Most likely you are familiar with virtual videoconferences, such as Zoom meetings, where you get together with other people via computers and smartphones — except you are not really together at all. Instead, your camera records your image and voice and then converts those to electrical signals, which can pass via the Internet. For another person, your signals are converted back into your image and voice. And of course you see other people from their converted signals. This process happens extremely quickly, so that you can get the effect of (almost) being there with them.
Our bodies are amazing machines, but even a single cell is incredible. They must survive in a mostly harsh environment, and they cannot afford to let in most of the elements of that environment. What do they do? In some cases they filter or regulate what can come in from their outside environment. But much of what a cell receives from its outside environment is not brought into the cell directly. Much like the Zoom conference, they react to the environment, translate information into a form which can pass the cell membrane, and then respond to that coded information.
Understanding how cells interact with their environment tells us much about health and disease. Many diseases, especially cancer, involve a change or even breakdown of normal cellular signaling or changes in what signals are the most prevalent. Let’s consider how the cell communicates — it is very different than what you likely expect!
Cells are surrounded by a barrier which, if it were not for specific channels and sensors, would isolate the cell from its environment, making life impossible. Yet much of what surrounds the cell cannot be let in, because it is toxic or destructive to the cell’s function. The cell membrane core is fat: it is a “lipid”, or fatty acid material. Cells are surrounded by water, which makes up most of the cell’s environment. Water dissolves many things, and the “soup” of water-dissolved materials contains many nutrients as well as potentially harmful molecules. Also, a lot of water is inside the cells. Between the inner water and the outer water is a fatty layer that doesn’t allow the two to connect.
Have you noticed how oil and water don’t mix? No matter how much you stir the mix, oil separates from the water and floats to the top. You can force water through the oil, but the oil layer just re-forms again. The cell membrane’s center is fat, which also repels water. Both fats and oils are “non-polar”, meaning that they have no electrical charge. Ions (from potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium), however, are charged particles that, because of their charge, can attract or repel each other, and those that attract tend to link up, forming molecules based on the ionic bond. Water can dissolve those bonds, thus carrying the ionic components along with it. The fat layer of a cell membrane doesn’t allow water or ions that it carries to pass.
What do you do when you have oil on your hands and you want to wash it off? Well, you don’t just rinse them, because the oil will ignore the water and stay on your hands. So you use soap. Soap has a “tail” which is attracts fats (lipids), and a “head” which attracts water, allowing it to attract both — that’s why it removes the oil from your hands when you wash. Cell membrane molecules have a water-loving head and a fat-loving tail, and those molecules line up with their tails facing each other, and their heads sticking outwards. This results in a fat layer on the inside of the cell membrane, but water-loving (hydrophilic) inside and outside edges.
The cell membrane doesn’t keep everything out. Small molecules with no electrical charge such as oxygen and carbon dioxide can pass through. Water molecules are small enough to slowly pass through, but they can’t carry any ions or other baggage with them. If you have used a “reverse osmosis” water system, you see a similar, though less perfect, process: that system uses a membrane that slowly passes water but blocks most larger molecules. Now, this is great for the cell until it needs to get something besides oxygen or a little water from outside of the cell, or it needs to expel something larger than carbon dioxide molecules. This is where channels, pumps, and receptors come in.
Channels are not tubes where something can randomly wander through them and penetrate the cell membrane. Channels are regulated or filtered. Cells need water faster than osmosis can provide, so channels called aquaporins screen water molecules and pass them one at a time. The rate at which each water molecule’s “passport” is checked and allowed to pass is extreme (up to 1,000,000,000 per second) so the channel is a water molecule super-highway with only a single lane of traffic. Charged ions and molecules dissolved in the water are blocked from passing.
Pumps selectively move charged ion particles in and out of the cell. Ions have either a positive or negative charge. Opposite charges attract and same charges repel. The flow of ions can be forced against their normal repulsion through the use of energy to push them — that’s where ion pumps come in. They cause specific ions (sodium, calcium, potassium ions for instance) to flow through the cell membrane, but they have to utilize cell-produced energy to do so.
These are direct pathways cells use to control interaction with their environment. They are like meeting in person, rather than virtual meeting. But when the cell wants to sense the environment, rather than take it in, it uses the virtual meeting technique through “receptors”. All the ways that the cell interacts with its environment are important. Channel or pump malfunctions can cause major problems, but when they malfunction there is usually a supply problem (too many or too few calcium ions, for instance). Receptors, just like your computer, are sensitive, complex devices which can be disrupted in many ways: they can be fooled by certain signals, they can be damaged, and they can be overloaded.
