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21st century chronic conditions and the Cell Danger Response (CDR)

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

21st century conditions require 21st century therapies and tools.

Before we dive into the topic of this blog, “The Cell Danger Response” (CDR), if you have not read or heard about Dr. Robert Naviaux’s research (professor of genetics in California) on children on the autistic spectrum disorder then it is a must as his work is ground breaking. It is the CDR that is at the core, (read more HERE on CDR)

This post is not to wow you with the biochemistry or science for that matter, but to show you how WHOLE health is about having an understanding of what could be happening in your body and in this case how the various recovery phases of the Cell Danger Response could be impacting one's health. We use a more integrative holistic approach to nutritional medicine that involves coaching to work with the various stages of the Cell Danger Response. But buckle your seatbelts, as you will be hearing more about the CDR in the 17 years to come.

Dr Naviaux used a medication called Suramin that blocks ATP receptors. When ATP is out side of the cell, it signals danger, threat. ATP should not be out side of the cell. The autistic children in the study started to speak. More details HERE.

Dr Naviaux and his team concluded that the root cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a persistent Cell Danger Response (CDR).

Staying ontop of the science.

At the New School of Nutritional Medicine we believe in staying onto of the science and tweaking our curriculum as the research and literature publishes new ground breaking findings, whether they are new biochemical pathways, new organelles, new ‘dis-eases’, new science on the nervous system etc. Unfortunately, these findings take a lag period of 17 years to reach the doctor’s surgery.

Post Covid

A lot has happened in the last few years, not only in the surge in chronic health conditions but changes in education, changes in the way people shop, changes in the way people order food, changes in the quality of food, change in people’s nervous systems, changes in the way medicine is being practised and so forth.

So what about changes in approach in the way chronic diseases are now being ‘treated’? To answer this question we want to share about the exciting and pivotal work of Dr Robert Naviaux on the Cell Danger Response.

Have you ever wondered why some modalities just do not work? Maybe some of the answer lies in the 'stuckness' of the Cell Danger Response.

The Cell Danger Response

Most of us were taught in our school biology about the mighty mitochondria, the little organs (organelles) that produce energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). They are called the powerhouses of the cell, as they literally produce power in the form of this ATP, our currency of energy.

However the mitochondria have a more critical role in human physiology and that is in the Cell Danger Response (CDR). Dr Robert Naviaux says “The cell danger response is the evolutionarily-conserved metabolic response that PROTECTS cells and hosts from harm.”

What exactly is this cell danger response?

This CDR is a response that is activated when the cell is ‘threatened’, a threat that can result in injury or even death. What this threat? This threat can be;

  • Physical such as whiplash, UV, heat, pH changes

  • Biological such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites

  • Chemical such as medications, BPA, DDT, pesticides

  • Psychological such as shock, grief, fear, anxiety

Dr. Naviaux describes a key turning point in the way we view chronic illnesses. His paper on the Cell Danger Response can be found HERE.

We are excited about sharing and teaching this new paradigm in nutritional biochemistry. This amazing area of research especially post Covid is vital for every 21st century practitioner to know and understand.

In the times gone by, acute illnesses ‘reigned’. One got an acute and either they survived or died from it. Then came along medications, and these are helping people get out of acutes when they get ‘stuck’, although we like to use Rapid Relief Homeopathy for getting that acute to shift (here is some Rapid Relief Homeopathy for hay fever https://www.newschoolofnutrition.com/post/hayfever-season).

However, due to handling the acutes inappropriately such as suppression of the acute condition we now have an exhaustive list of chronic illnesses, these include:

  • Toxin overload such as toxic metals mercury, aluminium, BPA

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Endometriosis

  • Lyme disease

  • Auto-immune conditions such as Hashimoto’s

  • Heavy metal exposure

  • Mold/mycotoxin exposure

Chronic illnesses arise due to a whole host of reasons but for now the focus is on the CDR and chronic illnesses.

When the body is ‘under’ ‘threat’ it is detected by the mitochondria which trigger the CDR in order to protect the cell from further injury and to prevent the spread of the ‘injury’. This whole CDR is like a healing cycle which is beautifully choreographed and this cycle consists of three phases.

Cell Danger Response 1, CDR1: Containment & Removal

CDR1 is the ‘contain & remove’ stage, whereby the innate immune system is activated such as the white blood cells raising ‘inflammation’ thereby destroying the threat and the cycle moves on to CDR2.

