Spring is my favorite time of the year. I love the longer days, getting outside more, and watching nature bloom all around me.
Unfortunately, my nose does not agree. Like so many people, my allergy symptoms in the spring have evolved, and I have become vulnerable to sneezing, congestion, sore throat, and even feeling tired.
Allergic rhinitis is “the most common chronic disease in the United States, affect[ing] between 10 and 30% of adults and up to 40% of children”¹.
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis start at Mast Cells
Mast Cells are an important part of the immune system that also play a role in allergies. Mast Cells are equipped with receptors for antigens (a signal to the immune system that an invader is within the body). Someone that has allergies produces antibodies (IgE) which function to tag antigens as they enter the body. An antigen tagged with IgE circulating in the bloodstream will land on a mast cell, causing the mast cell to launch its weapons (histamine, cytokines and other inflammatory chemicals), These chemicals will land in the nasal passage, sinuses, and lungs leading to allergy symptoms.
Allergies are an excellent reminder of keeping a healthy immune system. Allergies such as allergic rhinitis, asthma, and eczema remind us that the immune system can become overactive.
Fullscript gives my patients convenient, 24/7 access to top-quality supplements and features to help them stay on track with their wellness goals. It’s easy. I send a recommendation to their device, they purchase supplements, and Fullscript ships the products to their front doors. Fullscript also sends helpful educational content and refill reminders!
Many of my patients attempt to treat nasal congestion with over-the-counter decongestants. Unfortunately, overuse of these makes congestion much worse. After the medication wears off, the tissues have a rebound swelling that only goes away with another dose of the nasal decongestant. Rhinitis medicamentosa can be devastating and dangerous.
Liposomal Vitamin C
Vitamin C is fantastic for supporting your immune system. When your immune system is called into action, Vitamin C is used up very quickly. Your immune system will require more Vitamin C during times of stress, infection, and allergies.
Liposomal Vitamin C is better absorbed, more available to your body when it needs it.
Did you know stress makes your allergies worse? Did you know that allergies also can make mental illness worse?
According to researchers, suffering from asthma or hay fever may put you at an increased risk of developing a psychiatric disorder. The study reports over a 15 year period, 10.8% of people with allergies developed psychiatric disorders, compared to 6.7% of people without allergic diseases.
I frequently recommend and take magnesium to relax the mind, the muscles, sleep better and improve digestion. Calm is my favorite! It tastes fantastic and can be made as a cooling tonic or a warm, comforting bedtime concoction.
Check out my recommendations for high quality supplements today.
This blog post contains affiliate links. These are affiliates hand-picked by me as I feel that they are very helpful, and I may receive a small reimbursement if you purchase that help support my website. Please see my full website disclaimer here.
Fatty Liver, Common, Under-diagnosed, and a treatable disease.
Many of my patients come to my practice with advanced liver disease from fatty liver. Many of them have no idea they have Non-Alcoholic Hepatosteatosis, also known as Fatty Liver Disease. I spend a lot of time educating patients on what Fatty Liver is, and how to repair the damage.
What is Fatty Liver?
Fatty liver disease is the name that is often applied for the condition called non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis. In this disease, normal liver tissue is replaced by fatty deposits. This is problematic because the liver loses its ability to perform important detoxing and metabolism.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has a global prevalence of about 25%. Incidence is increasing with rising levels of obesity, type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome, and NAFLD is predicted to become the leading cause of cirrhosis requiring liver transplantation in the next decade (1).
The liver has many important functions. It is an organ of detoxification and metabolism. Every chemical that enters the body must pass through the liver. The liver is responsible for making substances less toxic, easier to excrete, or easier to absorb.
The liver also helps in energy maintenance. Every time you consume calories, some of those are stored in the liver in the form of glycogen, a form of sugar that is stored within the liver. Glycogen is released very slowly between meals to maintain blood sugar.
If too much sugar is available in the bloodstream, the liver is forced to store more sugar than needed. In order to maximize space in the liver, glycogen is converted into fat in a process called gluconeogenesis.
