The topic of time in biology and in medicine in specific has always and is still one of my greatest concerns and of exciting interest too.
My thesis: Time is integral part of life. It is a relation that is as crucial as the relation between time and space. The last finding its condensation in Einstein's relativity theory. Physics worked a lot about the phenomenon of time, the same does unfortunately not apply to biology. Maybe due to the fact that time is so difficult to grasp in biology as we are deeply rooted within it. Biology struggles with time.
For me time in biology is by far more and an extremely difficult subject to seize.
Time is an integral part of all life. Without time there is no life. Change, behavior, development, evolution, all these terms are time-related. To observe changes the timespan observed is crucial for its perception.
Just two examples at this point:
We once were convinced that muscle cells cannot multiply and regenerate. Why? We simply did not observe them long enough to see the change. Neurons, the same story, we thought once dead they are gone for ever, again, too short was the period of observation we chose. Technical equipment may shorten the process, but not the concept of time in the core of change.
About this relation we know so very little in biology and even less in medicine. We, especially natural science, are searching for clearcut endpoints. But what is the case, if there are none? And here we are, it hits us again, our linear view on the world.
Feedback loops and circuits complex systems are characterized by don't have a beginning and an end in the conventional sense of the word. Biology is about complex systems, in which the time is not a linear phenomenon.
Linearity hinders us to gain knowledge about these system and so the human body and its changes over time. Our mania to measure without connecting the dots and see the patterns evolving again over time darken our view on wellbeing and illness.Linearity implies the cause and effect relation, implies the answer "why". We avoid the question "how", because we fail the answer in a cause-effect driven world.
The question "how" for me is the question to be asked. To find answers is impossible if remaining stuck in linearity. Let's move and deal with complexity, even though we may feel to venture out into a world of fragments and incompleteness.
Lifting the veil of ignorance needs this adventure.
Experiencing connectedness can be a relief too.
Suddenly you have answers for yourself you didn't expect to find.
First of all the stress response in the biological sense of the word is a timely tightly orchestrated process and extremely time sensitive. When the stress response is intiated by whatsoever stimulus (see the sketches here) and the control mechanism are not in place and activated within one second the outcome for the being can be deleterious.
Another view on stress is the time of stress exposure. We can differentiate between acute stress and chronic stress. The classical biolgical stress response applies to the acute stress situation. We talk here about the wellknown "fight and flight" phenomenon. Usually, if we are well, the organism is able to manage situations of this kind.
This is completely differenent in the case of chronic stress exposure. What is chronic stress for one individual is not necessarily stress for an other. But if chronic stress is imposed on an organism for too long, this can be very harmful. The outcome is a chronic inflammatory process able to trigge every illness we know until today, from tumors to autoimmune diseases, degenerative neurological diseases and many more. Immunity suffers extremely under chronic stress conditions.
Both describe activity states of the body. And this is how they arise. The stress system creates these states. It is active at every moment of our life. When it is running smoothly we feel well but when it is overstrained, depending on the duration of the burden, all of the familiar conditions that make us ill tend to develop. Time plays a very important role in biology and, in my opinion, too little attention is paid to it.
For this reason, don't let yourself be swayed by a single reading that falls outside the norm. The reason for it could be more than a mere technical error. We are all living creatures with a clock ticking inside us. All of our bodily functions, organs, cells, hormones and other internal messengers follow a rhythm closely aligned to the light, so it follows a 24-hour cycle.
This means that measurements or readings of individual elements will vary throughout the day. In addition, our lifestyles and daily activities also affect the readings of any sample measurements. For this reason, the changes in time of any measured parameter should be observed and the overall pattern assessed.
Blood pressure and blood sugar measurements are good examples of this. As patients we should always insist on multiple readings and only start taking medications such as anti-diabetics or anti-hypertensives after several checks. You should also stay well away from statins, prescription of which is extremely questionable and - sorry to say like this, they are highly toxic.
In medicine and biology, we struggle with time, perhaps because it is in us and difficult to record as a measurement. It is easier to deal with time in physics, because it is located outside our bodies in a room where a clock can be attached.
Every inflammation is based on a stress state in the biological sense. That stress state is the response of the stress system to environmental stimuli, but also to triggers within our body. Incidentally, we are 100,000 times more sensitive to changes within our internal world than our external environment.
The outcome of dealing with stress should be the kind of balance that can be equated with wellbeing. The stress response of the body is not a conscious process. Awareness generally only kicks in once the traumatic event (stress situation) has passed. If that were not the case, any suitable life-saving response would come far too late.
The stress system consists of complex, interconnected regulatory circuits which interpret, analyse and trigger corrections in response to a myriad different stimuli, signals and perceptions, almost in real time.
This network located in the brain constantly compares current factors from the periphery with the prescribed standard levels and initiates the appropriate adjustments and corrections in the periphery of the body. The periphery sends the amended results back immediately and the process begins all over again. This occurs with a frequency that comes close to a continuum. When the acute stress response is triggered, after a brief, active phase of all systems involved, the control phase follows, which is carried out by the same systems. All activation incidents occur within a minute and, from that time on, things only slow down.
In this way, factors such as blood pressure, pH, body temperature and blood sugar levels are modulated and stabilised within defined thresholds.
Given what I have just written, it may well look as though the stress state and inflammation are two sides of the same coin, and that is the case as long as the body stays in balance. Once that is no longer the case, the stress system loses its inner harmony.
The inflammation becomes stronger and is no longer an underlying silent phenomenon but a measurable one. The immune system itself is deregulated and as a result, other organ systems such as vessels, connective tissue, muscles, metabolism and individual organs are affected. At some point – the timing is unpredictable – a diagnosis will be made of one of the many chronic illnesses we seem powerless to prevent.
For a long time, chronic inflammation eluded our usual measuring methods. So I have no answer to the question of how to detect inflammation yourself, unless you pay close attention to how your body feels. It is not until chronic inflammation is in danger of presenting as a chronic illness or the diagnosis has already been made that it will be reflected in the lab results. Presenting those figures in detail and explaining them all to you is beyond the scope of this page, since I would have to treat each illness separately.
What I can say is that naturally the non-specific inflammatory parameters such as CRP, blood sedimentation rate, interleukin-6 and interleukin-1 or immunoglobulins are usually raised, the blood count changes or the cortisol level is raised. Severe, long-lasting stress leads to an increase in cortisol with long-term effects on the body's metabolism.
I could write a whole book about what it is like to overdo things,
to think that I can get to the finish line faster than others or sooner than my body will allow. Many injuries have plagued me over the years. I had not done any form of regular exercise for two decades until I started running. Now I have been running on a regular basis for 25 years.
And the basis of good endurance fitness has since been laid. Over the past two years I have added high intensity interval training (HIIT) to my fitness regime. Running was too one-sided and caused a whole range of injuries and painful conditions including everything from sciatica and muscle tears to heel spur.
When I put too much pressure on my body or run too many kilometres over the weekend, I now know that I will be bad-tempered, moody and listless the next day, and my work will not come easily. I won't have much appetite. I simply feel lousy. All of this is the result of inflammatory processes and an immune imbalance within my body.