[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 
Nathan Seppa 
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 
goes  on. 
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).
Howard Bloom
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 
21st Century
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,  
see www.howardbloom.net/lucifer
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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