The fat stored in the liver causes damage by occupying usable space in the liver. The fat is also inflammatory, causing damage to the liver. The pathological progression of NAFLD follows a ‘three-hit’ process namely steatosis, lipotoxicity and inflammation. The presence of steatosis, oxidative stress and inflammatory mediators like TNF-α and IL-6 (2).
Who gets Fatty Liver Disease?
Fatty Liver Disease is common. Nearly 25% of the world’s population. People living with Diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol are at increased risk of developing Fatty Liver Disease.
Fatty Liver Disease often proceeds the development of diabetes. Many diabetics present with Fatty Liver Disease before starting treatment for diabetes.
Death from Fatty Liver Disease is rare, but if the disease is not reversed, and can lead to permanent liver damage.
How is Fatty Liver Disease Diagnosed?
Fatty liver diseases diagnosed from blood work and imaging of the liver. Blood work can detect abnormal levels of ALT, AST, Alkaline Phosphatase, and Bilirubin. It’s usually a good idea to check your kidney function, hemoglobin and platelets.
If you’d like to order your own labs through YourLabWork.com, please use my affiliate link! Using my link costs you nothing. You receive discounted labs in a safe, confidential and convenient way and a small percentage of your purchase goes to support my work here at Healing Arts Thank you!!
How Do I Heal Fatty Liver Disease?
Healing Fatty Liver Disease is very possible. It starts with healing your lifestyle. This means improving your nutrition, sleep, stress, reducing unhealthy habits and increasing healthy movement.
Healing Fatty Liver disease also heals Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Depression, and Fatigue.
A personalized, tailored plan would include addressing nearly every aspect of your life. While this seems like a lot of effort, it would be worthwhile to prevent severe disease.
Cobbina, E., & Akhlaghi, F. (2017). Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – pathogenesis, classification, and effect on drug metabolizing enzymes and transporters. Drug metabolism reviews, 49(2), 197–211. https://doi.org/10.1080/03602532.2017.1293683
I have always found the heart to be the most interesting organ in the body. I have the privilege of listening to the beating hearts of my patients every day as a part of the physical exam.
Each “lub-dub” I hear speaks volumes about a person’s health, mind, body and spirit.
In preparing for my upcoming book, The Heart of Being, I’ve been doing some research about the mystique, miracle and wonder of the human heart.
1. The Origin of the Heart Shape
Do you know where the heart shape comes from? Before starting my research, I assumed the origin of the heart shape related to Valentine’s Day. The origin of the heart shape is not so obvious.
According to Art and Object , the heart shape may have been used as a decorative symbol in ancient societies as far back as the Indus Valley civilizations It was often in use in decorative jewelry, and the shape appears to derive from the heart shaped plants such as fig leaf, Ivy or water lily, These plants have heart-shaped leaves.
According to History, a theory concerning the origin of the heart comes from the silphium. This is a form of a giant fennel, that once grew in North Africa on the coastline near the Greek colony of Cyrene. The ancient Greeks and Romans use silphium as a food flavoring. Silphium worked as a medication to alleviate cough.
The silphium was most famous as a form of birth control. Ancient writers and poets scribed about silphium for its contraceptive powers. These plants power to work as a contraceptive lead to over-cultivation, and eventual extinction around the first century A.D. The seed pod of the silphium seems to resemble the traditional heart shape.
The heart shape’s origins are a mystery. Although this popular symbol is ubiquitous, its origins may been a cough suppressing plant that could function as birth control. Maybe the association with love is that as a contraceptive, sex could be enjoyed without fear of an unwanted pregnancy?
2. The Heart Develops on the 21st Day after Conception
The heart is the first organ to develop and function in the human embryo. The baby’s heart will start beating about 21 days after conception.
The healing art of Reiki honors 21 days is an important time after the first attunement. The new Reiki practitioner will perform Reiki on themselves for 21 days in a daily basis. During this time, the new Reiki student goes through a process of transformation and healing.
I find it interesting that 21 days seems to be a significant time of transformation in life, as in conception, as well as personal transformation.
