health

The Science of Serenity: Yoga’s Impact on the Nervous System and Hormonal Balance

Introduction

Over the past 10 years, I have been attempting to understand and adapt the ancient practice of yoga. I travelled to Mysore to study ancient yogic traditions through the lens of modern science. It has also helped me to understand what brought me to yoga originally. Over the course of teaching thousands of students yoga, I can confirm that the benefits of yoga are tremendous and very much understated in modern society. It’s simple; health is declining because it isnt valued. The practice of yoga allows for an individual to realize fascinating and comprehensive benefits for human health and to redistribute their system of valued. Yoga is a way of philosophy. This article will delve into the anatomical and physiological underpinnings of yoga, specifically its profound effects on the nervous system and hormonal balance, to illuminate how these practices foster positive mental health.

Yoga and the Nervous System

The Parasympathetic Nervous System and Yoga

Yoga’s ability to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), often referred to as the “rest and digest” system, is a cornerstone of its mental health benefits. According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, practices such as gentle yoga poses, meditation, and pranayama (breath control) significantly increase vagal tone, an indicator of parasympathetic activity, leading to relaxation and stress reduction (Streeter et al., 2010).

Just sitting still and breathing deeply can lower your cortisol levels significantly. I can’t tell you how many people miss out on this in favor of the “go” mentality. To relax, you have to stop; sometimes.

Neuroplasticity and Mindfulness Practices

Research in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience outlines how consistent yoga practice contributes to neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to form new neural connections throughout life. This adaptability is enhanced by yoga’s mindfulness component, promoting cognitive flexibility and resilience to stress (Gard et al., 2014).

These findings collectively suggest that yoga can play a pivotal role in mental health interventions. By enhancing neuroplasticity and fostering a mindful approach to mental health, yoga offers a holistic and effective strategy for managing anxiety and depression, supporting its integration into mental health treatment and wellness programs for addicts and/or abusers.

Meditation and Brain Structure: Research has shown that meditation, a key component of yoga, can lead to changes in the brain’s structure, particularly in areas associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. For instance, a study that found increased gray matter density in the hippocampus, known for its role in learning and memory, in individuals who engage in mindfulness meditation.

Breath control and pranayama practices influence the autonomic nervous system, shifting the balance towards the vagus nerve, which helps promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. This shift is associated with reduced cortisol levels, a marker of stress, thereby potentially reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms.

lakeyoga_Elliot&Mandy

Yoga for Hormonal Balance

Cortisol and Stress Response

A pivotal study in Psychoneuroendocrinology demonstrated that regular yoga practitioners exhibit lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, compared to non-practitioners. This suggests that yoga can modulate the body’s stress response system, leading to improved mental health outcomes (West, Otte, Geher, Johnson, & Mohr, 2004).

Yoga’s Effect on the Endocrine System

Yoga’s impact extends to the broader endocrine system, which regulates hormones. The Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology reported that specific yoga poses and sequences can stimulate or soothe various glands, promoting hormonal balance. This equilibrium is essential for mood regulation, stress management, and overall mental well-being [1]. Studies have indicated that mindfulness practices can reduce rumination, a significant factor in the development and maintenance of depression. By fostering a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, yoga helps individuals break the cycle of negative thought patterns.

Practical Applications

The practice of asana can optimize the nervous system and hormonal functions. For example, inversions like downward dog or headstand can rejuvenate the endocrine system, while slow, mindful movements in poses such as child’s pose or seated forward bend activate the vagus nerve, fostering a state of calm.

Yoga for Substance Abuse Disorders

Yoga has been increasingly explored as a complementary intervention strategy in the treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs), with several studies highlighting its potential benefits. Research demonstrates that yoga practices, including Hatha yoga, Sudarshan Kriya yoga, and various breathing and meditation exercises, can have positive effects on individuals struggling with substance use, including tobacco, alcohol, or opioids.

Incorporating Scholarly Insights into Daily Practice

Understanding the science behind yoga empowers practitioners to tailor their practice to specific mental health goals. When you are stressed, you can meditate. By integrating these scientifically backed techniques into regular practice, you can control your own health. There is a lot of research left to be done; but there is some evidence to support yoga as an effective therapy for anxiety and depression. Obviously these are hard things to measure; not only are depressions and anxiety subjective, but the way each individual experience yoga is different because of different use histories in the body from sports, etc.

Conclusion

These findings collectively suggest that yoga, through its multifaceted practices of breathing, contorting, and physical rigor can ameliorate mental health. The confluence of yoga with modern scientific research offers compelling evidence of its benefits. The key to further research will be underpinning its exact efficacy in enhancing mental health. So far, the breathing techniques have yielded some of the most widely acknowledged clinical data. As we continue to explore the depths of yoga’s therapeutic potential, it becomes clear that this ancient practice holds timeless relevance in our quest for psychological well-being in the contemporary world. During our lifetime, we might learn why!

References (read the first one!)

  1. Bhavanani, A. B., Madanmohan, & Sanjay, Z. (2012). Understanding the Science of Yoga. The Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology.
  2. Gard, T., Noggle, J. J., Park, C. L., Vago, D. R., & Wilson, A. (2014). Potential self-regulatory mechanisms of yoga for psychological health. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
  3. Streeter, C. C., Gerbarg, P. L., Saper, R. B., Ciraulo, D. A., & Brown, R. P. (2010). Effects of yoga on the autonomic nervous system, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and allostasis in epilepsy, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
  4. West, J., Otte, C., Geher, K., Johnson, J., & Mohr, D. C. (2004). Effects of Hatha Yoga and African Dance on Perceived Stress, Affect, and Salivary Cortisol. Psychoneuroendocrinology.
  5. Namrata Walia, Jennifer Matas, Acara Turner, Sandra Gonzalez and Roger Zoorob -The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine

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Unlock-Zen-1

Unlock Your Inner Zen – Daoist Yoga with Elliot

Enjoy this 30 minute Daoist yoga sessions for your major muscles and nerves.

Flow with your breath through the sequence and release into your mind.

Practice yoga with Elliot!

Yoga with Elliot | Episode 3:

Beginner/Intermediate Yoga Class

Unlock-Zen-1
yoga with elliot: Episode 3 Daoist Symbol | by Dall-E

Postures (asanas) for weight loss and mental health.

You can tell I am a little bit chunky in this video and I like to gain weight during the winter to stay warmer. I’ll get back into really really good shape later; eating a lot during the winter is a favorite past-time of mine.

This video is for people who are interested in yoga, but haven’t really experienced it yet. Anyone that is in a high stress environment, or that has to drive a lot or sit at a desk during the day. It is very general and focuses on major muscles groups, such as hamstrings, quadradus lumborum, shoulders, hips, glutes, lower spinal erectors, quadriceps and inner thigh muscles.

Yoga is Healthy, practice a lot to cultivate Santosha, happiness.

