Around 800 BCE Homer in The Iliad gives descriptions of wound treatment by the two sons of Asklepios, the admirable physicians Podaleirius and Machaon and one acting doctor, Patroclus. Because Machaon is wounded and Podaleirius is in combat Eurypylus asks Patroclus to cut out this arrow from my thigh, wash off the blood with warm water and spread soothing ointment on the wound. Asklepios like Imhotep becomes god of healing over time.
This week on the Evolution of Medicine podcast, we are thrilled to be starting a series of podcasts for the month of August all around our upcoming Interpreting Your Genetics summit. In the coming week, you'll get to have a look under the hood of our founder James Maskell's genetics and genomics as he goes through the process of genetic testing and interpretation by leading educators in the field.
Louis Pasteur (1822–1895) was one of the most important founders of medical microbiology. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and preventions of diseases. His discoveries reduced mortality from puerperal fever, and he created the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax. His experiments supported the germ theory of disease. He was best known to the general public for inventing a method to treat milk and wine in order to prevent it from causing sickness, a process that came to be called pasteurization. He is regarded as one of the three main founders of microbiology, together with Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch. He worked chiefly in Paris and in 1887 founded the Pasteur Institute there to perpetuate his commitment to basic research and its practical applications. As soon as his institute was created, Pasteur brought together scientists with various specialties. The first five departments were directed by Emile Duclaux (general microbiology research) and Charles Chamberland (microbe research applied to hygiene), as well as a biologist, Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov (morphological microbe research) and two physicians, Jacques-Joseph Grancher (rabies) and Emile Roux (technical microbe research). One year after the inauguration of the Institut Pasteur, Roux set up the first course of microbiology ever taught in the world, then entitled Cours de Microbie Technique (Course of microbe research techniques). It became the model for numerous research centers around the world named "Pasteur Institutes."
This week on the Evolution we welcome an internationally renowned authority on health, human potential development, and Self-Leadership, Dr. Mark Atkinson. As a functional medicine physician, author, and speaker, Dr. Atkinson has inspired hundreds of thousands of people to become healthier, more effective, human beings. He’s been on the cutting edge of neuro-performance for many years and has now taken his passion to the Bulletproof organization.
James Maskell: Dr. Larry Palevsky is speaking, and he’s speaking on the pediatrics day. He’s an awesome doctor. He was lecturing about the microbiome five years ago, before the human microbiome came out. And so I asked him, he spoke at my Functional Forum, and he brought up some concepts that were new, and I was sitting next to storied integrative medicine doctors who were just sort of blown away. And his thought is this: We all know now that 99% of our bacteria and fungus and viruses and so forth are mutually beneficial, and they help us, and they help with metabolism and digestion and immunity. That’s our sort of main understanding. So I asked him, “Dr. Palevsky, what are we going to learn next? What are we really going to understand next about the microbiome that we don’t understand now?” And he basically—you have to listen to it on the summit, but he basically says this—“We have trillions of non-redundant viruses in our chromosomes, in our DNA. So these are trillions of viruses that we’ve evolved with over time.” And so his question is, “When you get a viral illness, how many more viruses have to come into the body for you to get a viral illness? 10? 20? 100?” I mean, when you look at the numbers compared to what’s actually in our chromosomes and in our DNA, the numbers just don’t add up. His thought is, and his concept is, that these viruses, there’s different transmission mechanisms. His thought is that the next understanding that we’re going to have of the microbiome, the next level of understanding is going to be that the body and these viruses work together to be able to return the body to homeostasis. So when you get to a point where the body is just so stressed and there’s too many toxins and things for it to deal with, and it can’t get back to homeostasis by itself, it communes with viruses to be able to instigate what we think of as a viral illness, to be able to get the patient to just slow down, so that we can get back to homeostasis. And it made such an impression on me because I had a friend last year who got viral pneumonia. And what was happening before viral pneumonia? She was working for three months on a project about 15 hours a day. And suddenly, it finished and she did great with it, and then she was sick for a month with viral pneumonia. So what, pneumonia just came along and attacked at that moment? Obviously, not. So I’d love to get your thoughts on that. Because when he shared that, I was like, “This seems so obvious.” And I’m really excited to think what our understanding is going to be like when we start to appreciate that our evolution with viruses is a big part of our evolution, and that there may be a lot more to it than thinking a virus is just something that comes from outside all the time.
