I'm back! Also, article about Neuromovement and scoliosis

Well, it sure has been a while :)

I have been in school these last 1 1/2 years, and while the experience has been a personal and professional revolution of sorts (more on that later) I SURE HAVE BEEN BUSY!! And not so keen on the upkeep of my blog. Or the tinkering around with my facebook page. Etcetera.

BUT here I am, teetering on the brink of the launch of my very own upgraded fancypants website, a rebranding, AND new and exciting partnerships… so I thought…why not crack the knuckles and dust off the old blog?

It’s good to be back. Expect to hear more from me in the future :)

Read on to hear the words of my brilliant teacher, Anat Baniel herself, as she writes about scoliosis and the way she treats persons with this presentation.

Anat Baniel Method

“●Scoliosis is defined, in the simplest way, as a side-toside deviation from the normal frontal axis of the body. In reality the deformity occurs in varying degrees in all three planes: back-front, side-to-side, and top-to-bottom. In more than 80% of the cases, a specific cause is not known. Treatment options include observation, bracing or surgery. The primary goal of brace management is to stop curve progression. Any amount of curve correction at the end of brace treatment must be considered a "bonus." ●Surgical correction and stabilization are done to prevent curve progression. ●Spinal deformity is common and often severe in patients with neuromuscular disease especially in those patients who do not walk because of their underlying neurological disease. ●There is no scientifically documented role for exercises, manipulation or electrical stimulation in the management of scoliosis.” (Excerpts taken from the Scoliosis Research Society, www.srs.org)

In Emily's words (now 15 y/o): In a different life, I was a ten year old girl terrified of her future. When the orthopedist diagnosed me with an S-shaped scoliosis curve, I sat in his office and absorbed as many blurred words as I could. He held up chunks of plastic and metal and talked of possible surgery if necessary in the distant future. I left the office confused, upset, vulnerable, and wearing a more flexible back brace made of plastic, stretchy fibers, and snaps. In the eyes of a child, such a restriction is punishment. For the next two years, I continued to adapt my life to meet the limitations of my body.

Around this time, I began to take a few dance classes a week to hopefully help my back. I expected success, but only in dreams did I ever make any progress with my technique. As my parents and I grew more concerned about my health and well-being, my curvature and rotation increased.


By Anat Baniel

Published in Cerebral Palsy Magazine, June 2004

In this article I would like to introduce a new approach, both theoretical and practical, to working with scoliosis. Scoliosis understood as a neuromuscular disorder: A healthy spine can move in all directions: it can twist, bend forward, backward and sideways, and any combination of these four directions. When in action, the spine repeatedly moves out of the midline and then comes back to it. The spine is a live system, not an inanimate object. It is an integral part of a complex system, ultimately controlled by the most complex physical object on the earth - the brain. The live, functioning spine is much more than a skeletal system or even a muscular and skeletal system. It is also a profoundly neurological system. The spine of a person suffering from scoliosis never comes fully back to the midline. Since it is in the nature of the brain to always seek to achieve the optimal, scoliosis is an expression of how the brain is best able to organize the spine, based on the history of what it has learned so far, the health of the person, and on current input. Over time this failure creates a persistent curvature. If we want to help the brain better optimize the organization of the spine, then we must provide the brain with new and useful information. The subjective versus objective perception: People suffering from scoliosis feel “normal”, “in the middle” and hence cannot correct themselves. Visual cues and verbal instructions, like: “sit straight”, or “bring your head to the middle”, will be of no help since the person has no clue where those places are. What they need is new kinesthetic information that will change their perception of “the middle” and “straight” in order to reorganize themselves to fit more into the objective midline. Organizing the spine in the midline is learned through movement: It is through movement that healthy babies gradually learn how to control their back. The brain goes through a kind of apprenticeship, learning by experimentation and variation how the musculature can be best organized to be able to hold the head up, to move the spine in all directions, to carry the head successfully, and to create an accurate sense of the midline. In order to reduce the curvature in the spine, at any age, a person needs to re-engage in the same kind of learning process that occurs spontaneously in healthy infancy.

