The Natural System of the Human Being - The NaturalMedicine Manifesto Part 5

An exploration of an emergent ethos

In this series of posts, we will explain the ground from which emerges the values and ethos that drives and sustains the NaturalMedicine community on Steem. This is the basis on which choices are made for creating and curating #naturalmedicine content. It draws on the models found in natural systems to create and establish creative, thriving, sustainable communities. As a whole, it forms a manifesto that the community draws on for inspiration, discussion, and inter-personal discovery.


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If you haven’t read Part 4 Natural systems — time and nature we invite you now to read that first. Otherwise, please continue …

In the previous post we introduced the concept of Systems Theory and how it shows up in nature. If you’re wondering at this point what this has to do with ‘natural medicine’, hold tight because we are building the frame.

Humans are part of life on Earth. We have our own unique systems, such as civic, political, social, economic, and so on — we’ll look at them a little closer in the [next part]. We can also view the individual human as a system unto itself. In fact, the human body is a system made up of a number of inter-related and inter-dependent systems that have the key features that we discussed in the previous post.

Human physiology can be seen as the interaction of these systems:

  • Cardiovascular: circulating blood around the body and distributing oxygen, nutrient, and waste.
  • Digestive: absorbs nutrients from food/fluids, and eliminates waste
  • Integumentary: maintains the structure of the body from the outside and protects — skin, nails, hair, etc.
  • Immune: including the lymphatic vessels, protects the body from pathogenic invasion and infection.
  • Musculoskeletal: maintains the structure of the body and enables it to move.
  • Nervous: the processing of information via the senses, and distributes information around the body to respond to the environment.
  • Renal: filters blood and distributes waste to be excreted.
  • Reproductive: the production of offspring.
  • Endocrine: maintains and regulates other systems via hormones.
  • Respiratory: absorbs oxygen and distributes it through the blood, and expels Carbon Dioxide (waste) that is brought back to it.
  • Hematopoietic: the creation of blood cells and their cellular components.

All of these systems affect one another, and homeostasis is the body’s way of maintaining integrity and responding to the environment.

For example — for hematopoiesis (the creation of blood cells) to occur, it requires nutrients received from the digestive system as well as oxygen received from the respiratory system. Both nutrients and oxygen are transported from their source-system via the circulatory system, carried in the blood cells.

The nutrients carried in blood cells are transported to the muscles, which are ‘fed’ so that they can operate in their unique way to facilitate movement, as instructed by the nervous system.

Feedback from the senses that a lion is bearing down on the individual, stimulates the adrenals (part of the endocrine system) to jump-start the nervous system and either activate the musculoskeletal system to run like hell or stand and fight.

So we can see that human physiology is a system.

In recent times, we are also starting to wonder about non-physical aspects of our being. While some aspects of our cognition and mental functioning can be seen to stem from the nervous system (and its inter-relatedness with other systems), other aspects — referred to as the ‘question of consciousness’ — are not so easily explained. One explanation is that ‘consciousness’ is self-awareness of self-regulation, and over-arching ‘system’ that integrates and moderates all the other systems.

But there is also the question of ‘emotions’ — are they related to hormones, perhaps linked to consciousness and cognition? And what of human perception of the Divine, and of the capacity to be self-aware itself, as well as aware of its place in the exo-systems of the world they inhabit? What about the awareness (and thus reflection and questioning) of existence itself?

While we struggle with these ideas in the modern world, cultures in the past have had their own ‘systems’ and frameworks to explain these, which were often modelled on natural systems.

In the [next part], we are going to look at how natural systems as models for human communities.

Other posts in this series:

Part 1 What Is ‘Natural Medicine’?
Part 2 What does ‘natural’ mean?
Part 3 Natural systems — systems in nature
Part 4 Natural systems — time and nature
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