“The ‘Heart of Energy Medicine’ may truly be found in the magic of the membrane.”
― Bruce Lipton
|Lincoln Stoller, PhD, 2020. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
The battle for your health is not about herd immunity or vaccination, it’s about which of your cells live and which die. It’s a fight for who wins in the present, but it’s also for the future. It’s a struggle between species.
If this battle seems new, that’s because our lives are short. The virus is the reproductive organ of an older, quasi-life form whose history spans the lineage of its identity. It has no body, organs, digestive system, or central nervous system, but it does have a plan. It reproduces by finding energy and opportunity without bothering to stop and evolve into life as we know it.
Rather than support a body, a metabolism, organs to create a flower and seed, the virus has reduced itself to just a seed which finds ways to reproduce in other organisms. It is a seed with instructions, and nothing more: the simplest, most primitive, efficient self-reproducing form of all. In spite of this, the virus has evolved a technology beyond anything we can match.
You live in a body, an identity, a legacy, a family, culture, country, and economy. You have built patterns, memories, discoveries, and creations. The virus has none of these but, somehow, by investing everything in its environment, has found hosts for all of these, piggy-backing on whatever its host species have developed. And the more productive, robust, creative, successful, and adventurous the host, the more benefit the virus finds for itself.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, however much you accomplish, the virus will tag along with its singular focus: to multiply. And if you learn how to remove, deny, or overcome it, it simply diminishes in you and prevails elsewhere. Moving, settling, multiplying, and moving again. It can grow without bounds or hide in the smallest retreat to wait for a new carrier, home, or opportunity.
At the turn of the 19th century, science stimulated our imagination to explore new realms: beneath the earth, under the sea, and beyond the sky. Hidden lairs for hidden threats: cavemen, snowmen, and little green men. We imagined them big because bigger is scarier, but the ancient lairs are small—at the roots, not the peaks of evolution.
These distant life forms are both threats and partners: without fungus nothing would decay, without insects the food chain would collapse, without plankton we’d suffocate, without bacteria we’d starve.
And what of viruses—what role do they play? Every time we’ve dismissed or abused some element of our ecology we’ve suffered harsh consequences. Anything that’s pervasive plays a major role, whether we understand the formula or not.
Viruses are arguably our oldest partners. Are they parasites or saprophytes? They assail our immunity, but they have brought us DNA. At the very bottom, life is survival and reproduction, and all that we know about survival—our immunity to anything—has been taught to us by viruses. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Whatever their origin, viruses have played a central role in evolution. They may have enabled the transition from a primordial RNA world to the modern DNA world. The nucleus of eukaryotic cells may have started life as a parasitic virus. And virus genes that integrated into their hosts’ genomes introduced many evolutionary novelties; for example, the ERVW-1 gene that plays a central role in the formation of the mammalian placenta is viral in origin. We may fear and loathe viruses—especially right now—but without them we would not be here.
— Graham Lawton, in “Viruses: Viruses are the most abundant organisms on Earth, and probably played a pivotal role in the origin of life”, in New Scientist.
Viruses seem to be ubiquitous and have been reported from any environment where life is present, from fresh waters to the sands of the Sahara desert. However, very little is known of the ecological roles of viruses in most ecosystems… There may be at least 1000 different viruses living in the human gut. The vast majority, over 70%, of genetic material carried by these viruses is completely uncharacterized, and natural viral communities probably represent the largest unexplored area of genetic information space left on the planet.
— Rohwer, Prangishvili, and Lindell (2009). “Roles of viruses in the environment,” in Environmental Microbiology, v11(11)
Visualization of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
Our cell membranes make us separate, acting as organizers, enforcers, and arrangers; they may even be the brains behind much of life. Beyond all the bluster and battleground, the buck stops at the cell’s membrane.
Beneath the talk of contagion and cure, it’s the virus’s ability to open the membrane that makes all the difference. This process of opening a door is neither a contest nor a battle; it’s a quiet, careful process that either works perfectly or not at all.
Like the membrane of our skin, our cell walls pass many messages but admit no visitors. These walls have many doors, all of which are locked, but there are keys. If you break into the cell without the key, alarms go off and the immune system attacks you.
Among our membrane’s many locks is one called ACE2, an acronym for the angiotensin molecule that spans the membrane’s width. The key to ACE2 is a protein that fits with it—the key with the lock—to open a molecule-sized doorway.
