[Paleopsych] when the body runs riot
HowlBloom at aol.com
HowlBloom at aol.com
Sun Jul 3 14:17:53 UTC 2005
The body has good reasons for giving us inflammations, or so we’ve been told
by evolutionary biology. Inflammation can quarantine micro-attackers and
help heal our wounds. But if the swollen redness of inflammation is so
useful, why does the body have built in mechanisms to keep it under control?
Those mechanisms are, according to the article below, “epoxyeicosatrienoic
acids (EETs)”. These acids keep a good thing from happening. They rein in
Could the answer be something that the work of paleopsych member Neil
Greenberg taught me a long time ago? In moderate doses things the body’s own
internally-concocted remedies are good. In overdoses they can be poisons. Stress
hormones are examples. In swift, sharp jolts, they are pick-me-ups,
attention, strength, and energy boosters extremely useful in fast but vicious fights
or when it’s time to turn tail and skedaddle, escape. But in chronic doses,
doses that go on and on and on and on from day to day and week to week, those
same stress hormones, those quick-hit tonics, are poisons.
Does the body need inflammation inhibitors like epoxyeicosatrienoic acids to
make sure that it doesn’t get too much of a good thing? Are these
inhibitors part of the same sort of checks and balances that Sherringtonian nerves use
when they are finely tuned by an excitatory signals and a counterbalance of
inhibitory signals? Are they like the extensor and tensor muscles, the upper
bicep balanced against the muscle that faces it on the underside, the muscle
below your arm from your shoulder to your elbow? Snip the bottom muscle and
your hand will fly up to your shoulder and stay there, stuck in place by the
unchecked enthusiasm of the muscle on top. Cut the top muscle, and your arm
will look like an unbending stick. Your elbow and forearm will be
permanently locked in position.
And are the acids that inhibit inflammation a bit like the part of the brain
that does the most to civilize us, the most to make us “human’—the
pre-frontal cortex? You’d think that the human part of the brain would be there to
throw us into hyper-gear and turbocharge, giving us the mental warp engines
we need to break the consciousness barrier and rocket into thought. But, no.
The prefrontal cortex does the opposite. It’s a brake, a drag-chute, an
inhibitor. Without the “human” part of the brain, that three pound lump of
pink stuff in our head would apparently do too much, not too little. It takes
restraint to make us human.
When Aristotle said that life is really a balancing act between extremes, he
may have gotten it far more right than he ever imagined. Howard
Retrieved July 3, 2005, from the World Wide Web
Running Interference: Fresh approach to fighting inflammation
The more scientists learn about inflammation, the less they like it.
Although this bodily process speeds wound healing and corrals microbes, it can also
do plenty of harm, as seen in people with arthritis, asthma, and a host of
other ailments. Unfortunately, today's anti-inflammatory drugs pose their own
problems. They cause stomach distress in many people, and some drugs seem to
hike the risk of heart attacks. So, the search for a safe inflammation fighter
Bruce D. Hammock, a biochemist at the University of California, Davis, and
his colleagues now report that two experimental drugs shield lab mice from
extreme inflammation. The findings appear in an upcoming Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences.
Earlier research had suggested that a troublesome enzyme, called soluble
epoxide hydrolase, degrades natural inflammation inhibitors known as
epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs).
Author of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of
History and Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the
Recent Visiting Scholar-Graduate Psychology Department, New York University;
Core Faculty Member, The Graduate Institute
Founder: International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: Epic
of Evolution Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: The
Big Bang Tango Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American
Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society,
Academy of Political Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, International
Society for Human Ethology; advisory board member: Institute for
Accelerating Change ; executive editor -- New Paradigm book series.
For information on The International Paleopsychology Project, see:
for two chapters from
The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History,
For information on Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big
Bang to the 21st Century, see www.howardbloom.net
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