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RELIGIOUS REVELATIONS AND BOVINE KETOSIS (A NONSACRED COW) ROBERT W. PHILUPS* Since the beginning of history, be it written or oral, our theological history is replete with examples ofman attempting to communicate with his deity. One such method can be singled out as successful, or, if not successful, at least fashionable, regardless ofculture or time. Many gods appear to have responded when the searcher for truth and wisdom has divested himself ofthe trappings ofsociety and has fasted. In fact, many notable revelations and religious truths have come as a result of this activity. All the world's major religions contain examples of individuals who went into seclusion and fasted, a procedure which resulted in a mystical experience or revelation [I]. Descriptive terminology varies with time and place. Fischer, in a recent article, mentioned that the use of the term "hallucinate" in the English language originated in 1572 and that prior to that date people "had visions." He further stated that "today it is still permissible but suspect to have religious visions, but 'hearing voices' is a safe sign for establishing the presence of hallucinations . . ." [2, p. 147]. Meditation, the development of an "altered state of consciousness" [3, 4], is undertaken in concert with fasting or abstinence [5, 6], more specifically, hypoglycemia [3]. According to one report, fasting among religious groups is becoming fashionable again: "Americans of many faiths are returning to one of religion's most ancient and enduring disciplines : fasting. So ancient is the practice of fasting that its origins are lost in prehistory. Scholars speculate that primitive peoples adopted fasting for various reasons, one being to propitiate the gods" [7, p. 86]. A recent, nonreligious example of fasting and fantasy can be gleaned from an experience that occurred in the Colorado mountains in June 1976. A government official from Virginia became lost in the mountains west of Denver for 5 days with only a few candy bars, which he rapidly consumed . The second night of his involuntary fast he said that, as he was ?Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523. I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Ms. Jean Lauer in the preparation of this manuscript.© 1978 by The University of Chicago. 0031-5982/78/2103-0024$01.00 398 I Robert W. Phillips ¦ Bovine Ketosis going to sleep, "a strange cloud formation with lights" suddenly appeared . Then he was joined by gypsy people who did not talk but pointed to something on the ground. He also reported that there were "three flying objects out of the sky" [8, p. 5]. Many attempts have been made to explain these altered states of consciousness and the visions that accompany them. Recent explanations deal with central nervous system imbalance, particularly that associated with the hypothalamus and the autonomic nervous system, and are characterized as dominance of either the ergotrophic "sympatheticrelated " or trophotropic "parasympathetic-related" branches of the nervous system [4, 9-11]. In addition, alcoholic beverages have long been known to predispose to, or facilitate, mystical happenings [1, 3]. There may be an overlooked biologic explanation for phenomena that result in the appearance of gods or mystical and hallucinatory occurrences when individuals fast, particularly in seclusion. Consider our good friend and servant, the milk cow. For countless generations animal husbandmen and nutritionists have bred and fed the cow until she has become a biological factory capable of producing enormous quantities of milk. As an unwanted by-product ofthis degree of specialization the cow is sometimes unable to sufficiently regulate her metabolic processes, especially during the early postpartum period following the birth of her calf when milk production is initiated. The metabolic demands of the initial peak of lactation are so great that she must call on her body reserves to sustain life. In terms of her metabolism, she could be considered to be fasting while paradoxically consuming all that she can eat. During this time a metabolic disease sometimes develops that is known to the veterinarian and dairyman as ketosis. This disease is brought about by a rapid mobilization offree fatty acids from lipid deposits to sustain the body's oxidative and synthetic energy requirements. A sequela to rapid free fatty acid mobilization in man...


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