The Central Nervous System

Author: Emma Gilbert

What is the Central Nervous system?

The Central Nervous System (or CNS) is made up of your brain and spinal cord and it controls everything in your body without you having to think about it. The CNS beats your heart, breathes your lungs and controls your hunger, sleep, immunity, energy levels and healing. So it’s REALLY important!

How does the Central Nervous System work?

Your CNS relies on relays of information from your brain out to your body and back again. The brain receives these messages, processes them and then sends an action message to the body to make changes.

The Central nervous system

Your CNS is usually in one of two states: the parasympathetic (relaxed) state or the sympathetic (stressed) state. The parasympathetic state is like your maintenance system, running regular checks, making sure you are shutting down to build up energy and heal issues, not just muscles and joints, but also repair the health of your vital organs. This slows your heartbeat, increases oxygen intake and blood flow to your guts because it prioritises digestion. This is the state you were designed to live in.

The sympathetic (stressed) state is also known as the “fight or flight” response. This is the state we go into when we are in fear for our lives or faced with a difficult challenge. We were not designed to live in this state because it is only good in an emergency. The sympathetic state shuts down everything we need to be healthy: it shuts down digestion, healing and sleep but steps up your heartrate and muscle tension.

How is this relevant to me?

The daily stresses of modern life: family pressure, work targets, time pressure, increased exposure to social media and cultural pressures all means that we are exposed to this “fight or flight” feeling too often. Consider your morning routine: getting everyone up and out on time, making it through traffic while thinking ahead to what pitfalls might await you in your work day, one of these elements alone is enough to put your system into a stressed state!

When combined with lack of proper downtime (relaxing, not spent in front of a screen) your “default setting” can easily become switched to stressed. Now, instead of living in the parasympathetic healthy state, you are living in a sympathetic stressed state. When this happens, you very quickly loose your health because your vital functions of digestion, sleep and repair don’t happen.

What can I do about it? The 5 Pillars of Health

Cycle of healthAt Radcliffe we focus on the 5 pillars of health: healthy nervous system, unprocessed diet, regular exercise, quality sleep and positive mental attitude. These 5 elements are what create health and help to keep you switched onto the parasympathetic state. The more you prioritise these in your life, the less health problems you will experience and you will have more energy and vitality.

These 5 elements help you to deal more effectively with daily stress, however the more you can minimise the stress in your life the easier it is to stay healthy.

Chiropractic and a healthy nervous system

For us the true power of Chiropractic adjustments is they stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. This means coming to get adjusted is a great way to break a negative health cycle and help you feel motivated to make the other necessary health changes in your life in order to be truly healthy.

At Radcliffe we always say that regardless of the symptoms that bring people to us, everyone has the same problem: their brain isn’t getting the message from their body that something isn’t right and so it hasn’t healed itself. Our job is to re-establish the connection between body and brain so that the body can begin to heal. Does that make sense to you?

We use a series of simple neurological tests which demonstrate how effectively your body and brain are communicating with each other alongside measurements of health such as blood oxygen and heart rate. This gives us essential information on the state your body is currently in and how much work it will take to restore you to full function i.e. sleeping, moving, digesting and healing properly so you feel fantastic.

Why might your brain not be getting the messages from your body? One very common reason is because you are living in a stressed (sympathetic) state and the body doesn’t prioritise healing in emergency mode. Other reasons could be poor posture, trauma and loss of movement in the spinal column. In truth, most of us have several factors including stress and loss of motion which are contributing to poor health. You might not feel sick or in pain but you don’t feel bursting with energy either. This is our goal for you!

We are going to cover each of the 5 pillars in upcoming articles… next month why movement is so important for a long and healthy life.