Most will find this to help release some of the cortisol from the major muscle groups in the body; but I would imagine that military professionals, police officers, firefighters, doctors, and nurses, as well as other people in high-stress environments can benefit a lot from yoga’s ability to process stress[1]. Cortisol is stress hormone and it is stored in the blood stream in muscles. With focused and meditative breathing holding postures and flowing through sun salutations can greatly improve sleep quality, relieve cortisol from the blood stream, enhanced coping, self-efficacy and positive mood[2]. Further, on evaluating the published studies, it is concluded that sleep and cognitive functions are optimized by yoga practice, which brings about changes in autonomic function, structural changes, changes in metabolism, neurochemistry and improved functional brain network connectivity in key regions of the brain.[3] Yoga practices can increase multiple neurotransmitters and hormones such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine—all natural anti-depressants. [4] The practice of Yoga improves sleep architecture and mental well-being in young and middle-aged adults. [4]

“Yoga also boosts the innate antiviral response and brain health by enhancing natural defense genes and microRNA-29c expression. Notably, it activates telomerase, linked with cellular longevity, and promotes nitric oxide synthetase and neuroprotective gene expression, implying benefits for ocular health. In addition, yoga fosters DNA repair and cellular integrity maintenance by increasing oxoguanine glycosylase one protein and p53 gene expression.”[5]

What this means is that yoga helps your body to repair itself neurologically; in the brain neurological complexes that are required for sleep and the immune response and the body’s response to invasive micro-organisms. Eyes are generally thought of as a part of the brain; it is very interesting to see that this somewhat vulnerable area of the human body is augmented with inversions such as downward dog.

This 30 minute yoga class will get you relaxed and focused. The sequence is very balanced, in my opinion. Hold poses for longer! Experiment with your bodies endurance! And also be gentle and take it easy when you feel like you should.

Asanas and descriptions, some modifications

the yoga I practice is purely physical. Sometimes I end a class with a reading or something I am thinking, but I try to keep my teaching neutral.

  1. Tadasana – standing with intention in the feet
  2. Step back lunge
  3. Lizard Low Lunge
  4. Plank
  5. Chaturanga – specifics about alignment
  6. Half Lift – more alignment
  7. Forward Fold – release your neck and jaw and head
  8. Chair Pose – stabilize
  9. Warrior 3
  10. Lunging
  11. Pyrmaid Pose
  12. Triangle Pose
  13. Dragonfly Twist (make sure you get this on the second side!!)
  14. Standing splits
  15. Goddess Pose
  16. Meditation
  17. Savasana

References:

  1. Science Direct – Yogic meditation improves objective and subjective sleep quality of healthcare professionals
  2. De Gruyter – Using the Biopsychosocial Model to Understand the Health Benefits of Yoga
  3. National Library of Medicine – Sleep, Cognition, and Yoga
  4. MDPI – (Medical Yoga Therapy – read this!!!)
  5. International Journal of Yoga – Beyond the Mat: Exploring the Potential Clinical Benefits of Yoga on Epigenetics and Gene Expression

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What to Expect in Your First Yoga Class

3 hard and fast rules for doing yoga in public

Everyone should try yoga.

Public classes are fun and a cool way to meet new; healthy people.

Yes, you have to take your shoes off.

The First Time

So you’ve decided to take the leap: you’re going to your first real life studio yoga class.

Oooooh how exciting. You have finally devoted some time to your mental health. You researched a little about meditation and the body-mind thing and you’re going to take it a step further. Destiny, your girlfriend has been telling you to do yoga for at least a decade and you are finally giving in; plus your back is killing you and you need to relax from your boss’ bullshit temper tantrum last week. Maybe you’ve done some stretching and yoga videos online and you are ready to get into your first ever yoga studio class. This is a special time. Savor it.

Real life studio yoga is amazing; there are some very special humans that get into yoga; it’s an art form that is unparalleled in its humanism.

I started practicing yoga with my mom when I was 20. I think I only went once or twice on a Saturday morning with her to East Wind in Roseville (hot yoga, but not Bikram, what a jerk!) and it was one of the hardest workouts I have ever done. I got hooked after about 3 months because of the mental clarity it provided and also the physical aspect of losing weight and also developing abdominals muscles; which I had always lacked due to my passionate love for pizza and ice cream.

#1: Get comfortable

Actually, this is kind of a big deal. Relax. Go to the bathroom before your class starts, probably go to the bathroom at home first. Pass the gas outside. I remember going to the bathroom every morning at 4am in India before my practice. Yoga can kinda reset your circadian rhythm somehow. Your body has internal timings that usually know when you are about to exercise; which is a fun part of yoga. Learn your body!

It’s easy to let out a squeaker; it’s not a big deal, we’ve all been there. My back makes weird fart sounds on my mat all the time and I just laugh about it to myself. However, if you feel like your fart might smell, like bad; as they often do; then you should go to the bathroom and let loose. Try not to stink up the yoga room.

#2: Don’t be Creepy

This is probably geared more towards guys; but hey girls can be creepos too! Try not to be weird, especially around attractive people; they won’t like you as much. Your yoga teacher is a person too; try to value their time also. Nobody really wants to be judged superficially, everyone wants more aquaintances and wants to be loved; be good with people. Try not to stare at the beautiful girls butt that is right in front of your face; unless of course, it’s your wife or girlfriend! Then, with their permission, stare away! But generally staring at other people is not ok, especially in yoga. Focus on your own body; love your self. Spending time with your mind is also a benefit.

#3: Have Fun and Meet Some Cool People

Generally people that practice yoga are not assholes. They are nice! It can be superficial; but I believe it is the instructor’s job to ask people to dive deeper. People are always nicer after the yoga class; it is essentially a dose of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin; the whole kit and kaboodle. So afterwards you will likely be more social. Try not to overdo it and overshare. Yoga increases self-awareness, or self-consciousness and makes for a generally fun and sometimes transcendent studio environment. I’ve had several classes that are like a zoo, an insane asylum, and a massive party simultaneously. It is up to you to help create the atmosphere of a yoga class, so create your experience in it!

More Tips for Hot Yoga

  1. Dress to sweat; sweats are fine, but also shorts for a hot room are nice. Don’t be weird about taking off your shirt; it’s fine guys.
  2. drink water BEFORE yoga; hot yoga generally requires increased salt and electrolyte intake; Liquid IV is pretty cool.
  3. don’t eat much heavy food; tea is fine; an apple is also usually fine. Orange chicken will not be fine(I actually love orange chicken keep it away!).
  4. breath deeply through your nose. Close your eyes. Feel your body. Heal it.
  5. Invite a friend! Yoga is an awesome bonding experience

Conclusion: In short get ready for an exercise class that is also mental; just be how you are regularly and you’ll probably have fun! Unless you hate exercise, then you might hate it! Some people hate spinach; it’s a crazy world we live in.

If you need a mat, get a manduka PRO. 10 years and running for my mat and its like new still.

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The Human Lymphatic System (The Immune System)

Artiphoria.AI

Lymphatic system (aka the ‘immune system) – organs, tissues, and vessels work as a team to transport lymph (excreted fluid from cells or tissues in the body) back into the bloodstream.

This immune “system” of organs remembers every microbe it has ever fought and defeated.[1] It works in unison to prevent pathogens from invading the body.

Lymph fluid plays an extremely important role in the immune system and evolves over the course of a lifetime. The current body of research suggests that hydration is essential for overall health and can support various bodily functions, including the immune system and definitely cognitive functions including memory, attention, and concentration[10]. However, more targeted research is needed to fully understand the direct impact of hydration on adaptive immunity. The role of hydration in the immune system, particularly its impact on adaptive immunity, remains an area that could benefit from further exploration and research.

