The Team Members of Your Healing System
Your healing system is intimately connected to all of your body’s other 12 systems. It is integrated within the structures and cells of these different systems so much so that when your body is in its natural state of health, the cooperation between the healing system and the other systems of the body, and the ways in which they function together, are almost flawless.
To fully understand the connections between the healing system and the other systems of the body, you first need to understand how each system functions individually and performs specialized tasks. The health of each individual system is essential to your overall health and to each system’s ability to work efficiently and effectively with your healing system.
Your skin is the most exterior and exposed system in your body. Consisting of several layers and appearing in a variety of colors and shades, your skin is one of the most obvious features that define your bodys individuality. Your skin is one continuous organ, and, much like a teddy bear or other stuffed animal’s outer lining that holds its stuffing in, your skin can be looked upon as the outer covering of the body that holds in all of your internal structures. Your skin exhibits the fol-lowing qualities that aid your healing system in many important ways:
- Skin is flexible. It can stretch and expand to tremendous capacities, as demonstrated during pregnancy and extreme cases of obesity. This characteristic helps your skin resist tearing and other injuries, which reduces the burden on your healing system.
- Skin can absorb sunlight. Like a chameleon, your skin can change color, depending on its exposure to the sun. Gradual increases in sun exposure result in the accumulation and deposition of a pigment known as melanin, which results in tanning. Sunlight contains vitamin D, which improves calcium absorption and helps maintain bone density. Tanning increases tolerance to sun exposure, thus allowing for greater amounts of vitamin D to be absorbed and produced. Sunlight also pro-motes wound healing, prevents infection, and stimulates the immune system, and so the skin’s ability to absorb sunlight is a sophisticated mechanism that benefits and supports your healing system.
- Skin holds in your body’s fluids. Because your body is 70 per-cent fluid, maintenance of proper fluid levels is necessary for optimum functioning of your healing system. When water con-tent falls below a certain level, illness and death can ensue. Your skin prevents your body from becoming dehydrated. dehydration also commonly occurs in burn victims. When someone sustains a severe burn to more than 50 percent of his or her body, death is a real threat as a result of the leakage of fluid out of the body through the damaged skin.
- Skin helps protect your body from infection. Intact skin is a natural barrier to most forms of microorganisms, including viruses and bacteria. When an abrasion or laceration creates a break in your skin, infection can enter into the body and penetrate into the deeper, more vulnerable tissues and cause significant disease, damage, and even death. Your skin is fairly tough and supports your healing system by keeping your body free from infection and invading organisms.
- Skin helps regulate body temperature. Your body is programmed to keep its internal temperature close to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and because of your skin, it can maintain this temperature most of the time. At 98.6 degrees, all the enzyme systems in your body’s internal environment function optimally, including those that work with your healing system. Any sudden or sustained reduction in this normal body temperature disrupts the health and integrity of your body. The pores in your skin also regulate body temperature by opening wider and sweating when body temperature rises too high, and by closing to retain heat when body temperature goes too low. Sweating supports your healing system by preventing your body from overheating during periods of extreme physical activity or exceptionally hot weather, when a fever is present, or when you have stress.
- Your skin is capable of absorbing moisture and other substances. Much like a frog, your skin can absorb water and literally drink from the environment. Medical scientists are now making use of the skin’s absorption capabilities by creating medicines that are applied to the skin in the form of patches. These medicines include nitroglycerin for heart patients, estrogen for post-menopausal women, nicotine for people attempting to quit smoking, and scopolamine to help prevent motion sickness.
- Skin eliminates toxins and waste products. One important example of the skin’s ability to rid the body of toxins is its response when the body has a fever. With a fever, sweating occurs, which helps the body eliminate the toxins caused by the infection. Until modern medicine began encouraging the use of medications to suppress fever, people with high fevers, including those fevers caused by pneumonia, were encouraged to drink lots of fluids and bundle up in heavy blankets to sweat out the toxins until the fever broke.
- Skin plays an important role in touch. Touch is a vital ingredient for physical and emotional health. Human beings require regular, compassionate touching to thrive and survive. Studies done with touching show that the cultures that advocate more touching have less heart disease and mental illness than cultures in which people don’t touch very often. Babies who are not held and touched often develop a condition known as Failure to Thrive syndrome, which can have fatal consequences. Touching is essential to strengthen and fortify your healing system.