In the 1950s new psychiatric drugs, notably the antipsychotic chlorpromazine, were designed in laboratories and slowly came into preferred use. Although often accepted as an advance in some ways, there was some opposition, due to serious adverse effects such as tardive dyskinesia. Patients often opposed psychiatry and refused or stopped taking the drugs when not subject to psychiatric control. There was also increasing opposition to the use of psychiatric hospitals, and attempts to move people back into the community on a collaborative user-led group approach ("therapeutic communities") not controlled by psychiatry. Campaigns against masturbation were done in the Victorian era and elsewhere. Lobotomy was used until the 1970s to treat schizophrenia. This was denounced by the anti-psychiatric movement in the 1960s and later.
In 1953 Jonas Salk announced he had a vaccine for poliomyelitis. A vaccine for measles was discovered in 1963. Meanwhile surgery made great advances. The most difficult surgery was on the brain and the heart. Both of these developed rapidly in the 20th century. A Swede named Rune Elmqvist invented the first implantable pacemaker in 1958. The first heart transplant was performed in 1967 by Christiaan Barnard. The first artificial heart was installed in 1982. The first heart and lung transplant was performed in 1987.
Chris Kresser: Yeah, sure. I’m sure a lot of my listeners know this about me, but for those people who are new to this especially, I think Paleo—and I’ve said this before—is a fantastic starting place, but it’s not a destination. What I mean by that, is we know that Paleo foods are safe and well tolerated for most of us because we’ve eaten them for such a long period of time. And by we, I mean human beings. And they’re the least likely to cause problems, allergies, food intolerances, and issues like that, because human beings have been consuming them for thousands of generations. But that doesn’t mean that we absolutely need to restrict our diet to those foods, because even though we’re largely the same genetically as we were 10,000 years ago, there have been significant changes. In fact, as much as 10% of our genome shows evidence of recent selection. And the pace of genetic change today is occurring at a rate 100 times faster than the average over 6 million years of hominid evolution. So we’re similar to our Paleolithic ancestors, but we’re different in some important ways. And those differences actually do affect our tolerance of certain agricultural foods, like full-fat and fermented dairy products, even legumes and grains, some of the newly introduced foods like alcohol and chocolate and coffee. These are all foods that modern research actually suggests can be beneficial when they are well tolerated, but I call them gray-area foods because our tolerance of them really depends on the individual. So for one person who is casein intolerant or intolerant to some of the proteins in dairy, eating any dairy is going to be problematic. But for someone who has no problem with casein or lactose, the sugar in dairy, all of the research on full-fat dairy suggests that it’s beneficial and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and even obesity. So those are just a few examples of how our diet has changed. And I think as a healthcare practitioner, my focus is always on the science—what the science shows, and what I see in the clinic in my work with patients. And I’m generally kind of allergic to extremely rigid, dogmatic approaches, especially when they’re not flexible enough to evolve and adapt with what the changing science tells us. So that was one of the big focuses of my talk at the summit.
This podcast is made possible by one of our Summit sponsors DNALife. There are few reasons why we chose this test, firstly because this test can only be ordered through a practitioner ensuring that the results will get a professional, responsible interpretation. Dr. Joffe was also centrally involved in creating this test, curating only those SNPs and other data points that have enough good research data to infer real meaning.
Late 1800s: The expectation in the United States that hospitals for the mentally ill and humane treatment will cure the sick does not prove true. State mental hospitals become over-crowded, and custodial care supersedes humane treatment. New York World reporter Nellie Bly poses as a mentally ill person to become an inmate at an asylum. Her reports from inside result in more funding to improve conditions.