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As you know from high school biology class, the human body has many different parts and can be broken up into many different systems. You have an immune system, a cardiovascular system, a digestive system, and many other systems. Of course, each of these systems can be broken down into smaller parts as well. For instance the cardiovascular system can be broken into the heart and vessels. The heart can then be broken down further into smaller parts as well. As we continue to reduce the body down into smaller and smaller parts, the parts seem to be less of the whole.
You may have experienced something similar to this at the doctor, treating you as a system rather than an actual person. If you have a problem with your spine, you are told to go see the pain doctor or spine specialist. If you have a problem with your digestive system, you are told to go see the GI doctor, etc. By focusing on connecting the human body systems together a different pattern emerges.
If you look at a human it is clear that all these systems work together in harmony as one. There are no barriers to distinguishing one system from another. It is this type of cohesion within the human body that is key to understanding and reaching holistic health. This type of approach also reveals the wisdom of the human body.
Now consider this as an example. A person with chronic digestive cramps goes to see a digestive specialist. Lets say, the specialists finds a particular bacterial that can be potentially harmful to them. The next course of action is to prescribed an antibiotic to kill this bacteria. This seems reasonable and I’m sure many of you are familiar with this process. However, this does not take into account the other parts of the human system and the possible negative effects of such a narrow view.
The first and most obvious of these is killing off the healthy bacteria. Another maybe not so obvious, is that the problem may have nothing to do with the bacteria in the digestive tract. It could be an emotional issue, a nervous system issue, or something entirely different. Since the person went to a digestive specialist, a digestive issue was found. In some cases this treatment may not cause any obvious harm, but many others are left in worse shape than when they started. A seemingly routine process like an antibiotic has left many of my patients worse off then they started.
Unfortunately, this sort of one dimensional approach to the dysfunction in the human systems is not too uncommon in medicine. This points to the complexity of the human system and our lack of understanding of it. Despite making huge advances in medicine, there is still a lot we don’t know. Knowing this, it is best we focus on connecting the human body systems in our diagnosis and treatment rather than separating. In other words, keep the whole in mind when treating specific systems.
If I could help you understand the functions of these systems and how they relate to one another, you could take part in your medical care. You could for instance tell your doctor that during very stressful days at work, the stomach cramps seem to be worse. When you know how the body works and more importantly, YOUR body, you can take part in your care. Its not that your doctor needs your help, but that they don’t and can’t know you like you do.
In order for you to truly understand all these systems it would take years of study. What I have done is broken down the systems into the functions they perform. In the following sections we will explore the systems of the human body using your every day experiences to relate and understand these functions.
I will be giving you simple exercises to learn, experience, and grasp these functions first hand. In doing so, you will have a clear understanding of how the individual systems relate to and depend on one another to create the entire human system. The whole is more than the sum of the individual parts but by knowing the parts we can understand the whole. By understanding the whole human body, we can treat it holistically.
Here is an abbreviated example on the function of the immune system. If I tell you that your immune system protects your body against foreign invaders from the outside world, it is easy to see the importance of having a large amount of it located in the digestive tract, right?
Everything you eat passes through the digestive tract and into your body. To help you understand the relationship of the immune system and digestive system, follow the simple exercise below.
Take out a piece of paper and write down everything you put in your mouth TODAY. Start with the time you woke up in the morning until now (if it is morning use yesterday). Don’t read forward until you have your list ….. (save this list for the digestive system section).
Don’t forget about your toothbrush, water bottles, fingers, forks, and other utensils.
Now think about this……. all of those things were covered in bacteria when you put them in your mouth. That’s right. Your toothbrush, water bottle, etc all have an excess of bacteria on them but that’s not because you are dirty. There are bacteria on almost everything …….water bottles and toothbrushes just seem to have more than other objects. Hence the need for a vital immune function in and around your digestive system.
Of coarse, your immune system plays vital functions in other parts of your body as well. Your cardiovascular system and nervous system rely on health immune system to protect them from viruses and excessive inflammation. It is also true that your immune system needs these other systems to work at its best as well.
Think of it like this, the human body is a team of systems working together. When one team member is not doing its job, the other team members have to ‘pick up the slack’ to compensate. Sometimes the compensation makes up for the lack in other systems, other times it does not. The result of the compensation is that the original function each system is responsible for is compromised. When compensation cannot occur, dysfunction arises.
As we explore the different systems involved with the functioning of the human body, you will gain a greater understanding how each of these team members work individually and together. Holistic health is about the unity and harmony of all the members.
Choose a section below to explore more about The Human Body.