The Nervous System
A chemical, such as serotonin, that is produced in the nerve cell and released across the synapse to transmit a signal to a neighboring nerve cell is referred to as a neurotransmitter.
It is important to understand that for the purposes of this course I have greatly simplified the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system. In addition to neurons that have an excitatory effect on their neighbors increasing their tendency to "fire," there are also neurons that have an inhibitory effect on other neurons, decreasing their tendency to "fire." Many neurons even have excitatory connections with some neurons and inhibitory connections with others at the same time. Whether or not a neuron will "fire" will depend on many factors, including the number of excitatory impulses it receives in relation to the number of inhibitory impulses. Therefore we see that a kind of "decision" is made by each nerve cell. All human behavior and thought, including consciousness itself, is associated with an infinitely complicated interaction between the billions of neurons contained in the human brain and nervous system.
Axoplasmic Flow and the Neurotrophic Function of Nerve Cells
We have seen that the nervous system is one of the most complex systems in the body. Despite all that we know, there is still much more that we do not understand. In recent years for example scientists have discovered a neurotrophic [neuro-, nerve + -trophic, to feed] function of the nerves. In addition to the release of neurotransmitters for signal conduction, some chemicals are released that "feed" the receptor cells, and may even be necessary for the optimal functioning of the nerves and other body tissues that they are connected with. These chemicals are manufactured in the cell body and travel down the axon, a process referred to as axoplasmic flow, and are then released across the synapse.
Perhaps the least understood function of the nerves is that related to the energy fields of the body, such as the accupuncture meridians so important to the traditional system of Chinese medicine. Although these energy fields do not flow exactly along the pathways of nerves, they do seem to be related to the nerves. A physician by the name of Robert O. Becker performed years of research in this field, greatly increasing our understanding. Becker was curious as to why some animals, like salamanders and frogs, could regenerate lost limbs; while higher animals like humans could not. He also wondered how the animal's body knew which part to regrow. For example, how did the salamander's body know to grow a hind leg instead of a fore leg; or a tail instead of a leg.
One of the experiments that Becker performed was rerouting a salamander's sciatic nerve (the largest nerve of the hind leg) to the area where the animal's fore leg had been removed. To his astonishment the animal grew a hind leg in place of the fore leg. In addition to creating some strange looking salamanders, Becker discovered the existence of an energy field that told the animal's body what part to regrow, and which was directly related to the nerves. Becker has written two books which relate his research findings and opinions: The Body Electric and Cross Currents. (The latter book might be of interest to some individuals. I don't really recommend The Body Electric, unless you need reading material to put you to sleep.)
In Cross Currents Dr. Becker discusses the emergence of electromagnetic medicine, which promises to unlock the secrets of healing; and the growth of electromagnetic pollution, which poses a clear environmental danger. He explains the effectiveness of alternative healing methods such as acupuncture, homeopathy, and chi kung, which use the body's innate electrical healing systems; and warns that our bodies are being adversely affected by power lines, computers, microwaves and satellite dishes. He maintains that we are being constantly bombarded by harmful electromagnetic radiation but medical studies showing the dangers of this radiation are buried due to economic interests. As a result of this radiation many people are suffering from all sorts of ailments that doctors are unable to diagnose.
True or False:
The nerves are in some way, not completely understood, related to the energy fields of the body as described in the traditional esoteric methods such as Chinese medicine.
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