Scientists Discovered A 'New' Human Organ That May Play A Key Role In Inflammation And Healing

Contributing Wellness & Beauty Editor By Lindsay Kellner
Contributing Wellness & Beauty Editor
Lindsay is a freelance writer and certified yoga instructor based in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a journalism and psychology degree from New York University. Kellner is the co-author of “The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide to Ancient Self Care,” with mbg Sustainability Editor Emma Loewe.

Photo by Guille Faingold

According to a new study published earlier this week in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers discovered a new organ they are calling the interstitium. Instead of being categorized by distinct body of localized cells like the heart or the spleen, the interstitium is actually the fluid-filled space between organs and includes the all body's fascia, skin, and "submucosae of all visceral organs."

The interstitium is reportedly the space where tattoo ink lives, it's where excess water is held in the body, and, perhaps most importantly, it may be linked to the spreading of cancer cells by providing a connection to lymph channels. According to scientist Neil Theise, M.D., who is a diagnostic liver pathologist, adult stem cell researcher, and has been leading this study, the interstitium's total volume is approximately 10 liters, making it the new body's new largest organ.

Other experts have questioned this "discovery," stating that the interstitium has always been there and that it's not a new organ. While that's true, calling the interstitium an organ represents a shift in the way medical professionals are thinking about the body. It's only recently that fascia, lymph, and the skin have been discussed in mainstream media as holistic systems that communicate with all of the body—not simply localized parts—and play a key role in posture, detox, fitness, circulation, and overall well-being.

Considering the interstitium is one of the first layers of cells a cancer penetrates when it leaves a tumor, this research may have implications for how cancer is diagnosed. "This raises the possibility that direct sampling of the interstitial fluid could be a diagnostic tool," for cancers that have started to spread, researchers wrote. Indeed, a future of health that focuses on function and connection, both through physicalized parts of the body and our overall well-being, is more integrated than ever.

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