A lone doctor put the pieces of the leaky gut/autoimmunity story together almost 50 years ago. He saw the connections between intestinal permeability and diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. He published his findings, he helped the people in his care…and his amazing insights eventually died, were buried and nearly lost to time. Loren Cordain shot me the following two papers from Dr. R. Shatin:
Shatin Paleo Diet 1964
Shatin Paleo Diet 1967
When I read those papers, particularly the first one, all I could do was think “WOW!!”
Dr. Shatin had pieced together the connection between gut permeability, celiac disease rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
In the early 1960’s.
He also had a clear grasp of the influence of evolution in health and disease. I’d wager it was using the evolutionary template that lead to his subsequent observations regarding intestinal permeability and autoimmunity, but we have precious little information about Dr. Shatin. Dr. Ben Balzer did some digging and at present this is what we have:
Dear Dr Balzer
Thanks for your email enquiry of 13 April 2012 seeking information about Dr R Shatin a prominent doctor from The Alfred hospital who published some significant papers regarding diet and disease in the 1960′s which are of continuing interest to doctors and scientists who study the Paleolithic Diet and its relevance to modern health. It is pleasing to note your observation that Dr Shatin’s studies are prescient indicating he is one of the many leading doctors and nurses who have made The Alfred a world class treating and teaching hospital.
I have checked The Alfred hospital’s archives and found that Roman Shatin graduated as M. B. B. S. (Melb.) in 1935 and worked at The Alfred from 1947 to his retirement on 1 July 1977. His main role was Medical Clinical Assistant (1947 – 1955), Senior Medical Clinical Assistant (1956 – 1976) and Honorary Clinical Assistant (1976-77).
I am aware of one of Dr R Shatin‘s publications namely Man and His Cultigens – R Shatin (Scientific Australian March 1964).
I regret not having more information on Dr R Shatin and would appreciate your forwarding me any more information you come across. Although there have been a number of publications covering The Alfred’s history (The Hospital South of the Yarra, A history of Alfred Hospital Melbourne from foundation to the nineteen-forties, Ann M Mitchell, the Griffin Press SA 1977 and Alfred Hospital Faces and Places Volume I, II, III & IV Published by The Alfred Heritage Committee between 1996 and 2010), I am surprised there is no mention of Dr Shatin who served the hospital for 30 years.
Thanks again for this enquiry.
The Alfred Hospital & Caulfield Hospital
16 April 2012
You folks in Australia should be damn proud. One of the biggest thinkers in the Paleo/Ancestral health scene is one of your own, and he was fighting the good fight a half century ago.
I want to look at some specific observations from the two papers and talk a little about how significant and prescient that material is/was. Let’s look at the first paper first starting with an observation about the field of autoimmunity:
In the field of rheumatic disorders the currently prevailing theory of autoimmunity has failed to establish causes or promote cures. An alternative concept has been advanced by the present author (1963)6. This concept is based on the postulate of man’s maladaptation to biologically new food. Evidence for the presence of this maladaptaton; considered in this concept to be the genetic (inherited) susceptibility to rheumatic diseases, is based on: (a) clinical observation; (b) a pilot trial of treatment, 19646; and © recent advances in biochemistry, genetics and gastroenterology including the study of the small intestine on the one hand and clues from paleopathology on the other.
It’s interesting, one must look very hard at the current models to see the connection between intestinal permeability and autoimmunity. Hygiene hypothesis is about as close to it gets. But one does not ever see commentary about evolutionary/genetic discord. That Dr. Shatin connected these dots so long ago is remarkable. Then this:
Briefly, in the concept advanced here, it is suggested that the cereals wheat and rye, the biologically new food (hitherto probably only avian food), were not universally suited to human metabolism because of their protein component, gluten.
Celiac disease had only reached prominence in the medical community a few decades earlier. That Dr. Shatin was able to piece all this together is remarkable. I’ll leave you to peruse those two papers, but I think it’s worth asking: Why did this information almost disappear from history? Dr. Shatin performed clinical trials showing a paleo diet to be beneficial for RA. He knew a remarkable amount of what we know today with regards to intestinal permeability and autoimmunity, but like the Aeolipile this technology and understanding has largely been lost to a Dark Age of reductionist medicine. I think it’s pretty clear what happened here: This man’s ideas were counter to the CONSENSUS (I have a piece brewing on scientific consensus) and so the ideas were ignored, likely ridiculed (nearly) out of existence. The changes that are afoot today are NOT happening from consensus and are certainly not coming from the scientific and academic mainstream. Yet. The change we are benefiting from today is happening because with social networks we can effectively step outside the “consensus” and do things that actually “work.” We are seeing N=1 experiments with the Paleo/Ancestral Health template performed millions of times per day. If it did not work, if this way of doing things did not benefit autoimmunity and a host of other issues, the concept would wither and die. It appears to be doing anything but that.
Don’t get too smug though, any good sci-fi novel will remind you that decay and entropy are the norm, not the exception. So too apparently are totalitarian power grabs, especially when the dominant paradigm is being eroded. Case in point:
The North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition (NCBDN) is threatening to sue, shut down and SEND TO JAIL a type1 diabetic man who has found a way out of the system of managed death. It’s worth noting that the ADA reviewers do NOT see recommending a vegetarian diet as being problematic…
The NCBDN will apparently forcibly confine and silence those people who do not stay within certain “Party” guidelines. This on the heels of the Forbes piece implicating the ADA for forming what is essentially a monopoly on nutrition advice. Which created some seriously bunched britches on the part of the ADA. I find it hilarious that I need to sit through a Sugar Free Coffee Mate ad on the Food Management site before being allowed to proceed to the response. THESE people are in charge of our food policy?
That the Internet and social media have allowed the concept of Ancestral Health to be broadcast to the masses is undeniable. It is also not surprising that we are witnessing an attempt by the government and academic institutions to silence our attempts at self determination. If we are not sick, fat and dying from the subsidized foods the government and ADA wants to feed us, what NEED is there for the ADA?
I don’t know about you, but I will not allow another Dark Ages to hamstring medicine and be set back 50 years. Again.
Interesting to say the least