The body is always striving to maintain an internal equilibrium called homeo-
stasis, which is regulated by three regions in the brain and maintained by a
number of positive and negative feedback mechanisms. Disease or illness may
develop when homeostasis is disrupted.
Any cellular change or damage can affect the whole body. Injury, malnutri-
tion or invasion by pathogens can all disrupt homeostasis. Cells check for such
imbalances during the cell cycle and replication and usually adapt successfully
in response to such stresses. However, sometimes the cell cycle fails to detect
unwanted changes and the resulting mutation may cause disease.
Humanity and disease share a long and eventful history. As we emerged and evolved, so did the diseases that blight our lives. Diseases exist in the fossil record, but our ancestors were actually less exposed to them. This changed around 10,000 years ago when they began living in more settled agriculturally based communities. Animals were a major part of this revolution. But settlement brought disease and epidemics. Close contact, often in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, allowed some animal diseases to jump species and become deadly human infections.
Science and medicine have made dramatic advances across the several centuries in understanding, preventing, and treating disease.
Why is the study of disease so important?
Although a complementary practitioner is not legally allowed to diagnose disease, it is important to be familiar with the anatomy of the healthy human body in order to understand the subsequent changes which predispose to disease. Hopefully, by having studied Anatomy & Physiology therapists are well prepared to build on those foundations and to invest the holistic model of healing with a deep understanding of disease. Having achieved this you should then be able to communicate effectively with the medical profession, if necessary, to provide your clients with complete health care.
All therapists deal to some degree with the symptoms, causes and effects of disease and age-related conditions in the body. It is vitally important to have a basic understanding, not only of disease and its interpretation in medicine, but of the potential of a range of complementary therapies to assist in the healing process. Disease in this sense is studied not for the purposes of medical diagnosis, but to further understand the complexities of the human conditions of health and illness and to able to offer a more understanding and compassionate treatment to your clients, whatever your therapy.