Our bodies are in a constant balance between forces that are building it up and forces that are tearing it down. Scientific terms for these forces are anabolism and catabolism. Together they give us the concept of metabolism.
For example, anabolic steroids are used to build muscle mass. They include hormones such as testosterone. Catabolic steroid hormones include cortisone, which tends to break down the bones and other tissues. These are simple examples of how the words anabolic and catabolic are used in medicine.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Our bodies must break down old, diseased, infected and toxic tissues and it must replace these with new, fresh, healthy tissues. This is a constant process and part of life itself. Life continually renews itself. Otherwise, as the cells and tissues of the body became toxic and weak, the body would die quickly. So preserving the balance of anabolic and catabolic forces within our bodies is extremely important.
IS ALL CATABOLISM BAD, WHILE ALL ANABOLISM GOOD?
As stated above, sometimes the body must break down old, diseased tissues in order to function correctly. So it is all a matter of balance. Both processes are needed, at different times and in different locations in the body. If the process is unbalanced, this is when problems arise.
The usual problem is too much catabolic activity. This is associated with overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, in most cases. The sympathetic nervous system is the emergency branch of the autonomic nervous system and tends to tear down the body.
However, a more catabolic state can also be caused by diabetes, infections, or occasionally occurs for other reasons.
IS THERE A SPIRITUAL ASPECT TO ANABOLISM AND CATABOLISM?
This is also very important. In order for a person to develop the subtle human bodies, old patterns and even some old body tissue must be replaced by higher quality tissue.
Often the old tissue is higher in toxic metals, and in minerals such as iron and copper. This needs to be replaced by tissue that is richer in selenium, silicon, zinc and perhaps lithium. These are “lighter” elements that literally bring more energy into the cells and allow them to function better.
This is a unique type of catabolic process that the body engages in when it is supplied with enough nutrients and when a person gets loads of sleep and rest. We find it simply will not occur if the diet, the nutritional supplements, the drinking water and most of all, the amount of rest and sleep are not enough.
IS AGING THE SAME AS CATABOLISM?
The answer is no. It is true that as one ages, the level of the anabolic hormones decreases and often a catabolic state sets in. This will lead to disease and death. However, aging, by itself, is not necessarily a catabolic activity.
Instead, aging refers to a reduction in the supply of etheric energy that a body has at its disposal. This is what causes a reduction in the hormone levels, and all the other problems associated with aging. The loss of etheric energy can be slowed or even halted and reversed with the proper techniques. These are discussed in the articles on this website that are concerned with etheric energy and etheric development.
ARE ANABOLISM AND CATABOLISM THE SAME AS THE PARASYMPATHETIC AND SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEMS?
No, although it is true that the sympathetic nervous system, in general, has a more catabolic effect on the body tissues because it is an emergency, fight-or-die system.
This is the case because it:
1) uses up a lot of energy, and
2) it inhibits or even shuts down many regenerative functions such as digestion of food and elimination of waste products to some degree.
As a result, one should keep the body out of sympathetic nervous system activity as much as possible in order to improve digestion, elimination and many other regenerative functions. In this sense, the parasympathetic nervous system is far more associated with anabolic or regenerative activity than is the sympathetic system.
ARE THERE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ANABOLISM AND CATABOLISM?
Yes, although both processes are going on at all times in our bodies and the signs can be subtle. Here are some general indicators of too much catabolic activity:
• Wounds, injuries or illnesses that will not heal, or heal very slowly.
• Increased fatigue or increased aging of the body.
• The breakdown of any tissue, organ or body system.
• A reduced energy level or a reduced desire or will to live.
• Psychologically, catabolism tends to cause depression, discouragement, despair and suicidal thoughts.
These signs and symptoms are important because they are so common today. They arise even in teenagers or young children because they are not well nourished, do not sleep enough, take too many toxic medical or other drugs, or have other unhealthy lifestyles that interfere with normal regeneration of the body.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL ASPECTS OF ANABOLISM AND CATABOLISM IN THE BODY
Anabolism may be thought of as a filling up or building up of the mind. This involves building up the ego in young children, for example. Anabolism may also involve filling oneself emotionally with ideas, attitudes and emotional content.
