Your body consists for some 70% of what most people would simply call “water.” A large part of this “water” functions as streams that carry all the substances we need for the body’s health or that must be eliminated as waste materials. Almost 100 years ago, the American scientist Walter B. Cannon coined the term “fluid matrix” for this “watery” part of our bodies to underscore that it is a highly organized system that has purpose, structure and function. Cannon concluded that main function of the fluid matrix in which our living body parts reside is the maintenance of the freedom and independence of our existence. Recent insights indicate that the water in your cells has the structure of a gel and, as such, acts as the foundation of life.
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The moving streams of blood and lymph
In a previous article, Cruise Control, Blood Flow and Masquelier’s OPCs, I highlighted that according to Cannon, the body’s “fluid matrix” plays a central role in its innate natural healing powers. “The cells of our bodies,” so wrote Cannon in his book The Wisdom of the Body, "are shut away from any chances to obtain directly food, water and oxygen from the distant larger environment, or to discharge into it the waste materials that result from activity. These conveniences for getting supplies and eliminating debris have been provided by the development of moving streams within the body itself – the blood and lymph streams. They work together to carry food, water and oxygen away from the moist surfaces of the body and to deliver these necessities to the cells situated even in the remotest nooks of our organism. From these cells in turn they bring back to the moist surfaces, in the lungs and kidneys, the useless waste of cellular activity which must be discharged.”
The 4 phases of water
It is common knowledge that the human body consists for 70% of water. Yet, few of us ever wonder what kind of water it is that makes up such a large part of our body. We simply assume that water is just water and that the water that our organism contains is somehow flowing as a fluid through the cardiovascular and lymphatic structures that “hold” it. Yet, the story of biological water is a bit more complicated than that. Or, in fact, it isn’t very complicated if we simply look at living organisms without any pre-conceived ideas. At school, we learn that matter can only exist in 3 “states”: solid, liquid and gaseous. The transition from one phase to the other takes place under the influence of increasing or diminishing temperature. In the case of water, we thus get ice, liquid water and steam. However, when we observe the water in our cells, we find that water can exist in a fourth phase.
The fourth phase of water
In his book Cancer and the New Biology of Water, the American naturopath Dr. Tom Cowan writes that “we have all seen and probably eaten Jell-O, which is composed of over 90 percent water yet clearly is in none of the above three states.” (1) In Germany, this dessert, that is made of gelatine or other gelling agent, sugar, flavourings and food colouring, is called "Götterspeise", which means “dish of the gods.” The water in Götterspeise is clearly not solid, liquid or gaseous. It is in a fourth phase. How come? Well, all substances derive their specific structure from the bond-angle that determines how their molecules are positioned in relation to each other in each of their phases. In the case of water, ice has distinct bond angle, water has a different bond agle and in steam the water molecules are mostly unattached. “The gel that makes up Jell-O,” so writes Cowan, “has none of these bond angles. Instead, it has an intermediate bond angle that is characteristic of the gel state.” This is the fourth phase of water.
The water in our cells is Jell-O
Referring to the seminal work performed by the American scientists Gerald Pollock and Gilbert Ling, who elucidated and studied the fourth phase of water, Cowan explains that under the influence of heat Jell-O is formed through the interaction of water and gelatin proteins, which have a high affinity for water. (2) The heat makes the proteins “unfold”, so that they can attach to the water molecules. “Upon cooling,” so writes Cowan, “the characteristic gel forms. The water inside our cells is similar. You start with water and add protein [most likely actin], which then together form the characteristic fourth-state gel.” Cowan goes on to explain that “what Ling discovered is that ATP, the so-called energy molecule, does not produce energy at all but rather plays the role of heat in biological systems. Specifically, ATP binds to the end of the intracellular proteins, unfolding them, therefore allowing them to bind with the water in the cells to form gels. Without ATP, no gel forms and the function of the cell collapses. This vital but misunderstood role of ATP in biological systems [is] crucial in our understanding of the cancer process.”
