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The Warburg Effect: The Link Between Endometriosis, Cancer and The Budwig Diet

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

What I will be trying to do here is explain the Warburg Effect so anybody can understand what it is, why it is important for endometriosis and cancer and how Dr. Johanna Budwig's approach reverses this effect. I am not a doctor and I am assuming you're not either (if you are, excuse my "laymen's" approach to this and I refer you to the medical studies at the end of this article.)

Otto Heinrich Warburg (1883 - 1970) was a German physiologist and medical doctor. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology 1931 for his "discovery of the nature and mode of the respiratory enzyme." He basically discovered that while a normal cell uses oxidative phosphorylation to convert nutrients into energy, a cancer cell prefers fermentation as a source of energy. Simpler put (and I know doctors would cringe, but thankfully we're not doctors), a healthy cell uses oxygen to live, a cancer cell somehow manages to live or survive without oxygen.

Enter Dr. Johanna Budwig (1908 - 2003), a German biochemist, pharmacist, physician and cell researcher, who knew about Dr. Warburg's work. She researched fats and their effect on the human body and devoted her life to cancer cell research. She was nominated seven times for the Nobel Prize, so was a pretty clever woman and well ahead of her time. Dr. Budwig tried to find the answer to why a cell would stop using oxygen and turn into a cancer cell, i.e. why the Warburg Effect happened.

She developed the theory that the cell membrane stops working properly. The membrane of a cell is made up of fats or fatty acids and has an intricate communication system by which specific proteins are able to carry nutrients and enzymes into the cell. The cell signals what it needs and gets it. The membrane constantly repairs itself by taking fats available in the body, but it cannot distinguish between "good fats" and "bad fats". Bad fats are industrial made trans fats and to a degree saturated fats, both of which can be found in abundance in our modern culture of ready-meals and industrially produced foods. While the membrane happily uses "bad fats" for its maintenance, these fats don't know how to talk to the proteins that supply the cell with nutrients and enzymes. The cell starves and starts using fermentation to produce the energy it needs to survive (the Warburg effect).

Budwig then inferred that to reverse this process, we needed to ensure that the body has plenty of "good fats and proteins" available, which the membrane would use in its repair processes, thereby restoring the communication system back to working order and the body back to health. This is extremely simply put and anyone who would like to find out more should read Dr. Johanna Budwig's books. (A good explanation of how the membranes work can also be found in Dr. Bruce Lipton's "The Biology of Belief".)

What does this have to do with endometriosis? Studies have found that this Warburg effect happens similarly in endometriosis cells. So if Budwig's approach works at cell level, it works on every cell in your body, including endometriosis cells.

How can we reverse the Warburg Effect

Budwig's protocol aims to reverse the Warburg effect. Her quark-linseed oil mixture provides the body with good fats and plenty of proteins, so the the cell membranes and their intricate communication system can be restored, allowing nutrients and oxygen back into the cell, thus bringing the cells back into the body's communication loop. Our body is an incredibly intelligent system. Once the communication is restored, the cell will be able to "tell the body" what it needs to repair itself and to maintain its health.

Here another bit of knowledge is important: any maintenance can only be carried out if our body is in its parasympathetic state. We have an autonomic nervous system consisting of effectively two different programmes, that cannot run at the same time: the sympathetic nervous system (stress response) and the parasympathetic nervous system (non-stress state).

Our body's stress response was designed for survival of an immediate threat: if a tiger was chasing our ancestors, they needed to be able to run or fight to survive (that's why we also call this the "fight or flight" mode). If you were killed, it didn't matter if the food you'd eaten previously had been digested properly or if your liver cells had got what they needed to stay healthy. Transportation and absorption of nutrients, digestion, repair processes, healing do no longer matter, if the tiger kills us. So the body came up with a great concept: under threat, all available energy is sent to the muscles, so we can run or fight. All other processes are put on hold and resumed once the threat is over. Genius, right?

The problem occurs, when our modern lifestyle puts us into chronic stress, i.e. a situation where the body perceives its surroundings as stressful pretty much constantly. If our body runs in stress mode most of the time, the time left for all the vital processes that ensure our health and well-being (rather than pure survival) is limited and just like in our human lives, the to-do list will become bigger and stuff won't get done. Slowly, our health deteriorates, our energy levels drop, we get ill more as our immune system begins to suffer until we are diagnosed with a serious illness. That illness doesn't just hit us out of the blue. It's usually the result of a long, slow process in which our body's health has declined. We've just been too busy to notice, have ignored the little signs, taken tablets and painkillers and carried on with our stress-filled life.

What's the first thing we should do? Stop the stress, so our parasympathetic nervous system can switch on and our body can do what is has been designed to do: maintain, restore and heal itself and every single cell that form part of this ingenious and intricate system each one of us calls "me". I will tell you how you can reduce stress in another Blog article.

Articles on relevant research here:

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