In Emily's words (cont'd): Then, in June of 2001, fate brought me to Anat Baniel. When a mutual friend of Anat and my family learned of my condition, she excitedly urged me to participate in a seminar to be held in Chicago. I now had a tough decision to make. Did I still have enough faith in the conventional treatment for scoliosis, or could I find the courage to start a journey with an unknown outcome? Frustrated that my brace was only adding to the existing curve, I grasped the opportunity. I began seeing Anat every eight weeks in California for lessons. The change during and after each lesson was immediate and enormous. I discovered parts of my body that I never knew could move so freely. My breathing became much steadier as my rib cage and chest learned to be free. Anat also showed my back how to lie flat and twist with full range of motion, as well as my hips how to be loose to allow for better walking. I continue dance more than ever and started to make tremendous improvement when I began the Anat Baniel Method. With all of these physical changes come emotional changes to follow. With Anat's work, I am more confident, happy, and ready to seize opportunities I might never have considered before. I am proud to say my life began at twelve.

The need for increased mobility: With scoliosis come great limitations in movement. The ability to bend, arch, and twist the back is restricted, even in the direction of the curvature. The curved shape stays constant, irrespective of the movement that is performed. The spine, ribs, clavicle, sternum, shoulder blades and hip joints need to be able to move in many different directions in order for the brain to have an opportunity to reorganize the spine in new and better ways. Reduction in the curvature requires whole body participation and reorganization: The muscles, the joints, and the skeleton are all organized by the brain to function successfully with the curved spine the way it is. The curvature of the spine needs to be seen in full context of the entire person: the way the hip joints are organized, in the distribution of weight on the feet, in the way the eyes are organized to look to the horizon, and in everything else the person does. Any reduction in the curvature of the spine needs to happen in conjunction with reorganization in the rest of the body. Otherwise, as soon as the person begins to move, they would have to revert back in order to be able to function. Going with the system: Stretching of the spine, or manipulating the spine in the opposite direction of the curvature in an attempt to straighten it, applies force in opposition to the way the brain is currently organizing and optimizing the functioning of the spine. Unbeknownst to the practitioner, the force that they are applying will be creating an outcome opposite from the one they desire. For simplicity purposes, we’ll look at a schematic model of a C-shaped curve. The spine in the diagram is shorter on the right side. For that to occur, the muscles on the right side contract more powerfully than those on the left side. The greater force pulling on either end of the curve on the right side creates the curvature. For the spine to begin to straighten, the contraction of the muscles on both sides needs to be more equal. That can be done by reducing the muscular contraction on the right side and by increasing the contraction of the muscles on the left side of the spine. When we pull on the spine on either end in an attempt to lengthen it, or when we push directly on the spine in the opposite direction of the curve, we create a force that will affect the short muscles on the right side more than the long ones on the left side. When the pull on the short, chronically contracted muscles on the right side is strong enough, it will activate the stretch reflex that protects the muscles from tearing. The stretch reflex will shorten these muscles even more. At the same time the muscles on the left side are long and under-contracted to begin with, so the pull on this side will not be sufficient to activate the stretch reflex and these muscles will remain as long and as weak as before. The outcome is increased, rather than decreased, curvature.

Suzi M, an adult client, describes her subjective experience when getting this kind of treatment: “I have scoliosis and I know what people have tried to do on me. Whenever they’ve worked into the side that curves, it felt horrible. It’s like: I’m holding my breath, there’s pain, there’s an attempt to try to force me into a rotation. Then, when I stand up I have absolutely no sense of where I am at all. I mean it’s hard for me, for a minute, to even get my balance and figure it out-- it’s horrible.”

