Pandemics, The Fall of Infections and The Rise of Chronic Illness – A Short Historical Perspective

written by Dr. Christine Sauer

There is no question that for millennia, probably since inception, mankind has been ravaged by devastating illnesses, initially probably mostly by injuries, but later, after the advent of agriculture and larger settlements, especially (but not only) by diseases of the infectious kind, like smallpox, tetanus, diphtheria, tuberculosis, the plague, Influenza and others. These have over the course of history, decimated populations and influenced politics just like wars have.

Chronic illness, on a whole, hadn’t been very common in these days, it seems.

Polio Patients Pandemic Viruses

This image shows victims of a past polio epidemic – mostly children – in the iron lung.

The use of polio vaccines with few side effects and a very good protective effect has decimated the number of new polio cases to a handful in remote regions of this world.

We have many tales of pandemic and epidemic events in history books and orally promoted tales in the different native populations of the world and the civilizations that arose from those.

The Goal of Treating Illness…

The goal of any approach to treat illness has always been the prevention of illness or the optimal treatment of a sick individual with the end goal to improve quality of life as much and for as many individuals as the individuals, their families – and the society as a whole could afford to. The means and possibilities as well as the sophistication have changed considerably during the course of history.

The Advent of Modern Medicine

Modern – conventional – medicine has led to many improvements in the quality of life of people, and the advent of hygiene, cleanliness and disease prevention by population measures (with the advent of the discovery of bacteria and the Smallpox vaccination in the last 3 centuries) which led to the eradication of this devastating disease) and the subsequent discovery of antibiotics and other anti-infectious compounds, have taken much fear out of people and reduced the infant (child) mortality (death rate) enormously and such increased life expectancy for everyone.

Modern medicine hasn't eliminated chronic illnesses

In that way the advent of modern medicine has no doubt been a blessing to mankind.

What Went Wrong?

Yet, in the past few decades, chronic illnesses among the population have increased, including in children and young people, whether this be cancer, “neurodegenerative” diseases, diseases of genetic co-origin, chronic infections or chronic “metabolic” diseases. A few examples are Allergies, Autoimmune Diseases, Diabetes, Cancers, Heart Disease, Dementias like Alzheimer’s disease, ADD, ASD, mental illness, especially depression and anxiety.

These Four Factors May Explain This…

Some of this certainly can be explained by four factors:

  • The longevity of the population (which means that when people get older, they are more likely to get certain chronic illnesses like Cancer)
  • The ability to treat acute disease and to prolong life in many cases where people would have died before in infancy (e.g. Cystic fibrosis, childhood cancers, other genetic abnormalities that in centuries past would have led to a heightened susceptibility to infectious disease and death).
  • The ability to diagnose issues earlier and often better
  • The increase of the world population and population density

But in my opinion, this does not explain the rise of all these diseases. Especially chronic illnesses and diseases that involve immune system malfunctioning (like allergies, autoimmune diseases and cancers in younger people) as well as brain malfunctions in young people, like autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and ADHD as well as depression and anxiety disorders. All these disorders have certainly increased more than the above mentioned 4 factors would explain.

And yes, these all were not new illnesses and there have been reports in histories of mummies with cancer and reports of children and adults in literature and history books exhibiting symptoms that we probably nowadays would associate with one of the above diagnoses of one or the other chronic illness..

Should We Be Concerned?

But my concern is that these chronic illnesses are increasing, not just absolutely –  in proportion to the rise of the population, but out of proportion.

Those of us who are a bit older (I am in my 60s myself) – remember the odd kid in school who couldn’t sit still, acted out and the kid that was allergic.

These were the exception, though. I myself was in school in classes of 40 students where not one student acted out in a way that disrupted the learning experience of all or required special attention of teachers.

This seems impossible in our modern schools….

Possible Root Causes for the Increase of Chronic Illnesses

The Causes for this phenomenon seems to be still widely unknown, yet possible causes emerging are:

  • Increasing environmental pollution, leading to
  • Increasing toxic load (absolute and cumulative)
  • Increasing emerging infections with persistent or latent viral agents (e.g. CMV, EBV, HIV, Prions…)
  • Reduced nutritional value of most available foods and the rise of nutritionally empty processed foods, leading to widespread micro-nutrient deficiencies
  • Reduced diagnosis of rare diseases or emerging illnesses due to overwhelm of doctors, inability to use a framework for healthcare like the one I describe in a recent post here.

All these factors can contribute to decreased functioning of key enzymes and regulatory proteins, hormones as well neurotransmitters in our body as well as a change in gene expression that can propagate over generations.

More research needs to be done…

The Consequences of this Health Crisis in Progress…

The consequences of this “health crisis in progress” are not only rising costs for the health (and education) systems that approach unmanageable proportions, but increased and prolonged suffering for many individuals, reduced quality of life for at least as many, and the remaining healthy population being overburdened with not just the cost, but also the time and mental and physical effort of caring for the sick as well as the constant worries and stress resulting from caring for loved ones, as rewarding this can be for the individual.

Please, don’t misunderstand me here: I do not have a good solution for these issues, but want to make you aware of the fact that this is happening and all this is a multi-factorial, complicated issue that cannot and should not be reduced to “the one thing that needs to be done”.

What We Need…

What we need – in my opinion – is a good, honest and open discussion – as reasonable and un-emotional, and with as little influence of politics and financial interests  as possible – about what our options are in this world.

The words “for the greater good” have been abused in history over and over as an excuse for atrocious deeds such as slavery and deportation of Jews and other “unwanted” or “dangerous” individuals to concentration camps.

In my opinion, fear and propaganda should not be used to control the population. The abuse potential is just too great.

“The difference between advertising and propaganda is that in advertising, we know who paid for it”-paraphrased from Napoleon Hill: “How to Own Your Own Mind, Ch. 2,pg. 114”

The questions arising here are not just medical, they are philosophical, ethical, moral, social, historical, political and financial – and maybe even spiritual.

It is impossible to answer these as an individual.

Where Do We Go From Here?

My hopes are that enough people are talking about these issues, between each other as well as in public, to influence media, corporations and politicians to change the way people and their health are seen and managed – in the true sense of the words: “for the greater good”

And maybe more use of Artificial Intelligence may be a solution? I discuss this use, called “precision medicine” in a recent video show episode.

What do you think about these issues? Comment at the bottom below.

About the author

Dr. Christine Sauer

Dr. Christine Sauer is a German-trained physician and naturopath, a Certified Brain Health Professional and Brain Trainer (Dr. Daniel Amen MD) as well as a gastrointestinal disease specialist, working as a Holistic Health & Life Coach and Educator.
Her own struggles with chronic pain, weight loss, and mental health
issues have led her to dedicate her life to improving the overall health, gut health and the brain/mental health of others and enabling them to drop unwanted pounds, improve their parenting skills, overcome ADHD (develop laser-focus) and even grow their business - all with natural means, using strategies based in neuroscience combined with her own quirkiness, sense of humor, common-sense, love and care.
She wrote #1 bestselling books, speaks on stages (incl. a TEDx Talk) and lectures on these topics. She also coaches individuals, groups, and families. and teaches teenager on ourschool. As “The Doctor Who Knows How You Feel” she is known to make a lasting impression and positive difference in the lives of her clients, friends and followers. Main website:

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