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Information sorted by Body System

This section of our website gives you information on our different body systems written by our Naturopathic team.

Cardiovascular System

cardiovascular systemBlood travels along an intricate network of blood vessels, to reach every part of our body. They branch out to narrower and narrower passages as they near organs and other delivery sites, then enlarge again as they go away. It is our heart, the mighty pump that forces the blood back into our arteries to carry it around our body again. The veins bring it back to the heart and the process it continued - around 72 times per minute. The heart and blood vessels make up the cardiovascular system.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in New Zealand, accounting for 30% of deaths annually. Sixteen New Zealanders die each day, or one person every 90 minutes, as a result of cardiovascular disease.

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Digestive System

digestive systemThe digestive system takes in food, breaks it down into nutrient molecules, absorbs these molecules into the blood stream and then rids the body of the indigestible remains.

The organs of the digestive system can be separated into 2 main groups: those of the alimentary canal and the accessory digestive organs. The alimentary canal, also called the gastrointestinal tract, is the continuous muscular digestive tube that winds through the body. It digests food – breaks it down into smaller fragments and then absorbs the digested fragments through its lining into the blood. The organs of the alimentary canal are the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. The large intestine leads to the termination opening or anus.

Many people suffer with health problems relating to the digestive system. These need to be addressed immediately, as ANY interference with this vital body system will affect our body’s ability to absorb nutrients and from this we can develop many health problems.

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Endocrine System

endocrine systemThe endocrine or glandular system is the second great controlling system in the body, which interacts with the nervous system to coordinate and integrate the activity of body cells. Compared to other organs of the body, the organs of the endocrine system are small and unimpressive. This body system influences the metabolic activities of cells, by means of hormones, chemical messengers released to the blood to be transported throughout the body.

Hormonal targets ultimately include most cells of the body, which have widespread and diverse effects. The major processes controlled and integrated by hormones are reproduction; growth and development; mobilization of body defenses against stressors; maintenance of electrolyte, water and nutrient balance of the blood; and regulation of cellular metabolism and energy balance.

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Immune System

immune systemWhen our immune system is challenged, our whole body goes into fight mode. Whether the invader is a virus, bacteria or a parasite, most people’s immune systems will respond efficiently, by producing antibodies capable of attacking & neutralising it. But for others, their immune system may be weakened & not strong enough to respond as it should, making them more susceptible to colds, viruses, flu's & other more serious illnesses. As 70% of our immune system is situated in the gut lining, it makes sense to support this area of the body, ensuring it is functioning as efficiently as possible. A healthy immune system involves keeping many body systems working as well as possible and there are many natural options available to accomplish this.

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Metabolism

metabolismDigestion is the 1 st step involved in providing new sources of energy, as well as other vital substances to help keep the body alive and in good working order. Nutrients, which are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, must undergo many changes before they can serve the needs of the cells. They must be drawn into the scheme of living chemistry that rules the body. They must take part in metabolism. This process is the sum total of all the chemical reactions of the body, both those that break down substances to release energy and those that require energy to build simpler substances into more complex ones. Food and the air we breathe provide the basic chemicals for these processes.

There are many things that will interfere with our metabolism – stress, a poor diet that does not provide vital nutrients, drugs and chemicals, hormonal changes and disease processes. Most people suffer with 1 or more problems relating to poor metabolism.

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Musculoskeletal System

musculoskeletal systemThe living sculpture of the human body is fashioned on a framework that provides far more than mere strength. The solid part, the skeleton, is cunningly articulated to allow freedom of movement and it is these bones that ultimately determine our height. We are born with 350 bones, but many of these fuse in infancy, leaving an adult with 206 bones. Wreathing it are nearly 700 skeletal muscles which help control movement, maintain the posture of the body and generate heat to help to keep warm. They influence our shape and provide the power to move the bones at the joints. Binding and supporting the whole human structure is connective tissue.

There are other types of muscles in the body – cardiac and smooth muscles. Cardiac muscle occurs in the walls of the heart, where smooth muscle is found mainly in the walls of hollow organs such as digestive and urinary tract organs, uterus and blood vessels. Since skeletal muscle contraction is under our conscious control, skeletal muscle is often called voluntary muscle, while the other 2 types are called involuntary muscle.

