Our Left-Handed World

When I was a college professor, I would take students to Belize, Central America in the January term to study “Rainforest Pharmacology”. Every year until it closed we’d visit Ix Chel Farm run by Rosita Arvigo who had studied with Maya shaman Don Elijio Panti. Through these wonderful years, I learned a lot about natural healing through plants, tinctures and salves. Being a Western-educated nurse by profession, I used western pharmacological methods–pills, IV solutions and antibiotic salves. When I got to Belize a whole new world of healing was introduced to me.

Reading the book The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean, my husband showed me pages 174-176 that talks about the right-handedness and

Vant Hoffs Tetrahedral Carbon and Chirality - Chem 125 Yale University

left-handedness of molecules that make up compounds. It seems that in nature almost all molecules are left-handed (a preference for one handedness Pasteur called chirality), but if that same molecule is made by man it sometimes presents itself in the reverse, as a right-handed molecule. This can have devastating consequences…or not. Pasteur showed the world that man making a chemical could cause death or disability when no such event would happen if the natural compound were used because of the chirality of the molecules. Rosita was adamant that, given the choice, a wise healer would always choose the natural remedy from the whole plant. She taught that when western medicine took one chemical from a plant to treat a certain problem the properties of the plant that would lessen side effects of that chemical or that would heighten the effect of the chemical were removed when the plant parts not needed to create the chemical were thrown away. Pasteur would add that man-made chemicals could not be counted upon to be safe because of chirality. The thalidomide disaster of the the 1950s is a glaring example of how wrong-handed molecules could even destroy left-handed biology.

In order to be safer, scientists had to replicate the molecules needed in left-handed fashion, limiting right-handedness. After all, we live in a biological world that prefers left-handedness. More tomorrow on Walk with Him Wednesday.

Marveling at the Creator,

Dawn

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