3. The Heart is Intelligent
Did you know that your heart has its own nervous system? The heart actually has to have its own little brains.
These small brains are call nodes. There are two nodes, the Sinoatrial Node and the Atrioventricular Node. These are collections of nerves that communicate with the Vagus Nerve. Together, they determine how fast and how intensely the heart beats.
“Your heart is connected to your mind, your mind controls everything, control your mind to heal your heart.”
-Dr. Kathy Hays, Interventional Cardiologist
According to my dear friend, board certified cardiologist, Dr. Kathy Hays, “your heart is connected to your mind, your mind controls everything, control your mind to heal your heart.”
She tells me that she often longs to share with her patients the importance of calming their mind to ease their cardiac symptoms. She shared with me recently that she is surprised at how much psychology she practices in cardiology. Over the years she’s frequently share with me how often patients come in with anxiety as the source of their palpitations.
The Heart Chakra, also known as Anahata, is located in the chest. The Heart Chakra is the Chakra in a 7 Chakra system of Ayurveda.
The heart has 4 Chambers.
According to Numerology, the number four is typically associated with order with service.
The positive attributes of the number four include being highly organized and grounded, being dependable and reliable, trustworthy with attention to detail and manual dexterity, dexterity.
Positive attributes of “4”
The negative attributes of the number four are limiting beliefs, being “boxed in”, stubbornness with tend to change being shaky or unstable, or unable to create a solid foundation to support goals and desires and being untidy.
Negative attributes of “4”
When your Heart Chakra is open, it is easy to give and receive love. Compassion comes easily. You can easily love yourself and others.
A blocked heart chakra is often associated with many of the negative attributes of the number 4; being stubborn, closed off, and lacking of empathy for self and others.
Interested in Learning More about The Heart and Heart Chakra?
The COVID Pandemic is not giving us a break. Despite massive vaccination efforts, the disease continues to spread due to genetic variation.
Beyond vaccination status, a strong, efficient immune system protects you from COVID and chronic disease. This requires a healthy metabolism.
Do you know what Diabetes, Hypertension, COPD, Coronary artery disease all have in common? At the root of all these disease is inflammation.
In my Internal Medicine Practice, I manage the most common diseases that decrease life expectancy. Many people don’t realize that these diseases (also known as Modifiable Factors), also correlate with Inflammatory Status.
Risks Factors for COVID
Risks of developing severe infection from COVID is known to relate to COVID. There are factors are considered non-modifiable (you can’t control these). Most of risk factors for becoming infected with COVID are controllable.
Age greater than 60
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Heart Disease (Hypertension, Congestive Heart Failure for example)
Being a Current Smoker
Naturally, it’s not that you will cure any of these diseases. They are chronic, and took many years to develop. Helping your immune system means you want to know the status of each of these issues that are treatable.
If you have a diagnosis of one of these disease, here are some of the numbers you should ask your physician.
Number to Know
A1C-90 Day Blood Sugar Average
FEV1-Stage of Lung Damage Present, Oxygen Saturation
Blood Pressure, Pulse
White Blood Cell Count
Numbers to Know for Chronic Diseases
Once you know these numbers, you will want to make a goal to improve them. Diabetics that have controlled blood sugars will overall do better than having high blood sugars.
Know Your Inflammatory Status
COVID does its damage to the body by causing a cascade of damages through acute inflammation. Our immune systems are designed to create inflammation in order to fight infection. We are learning that having a baseline inflammatory system increases a person’s risk of becoming critically ill with COVID.
Chronic Inflammation in the body can come from diseases, untreated metabolic issues, elevated cholesterol, autoimmune diseases, or cancer. Abnormalities in these labs means the body is struggling. Symptoms may or may not be present.
What it Means
ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate)
Elevated levels means there is infection, damage or overall inflammation in the body.
C-RP (C Reactive Protein)
General inflammatory marker that can be used to detect disease or monitor chronic illnes.
Large cholesterol particle that when it’s low can mean overall poor metabolic function and inflammation.
