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Your body is capable of generating electricity, and this ability is a key part of achieving health. Electricity allows your nervous system to send signals to your brain. These signals are actually electrical charges that are delivered from cell to cell, allowing for nearly immediate communication. The messages conducted via electrical signals in your body are responsible for controlling the rhythm of your heartbeat, the movement of blood around your body, and much more.
Negativity is the natural resting state of your cells. It’s related to a slight imbalance between potassium and sodium ions inside and outside the cell, and this imbalance sets the stage for your electrical capacity.
Your cell membranes practice a trick often referred to as the sodium-potassium gate. It’s a very complex mechanism, but the simple explanation of these gates, and how they generate electrical charges. At rest, your cells have more potassium ions inside than sodium ions, and there are more sodium ions outside the cell. Potassium ions are negative, so the inside of a cell has a slightly negative charge. Sodium ions are positive, so the area immediately outside the cell membrane is positive. There isn’t a strong enough charge difference to generate electricity, though, in this resting state.
When the body needs to send a message from one point to another, it opens the gate. When the membrane gate opens, sodium and potassium ions move freely into and out of the cell. Negatively charged potassium ions leave the cell, attracted to the positivity outside the membrane, and positively charged sodium ions enter it, moving toward the negative charge.
The result is a switch in the concentrations of the two types of ions ─ and rapid switch in charge. It’s kind of like switching between a 1 and 0 ─ this flip between positive and negative generates an electrical impulse.
This impulse triggers the gate on the next cell to open, creating another charge, and so on. In this way, an electrical impulse move from a nerve in your stubbed toe to the part of your brain that senses pain.
It’s also how the *(SA node) tells your heart muscles to contract, how your eyes tell your brain that what they just saw is the word “brain,” and how you are comprehending this article at all. Since everything relies on these electrical signals, any breakdown in your body’s electrical system is a real problem. When you get an electric shock, it interrupts the normal operation of the system, sort of like a power surge.
A shock at the lightning level can cause your body to stop. The electrical process doesn’t work anymore ─ it’s fried. There are also less dramatic problems, like an SA node misfire that causes a heart palpitation (an extra heartbeat), or a lack of blood flow to the heart that upsets the pacemaker and causes other parts of the heart to start sending out impulses.
*The SA node consists of a cluster of cells that are situated in the upper part of the wall of the right atrium (the right upper chamber of the heart). The electrical impulses are generated there. The SA node is also called the sinus node.
Medical Definition of SA node – MedicineNet
This is sometimes what causes someone to die from coronary artery disease or narrowing of the arteries. If the heart is constantly being told to contract, it never gets in a full contraction and it can’t get enough blood to the rest of body, leading to oxygen deprivation and a possible heart attack or stroke.
A human body can only generate between 10 and 100 millivolts. A cathode ray tube requires about 25,000 volts to create a picture on a television. If the machines could gather millions of electric eels, on the other hand, they’d be well juiced up. A single eel can produce around 600 volts. When we look at the human body, for example, especially the nervous system, we should conclude that the designer of the human body must have had an intricate knowledge of electronics and must have known how to harness electrical energy to change it into other forms of energy. When we consider the scale of the operation (i.e. at the atomic and microscopic levels), we can only wonder at God’s profound wisdom in creation.
The nervous system is composed of two parts: the central nervous system, which is the control center comprising the brain and the spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which consists of nerves connecting other parts of the body to the control center. Via a combination of electrical and chemical processes, the nervous system is used to control the functioning of the entire human body.
Our body is in a way a mobile portable micro-electric generator. If you wanted to see a graphical representation of electricity in action within the body, just look at an electrocardiograph. Every wave is an actual voltage of electricity from the heart, the higher the wave the higher the voltage.
For every 10 small boxes upwards or downwards is equal to 1 millivolt. Therefore, 1 small box is equal to 0.1 millivolt. One trend in the fields of Medicine and Bioelectronics is to harness this electricity within the body as efficiently as possible for the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of illnesses.
If bioengineers would be able to design nanodevices that can power itself using the human cell as its battery, then we won’t have to worry about batteries. Furthermore, it can practically stay within an individual for many years.
How Do Our Nerves Transmit Information?
A nerve fiber is actually an extension of a single nerve cell.
The inside and outside of most of our cells are bathed with fluid containing positively and negatively charged ions (e.g. sodium Na+; potassium K+; chloride Cl_). Using complex biological “pumps”, the cell’s machinery is able to transport positively charged ions through the (semi) permeable membrane, with the end result being that there is a slight excess of negatively charged ones inside.
This means there will be an electric potential across the membrane, so that the inside and outside are like the positive and negative poles on a battery, i.e. it is polarized.
If something causes the membrane to suddenly become more permeable at one spot, the resulting flow of positive ions back into the cell causes the charge differences to cancel out at this point—i.e., the membrane will become depolarized there.
This depolarization then spreads sideways, like a wave, along the cell wall, i.e. along the nerve fiber. The message in our nerve fibers is not transmitted by an electric current as such, but by a wave of depolarization. The cell’s biological pumps restore the electric charge to the membrane behind the path of the wave.
A number of things—mechanical or electrical stimuli, or chemical effects—can cause this temporary increase in permeability. Where one nerve fiber (A) makes contact with another (B) at what is called a synapse, the arriving wave causes the release of special transmitter chemicals from tiny containers. These chemicals cause depolarization in (B) at that contact point, so starting a new wave of depolarization going in the same direction. Once released, the transmitter chemicals must be broken down almost instantly, otherwise (B) would stay depolarized, and unable to build up charge ready for the next “firing”.
Organophosphorus insecticides (e.g. malathion) work by preventing this breakdown, thus the insect’s nerve cells cease to function properly. Because our nerve fibers use the same transmitter chemicals, malathion is poisonous to humans if exposed to enough of it.
This whole cycle of charge, discharge, chemical release, breakdown, and remanufacture, can happen several hundred times per second. Even with this very simplified description, it is clearly an astonishing process. The information to plan and make all this is stored in code on our DNA, the material of inheritance.
- Curr Biol. 2012 Aug 28.
- The Medicine Journal February 7, 2014
- HowStuffWorks How Does the Body Make Electricity?