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Introduction to Physiology

Physiology, Lecture #1
Introduction to Physiology & Homeostasis

Normal physiology is the science that explains physics and chemical

factors that are responsible for the development, origin and the progression
of our life. Throughout our lives this science (physiology) takes care of
physical and chemical factors which affect our lives. In certain definition it's
the science that teaches the functions of organs.

Physiology: [A branch of biology that deals with the functions and

activities of life or of living matter (as organs, tissues, or cells) and of the
physical and chemical phenomena involved; the study and description of
natural objects; natural science]

Remaining alive is beyond our control, because in our body, we have

three control systems which are gifted to humans, animals and plants:

1. Genetics- The genomes inside the DNA of the cell, these are the
codes that help the cell survive and function normally. A defect in
these genomes can cause “Genetic-Diseases”, As long as our cells are
free from genetic defects we will have normal tissue, normal organs
and normal body control. This first control system is a gift to animals,
plants and humans; to survive beyond their control.

2. Instincts- What are instincts? They are the force/perfect

function one can do without being taught to from parent or others. It is
there. It's within you without knowing it. Without the need to acquire or
learn it. So it’s a gift from the beginning of our life, it may develop in a
later stage of your life (sexual instincts) but you still don't need to
learn it.

Example: if we are hungry, we look for food to eat, if we are thirsty we look
for water to drink, if we are afraid of something we have the reaction of any
living creature. The three “F”s: Fear, Fight, Flight. Why? To survive, to
escape a dangerous situation. If you are able to fight, you should fight and
survive. If you are not able to fight, you should flee in order to live another
The major important issue in our lives is that we feel the desire for sex.
We feel the desire for lust in proper age. Why? If we didn’t like sex nobody
would get married, leading to the death of our entire species. The only
reason we marry, is because it’s enjoyable, but the end result of that is the
instinct of sex to survive. Because when we die we want a new generation to
come out and to continue our names and survival as human being. The same
applies to animals and plants, if there is no sex there is no survival for any of

Introduction to Physiology

those species.

∝ So these control systems. The genetic gifted to cells and instincts

gifted to human beings and other living creatures.

How many instincts are in the human body? There are only 4
instincts in our life, but from these four instincts we can completely modify
our behavior through life. For example one could say that drinking is an
instinct, but in fact it is not it is derived from the instinct/need of food intake.

The instincts:

1-Food Intake- although it may seem quite simple it's not an easy
task. First you eat and chew the food and swallow it, then it is sent down to
the GI (gastro-intestinal tract) where it is further digested, it's not a very
easy physiological function. The whole process includes muscle contractions,
some voluntary and others involuntary, and the swallowing itself is not an
easy physiological function, because if u don’t swallow the food properly, it
would go through the respiratory system which could possibly lead to death.
So this procedure that you will learn when you take the GI system is not easy
one, but it is gifted to us. After delivery, any human newborn is a perfect
sucker for the milk of the mother. Nobody taught this newborn how to suckle
the nipple of the breast. But he was born with that knowledge and perfect
function of this physiological normal function because it comes from the
instinct. It was gifted to that newborn.
Let’s go a little further and elaborate on the animals, Because instincts
are not only related to human beings but to many different creatures as
well, They exist all over the living creatures. Now, food intake is the most
important instinct, because without taking in food and water nobody would
survive. So the mother is there to feed the newborn (in humans and most
mammals). If we take some animals, after delivery of each animal, this small
living creature, takes him only a few seconds or minutes to stand up and
start walking, while we , the human beings, take about 10 months to learn
that procedure which is normal physiology, walking. Why is that? Because;
there is wisdom in the creation of that. God knows that we as human beings,
especially mothers, can take care of their newborns, by carrying feeding
cleaning waking at night to help the newborn. But animals don’t do that,
That's why god gifted the animals extra power, perfect function even in
advance within few minutes after delivery to stand- not only stand but to
Walk- not only walk. They can even run after the mother. why? To take in
So this instinct is more powerful compared to the human being.

2-Defense- it's an instinct that exists in animals and humans. But it’s
more powerful in animals because they live in jungle life not like pure lives.

