Modern Chiropractic began in 1895 by D.D. Palmer. This article will outline some of the current understanding of how manipulation “works” and how it can bring about a return to health in a body that is suffering from illness.
Edgar Cayce, in the 1920s, stated in his readings that manipulation is the closest thing to how the body tries to heal itself. This is because when the body is under stress for a period of time, the nervous system can get overloaded—similar to an electric circuit when the fuse trips and creates an open fault. Metaphorically, it stops the current from flowing as a protective mechanism.
The autonomic nervous system processes stressful conditions so that one can learn about the situation that is causing the stress. Sometimes the intensity of the issue overloads the body’s ability to process and understand what is happening.
To differentiate the two nervous systems in the body: the cerebral-spinal system consists of your brain and spinal cord and is anatomically connected to the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic is made up of the sympathetic and parasympathetic. Many know that the sympathetic has your fight-or-flight mechanism within it, which includes the pituitary/adrenal axis that reacts when you are under stress.
The reaction to stress causes the heart to pump harder and the lung to expand more, as the body reacts to protect itself. The sympathetic chain of nerves sits next to each vertebra on the thoracic and lumbar spine, transmitting energy to both the spinal cord and abdominal organs.
At this junction point, energy blocks can occur and create a bottleneck, slowing nerve impulses resulting in stagnant energy flow. When stress occurs over time, the body will tighten the trunk muscles, a sign that the sympathetic nerves are over-firing—causing overload.
For the parasympathetic system, the primary component of this system is the Vagus nerve which runs from the base of the skull down the torso and innervates all of the organs. When one eats, the parasympathetic is active, stimulating digestive processes. The Vagus nerve is connected to the emotional center called the Limbic system.
Sometimes stressful thoughts are strong enough to trigger a negative emotion. If your nervous system can’t immediately process this raw energy, your brain sends it down the Vagus nerve into the digestive system, temporarily storing it until a later time when it can deal with it more effectively.
In Traditional Chinese medicine, common relationships have been identified with particular emotions connecting to organ/energy systems. Anger relates to the liver and gall bladder, the kidneys relate to fear and lungs relate to grief.
Practicing chiropractors see these connections frequently. Chiropractic manipulation is able to open nervous system restrictions, thus aiding the body in reconnecting between the autonomic and the cerebral-spinal systems. In general, chiropractic is a great system for healing that keeps you healthy and able to function well.
Dr. Allan Tomson, D.C., is the executive director of Neck, Back & Beyond Healing Arts, an integrative wellness center, in Fairfax, with a satellite office in Manassas. He has expertise and experience in functional medicine, visceral manipulation, cranial sacral therapy and Cayce protocols. You can join Dr. Tomson’s Back School the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. to learn more.