Elevated levels mean metabolic disturbance and inflammation
Small, dense cholesterol that may elevated in chronic inflammation
Marker used to check for anemia, can be elevated in chronic inflammation.
Obesity has been shown to increase risk of death from COVID
These inflammatory markers can be easily checked in blood work. Many are part of typical panels that are drawn in yearly labs. Knowing and monitoring these numbers is a great way know if you are treating your body well. Inflammatory markers will respond positively when the underlying condition, such as diabetes, obesity, or high cholesterol.
Know Your Nutritional Status
There is a temptation to feel that if your weight is normal, or if you are overweight that your nutritional status is good. Unfortunately, being overweight often increases your risk of being malnourished. Having low levels of needed nutrients in your body not only increases you chances of infection, but also of cancers and advanced aging.
Risks of Disease or illness
Low levels increase risk of contracting COVID, bone disease, and cancer.
Low levels can damage nerves and brain health
Low levels usually in a diet poor in fruits/vegetables; can worsen high blood pressure
Markers of kidney function. Even small elevations require a workup.
Test for liver function. Elevated levels may be marker of metabolic disease
Markers of protein levels, which help the body heal and recover.
Electrolyte that helps blood vessel function and can help in blood pressure control.
Knowing your inflammatory status can help you feel better now, and prevent disease in the future.
If you’re ready to take a deep dive into Inflammation, including the labs to know, the signs to look for, sign up for updates:
1.Zabetakis I, Lordan R, Norton C, Tsoupras A. COVID-19: The Inflammation Link and the Role of Nutrition in Potential Mitigation. Nutrients. 2020 May 19;12(5):1466. doi: 10.3390/nu12051466. PMID: 32438620; PMCID: PMC7284818.
This post is for informational purposes only. Please seek appropriate medical care for any medical symptoms. See website disclaimer for more information.
What’s really making your heart race?
Palpitations should never be ignored. Sensations of skipping or jumping in the chest can sensations caused by palpitations. Many people will also associate palpitations with a feeling of throbbing in the neck or head. Even more alarming, some individuals note chest pain during episodes of palpitations.
After you’ve had a careful evaluation with your physician, and know that a medical condition is not the cause of your palpitations, you should consider what your body is trying to tell you. What’s the real reason for your palpitaitons?
How to Find Your Heart Rate
A normal heart rate is between 60 and 90 beats per minute. Individuals with a high level of physical fitness will tend to have a lower heart rate at rest. Women, especially pregnant women, will have a faster heart rate at rest that typically does not represent any problems.
Heart Rate Variability is a measure of how the heart rate changes with breath. This exciting topic is the next step in wellness, as it is a valuable way to measure how well the Autonomic Nervous System is working.
You can easily check your heart rate with no fancy equipment.
Basic Pulse Measurement
Set a timer for 15 or 30 seconds
Use the forefinger and middle finger of your non-dominant hand (the hand you don’t write with) to find the pulse on the opposite wrist.
The Radial Pulse is located on the wrist on the same side as your thumb.
If you do not initially feel a pulse, try using less pressure.
At the end of the timer, multiply by 4 if you used 15 seconds, by 2 if you used 30 seconds
#beats in 15 seconds X 4=heart rate per minute
#beats in 30 seconds X2=heart rate per minute
Using A Pulse Oximeter
A pulse oximeter, which is available online and in stores, uses infrared light to measure the color of red blood cells. This is allows for measurement of oxygen content in the blood. These devices will also record a pulse when placed on a finger.
EKG, or Electrocardiogram, measures how electrical signals travel through the heart. EKG’s are usually done in a medical office, but advances in technology allow for a simplified EKG to be done with smartphones or similar portable devices at home.
Why Are You Having Palpitations?
Once you’ve had a careful workup with a physician to make sure there is no serious cause of your palpitations, then it’s time to start listening to your body.
Your heart rate ( and heart rate variability) are a great way for you to learn what’s going on with you Autonomic Nervous System.
Activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System brings balance to the mind and body.