Later on in life, one builds up spiritually, but not physically. This process always requires an unlearning, letting go or emptying of the emotional and other contents of the mind. This might be said to be a form of catabolism. In this sense, the biblical statement “thy will, not my will, be done” may be said to be highly catabolic, as it involves breaking down old ideas to allow new and better ones to come into the mind. This is a critical concept if one is to develop spiritually.
Just as old, worn out body tissue must be broken down and removed if new tissue is to take its place, so old ideas, beliefs, attitudes and emotions must be catabolized or released if one is to make room for a more spiritual life.
Thus both anabolism and catabolism on a mental and emotional level are needed for human development.
THE FORCES OF YIN AND YANG AS THEY RELATE TO CATABOLISM AND ANABOLISM
This is a complex and interesting topic. Yin and yang are Chinese words that refer to basic physical qualities of matter. Yang is hard, hot, contracted and centripetal, meaning moving inward and often downward, though not necessarily all the time. Yin is lighter, softer, cooler, expanded and often centrifugal or moving outward and upward. These physical qualities of matter have something to do with catabolism and anabolism on many levels.
For example, on a physical level, a body that is too yin is usually in a catabolic state. Meanwhile, a more healthy yang situation tends to be more anabolic or just balanced. Emotionally, the same is true.
However, on an energetic level, as a person becomes more yang, it causes a specific type of catabolic state that actually moves a person on to a higher level of development of the energy centers of the body. In other words, the process of becoming more yang causes the breakdown of yin tissues and even some organs of the body. This is necessary and healthy, in fact, as mentioned above. Therefore, yang energy is not just anabolic, but can be quite catabolic, at times, as well.
This principle applies in society as well. More yang attitudes and situations require the breakdown of the old, yin and sicker attitudes, policies and situations in a society as well. This is why certain changes and improvements in society often involve some disruption or catabolism or breaking down of old ways of doing things. However, it is always controlled and logical, and never random. Change that is random is always more yin in nature, less logical, more emotionally based or totalitarian in nature.
ANABOLISM AND CATABOLISM ON A HAIR MINERAL ANALYSIS
It is possible to assess anabolic and catabolic activity on a hair mineral analysis to a surprising degree. This can be extremely useful. Dr. Paul Eck, founder of development science and mineral balancing, found empirically that certain mineral levels, ratios and patterns are more associated with catabolism.
Catabolism indicators, in their likely order of importance or seriousness:
1. A sodium/potassium ratio less than about 5.
2. A phosphorus level less than about 14 mg%.
3. A four lows pattern (low calcium, low magnesium, low sodium and low potassium)
4. A very fast oxidation rate.
5. A potassium level below about 5 mg%. This is called sympathetic dominance.
6. High levels of toxic metals in the tissues, and copper in particular.
7. A high sodium/potassium ratio.
8. A phosphorus level above about 20 mg%. This particular indicator may refer to the spiritual type of change that is discussed in the section above.
The more of these indicators that are present on a hair mineral analysis in which the hair has not been washed at the laboratory, the more likely that a catabolic state is present. Also, the more severe the indicators, the more severe the catabolic state, as a general rule.
Copper as a physical and spiritual catabolic agent
Copper is an essential mineral in our bodies. However, Dr. Eck found that when it is present in excess and in a bio-unavailable form, it is quite damaging to human tissue. Among other things, it:
• Interferes with vitamin C by oxidizing it. Vitamin C is needed for all connective tissue, bones, the gums, and many other body tissues. Without enough, catabolism sets in quickly. The symptoms of scurvy, for example, are very similar to symptoms of catabolism.
• Interferes with sulfur metabolism. Sulfur is another mineral needed for all connective tissue in what are called the disulfide bonds. These give our tissues flexibility, for example. Copper damages these bonds when in excess.
• Interferes with energy production. Copper is required in the electron transport system where most of our energy is produced. When copper is out of balance and unavailable and toxic, a person’s energy level drops. This can even lead to cancer, a very catabolic state.
