Marcey Shapiro, MD
One way to approach health problems is to examine them through the lens of nature. Any physical illness provides a wealth of metaphorical information to the person or community that is affected. Look for what healthy role the disease-causing agent has in nature. In this light, we can learn a lot from fungus. Health issues relating to overgrowth of fungi are commonplace in a family-practice setting.
Fungus is a communal organism much like ants are communal insects. They grow in vast cooperative networks, especially in dark, damp places like the soil. They spread in a web-like manner through underground filamentous projections. Most of the life of terrestrial fungus is subterranean. Above-ground mushrooms and other fruiting bodies of fungus are a minute fraction of their mass.
In humans, the soil in which fungus embeds is human tissue. As in the Earth’s soil, fungi grow well in stagnant areas with persistent dampness. On the planet’s surface, fungi have many important roles. They enliven stagnation and clear it, getting things moving again, as demonstrated by the example of stagnant water purification via fungus-catalyzed bioremediation.
In Chinese medicine as well, dampness is associated with stagnation. Excessive dampness in the digestive tract results in bloating, heaviness, fullness, and murkiness that can also express as cloudy thought, rumination, cysts or tumors, and in severe cases, insanity. Dampness interferes with the conversion of food nutrients to energy, bone, blood, and thought. Dampness in the lungs leads to phlegm, cough, shortness of breath, infections, and anxiety. Once dampness is prevalent in the system, it can be slow to transform.
Likewise, once fungus is established, it can be difficult to clear up without significant changes in behavior and attitude. Fungi, like humans, are complex multicellular organisms. The pharmaceutical model of killing fungus is problematic because the things that kill “them” kill “us” too. Many antifungal drugs are toxic, especially to the liver, our main organ of detoxification. Fungi interlace themselves through our tissues and do not give up easily. Fungal die-off rapidly releases many products of stagnation back into our system that the fungi had been slowly transforming.
Therefore many people with yeast overgrowth syndrome prefer to remain on a milder program of protracted dietary restrictions, gentle detoxification, and shifting of thoughts and beliefs. (Yeasts like Candida albicans are types of fungi commonly associated with humans.) This allows the excess fungus to slowly clear as their body gradually eliminates bound metals and toxins, and allows time for the murkiness in their thoughts and emotional overwhelm to settle and clarify as well.
Excerpted from Transforming the Nature of Health: A Holistic Vision of Healing that Honors Our connection to the Earth, Others, and Ourselves by Marcey Shapiro, MD, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2012 by Marcey Shapiro. Reprinted by permission of publisher.
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