Your Hair,Your Nails, and Your Healing System
Hair helps your healing system in several ways, and although hair is usually thought of as separate from skin, your hair is a part of your skin. Each type of hair shape, color, and distribution on the body found throughout the world has been designed to aid our healing systems and keep our bodies healthy in a multitude of ways. For example, in Africa, where temperatures can become extremely hot, tightly curled hair, often referred to as “kinky” hair, serves to keep the head and body cool. Kinky hair acts like an intricately coiled refrigerator system to help trap and cool water vapors (moisture that has evaporated in the form of steam) off the top of the head. Mediterranean body hair, which is more common in warm, arid climates, protects the body from drying out, and from wind and sand. This type of hair helps to conserve fluids and regulate body temperature.
Hair also acts as a sense organ for touch. If your head begins to brush up against an overhanging object that you might not have seen, your hair will meet the object first. The movement of hair will inform you to duck your head quickly to avoid serious injury.
Toenails and fingernails are also specialized parts of your skin, and they help your healing system by protecting the delicate tips of your toes and fingers.
Wound Healing of the Skin
Your skin possesses an uncanny ability to heal itself after a laceration, abrasion, burn, or other injury. Because injuries to the skin may involve the loss of blood along with concomitant injuries to deeper structures within the body, wound healing requires the sophisticated and timely collaboration of many body systems, including the circulatory, the endocrine, the immune, and the nervous systems. Your healing system supervises and directs this remarkable collaboration.
Your Skeletal System
The skeletal system establishes the rigid framework of your body and is made up primarily of bones, which are the densest structures in your body. Intact bones that are thousands of years old can be found on archeological sites.
Your skeletal system works with your healing system in many important ways:
- Bones absorb significant stress loads and protect the body’s deeper internal organs and tissues. The ribs, for example, in addition to being involved in the function of respiration, also serve to protect the heart and lungs and other vital structures in the chest cavity. The skull protects and houses the brain, the master organ in the body. The bones in the spine, known singularly as vertebra, and collectively as vertebrae, are stacked one on top of each other to form the spinal column. The vertebrae support the weight of your head; they also act like flexible conduits, encasing and protecting the delicate spinal cord, which is the main electrical, intercommunication highway between your brain and body.
- In conjunction with your healing system, bones have an uncanny ability to mend and knit themselves back together in the case of fracture. This capability ensures that your bones will continue to protect the deeper organs and tissues of the body.
- In addition to their protective role, bones, along with muscles, are responsible for movement, which keeps your body healthy and free from disease. For example, the bones of the legs are responsible for walking, running, climbing, and jumping, while the bones in the arms, hands, and fingers are responsible for movement of the upper extremities. The bones in your face participate in facial expression, chewing, and breathing; they also protect the delicate sense organs in the region, such as your eyes, ears, and nose.
- Bones serve as the body’s largest pool of calcium. Calcium is required for healthy muscle contractions, heart activity, nerve transmission, and other vitally important functions that aid your healing system in keeping your body healthy.
Your Muscular System
The system that is primarily responsible for movement in your body is the muscular system. Muscles make up approximately 40 percent of your total body weight, and they alone are the heaviest and most dominant system in your body. The muscles in your body serve as key allies to your healing system in the following ways:
- When muscles move and contract, they generate heat, which keeps your body warm. This process supports your healing system by keeping your body functioning at optimum temperatures.
- Regular movement and exercise of the muscles improves circulation by strengthening the heart. A strong heart aids the healing system by improving the delivery of oxygen and vital nutrients throughout your body.
- Muscles have a tremendous capacity to grOw, change, and heal. They are dynamic, versatile, and highly plastic. Body builders who continually lift weights over a long period of time can add up to 100 pounds or more of solid muscle tissue to their frames, becoming powerful and strong in the process. Alternatively, yogis in India, through many years of stretching the muscles in their bodies, can mold their bodies into pretzels—they have earned the label of “rubber med for the incredible flexibility in their joints. Muscles that are strong, flexible, and relaxed create healthy joints and ensure strength and maximum movement, which is essential for the healing system to function most efficiently.
- Muscles also participate in important internal processes that aid your healing system in keeping your body healthy. For example, muscles of respiration participate in breathing, causing movement of the diaphragm and the rib cage, which allows air and oxygen to flow in and out of your lungs.
