Hyaluronic Acid and Yin Yoga

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Hyaluronic Acid and Yin Yoga

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I was recently asked the following question:
  • Hi Bernie. Just wondering if you can point me to any research explaining how the compressive stress of yin poses effects hyaluronic acid ( creation of more or attraction & absorption of water) or the effect of these molecules forming strings/energetic pathways in relationship to fascia.
    Also, are there any good visual resources of the fascia throughout the heart?
    Thank you for all the wonderful wisdom you share!
    Much gratitude. Zoe.
Hi Zoe

I know of no study that answers your question directly, but if you want to put some pieces of the puzzle together you may understand what might be happening. For example, piece #1: Hyaluronic acid is formed by fibroblast (actually, most cells can do this): normal glycosaminoglycans are produced in the Golgi apparatus of the cells, but HA is produced by the cell membranes. Stress of the right quality will stimulate production of HA. Wikipedia has a good write up with lots of references: check here. I can also recommend this 1997 study which outlines that 1/2 of our HA is in the skin, 1/4 in our bones and joints, and the rest in the muscles and organs: Hyaluronan: its nature, distribution, functions and turnover.

Piece #2: According to the research of Helene Langevin (see here) fibroblasts change shape when stressed: She "found that there are cells within connective tissue- the fibroblasts- which change shape. They expand and remodel internally...When the fibroblasts change shape they secrete ATP. It's a molecule we think of in terms of energy in production in the cell. However, ATP can be used in a different way and can function as a signaling molecule outside the cell. Release of ATP from cell is necessary for the cell to change shape...Viscoelastic changes in fascia can happen fairly quickly, but the fibroblasts are much slower and didn't start changing until about the 10 minute mark."

Helene did not say that fibroblasts release HA when stressed (nor that they didn't) so we have to extrapolate here: we know that acupuncture stress affects the fibroblasts and that yin yoga creates an acupressure stress which should have a similar effect.

So far, so good - we know that fibroblasts produce HA, and we know that long held stresses can stimulate fibroblast into action. Do they release HA while under those stresses? I can speculate and say yes, but I have not seen a study that proves it.

[Let's also note that release of HA is not always a good thing! It depends on where, how and its structure. Here are two nice articles by Warren Hammer talking about HA in injuries and as a cause of pain: Hyaluronan: A Reason for Soft-Tissue Release; Hyaluronic Acid and the Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Here is another article has some graphics you might like.

3) Certain proteins can "structure water" creating super structures and conduits in the body. I can point you to the work of Dr Gerald Pollack: see his books Cells, Gels and the Engines of life; and The Fourth Phase of Water. He has done a lot of research on how water is structured in our body, and how it changes state from gel to sol. The structuring is done by proteins that create what he calls Exclusion Zones (or EZ), which is the 4th state of water.

4) James Oschmann in his books (specifically see Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance) ties many of these speculations together with other possible communication networks in our body that may be the meridian system noted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. We know we have a physical network of fascial fibers and fibroblasts that most cells are hooked into: a stress in the fascia may create piezoelectric currents along these pathways, or maybe the current flow in the structured tubes of water surrounding the fibers (this is where HA may come in: it creates the tubes of water.) Langevin's work shows that mechanical signals in this network also causes communication: the cells attached to the fibers feel the stress and respond. There are many other signalling pathways that may be invoked as well, some using the water tubes that HA helps form, and others going beyond that.

I hope this helps. Enjoy your research. Let us know if you uncover any more direct examples.


ps -- look here for an interesting look at a heart's fascia (this is a rat's heart though.)
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