Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Book Review: The Body Electric

If salamanders, flatworms and stone crabs can regenerate body parts that are cut off, why can't we? A possible answer is given in The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life by Robert O. Becker, M.D. and Gary Selden. The book explores the role of electricity in the healing process, along with certain fundamentalist materialist beliefs that turn out not to be true.

For example, cell dedifferentiation is considered not to be possible in more complex animals such as ourselves. A brief explanation will be necessary for those of us who are not biologists. As embryos develop in the womb, they start off as clumps of identical cells. At some point in the process, some of the cells become bone cells, some muscle, nerves, organs, etc. This process is considered to be irreversible in mammals. Dedifferentiation is the temporary reversal of this process so that cells can be repurposed. The experiments described in this book offer strong evidence that dedifferentiation not only possible, but vital in healing bone fractures.

The authors discovered while researching regeneration in salamanders a consistent pattern of electrical charges during the healing process. By altering the electrical charges, the authors were able to slow down, stop, or even accelerate regeneration. They were even able to induce bone re-growth in rats and cartilage re-growth in rabbits. Under certain circumstances, the regeneration process in salamanders eliminated cancer as a side effect. There's also an interesting bit about piezoelectricity in bones.

This book is an important reminder that the belief that we have all the answers actually prevents us from getting all the answers. More importantly, it will give you new ideas about what we are capable of doing.

1 comment:

The Seeker said...

Sounds pretty interesting.