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Viva Las Vagus!

Most in the modern world are stressed out.

Stressed ladyWhether this be due to a high demanding job, deadlines, a stressful home life, relationships, or a combination of all, it is difficult for many simply to relax. This is a major reason why many are seeking answers in holistic medicine and Eastern philosophies to learn to calm the mind and relax the body. In this post we will be talking about the central nervous system and methods that can be used to calm stressed nerves.

The central nervous system

The central nervous system (CNS) comprises the brain and spinal cord. This system is what controls nearly everything in the body, from hormones being released in cyclical fashions to simply moving a muscle. It is the master system in the sense that it communicates to all other systems what to do. Therefore, it is highly important.

Autonomic System

Another component to the nervous system is something known as the autonomic system, or automatic system. This is because it operates without us consciously needing to do anything, such as controlling our breath and heart rate. These functions happen automatically so we can focus our energies on other tasks (can you imagine if we had to focus on each breath and making our heart move consciously!?).

There are two branches to this system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.

  • The sympathetic branch is responsible for our stress response, also known as fight or flight.
  • The parasympathetic branch is responsible for relaxation, or rest and digest.

When these two branches are in balance, we are doing well. However, due to unmanaged stressors, many people are more active in the sympathetic branch. While engaging the stress response is helpful when fleeing from a bear in the wild or handling stressful situations in our daily lives, it is not meant to be activated for very long. When people do not manage stress levels they tend to stay more in sympathetic dominance and this over time leads to disease, which often manifests as pain and discomfort.

Chiropractic and Stress

The body is able to heal and be well when it has a balance of parasympathetic activation. This is where chiropractic is very useful. This is because a cranial nerve called the vagus nerve travels from the brainstem and goes right down the neck and to most of the organs in our body to relax them (it is a very important nerve!).

Many people carry stress and tension in their necks, and so the bones in their neck can become very locked up and don’t move so well. This is not good because the vagus nerve runs right past the upper neck bone (C1), and can place pressure on this nerve, affecting its ability to communicate relaxation messages to your organs. So it is definitely a good idea to get regularly adjusted in the neck to help these signals travel from your brain to your body. This can improve things like digestion, sleep, and energy levels. Viva Las Vagus!

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