The cell danger response is meant to help our bodies heal. It is initiated by the cell to protect itself from danger. Chemical signals are released during a threat to turn on the response. Usually, a cellular threat is targeted and creates a series of steps that result in protecting the cell. When the signals of danger persist at the cellular level, the cell danger response mechanism can create an ongoing persistent cycle of inflammation, pathology and disease. Understanding the components of the cell danger response is critical when discussing the ability for natural healing. I would like to review the components of the CDR and use these principles to understand healing.
The cell danger response (CDR) begins when a threat is signaled to the cell, usually through a process of oxidative stress and impaired homeostasis. Homeostasis is the process by which a cell maintains normalcy and healthy optimum function. In the presence of infection, nutrient deficiencies or toxic insults the cells are unable to maintain a state conducive to health. The cells then begin a process to notify other nearby cells of potential danger. This triggers a complex process of signaling that changes the cellular chemistry. These mechanisms are meant to protect the cell and to protect our lives. In our current world of toxins and electromagnetic pollution it is becoming more and more difficult for our cells to maintain homeostasis. We are seeing the canaries of this process more often in our clinics. Many patients with chronic fatigue, autism or chronic disease may actually be facing some level or degree of activation of this response.
The Cell Danger Response begins when a cell ruptures or the mitochondria are overwhelmed with the oxidative stress and unable to remove the threats quickly enough. When the cell ruptures, ATP, usually only on the inside of the cell, is released to the outside of the cell. These ATP molecules bind to purinergic receptors on other cell membranes. This process can happen very rapidly. When these receptors are triggerred it turns on genetic transcription to protect the cell. The process results in decreased cell death in the first through third days. Beyond this time, the CDR creates a loss of communication between cells and a loss of function. This happens after something such as a heart attack- the cells lose optimal function during the immediate post MI period. After healing, heart function returns in protected areas of the myocardium.
Initially, the cells create acids and proteases and increase cell wall synthesis. They recruit fibroblasts to begin forming scar tissue (might this be the process in the brain with amyloid formation and dementia?). This is how lizards can regrow their tails!! Short term increases in oxidation produce activation of NRF2 and up regulates the production of the powerful antioxidant glutathione. Chronic stress promotes decrease in this response and an up regulation in NFKB. NFKB is the activator of the immune system and creates inflammation and cascades to kill invaders. If the invaders are toxins, this process does nothing beneficial but only causes inflammation. Implants and foreign bodies may trigger this process.
Triggers for the CDR:
- Chemicals- Heavy metals: Cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic, pesticides, BPA, benzene, petroleum products, plastics
- Salt and dehydration
- Physical trauma and injury
- Electromagnetic pollution from smart meters, wifi, cellular towers
- Microbes- mold/fungi, harmful and dysbiotic bacteria, parasites, viruses
- Emotional- abusive relationships, isolation, PTSD, abandonment
One thing vital to healing the CDR is having adequate sleep, supportive relationships and plenty of clean food, air and water. Sleep is vitally important to calm this response and provide a sense of safety that triggers increased parasympathetic tone which can calm the CDR. Love and connection can also trigger safety and the healing process. Chronic stress or activation of sympathetic drive can promote the CDR. Electromagnetic pollution can trigger sympathetic drive and it is extremely important to protect oneself while sleeping especially. Putting your wifi on a timer or hard wiring can decrease immediate Electromagnetic radiation and benefit your sleeping. Turn all devices to airplane mode whenever possible and turn them off at night. If it is possible to hard wire your home that is a safer way to interact with the technology without harming health. It is known that increasing delta waves through deep sleep and meditation can trigger healing from the CDR.
Here are some other critical features of the CDR:
- The CDR activates enzymes to inactivate Vitamin D. This is perhaps to increase the immune system action and fight of infection.
- Creation of methionine which triggers inflammation to fight infection
- Reactive oxygen species activates the production of hydrogen peroxide and oxidative stress molecules.
- Decreases quality of sleep to protect organism from external harm
- Activates genes such as MTor which triggers rapid growth and synthesis of protective proteins and enzymes. Leads to a build up of debris between cells.
- Increase in cell membrane stiffness which decreases entry of damaging materials, but also of vital nutrients.
- Increases production of antimicrobial chemicals which also can harm nearby cells of the host
- Mobilizes retroviruses to produce genetic variations to prevent cellular hijacking by pathogens.
- The release of ATP from the cells also causes release of glucocorticoids from the adrenal cortex. Prolonged fasting can also trigger the CDR if the cells are overstressed.
Taking these things into account makes it easier to understand ways to heal. Using and avoiding/eliminating the above can help with the cellular level of healing that needs to occur to shut down the CDR. Interestingly, it is the brain that ultimately controls the switch back to normal operating mode after the above threats have been eliminated. This is the power of fear- our cells can sense it. The CDR is a very complicated mechanism that has many answers to the healing of chronic disease.
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