• Sami Zanfagna

Deception, Dependency & Dis-ease

Updated: Apr 20

When I give a lecture about health, I often like to open it up with a truncated story of how humans started eating wheat.

It is a potent microcosmic tale that represents how we came to be doing most things we consider just ‘part of life’ today.

Essentially, as hunter-gatherers, we discovered that planting low-maintenance grains (like wheat) could save us a lot of time & energy contrasted to our hunter-gathering lifestyle. We could stay in one place, and lo and behold, had more time to reproduce more humans. Luckily, our new agrarian life meant there was enough food sustenance to feed them all (be it low-quality nutrition). But within just a few generations, we realized our new diet was making us sick — communities experienced higher rates of diseases and a shorter life span. But by then, it was too late. We had become so dependent on our agriculture to sustain a growing number of humans that it was virtually impossible to go back to hunting-gathering without sacrificing lives … and so we continued on.

This was perhaps the first -but hardly the last- time that humans have continued on a path that we know to be harmful, because we cannot seem to stop the ball from rolling. Think of how we all just continue on our first-world way while we watch the environment be desecrated around us, as climate change and pollution loom ever-larger threats to our collective. And yet, we can’t stop.

This is because, like wheat, we have developed a dependency on the things that actually harm us. We don’t know how to grow our own food, so we have to keep polluting Earth by transporting it from all reaches of the globe. We ‘don’t understand’ how we’d survive without plastics, so we continue to produce them at alarming rates. We feel incapable of ending wars, and so they continue to be the single greatest polluter.

There is one other industry on which our dependency has led to our collective destruction: and that is the pharmaceutical industry. Let’s use antibiotics as a straightforward example. It is relatively well-known in the collective awareness now that overuse of antibiotics over the past few decades has led to increased resistance in the bacteria they’re meant to target, and thus increased disease from “antibiotic-resistant strains” of bacteria. Herbs with antibacterial properties, on the other hand, do not contribute to this same “pressure” that leads to bacterial resistance. But our collective forgetting of the ancestral wisdom of how to use herbs as medicine means we’re forced to continue these antibiotic courses, even as we watch them make us more vulnerable as a species overall.

Dr. Zach Bush has said that collectively, we’ve lost 99% of the microbiome we once had as members of the species Homo sapiens. That makes us the weakest link in the evolutionary chain.

How about birth as another example? The Cesarean rate climbs to a whopping 40–60% at some hospitals. And yet, does that mean 40–60% of women’s bodies are somehow incapable of natural birth? Definitely not. However, our collective forgetting of how natural physiological birth works has made us dependent upon C-section, despite the fact that we know it is associated with higher rates of disease in children (and adults) — including allergies, Autism, and autoimmune diseases. And yet, we cannot seem to get the train back on the tracks. Obstetricians in medical schools are now graduating having never witnessed a true physiological birth without intervention. The “alternative” (which was, not long ago, the norm) eludes us.

And finally, vaccines. This one is a bit more complicated to explain in a quick-read, but the gist is this (and if you’re more interested, I can suggest some good reads): we have two types of immunity, ‘innate’ and ‘adaptive’. Innate immunity is the part that is hardest at work in kids and young people, and it is undoubtedly more effective. It is capable of mounting a broad response to any and all foreign invaders, regardless of whether the body has encountered them before.

Adaptive immunity relies on specific antibodies or antigens to attack the invaders that they “know” how to recognize — think man-to-man defense instead of zone. This is not as effective if a) the number of foreign invaders overpowers the number of available antigens or b) the foreign invaders have disguised themselves just enough to be unrecognizable by the antigens (such as happens with the flu, which is why flu ‘variants’ mean one flu shot doesn’t protect you from a lifetime of flu illness).

Older people’s systems skew towards adaptive immunity, which is why they are more susceptible to diseases overall. Interestingly, the more different pathogens one is exposed to as a child, the less likely they are to be vulnerable to pathogens as an adult (ie, the healthier their immune system is) — even into old age. Thus was the old wisdom around “chicken pox parties”.