Introduction to Physiology

We have a lot of protection; we have modified the very nature to help us

survive. That's why the defense instinct is weak in human beings; our own
sense of security has let our defense instinct fade away. But if the situation
where reversed, and there was a fear for survival, we would become animals
in respect to each other. We would kill each other in order to survive.
Defense mechanism it's very wild instinct in animals and birds.
Smelling thing is related to animals and humans. But this instinct is more
powerful in animals than in humans. In a way that butterflies or bees, they
can smell things very far from them, more than 10-15 miles away of them.
Why? Because their survival depends on the need to know where food is, and
how to get to it. Human beings can smell a few meters square around it. Also
there is another feature in smelling of animals: there are few animals that
can smell specific factors. [For example, Pizza consists of cheese, meat,
tomato, bread. .etc. when you smell the pizza, you say that you can smell
the Pizza, not meat…cheese…etc. but animals can smell each of these
compounds separately]. Defense mechanisms can play different roles in the
modification of our behavior. And we can spend more than 2 hours, only in
giving examples about the defense mechanism. But defense mechanism can
be increased or decreased- it depends on the situation you're on it. (The
doctor: I'm sure u heard a lot of examples about people who performed extra
power in order to save their relatives or friends under accident situations or
traumas. And these people under normal situation they cannot perform that
power, but because of the instinct, when we talk about the survival, there is
an extra power that is coming to the human body, and he can perform super
powerful function of that human (Because there is a release of Adrenaline,
and the effect of adrenaline on our muscles and our cardiovascular system
and so on).

3- Sex- sex instinct is gifted to the human being, but the activation of
this instinct doesn't come upon birth, it takes about 12-14 years of age for
humans to become sexually capable. If that instinct came right after birth
along with the instinct for food intake that would cause a disaster in our
community, because we should live as a human. And the human living style
is different than the animal’s jungle life style. Imagine yourself if you had in
your early age an activated sex instinct..! That means your hormones are
there, and u feel the desire, u can perform the intercourse, while you are 3
or 4 years old! It would be a disaster. All girls would be pregnant; all boys
would be fathers..! (OMG!) Because it's not accepted for the human
community, god gave the benefit of that instinct late in your age.

4-Maternity- This is another instinct related to the human being, and

not to all the animals. There are few animals that do not have the maternity
instinct, especially sea animals, when fish lay their eggs at the bottom of the
river/sea/ocean, the eggs hatch a while later without a mother or a father,
nobody there, and this new generation of the sea animals survive alone, but
no animal is left without a chance. Most sea creatures survive through sheer

Introduction to Physiology

numbers (a very large amount of eggs are laid) some will be eaten but
others will survive. As for humans, when there is a newborn, there is a
mother, with the maternity instinct. There is a controversial issue between
scientists; is there such thing as a Paternity instinct? We are not sure
whether we as males we have the paternity feeling as an instinct. We have
the fatherhood, but it doesn't reach the level of motherhood with the
maternity. Anyway… why the maternity is important for the human being?
Because this human newborn cannot survive alone, He or she needs mother
for few years. They need parents for tens of years. Even nowadays, the
students finish high school; they come to the university to register with their
parents! This taking care of family is specific for human being. Let’s go back
to the fish. They survive alone and it's difficult to survive in the sea life style.
Because the life style in the sea is "The big eats the small". How do they
survive? It's not easy. So god gave them another opportunity to survive. Now
we are talking about one fish, which lays thousands of eggs. Whereas
humans deliver one, two, and unusual, to have triple or four. But the fish
when they hatched thousands of small fish, half of these thousands will be
eaten in the first day. The remaining half will be eaten next week. By the end
of 3 or 4 months, when they are already mature and they can defend
themselves and survive, we will have few of them. So that's why the species
will survive by having them opportunity to deliver or to hatch a huge number
of new generations.
So if u look back we have the genetic control to make the cell survive,
because the genetic control inside the cell, inside the DNA. We have the
instinct to make us survive as a species. We don't need physicians. If we are
sick, and there is no physician, the disease will have starting point and end
point. And we will survive. We will defend that, we will cure ourselves. But for
better life, we approach physicians, hospitals, paramedical, to help us in
making our life easier, not to survive.

3. Homeostasis- Another control system in human beings (Homeo=

cell, stasis= constant- to keep our cells constant because our cells are
living creatures, living structures. They want proper environment to live in).
Homeostasis means to keep in contact and communication with extra
cellular area, with intra cellular area, in proper way. To keep the electrolytes
normally inside and outside, to expel the waste outside, to take oxygen and
food inside the cell and feed itself. It's simple, but still homeostasis.
Homeostasis in bacteria and ameba is different than the homeostasis in the
human. (Not Homeostasis- Blood clotting)!
In order to keep the environment proper, we have to keep the following:
- The volume around the cell constant
- The composition of fluid around the cell constant
Example: the PH level of human body is 7.4. It shouldn't be more or less than
that. But it's impossible to keep it 7.4 because we drink Cola- which is an
acidic juice, and when it comes into our body, it will make the PH acidic. So