Sample techniques working with scoliosis in the Anat Baniel Method:

1. We initially place the person lying down in order to alleviate the vertical pull of gravitational force on the spine. We then gently find ways to help the spine move in the direction of the curvature. It can be as simple as having the person lie on their side while the practitioner supports the spine from below in the direction of the curve, moving gradually along the curve. By doing so, the practitioner takes over the chronic, habitual work of the muscles in that area. Any time we take over the work that the muscles do in order to hold the body in the gravitational field, the brain stops sending the signals to contract those muscles. (Skilled mimes such as Marcel Marceau use this phenomenon to indicate to their audience when an imaginary support is present. For instance, when Marceau wants to show that he is leaning forward over the back of a chair, he will drop his body slightly forward, put his arms straight forward, and let his hands dangle from his loose wrists. The "supported" arms go limp.) When the practitioner supports the spine just like that imaginary chair back, for the first time in years these muscles can begin to let go. Once they do, the practitioner takes the opportunity of lessened tension to gently guide the client’s spine and back to move in ways and directions that were not available before. The client's brain then has the opportunity to shift its perception of what the midline might be to something closer to the external reality.

2. An important movement in the process of reversing the curvature is the movement of twisting the spine: Imagine for a moment a piece of garden hose lying on the floor in an "S" shape. Imagine two people taking a hold of this hose at either end, one slowly twisting it to the right and the other slowly twisting it to the left. Without pulling on the hose, it will gradually straighten. With scoliosis, we have the client gently twist their spine in different positions while doing many different movements. That, again, bypasses the automatic resistance of the brain/body to an up/down pull on the curvature, and helps straighten the spine to a surprising extent. The child with Cerebral Palsy and scoliosis: When a child has Cerebral Palsy, which is a neuromuscular disorder, the cause of scoliosis is obvious: the uneven contraction of the muscles of the back, and the inability to move freely enough in order for the brain to learn to organize the spine into the vertical and the midline. The same principles and techniques discussed above apply to these children. It is through movement that they will learn to organize the spine and the back in relation to the rest of their body. Any technique used to try and reduce the curvature needs to adhere to these principles. Most of what is done with these children, such as braces or surgery, is geared to stabilize the spine and stop it from getting worse. A brace replaces the necessary work of the back muscles, which tends to weaken even more the ones that are already weak, and does nothing to recalibrate the brain's ability to organize the entire system. (This discussion does not apply to the child whose curvature has reached a degree that puts the child’s health at risk, at which time more drastic measures have to be taken). When the child is unable to sit, or lists to one side while sitting, it is often necessary to put a brace on the child so he or she can participate in classroom activities. However, the use of braces should be kept to a minimum. The child needs to be down on the floor with as many opportunities to move as possible. (For information about schools that promote this approach, you may log on to www.stepbystepcec.org). The brace limits the child’s movements, desensitizes him, and as a result, if used for long periods of time, aggravates the problem. “Seating modification and bracing in the vast majority of cases have no long-term effect on the natural, i.e., untreated course, of spinal deformity in neuromuscular disease. Such techniques may improve sitting ability but do not alter curve progression. Surgical correction and stabilization are done to prevent curve progression.” (Excerpts taken from the Scoliosis Research Society, www.srs.org) A healthy infant learns to coordinate the spine and the back muscles, with the movements of the head, arms and hands long before he or she can sit, crawl or stand. For a child with CP, it is important that they also have the opportunity to move in new ways, even when the customary milestones of sitting or standing have not yet occurred. The practitioner working with the child can find many different ways to have the child move their spine in relation to other parts of the body so that the brain can improve its recognition of the spine’s midline.

In Diane's words (Emily's mother): My daughter Emily was diagnosed with an S-type idiopathic scoliosis when she was 10 years old. Her orthopedic surgeon put her in a soft brace, allowing some movement for her body. She wore that brace 20 hours each day. She was monitored every quarter and became progressively worse over the course of 2 years. When Emily turned 12, the doctor felt she should wear the more traditional hard brace (23 hours per day) which would have restricted her movement substantially. He also felt that surgery might be necessary in the future. It was at this time I met Anat Baniel and Emily was introduced to her method of Feldenkrais. We threw away the brace and continued to see Anat every other month for lessons. Emily's orthopod continued to monitor her in terms of taking Xrays and measuring her curvature. Emily's thoracic curvature remained the same over the next 2 and a half years and her lumbar curve decreased by 5 degrees. The method not only arrested the curvature, but improved Emily's posture and breathing. It is hard to tell Emily has scoliosis because the work has taught her how to make her body work more efficiently. She stands straighter, no longer has trouble breathing and is able to dance without any difficulty. She did not have to wear a brace, which would have inhibited her from accomplishing so many physical achievements, not to mention the psychological effect it would have had on her. Anat Baniel's method of Feldednkrais has given my daughter her life back.

