Today’s conventional medicine mechanistically looks at body parts. There are specialists for every body part you have. However there is one, little known, unifying aspect of anatomy that every doctor should consider.
Years ago when I studied anatomy, fascia was understood to be a structural aspect of human anatomy.
Fascia is a thin protective sheath of collagen that covers almost every structure in the body. Take it from me – there is a lot of fascia in the body. When I was in chiropractic school we took 4 semesters of human dissection (among many other anatomy classes). In the lab we had to cut through an awful lot of fascia to get to the organ, muscle, tendon or ligament.
Back then we were looking for structures. Now I look back and realize that fascia is collagen.
Collagen essentially holds us together. We are structurally a fascia web that is connected from head to toe and from the skin to the deepest organ. When you move your toe you are also affecting the entire fascia web that runs through your body.
As a chiropractor, this is fascinating to me, as it translates into mis-alignments and malfunctions in the structural system that affect the deeper organ systems. I have found this relationship in many of my patients.
Many other alternative therapies address this relationship as well. These include acupuncture, rolfing or structural integration and the Feldenkreis technique, to name a few.
It is now recognized that our fascial network is one of our richest sensory organs. The surface area of this network surpasses that of the skin or any other body tissues. Within the network are millions of membranous pockets that house sensory receptors to the tune of 6 times that found in muscle tissue.
Fascia is involved in proprioception, interoception, and nociception. Proprioception is the unconscious perception of where we are in space. It affects our posture, balance, and the relative position of body parts.
Interoception involves subconscious stimulus of nerve endings coming from the organs. This gives information to the brain about maintaining the body in homeostasis. Interoception is processed via the insula region in the brain, and is usually associated with an emotional or motivational component. Here we see an interesting connection between the organs and the emotions which can explain somato-emotional disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome or hypertension.
Finally, nociception is the ability to feel pain, caused by stimulation of a nociceptor (pain receptor). Certainly, by understanding the various anatomical layers of superficial fascia and deep fascia (which has 3 layers), one can begin to understand the critical role the fascia plays in connecting and coordinating structure, physiology and movement in the human body.
For example this author suggests that the patient with pain in any region should be looked at as a whole, because the fascia connects, for instance, low back pain with knee, foot or even gastrointestinal dysfunction. This is what holistic health care is all about.
Fascia is collagen. Collagen tissue makes up 50% of the protein in the body, as it is the primary protein in fascial connective tissue. Collagen makes up the matrix of joint cartilage, tendons, ligaments, bone, blood vessels, the gut lining, skin and intervertebral discs, as well as cornea of the eye.
Traditionally, humans have supported collagen by eating the collagenous parts of animals. The best way to do this is by making low and slow cooked bone broths.
Gelatin is simply the cooked form of collagen. Back in the 1800’s in Europe, the many wars necessitated a cheap and efficient way to feed the troops. A chemist by the name of Jean-Pierre Joseph d’Arcet discovered how to extract gelatin from bones. Numerous other researchers ran with this idea and came up with various ways to extract and stabilize gelatin and place it into commercial foods.
Gelatin powders and tablets became a substitute for meat in soups and gravies and became a popular food. Manufacturing of gelatin was not regulated and poor quality products appeared on the market.
Gelatin is not a complete form of protein and so it soon fell out of favor and we are left with the artificially produced bouillon that is loaded with MSG, salt and other toxic additives. Additionally, the product jello, is loaded with artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners and/or sugar.
None of these products are healthy at all.
If you have any intestinal, joint, bone or skin problems, it is likely that your fascia needs support. Structurally you can seek out some type of body work as mentioned above, but it is also imperative that you support all your fascial tissues with nutrition.
This means beyond joint and skin, the intestinal lining is the place to start. As Hippocrates said,
all disease begins in the gut.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, leaky gut is an integral part of most health conditions and must be addressed in order to heal.
Are you as fascinated by the microbiome as I am? Are you hoping for a cure through this new research explosion?
Learn how to make bone broth and soups full of collagen and gelatin in my ebook Beyond Broth – on sale today!
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