Research & Writing

The Systemic Theory of Living Systems and Relevance to CAM

To my delight, I’ve found a 3-part article that actually addresses the systems view of biological systems in relation to medicine practice and design. This piece comes to us from José A. Olalde Rangel of Adaptogenic Educational Medical Centers and the Venezuelan Association of Systemic Medicine in Caracas. Originally a lecture series, it was published in 2005 by the Oxford University Press. Below is an excerpt to get you to open the full texts (posted here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).

The second law of thermodynamics states that a system naturally tends to go from a state of higher energy and order to one of lower energy and disorder. The same occurs in living systems whose internal entropy tends to increase in its journey through life, going from health, energy and physiological order towards sickness, asthenia (the loss or lack of bodily strength; weakness) and physiological disorder. Illness, however, can be countered based on the quantum physicist Erwin Schroedinger’s notion that the general change of entropy in an open system, such as a living system, consists of (i) internal entropy variations and (ii) entropy exchange of the system with the environment; i.e.  internal exchange. Internal entropy in a biological organism, by definition, tends to be greater than zero due to inner irreversible processes. Therefore, the increase in entropy of an open biological system, and thus illness, may be reduced by providing negative entropy from the environment.

Hence a justification for the use of plant medicines. I see an unconscious nod to Vitalism in this article, its basic principles being expressed in a different language.

For those who are interested in this type of material, I’ve just come across a statement from the Science and Environmental Health Network on Ecological Medicine. Nicely articulated principles for addressing the social impact of the current practice of medicine and endorsed by those from many disciplines–though it’d be nice to discuss their implementation.

About Author

Renée A. Davis MA RH is a designer and educator in botanical and mycological medicine. Her training began at the Pratt Institute of Art and Design in New York City and concluded in biomedical sciences at the University of Washington. She currently directs research and development for a nutraceutical mushroom company in the Pacific Northwest.

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