Massage and healing from trauma

"One statistic struck home with me: women who’d faced three types of childhood adversity had a sixty percent greater risk of being hospitalized with an autoimmune disease as an adult. Similar links existed between childhood stressors and adult heart disease, diabetes, migraines and irritable bowel disease. Suffering six categories of early life stress shortened one’s lifespan by 60 years."

Massage can help those experiencing the after effects of trauma. I'm not saying Massage erases childhood trauma...but I AM saying that massage - from a skilled, safe and well-trained practitioner - can guide the clients body away from a sympathetic reaction (fight-or-flight) into a parasympathetic (rest and digest) response. Furthermore, clinical studies also show that the more you receive massage, the quicker your body shifts into that calm state. It's almost like you "train" your body how to receive, and the more you do it, the easier it is to use the new neural pathways.

I find this research super interesting and compelling. I am so grateful I am in a position to help people heal.


Childhood trauma leads to lifelong chronic illness — so why isn’t the medical community helping patients?

August 10, 2016 By Donna Jackson Nakazawa in ACE Study, Adverse childhood experiences, Child trauma 436 Comments

When I was twelve, I was coming home from swimming at my neighbor’s dock when I saw an ambulance’s flashing lights in our driveway. I still remember the asphalt burning my feet as I stood, paralyzed, and watched the paramedics take away my father. It was as if I knew those flashing lights were a harbinger that my childhood was over.

At the hospital, a surgeon performed “minor” elective bowel surgery on my young dad. The surgeon made an error, and instead of my father coming home to the “welcome home” banners we’d painted, he died.

The medical care system failed my father miserably. Then the medical care system began to fail me.

At fourteen, I started fainting. The doctors implied I was trying to garner attention. In college I began having full seizures. I kept them to myself, fearful of seeming a modern Camille. I’d awaken on the floor drenched in sweat, with strangers standing quizzically over me. Then, I had a seizure in front of my aunt, a nurse, and forty-eight hours later awoke in the hospital with a pacemaker in my chest.


In my early forties I developed Guillain Barre Syndrome, a neurological autoimmune disorder that causes paralysis from the neck down. I found myself in Johns Hopkins Hospital, on the exact anniversary of my father’s death, in the same hospital wing where he had died, unable to move. I was a few days shy of turning forty-two, the very age at which my dad had passed away.

I recovered, only to relapse, falling paralyzed again. Many of my children’s early memories revolve around my bed, where we played board games and read books.

It wasn’t until I was fifty-one-years old that a physician sat me down and asked me the most important question of my life – one that would lead me to better health than I’d had for decades: “Were there any childhood traumas or stressors that might have contributed to the extreme level of inflammation you’re experiencing as an adult?”

My physician explained that ongoing adversity in childhood leads to a chronic state of “fight, flight or freeze.” Researchers at Yale had recently shown that when inflammatory stress hormones flood a child’s body and brain, they alter the genes that oversee our stress reactivity, re-setting the stress response to “high” for life. This increases the risk of inflammation, which manifests later in cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases like mine.

As a science reporter I was shocked to discover that research linking childhood stress to adult illness began in 1996 with the Kaiser Permanente-CDC Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study). Since then, over 1500 peer-reviewed studies have replicated these findings.