• Copper toxicity also interferes with rest and sleep by causing the mind to race and exacerbating many emotional states.
While in most cases too much copper is not a healthful situation, in some cases it appears to be an aspect of a person’s mental or spiritual development, in our experience. In this case, the elevation of the copper assists the breakdown of old tissues, along with challenging old attitudes and ideas, in order to help a person move along in his or her development.
This is an interesting consideration because often the hair tissue phosphorus level will elevate above about 18 mg% in these instances, indicating a mild catabolic state that is not to be feared or corrected. It is a controlled and healthful type of catabolism that usually only lasts a short time, though it may be repeated, on occasion, on later hair mineral tests as development continues.
REASONS FOR UNHEALTHY CATABOLISM
This can occur for any of the following reasons:
Many pathogenic bacteria, viruses and even some fungi or yeasts such as candida albicans can literally eat up and destroy body tissues. This is one way that infections kill people when they destroy essential tissues in the brain, lungs, liver or elsewhere.
• Autonomic nervous system imbalances for any cause.
This often can throw the body into a fight-or-flight reaction that is very catabolic.
• Improper lifestyle.
The body requires time every day to restore itself and regenerate. If one does not sleep and rest enough, or if one uses up all one’s energy in brain or body activities, little energy is left over for regeneration. Lifestyle imbalances today are a major cause of a catabolic situation that always leads to disease and an early death.
• Long-term use of several medical or other drugs or supplements.
Steroid drugs, even including “anabolic steroids” are extremely damaging because they eventually cause a catabolic state. The best known of these are all formulations that include cortisone, cortisol, or even herbs that contain cortisone-like molecules. These can include even such common herbs as licorice root, for example. All of the adrenal hormones can become catabolic by interfering with the delicate feedback systems of the brain that regulate the adrenal hormone. So, for example, dangerous drugs include birth control pills and patches, DHEA, pregnenolone, progesterone, and especially estrogens, along with corticosteroids such as cortisone and cortisol.
Cancer is a particular process of the body that is extremely destructive and therefore catabolic. If not stopped, of course, it tends to be fatal.
• Impaired circulation, oxygenation, elimination or hydration of the body.
All of these impair the proper functioning of thousands of anabolic enzyme systems, transport systems, waste removal systems and others and can lead to a catabolic state of the body.
The thyroid gland, while it is part of the sympathetic nervous system, is quite anabolic. Thus, when this gland is underactive, as it is in millions of people today, the body tends to move into a more catabolic state. Iodine, needed for the thyroid gland and deficient today due to the excess of iodine antagonists in the environment, is a more anabolic mineral that most people need more of today
• Inability to properly utilize glucose for fuel.
This begins to occur with hypoglycemia and even more so with diabetes. As it occurs, the body breaks down its own proteins or tissues to use some as fuel. This is a very unhealthy situation and the cause of many of the so-called complications of diabetes.
• Toxic metals and some toxic chemicals.
These always interfere with anabolic enzyme systems to varying degrees. The more toxic the substance, generally, the more it is an anabolic inhibitor. Often these toxins are called ‘enzyme inhibitors’ as well.
• Copper excess, in particular.
This interferes with nutrients such as zinc, sulfur, vitamin C and possibly many others, causing excessive tissue breakdown or catabolism.
• Many nutrient deficiencies.
These can interfere with anabolic or constructive enzyme systems in hundreds of ways.
• Intense psychological imbalances.
These may include very negative thinking, intense fear, grief, anger, resentment, frustration or hostility. By various mechanisms, these can favor a catabolic state of the body. They may just increase stress, or damage various organs and glands of the body.
• A four lows or sub-oxidation condition.
This is a peculiar pattern seen on hair mineral tests. It is definitely catabolic in nature. The reasons why are not always easy to discern, but this is often an end-of-life or burnout pattern. In fact, all burnout patterns on a hair analysis tend to be associated with catabolism.
General factors such as aging of the body, increased stress for any reason or a decrease in overall vitality will help promote an unhealthy state of catabolism.
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All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Article by - Dr. Wilson, MD (graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT)