Of nerve there is no trace. But the cell framework, the cytoskeleton might serve.”1932’s Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Charles Scott Sherrington (1857-1952) from 1952’s Man on His Nature.
Nerves provide the means for each cell in our body to be able to communicate with every other cell in our body. Right? This is not entirely true, and this been known to be not entirely true for quite some time. For one we know that chemical mediators (we refer to at least some of these as “INFLAMMATION“) provide for communication. Then there’s our MICROBIOMES, making up part of our “ENTERIC NERVOUS SYSTEM” and also allowing cellular communication and messaging between distant tissues and organs. There’s another messaging system in your body that few people are aware of that may be equally as important (some believe even more so) — FASCIA.
Fascia researcher, cell biologist and biophysicist, DR. JAMES OSCHMAN recently quoted from a biology book that is over 60 years old (Man on His Nature), which can be seen at the top of the page. The quote pertains to the fact that despite having no nervous system, a paramecium (single cell organism) can swim like a dolphin, avoid creatures trying to eat it, find food, and mate. How is this? How can a single-celled organism do all these things without a brain or nervous system to guide it and provide messages?
And increasing amount of scientific research shows that certain cells found in the connective tissues not only communicate directly with the nervous system, but with can actually communicate with each other as well — potentially over great distances. Dr Alfred Pischinger (1899-1982) was the head of the Department of Histology and Embryology at the University of Vienna’s Medical College. In 1948 he went a step further than ANDREW TAYLOR STILL and described where the “neural” control of the EXTRA CELLULAR MATRIX (the gel-like sugars, proteins, and membranes that lie between the cells and absorb mechanical stress) came from, theorizing that this is where all disease starts — something that other equally brilliant scientists are increasingly picking up on (HERE).
Dr. Oschman shows how all bodily motion — no matter how small — generates electric fields that are caused by the compression, deformation, and stretching of LIGAMENTS, TENDONS, FASCIA, BONES, and other COLLAGEN-BASED CONNECTIVE TISSUES. In nerve-like fashion these messages spread throughout the surrounding tissues like ripples on a pond, providing information to other areas of the body. And if you have followed my BLOG POSTS ON FASCIA, you already realize that these messages travel through the water-based ECM at the speed of sound in water —- 750 mph as opposed to just over 150 mph, which is the speed that nerve messages travel.
Although many others have since followed his lead, Dr. Pischinger went so far as to state that Fascia is an organ (HERE is the brand new research on this). Furthermore, he says that it is the body’s single largest organ —– the only system that touches every other system (even though most physicians will tell you that SKIN is the largest organ). Although we now know that in the human body, the nerves branch down until they touch / affect each cell in the body, we are seeing that Dr. Pischinger was not far off. Pischinger was one of the first to recognize the incredible importance of Fascia when he said over a half century ago that, “The fascia must be looked upon as a single organ, a unified whole, the environment in which all body systems function.”
University of Vermont’s DR HELEN LANGEVIN (a neurologist and endocrinologist who is also affiliated with Harvard) has shown that Fascia forms a body-wide network that functions in a nerve-like signaling capacity. Like nerves, the impulses travel by way of cells that electrically polarize and depolarize. However, it does not stop there. TISSUE REMODELING, MECHANICAL LOAD, CELLULAR DEFORMATION, POSTURAL CHANGES, and changes in motion or position (PROPRIOCEPTION), also transmit signals. These signals are altered by decreased function that is caused by things like CHRONIC PAIN or injury (or MICROSCOPIC SCAR TISSUE). Interestingly enough, Dr. Langevin keeps going. She goes as far to discuss the probability of a relationship between the Connective Tissues (Fascia) and organs / organ systems. Although the conditions needed to validate this relationship have been shown to occur in “laboratory test tubes“, it has not yet been proven in living humans.
What should you take away from all of this? Only that properly functioning Fascia and Connective Tissues are absolutely critical to one’s overall health. We have seen doctor after doctor after doctor — brilliant men of science (Oschman, Pischinger, Ingber, Still, and numerous others) who have pushed the controversial idea that all disease arises from abnormalities in the body’s Connective Tissues (HERE or HERE). Their belief is not arising from thin air, but from decades of clinical experience and research. Maybe this is why in our clinic, we frequently get COMPLETELY AMAZING RESULTS! Ignore the Fascia and other Connective Tissues at your own peril. And for those who really like what they are seeing with fascia research, I have 160+ articles on the subject all neatly categorized into one post (HERE). Enjoy!
This is absolutely fascinating! I am a 67 year old female who sits way too much – I’m just getting to ‘know’ my fascia and am AMAZED!!! I’m finding it such a mess > knotty, ropey, hardened like a pebble – but all able to be softened with enough diligence and hydration! I’m using the guasha method and am also going to see a MFR therapist – can’t wait!
Thanks so much for this article, especially the ideas/thoughts of Dr. Pischinger – wow, he was f a r ahead of his time, no?!
doing canine massage we reconize that the fascia plays a huge part!!!!