Introduction to Physiology

the cells inside our body ace the changes around them, but they are able to
interfere and keep back the normal situation. This is the homeostasis. Not to
keep the constant situation all the time, but if there is a change, there is a
homeostatic function.
In multi cellular organism, we need the oxygen, so the oxygen should be
constant most of the time. So if there is an exercise or if you read too much
for the exam, the oxygen will go down because you will utilize a lot of it. The
Homeostatic function increases the oxygen inside the body. So there are
thousands of those variables in our life. We call those variable Vital signs for
our life. Blood pressure, PH, oxygen level, carbon dioxide level, heart rate,
temperature, volumes of fluids inside the body...etc. each organ can take
tens of variables should be constant most of your normal life. If they are not
constant, we will have a disease.

All of our cells are about 5 million RBC's in micrometer= in one milliliter
we have thousands of micrometers. So RBC's only are 25 trillions. All of them
are located in the fluid environment, outside the cell. There is no cell that
can survive without having most of its surface area in contact with fluid. So
because of the cells are located in water environment, in our body we have 2
major parts of fluids. One located inside the cell and it is called intracellular
(which is the cytoplasm), and the other compartment is called extra
cellular (outside the cell). Our internal environment is the extra
cellular fluid, not the intracellular fluid. This is the part we should keep
constant by homeostasis. So homeostasis is: to keep constant the internal
environment (the extra cellular fluid)

Q. / What is the most important organ in the human

In order to answer this question, we have to think why god created us
in this shape? First, let's frame our structure as a human being. We are built
from molecules, mainly Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen and Nitrogen. These are
the major molecules for him building of the cell. But if we are talking about
living creature, Hydrogen has nothing to do with life. Carbon has nothing to
do with the life…. It’s a molecule. You take it from your kitchen, you take
from the lab, and you can take it from the cell all over the world. But you
don’t find cell in the kitchen. Cell Is the Basic Unit of our life. Cell is the
functional unit of our life. This is the main structure of the human body.
If you look to yourself, you'll find different types of cells. But all of them have
those characteristic or function. All of these cells, despite they are differ from
each other (Skin cells, lung cells, brain cells, muscle cells) but all of them
consist oxygen and produce CO2, they utilize the food you take, and they
produce energy. Also the food they utilize, they can synthesize what they
need for the structure and the function. All of these cells have particles
inside them. And these particles are not big, so they communicate with each
other. Also, these cells are able to be exposed and interfere with the outside

Introduction to Physiology

life by cytoplasmic membrane. So cytoplasmic membrane is full of functions

to communicate with the outside and the inside of the cell, even if it's a
membrane, and all cells can perform that.
Most of the cells reproduce- they can divide and build a new generation of
the cells. These are the main characteristic of cells despite their modification
and difference.
Our life started from one cell- human being, animals, plants, and bacteria, all
of these living creatures.
The first cell in the entire human is the same cell. After a while, this cell was
able to divide and produce different cells. Groups of cells go to build one
tissue, another one causes aggregation for the cell to produce another
tissue. So what is this? This is a signal, and this signal mainly chemical
signal, which tell that cell to be skin, and the other cell to be muscle, and so
on... We call the first cell: Mother cell, or Stem cell. But after a while we'll
have thousands of different cells.
Those cells produce 4 tissues in our body.
1. The muscular tissue- it has three different types of muscles.
Skeletal muscle- which we move our hands, legs… smooth muscle, and
cardiac muscle- which is very specific. The same mother cell, for the
four types of tissues, can produce these 3 types, by different signals.
2. The nervous tissue- the cell in the brain, which is the central
nervous system, and the cell in the spinal cord, which is also the
central nervous system, and other cells of the peripheral nerves.
3. Epithelial tissue- is the covering layer of our body inside and
outside. There are 2 types of epithelial cells: the covering layer cells,
and the gland cells. The gland secretes, whereas the covering layer
just covers. But they are from the same mother cell. One signal gave a
gland; the other signal gave the covering layer.
4. Connective tissue- is a special protein between cells called
fibrin…etc. these are the stretchable parts of our body. They stretch,
they connect, and they communicate cells between each other. Also
bones are another type of connective tissue.

So these are four tissues that came from different signals but began from the
same mother cell.
Now, when we have different tissues, we form another level or structure in
our body, which is the organ. When we say organ we mean the liver,
stomach, heart, lung…etc. these organs have multi-tissue structures. They
might have epithelial, muscular, nervous and connective tissue. But as a
whole, this organ will form a special structure for the human life. If we collect
multi-organs together, we will have a system- which is the style of
physiology teaching [respiratory system, GI system, central nervous

∝ So a system is a multi-organ.
∝ Organ is a multi-tissue.