The immune system is separated into two parts: Innate (genetic, including phagocytes (macrophages and neutrophils), dendritic cells, mast cells, basophils, eosinophils, natural killer (NK) cells and innate lymphoid cells) and Adaptive (characterized by specificity, immunological memory, and self/nonself recognition). T cells and B cells are the two major components of adaptive immunity[2].

Human Lymphatic System from BioDigital.com

Lymph is a clear fluid that contains a high concentration of white blood cells and plays an important role in the immune response. Lymph nodes and organs filter and transmit nutrients, lymph fluid, and waste between the body’s tissues and the bloodstream. Humans have over 4 million exocrine sweat glands and all of them are involved in immune function.

Sweating and the Lymph System

Perspiration[3] is the process of sweating and comes from the Latin word spirae which means to inspire, exhale, blow, breeze, breathe, or emanate. “Physiologists have long regarded sweating as an effective and safe means of detoxification, and heavy metals are excreted through sweat to reduce the levels of such metals in the body.”[6] Heavy metals are excreted through dynamic exercise moreso than simple exposure to a heated environment (saunas, steam rooms, etc). Certain heavy metals are excreted far more effectively through sweating such as Nickel (ni), Lead (pb), and Chromium (cr).[6] Mercury and arsenic can also be added to the list. There is a specifically higher rate of toxicity release through sweat during extreme forms of exercise. One can imagine that a heated yoga room can be extremely effective for the waste removal of heavy metals.

The Organs of the Lymphatic System

Kidneys (Dall-E)

However, this sweating hypothesis doesn’t portray a complete picture of the excretion of toxins from the body because there are several very specific organs that are also involved in this process which include:

Primary Organs of the Immune/Lymphatic System:

Bone Marrow (Dall-E)
  1. Bone marrow: The soft, spongy tissue found in bone cavities. Bone marrow produces all the cells of the human body, including lymph and blood cells and are primary immunological organs.
  2. Lymph nodes: Small organs shaped like beans, which are located all over the body and connect via the lymphatic vessels. This is where Killer T cells mature and differentiate.
  3. Kidney’s: play an underappreciated role in the immune system. While it’s primarily known for its functions in filtering blood, removing waste products, and regulating electrolytes, the kidney also has several key roles in immunity including: barrier function, Innate Immunity, Adaptive Immunity, Cytokine Production, Interplay with Systemic Immune Responses, and Resistance to Infection and Autoimmune Diseases.
  4. Lymphatic vessels: A network of channels all over the body that carries lymphocytes to the lymphoid organs and bloodstream. They play a key role in maintaining fluid balance in the body and in immune surveillance
  5. Thymus : Two lobes that join in front of the windpipe (trachea) behind the breastbone. The primary role of the thymus is in the development of T-lymphocytes (T cells), which are a type of white blood cell crucial for the adaptive immune system. These T cells are responsible for fighting off pathogens and are central to the body’s immune response.
  6. Adenoids : Two glands located at the back of the nasal passage. Infection of the adenoids is called adenoiditis. This can cause symptoms like a sore throat, stuffy nose, swollen neck glands, difficulty swallowing, and breathing problems. Adenoids are more prominent in children. They begin to grow from birth and reach their maximum size between the ages of 3 and 5 years. After this, they usually start to shrink and may nearly disappear by adolescence. Adenoids are part of the Waldeyer’s ring, which includes the tonsils and other lymphatic tissue in the throat and nasal cavity. They help detect and fight off pathogens that enter the body through the nose or mouth.
  7. Spleen: A fist-sized organ located in the belly (abdominal) cavity. One of the spleen’s primary functions is to filter blood. It removes old and damaged red blood cells from the bloodstream. This process is crucial for maintaining healthy blood cells in circulation. The spleen is an integral part of the immune system. It produces lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that fight infection. The spleen also helps identify and destroy bacteria and other pathogens in the blood. When the spleen breaks down red blood cells, it recycles the iron contained within them. This iron is then used to make new blood cells.
  8. Peyer patches: Lymphoid tissue in the small intestine. These patches are rich in B and T lymphocytes. B cells within Peyer’s patches can differentiate into plasma cells that produce immunoglobulins (antibodies), particularly IgA, which is crucial for immune functions in the gut.
  9. Tonsils: Two ovular masses in the back of the throat. Tonsils are part of the body’s lymphatic system and contribute to the immune defense. They act as a first line of defense against pathogens that enter the body through the mouth or nose. Tonsils contain immune cells that help fight infection. This is most likely WHY breathing through the nose can be so beneficial and stimulating for the immune system.
  10. Skin: Often overlooked as part of the immune system, the skin acts as a physical barrier to prevent the entry of pathogens. It also contains specialized cells of the immune system, such as Langerhans cells, which help to detect and fight infections.
  11. Liver: The liver contributes to immune defense by producing acute-phase proteins that increase in response to inflammation and by removing pathogens and toxins from the blood. The liver plays a crucial yet often underappreciated role in the immune system. It’s known primarily for its functions in metabolism, detoxification, and nutrient storage, but its immune-related roles are equally significant. The liver has a unique role in promoting immune tolerance, particularly to food antigens and gut microbial antigens. The liver contains Kupffer cells that are a type of macrophage, which means they can engulf and destroy bacteria, damaged cells, and other potentially harmful substances. Kupffer cells play a vital role in removing debris and pathogens from the blood. In summary, the liver’s role in the immune system is multifaceted. It acts as a sentinel for pathogens, produces vital immune proteins, helps regulate immune responses, and plays a unique role in promoting tolerance to food and gut microbes. This underscores the liver’s importance not just in metabolism and detoxification, but also as a key player in the body’s defense mechanisms.
Liver (Dall-E)
References:
  1. John Hopkins – The immune System
  2. Science Direct – Adaptive Immunity
  3. BioDigital – Lymphatic System
  4. Wikipedia – Spirae
  5. Biology Corner Anatomy
  6. BJD – Sweat Glands
  7. Taylor Francis Online – Physiology of sweat gland function: The roles of sweating and sweat composition in human health
  8. Pub Med – Excretion of Ni, Pb, Cu, As, and Hg in Sweat under Two Sweating Conditions
  9. Science Direct – Sweat and the Skin
  10. PLOS – The impact of water consumption on hydration and cognition among school children
  11. Science Direct – Waldeyer’s Ring
  12. Chat GPT – research
  13. DALL-E (OpenAI’s Image Generation Model)
  14. Artiphoria.ai – Image creation

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The Anatomy of Breath: A Yogi’s Guide

Artiphoria.ai AI generated image

To sustain life, a body must produce sufficient energy through aspiration. Breathing is perhaps the only system of the body that is both autonomic and conscious depending completely on the awareness and focus of the breather.

Breathing through the nose, all the time, is part of the true yogi’s path. I can remember 6 months into practicing yoga, I attained the ability to breathe through my nose and it complete changed my yoga practice and my life. I got hooked on the feeling of yoga (call it a healthy addiction) and never looked back.

