11. The Nature of Disease
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II THE NATURE OF DISEASE IN THE FOUR preceding chapters the diseases of the soil, the crop, the animal, and mankind have been discussed, and my observations and reflections on these matters have been recorded. This recital is of necessity somewhat fragmentary, because such a mass of apparently unrelated detail has had to be described. At least one question will occur to the reader at this point: Is there any underlying cause for all this disease? If the birthright of every plant, animal, and human heing is health, surely all these examples of disease must have something in common. It has been suggested throughout these chapters that much of this disease is due to farming and gardening methods which are inadmissible. If this is so, how do these mistakes in practice operate? For many years I have been on the look-out for some guiding principle which would explain matters and feel convinced that I have at last found it in the writings of a distinguished investigator of human diseases--Mr. J. E. R. McDonagh, whose work is not very widely known, due perhaps to the fact that an attempt has been made by the author to convey a too complete scientific picture of a very difficult and very intricate subject. I have therefore asked Mr. McDonagh to set out in the simplest possible language the gist of his results on the nature and causation of disease which are discussed in full in his The Universe Through Medicine and other writings. He has very kindly done so in the following note dated 8th September 1944: "The Nature of Disease. Every body in the universe is a condensation product of activity. Every body pulsates, that is to say it undergoes alternate expansion and contraction. The rhythm is actuated by climate. Protein in the sap of plants and in the blood of animals is such a body, and it is also the matrix of the structures in the former, and of the organs and tissues in the latter. If the sap in plants does not obtain from the soil the quality nourishment it requires, the protein over-expands. This over-expansion renders the action of climate an invader, that is to say climate, instead of regulating the pulsation, adds to the expansion. The over-expansion results in a portion of the protein being broken off, and this broken-off piece is a virus. The virus, therefore, is formed within, and does not come from without, but protein damaged in one plant can carry on the damage if conveyed to other plants. The protein in the blood of animals and man suffers the same damage if it fails to obtain the quality food it needs. In animals and man a third factor enters, and that is an invasive activity of the micro-organisms resident in the intestinal tract. This activity causes still further expansion, and the tissue and organ damaged is the one which originates from that part of the protein which is made to undergo the abnormal chemicophysical change, hence there is naturally only one disease, and this is regulated by the damage suffered by the protein wherein the host's resistance lies. As a result of the micro-organisms in the intestinal tract having played an invasive role for so long, they have in addition given rise to micro-organisms which can invade from without, but from these few remarks you will see that micro-organisms do not play the causative role in disease with which they are usually credited." According to this view of disease, the heart of the subject must reside in the proteins. If these are properly synthesized in the plant, their disease-resisting powers first protect the crop and are afterwards duly handed on to the animal and to man. If, therefore, we see to it in our farming and gardening that the effective circulation of protein from soil to plant, and then to livestock and mankind is maintained, we shall prevent most of the departures from health-that is to say, disease-except those due to accidents or to abnormal climatic conditions. Extremes of climate, by tending to damage the proteins, remain as factors in the causation of disease. We cannot always completely control the climate. For this reason it will be impossible to prevent all disease. We can only reduce its amount and soften, as it were, its incidence. But in one important direction we can do much to control climatein the effective regulation of...


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