- Smooth muscles, located inside various vital organs, such as the intestines, the arteries, and the bronchioles in the lungs, are critical to the functioning of these organs and the healing system. They can contract and expand the diameters of these important tubular structures, and in the process, help to direct the movement of vital body fluids and important gases such as oxygen to specific destinations within your body.
- The following examples emphasize how indispensable the smooth muscles are to the health and performance of your healing system. When the muscles in the arteries contract, the arteries become narrower; this helps to circulate blood more quickly through your body. In the digestive system, the movement of food down the digestive tract, known as peristalsis, is caused by the alternating contraction and expansion of the intestinal muscles; peristalsis allows the food to pass along the length of the intestines. The same is true in the lungs, where the muscles that line the breath-ing tubes, known as the bronchi and bronchioles, help to regulate the flow of air in and out of your body.
Your Nervous System
The nervous system is the master communication and electrical arm of your healing system. Consisting of your brain, the spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves (like a tree with many branches), your nervous system processes information and sends and receives messages with astonishing speed and precision throughout all parts of your body.
With the help of your nervous system, your healing system knows what is going on in even the tiniest cell in the most remote region of your body. Because of your nervous system, your healing system can dispatch a concentrated, orchestrated, and effective heal-ing response with great accuracy and speed to any area of your body.
Your nervous system consists of two main limbs:
- The voluntary nervous system, which regulates the movements of such activities as standing, walking, running, jumping, sitting, swimming, and all other activities that you can consciously direct.
- The involuntary nervous system, also known as the autonomic nervous system, which automatically controls vital body processes, such as breath, heartbeat, body temperature, visual adaptation to light, muscular reflexes, and many others.
Your healing system is exquisitely interconnected to the functioning of your entire nervous system, upon which it depends for specialized roles in communication, the regulation of vital, life-sustaining, physiological processes, and the direction of key mechanisms for the growth, repair, and maintenance of your body’s natural state of health.
Sense Organs and Your Healing System
In association with your nervous system, there are highly specialized tissues and structures in your body known as sense organs, which include the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. Information that influences your perception and aids your healing system, and that enables you to safely move about in this world, is fed to your brain through these various sense organs. Sense organs not only allow you to avoid danger, but, more importantly, to interact with life in all its fullness. Information coming in through the senses can also directly alter your body’s physiology, exerting a powerful influence on your healing system.
Your Endocrine System (Glands)
The endocrine system consists of the major organ-glands in your body; these organ-glands are responsible for the production, secretion, and regulation of all your hormones. Hormones are powerful chemical messengers that work with your healing system to influence important physiological processes and vital body functions.
The following hormones and their respective endocrine organs, commonly referred to as glands, make up the endocrine system and play major roles in the chemistry of your body’s internal environ-ment while they support your healing system through numerous mechanisms:
- Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, produced by the adrenal glands, is one of the best known of all hormones. Adrenaline is rapidly secreted during emergencies, and in response to fear, stress, or other states of excitement; it activates the “fight-or-flight” response, which causes the following changes in your body’s physiology:
- increases heart rate
- increases blood pressure
- increases respiratory rate
- increases oxygen consumption
- dilates pupils
- affects many other functions that help the body direct resources to effectively deal with any emergency.
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone, or ACTH, produced by your pituitary gland, regulates the production of cortisol from the adrenal gland. Cortisol regulates glucose metabolism, plays a key role in the immune system, and aids the healing system by acting as a powerful, natural anti-inflammatory agent.
- Aldosterone, produced by the adrenal glands, is a powerful hormone that regulates the amount of sodium and fluid levels in the body; it also controls blood pressure.
- Estrogen and progesterone, produced by the ovaries in women, play important roles in menstruation and pregnancy; they also have other wide-reaching effects in the body, such as bone formation, cholesterol metabolism, and the health of the skin.
- FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone), secreted from the pituitary gland, regulate the production of ova, or eggs, in the ovaries of women, where estrogen is produced. These hormones also are involved in the process of menstruation, and they play an important role during pregnancy.
- Growth hormone, produced by your pituitary gland, controls and regulates bone growth and overall growth in your body.
- Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is one of the most important hormones in your body. Insulin regulates glucose metabolism and blood sugar, which are central to the health of your healing system, and to every cell and tissue in your body.
- Interstitial cell-stimulating hormone, or ICSH, stimulates the release of testosterone from the testes in males.
