<b>Assimilation</b> This node involves the organs and systems that bring substances into the body and renders them usable to our cells. This includes the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory and reproductive systems, and skin. Since most of what we take in is food, the primary setting for assimilation is the gut, where nutrients move into the bloodstream via the cells that line the gut wall. When this lining is compromised, it can trigger an immune response, creating inflammation that can spread to the rest of the body.
<b>Defense &amp; Repair</b> This node reflects immune function, including your body’s attempts to defend against foreign invaders that cause infection and to self-repair from inflammatory damage and injury. When the immune system is balanced, it sends the appropriate messages and repair cells to the right area — and stops once the problem is resolved. But if the immune system overreacts, as with autoimmune disorders, or stays on too long, as with chronic inflammation, this can result in a wide array of physiological symptoms.
<b>Energy</b> This node signals how well the body turns food into energy, beginning at the molecular level. Energy is produced by our cells’ mitochondria, which capture the energy produced by the digestion of nutrients. When something goes awry with mitochondria, we derive less energy from what we eat and the body has fewer resources to make hormones, build proteins, or repair DNA. This can leave you feeling lethargic and run down.
<b>Communication</b> Cells are constantly sending and receiving messages with their neighbors, and in some cases with other cells throughout the body. These messages involve hormones, neurotransmitters, cytokines, and other signaling molecules. Malfunctioning in the cell communication node can manifest as depression, hypothyroidism, insulin resistance, and rheumatoid arthritis.
<b>Transport</b> The transport node represents the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems, which move molecules within cells, between tissues, and throughout the body. The fluids associated with intercellular movement are blood, lymph, cerebrospinal, and interstitial fluid. When materials cannot be transported efficiently in your body, illness results. This can take the form of heart failure, hypertension, kidney disease, or edema.
<b>Biotransformation &amp; Elimination</b> This “detox” node involves systems that chemically modify and excrete toxic substances, including environmental toxins and metabolic and digestive byproducts. The main avenues of elimination are the skin and the gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. Being unable to expel wastes can lead to a host of conditions, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and neurological problems.
<b></b> <b>Structural Integrity </b> This node concerns the integrity of all the body’s physical structures. This includes subcellular membranes, major organs, and the musculoskeletal system of bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Imbalances here can stir up a wide range of symptoms. If your cell membranes are stiff from overconsumption of trans fats, for example, the cells’ receptors can’t communicate freely with the rest of your body. If your bones or vertebrae are out of alignment, you may experience chronic pain and fatigue.
<b></b> <b>Psychosocial Realm </b> While not technically a node, the psychosocial center reflects functional medicine’s fundamental regard for a patient’s mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. This realm includes the patient’s cognition, emotional self-regulation, and self-efficacy, as well as his or her sense of life meaning and spiritual purpose. Imbalance in this sphere can affect (and be affected by) all of the biological functions.

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