(Note: This article is the second and last installment of a 2-part feature on evolution-based medicine. The first part can be found here.)
Ever since the time when I first stumbled upon concepts and ideas related to ancestral health and Stone Age diets in my late teens, I’ve been interested in, bordering on obsessed with, Darwinian/evolutionary medicine. Back in the day when I first stumbled upon this fascinating world, it wasn’t really on the map, at least not the map that the average Joe navigates by; hence, it was not clearly defined and was pretty difficult to find. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I was hard at work searching for clues as to how I could enhance my physique and fix my body, which I felt was in desperate need of an overhaul, then I most certainly wouldn’t have found it, at least not until many years later.
Darwinian/evolutionary medicine still not on the public’s map and many would probably say that it continues to be an obscure thing. What’s important to note though, is that the discipline has grown exponentially over the past decade and become a lot more visible. When compared to how things were like some 10-20 years ago, evolution-based medicine is a big thing.
Where is medicine heading?
It’s becoming increasingly recognized among astute researchers that evolutionary science is a fundamental science to medicine. These days, new studies and review papers that have to do with evolutionary health and medicine are published fairly regularly, certainly a lot more often than some 10 or 20 years ago, as highlighted by the figure at the top of this article. Moreover, over the most recent decade, educational courses and research institutes devoted to connecting evolution and medicine have emerged. This recognition and appreciation of evolutionary teachings hasn’t made its way into medical curricula or doctors’ offices or fully reached the public; however, the awareness surrounding evolutionary health and medicine has certainly increased.
One of the main obstacles the evolutionary health movement faces is that mainstream medicine, including the health care system, was built brick-by-brick over many centuries. It’s an enormous structure that won’t easily budge. Furthermore, its development was largely driven by desires for money. The pharmaceutical industry has a major stake in it and greatly influences its evolution.
Given sufficient pressure, it can be changed though.
This is part of the reason why I started this site. Instead of waiting for someone to come and change things, I thought I’d try to change things myself. That’s very much the attitude I had when I first got started many years back. To some extent, it still is. However, what has become increasingly clear to me as my understanding of health and medicine has evolved, is that Darwinian medicine is a well-defined, robust, and comprehensive discipline of its own; it’s not merely an obscure branch of research that can contribute a theoretical tool or two to the conventional medical system.
The natural beauty and veracity of Darwinian medicine
The unique thing about Darwinian/evolutionary medicine is that it connects all of the different branches of medicine, nutrition, and health care into a unified whole, glued together by evolutionary science. This is what appeals to me the most about the discipline and also what attracted me to it in the first place. In evolutionary science, I found a set of robust ideas and principles that helped me make order of not just health, nutrition, and medicine, but all of life.
The most compelling thing about those ideas and principles is that they, unlike many other concepts and beliefs that we humans have come up with, didn’t emerge “out of thin air”; rather, they originate in nature. They simple describe how life functions. There’s no hocus pocus or guesswork involved. This fact, that Darwinian medicine is based on the very fundamental principles of life, makes it both beautiful and veracious.
Darwinian/evolutionary medicine, which represents a whole new approach to medicine; an approach that is rooted in what may be the most powerful and beautiful scientific theory of all: evolution via natural selection, has been on the rise, in part because the scientific community has recently started paying more attention to the evolutionary origins of disease and the medical insights that can be gained via evolutionary thinking. There’s still a long way to go – and many obstacles that would have to be overcome – before evolutionary medicine is widely recognized, appreciated, and utilized by nutritionists, doctors, mental care providers, and other health care professionals; however, there’s no doubt that the discipline has gained some steam recently.