In Yoga, the energy of breath is called prana (प्राण, prāṇa) which can be described as solar wind in the atmosphere, or liquid light[6]. Through ventilated aspiration, the yogi ingests the prana into the nervous system. In Hindu literature, Prana is described as originating from the Sun and connecting the elements through the Chakras of the human nervous system and conscious awareness.

Yousun Koh

The nervous system is completely dependent on your breathing to function: The parasympathetic system slows your breathing rate. It causes your bronchial tubes to narrow and the pulmonary blood vessels to widen. The sympathetic system increases your breathing rate. It makes your bronchial tubes widen and the pulmonary blood vessels narrow.[4] This process of is also known as the “fight or flight” response. This happens through ventilation, or respiration as the body mobilizes itself to a threat. However, this system is over-active in our cultures because of our stress responses to non-life threatening stimuli. It is healthier for a human to regularly breathe through the nose.

The Nasal Cavity

“The function of the nasal cavity is to warm, moisturize, and filter air entering the body before it reaches the lungs.[1]” Here are the additional benefits:

Nose breathing is beneficial primarily because it allows your nasal cavities to:[2]

msdmanuals.com/home/lung-and-airway-disorders
  • reduce exposure to foreign substances.
  • humidify and warm inhaled air.
  • increase air flow to arteries, veins, and nerves.
  • increase oxygen uptake and circulation.
  • slow down heart rate.[3]
  • improve lung volume.
  • help your diaphragm work properly.

In essence, hairs and mucus lining the nasal cavity help to trap dust, mold, pollen and other environmental contaminants before they can reach the inner portions of the body and the lung’s organic tissue. Air exiting the body through the nose returns moisture and heat to the nasal cavity before being exhaled into the environment.[1] The mouth, also known as the oral cavity, is the secondary external opening for the respiratory tract. The mouth is mostly for filtering in eating and drinking.

Oblique muscles (accessory breathing muscles)

Focus on the Exhale

Nasal exhalations are an extremely important focus in yoga. The muscles in your chest and abdomen tighten or contract to create a slight vacuum around the lungs. This causes air to flow in. When you exhale, the muscles relax and the lungs deflate on their own, much like an elastic balloon will deflate if left open to the air. The lungs are extremely flexible sacks of tissue that have the ability to expand and contract.

References:
Yousun Koh
  1. InnerBody.com
  2. Dentallogictruro
  3. YogaU Online
  4. National Institute of Health (Govt)
  5. Himalaya Institute – science of breath
  6. NASA – Solar Wind
  7. kenhub.com
  8. Sivananda

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Henry Gray – the Father of modern anatomy

By H. Pollock - [1] [2], CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1458730

Henry Gray was an innovator and disruptor in the medical field with his surgically precise incisions and methodically meticulous explorations of the human anatomy. I love his work and have used the depictions from his book for much of my anatomy articles due to their lack of copyright.

Gray was born in Belgravia, London in 1827 and spent most of his life in London.

His book on human anatomy, Gray’s Anatomy, is still regarded as the anatomical bible of the scientific world. He was extremely precise and through his experience making painstakingly exact incisions and methodically mapping the physical anatomy of the human body. While still a student, Gray received the triennial prize of Royal College of Surgeons for his essay The Origin, Connexions and Distribution of nerves to the human eye and its appendages, illustrated by comparative dissections of the eye in other vertebrate animals.

The following year, at the age of 25, Gray won another prize for his essay on the Spleen(this is a fascinating read when you have time), and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1858, Gray Published his first anatomy book of 750 pages and hundreds of figures by his friend Henry Vandyke Carter. They met at St. George’s School of Medicine. At first, when Gray wrote his essay on the spleen, Carter thought Gray was a snob. Over time and as they worked together more their respect for each other grew, largely due to their seriousness and commitment to the field of medicine. Initial conflict occurred with respect to the payment that Carter received from Gray for his designs, being in need of money, and that he judged inadequate for his commitment.[5]

The images from these two scientific heroes are timeless. And luckily for me, they are copyright free due to their age and remain some of the most powerful anatomical depictions. I use many of them in my anatomical articles on this website.

Henry Gray’s Death

Gray was struck by attack of confluent smallpox, a most deadly kind of disease. On 13 June 1861, the day he was to appear for an interview as a final candidate for a prestigious post at the St. George’s Hospital, he died at the age of 34.[3] He was buried at Highgate Cemetery.[4][5] Gray had been vaccinated against smallpox as a child with one of the early forms of the vaccine.[6]

He is assumed to have been infected due to his passionate care giving for his ten-year-old nephew, Charles Gray, who did recovered from the deadly disease.

The Style of the Book

had a major influence on science that has since but irreplaceable. It is reminiscent of the evolution of art from Classicism to Hellenism in Ancient Greek art, throughout the Renaissance and afterwards, in that the accurate and precise portrayal of the human form was the primary goal. Read more about the stylistic evolution of anatomy here.

You can buy a cool version of Gray’s Anatomy Here.
References:
  1. Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body
  2. Henry Gray on the Structure and Use of the Spleen
  3. Henry Gray Wikipedia Page
  4. Vandyke Carter (Henry) Wikipedia Page
  5. Royal Society Wikipedia PageRoyal Society Website
  6. The Making of Gray’s Anatomy
  7. Internet Archive of Gray’s Anatomy
  8. Style and Non-style in Anatomical Illustration

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The Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Are mushrooms healthy? Like the kinds that you can find at the grocery store? The overwhelming answer is: yes, they are a ‘superfood’. Mushrooms are healthy and have many nutritional properties that make them an important part of a balanced diet. They help the human immune system to function properly in addition to being a high nutrient value, low calorie sustenance. Mushrooms augment gut health and immune regulation.

Here are some nutrients of mushrooms: Amino acids, B vitamins, trace minerals, and Psilocybin is also being studied for its therapeutic benefits to mental health, which is the psychotropic compound found in “magic mushrooms”. The ‘stoned ape theory’ (Terrence McKenna) states that mushrooms were a primary factor enabled the immense increase in brain power of the human species that separates humanity from other animal species and perhaps gave birth to language as we know it. This theory hasn’t received a lot of attention from the scientific community due to McKenna’s lack of anthropological data and evidence. However, Paul Stamets began to introduce his research on Mycology, which has reinvigorated the subject of debate and helped to bring new understanding the how mushrooms function in nature.

In the United States alone every year more than 940 million pounds of edible mushrooms are bought in grocery stores, farmers’ markets and health food stores.

Mushrooms are “packed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.1” There are over 10,000 types of fungi that produce mushrooms, which are actually the fleshy fruiting body of a fungus; hyphae is the term used for the roots.

There are also species of mushrooms that are decidedly unhealthy; even some that are deadly. Don’t eat a mushroom, or anything for that matter, unless you can properly identify it.

Mushrooms are incredible lifeforms; some scientists believe they were some of the first organic life forms on planet Earth. The roots of mushrooms, called Mycelium is a network of hyphae, which can develop from a single spore, produced by the fungus3. Mycorrhiza is the mutual association between the fungus and the plant, which play important roles in plant nutritionsoil biology, and soil chemistry.

The Anatomy of a Mushroom

Mushrooms have common features, though there are several deviations that are very interesting. Here are the major features:

  • Caps – can be scaled, warted, or have areolae, some are moist
  • Margin, containing gills, spines, teeth or pores under the cap
  • Spores are released from under the cap
  • Ring, skirt, or annulus, remnants of reproduction
  • Stipe or stalk
  • Volva or cup
  • Basal bulb – connects the mushrooms to mycelium

The Stages of Growth of a Mushroom

The life cycle of a mushroom can be a couple days to several years, to hundreds or thousands of years. There are several distinct stages to the growth.

  1. Spores drop from mushroom cap, spores are the seeds of a mushroom
  2. Two spores fuse and become a hyphae, long tubular structures with genetics
  3. Hyphae link to Mycelium, to obtain nutrients from mycelium to the fruiting body of the mushroom.
  4. Baby mushrooms are formed in a hyphal knot, pinheads begin to grow out of the Mycelium
  5. Growth and maturity

Mushroom Function in Nature

Catherine N. Jacott, Jeremy D. Murray and Christopher J. Ridout - [1] doi:10.3390/agronomy7040075

Mushrooms are the fruiting body of the mycelium and arbuscules are the site of nutrients exchange between a plant and the fungi. Mushrooms, Mycelia and Mycorrhizae are very important for plant and tree root systems to absorb nutrients surrounding the roots and to create resilience against drought, salt, heavy metals, and pathogens.

Most mushrooms are anti-viral and anti-bacterial, and also fight cancer and aging in various ways by boosting the immune system in humans. In short, they are very good for overall health, in ways that science doesn’t fully understand yet. Many pharmaceutical drugs are made using chemicals and molecules derived from mushrooms. Compounds successfully developed into drugs or under research include antibioticsanti-cancer drugscholesterol and ergosterol synthesis inhibitors, psychotropic drugs, immunosuppressants and fungicides.

Mushrooms as organisms are very unique. Mushrooms with psychoactive properties have long played a role in various native medicine traditions in cultures all around the world. They are rich in vitamins and will absorb the metals surrounding them, as proven by their ability to absorb Cesium after Chernobyl.

They can be bad for the body in ways that the general population doesn’t know yet either. Some mushrooms can cause liver and circulatory toxicity when taken in high amounts over long periods of time. Some cause death when eaten. Some are just dangerously poisonous. There is a lot of research to be done to fully understand how these complex organisms interact with the human body.

The benefits of the mushroom are noted largely by their species; each has different nutritional properties and interacts with the human body uniquely, just as each species of mushroom functions differently in nature. Each will have a different reaction within the body due to the diversity of human microbiomes; cooking is used to reduce toxic chemicals.

Some general characteristics and benefits of mushrooms species are noted below. Please do some of your own research and comment on what you find!

Mushroom Nutrition

Basically, mushrooms are good for the human immune system. They contain polysaccharides, amino acids, minerals, anti-oxidants, and are anti-inflammatory. Various compounds from mushrooms are being studied for their positive effects on heart health, blood sugar levels, digestion, immunity, and cellular regeneration; many compounds are being researched for their ability to fight cancer. In short, mushrooms are certainly part of a healthy diet and are a low calorie alternative to processed foods. In fact, many mushroom species are resilient to commercialism, and are extremely difficult if not downright impossible to cultivate.

Mushrooms Species

Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster Mushrooms

These mushrooms are a common edible. They are carnivorous (they eat nematodes and also diesel fuel) and are often used in oyster sauce and various kinds of soup, especially in Asia. It can be found in subtropic and temperate forests. These mushrooms boast high nutrient values (because of their carnivorous nature), high anti-oxidant content, helps to lower blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and insulin levels. It can also help to improve respiratory tract infections, especially in HIV positive patients. There is also a significant potential for anti-carcinogenic properties and gut health/anti-inflammatory effects. They are also delicious when cooked. More research is needed to understand exactly how the mushrooms interact with the gut and human microbiome, but the general consensus of the scientific community is pretty unanimous to these being a great addition to a healthy diet.

Bolete Mushrooms

Beschreibung: Schale mit Steinpilzen Quelle: selbst fotografiert Datum: August 2006 Fotograf: Karsten Dörre (grizurgbg)

Also known as a porcini or porcino mushroom, these are found all over the world, but was only recently introduced to the Southern Hemisphere. These are difficult mushrooms to commercialize and are mostly foraged. The mushrooms spans root systems and fruit during summer and autumn. It is prized as a culinary edible and is highly regarded for its taste in risotto, pasta, and soup, though it is very difficult to cultivate. It is one of the few mushrooms known for being delicious when pickled. They vary in size. These mushrooms have a tremendous amount of amino acids; more than any other Portuguese mushroom. They contain lots of fatty acids: palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid. They are also rich in dietary minerals: sodium, iron, calcium, magnesium, b vitamins, and tocopherols, as well as trace amounts of bioavailable selenium. It also contains a diverse host of phytochemicals: ergosterol and ergothioneine and polyphenols: rosmarinic acid, oxalic acid, citric acid, succinic, and fumaric acids and alkaloids. Suffice to say that this mushrooms species can have tremendous nutrient diversity; if soil composition is diverse enough to support it.

White Button Mushrooms

These are less-mature cremini mushrooms. See below.

Cremini Mushrooms

Cremini or Crimini mushrooms are from the species Agaricus bisporus which includes portobello mushrooms and white button mushrooms. These are all the same type of mushroom, but portobello are the most aged and white buttons the youngest. Age gives them different and more pronounced flavors.

These are the classic mushrooms for fine dining and cuisine and have numerous health benefits, including being anti-inflammatory and reducing blood pressure and alleviating hypertension, which seems to be a characteristic of edible mushrooms. There are B vitamins, D vitamins, Zinc, Iron, Copper, anti-oxidants and some fiber and protein. In short, they are good for balancing gut health; especially when cooked, there are very few side effects.

The presence of selenium in mushrooms is also a huge contributing factor to their health benefits. Selenium is nutritionally essential for humans and is a constituent of more than two dozen selenoproteins that play critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection. Its important.

Agaritine, which is a carcinogen is present in these mushrooms so eating large amounts of them can imbalance the gut in a big way; but the toxins are degraded when cooked. Plus its only present in small amounts so you would have to eat a large amount of moldy mushrooms in order for it to affect you.

Cordyceps Mushrooms

There are over 600 species of cordyceps mushrooms, mostly in tropical and humid areas in Asia and is a mostly parasitic species of mushrooms, feeding on other mushrooms and insects. The fungus takes over the bodies and brains of its victims forcing their zombified bodies to permanently relocate to the trees and low-lying jungle plants where the conditions are ideal for the fungus to thrive. They are used in traditional medicine across the spectrum of asian religious practices specifically Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, as well as spiritual mushrooms practices.

Table of Cordyceps benefits from the national library of medicine (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

Traditional uses of Cordyceps sinensis (Yercha gumpa) in North Sikkim

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These claims are unsubstantiated, but only due to lack of data and testing

Cordyceps is a very interesting mushrooms that we simply do not know a ton about yet. It has been proven to increase stamina and blood oxygen regulation in mice, but beyond that, we don’t have a lot of evidence of how it creates these benefits within the body. However, we do know that it is anti-parasitic.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms – (Trametes versicolor)

This is a common mushroom with a variety of benefits. Paul Stammets sells this mushroom supplement on host defense, due to its benefits for gut health, anti-inflammatory properties, and ability to slow and stop the spread of cancer by enhancing natural killer cell activity in the host body. His mom, after being diagnosed with breast cancer and three months to live went on to live an additional ten years eating eight turkey tail capsules a day. One chemical in the mushrooms, polysaccharide K, is being studied in Japan for its anti-carcinogenic qualities.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake Mushrooms

Originating in East Asia, Shiitake mushrooms are now cultivated all over the world for their taste and are used in traditional medicine. They grow on the decaying wood of deciduous trees, particularly shii and other chinquapinschestnutoakmaplebeechsweetgumpoplarhornbeamironwood, and mulberry. These are more of a culinary mushroom rather than medicinal, however, shiitake mushrooms still are a low carb, low calorie food that increases immunity. It has been known to cause allergic dermatitis reactions, but these are sometimes mitigated by cooking the mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms account for about 25% of all commercially cultivated mushrooms.

King Trumpet Mushrooms

King Trumpet Mushrooms are a off-shoot of the oyster mushrooms genus, and are very similar in their benefits. They have tons of fiber, support bone health, and boost the immune system and energy levels of the host. It also has been shown to lower cholesterol. These mushrooms are believed to have co-evolved with nematodes which they can consume predatorily.

Chanterelle Mushrooms

Chanterelles are some of the most popular wild mushrooms to forage. These mushrooms contain mostly water, but also B vitamins, a little protein and fiber and carbohydrates. They are rich in iron, D2 (from sunlight exposure), and riboflavin, magnese, and potassium.

Porcino Mushrooms

See Boletus Mushrooms, same species.

Enoki Mushrooms

enoki shroom

This mushroom is mostly known for its use in Japanese cuisine, Flammulina filiformis. It originated in China, but grows naturally in Japan, and Korea as well and is used commonly in asian cuisine for soups. Like other mushrooms, it grows on deadwood and is cultivated sometimes with sawdust.

One hundred grams of dry enoki mushrooms provide 346 calories, of which 53% is carbohydrates, 26% is protein, 26% is dietary fiber, and 3% is fat. Vitamins and minerals found in enoki include niacin, calcium, iron, potassium, and riboflavin.

In Asian medicine, enoki mushrooms have been used for centuries to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver disease, and stomach ailments.

There are tons of amino acids in Enoki mushrooms, and also lots of trace minerals and some electrolytes and even iron. And the high water content is probably what makes it so beneficial for the stomach and liver.

Hedgehog Mushrooms (Hydnum repandum)

Hedgehog Mushroom

Also known as sweet tooth or wood hedgehog, these mushrooms are mostly identified by the spines that descend from the roof rap instead of gills. The capo is yellow or light orange and the stem is white, mostly with irregular shaping of the caps and spicy/bitter taste. It also has no poisonous look-alike, which is a major concern for some of the mushrooms that are foraged. It is broadly distributed in European woodlands and fruits during summer and autumn.

It has a nutty taste and crunchy texture, and is well recognized for its edibility. Some even say that it is similar to oysters.

The mushroom is full of nutrients, and seems to be extremely adept at absorbing heavy metals including Cesium from the Chernobyl disaster. It is especially high in copper and manganese, and fatty amino acids.

Armillaria (Honey Fungus Mushrooms)

These mushrooms form the largest living and oldest organisms in the world. In Oregon’s Malheur natural forest, one is know to cover 3.5 square miles and is over 2,500 years old. They are often bioluminescent. Armillaria can be extremely destructive to forests; it causes white rot root disease in trees. It is known to consume decaying and dead plant matter, making is parasitic. The only trees known to be resilient are birch and larch.

Their caps are yellow and brown, somewhat sticky or moist, and has at least one look-alike that is deadly poisonous called Galerina. It usually fruits during autumn.

Honey fungus is regarded as one of the best wild mushrooms in many places in Europe, but they must be cooked because they are slightly poisonous raw. They are more poisonous when ingested with alcohol. They are described as being slightly sweet when cooked.

Several antibiotics have been created from Armillaria14. They are prescribed in China for treating a variety of neurological conditions including Meniere’s Syndrome, vertigo, headache, insomnia, epilepsy, neurasthenia and hypertension. It has high levels of polysaccharides and several indole compounds have been isolated from it, including serotonin. It is also shown to be anti-glycemic, an anti-oxidant, seems to enhance brain function, and has powerful immune boosting activities that promote killer T cells, which balance the bodies bacteria and help to prevent illness. Overall, this mushroom is extremely beneficial, but must be cooked and ingested with care, as it is slightly poisonous raw.

Shimeji Mushrooms

This mushroom is native to East Asia but it cultivated in North America and Europe. It should always be cooked and is normally used in soups and stews and stir-fry. It is rich in Guanylic acid, Glutamic acid, and aspartic acid all of which are amino acids.

It is high in B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, fiber and iron. It is also a source of selenium, which is good for skin health. It also is high in copper, which is good for heart health, immunity, and gut balance. It is also well known for its cancer fighting abilities.

Morcella or Morel Mushrooms

These mushrooms are highly prized because they only grow in the wild in North America and Europe and are very difficult to cultivate. Typical fruiting season is spring. They seem to do well in alkalized soils, especially after medium intensity wildfires though they are notoriously difficult to find. They are slightly poisonous so they must be cooked and shouldn’t be eaten in massive quantities or with alcohol.

There are 80 different species of Morel mushroom and most are found under trees. Raw morel mushrooms are 90% water, 5% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and 1% fat. A 100 gram reference amount supplies 31 calories, and is a rich source of iron (94% of the Daily Value, DV), manganesephosphoruszinc, and vitamin D (34% DV, if having been exposed to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet light).

Matsutake Mushrooms

These edible mushrooms are found throughout East Asia, Europe, and North America and are enjoyed for their aroma as well as their taste. They are becoming rarer, as competition is fierce for their once a year harvest. They are very difficult to cultivate. It is listed as “vulnerable” due to habitat destruction. Similar to other mushrooms, it has high vitamin content, as well as amino acids, fiber, and is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It shares most of the characteristics of the other mushrooms, but perhaps with more protein, and more fiber than most other species.

Maitake Mushrooms – Hen of the Woods, King Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)

This mushrooms has considerable health benefits, and grows wild under elm, oak, and maple trees. It has been shown to stimulate the immune system and can also beneficial for people who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Benefits: Adaptogenic, antioxidant, useful in preventing and treating breast cancer2, suppresses tumor growth2

Maitake Mushrooms are rich in the following nutritional properties:

  • beta-glucans 
  • vitamins B, C, and D 
  • copper 
  • potassium
  • fiber
  • minerals
  • amino acids

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus)

Lions Mane Mushroom

Lion’s mane mushrooms are brain boosters and are implicated in neurogenesis and are getting a lot of attention in reducing Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine. They are being investigated by pharmaceutical companies for Erinancine, which enhances nerve growth amongst other cognitive benefits7. It may help the nervous system to repair itself faster. They typically grow on dead American Beech trees.

Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms contain adaptogens and help the body to combat stress. They are known as the king of mushrooms because of their origins in East Asia and use in traditional medicine. They are immune boosters by improving lymphocyte function and increasing white blood cells counts in a very similar way to most mushrooms, but specifically have high amino acid content, which can help fight infection and cancer. This may occur primarily in those who are ill, as mixed results have been seen in those who are healthy8.

Chaga Mushrooms

These mushrooms typically grow on birch trees and resembled a dark chunk of dirt; scientists are getting increasingly interested in the health benefits because of its ability to fight and prevent cancer through triterpenes, which cause cancer cells to self-destruct without affecting healthy cells4. It is also rich in antioxidants and lowers cholesterol, which can help to prevent heart disease. It is also anti-inflammatory by regulating cytokine production, which can help to combat arthritis.

Here are some nutritional properties of Chaga mushrooms:

  • B-complex vitamins
  • rubidium
  • cesium
  • amino acids
  • fiber
  • zinc
  • iron
  • manganese

Healing Mushrooms, “Magic” and Psilocybin

“It is well known that most of the new drugs discovered in the last few decades have originated from nature. Chemical constituents obtained from medicinal plants and other natural products have been increasingly used to treat many infectious diseases.”

Mushrooms are increasingly studied around the world for their pharmacological health benefits. Lion’s mane is implicated in faster nervous system regeneration after a stroke.

There are 4 different substances that create the hallucinations: psilocybinpsilocinbaeocystin and norbaeocystin. There isn’t a lot known about the substances, however they are psychotropic alkaline analogues to psilocybin, meaning they alter the way the psilocybin is processed to create hallucinatory effects in the brain. Not a lot of data is available due to hallucinogenic mushrooms being illegal in most countries.

Psilocybin and the other hallucinogenic compounds are known to interact with Serotonin and the HTP Axis or stress response. This is the most likely explanation for mushrooms being seen as a cure for depression.

We will wait to discover and understand what the real healing capacity of Psilocybin and the other hallucinogenic compounds can be.

Please leave a comment or share this article if you found it to be useful. I tried to combine as many high quality sources and do as much research as I could.

References

  1. Time Magazine – Are Mushrooms Healthy
  2. Healthline
  3. Micropia
  4. Real Eats
  5. Medical News Today
  6. Rejuvii
  7. Erinacine Wikipedia Page
  8. 6 Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms
  9. Draxe.com Cremini Mushrooms – Cremini Mushrooms Benefit the Heart, Gut & Fight Against Cancer
  10. NIH on Selenium
  11. Bolete Mushrooms
  12. Health Benefits of Enoki Mushrooms
  13. The Life Cycle of a Mushroom
  14. Honey Mushroom Nutrition
  15. Shimeji Mushroom Nutrition
  16. Mushrooms Analysis

The Health Benefits of Mushrooms Read More »

nose breathing example

Nose Breathing & the Lungs

The Benefits of Nasal Breathing

Ventilation and The Sympathetic Nervous System

Breathing is a fundamental act of life. In humans, breath represents the gateway between the mind and the body. Also called ventilation, it is the first action we take when we are born, and the last before we die. The lungs are the primary mover of energy within the body; when stressed, the breathing rate elevates. Yogis and practitioners of meditation are particularly interested in breathing as a way of becoming more aware of the body.

Ideally, a yogi can breath in and out through their nostrils ceaselessly. Some people have physical limitations in their ability to do this, so as always, consideration must be taken the unique deviations of an individual skeleton. The physiological difference between breathing through your nose and through your mouth is tremendous. Clearing your nasal and air passageways can be a simple part of daily maintenance, or caring for the body’s optimal organic function. Yoga is the exercise of “stilling the mind” through the restricted the flow of breath. Using the nostrils is key to that restriction.

The “Energy” Organ

The lungs are the primary source of your energy level. They extract oxygen from the air we breathe primarily on the exhale. About 5% more of the oxygen in the air is extracted into our lungs when we exhale through the nostrils as well (air has been measure to enter ~21% and leave ~12% while breathing through the nose | ~21% and leaves at 16% through the mouth).

“When you exercise, carbon dioxide levels increase significantly which alert the chemoreceptors, which subsequently notify the brain’s respiratory center to increase the speed and depth of breathing. This elevated respiration rids the body of excess carbon dioxide and supplies the body with more oxygen, which are needed during aerobic exercise.” (Sarah Novotny and Len Kravitz, Ph.D, UNM, “The Science of Breathing”)

Nose Breathing and the Diaphragm

Because the nostrils are smaller then the mouth, air exhaled through the nose creates back flow of oxygen during the exhale. It slows the air escape so the lungs have more time to extract oxygen from them. They also increase the humidity of the air that travels into the lungs and Similar to closing the end of a teapot, breathing this way creates pressure in the diaphram and allows for a deeper exhale. A more complete exhale activates accessory breathing muscles to the fullest capacity which includes all of the abdominal muscles. All of this occurs muscularly while the sustained, increased oxygen level affect the muscles and nervous system regenerating it and allow the yogi to continue practicing. The key is slowing down the pacing so that the body can sustain its oxygen level.

Let’s look at the different parts of the anatomy involved with breathing.

Muscles involved with Breathing

  • Sternocleidomastoid
  • Scalenes (neck)
  • TrapeziusMuscles of Respiration
  • Latissimus Dorsi (upper back)
  • Pectoralis
  • Diaphragm – primary breathing muscle
  • Rectus
  • Internal Obliques
  • External Obliques
  • Transverse Abdominus
  • Serratus Muscles (ribs)
  • Illiocostalis
  • QL (lower back)
Thoracic Organs

The bottom of the diaphragm is extremely important as it separates the upper portion of the torso from the lower and assists in the ventilation process. This is key to understanding why full capacity respiration is so important to the human body. Most of the organs lie within the Thorax, or chest cavity, so the lungs have a very complex and interesting relationship to the rest of the organs, especially the organs of the digestive tract.

How your Lungs Affect your Organ Anatomy

Because the nostrils are smaller than the mouth, air exhaled through the nose creates a back flow of air (and oxygen) into the lungs. And because we exhale more slowly through the nose than we do though the mouth, the lungs have more time to extract oxygen from the air we’ve already taken in. This affects the vital nervous system connections to your lungs and heart. Not breathing well through your nose can alter your heart rate and blood pressure. It can also increase the intensity and frequency of the human stress response. Many researchers have said that mouth breathing can also be misdiagnosed as ADHD. This is why yoga can be extremely important and useful for children and to alleviate the negative aspects of stress response (cortisol release).

That about does it for the known effects of respiration through the nose, although I’m sure the benefits to the organs, specifically the digestive tract are understated. Share what you know below!