The Vagus Nerve and the nervous system inside the heart (called the Purkinje System) determine the heart rate. This system takes input from the Vagus nerve. The heart rate is determined by the coordination of the Vagus Nerve and Purkinje System. A fast heart rate is one signal that you may have an imbalance in your Autonomic Nervous System.
Why is this important?
The Sympathetic Nervous Systems is designed to prepare the body for quick action. This is great when it’s time to run, hide, seek shelter, or have quick reflexes. If the Sympathetic Nervous system is too active, it creates chronic stress, which can lead to illness.
The simplest way to balance the activity of the Sympathetic Nervous System is with Meditation.
Many of my patients come to the office immediately after being seen in the emergency room for palpitations. Naturally, they may have waited several hours to be seen, and often have not slept. If they went in for palpitations, they are often shocked to feel much worse after being up all night.
When you don’t sleep enough, of the quality of sleep is poor, there are several changes that happen within your body that will lead to an elevated heart rate.
Your brain performs many background tasks during sleep. This allows the two most powerful glands, the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, to sample the blood stream and produce appropriate hormone levels to maintain health.
Lack of sleep creates stress signals in other glands, including the adrenal glands. This leads to the autonomic system diverting energy to the Sympathetic Nervous System. The heart rate will naturally begin to run higher than normal.
There are many ways to improve your sleep. Body Scan Meditation is a fantastic way to relax at bedtime.
Poor Quality Breathing
We take breath for granted. Most of us don’t realize how we are breathing as we go through our days. When driving, for example, so much of the brain must be devoted to safety and awareness of other cars. It seems impossible to take notice if how often and how deeply we inhale.
I consider poor quality breathing as shallow, rapid breaths usually in the setting of sitting with poor posture.
Rapid, shallow breaths that don’t use the full expansion of the chest leads to an elevated heart rate. The organs of the chest will send signals to the brain via that Vagus Nerve that create a stress signal. This leads to a gradual rise in feelings of anxiety and feeling unwell. The brain will then transmit signals to the chest that will drive up the heart rate.
Improve your breathing instantly by improving your postures:
The last thing you want to hear when you are worried about something, or many things, is “Just don’t worry about it”.
It feels likes worrying will help the problem. Maybe there will be a solution if you keep thinking about it?
“Do Not Worry” is one of the 5 Reiki Precepts. This is because worry lowers your mind and body’s energy. Worry is recycling of thoughts without action.
In your life, consider how many times worrying lead to a solution. Likely, it has not.
Your feelings about the issue deserve attention. Consider journaling to help with worry thoughts. The act of writing down what weighs heavy in your heart can alleviate the need to recycle those thoughts endlessly.
Lack of Cardiovascular Fitness
It’s good to stay in a relaxed, open state as much as possible. Particularly, if you’re trying to sleep, eat, have sex or just stay in the moment.
Our bodies are designed to take on challenge. If we don’t activate the Sympathetic Nervous System on a regular basis, it may kick in on it’s own. When it does, your heart rate will go up in an unregulated way. This will lead to palpitations that are uncomfortable.
Walking is a fantastic way to get the heart rate up without too much strain. Unless advised by your physician, engaging in walking for exercise is a wonderful way to raise your heart rate, get your blood flowing and regulate your heart rate.
Exercise will temporarily raise you heart rate, then it will gradually go down over the next several hours.
The Sympathetic Nervous System operates during times of stress. The function of the Sympathetic Nervous System is to increase the heart rate, increase circulation to the extremities, and prepare the body to go into survival mode.
Diet: My “quick and dirty” nutrition advise to reduce blood pressure.
Sleep: getting enough, improving the quality of sleep
Exercise: How to keep it simple to get moving
Relationships: Really? yes, learn to observe how you show up in your relationships.
Putting It All Together
Blood pressure is a great way to understand traditional medicine and energy medicine together. The interplay of the mind and body controls the blood pressure and is not necessarily under the control of the conscious mind.
Exciting Content Coming up!
Sign up for more content! I’m working on some exciting projects on matters of the heart.
