What do we really know about the mitochondria? Well, most of us, not being cell biologists, probably know that they are the powerhouses of the cell. They are tiny bodies, generally termed organelles, that have the ability to convert oxygen and various nutrients into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is used in the body to store and release energy as required.
Strange intercellular structures were visualised as long ago as the 1840s. Then in 1894 Richard Altmann identified them as organelles, which he called ‘bioblasts’. The term mitochondria was coined by
Carl Benda in 1898, while today’s popular “powerhouse of the cell” description was introduced by Philip Siekevitz in 1957. Today it’s beginning to sound like a science fiction story when we learn that
the mitochondria are descendants of a once separate life form – a bacterium with its own genome that somehow became absorbed into what was to become the human cell which also has its own genome.
According to the New Scientist (see “The Micromanagers”, by Garry Hamilton, September 20, 2014), the latest thinking seems to be that the mitochondria are not just powerhouses, but might influence vital bodily functions from memory and ageing to combatting stress and disease.
As Gilian Crowther explains in this BNJ Supplement, Cell Symbiosis Therapy (CST) sees the mitochondria as the ultimate orchestrators of our cellular health.
The mitochondria play an importat part in apoptosis and thus mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked with an increased risk of cancer. Mitochondria require oxygen to produce ATP whereas cancer cells can thrive in a low oxygen or anaerobic environment. Instead of utilising oxygen, cancer cells derive their energy from the breakdown of glucose.
It was Nobel prize winner Dr Otto Warburg who sugggested that cancer is associated with a lack of oxygen at the cellular level. Coenzyme CoQ10, one of the nutrients involved in mitochondrial production of ATP, has also been linked with improving cognitive function.
Mitochondrial toxicity, which can arise as a result of drug treatment – in HIV, for example – is associated with intense fatigue, whereas nutritional therapy using nutrients that improve mitochondrial activity have been shown to improve patients’ quality of life.
Many conditions presented by patients seen by Naturopaths, including obesity, diabetes and atherosclerosis, have mitochondrial connections, and thus perhaps education in this field should be seen as a desirable activity.
BNJ Original Article
Introduction to Cell Symbiosis Therapy: Mitochondria as the ultimate drivers of health and disease
Britsh Naturopathic Journal, Vol. 30, No. 3, 2014
Abstract: Cell Symbiosis Therapy (CST) sees the mitochondria as the ultimate orchestrators of our cellular health. It is based on a unique understanding of the evolutionary origin of our cells, including their hybrid nature stemming from a dual genome. The therapy is targeted at restoring full mitochondrial function, and prides itself in always striving to be both verifiable and replicable.