It is important that this inflammation is controlled, that the ‘threat' is eradicated and the inflammation is no longer required. In this phase the mitochondria also reduce the production of ATP, think about how you feel when you have the flu…lethargic, pain (inflammation) this is CDR1. This is your body ‘doing the job’ as it should. As the mitochondria slow down the ATP production, oxygen builds up (oxygen is required by mitochondria for the production of ATP), and this results in oxidative stress which is part of the body’s innate immune system. But we only want enough to remove the ‘threat’ (aka bacteria or virus etc). If oxidation persists whereby this phase of the cycle gets stuck, then this ongoing oxidation will create inflammation which can go onto damage the cells.

A healthy CDR1 response, contains and destroys the invader/threat and moves onto CDR2.

If the healing gets stuck in the CDR1 phase, it can result in too much inflammation and this can result in chronic inflammatory conditions

Cell Danger Response 2, CDR2: Growth & Repair

This stage is about healing any damage caused in CDR1. This is much like a wound on the surface of your skin growing a scab. New cells are being made and damaged cells are either repaired or cleared out by auto-phagy.

If this stage gets stuck, the cells can continuously proliferate, which can lead to pathologies such as cancer. Dr Naviaux calls this ‘stuck’ stage the ‘Proliferative disorders’.

Cell Danger Response 3, CDR3: Repair & Restore

This is the final stage of the cycle. The new and healed cells stop dividing, as they connect with one another, they know their ‘place’ their healthy boundaries. The mitochondria go ‘back online’ whereby ATP is beginning to rise again. This is akin to the end of the flu, when your energy is back, no more lethargy or pain. CDR3 also involves maturation of the immune system, as in the case of the threat being an infection, in this stage there would be the production of antibodies. So next time this threat comes along, the immune cells have already encountered it before and therefore raise a rapid response, preventing any damage being done by the threat.

If the healing gets stuck in CDR3 phase then this can result in ongoing inflammation and pain.

When the cycle has gone through all three stages the body returns back to health, back to homeostasis, back to balance.

In order to achieve health, the healing cycle must be completed.

In essence when the cell feels threatened it shuts itself down in order to limit the damage. It then goes through the cycle of healing, from CDR1 through to CDR3.

The cell has to ‘feel’ safe to complete the whole cycle

We cannot just trick the cell it by giving it vitamins or herbs, or a protocol of sorts (such as a parasite protocol), the cell has to feel safe. The cell needs to now it is biochemically safe.

We cannot just throw nutrients at the mitochondria such as L-carnitine, CoQ10, d-ribose, etc. as this is not helping the cell to feel safe.

When a cell is threatened by a virus, the body will shut down/slow down methylation. Why? Because the virus cannot spread itself in a body if it cannot take over the host’s methylation. Viruses cannot replicate without hijacking their host. So the body in it's wisdom decides to 'slow things down'.

Are supplements helping or hindering?

Dr Naviaux also mentions that Vitamin D metabolism (article HERE) is also dramatically altered in the CDR, whereby an enzyme (details in this article HERE ) called 24α-hydroxylase, is increased by cell danger and this increase in the enzyme, reduces the concentration of active vitamin D and contributes to the CDR by increasing inflammation. So should we be supplementing with Vitamin D?

How would it serve the body, if anti-oxidants are being prescribed and the individual actually is stuck in CDR1? Surely, if CDR1 is about raising oxidation in this phase, then why take anti-oxidants?

Nutritional Medicine integrated with coaching, where we address the Cell Danger Response from a neuroscience understanding is not only fascinating but rewarding too, as you see the change in in people's lives.

We believe in training future practitioners that can help others complete the natural healing

cycle, by restoring WHOLE health , working across the whole system.

We encourage our students to cast a wider net, ask questions, look deeper, as to what has created that ‘unsafe’ feeling? What has arrested the Cell Danger Response. It is not just a matter of diets, cleanses, nutrients, a parasite etc.

New School of Nutritional Medicine’s approach to the Cell Danger Response

The answer for us is in the integration of nutritional medicine with coaching and under standing the neuroscience. For the body to complete the healing cycle without getting stuck in either CDR phase, it is about using the various modalities and addressing the CDR. In some cases addressing the CDR first before recommending any supplements or any specific nutritional advise.

The future of nutritional medicine is exciting!

Integrarive Nutritional Medicine Diploma

At the New School of Nutritional Medicine, we are getting ready for our new students to join us in Sept 2023.

If you fancy studying to become an integrated nutritional therapist and coach, book a space below for one of our open days.


The team at the New School Of Nutritional Medicine.

Learn about the Founder & Principal of the New School of Nutritional Medicine, Dr Khush Mark PhD HERE.

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