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Nervous System

nervous systemThe nervous system, with its command post the brain, oversees the functions of the body, monitors and responds to the outside environment and is the essence of our being – harboring our thoughts, attitudes and emotions. By comparison the most elaborate computers lack initiative, creativity, feeling and the ability to reprogram themselves. The human nervous system, distinguished from The blood is driven from one end of this maze to the other by the pumping of the heart. The vessels which carry blood away from the heart are the arteries. To reach every part of the body, the blood travels along an intricate network of blood vessels which branch to narrower and narrower passages as they near delivery sites, then enlarge again going away. The blood is driven from one end of this maze to the other by the pumping of the heart. The vessels which carry blood away from the heart are the arteries. Those bringing it back are the veins. The heart and blood vessels make up the cardiovascular system.

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Reproductive System

reproductive systemThe ultimate biological purpose of sexual intercourse is the reproduction and continuation of life. If sexual union was not such a compelling instinct for all species, animal life of earth may have died out long ago. The subtle mechanisms of the human mating instinct are tuned by the senses of sight, smell and touch and by psychological conditioning to ensure that sexual activity regularly takes place. Because female ovulation occurs only once a month, a lot of sexual intercourse between men and women, though important in bonding prospective parents, is without prospect of achieving a reproductive outcome. The sexual organs and functions of men and women are necessarily complementary and arise in embryonic life from the same tissues, which are directed by genes and hormones to differentiate into male or female systems.

Because fertility declines with increasing female age, delayed child bearing has resulted in an increase in the number couples seeking treatment for infertility. This decline was well demonstrated in a classic study of the Hutterite sect. It was found that in this group, the age of the female directly correlated with the incidence of infertility. The incidences were 7% at age 30, 11% at age 35, 33% at age 40 and 87% at age 45. The Hutterites were selected for study because of ideal circumstances promoting fertility.

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Respiratory System

respiratory systemThe trillions of cells which make up our body require a continuous supply of oxygen to carry out their vital functions. We cannot do without oxygen for even 3-4 minutes before this starts to have a negative impact on the cells in our body. As cells use oxygen, they give of carbon dioxide, a waste product the body must get rid of. They also generate dangerous free radicals, the inescapable by-products of living in a world full of oxygen.

The major function of the respiratory system is to supply the body with oxygen and dispose of carbon dioxide. To accomplish this function, at least 4 distinct processes, collectively called respiration, must happen: Pulmonary ventilation, where air is moved in and out of the lungs so gases in the air sacs are continuously changed and refreshed. This is commonly called ventilation or breathing. External respiration, where there is a gas exchange between the blood and the air filled chambers of the lungs. Transportation of respiratory gases, where the blood transports oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and tissue cells of the body and Internal or cellular respiration, where at systemic capillaries in the body, gas exchanges (oxygen unloading and carbon dioxide loading) must be made between the blood and tissues.

Only the 1 st two processes are the special responsibility of the respiratory system, but it cannot accomplish its primary goal of obtaining oxygen and eliminating carbon dioxide unless the 3rd and 4 th processes also occur.

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Skin (the Integumentary System)

skin integumentary systemThe skin ordinarily receives very little respect from its inhabitants, but architecturally it is a marvel. It covers the entire body, has a surface area or 1.5-2 square meters, weighs 4 to 5 kg and accounts for about 7% of the total body weight in the average adult. It has been estimated that every square centimeter of the skin contains 70cm of blood vessels, 55cm of nerves, 100 sweat glands, 15 oil glands, 230 sensory receptors and about half a million cells that are constantly dying and being replaced. It varies in thickness from 1.5 to 4mm or more. The skin is also called the integument, which simply means “covering”, but its functions go well beyond just covering the body. Without our skin, we would quickly fall prey to bacteria and perish from water and heat loss.

Many people suffer with skin problems these days. This could be an occasional pimple or blemish, down to the life altering skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis. Whether you want to correct an existing skin problem or prevent the premature signs of aging, natural health principles can help.

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Urinary System

urinary systemThe urinary system is made up of the kidneys, the urine-forming organs, the urinary bladder, which provides a temporary storage reservoir for urine and the tube like organs – the paired ureters and the urethra, which furnish transportation channels for urine. The kidneys, much like a water purification plant, filter several litres of fluid from the blood stream, allowing toxins, metabolic wastes and excess ions to leave the body in urine, while returning needed substances to the blood. Although the lungs and skin also participate in excretion, the kidneys are the major excretory organ.

As the kidneys perform these excretory functions, they simultaneously regulate the volume and chemical makeup of the blood, maintaining the proper balance between water and salts and between acids and bases. They also produce the enzyme renin which helps regulate blood pressure and kidney function and the hormone erythropoietin, which stimulates red blood cell production in bone marrow. The kidneys also metabolise vitamin d to its active form.

Any upset to the urinary system will affect every area of the body. One of the most important things you can do to support your urinary system is to keep your hydration level up, by sipping on water consistently throughout the day.

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