- Melatonin, which is strongly influenced by sunlight and plays a major role in the regulation of moods, is a powerful hormone produced by the pineal gland. Melatonin controls natural sleep and wake cycles, and the production of melanin, the pigment that helps regulate the amount of sunlight that enters into your body.
- Oxytocin, produced by the pituitary gland, regulates the process of labor by stimulating uterine contractions during childbirth. Oxytocin also aids in milk production and secretion during breast-feeding.
- Parathyroid hormone, produced by the parathyroid glands, controls bone metabolism and regulates calcium levels in your blood. Parathyroid hormone also affects calcium absorption in your intestines and calcium resorption in your kidneys. Calcium also is required for the functioning of the heart, as well as other important muscles and nerves in your body.
- Prolactin, secreted from the pituitary gland, regulates lactation and the release of breast milk following childbirth in women.
- Testosterone, produced in the testes in men, is required for testicular development, sexual maturity, the production of sperm, the development of facial and body hair, depth of voice, muscular development, and male libido.
- Thyroid hormone, produced by the thyroid gland, helps to regulate growth and development, metabolism, skin and hair growth, heart rate, body temperature, menstruation, and mood.
- Thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH, produced by your pituitary gland, controls and regulates the function of the thyroid gland, which is one of the most important glands in your body.
- Vasopressin, or ADH (antidiuretic hormone), produced by the pituitary gland, acts on the kidneys to conserve water by inhibit-ing urination and also plays a role in blood-pressure regulation.
Your Digestive System
Your digestive system consists of various organs that are connected to your srnall and large intestines, which combine to form a continuous, hollow, twisted, tube-like structure that extends more than 30 feet from your mouth to your rectum. The following components make up the digestive system: your mouth, tongue, teeth, salivary glands, nose, throat, esophagus, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, rectum, and anus. The digestive system also includes the liver, gall bladder, pancreas, and appendix. Your digestive system, through the delivery of essential nutrients, maintains close ties with your healing system.
Your digestive system is responsible for breaking down, absorbing, and assimilating vital nutrients into your body from the foods you eat. These nutrients provide the fuel for your healing system and for your entire body, helping it grow, repair itself, and maintain its natural state of health. As your body heals from any malady, your digestive system plays a key role in delivering necessary nutrients for the purposes of rebuilding and providing new growth to darnaged tissues.
Following digestion, what your body doesn’t need or cannot use is eliminated through the large intestines in the form of solid wastes. Elimination aids your healing system by ridding your body of unwanted toxins and waste products.
Your Respiratory System
Your respiratory system consists of the nose, mouth, sinuses, middle ear, throat, tonsils, trachea, larynx, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli, and lungs. Because of their role in breathing, the ribs and diaphragm are considered ancillary structures of the respiratory system. The health of each of these structures affects the health of your entire respiratory system and, ultimately, your entire body. Your respiratory system directs the flow of air in and out of your body through these various structures.
The respiratory system is responsible for delivering oxygen to your blood, which is then pumped to every cell and tissue in your body. Without oxygen, your cells and tissues cannot live. Your respiratory system is also responsible for ridding your body of carbon dioxide, a toxic waste product of normal cellular metabolism.
The respiratory system is connected to many other systems, including your nervous, circulatory, lymphatic, and digestive systems. When the body has an oxygen deficit, such as when a person is in shock, has a fever, or has sustained a severe trauma, illness, or injury, or when stress is significant, rates of breathing tend to automatically increase to bring more oxygen into the body. This is just one example of a critical cooperative effort between your respiratory system and your healing system.
Your Circulatory System
The circulatory system consists of your heart and blood vessels, the blood, and all the various constituents in your blood, including your red blood cells. In your heart, the coronary arteries are special arteries that bring the blood supply back to the heart itself. If these arteries become clogged, a heart attack can occur. Their health is critical to the health of your heart, upon whose health your healing system and entire body depend.
The circulatory system has many vital functions. It is responsible for
- Pumping and distributing blood, which contains oxygen and other vital nutrients and substances, to every cell and tissue in your body. These nutrients and substances include hormones, antibodies, enzymes, neurotransmitters, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements that are vital to the functioning of your healing system.
- Removing toxic metabolic byproducts, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
- Carrying oxygen from the lungs to the various organs and tissues in your body. Hemoglobin, a very important molecule in red blood cells, accomplishes this task.
