We Are Not Rocks

11

If only we were rocks.

Imagine living forever without ever needing air, food or water. Wouldn’t life be so much simpler?

We would never have to worry where tomorrow would take us, which bug might infect us or how we were going to find another rock to live out the rest of our days with.

Life Depends on Inputs

Us life-forms have work to do. We have to grow, move, repair and reproduce. All of those outputs require inputs.

At a basic level, the quality of our health determines the quality of our life. 

Simple life-forms like plants need only basic inputs like air, food and water. More complex beings, like animals, require a nervous system to allow them to better adapt to an ever-changing and often challenging environment.

Inputs can be positive (air, food, water), negative (cyanide, arsenic, botulism) or neutral (seeing a red, white or green car).

To lead a healthier life we need to be careful that we are never deficient in the essential and health-improving inputs and that we never overdo the toxic and life-sapping inputs.

A healthy nervous system equals a healthy body

Nervous systems give animals the advantage of movement, allowing them to react to and resist the forces of the environment, a distinct advantage over plants and rocks. To do this, nerve cells require their own unique system of inputs and outputs.

Like every other cell, nerve cells need nutrients but their function depends on an additinal type of input, the electrical messages known as nerve impulses.

The human brain contains 86 billion neurons, the spinal cord contains a billion more. Each of those neurons fire up to 1500 times per second and every one is connected to up to 10,000 others. All of that neural activity has to be generated, constantly.

This complex system of electrical messages underpins our health and our survival. Understanding it allows us to thrive and is the key to understanding why we suffer so many health problems.

What are neural inputs and what do they do?

If we want to understand nerve output we need to know where nerve messages come from. Where do they start? From what are they generated?

The nervous system is in two parts, the central and the peripheral. The central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) is where we process the electrical impulses which are created by sensory neurons in the periphery.

Muscles have cells which contract allowing us to move, they also contain cells which sense the length of the muscle and how much tension it is under. 

You can think of your brain as a computer, connected to the internet and your keyboard. Without input, it doesn’t do anything. With a keyboard and a connection to the internet it can produce output (to a screen or a device). Put a nail through your keyboard or the ethernet cable, and your output is distorted and unreliable. Same thing in your body.

The central nervous system can be rather artificially divided into conscious and unconscious. Most of the input from our body never reaches the higher regions of consciousness, and many thoughts can occur without any movement resulting. 

The battery of the brain

Much of the body is really an extension of the nervous system. Sensory cells in the skin, mucous membranes, organs, muscles, bones and joints generate the input the nervous system requires. Muscles, organs and glands are how the nervous system gets stuff done.

Many of us think that our thoughts govern our actions, that the activity of our body starts in the brain. But this is only partially true. The brain and spinal cord can’t produce nerve messages. The brain is a processing centre. It takes what it receives, processes it and then generates an appropriate response (which may be no response).

The brain therefore needs constant input. 

Not all neural inputs are equal

Only a few sensory cell types produce the continuous input the central system needs to function. These are mainly the muscles and the periodontal ligaments of the teeth, plus the sensors of the eyes, ears, nose and balance. Other sensors, like those in the skin, fire only when they are stimulated and therefore MODIFY existing inputs but don’t actually CREATE input.

This interplay between sensory input and motor output controls our perception of and reaction to forces in the environment, and it is vital that this system of input and output is not compromised at all.

Abnormal input will cause faulty output, which most commonly affects skeletal muscle.

In its severest form, this could be anything from total paralysis to the severe spasticity we see in a stroke. More commonly, it will be a change in muscle tone that results in muscle weakness or muscle tightness.

Muscle tightness might result in muscular aches, muscle weakness leaves us vulnerable to ligament injury like sprains, strains and osteoarthritis.

Foreign Bodies

One of the ways we get faulty sensory input is from foreign bodies.

If you have a pebble in your shoe, a splinter in your finger or something in your eye, you will always stop and remove the irritation, unless doing so would put you in even more danger. 

We cannot move properly if we have a bad input. A nail in your foot will cause you to limp no matter how much you go to the gym and no matter how much you exercise. Ultimately, reflexes control muscle tone, not exercise.

When we talk about muscle weakness, we really mean muscle inhibition, as the muscle itself is not weak: its control system has been compromised.

Afferentologists specialise in neurological inputs and outputs.

They use effective and accurate muscle testing to examine muscle tone and correct any abnormal afferent input. They correct bad inputs to restore normal output, leaving their patients pain-free and able to move effectively.

Ultimately health depends on inputs and outputs. Without it, we may as well be rocks. 

Medical Disclaimer: This article is based upon the opinions of Simon King. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Simon King and his associates. Simon King encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.