Understanding the Heart: Surprising Insights into the Evolutionary Origins of Heart Disease—and Why It Matters
By Dr. Stephen Hussey, MS, DC
Chelsea Green Publishing
I found the subtitle of this intriguing volume, “surprising insights into the evolutionary origins of heart disease—and why it matters,” to be quite accurate. Dr. Stephen Hussey, a former vegan, draws on perspectives that readers of Wise Traditions and members of the Weston A. Price Foundation have seen before. These include: the heart is not a pump but a mitigating, balancing agent; water has a fourth dimension whose distribution of charges affects its flow; natural saturated fats from grass-fed animals (and avoidance of vegetable oils) are fundamental to optimal metabolism and robust health; and cholesterol is a necessary substance that plays important roles for immune response and use of fat-soluble vitamins, as well as serving as the substrate for all our steroid hormones. These observations confirm the wisdom of avoiding interfering medications and more.
Hussey weaves all this into descriptions of other life forms and their physiological relevance across history, providing wonderfully accessible tours of biochemical pathways. We’ve heard the words but probably wouldn’t be able to explain the pathways until after reading his explanations.
Going deeper, Hussey examines widely touted shibboleths such as “an aspirin a day. . .” and explains that while the plant toxins on which this common over-the-counter medication is based shut off pain, the greater effect is to erode the person’s gut lining. Documenting everything he presents with pages of citations, he then points out that with aspirin, it’s probably the added magnesium that provides any benefit—another example of specious promotions that hype alleged benefits while distracting grandly from the far greater disasters looming with the use of whatever new miracle drug is being promoted.
My favorite section of Understanding the Heart was the reminder that most of the time what we deem to be “sickness” is the body’s effort to restore itself and bring itself back to balance. I think every person would do well to memorize these words along with the prayers and pledges of daily living: “A bacterial infection does not cause the fever, headache, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, or fatigue. . . . It’s the body mounting a defense that causes these symptoms. If you suppress the symptoms, it takes longer for the body to [heal].”
Hussey does speak of evolution, which can be a loaded term. In this case, he is referring to evolution as a matter of unfolding and adaptation across the history of life on earth, which seems to me to be closer to what Darwin—all too often misinterpreted—wanted to convey about life forms in the first place.
This book is an inviting but not casual read because it actually expects understanding beyond superficial words and terms. That said, it is not a dry academic tome. The author intersperses his assumption-shaking insights with colorful accounts of personal experience to enhance his points. I particularly enjoyed his accounts of night trips through the rainforest or as a patient in an allopathic setting.
For those who want a thoughtful understanding of health and the workings of life, written by a friendly and knowledgeable guide, I happily give this book two thumbs up. I’ll probably have to buy another copy; the current one is becoming hard to read for all the “take notice!” stars and arrows I’ve penciled into it.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2023🖨️ Print post