- Clotting of the blood. White blood cells, which are crucial for the functioning of the immune system, are essential for blood clotting. Blood clotting is a unique function of the circulatory system, and it occurs during times of injury to prevent excessive blood loss. Blood clotting represents one of the true miracles of the healing system.
Your Lymphatic System
You can think of your lymphatic system as the blood-purification system. The lymphatic system consists of a series of lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes that are strategically located throughout specific parts of your body. Lymph fluid circulates freely throughout the lymph system; this fluid contains white blood cells, antibodies, and important chemicals of the immune system. Your lymphatic system works closely with your circulatory, immune, and healing systems as it circulates and removes toxins and impurities from your body to keep your tissues and blood free from disease caused by bacteria, viruses, and other invaders.
Your Urinary System
Your urinary system is primarily responsible for acting as a filter for your blood to remove wastes and toxins from your body. The major organs of your urinary system include your kidneys and bladder, and they support your healing system through a number of important functions. These functions include the following:
- Your urinary system helps to conserve and regulate fluid levels in your body.
- Your urinary system filters and purifies the entire blood circulation within your body.
- Your urinary system regulates electrolyte levels, assuring that your body has proper amounts of sodium, potassium, calcium, and other key minerals and trace elements that support vital physiological processes that are essential for your healing system.
- Your urinary system monitors protein concentration in the blood, which is critical to your healing system.
Your Reproductive System
In women, the reproductive system is located in the lower abdomen and pelvic area, and it consists of the ovaries, uterus, cervix, and vagina. The breasts, located in the chest, are also included in this system. The breasts are actually dual-purpose organs, serving as nutritive, lactating glands that deliver milk immediately following childbirth; in addition, they act as attractive forces to the opposite sex, and as tissues of arousal that help promote sexual and reproductive activities. In this way, the breasts serve both an endocrine, secretory function and a reproductive one.
In men, the testes, prostate, seminal vesicles, urethra, and penis make up the reproductive system.
More than any other system in the body, the reproductive system is responsible for helping to differentiate the physical characteristics of men and women. These differences are responsible for the strongly magnetic forces that help foster the sexual attraction between the sexes. The natural result of this attraction, and the main function of your reproductive system, is reproduction and proliferation of the species. Although women can live without a uterus or ovaries, and men can live without testes and a prostate, the reproductive system is essential for the survival of the human race.
The reproductive system maintains an intimate connection with the endocrine system. In addition to having receptors for hormones produced by other organs, the reproductive system produces it own hormones, most notably estrogen in females and testosterone in males. These hormones contribute to overall health, and they can influence emotional and mental states. For instance, estrogen exerts a protective influence on the heart.
Many other systems in the body also are connected to the health and proper functioning of the reproductive system. These include the nervous, endocrine, circulatory, and lymphatic systems.
Your Immune System
Your immune system consists of a complex network of cells and organs that can produce extremely powerful chemicals known as antibodies. Little was known about your immune system until quite recently. Research is still discovering new facts about this amazing systerri, whose chief function is to defend your body against infection and other intruders.
The cellular components of your immune system consist large-ly of white blood cells, with highly specialized roles and functions. You can think of white blood cells as infantrymen who are programmed to destroy any invading enemy in the form of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, or other harmful organisms. The division of labor among the many types of white blood cells of your immune system is so detailed, subtle, sophisticated, and precise as to make any other army or military force in the history of the world appear primitive and impotent in comparison.
Antibodies, which are produced in direct response to specific threats and can be likened to molecular cruise missiles, are released into the bloodstream to seek out and destroy unwanted intruders with remarkable speed, accuracy, and precision. Antibodies are present in the blood, produced in large quantities upon demand. They also are in the body’s mucous membranes, such as the nose, mouth, respiratory system, intestines, urethra, and other body tissues and cavities that connect to the outside environment.
Your immune system, once thought to be a completely inde-pendent system, is now known to be directly linked to your brain and nervous system, and to other systems, as well. For example, white blood cells have been discovered to possess receptors for neurotransmitters produced by the brain, which demonstrates a direct chemical link with your brain and nervous system. Other white blood cells have been found to have specific hormone receptors, indicating that your endocrine system communicates directly with your immune system. Even more astonishing is recent evidence that certain white blood cells can produce and secrete hormones that communicate directly with your endocrine system.
As we discussed earlier, your immune system works closely with your healing system; and although the two systems are clearly distinct, in many instances they work together to restore your body to its natural state of health.