The research was stunning. Two-thirds of Americans report experiencing Adverse Childhood Experiences. These include obvious sexual and physical abuse, but also stressors that many consider to be normal — growing up with divorced parents, living with a depressed or alcoholic mom or dad, having a parent who belittled or humiliated you – or simply not feeling as if your family had your back. People who’d experienced four such categories of childhood adversity were twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer and depression as adults.


One statistic struck home with me: women who’d faced three types of childhood adversity had a sixty percent greater risk of being hospitalized with an autoimmune disease as an adult. Similar links existed between childhood stressors and adult heart disease, diabetes, migraines and irritable bowel disease. Suffering six categories of early life stress shortened one’s lifespan by twenty years.


However, one study of 125,000 patients showed that when physicians acknowledged and discussed patients’ childhood trauma openly, patients enjoyed a thirty-five percent reduction in doctor visits. Validating patient suffering invites patients to address it at last.

Yet, despite twenty years of research linking childhood stress to adult disease, the majority of the medical community acts as if these findings don’t exist.

This August, students will begin training in medical schools across the country. They will be expected to emerge with deep-rooted knowledge about how to help patients heal. But shockingly, only a few medical schools teach students about how childhood suffering influences adult disease. The majority of medical schools leave this science out. Perhaps they fear teaching it will open the door to bringing psychiatry into the exam room.

But shouldn’t physicians consider the whole patient – body and mind – so that they can suggest behavioral health tools that will alleviate both the root causes and the symptoms of disease? When physicians help patients come to the profound revelation that childhood adversity plays a role in the chronic illnesses they face now, they help them to heal physically and emotionally at last.

All disease is multifactorial. Past trauma is one of those factors. I can’t help but think of how my own story might have been different if the medical community had been trauma-aware. What if, after my father’s sudden death, the emotional cost of such a traumatic loss had been validated, and our medical system had offered therapeutic interventions?

It’s been two decades since the research linking childhood adversity to adult illness began. But think of how much money we might have saved in our health care system since then if we considered the role that past trauma plays in one’s current medical condition, instead of waiting a lifetime for it to show up in devastating and difficult to treat diseases that ruin lives for a second time.

According to the CDC, the annual health care cost of adult patients who have a history of early trauma is $124 billion a year. Validating patients’ past trauma isn’t only beneficial for their well being, it translates into fewer tests, procedures, and health care dollars spent.

Statistics tell us that two-thirds of Americans reading these words, including physicians, will recognize that experiences in their childhood still trail after them today, like small ghosts. Fortunately, medical science now recognizes many proven interventions for recovering from trauma, even decades after events have occurred.

We are long overdue for a national awareness campaign — similar to public health initiatives on how seat belts save lives, smoking causes cancer, and hand washing prevents flu — to educate physicians and families on how childhood trauma begets adult illness. Only then can we help those who feel paralyzed by their pasts to achieve the healthy lives they deserve.


This article first appeared in the Huffington Post. Donna Jackson Nakazawa is the author of Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology and How you Can Heal. You can follow her on Twitter at @DonnaJackNak, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/donnajacksonnakazawaauthor.


Ah-HAH! I see you, VOGUE magazine! Visceral Manipulation goes mainstream.

I have run across two articles in mainstream media in the last 2 days about VM and I LOVE THAT!

I like how this author tried a session and kept an open mind. Her experience is pretty typical: leaving her appointment with a feeling of well-being, (but not a feeling of getting worked over like you do from a vigorous muscle-pounding massage) gurgling and a sensation of "unwinding" in her abdominal area after the session, and a gradual lessening of her original symptoms of complaint over the days after.

And this, my friends, is exactly why I love the style of work that I do.

This style of bodywork really listens to (and is guided by) the messages of the client's body - and because we are following, NOT FORCING, the body is allowed the space and opportunity to shift away from old patterns and into new. READ ON!