Integrins are protein structures that go through the cell membrane, with appendages that extend into the inside and outside environments, able to react to the environment on either side of the membrane. Unlike channels and pumps, they pass information rather than actual molecules, much like the Zoom meeting passes information that represents the real people. Proteins are complex chains of amino acids. Because of how bonds form between molecules to form bigger molecules, large proteins such as integrins have certain “shapes” to them — portions of the molecule branch off in different directions in all three dimensions. Portions of the molecule stick out and can link up with molecules of a complementary shape, somewhat like a lock and key work together if they match. When an integrin has a matching protein come within range, they attract each other and “bind” together. This is when the receptor receives environmental information: it takes a single molecule that it is made to bind with and grabs it, filling the receptor. But in the process of binding with its match, so to speak, the interactive forces inside the molecule shift slightly and cause a chain reaction of shape-shifting along the integrin molecule extending to the other end that is on the opposite side of the cell membrane. This is called a “conformational change” in the protein. Since a binding on one end of the protein receptor causes a change in the other end, the receptor acts somewhat as your computer does on a Zoom call, giving you a translated image of someone else on the conference. It is not bringing a piece of the environment inside; instead, it is reacting to the environment with changes that interact with the cell genetics. These receptors are acting as molecular information processors that are reacting to the various forces inside the complex protein molecule that cause it to shape-shift in reliable ways when bound to different environmental proteins.
You could look at integrins as “antennas” that receive coded signals from the outside. They are actually smart antennas which can change based upon what they receive. Electron microscopy and image analysis was used in research at The Scripps Research Institute published in the Journal of Cell Biology to visualize the ?V?3 integrin (a specific integrin type) directly. They saw that the integrin could have a folded or unfolded shape which corresponded to whether it was in an active (receiving) state or an inactive state. The functioning of the integrin antenna could be changed by the cell. Since integrin conformational changes can start at either end of the integrin molecule, this shows that the cell can initiate a change in the integrin and the external environment can also initiate a change. Integrins are unique because they provide a two-way signaling path!
Scientists have discovered 24 types of integrins so far and found that certain types of cells have reliably high numbers of specific integrins, allowing them to trace integrin influence by tracing those cells.
In a study published in the FASEB Journal, researchers at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine subjected cells with known integrins to electromagnetic fields in an effort to understand how integrins influence wound healing and regeneration, immune response, and cancer metastasis. Certain types of cells with specific integrin receptors migrate to a wound or infection, and the researchers influenced migration of these cells with specific integrins under the influence of electromagnetic fields. They found that integrins were reacting to the electromagnetic fields and migrating faster, except for one (?9) which reversed direction. Their study showed that integrins sense the electromagnetic fields and caused the cells to physically respond.
Was all this to just say that cells respond to their environment? Basically yes, but the response is very complex, done electrically and chemically through the intricate ways that the molecular attaching and binding changes the shape of integrin molecules. The integrins are protein molecules and information processors for the cell, giving it an intricate signaling mechanism. What does this mean to you? Your very cells are listening. What you do to their environment, either good or bad, causes your cells to take action.
There is even more to the story of these integrin antennas, because they are also used as physical anchors for cells, which literally ties them in with their environment. We will explore that next article.
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
Communication is the key in life — our life and our cell’s life. The most powerful concept to understand in this research done at UC Davis is: the information that communicates to the inside of the cell from the outside environment and causes the cell to upregulate or downregulate it genes to adapt to that environment does not need a physical substance!
The old thought was that all information must come from an enzyme or a hormone or another molecule landing on a receptor site (lock and key), thus opening the door of the cell membrane so certain substances could pass in. What this study showed is the cell does not require a substance or a molecule but just an electromagnetic frequency. What are those you ask? Everything! Your thoughts generate electromagnetic frequencies, your emotions generate electromagnetic frequencies, so does light and sound and all the other elements around you. This means if you are stressed out and carry a stressed electromagnetic frequency then the cells will gear their genetic machinery to make components to deal with that stress. But there is one important thing to consider: stress to your cells was not meant to ever exceed an hour or two. If you are constantly sending in stress messages via electromagnetic frequencies from wrong thoughts and emotions, then the cell will burn out and die prematurely (apotosis) or else upregulate to the toxic stress environment and make cancer cells. The mind is the key in health because your mind generates the most frequencies that control the cells of your body. This is why at Total Health Institute not only do we balance the physical environment surrounding our patient’s cells but we also balance the much stronger frequencies of the mind and emotional environments because those drive cell function the most. This is visualized with 3D brain imaging and brain mapping and balanced with our signature Heart Brain Entrainment Therapy protocol that was developed over 35 years of research. If there is a toxic chemical in your body, your cells know this and will adapt for it, but when a patient starts our treatment and teaching program we do therapies to allow the body to clear these toxins. We do the same for the mental and emotional toxins but they are at least tenfold more important — meaning ten times more damaging if remaining or ten times more healing when they have been released. You must balance all the environment to health of the whole you.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
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- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.