Introduction to Physiology

∝ Tissue is a multi- cell.

∝ And finally when we have the system together, we'll have the
whole body- the organism.

Let's go back to our question: what is the most important organ or system
in our life? [The doctor shows a slide with the image of the human body]
Inside the skeleton there are tissues and organs and systems, and outside
the skeleton there is a skin. The creator, our god, thought that most of our
life will be standing or sitting. So if there is an important organ, where should
I put it? (Regarding the distance from the earth) because most of the
traumas we get are closer to the land. So- the higher the organ, the most
important is that organ. So if we want to divide the human body to 3 parts,
the first part will be the skull and the neck, the second will be the chest, and
the third will be the abdomen, where the organs located. So the brain for
example, is more important than the lungs. And then the heart, and the
stomach, and the intestine.
To answer the question in different way- if the organ is well protected, so it's
very important. And the protection comes from the skeleton, the bones
surrounding the organ. The skull is the hardest part in our body; it's not easy
to break our skull. The chest area has a bony structure, but it's flexible more
than the structure of the skull. [In the picture- the blue colored bones are the
most protected bones in our body] so the brain and the spinal cord are well
protected. And in the chest there is less protection than the skull and the
spinal cord. So the brain and the spinal cord are very important because they
are well protected.
Which is more important, the lungs or the heart? Although they are located
at the same chest are, but god gave us two lungs and one heart, so the
lungs are more important. Kidneys are important but not well protected
because there are no bones surrounding them so any trauma to the back will
traumatize the kidneys. [The doctor gives an example about the woman that
complained from red urine]. If we take one kidney from the human, he will
survive normally.
GI system is important but not that much, because it’s located in the
abdominal cavity. In the GI system there is stomach, intestine (small and
large) and there is liver. So which is more important? The intestine or liver?
The liver for sure. Because intestine can be cut in a surgery without
suffering. Liver is a huge factory for our life.

The stem cells in medicine are a revolution of medicine in this 21st

century, and if you look back at the history of medicine, there are a few
revolutions of medicine. So there are not a lot of changes in medicine since
then, if you compare it to technology, computer…etc. In the last century, we
have the revolution of discovering the antibiotics. 100 years ago, millions
of people died because of simple infection, because there were no
The second revolution in the last century was discovering the Viagra.

Introduction to Physiology

All our functions, either breathing, heart rate... by aging, it goes down. This is
the problem of physiology. You can't survive 70 years with the same
performance at the age of 20. Viagra survived these kinds of functions in the
last century with the old ages. It had a positive and negative effect in the
human community and family.
Nowadays, this topic, stem cells, is another revolution. And the most
important one is the cloning. We have 2 types of stem cells. The one that is
taken from the (‫ )الجنين‬. These cells are the best for medicine. Because they
still don’t know what they will be in the future. And they don't have that
specific factor inside the cells. Which means if you give it to anybody, the
body will not reject them (anyone can accept them).
The second types of stem cells, Somatic/Adult stem cells, are ready
there for a new generation of new tissues. They grow and they build new
cells. As an example, you know that red blood cells survive about 120 days.
So every 120 days we have to change our RBC's, so there is a specific stem
cell in the bone marrow, to produce RBC's. The same thing for the epithelial
cells, when you get a one and that new generation comes from the stem
cells that come from the adult tissues. In medicine we can do a lot with these
adult tissues, but the rejection from the patients will remain there. What can
we do with these cells? We can replace dead tissues. For example,
Parkinson’s or Alzheimer, if we find a stem cell and give it a signal to be that
nervous cell in the brain, we will treat those patients.
Also, we can grow a customized tissue. How? In the lab, we can take
these tissues in a special dish with growing material and if we know which
signal to get to give those mother cells, we can grow epithelial tissue,
muscle tissue…etc. also, we can build an organs. Nowadays, in the labs in
medical schools, they already have urine bladder, made with stem cells. How
they do it? As long as you have stem cells and you give it the signal to build
and to grow urine bladder, it will start building a urine bladder. In order to
make it with the proper shape, we design a model to make these stem cells
grow on the top of the model, and after finishing that grow, we will have a
complete urine bladder. And we can replace it to a patient who lost it
because of cancer or trauma. And if these stem cells where embryonic, they
will not be rejected from the patient.
So this kind of science is still in the hot research step, but in the future you'll
hear from different hospitals that they can cure different disease which
cannot be cured nowadays.

I did my best… so Good luck to all of you guys!!


Areen herzallah

Introduction to Physiology