Written by Dr. Adam Coats
This one is for the nerds out there. It’s going to start from a 30,000 foot view and then get really, really specific. If that sounds like you, keep reading.
The nervous system is the master control system of the body. It controls everything and makes all decisions. The nervous system controls our heart, lungs, muscle contractions, thyroid, reproductive organs, digestion, thoughts, etc. Because of the stress in our lives, interferences can occur in the system causing it to function improperly. In our office, we remove those interferences through the adjustment and allow your body to function and heal naturally, without drugs and without surgery.
That’s the big picture. Now, let’s get into the details, starting with what happens when we experience stress.
The nervous system detects a stimulus and the stress response is initiated. Catabolic activities increase (heart rate, blood pressure, etc.) and anabolic activities decrease (immunity, sex glands, digestion, etc.) Why does this occur? Because under a stressful situation (a bear chasing you, getting a project done by the deadline for your work, getting all three kids ready for school and out the door on time) these anabolic activities aren’t important. You don’t need your immune system to be strong if you’re running from a bear. You don’t need your sex glands to work if you’re stressed about work. You don’t need your food to digest if you’re trying to get your family out the door on time. This is an innate, intelligent response from your body. You don’t have to think about these changes occurring in your body, they just do.
Furthermore, the adrenal glands produce catecholamines (adrenaline/noradrenaline, epinephrine/norepinephrine, & cortisol). These function to increase heart rate and blood pressure further. These also stimulate the amygdala in the brain so that our emotion/anxiety are increased, meaning we’re more likely to remember the stressful situation we’re in so that we can avoid it in the future.
Our learning capabilities, working memory, and our ability to focus are all decreased. Again, we don’t need to learn anything new if we’re in any of the stressful situations listed above, or any other stressful situation for that matter.
The release of noradrenaline causes an increased sensitivity to our sensory systems. Our sight, touch, vibration sense, and hearing are all increased. This gives us the best chance for survival if we’re in a stressful situation. However, this also decreases our ability to concentrate. So, the stressed person is an easily distracted person. Sound familiar?
A chronic increase in noradrenaline and decrease in serotonin levels leads to depression, irritability, sleeping problems, lack of sex drive, decreased growth hormone which leads to rapid aging, and changes in appetite. The catecholamines release free fatty acids to provide the necessary energy that we need. This leads to us storing excess fat, specifically in our hips and thighs. If this continues, it leads to cravings for the substrates of the stress hormones, mainly fat and sugar.
This is an in depth description of what we call the stress response. Here’s the kicker, we can create this cascade of events just by thinking about a past or future stressful event. How many of us think about something stressful every single day?
Here’s a quick summary of what occurs during the stress response;
- Increased cortisol
- Increased catecholamines
- Increased heart rate
- Increased vasoconstriction
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased blood glucose levels
- Increased blood lipid levels
- Increased blood cholesterol levels (increased LDL, decreased HDL)
- Increased clotting factors
- Increased protein degradation of muscle and connective tissues
- Insulin resistance
- Increased feelings of stress, fear, anxiety and depression
- Decreased short term memory, ability to concentrate, and learn new material
- Decreased serotonin levels, increased noradrenaline levels
- Increased sensitivity of sensory systems include those for pain
- Decreased cellular immunity
- Decreased anabolic hormones like growth hormone and testosterone
- Bone loss, muscle fiber changes
If you really think about it, this is an absolute brilliant response from our bodies. All of these things occur simply to keep us alive. The human body is insanely intelligent and capable of adapting to the environment to keep us alive and healthy.
The problem occurs when we get stuck in this stress mode for an extended period of time.
What are the major chronic killers in our society?
- Heart disease
What are the major chronic problems in our society?
- Chronic pain
- Decreased sex drive
- Decreased fertility
- Accelerated aging
All of these issues are stress and lifestyle related, meaning they are all preventable.
So how does chiropractic fit into all of this?
The stress response causes interference in the spine and nervous system. We know that 90% of stimulation and nutrition to the brain comes from proper movement of the joints of the spine. These interferences cause a decrease in motion and/or abnormal motion of the spine. This leads to increased nociception (pain) and decreased proprioception (sense of where we are in space). Most of this occurs asymptomatically, meaning we are not aware of it. This decreased/abnormal motion leads to joint and muscle degeneration, as well as errors in the areas responsible for strength, balance, and coordination.
The chiropractic adjustments that we provide in our office correct the interferences in the nervous system. They normalize the structural (motion & alignment) and neurological (nociceptive & proprioceptive) components.
Because the interferences have been removed and the nervous system is now working properly, there is less stress in the system. Meaning all those changes that took place during the stress response are normalized. This leads to homeostasis, health, and increased resistance to disease and illness.
If you are a stressed person, I invite you to click the “Request an Appointment” button at the top of this page and see if what you have going on is something our office can help with. The initial consultation is free, so you really have nothing to lose!
- Chestnut, J. L. The 14 Foundational Premises for The Scientific and Philosophical Validation of The Chiropractic Wellness Paradigm.