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by Robert McNary, M.D.

    Immunology and immunosuppression, prednisone and corticosteroids are major factors in late twentieth century medicine. Fifty years ago, it was penicillin. Today, it's prednisone.

    Actually, a host of later generation antibiotics and a bevy of steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the focal points of modern medical management of a large number of ailments which reach the clinic and a majority of those which present to the emergency room and the hospital. It would not do to let the patient's defensive mechanisms meet the "invaders" on their own when a physician has an inkling that a patient may have an "infection." Bring on the "artillery," bring on the antibiotics!

    Likewise, should an acute or chronic inflammatory process occur, an indefinable syndrome develop, an unpredictable immune response arise in the body, steroids must be sent to the rescue.

    One unfortunate aspect of the whole thing is that after all these years of antibiotic and steroid administration, the medical community still does not have a sound understanding of homeostasis and body economy, immune actions and healing mechanisms regarding microbes, allergens, and the like. Symptomatic rather than scientific medicine is the emphasis of modern allopathy.

    New age medicine and healing call for scratching beneath the surface and discovering new dimensions of the human frame: pathological and physiological, energetic and symbolic as well. A deeper and broader awareness of the function of the lymphocyte - one of our lowly white cells- can give us not only greater understanding of the healthy human being, but also enlighten us regarding many growth and development, disease and healing processes.

    Pathologist Jack W. Shields has stated, "With a surging interest in immunology, most medical scientists believe the function of lymphoid organs to be principally immunologic. All have yet to fathom the true and deeper meanings of trophism!"

    Shields penned those words 25 years ago. But, he was only one in a rather long line of anatomists, microscopists, pathologists, clinicians, and seers who have detected an added if not greater function for the lymphocyte than the commonly recognized immune one.

    In 1677, Johann Peyer described the patches of lymphatic tissue in the small intestine which now bear his name. Peyer thought they were involved in some sort of secretion. However, their association with infection in typhoid fever through post mortem studies during the next century pointed medical scientists in the direction of its current view of the immune system.

    However with the advent of microscopy, Rene Dutrochet in 1824 recognized the work of "the vesicular globules" producing cellular nutrition. They "add themselves to the tissue of organs and fix themselves there for growth and repair. . ."

    William Addison (1840) summarized his findings writing, "The globules of the blood are the sole agents of nutrition."

    Kremiansky (1868) and Zimmerman (1871) concurred, contending that, "All new formation was traceable back to extravasated white blood cells."

    One hundred years later, medical nutritionist Henry Bieler and pathologist Jack Shields authored books supporting the feeding function of the lymphoid cells. In his book, Food is Your Best Medicine, Bieler concluded, "I believe that cells called small lymphocytes carry food necessary for the growth and reproduction of body cells."

    In the 1970s, Jack Shields performed detailed modern laboratory studies to validate his thesis on The Trophic Function of the Lymphoid Elements. Firstly, he verified the direct correlation between lymphoid activity and cellular growth and renewal. Secondly, Shields recognized the specific nutritive function of (1) intestinal lymphoid tissue via its conversion of newly absorbed molecules into mononuclear populations, (2) lymphocytic secretion of normal and immune globulins and shedding of lymph, (3) lymphocytic donation of nucleoplasm to feed other cells with substrate,information and energy for growth, resilience to stress, and capacity to repair cell damage.

    Shields also noted the pathology of malabsorption, malnutrition, and wasting which results when intestinal lymphoid tissue fails to develop normally or become diseased. This notation correlates with the well known effect of acute and chronic therapeutic steroid administration: lymphocytolysis, poor wound healing, and increased susceptibility to infection.

    It is interesting to compare/contrast the way in which gases (O2 and CO2) are carried via the bloodstream to that of solid nutrients. The modern picture is that 97% of oxygen is carried to the tissues via hemoglobin in the red blood cells, leaving 3% traveling in and picked up from the blood plasma. On the other hand, modern science suggests that practically all food nutrients enter the tissues from plasma using active transport mechanisms which call for tremendous expenditures of energy. This view is not nearly as well documented as the transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide by hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Unfortunately, the older and also alternative view which suggests the feeding function of the white blood lymphocytes is practically unheard of.

    Further support for this function of lymphoid tissues comes from the unorthodox avenue of psychic channels such as Edgar Cayce. The Edgar Cayce readings repeatedly point to "leukocyte plasm" producing nutriment, "rebuilding or coagulative forces." The Peyer's patches (mesentericlymphatic nodules) provide for "globular forces to cause the coagulation" especially to create "perfect contact between sympathetic and cerebrospinal activities of the body." The lymphoid and lymphatic tissues provide for "emunctory" support to the vital ganglionic junctions between the two great nervous systems as they meet along the spinal column.

    Alice Bailey has written that, "There is no symbol quite so representative of the creative process as the human frame."  If such is true, as seems naturally so, it follows that the individual components -cells, tissues, organs, and systems - of the human organism can be viewed as icons, that their works image deeper meaning, and their dysfunctions are truly metaphorical.

    Lymphoid tissue can thus be seen energetically and symbolically in its nutritive, trophic, and sacrificial role giving up self for the betterment of the whole organism. Disease of such tissues suggests internal conflict and disharmony between organs, centers, and energies which must coordinate to support the health of the greater being. Paul Solomon has said, "That all disease processes and syndromes, not only are psychosomatic in their form (that is, built by the thought process and the concerns of karmic conditions within the self) but also are symbolic of that process clinging to that which is obsolete for the nature and for the self." Consideration of the lymphoid elements can help us see the unity of our own being in body, mind, and soul as well as our continuing potential to integrate and harmonize our selves when we practically and symbolically move away from wholeness.

    Going one step further, Edgar Cayce, Ray Stanford, and Paul Solomon saw the therapeutic value of castor oil packs as an aid to lymphatic circulation and lymphocytic function. "Castor oil packs . . . enable an expansion of the various circulatory vessels of the lymphatic system to an extent, particularly of the nodes of concentration of lymphatic activities.  They create a loosening or division of such, by the nature of some of the factors absorbed from the castor oil, whereby the lymphatic fluid may more freely carry those factors for which it serves as a medium. Hence, rather than a tightness of the lymphatic system, there comes a balancing of the acid and the base factors in such, and this affects the thymus in the freedom of its function." (Stanford)

    William McGarey has suggested that castor oil emits white light at an energetic level. Castor oil appears to "lighten" the solar plexus center and the organs, tissues and cells within the radius of its influence. The lymphatic nodules and lymphocytes are secondarily affected. Castor oil applied to the abdomen undoubtedly soothes that center, conditions its renewed activity and reflexly benefits the heart center and the thymus.

    Through the course of its often short life the lowly lymphocyte gives of self toward the betterment of the greater being. It seems that this microscopic white cell is both servant and savior, dying that its Lord and fellows might live. In its example, we have a pattern to follow. One day, we too may live and act much like the lovely lymphocyte. 


Jack W. Shields, M.D., The Trophic Function of the Lymphoid Elements, Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, IL, 1972.

L.J. Rather, Addison and the White Corpuscles, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, 1972.

Henry G. Bieler, M.D., Food is Your Best Medicine, Vintage Books, NY, NY, 1973.

Emily Martin, Flexible Bodies: Tracking Immunity in American Culture from the Days of Polio to the Age of AIDS, Beacon Press, Boston, MA, 1994.

[Note: The preceding commentary is provided by Robert McNary, M.D. and is used with his permission.]  

Note: The above information is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment.  Please consult a qualified health care professional for assistance in applying the information contained in the Cayce Health Database.

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