Power Up Your Parasympathetics: A Chiropractic Approach To Calming Your Nervous System

 

In our busy modern life, stress seems to be one of the only things 99% of the population can agree on – we all experience it daily, some more than others.. From the relentless pings of notifications to the demands of daily life, we’re often wired into a state of constant fight or flight, due to the stressors in our environment outweighing our adaptability to them. This persistent state of fight or flight is thanks to our sympathetic nervous system. Being stuck in this state wreaks havoc on our health, leaving us with weakened immunity, poor cognitive function, grumpy digestion, hypersensitivity to pain, inflammation and even anxiety and depression.

But it’s not all bad, there is another side to the coin of our autonomic nervous system – the parasympathetic nervous system or rest and digest mode. This pathway offers an opportunity to rebalance our autonomic nervous system, similar to a brake pedal in a car. Vagus nerve to the rescue – it’s a crucial conduit that connects the brain to various organs throughout the body, regulating key functions such as heart rate, digestion, and immune response. Through this lever, we’re able to downregulate our sympathetic state of fight or flight, into a calmer, more rested state of parasympathetic rest and relax.

So what does chiropractic have to do with this?

As chiropractors, our primary aim is addressing subluxations in the spine to help the prefrontal cortex (like the conductor in an orchestra) of the brain smoothly process information from the body. This leads to signals being more accurately sent down the spinal cord out to every function and tissue of the body. If the prefrontal cortex is the conductor, then the vagus nerve is the principal violinist. If this important player in the orchestra is even slightly out of tune, it can throw off the entire orchestra. 

Chiropractic adjustments stimulate the vagus nerve, upregulating the parasympathetic brake pedal and therefore down regulating the sympathetic fight or flight mode. Think of adjustments like tuning the violin, so the symphony can sound amazing! It’s no wonder many people notice they feel calmer or ‘lighter’ throughout their chiropractic care. In fact, aside from changes in pain levels, two of the highest rated changes in subjective outcomes after anywhere between 4 weeks to 4 months of regular care, are improved ‘response to stress’ and better sleep patterns.

This is a strong indicator the parasympathetic nervous system is being stimulated and pumping the brakes. Remember, there’s two options when it comes to the stress in our lives. We change our external environment where the stressors are coming from, OR, we strengthen our internal environment so we’re more adaptable to those changes.

We’ll be talking more this month about other levers you can pull to support your chiropractic care and calm your autonomic nervous system down. Follow us on socials and reach out if you have any questions!