Stress Theory and the Impending Revolution in Medicine and Biology
“Disease is not an entity, but a fluctuating condition of the patient’s body, a battle between the substance of disease and the natural self-healing tendency of the body.”
“Illnesses do not come upon us out of the blue. They are developed from small daily sins against Nature. When enough sins have accumulated, illnesses will suddenly appear.”
The nature of disease has remained mysterious throughout the ages, so that physicians must direct their treatments at the symptoms of disease rather than its cause. As a result, medical treatments remain unreliable or even counterproductive.
Stress theory offers the most promising prospect for a theory of disease. It postulates that an extracellular “stress mechanism” converts DNA genetic information into cell multiplication, cell specialization, and cell organization that forms anatomical structures during embryological development. DNA resumes quiescence once embryological development is complete, while the stress mechanism remains active throughout life to repair tissues, regulate physiology, and maintain the “internal Milieu” that optimizes cellular survival and function. Hyperactivity of the stress mechanism induced by environmental stresses (bacterial invasion, trauma, toxic substances, harmful radiation, etc.) causes abnormal stress mechanism hyperactivity that manifests as disease. The identification of such a mechanism would enable a “unified theory of medicine” that would explain physiology, pathology and stress and elevate medicine to a genuine science founded on theory.
Stress theory became the prevailing paradigm of medical research for about 30 years within living memory, but the effort failed to find any clue of the putative stress mechanism and was finally abandoned. Without a testable mechanism that explains its operation, stress theory was useless. However, the theory was never disproved, and fresh information from unrelated research during the 30 years since stress theory was abandoned has recently enabled the description of a testable “mammalian stress mechanism” that fulfills all the predictions and expectations of stress theory.
Now equipped with a testable mechanism, stress theory exceeds the bounds of medicine. It confers a “unified theory of biology” that explains embryology, evolution, ethology, intelligence, anatomy, taxonomy, the Cambrian explosion, fight or flight, and dinosaurs. Its implications reside in the realm of science fiction.