification processes, is a route that will promote the deep, long term healing we seek.
Are you ready to try a truly different approach, where you learn to work WITH your immune system, and not constantly fight against it?
Watch the video below to learn more, and check out my histamines and mast cells page by clicking on the image below: