interstitium drawing

Have you read about the “new” organ called the interstitium? It might not be fair to call it new. Anatomy teachers have taught students for decades that interstitial tissue filled with fluid exists in the body. What is new is the visualization of the extent of this tissue.

Researchers in a new study examined live tissue samples of bile ducts during endoscopies with a special powerful microscope which allowed them to observe the spaces filled with interstitial fluid. CNN reports that Dr. Neil Theise, one of the study’s authors, suggests this network of tissue has both a “unitary structure and unitary function” which, he feels, defends the argument that it should be classified as an organ. Other medical professionals suggest that is not an organ per se. They feel it should be considered a common finding but not an organ itself.

What is remarkable about this is that the same tissue for years has been observed as dense layers. When doctors cut into the body, fluid escapes and these networks collapse. Now, with this new microscopic technique they can see this vast network intact.

As with any new discovery, more research is needed to determine how the interstitium interacts with other systems and organs. The researchers noted that it drains into the lymphatic system. This will have vast implications for cancer research, studies on inflammation, and other diseases.

It is interesting that Dr. Theise notes that acupuncturists insert needles into the interstitium, so understanding this tissue may point to further explanations of the mechanisms of this ancient effective technique.

In a written statement published by the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Dr. Petros Benias, another of the study’s researchers, claims that what was previously thought to be “dense connective tissues are actually fluid-filled compartments.”

Chiropractic and acupuncture have always focused on the body’s unity. And this new discovery offers a scientific confirmation of what many of us have known all along, that a tangible system interconnects the body.

Doctor Cure Thyself

photo of Ed Mallen, Chiropractor, West Palm Beach, FLThroughout my career, I’ve heard fellow chiropractors malign the western medical profession. At times, I’ve joined in by disagreeing with a course of treatment recommended by an M. D. This is most often for a prescription or surgical treatment without trying less invasive strategies first.

On the other hand, one of my patients recently told me her doctor “forbid” her from seeing a chiropractor. I’ve heard more times than I care to count traditional doctors badmouthing chiropractic. My wife’s rheumatologist was originally skeptical about her receiving chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture. Yet, after my treatments triggered her first remission of her lupus back in 2006, he now sends his patients to chiropractors and acupuncturists and recommends massage and yoga.

Chiropractors share some of the blame for the lack of respect from some Medical Doctors. We could do a better job of collecting data and publishing our findings in scientific journals. Things are improving though. My advanced training as a diplomate focused on evidence-based modalities and required a formal scientific paper to graduate.

All this is to say that the new discovery of the body’s vast network of interstitium offers us more than just a better understanding of our anatomy and a way to understand the effectiveness of alternative modalities. It points to the value of unity.

Just as a healthy well-functioning body is unified, so can the medical field communicate with each other. We can work together, learn from each other, and take a cue from connectedness. Not only do bodies function well as unified organisms, but the medical field, our families, the community, and our country would improve if we focus on our connections, not on our separations.

That doctor who forbid my patient from seeing a chiropractor gave her meds and sent her to physical therapy. Frustrated from an inability to get relief, she came back to my office. After only one adjustment, her pain decreased significantly.

I’ve known for years that my own well-being is optimized when all parts of my body are communicating well with the others. After I get my adjustments, I feel whole again. Here’s to the interstitium!

Here’s to unity!


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