Meet the Weirdest Wellness Craze of the Moment: Organ Massage

March 6, 2017 5:00 AM by Lauren Mechling


Note to self: Next time you go in for an organ massage, don’t show up in a super-snug high-waisted skirt. This is what occupies my mind as I lie faceup on a table inside the tranquil Lower East Side sanctuary of healer Ramesh Narine. Working in near silence, he hasn’t said anything about the fleur-de-lis-print Suno garment that is obstructing access to all that lies south of my bellybutton. He moves his fingertips along the portion of abdomen available to him, pausing every few inches to press in a little deeper. The sensation is not painful, nor is it pleasurable. “What organs are you aiming for now?” I squawk, trying to recall my high school biology diagrams. In response, he instructs me to focus on steadying my breath.

Narine is among the 24,000 trained practitioners of Visceral Manipulation, as organ massage is technically called. An offshoot of craniosacral therapy, the popular healing practice that involves light touching of the head and neck in order to aid spinal flow and release tightness, visceral manipulation focuses on the organs contained in the torso, where our bodies also hold tension. Through gentle stimulation, the practice claims to help with a host of issues including sleep, mood, digestion, pain, trauma, and stress. A study earlier this year reported that it can help treat children with chronic constipation, and a 2013 article in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that it may help heal and can also prevent abdominal adhesions post-surgery. My quest is more open ended: Offer me a chance to dial up my general wellness quotient—I’ll take it.

I’m not the only one curious enough to give it a try. The morning before my maiden manipulation, I attended an event in Soho where I ran into the model Carolyn Murphy, who lives at the forefront of the wellness movement. “You’re going to love it!” she said when I told her about my plans. “I’ve been doing it for four of five months. First I saw this guy in Los Angeles and he said my liver was gummy from a detox I was doing, so we worked on that. And then I had it done in New York and it was like a massage of my small intestines. Don’t be scared—it feels wonderful.”

A little further digging at my office computer revealed that the technique was invented in the mid-’80s by a French osteopath, named Jean-Pierre Barral, who zeroed in on the ways the vital viscera (e.g., liver, kidney, small intestine) can set off trouble in other parts of the body, especially the spine. Working in a dissection lab, he experimented on cadavers and concluded that the connective tissue around our organs can tighten and trigger a cascade of physical dysfunctions.

Later that afternoon, tucked away in Narine’s cozy corner of the universe, I’m aiming to rectify my own set of modern maladies. A heavy workload and an inability to sleep past 4:45 in the morning have left me feeling—and certainly looking—frazzled. “I could use some serious help calming down and not worrying so much,” I tell him. He nods warmly and begins “smudging” me by waving burning sage all over my body. He then rests his hand on my head and closes his eyes shamanically. “Have you been in a car crash?” he asks. I tell him I have not, prompting him to add, “I’m having a hard time getting a read on you.”

My spiritual feelings slightly sore, I lay down on the table and we get to work. My muscles slowly loosen as Narine’s hands make their way around my abdomen. His touch is so delicate, I peek at times to confirm that he is, in fact, making skin-to-skin contact. Just as I’m wondering if this is a New Age scam, my stomach chimes in with a glorious gurgle. “That never happens!” I tell him. He seems pleased, and not at all surprised. “The intention is to wake up a little communication between the gut and the brain,” he says, gliding his fingers toward my left side and resuming his soft touching. At some point, he hooks his fingers under my waistline and continues on my lower abdomen. Ninety minutes after first walking through Narine’s door, I emerge back on the street feeling as if I’d just woken from a sublimely pleasant dream.

That evening, though, my stomach continues making noises and I feel slight discomfort. I sleep through the night, yet the sensation intensifies the following day, and I email Narine to ask if it’s possible that our session brought this on. His reply comes quickly, and he sounds excited to hear my report. “That is an experience of the organs communicating with one another and unwinding,” he tells me. “You may continue to perceive sensation for a few weeks, with varying degrees of volume.”

