Our heart beats. Our lungs breath. Our pupils dilate. Our mouth salivates. Our stomach digests. Our tissues heal. Our cells recycle. Our eyes tear. Our brow sweats.
What do all of these things have in common? These are all things that we do not have conscious control over. These functions (just to mention a few) are under control of what we call the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system acts unconsciously to regulate bodily functions. The autonomic nervous system is divided into two main divisions: sympathetic and parasympathetic.
The parasympathetic nervous system could be looked at as the "rest and repair" part of the nervous system. This is generally the dominant part of our nervous system during "ordinary" situations. It is responsible for digesting food and harvesting the nutrients from this food to repair and build tissues. During this time, heart rate is slowed and blood pressure is lowered to conserve energy.
The sympathetic nervous system is commonly described as the "fight or flight" part of the nervous system. This means that it prepares the body for stressful and emergency situations. Imagine you open the door to your room and you see a giant grizzly bear lying on your bed. Most of us will be overcome by the feeling of fear and focused on surviving the situation. Naturally, our body will do a number of things to "prep" itself to ensure survival. A few of these things include pupil dilation, increased heart rate, increased force of heart contractions, widened blood vessels, dilated airways, release of stored energy, sweating of palms, and increased muscular strength. All of these things increase your ability to survive this experience.
The odds of you walking into your room and confronting a grizzly bear is very unlikely. However, the leading cause of sympathetic dominance today is stress. Most of us encounter stress multiple times of day whether it be a difficult conversation you have to have, running late to work, working against a deadline, or finances. These situations put you in "survival mode". Now your ability to problem solve or be creative are diminished which only leads to more stress.
Another draw back of sympathetic dominance is the heavy release of a hormone called cortisol. While cortisol does have an important role to play in proper function of the human body, chronically elevated cortisol levels leads to a number of health concerns such as decreased quality of sleep, suppressed immune system, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, reduced libido, and increased insulin resistance which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Principled and regular chiropractic care has been proven to decrease sympathetic dominance which has a number of benefits such as lowering blood pressure, increasing quality of sleep, increasing immune system function, increasing problem solving, and increasing creative expression.
Don't wait until a symptom appears to take control of your health. Get checked by a local chiropractor to ensure that your body is functioning at the highest level possible.