The newer models of the cell’s anatomy recognize that the cell is not just a bag of goo. There is a structure inside the cell, just as there is outside the cell. The image shown here explains this nicely. As illustrated, the cell is filled with fibers and filaments, tubes and structure. Collectively this structure is called the “cytoskeleton” or the “cytoplasmic matrix” and, just like our body’s bony skeleton, it provides rigidity and support to the whole cell. More than that though, the cytoskeleton also provides pathways for information to flow along. No longer do we have to imagine chemical information just floating around in the sea of soup waiting for a chance encounter. Now we find that chemical information can be guided to its destination by enzymes that line the cytoskeleton.

If you look again you will also see that these lines forming the cytoskeleton also extend out beyond the cell walls. These linking elements are called “integrins” and they connect the inner and outer worlds of our cells. We have already seen that the extra-cellular matrix is networked throughout our whole body. With each cell connected inside and outside, with the ground substance flowing everywhere throughout the body, we find that every cell has a connection to every other cell in our body. There is no place that is not connected to every other place within us.

In our human society we have a similar connection called the “Six Degrees of Separation” phenomenon: every human being is connected to every other by at most six connections through other people. With billions of people, there are almost an infinite number of ways we can connect to each other. With billions of cells in our body, there is also a virtually infinite number of ways [1] all of our cells are connected to each other.

 

 

Actin cytoskeleton in fibroblasts micrograph from Dr. Christoph Ballestrem

We have said this complete interconnection is potentially so. We have also postulated that illness is a blocking of information, an inability of the body to transmit healing signals to the affected area. If a problem isolates one region of the body from the others, information may not get through. Like a city suffering a power outage, communication lines may be out of service, transportation systems may fail. The city may survive for a short time but unless outside help arrives, the city is doomed. Our body is not very different. Health means wholeness. If one part of the body is cut off from the information flow throughout the body, illness arises.

  1. — All right, to the purist, the number is nowhere near infinite and “virtually infinite” is a meaningless phrase. But the number is very, very large and would take far too many zeros to depict here.