Still unsure about what may or may not have happened in his chambers, I call Lisa Ganjhu, D.O., a gastroenterologist and associate clinical professor at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. She agrees there was likely a cause and effect, and doesn’t sound remotely worried about any of it. “Everyone knows you get better by being touched,” she tells me. “It starts the healing process. If a baby has colic, you touch her belly or back, and it helps her calm down. It’s the same principle with adults.” When I ask about my specific pain, she hypothesizes that the massage stimulated my gastrointestinal tract and set off contractions. I haven’t heard this word applied to my body since I gave birth two years ago, and ask her if there is cause for concern. “So long as you’re working with an experienced therapist who knows when to stop, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

It’s been three weeks now, and the discomfort has not returned. A beauty editor friend remarked that my skin is looking well, and I’ve experienced only one crack-of-dawn wake up since my treatment, which is a tectonic shift as far as I’m concerned. I haven’t booked another organ massage appointment yet, but should another sleepless night occur, I’m ready: I just bought another Suno skirt—this time with room at the waist.

The beauty, complexity and mystery of the body - even after centuries of study - just...captivates me. Read on:

Cool article about blood platelet production! Another reason that freedom of movement in the thorax and throughout the rib cage is so vital.

"An Unexpected New Lung Function Has Been Found - They Make Blood

Things just got complicated.

24 MAR 2017

Researchers have discovered that the lungs play a far more complex role in mammalian bodies than we thought, with new evidence revealing that they don't just facilitate respiration - they also play a key role in blood production. 

In experiments involving mice, the team found that they produce more than 10 million platelets (tiny blood cells) per hour, equating to the majority of platelets in the animals' circulation. This goes against the decades-long assumption that bone marrow produces all of our blood components.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco also discovered a previously unknown pool of blood stem cells that makes this happen inside the lung tissue - cells that were incorrectly assumed to mainly reside in bone marrow.

"This finding definitely suggests a more sophisticated view of the lungs - that they're not just for respiration, but also a key partner in formation of crucial aspects of the blood," says one of the researchers, Mark R. Looney.

"What we've observed here in mice strongly suggests the lung may play a key role in blood formation in humans as well."

While the lungs have been known to produce a limited amount of platelets - platelet-forming cells called megakaryocytes have been identified in the lungs before - scientists have long assumed that most of the cells responsible for blood production are kept inside the bone marrow.

Here, a process called haematopoiesis was thought to churn out oxygen-laden red blood cells, infection-fighting  white blood cells, and platelets - blood components required for the clotting that halts bleeding. 

But scientists have now watched megakaryocytes functioning from within the lung tissue to produce not a few, but most of the body's platelets.

So how did we miss such a crucial biological process this whole time? 

The discovery was made possible by a new type of technology based on two-photon intravital imaging - a similar technique to one used by a separate team this week to discover a previously unidentified function of the brain's cerebellum. 

The process involves inserting a substance called green fluorescent protein (GFP) into the mouse genome -  a protein that's naturally produced by bioluminescent animals such as jellyfish, and is harmless to living cells.

The mouse platelets started to emit bright green fluorescence as they circulated around the body in real time, allowing the team to trace their paths like never before.

They noticed a surprisingly large population of platelet-producing megakaryocytes inside the lung tissue, which initially didn't make much sense, seeing as they're usually associated with bone marrow.

"When we discovered this massive population of megakaryocytes that appeared to be living in the lung, we realised we had to follow this up," says one of the team, Emma Lefrançais.

They found that this huge supply of megakaryocytes is actually producing more than 10 million platelets per hour in the lungs of mice, which means at least half of the body's total platelet production is occurring in the lungs.

Further experiments also revealed vast amounts of previously hidden blood stem cells and megakaryocyte progenitor cells (cells that give rise to megakaryocyte and red blood cells) sitting just outside the lung tissue - about 1 million per mouse lung.

When the researchers traced the entire 'life cycle' of the megakaryocytes, they found that they likely originate in the bone marrow, then make their way to the lungs, where they start platelet production.

"It's fascinating that megakaryocytes travel all the way from the bone marrow to the lungs to produce platelets," says one of the team, Guadalupe Ortiz-Muñoz

"It's possible that the lung is an ideal bioreactor for platelet production because of the mechanical force of the blood, or perhaps because of some molecular signalling we don't yet know about."

