By: Lynne August MD
“metabolism . . . 1. the complex of physical and chemical processes involved in the maintenance of life. See anabolism, catabolism . . ." American Heritage Dictionary
Nothing stands still. Everything moves. There is only change. There is the day and there is the night. There is the in-breath and there is the outbreath. So it is with the metabolism. Movement in metabolism is the interplay between anabolic and catabolic processes. Anabolism means construction, building up. Catabolism means destruction, breaking down. Catabolic processes create simplicity. Anabolic processes create complexity. Both processes are necessary to sustain and renew life. The continuous creation and destruction of cells in the body is an example of how anabolic and catabolic processes sustain and renew life. Consider the red blood cell. The lifespan of a red blood cell is 90 days. Ninety days from now all of your red blood cells will have been destroyed –catabolism, and will have been replaced with new cells –anabolism. You tear a muscle. Inflammation ensues. This inflammation destroys the damaged muscle and anabolism builds new fibers or scar tissue to replace it. Pregnancy is an example of anabolism. A fetus grows in the womb. Similarly, the growth of a child is anabolism. So is weight gain. Aging and weight loss, on the other hand, are examples of catabolism. What is the significance of the anabolic and catabolic processes in health and disease? The right balance between anabolic and catabolic processes is necessary to have the right number of red blood cells at any one time. Excesses or deficiencies in anabolism or catabolism relative to each other would either result in too many or too few red blood cells. One could gain or lose too much weight if these processes are not in healthy proportion. Or if inflammation exceeds that necessary to remove damaged tissue, a chronic inflammation might result.
Dr. Emanuel Revici, a Rumanian born physician whose work spanned two continents and a century, brilliantly defined the anabolic and catabolic processes in the body. Dr. Revici’s research documents that all lipids, i.e., fats, in the body, including all hormones, are either catabolic or anabolic. Both anabolic and catabolic lipids are always present in the metabolism. It is the amounts and ratios of these lipids at any one time, either locally or systemically, that determine the direction of the metabolism. According to Dr. Revici, the anabolic and catabolic lipids are not only necessary to maintain life, these lipids are also a crucial part of the body's defense system. The common cold or flu are excellent examples here. When exposed to viruses or bacteria, the catabolic lipids are necessary to destroy the pathogens. Subsequently the anabolic lipids neutralize the catabolic lipids and symptoms resolve. However, if either or both of the anabolic or catabolic lipids persist beyond what is necessary, chronic symptoms and eventually chronic disease develop. Or, if either the anabolic or catabolic defense is insufficient, symptoms and disease will follow. From the example of the common cold or flu it becomes apparent that the catabolic lipids, i. e., the defense mechanism, cause the symptoms, not the virus or bacteria per se. Fever, chills, aches, mucus, diarrhea and appetite loss are all symptoms caused by the catabolic defense. This is, in fact, true for all symptoms and disease. Chronic symptoms and disease, as opposed to an acute cold or flu, always result from an excess of anabolic or catabolic lipids relative to the other. Dr. Revici has documented this in a wide range of conditions, from allergies, pain, nausea and depression to high blood pressure, cancer, psychoses and arthritis. Imagine what it would feel like to release more air every out-breath than you presently release without taking in any more air each in-breath. Imagine the repercussions to all life forms if the days never shortened again following a summer solstice. Imagine the tide coming in and never going out. Life processes would indeed be disrupted, and ultimately come to a standstill.