Balancing the Nervous System with Chiropractic Care
How Do Our Brains Keep Our Bodies Healthy?
Last week we talked about understanding subluxation and its effects on the body. A subluxation is any change to the nervous system’s natural state and can result in a variety of health problems, including muscle atrophy, congestion, anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, sleep problems, and more.
Individuals who are diagnosed with subluxations find that they manifest from some form of physical trauma, toxins in the body, or different mental and emotional stressors.
Given how subluxations are formed, it’s also important to know that these same traumas, toxins, and stressors are registered by your brain, which will read these as threats to your body. In turn, your brain uses signals from your mind and body to determine the level of “harm” at hand and respond appropriately.
For your brain to keep your body healthy, as well as respond to the external threats that cause subluxations, it must switch back and forth between the sympathetic and parasympathetic responses in the nervous system.
Like other processes in the body, maintaining this careful balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems is tricky, and can cause numerous problems across the body if there is any form of imbalance. But before we get into some of the health problems that can arise due to an imbalance in the nervous system, let’s walk through some of these big words, namely the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
Understanding the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous Systems
A crucial part of promoting health and wellness across the entire body lies in processing threats against the body. When threats do arise in the form of physical trauma, toxins or stress, your brain responds in one way - shifting into protection mode, otherwise known as the fight-or-flight response.
This protection mode refers to one of the two main divisions of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). These two divisions are called the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which you can think of as the two modes your body switches between in order to respond to threats and stay healthy.
Think of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems as the accelerator and brakes on a car, respectively. One revs up the essential functions in your body to carry you out of danger (the sympathetic) and the other slows your body down when the danger is gone, giving your time to rest and recover (the parasympathetic). Let’s break this down a bit more.
Sympathetic Nervous System
The Sympathetic Nervous System is your fight-or-flight response, which means the body speeds up, tenses up, and becomes more alert to respond against threats. While functions that are essential to survival speed up and engage, the functions that are not essential for your survival are shut down.
Reactions of the Sympathetic Nervous System:
Controls the body’s responses to a perceived threat
Short neurons, faster system
Body speeds up, tenses up and becomes more alert
Functions not critical to survival shut down
Increases heart rate
Decreases urinary output
Parasympathetic Nervous System
The Parasympathetic Nervous System is your rest-and-digest response and counteracts the sympathetic nervous system. This division of the ANS controls the functions that help your body achieve homeostasis and reach a state of calm.
Reactions of the Parasympathetic Nervous System
Controls the body’s responses while at rest
Longer pathways, slower system
Restores the body to a state of calm
Decreases heart rate
Increases urinary output
Chiropractic Care for Your Nervous System
While both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems are key for overall health and wellness, being stuck in one or the other can result in a number of consequences. Namely, we physically cannot be in what chiropractors refer to as growth and protection at the same time.
If your body is in a constant state of protection, which means that any functions that aren’t essential for survival are shut down, you are missing out on important body functions such as rest, digestion, and relaxation. Conversely, you are stuck in a constant state of adrenaline rush, increased heart rate, and muscle contraction.
More often than not, most people are stuck in the sympathetic response, and should your body be stuck in that state for excessive periods of time without relief, there can be long consequences, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, poor digestion, and high blood pressure.
Even though chiropractors are best known for helping relieve back and neck pain, they are also highly concerned with the body’s functions across internal organs like the heart, stomach, and intestines.
If you want to learn more about subluxations and how they can affect your body, contact us today!