The researchers wanted to investigate if their discovery could have an effect on how we treat disorders such as lung inflammation, bleeding, and transplantation in the future, by transplanting lungs with fluorescent megakaryocyte progenitor cells into mice with low platelet counts.

The transplants produced a massive burst of platelets that quickly restored the depleted platelet counts to normal levels, and the effect lasted for several months.

Another experiment tested what would happen if the bone marrow wasn't playing a role in blood production.

The team implanted lungs with fluorescent megakaryocyte progenitor cells into mice that had been engineered to have no blood stem cells in their bone marrow.

As Michael Irving reports for New Atlas, they watched as the fluorescent cells from the transplanted lungs made their way to the bone marrow, where they not only helped to produce platelets, but also other key blood components, such as neutrophils, B cells and T cells.

The findings will need to be replicated in humans before we can know for sure that the same process is occurring within our own bodies, but the study makes a strong case for this hidden function in what could be one of our most underrated organs.

It will likely also prompt scientists to investigate further how the bone marrow and lungs work together to produce our blood supply. 

"It has been known for decades that the lung can be a site of platelet production, but this study amplifies this idea by demonstrating that the [mouse] lung is a major participant in the process," Traci Mondoro from the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, who was not involved in the study, said in a press statement.

"Looney and his team have disrupted some traditional ideas about the pulmonary role in platelet-related hematopoiesis, paving the way for further scientific exploration of this integrated biology."

The research has been published in Nature."

What the heck is Visceral Manipulation, anyway?

I have a pretty technical description up under my "services" tab, but that description feels a little dry. I would like to give you a little taste of what MY first experience with receiving this work was like.

I was in my first round of a local mentorship class through Four Winds Rider (shout out to Dawn and her truly life-direction-shifting classes!) and I was the demo body on the Visceral techniques day. I was a relatively new mother, having had my son 15 months earlier after an uneventful pregnancy and delivery.

As Dawn was intentioning and gently sinking in to my lower abdomen with her hands, I started to feel a bit of a pulling sensation on my right side. Just as I notice this, Dawn says, "Your right ovary is stuck to your bladder." Wait. What? First of all, HOW can she feel this? (I learned later through my studies that a VM practitioner takes great care to refine their palpation skills to such a degree that they really CAN feel the organ, it's motion, or lack thereof.) Second, I hadn't felt like anything was awry with my insides! It's not like I was walking around feeling pain in my ovary. I didn't know this then, but the pressure of simply carrying a baby can cause some organs to stick together in a woman's abdomen. It makes sense considering how much space the baby needs as it grows, and the weight of the placenta/baby, etc... Visceral Manipulation = un-sticking the stuck!

Side-note: I had heard of Visceral Manipulation occasionally during my years of practice and had always been intrigued-I think it is so cool that there are actually manual therapists who work with the organs of the body...with care and great respect...from OUTSIDE of the body!! As a practitioner it really feels like such an honor to coax a shift or a release from, say, the small intestines. I mean, the small intestines are where 90% of our digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. 90%, people! Some studies are now suggesting that inflammation or the absence of the correct balance of gut bacteria may have a major impact on our state of mind. And, if the small intestine is not able to move freely because of adhesions from surgery, poor posture or illness, it's ability to do it's job is impaired. Being trained in how to help a client's intestines experience more freedom to move?? It's the coolest.

Anyway, back to my sticky right ovary. I begin to feel a buildup of heat on my right side and a sensation of a very full bladder. Whatever Dawn is doing feels gentle yet deep, and yes, a little weird...and then I feel a kind of whooshing release. The heat and full bladder feeling is gone.

And that's it! I didn't notice anything different about my body immediately after the release, but as the days progressed, I began to notice that I was standing with my pelvis more stacked under me, causing my lower back to have more freedom of movement. Also, I was no longer waking to pee 2 times a night, and my period cramping was less intense. 

So, that was my first experience, and I've been hooked on the viscera ever since! Contact me if you are intrigued and want to experience more freedom of movement :)

All the best,