Cell Danger Response and Parkinson’s Disease — Out-Thinking Parkinson’s

Also, here are some introductory summary notes from Dr Naviaux’s article “Metabolic Features of the Cell Danger Response”.:

  • the Cell Danger Response (CDR) is defined in terms of an ancient metabolic response to threat;

  • the CDR encompasses inflammation, innate immunity, oxidative stress, and stress response;

  • the CDR is maintained by extracellular chemical signals of danger from one cell to others;

  • abnormal persistence of the CDR lies at the heart of many chronic diseases;

  • drug therapies which block the cell to cell signals have proven effective in many chronic disorders in animal models.

As discussed above, there are many different forms of impacts which can set off the “alarm bells” of the Cell Danger Response. However, too many cumulative insults can cause the CDR to get stuck systemically in the “on” position, blocking healing, and manifesting as a chronic illness. Healing can nevertheless be re-instated by identifying and addressing our personal impact factors. Each of us is likely to have our own highly individual, bespoke set of factors that eventually added up to the CDR getting stuck. which is why there are no “one size fits all” solutions to any of this.

This CDR concept is important as it does seem to me to be an elegant, simple, predictive, and unifying framework which explains similar symptoms resulting from a whole of host of potential triggers, all of which can add up cumulatively. This is why, for example there are various competing, but equally valid, scientific theories which argue that a specific virus, or specific chemical, or specific nutritional deficiency is the root cause of Parkinson’s Disease. It is because they are all, in a sense, true, as each can result in the body’s CDR getting stuck on and presenting PD symptoms.

In the CDR framework, then, Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease is a set of particular symptoms which emerges when the CDR gets stuck. Yet previously, I have described Idiopathic PD as what happens when the Nervous System’s Dorsal Vagus Nerve mediated freeze response gets stuck on, after the person with PD’s danger sense gets so sensitized that it detects threats everywhere. In fact. these are complementary, not contradictory explanations, and indeed the CDR provides a description of what happens at the cellular level when someone gets stuck in freeze. On this, Dr Neil Nathan MD writes:

“It turns out that the major function of the ventral branch of the vagus nerve is to discern safety and it is understanding the importance of safety that is the primary focus of polyvagal theory. The perception of safety is hard-wired into our nervous system. If our nervous system does not perceive us to be safe, no amount of rationalization will change that physiological response. This is another “systems” way of understanding the Cell Danger Response (CDR). We’ve discussed the CDR in previous newsletters, and Dr. Naviaux’s model of how mitochondria respond to a threat dovetails closely with the polyvagal theory. Both models emphasize that the body will continue to operate as if it is under threat until it is convinced that it is safe.”

Personal impact factors which may cumulatively lead to the CDR switching and getting stuck on include exposures to viruses, bacteria, fungi, pesticides, chemicals, stressors, adverse early life experiences, mental and emotional health issues, developmental and shock traumas, car crashes, accidents, surgeries.

Veronique Mead has usefully developed the following over-arching definitions to categorize the risk factors:

  • Adverse Multigenerational Experiences (AMEs) – traumatic events our parents and grandparents and other family members experience at times in their lives;

  • Adverse Babyhood Experiences (ABEs) – events during birth, pregnancy and infancy;

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – trauma that is inflicted by other human beings, who are supposed to care for and protect us;

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences Plus (ACEs+) – other types of adversity before our eighteenth birthdays that also affect long term health;

  • Adverse Childhood Relationships Experiences (ACREs) – attachment trauma or relationship trauma;

  • Adverse Adulthood Experiences (AAEs) – stressful and traumatic events that happen after our eighteenth birthdays such as divorce, job loss, accidents, the loss of loved ones;

  • Adverse Institutional Experiences (AIEs) – effects of trauma from discrimination of all kinds, whether by gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, ability or disability, chronic illness, mental illness;

  • Adverse Pre-Onset Triggers (APOEs) – stressors that cause exacerbations of or trigger symptoms.

Here are some further notes from Dr Naviaux’s article:

“…the CDR in its most fundamental and most ancient role is to improve cell and host survival after viral attack; the acute CDR produces at least 8 functional changes.”

These are:

  1. cell stops making the building blocks of proteins so that viruses have little to steal with which to replicate themselves;

  2. stiffening of the membranes of the cell and circumscribing an area of damage to limit pathogen egress;

  3. releasing antiviral and antimicrobial chemicals;

  4. increasing autophagy to remove pathogens;

  5. changing gene expression;;

  6. mobilizing endogenous retroviruses;

  7. warning neighboring and distant cells of the danger;

  8. altering the behavior of the host to prevent the spread of infection to kin and sleep patterns to facilitate healing.

“… any trace of heavy metal in the cell will trigger a response that is similar to that of a viral infection. Likewise, a large number of molecules have been synthesized since the 1850s as dyes, pesticides, drugs, and industrial chemicals… that can also activate the CDR. Mixtures of chemical and biological threats can have synergistic effects, and the total load of danger triggers can influence the magnitude and form of the CDR”.

Below is a very informative interview with Dr Nathan, who helps people with chronic illness progressively reduce their symptoms by addressing the CDR in their bodies. Dr Nathan covers his significant experience with the modalities, routes and barriers to healing.

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