In the last health issue of the Tidbits we explored how most of today's ailments can be traced back to stress. We explored the role of the adrenal glands in this process. We saw how our adrenal glands help us adapt to stress by releasing specific hormones to help us navigate our modern lifestyle. However, in states of chronic stress high levels of these hormones can cause damage. Furthermore we discovered that eventually adrenal glands can become exhausted leading to possible deficiencies states of hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and DHEA leading to Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome and all its problems. We discussed the importance of proper testing such as with the Adrenal Stress Index Test to find out exactly what stage you are in and how to treat it.
A vital part of the stress response involves your autonomic nervous system, specifically known as the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Under conditions of chronic stress these two parts of the autonomic nervous system become imbalanced leading to severe symptoms of tension, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, hypertension, high cholesterol, blood sugar, poor healing and much more.
The sympathetic nervous systems (SNS) primary goal is your survival and along with your adrenal gland it elicits your ‘fight for your life or run for your life’ stress response. The sympathetic/adrenal response is triggered by perceived physical and emotional threats. In modern life neither one is usually an appropriate choice, we cannot get out of our car and run from a traffic jam or punch our boss.
This sympathetic/adrenal response is meant to be only activated in dire circumstances and only very short term. Over time stress and sympathetic nervous system dominance creates tremendous damage to our body and brain leading to chronic and degenerative disease, if not brought under control. Symptoms and illnesses associated with a sympathetic dominance are: fast heart rate, palpitations, arrhythmias, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood sugars, type 1 diabetes, poor sleep, insomnia, nervousness, fear, anxiety, panic attacks, difficulty concentrating, cold hands and feet and headaches. Sounds a bit like a laundry list of the modern ailments of today!
The other side of your autonomic nervous system, called the parasympathetic nervous system, has qualities which give us the ability to relax, rest, restore, and rejuvenate the brain and body. In general it is the parasympathetic mode that allows your body and brain to heal. In a healing response the nervous system shifts from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic mode. Also in this meditative healing state the brain waves shift from beta, to alpha and then finally to the deeply relaxed theta brain waves. Through accessing the parasympathetic mode and an increased theta brain wave state the body/mind can rebalance itself chemically, hormonally and neurologically to help initiate real healing.
Wouldn't it be fantastic if there was some way to bring individuals back into this balanced state of healing! As a chiropractic neurologist I have found certain computerized assistive technologies that can assist patients in achieving healing states of balanced sympathetic/parasympathetic function with increased theta brain waves activation. Along with nutritional support I have found them to be extremely helpful in healing the ravages of stress.
One of the primary technologies I utilize is HeartMath, a sophisticated form of biofeedback that helps teach patients to get into the parasympathetic healing state sometimes referred to as personal coherence. Another assistive technology that I utilize with great success to help achieve an optimal healing state is the Brain Wave Audio/Visual Entrainment device or Brain AVE. Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) uses flashes of lights and pulses of tones to gently and safely guide you into various brain wave patterns to boost your mood, help with sleep, sharpen your mind, increase your level of relaxation and improve healing.
About Dr. Greg Fors
Dr. Greg Fors, D.C. is a Board-certified Neurologist (IBCN), certified in Applied Herbal Sciences (NWHSU) and acupuncture. As the clinic director of the Pain and Brain Healing Center in Blaine Minnesota he specializes in a functional medicine approach to fibromyalgia, fatigue, brain fog, digestive disorders, depression and anxiety. He is a sought after international lecturer for various post-graduate departments and state associations. Dr. Fors is the author of the highly acclaimed book, “Why We Hurt” available through booksellers everywhere.