References:

  1. Physiopedia
  2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Association
  3. Fitbit Blog- 3 Reasons
  4. IFL Science – Increase memory and Recall
  5. Science Direct – Article Aggregate
  6. Rhythm of Breathing Affects Emotions
  7. Pre-frontal and Mouth Breath
  8. Harvard Health
  9. Conscious Health

Nose Breathing & the Lungs Read More »

Femur

Femur Bone Anatomy: Pillars of Support for the Human Skeleton

Introducing the most Massive and Strong (in most ways) Bone in the Human Body

There are 62 bones in the legs: 10 trunk/hip bones, 14 ankle bones, and 38 foot bones. The femur (thigh) is the largest and strongest of these bones. Most land mammals capable of jumping also have femur bones, also lizards, frogs, and other tetrapod vertebrates. Its length on average is 26.74% of a person’s height, a ratio found in both men and women and most ethnicities with only restricted variation.

"80 - Pelvic bones with sacrum and femur" by Knowledge Collector is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0//?ref=openverse.

5 Interesting Femur Bone Statistics

  1. The femur is, on average, about 1/4 of a person’s height. It’s remarkably strong and can withstand forces of up to 1,800 to 2,500 pounds (800 to 1,100 kilograms) of pressure, making it one of the strongest bones in the body.
  2. The Femoral neck sits at a 125 degree angle
  3. Vehicular accidents are the primary cause of breakage
  4. During growth in childhood and adolescence, the proximal end of the femur (the femoral head) has a growth plate, known as the epiphyseal plate. This growth plate allows for longitudinal growth and helps determine a person’s final height when it closes.
  5. Forensic anthropologists often use the femur bone to estimate the age of an individual based on the degree of fusion of the epiphyseal plates, which can help in identifying human remains. It is heavily used in archaeology.

The Greater Trochantergreater_trochanter_grays

The Great Trochanter is a large, irregular, quadrilateral eminence on the upper portion of the femur bone. This portion of the bone has several, extremely important muscle insertions for the thigh and hip bones:

The lateral surface, quadrilateral in form, is broad, rough, convex, and marked by a diagonal impression, which extends from the postero-superior to the antero-inferior angle, and serves for the insertion of the tendon of the gluteus medius.

human_ape_femurs

Above the impression is a triangular surface, sometimes rough for part of the tendon of the same muscle, sometimes smooth for the interposition of a bursa between the tendon and the bone. Below and behind the diagonal impression is a smooth triangular surface, over which the tendon of the gluteus maximus lies, a bursa being interposed.

The medial surface, of much less extent than the lateral, presents at its base a deep depression, the trochanteric fossa (digital fossa), for the insertion of the tendon of the obturator externus, and above and in front of this an impression for the insertion of the obturator internus and superior and inferior gemellus muscles.

Reference: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_trochanter)

The Lesser Trochanter

The Lesser trochanter is on the underside of the femoral head and also has several muscular insertions: The Psoas Major on bottom and the Illiacus on top.

The Femoral HeadFemur_insertion_point

The Femoral Head is the highest part of the femur bone, support by the femoral neck. It inserts as a ball/socket joint into the Hip/Ilium via the structure depicted to the right.

The Femoral Neck

The Femoral neck usually sits at a 120-135 degree angle with some variation. A fracture of this area is known as a hip fracture and happens during aging. This structure supports the head of the femur bone and its insertion into the hip.

femur_pic_grays_2The Femoral Body

The Shaft of the femur is somewhat curved and has a protruding ridge called the linea aspera (rough line). The area of the bone supports the strongest muscle tissue in the body, including the hamstrings, Quadriceps, and thigh musculature. The Vastus Laterallis (outer quadricep) and adductor magnus (inner thigh muscle) connects into the linea aspera.

Lower Portion of the Femur

lower_femur_grays

The Lower portion of the femur bone consists of two condyle (from the Greek word for knuckle), lateral and medial that create the surface for the upper tibia bone and the knee-joint. Coated meniscus tissue layers on top of the bone and provides synovial fluid for frictionless movement within the knee. The medial (inside) condyle is the larger than the lateral due to its increased weight-bearing. 

How the Femur Bone affects your Holistic Health

Femur bone fractures correlate with increased disease in the elderly. It is safe to say that the femur bone is an organ that houses much of the mineral deposits for the body. Therefore, as we age and the bone tissue become more porous, this bone become one of the primary areas of decomposition.

Bone Marrow and the formations of new blood cells

Red Bone Marrow

  • Red bone marrow is the primary site for hematopoiesis, the formation of blood cells.
  • It is located in the cavities of certain bones, including the femur, pelvis, ribs, vertebrae, and sternum.
  • Red marrow consists of a network of blood vessels, various types of blood-forming cells, and supporting tissue called stroma.
  • Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) within the red marrow are the source of all blood cells. These stem cells have the remarkable ability to differentiate into various types of blood cells.
  • Red marrow is highly active in producing blood cells during early life when there is a significant need for rapid growth and the formation of a robust blood cell population.
  • Red marrow plays a vital role in supporting the high demand for red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in growing children.
  • Red marrow primarily produces red blood cells, white blood cells (granulocytes, lymphocytes, and monocytes), and platelets.
  • Red blood cells are responsible for oxygen transport in the body.
  • White blood cells play a vital role in the immune system’s defense against infections.
  • Platelets are essential for blood clotting and wound healing.

Bone Marrow during the aging process:

  • As an individual grows and matures, some of the red bone marrow within the femur and other long bones gradually undergoes a transformation into yellow bone marrow.
  • This transformation involves the conversion of hematopoietic (blood-forming) tissue into adipose (fat) tissue.
  • The shift from red to yellow marrow is part of a natural process that occurs with aging and is influenced by factors such as hormonal changes and the body’s decreasing need for rapid blood cell production.
  • While yellow marrow is predominant in the central cavity of long bones like the femur in adults, red marrow still exists in other locations, such as the axial skeleton (e.g., pelvis, sternum, vertebrae).
  • Red marrow retains its hematopoietic activity in these areas and can be mobilized when there is a greater demand for blood cell production, such as in response to illness, injury, or certain medical conditions.

Yellow Bone Marrow

  • Yellow bone marrow is found in the central cavities of long bones, including the shaft of the femur.
  • It contains fewer blood-forming cells and is mainly composed of fat cells (adipocytes).
  • Yellow marrow stores fat and serves as an energy reserve for the body.
  • In certain circumstances, such as severe blood loss or chronic anemia, yellow marrow can transform back into red marrow to help replenish blood cell populations.

Adaptive Response of the Femur Bone:

  • The femur bone, like other bones in the body, can adapt to changing physiological needs.
  • In cases of severe blood loss, chronic anemia, or other conditions that require increased blood cell production, the femur’s red marrow can become more active, and additional sites within the femur may transition from yellow to red marrow to support hematopoiesis.

One of the primary aspects of bone health is acquiring enough calcium to maintain bone density. Most calcium is available via leafy green vegetables, notably kale, bok-choy, and broccoli. Sodas and carbonated beverages make it harder for the body to absorb calcium and should be avoided by those with osteoporosis (orthoinfo.com). Vitamin D is an important catalyst for absorbing calcium into the bloodstream.

Phosphorus is another vital nutrient to maintain bone health. Nuts, Sesame Seeds, peanut butter, parsley, crab and prawns are all foods high in phosphorus. Don’t feel like you have to eat meat or drink milk to get these essential nutrients.

References:
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femur_neck
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_trochanter
  3. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/calcium-nutrition-and-bone-health

Femur Bone Anatomy: Pillars of Support for the Human Skeleton Read More »

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