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The body can heal itself, given the chance…

It’s one of the oldest maxims of natural medicine, but rarely do we get to see mainstream scientific evidence backing it up so dramatically as we did this last month.

Research published in Nature, no less, and part of a £20 million Mutographs of Cancer project, showed that quitting smoking can do much more than just stopping further damage to the lungs. Researchers have discovered that once smoking stops, healthy cells that have somehow escaped damage start to actively replenish the lining of smoking-damaged airways (story, page 6).

There’s good news for the brain, too. What Dale Bredesen has done for Alzheimer’s – that is, showed it can be halted and maybe reversed – probiotics researchers may be about to do for Parkinson’s.

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee have identified a probiotic that not only prevents the build-up of a protein linked with Parkinson’s, but seems to be able to clear some of the already-formed protein clumps. It’s early days, with the study done on roundworms, not humans (page 6), but the principle holds: the body will relentlessly seek to repair and regenerate – given the tools to do the job.

Meanwhile, fans of Prof Keith Baar, the UC Davis expert on connective tissue repair, are avidly following continual reports of tendon, ligament and joint regeneration as his gelatin + vitamin C + isometric exercise protocol sweeps through the sports world. We feature his protocol in our joint health feature on page 30. Uniquely, Prof Baar’s work demonstrates that you can send the collagen-building nutrients where they are needed,  with targeted exercise.

Remember, only last year Duke University scientists discovered that humans have a “‘salamander-like’ regenerative capacity” that, contrary to popular belief, enables cartilage in human joints to repair itself. “We believe that an understanding of this ‘salamander-like’ regenerative capacity in humans, and the critically missing components of this regulatory circuit, could provide the foundation for new approaches to repair joint tissues and possibly whole human limbs”, said senior author Virginia Byers Kraus, MD, PhD, a professor in the departments of Medicine, Pathology and Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke.

Prof Keith Baar’s work with tendon and ligament repair has shown that providing the right nutrients can immensely speed up the regeneration process. What we’re seeing here is very much the body healing itself, given the chance. There’s a two-step process at play here: first removing the obstacles to cure, in the classic sense; and second, providing the raw materials the body/mind needs to do the job.

Bredesen has proved the same principle:  “fix the holes in the roof”, as he puts it, and the brain will repair.

When it comes to the dramatic news about lung-regeneration in ex-smokers, we have to wonder how much better results we’d see if they were given appropriate nutrition advice.

Simon Martin

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