Chapter 19: Ki Theory and Human Electricity
Along with our “hot” and “cold” energy, Ki theory also includes our human electricity. Our nervous system is made of nerve cells. These specialized cells connect to one another via synapses. When one nerve cell is stimulated, it goes on and stimulates the next cell. In 1780, Luigi Galvani discovered that this “communication” occurred via electricity. In one experiment, he applied an electric charge on the spine of a dead frog to induce muscle spasms. With further experimentation, Galvani made an important conclusion: nerves acted not as water pipes or channels, but as electrical conductors.1 Now, both the western and eastern medicine theories understand the importance of electricity in living organisms.
These nerve cells comprise our brain and spinal cord, and then branch off throughout the body. So, when the nerve cells in your brain receive information from the sensory cells, they signal our organs and muscles to respond. If your hand touches a hot griddle, you immediately pull back. This is because the electricity within your body is in good working order. Because of this, it only takes you a split second to react to the stimulus.
When the synapses and nerve cells in the brain wear down or do not work, we cannot function correctly. Without a strong connection between the nerve cells, the brain cannot receive and transmit information efficiently. This results in memory loss, reduced energy, and slower reaction times. If the problem becomes too serious, the brain will stop functioning completely. Of course, this will induce brain and or medical death.
Lack of electrical signals also affects the rest of the body. As I mentioned in previous chapters, the heart has two types of muscle: smooth (involuntary) and striated (voluntary). The striated muscle must contract in order to pump blood throughout the body. It does so through a constant stream of electrical impulses sent from the brain. Without continuous guidance from the brain, the heart will start pulsing irregularly, weakly, or not at all.
Our nerve cells will wear out with overuse. Luckily, we can prevent this from happening. Our cells produce electricity by changing from a naturally negative state to a temporarily positive state. This is only possible due to two important ions: potassium and sodium. When at rest, nerve cells contain more potassium ions (which are negatively charged) compared to their environment. This equates to a relatively negative inner charge. When stimulated, gates in the cell membrane open, and allow sodium ions (which are positive) to flow in, causing a temporary positive charge. The cell then releases neurotransmitters, which signal adjacent cells to go through the same process, therefore setting off a chain reaction. This is how electrical impulses travel throughout our body.
To keep this function in working order, we must supply our nervous system with sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Because we naturally consume enough sodium and potassium through meat and fruit, we should focus on finding good sources of calcium and magnesium, both of which are vital for maintaining the nerve cells and neurotransmitters. Ingesting limited amounts from natural sources makes it easier for our bodies to absorb. Some examples of these are shrimp, anchovies, nuts, and seaweed.
Along with producing, we must also maintain electricity. Exercise is very important, because it strengthens the connection between the brain and the muscles, therefore improving our reflexes. It also keeps a higher muscle mass and a lower fat mass. Muscle is important because it conducts electricity and moves when stimulated. More muscle promotes more electricity flow and better reflexes. Fat, on the other hand, does not conduct electricity; too much will block our electric flow.
And finally, we must save some electricity. It is necessary to relax in order to allow your nervous system to reset itself for future use. Take breaks from labor and enjoy your holidays. When we use our sympathetic nervous system (voluntary), we must balance it out by stimulating our parasympathetic nervous systems (involuntary) through eating (healthily), resting, and sleeping. Everything, including human electricity, depends on maintaining a balance.
See Luigi Galvani’s biography. Before Galvani’s work, it was believed that nerves worked like pipes and channels.