Diseases Begin With Energy Deficit
Majid Ali, M.D.
Absence of Disease Is Not Presence of Health – Part One
Diseases Begin With Cellular Energy Deficit
In 1982, on two consecutive July weekends, I lectured at two postgraduate immunology and allergy courses held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Rather than return home for the intervening days, I escaped to Yellowstone National Park. One day I went for a hike on a trail leading to the peak of Mount Washburn.
It was a warm clear day when I started. The trail meandered through lush meadows brimming with black-eyed susans and many other types of wildflowers. The flower fields blended with the blue-green hills at some distance, and the hills merged into the mountains on the horizon. Some bison herds were easy to spot in the distance. Sometimes I saw deer and large elk close by. These beings seemed at ease with hikers on the trail. Sometimes they seemed to acknowledge my presence among them with knowing looks, and sometimes with indifferent eyes. Chipmunks were everywhere, but their busy schedules didn’t seem to permit any freedom to acknowledge or ignore anyone else. Every now and then I stopped to look at the butterflies. I found myself completely consumed by their dazzling displays of color and flight patterns.
I paused often to look up close at the low shrubs and tall pine trees, and to admire the mosaic of mountains in the distance, with the peaks partly lost in the mist. The frequency of my stops increased as I moved on. Soon I realized that I climbed quite a distance. The high altitude now made me aware of my breathing and increased the need for more frequent stops. I also noticed that there were some clouds above me, and the chill of the high mountain had replaced the warm glow of the sun below in the valley. There were neither bison, elk nor deer around now. At some turns, clusters of mountain goats looked at me, bulging haughtily from steep ledges.
I saw only a few other hikers after taking sharp bends in the trail. I asked one returning hiker how much farther I had to climb to reach the peak. “A couple of miles,” he grinned, “but it’s worth it. There’s a watchtower at the peak, and you can warm up in the cabin for a while.” A couple of miles! My legs suddenly felt limp. I thanked the hiker and moved on. Mountains always pull at me.
The last several hundred yards of the trail were dauntingly steep. Fierce, cold winds and the sheer, raw, unbearable beauty of the place stung my watery eyes. The cabin on the mountaintop gave me the warm shelter I had hoped for. I leaned against the glass wall and simply stared out.
My next memory of those moments on the mountaintop is one I will never forget. The words came from nowhere: Diseases do not descend from mountains.
Where did the words come from? Did I actually hear them? Or did I just imagine them? I do not know, but they shook me hard. I do not recall thinking for one moment about any part of my work in medicine on that trail. There were no thoughts of nutrition, allergy, chemical sensitivity, immunology or pathology. Biopsies of diseased tissues and causes of disease were furthest from my mind. There were no thoughts of genes, environment, no interest in searching for the truth or spirituality, and no notions of mind-over-body healing. Where did the words come from? And why on Mount Washburn of all places? I do not know, but I do believe there is a time and a place for everything. If that is unscientific, I plead guilty.
On the way down the mountain, my thoughts kept drifting back to the words I heard on the mountaintop. Diseases do not descend from mountains. Then, where do they come from?
I had examined more than 50,000 biopsies and surgical pathology specimens in the hospital by that time. Nearly every time I examined a microscopic slide and rendered a pathologic diagnosis I wondered where the disease came from. Where did it begin? More often than not I was left wondering, relying on medical texts that claimed the origins were unknown. Although there was a section in pathology or medicine texts devoted to discussion of the cause of a particular lesion, a description of the initial energetic-molecular event that triggered a given disease process was nearly always missing. With my microscope, I examined the tail end of the diseases, the ravages of a process that had clearly started much earlier.