Vaccines function on adaptive immunity. That is, (in theory) they ‘stimulate’ the production of antigens or antibodies specific to a disease. Unfortunately, they just aren’t as effective as our innate immune systems in creating life-long immunity, which is why we now see ‘resistant’ strains (similar to as happened with antibiotics) of diseases like polio cropping up around the world. No, it is not “because a portion of the population is still unvaccinated”. Rather, it’s because the majority is.

We can already anticipate, if we know the history, how this could create major global problems with the introduction of this new experimental injection into the majority population: a virus which would have otherwise evolved to be less deadly as time wore on (viruses’ goals, after all, are to survive & reproduce) will now be forced to become more deadly to survive the conditions we’ve placed it under by introducing some (but not enough) antigens to challenge it (a phenom called “viral pressure”).

Meanwhile, the US government has paid over 4 billion dollars to people injured by vaccines since the introduction of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act in 1986. Many of us are well aware of their inherent harms and risks. And yet, we balk and tremble at the idea of a world without them.

Perhaps the most disturbing of ways in which our dependency threatens to lead to our demise comes in the form of our toxic environment leading to our literal sterility -quickly outpacing global warming- by the year 2045. This apocalyptic article in Politico (“No More Babies? The hormone-altering chemicals threatening human procreation”) points out the fatalistic hopelessness that can accompany our learned dependency, doubting that humans will be able to give up their beloved chemicals to save the human race. Doctors and researchers have been warning us of this outcome for some time, and yet it’s conveniently slipped the collective awareness until now. I would argue that humans do have the capacity for immense self-sacrifice in the name of the greater good (I mean, you were willing to go into lockdown for a year, right?) — but what we are really in need of is a collective remembering of what the greater good actually is. And this remembering needs to happen now, because those predictions only give us three generations to turn this ship around.

Big Pharma, like Big Oil and Big Tech and Big Ag (and, Big Government), exists because of our perceived dependency on it. In order to continue churning its inconceivable profits, it relies on our continued perception of dependence — even as we (both its producers and consumers) watch the destruction in its path, shrug our shoulders, and sit paralyzed as the ‘better way’ alludes us. Big Pharma (and all industry) must continue to create a problem for which you need the solution, in order to keep its lifeblood flowing. Big Pharma is not a benevolent martyr. Big Pharma has a survival instinct, too.

Now, I bet you didn’t know that little fact about wheat and gluten from the beginning, did you? Think about how quickly (just a few thousand years) we as humans have become completely disconnected from how we came to be in this mess. This is the “collective forgetting”. And when it comes to health and how to achieve it, most of us are already well on our way to complete amnesia. But if we can grasp at that last flicker of intuitive knowing within us - that nature is the answer, and biochemical technocratic dependency is not - we might be able to stop this ball from rolling. Perhaps, even, to change its course for the better.

The answer lies in remembering that we are not beings dependent on parent-like entities for our survival. We are inter-dependent on each other, on our families and neighbors, and on nature — but the capacity to survive, and to achieve health, is innate biological and evolutionary wisdom locked within our DNA. It does not require chemicals and it does not require saviors. All it requires is a collective remembering.

Yolanda Norris-Clark writes, “The very notion of injecting a foreign substance into a human being’s body to promote ‘health’ is not only absurd, but utterly perverse, and it is immensely hopeful to me that increasing numbers of people are identifying the practice as such.” Maybe you have heard the saying, “No one has ever died from deficiency of a drug”? There are certain things we need to survive — and others, we do not.

In sincere hopefulness and in demonstration of the immense and powerful healing properties of Nature, I’ll leave you with one more example: human beings, like trees and mushrooms, communicate biological information throughout the species through the exchange of microbes and little pieces of DNA (like viruses). When there is a change in the environment, microbe-and-DNA-exchange takes place so rapidly and thoroughly that it is like “uploading” a better software into the collective humanity — one which will enable us to survive and thrive in our ever-changing world. It is a brilliant mechanism that we cannot begin to approach in efficacy with any of our man-made ‘tools’. It requires nothing of us but an allowing, a trusting, and a supporting. It requires us to live in contact and microbial exchange, to root into nature, and to stop creating obstacles. It is the mechanism that has allowed us to survive and evolve … and will continue to allow us to survive and evolve, if we let it.


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