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The Body's "Information Superhighway": The Spine and Spinal Cord

We begin life as a mass of cells that are the result of the union of an ovum and sperm. When an embryo starts to form inside a woman’s body, all of its cells are undifferentiated— that is, identical to one another. However, as these cells continue to divide, the embryo develops three layers: top, middle, and bottom. There is a slight differentiation between each layer, but still nothing yet that resembles an organ or a specific tissue. And then, around the nineteenth day after conception, directed by Innate Intelligence, this disk of cells folds in on itself and creates the very first recognizable organ: the neural tube, or notochord, which eventually will become the baby’s spinal cord.

Around the third or fourth week, as the embryo continues to differentiate, a brain stem and a little nub of a brain appear at one end of the notochord. Then the nervous system tissue begins to sprout: Nerves grow out of the spinal cord, and cells begin to differentiate and form around the nerve branches, like buds on a tree. These buds will become arms, legs, bones, muscles, internal organs, and many other structures of the body. At the same time the primordial formation of the gut occurs, buds appear that will turn into the lungs, and the vascular system also begins to develop.

All of this is happening as part of the genetic expression of the embryo in its development. But for much of the developing embryo, it is the nerves and nervous system that direct the growth of tissues and organs. Sometimes growth is initiated by the nervous system; in other instances the nervous system comes in later on and regulates development of tissues after they’ve originally formed. Sometimes nerves grow for a while and then disappear! While a fetus is in the womb, many nerves and structures appear, perform a function, then melt back into the extracellular tissue. Scientists say, “We don’t know why this happens,” but I believe the answer is obvious: The nerves and nervous system are the primary conduit of Innate Intelligence, which is directing the development of this fetus. Certain nerves may grow for a while to help with the development of whatever organ/ tissue is needed, and when that organ/ tissue reaches a certain level, the nerve disappears. The nervous system is the master control center; without a nervous system, the fetus would be a mass of cells communicating very poorly with each other.

Just as Innate Intelligence has created and developed specialized functions in the cells, tissues, and organs, it has created a system— the nervous system— that specializes in information and energy. Nerves lead from almost every single part of the body to the spinal cord, and from there to the body’s seat of intelligence— the brain. Much the way the bones of the skull protect the brain, the spinal cord is protected by the bones of the spine, called vertebrae.

The spine is one of the most complex organs in the body, consisting of nearly a hundred intricate joints connected by a vast array of ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and six layers of intertwining muscles, all surrounding and protecting over a trillion nerve pathways that connect the brain to the rest of the body. This complex network of tissue is the structural foundation for the vital mind-body connection. The spine is a unique structure within the human skeleton, in that it is designed to have enormous mobility, flexibility, and strength. It not only provides the strong protection of bone, muscle, and tendon for the fragile spinal cord, but it also serves as the anchor and entry point for nerves from almost every single part of the body.

For organizational purposes, most medical texts and doctors (including chiropractors) divide the spine into five parts. The cervical area, or neck, consists of seven small bones extending from the base of the skull to the top of the shoulders. The twelve bones of the thoracic area, the largest section of the spine, extend from the shoulders through the midback. The lumbar area, or lower back (a spot where many back pain complaints occur), contains five large vertebrae. The sacral area below it consists of five fused bones. Finally, the sacrum is connected to the three fused bones of the tailbone, or coccyx.

Each section of the spine has various sets of nerves running to it and away from it, and misalignments in each area can create different symptoms and conditions. Some chiropractors believe that misalignments in the cervical area have a greater impact because they impinge on communication from the brain to the rest of the body. Others ascribe to the viewpoint that problems in the sacroiliac or lumbar area are most important because they form the structural foundation of the spine. Regardless of these different technical approaches, virtually all chiropractors share the conviction that it is important for the bones of the spine to maintain proper alignment and function. This ensures the uninterrupted flow of Innate Intelligence and
energy throughout the body.

To find out more about your Information Superhighway, check out Dr. Lenarz’s book, The Chiropractic Way, available on Amazon.

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