The Missing Link when it comes to your Digestive Issues – Guest blog by Dr. Sarah Green
The following happens all the time in the office.
A patient comes in for an initial consultation for back pain but throughout our meeting we find out they have much more going on then just back pain…
They are stressed about work and their family, they don’t sleep well, get headaches and have issues with their digestive system like IBS, constipation or heartburn.
They are fed up with feeling run down, dealing with these symptoms or having to take medication.
At this point we proceed to an examination to check the entire spine and nervous system because we want to see how it is functioning. In our office, we check balance, co-ordination, surface EMG, HRV, infrared thermography, etc.
Now you may be asking, what does issues with the gastrointestinal (GI) system have to do with chiropractic? And you won’t be alone in thinking this way.
First give me a moment to explain quickly how your nervous system works.
The GI system is highly innervated meaning that the brain is very well connected to the guts. It is under the control of two parts of the nervous system – the sympathetic and the parasympathetic divisions.
Just think of the sympathetic and parasympathetic division like a teeter-totter – when one is more active the other is less active.
Now the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ or stress response. An example of the fight or flight response is this: you are in bed sleeping and you hear a large bang as something smashes through your window. First thing your body does is switch into sympathetic dominance – your heart rate goes up, you breath harder and your pupils dilate.
At the same time your parasympathetic nervous system is down-regulated. The parasympathetic system controls digestion, rest, immunity and reproduction. Obviously, if something smashed through your bedroom window at night, you would not be thinking about eating!
Now, at the top of your spine, right at the base of your skull, is where the brainstem is located and where the Vagus nerve stems from. The Vagus nerve is the main parasympathetic input in the body (remember it is responsible for digestion). From its origin in the neck it travels all the way down to the heart, lungs, stomach and gastrointestinal tract.
Any misalignment to the spine at the top of your neck can put pressure on the Vagus nerve and cause dysfunction throughout your body. This can lead to issues you know about like acid reflux or constipation, but more importantly it can affect your health in ways you have no idea about. Which is why people can have serious illnesses like heart disease or cancer and not even know it.
This is how your neck (and nervous system) can have a huge impact on digestion as well as the stress response throughout your body.
We encourage everyone no matter your symptoms or level of health to have your nervous system assessed by a chiropractor so you can live your best life.
Dr. Sarah Green
Co-Owner | Elmira Family Chiropractic
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Dr. Sarah understands first hand how maintaining a clear nervous system is vital. She watched how chiropractic transformed her nephew’s life, from the Intensive care unit to a now thriving little boy and believes that every child deserves the same opportunity. Dr. Sarah is driven to empower families with incredible strategies for health, so they can achieve their dreams.