THE MATRIX IS REAL
You are a world-renowned professional herbalist with over 35 years’ experience. Your new and highly anticipated book is called Holistic Medicine and the Extracellular Matrix - what is the extracellular matrix (or ECM) and why is it vital to our understanding of how the body works holistically?
Thank you, Gail. The extracellular matrix (ECM) is important for a number of reasons. First, it is the foundation of physiology in the organism, from the cell to the whole being. Without knowledge of the matrix there would be a yawning gap in our knowledge of how the organism works. This gap would be right in the middle, the focal point, the foundation for all physiological activity because the matrix provides the regulatory system for all the cells: they are completely controlled by it (feeding, elimination, migration, reproduction). The cells are not autonomous entities but act as a whole. Thus, the cell theory, for a hundred and fifty years (and still in many circles) the foundation of biology and medicine is proven to be wrong. And, at the same time, the basic premise of holism, that the organism acts on a whole entity, is now demonstrated. Despite this importance, the ECM is grandly ignored in biology and medicine, or only described in a reductionist, non-holistic fashion. This is not just due to the prejudices of science, against holism, but derives in part because the matrix is hard to visualize. This book remedies that problem, describing the matrix both holistically and in detail, in an easy-to-visualize manner, for both the layperson and the interested professional.
Your book explains that while cells are individual entities they don’t function on their own – how does the matrix regulate cells?
Yes, the mechanism is called the “ground regulatory system.” The cells are united by polymers (molecule wide ‘fibers’) that hold a charge until there is a change (nutrition, hydration, temperature, etc.) This alters the charge on the polymers and the change is registered simultaneously, throughout the organism, in all cells. There is a slight variation in the local matrix, from organ to organ, so that some areas are impacted more or less than others—justifying the ancient and modern, holistic and conventional idea that organs can get sick individually.
Can you describe in simple terms how the extracellular matrix is involved in healing?
The matrix is so all-important in the life of the cells that even aberrant cancer cells need and follow the signals received from the ground regulatory system. Without input they usually shrivel up and die—leading to an important new area in cancer research. I provided chapter on wound healing because it is easier to visualize how the matrix supports local healing at the surface of the body. We can then see how it supports healing in the invisible interior as well.
What is the importance of the extracellular matrix for science?
Not seeing or understanding the matrix, or including it in our calculations, is like having a blind spot in the middle of our vision, keeping us from understanding the basic foundations and whole processes of physiology, cell biology, medical analysis and treatment, and holistic science and medicine.
How can the discovery of the matrix effect traditional allopathic and complimentary medicine in the future?
This is a very good question. As Alfred Pischinger, the discoverer of the ground regulatory system pointed out, conventional therapy directs the drug to a molecular bonding cite on the cell wall, thus bypassing the self-regulatory system of the organism. This can only weaken self-regulation and self-healing. In other words, modern medicine is largely founded upon health-wrecking practices. In holism, so the other hand, treatment is geared to the whole—even if it can only be perceived through the symptoms, rather than the molecule-based analysis we are used to in reductionism (analysis based on the smallest part). Remarkably, science is now on the side of holism, while traditional reductionism is no longer justified as a scientific basis for medical practice.
Why, if you believe the discovery of the extracellular matrix is so critical in the bodies holistic healing, is the concept so little known or celebrated?
Pischinger himself was a holistic physician on the staff of the medical school at the University of Vienna. He addressed this question, and his answer was simple: it is much easier, in the current intellectual environment, to think in a simplistic, cause-and-effect, linear fashion than to grasp all the parts and the whole which they form. As an artist, as well as a healer, I present it in terms of perspective. The amateur artist cannot get the correct relationship between the foreground and the background. It is the same medicine. The wrong perspective has been in vogue for so long that the vast majority of doctors and biologists simply cannot see the gaping whole in their model of biology. Holistic healers have an intuition of the truth—of the right perspective—it is time they realized also that their approach is founded on scientific reality.
Not seeing or understanding the matrix, or including it in our calculations, is like have a blank spot in the middle of our vision, keeping us from understanding the basic foundations of physiology, cell biology, medical analysis and treatment, and holistic science and medicine.
About the Author: Matthew Wood has been a practicing herbalist for over thirty-five years. An internationally known author and lecturer in the field, he holds a Master of Science degree in herbal medicine from the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine. A professional member of the American Herbalists Guild, he is the author of several books, including The Earthwise Herbal and The Book of Herbal Wisdom. He lives in Spring Valley, Wisconsin. https://www.matthewwoodinstituteofherbalism.com
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