Nov 10 2010

Review of ‘Fundamentals of Generative Medicine’

Joseph E. Pizzorno, ND of was kind enough to send along a review of my textbook Fundamentals of Generative Medicine that will appear in the upcoming issue of Integrative Medicine, A Clinician’s Journal.

Most are probably aware of Peter D’Adamo, ND, MIHFI as the author who popularized the blood type diet. Some have dismissed his work as simplistic—typically after only reading his consumer books. Those digging more deeply will find a fascinating, surprisingly well-documented world. However, this book is not specifically about the blood-type diet. Rather, it is the most profound exploration of biochemical individuality ever written. Roger Williams, PhD pioneering work in the 1970s (see the biography I wrote for the very first issue of IMCJ) inspired many of us who later became leaders in this new medicine.

We all believe that each patient is unique. However—and this is one of my pet peeves—too often I see this assertion used as an excuse for the same patient receiving vastly divergent—even contradictory—interventions for the same problem from different integrative medicine clinicians. I think much of this is caused by undisciplined and uninformed clinical thinking due to a superficial understanding of the true uniqueness of our patients. I realize this is harsh, but I think we can all do so much better for our patients. A major reason for this problem is that we have lacked the tools and a road map to truly understand the uniqueness of each patient and how our interventions interact with this uniqueness. There have been no textbooks—until now.

And this is why I am so excited by Peter’s work.

This textbook is published in a loose-leaf format and titled Volume 1. It is a daunting work, written for the healthcare professional seriously committed to deeply understanding their patients. Each of the 6 sections is devoted to a specific conceptual area—not organized by body systems as seen in other medical textbooks. The first section deals with the complexities of biological systems and how chaos and other theories can explain how a system can be dynamic, yet stable. In fact, how a dynamic system is much better able to maintain itself in a changing and challenging environment. The depths of Peter’s scholarly inquiry can be seen in his discussion of Darwin versus Lamarck and how the erroneously dismissed Lamarckism is now seen as the discovery of epigenetics.

The next section is a pretty conventional description of genetics and mutations. Unusual here is his discussion of haplogroups—i.e., the mapping of ancestral migration patterns. Section III continues the discussion of genetics, covering the polymorphisms that now start manifesting in the enzyme variations that produce the biochemical individuality. Again, all pretty conventional.

Section IV is where Peter starts really stretching our understanding by putting what we have learned in Sections II and IV into “morphogenic” patterns. Particularly interesting, and clinically extremely relevant, is phenotypic plasticity and how this holds great promise for “regenerative treatment.”

Section V delves deeply into epigenetics. Fascinating reading, but also scary as the story of how environmental toxins like bisphenol A (BPA) modulate gene expression emerges. Finally in Section VI we get the tools to consciously manipulate gene expression. Peter thoroughly documents how to use specific food constituents, botanicals isolated natural (and synthetic) compounds. As I am writing this on Halloween, all I can say is “Beware the Lectins!”

Strengths: 800 pages and thousands of references documenting biochemical individuality. Will fundamentally change how you think about patients.

Weaknesses: This book will eat all your spare time. It is not an easy read and you will rarely be able to use this as a resource while seeing a patient. Which brings up my major suggestion to Peter—please, we mere mortals need a Cliff Notes version for our office. Even better, how about some logic flow charts like IMCJ contributor Herb Joiner-Bey, ND created for the Handbook of Natural Medicine?

Bottom Line: Buy this book. Read a few pages every night. Your “incurable” patients will be deeply grateful and you will be once again mesmerized by the miracle of life.

Drum Hill Publishing, Wilton CT, 2010. $200.00
* MIFHI = Masters of the Institute for Human Individuality.

What can I say? It is always a sublime moment when a mentor and role-model approves of your work.

As far as practical employment, indeed this is not that book. Volume 2 will be the actual treatise on algorithms. That was the gist of my recent diatribe at the AANP (American Association of Naturopathic Physicians) conference in Portland: a call for a new ontology for this emerging field with the appropriate informatics, heuristics and pattern languages.

Fundamentals of Generative Medicine

I read the most interesting thing the other day. In his wonderful book Wetware Dennis Bray describes how researchers knocked out the gene for brain creatine kinase in mice. They were prepared for severe phenotypic changes and probable death of the animals. Surprisingly, nothing happened. They looked absolutely normal, although a few had slightly smaller brains. Now, how could knocking such an important enzyme produce virtually no change in phenotype? Working by cell network, they discovered that when a primordial system of singular importance is compromised, developmental influences legislate that other gene/enzyme systems simply compensate. It is coded into the system. Perhaps no better proof of this is the ‘small world’ network observation that any molecule in a cell is separated from any other molecule by an average of only three reactions.

So, what can we conclude? Our ‘typical’ clinical realities (linear, reductionist), obey what a mathematician might call ‘differential linear equations’. We start with a map someone previously figured out for us and walk through the forest following it. In biological reality, this is usually seen in higher level hierarchies, typically organelles, symptoms, etc.) Most gene/environment/phenotype manifestations are what I would consider to be ‘von Neumann type non-linear equations’ i.e you take one step towards the forest and with each subsequent step the trees rearrange themselves.

The proof of this is the notion in complexity circles of ‘phase transition’. Stewart Kauffman thinks that life itself lies on the brink of a gaseous/liquid state (for analogy- really we are talking about information here). ‘Liquid states’ in biological systems are characterized by flexible, oscillating (percolation) characteristics, ‘gaseous states’ by non-linear behavior (non-Boltzmann entropy, or maybe what Schroedinger called ‘negentropy’, but to me, more likely, a non-matter/energy ‘Shannon information entropy’ (surprisal versus uncertainty, etc.).

At its most basic, we can knock out CPK and have a rat live probably for the same reason that we can scratch a CD and still have it play.

So, anyway, I’d really like to write that second book, but I know I’m not ready yet.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Review of ‘Fundamentals of Generative Medicine’”

  1. Lisa Wynne says:

    Thank goodness your not ready to write the second book yet…please let one digest the first! :)

  2. Jolanda Bassi says:

    Most gene/environment/phenotype manifestations are what I would consider to be ‘von Neumann type non-linear equations’ i.e you take one step towards the forest and with each subsequent step the trees rearrange themselves.

    From the first section the complexity of standard / linear thinking suddenly gets challenged and one is forced to expand ones own intellectual attitude to life and expand not only vocabulary but whole concepts within a sentence or a word (to be looked up). Written for everyone interested to read any book of 800 pages chuck full of new points to ponder that will haunt you for the rest of ones own life.

    With gratitude for well written ‘stuff’ a look into the complexities of a rich life.. shared so freely. Jolanda Bassi

  3. NICK says:

    I’m definitely buying the book !!!!

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