The foundation of life itself
In fact, the integrity of the intracellular gel has a role in every important function carried out by the cell. It is, according to Cowan, “the foundation of life itself and the manifestation or embodiment of what I will be calling the life force of the organism.” It is at this point of our story about water, that we can connect the latest discoveries in the field of water to the groundwork developed by Walter Canon, who found the robustness of the human body, the ability of living beings to maintain their own constancy, miraculous. He unconditionally acknowledged Hippocrates, the “father” of medicine, who proposed the idea that disease is primarily cured by a natural power, a vis medicatrix naturae. This natural healing power implies the existence of means and modes of action which are ready to operate correctively when the normal state of the organism is upset. “The wonder,” so Cannon, “increases when we realize that the system is open, engaging in free exchange with the outer world, and that the structure itself is not permanent but is being continuously broken down by the wear and tear of action, and is continuously built up again by processes of repair.” (3)
Homeostasis or “cruise control”
It was Cannon who coined the word that became household language in physiology and medicine: “homeostasis.” Even though the term is commonly and widely used, it is largely misunderstood as meaning a condition of motionless balance among various opposing forces. But, according to Cannon, homeostasis should not be seen as an endpoint or outcome, but as a dynamic and constantly active interplay of numerous means and modes of action that work towards the establishment and maintenance of the optimum structure and function of the many systems that support the survival and health of our bodies. In the simplest of terms, you may think of homeostasis as the cruise control system in your car. When activated, it keeps the car at a “set point” speed. In homeostasis, all functions of the body work towards such a “set point.” The body’s optimum temperature is a good exampled of such a “set point.” Each physiological “set point” is a datum that forms part of the body’s self-regulatory knowledge, or, as Cannon called it, the wisdom of the body.
Fourth-phase water and homeostasis
Connecting the dots, we can now see how fourth-phase water in our cells plays a vital role in homeostasis, i.e. in the maintenance of the body’s myriad of structures and functions. Fourth- phase water is the seat of the wisdom of the body. But, all this wisdom will be of no avail without the ATP that provides the heat that is required to form the gel in our cells. ATP is produced by oxidizing glucose. As the word “oxidizing” says, this way of producing ATP takes place by “burning” oxygen. It is true that ATP can also be produced in the absence of oxygen, i.e. by splitting the sugar by way of fermentation or glycolysis, but this is, briefly put, how cancer cells produce their ATP. So, the preferred way to produce ATP is through the use of oxygen, i.e. by way of what we call “cellular breathing”. To “breathe” and so maintain the integrity of every cell’s gel, oxygen has to be abundantly availabe in all the nooks and crannies of our body.
Water and OPCs
The tiny hair-vessels (capillaries) connect the arteries filled with oxygen-rich blood coming from the heart and the veins filled with carbon-dioxide-rich blood streaming back to the heart. The hair-vessels organize the exchange of substances between blood and lymph and the tissues. In order to function optimally, this microvascular network acts under the control of its own specific homeostasis. Numerous pertinent human, animal and cell studies strongly support the claim that Masquelier’s OPCs can help maintain healthy microvascular structures and functions by positively acting on the microvasculature’s homeostasis. For instance, OPCs support the fabric of the microvascular wall by protecting collagen and elastin fibers against degradation as well as enhancing synthesis of collagen. OPCs thus support the body’s fluid matrix in 2 ways. They facilitate the streaming and efficient distribution of liquid water through the vascular and lymphatic systems and, in doing so, play an important role in supplying the cells with the oxygen which, in turn, helps in the production of ATP, so that, eventually, the heat is produced that is required to bring water in its fourth-phase. OPCs thus play a crucial vital role in maintaining the “foundation of life”. And, what’s more, in case the combustion of oxygen happens to produce reactive oxygen species, the type of oxygen we call “free radicals”, OPCs will neutralize them before they can do any harm!
1 Cancer and the New Biology of Water; Thoman Cowan, MD. Chelsea Green Publishing; White River Junction, Vermont; London, UK.
2 I recommend Cells, gels and the Engines of Life; Gerald . Pollock; Ebner & Sons; Seattle WA, USA
3 The Wisdom of the Body; Walter B. Cannon; W.W. Norton & Company, INC.; New York; 1932.