In life prior to the current pandemic, public health efforts were heavily focused on how the metabolic crisis might be managed, as it underpins the biggest killer diseases in the industrialised world, from coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity, to many types of cancer. It also has massively fanned the flames of the covid-19 crisis, as those with cormordities that include dysfunctions in metabolism have been by far the most vulnerable to severe disease and death.

Outward signs may be over-sized waistlines and excess fat-to-lean muscle. But it's the inward signs, such as low-grade systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, visceral fat and immune system dysregulation, that are often more sinister.    

The reality of herbs

Last week saw the publication of a new article by Rob Verkerk PhD on the Herbal Reality website, that's becoming an evermore important repository of information about the healing power of plants and herbal medicine. The website is now overseen by a charity and the newly established Herbal Expert & Research Body or H.E.R.B. of which Rob is one of 8 members.

In his article, Rob delves into the underlying causes of the metabolic disease crisis and how the power of plants can be brought to bear to help regenerate health and reverse the crisis. 

Following are some extracts from the article. The original article (3,600 words, 25 min read) is available in full on the Herbal Reality website.

Under the skin of the metabolic disease crisis

Extracts by Robert Verkerk PhD

The metabolic disease crisis afflicts a large part of the global population, particularly those in higher-income and emerging industrialised countries, and represents the single largest preventable, non-communicable disease burden in these countries. The covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on how a single viral pathogen can exploit comorbidities that are the result of metabolic dysfunction, creating havoc in its wake. It is surely also a reminder of the urgent need to address the underlying metabolic crisis, especially among younger members of society who will otherwise become extremely vulnerable both to chronic and infectious diseases.


Obesity, type 2 diabetes and ischaemic heart disease are three of the most pronounced downstream manifestations of the metabolic crisis.

- Robert Verkerk PhD


However, increasingly, many types of cancer are considered to have a metabolic basis, while the rapid rise in prevalence of Alzheimer’s and dementia in industrialised countries is also thought to be, at least partially, mediated by metabolic disturbance, hence the increasingly common reference to type 3 diabetes.

>>> Read more

Key factors associated with metabolic disease

Among the plethora of factors associated with the increased or reduced risk of metabolic diseases that contribute to many of the leading causes of preventable and premature deaths, notably ischemic heart disease, stroke, some cancers (breast, prostate, colorectal), obesity, type 2 diabetes and low bone mineral density, are the following:

>>> Read more

Systems approaches, not silver bullets

Despite the obvious difficulties in modifying some of the determinants of metabolic disease, such as underlying genetic predisposition or an individual’s place of residence or work, there are a very large number of factors that can be altered in ways that can, sometimes dramatically, improve health outcomes.


Even an individual’s genetic predisposition can be altered by changing the inner and outer environment to which the individual is exposed, which in turn changes the pattern of gene expression (i.e. epigenetics).

- Robert Verkerk PhD


Four over-arching priorities are identified below. These are open to modification, optimal outcomes often being realised when interventions or protocols are personalised, following guidance by the individual’s health practitioner, around the specific needs, capacities and environments experienced by the individual.

  1. Restoring blood sugar metabolism and metabolic flexibility
  2. Facilitating physical activity and mitochondrial biogenesis
  3. Anti-inflammatory dietary patterns
  4. Stress transformation and sleep quality

>>> Read more, including about  which plant foods and herbs can be used to help support each of these four key areas...


It is clear that top-down public health measures have had little impact on curtailing the spiral of metabolic disease that is running rampant through the majority of the industrialised world. The impact caused by SARS-CoV-2 is a reminder of how pathogens can interact with unhealthy, imbalanced body systems and cause severe disease and societal disruption….

>>> Click here to read the full article.


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