This is a complicated key, with thousands of precisely located atoms in a key protein. There is not just one key ACE2, but many possible, with some working better than others.
The virus has an ACE2 key; its surface is studded with duplicates. They are the protein spikes that give the virus a crown-like appearance. The key carried by the SARS-CoV-2 virus is particularly good at unlocking the cell membrane, binding ten to twenty times more tightly to the ACE2 lock than the keys of previous corona viruses. (Wrapp, Wang, Corbett, et al. (2020). “Cryo-EM structure of the 2019-nCoV spike in the prefusion conformation,” Science, v367(6483), 1260-1263.)
Schematic of cell membrane with proteins on its surface.
Carried randomly through our system, floating on whatever currents we create in ourselves, the virus is a beggar tick catching on any of the million ACE2 locks that adorn the walls of our cells. Its key opens a small door, a molecule-size mail slot, and through this mail slot the virus sends a blank message whose contents, much like the email virus we might receive, says nothing. As a result, the cell doesn’t realize it’s been compromised and does not react. But this message has an attachment, and once inside the cell this attachment opens.
The attachment contains the virus’s RNA along with certain chemical instructions. In a process below the level of life, these instructions attract natural chemicals within the cell’s cytoplasm and place them in positions necessary to begin the process of copying the virus’s RNA.
We don’t know how this process works to create an exact copy of the whole, semi-living virus, just as we don’t know how our own cells form and reform themselves. This is not a process controlled by DNA; it’s much more complicated. We have no clear idea of what controls it.
Within a few hours, thousands of viral copies have been made and our cell bursts, spewing thousands of new virions, or virus particles, into our intercellular liquids. When that happens, our body knows it’s under attack and begins a general process of chemical, cellular, metabolic defense, some of which target invaders, shut down normal metabolism, and even attack ourselves. A massive conflagration begins.
Very much like a war between humans, whatever risk the invaders imposed can be made much worse by the widespread decimation of the response. Some of us, it seems, choose the “nuclear option” and, as a result, kill ourselves in the process.
At first, we thought COVID-19 was a lung disease, but it turns out the virus can reproduce in practically any cell that it can get into, which is any cell that has the ACE2 lock embedded in its membrane.
If we inhale COVID-19, it attaches to cells in our respiratory tract. If we ingest it, it will attach in our digestive tract; and if it gets into our bloodstream, it may attach to cells in any of a range of organs, including our skin, bone marrow, spleen, liver, kidney, and brain, as well as the cells lining all of our veins and arteries. (Hamming, Timens, Bulthuis, et al. (2004). “Tissue distribution of ACE2 protein, the functional receptor for SARS coronavirus. A first step in understanding SARS pathogenesis.” J Pathol. v203(2): 631-7.)
The virus likely reaches our lungs first, but young people, who don’t tend to show symptoms in their lungs, are showing symptoms in their skin. And some are experiencing infection in other organs weeks after recovering from an infection in their lungs. Our bodies do not have a unified response.
Protecting the Boundary
It seems inconceivable that through power of mind alone we can micromanage our white blood cells, but we can. Through force of mind alone we can raise or lower our white blood cell count. More than that: we can change their relative numbers within our blood to raise or lower the ratio of neutrophils to leukocytes.
We don’t know how this is done; we don’t even know which ratio is best, yet somehow we can do it. What of the other minority types of white blood cells, the Basophils, Eosinophils, Monocytes, B cells, T cells, and Killer cells? Can we change the ratios of their population in our blood, too?
Let’s go a step further to the molecular level. Can our minds control the biochemistry of our membranes? We don’t know how this is done at any level, even within the cell’s own chemistry, yet here is the root of our vulnerability and the key to our protection.
I have created a hypnotic visualization called “Membrane Locksmith” that explores the idea that our mind has some power to affect our membranes. I don’t know of any direct evidence to suggest we can do this, but, until recently, I didn’t know of the evidence that through force of mind we could alter our white blood cell counts. It’s an experiment.
“The nervous system translates consciousness into blood chemistry, which in turn, directly shapes the epigenetic fate of our cells. These cellular mechanisms represent the molecular master switches through which thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs create the conditions of our body.”
— Bruce Lipton, PhD, from “We Are Not Victims of Our DNA, Crisis Ignites Evolution”
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