The Sympathetic System is necessary in times of exercise, or if fast physical action is needed (“Fight or Flight”).
Like all things in nature, we want to achieve balance. This blog post will discuss the benefits of activating the parasympathetic nervous system, why to do it and how to do it.
Working with the autonomic system is truly the playground of energy medicine. The Autonomic Nervous System is controlled by the vagus nerve and spinal cord. This system is very responsive to stress. During times of stress, either prolonged or brief, the Sympathetic Nervous system will govern bodily functions. The Sympathetic Nervous system will change the endocrine system to prepare for a threat. This means the hormone system will be producing more “stress hormones” (such adrenaline and cortisol) constantly.
How do you know when it’s time to activate the parasympathetic system?
Increasing pain levels
Experiencing any of these signs or symptoms means that likely your sympathetic nervous system is running the show. It’s time to find balance.
1. Grounding Meditation While Standing
Standing with your feet firmly in place preferably barefoot for 1 to 3 minutes can help slow down your nervous system and let the parasympathetic system activate. In the book21 Day Meditation Journey, we practice doing a few poses standing to activate Earth energy. Focusing your energy on your legs and feet can help to slow down racing thoughts. Do this simply by taking several deep breaths while standing and if your balance allows with your eyes closed.
Yoga uses asanas (Yoga Poses) that focus on the hips to relieve stress. The hip joints are weight bearing joints. The hips, the hip girdle and lower back are also a place where many of us hold stress in our bodies. This can be felt by tightness in the hips, trouble going from standing or sitting, or back pain.
Freeing up the hip joints through stretches will allow the mind and body to relax deeply. These poses can be modified for comfort of course.
How to Modify These Poses
Sit on a blanket or block in Half-Lotus for comfort
Use Blocks or Blankets underneath the knees in Cobbler’s Pose
The Parasympathetic Nervous System can be activated with deep breaths into the belly. Breathing is controlled primarily by the Autonomic Nervous System. We can take conscious control of breath be taking deeper, slower breaths.
Taking deep Belly Breaths doesn’t require a formal meditation practice. You can do this even while reading this blog post.
Breath Into the Belly Now
Sit or stand straight, aligning
Loosen your clothing if needed
Inhale by initiating the breath by expanding the belly first, then the chest
Exhale first from the chest then the belly, squeeze the belly in.
4. Slow Down Your Breath
Breathing too rapidly is a a habit we all fall into easily. Hyperventilation, which is taking in too much oxygen, can occur if breathing is occurring only in the chest. During times of stress and anxiety, particularly if you’re sitting for prolonged periods, this can easily occur.
Breathing deeply and slowly allows the Parasympathetic system to engage. This can calm the mind and body.
5. Express Your Feelings
The Autonomic Nervous System never lies. If you are hanging on to thoughts of pain, hurt, or resentment those emotions are being stored within your body. Finding a way to safely and effectively express your emotions will allow you to release stress and let your parasympathetic nervous system increase its activity. There’s no need to confront anyone or start a fight.
Using a journal, or a piece of paper you can safely discard, write down your feelings that are creating discomfort. Doing this will relief your body of the tension of unexpressed emotions.
6. Meditate to Quiet the Mind
Meditation is a powerful tool to calm the Sympathetic Nervous System (“Fight or Flight”) and engage the Parasympathetic Nervous System.
Meditation can be a simple moment of mindfulness of 3 minutes, or a formal practice.
Understanding the autonomic system is a powerful healing tool. The autonomic nervous system controls every function in the body. In the most recent Art of Healing Podcast, we discuss what is blood pressure.
Many patients often wonder why they have high blood pressure. Many others also wonder why they have digestive issues when they feel nervous (such as nausea or diarrhea).
What is the autonomic nervous system?
Understanding the nervous system helps you understand your body.
Within all of us, there is a system the controls heart rate, respiration, digestion, waste elimination, and sexual function. This same system influences our moods, and can control how we feel moment to moment.
The Autonomic Nervous System deeply impacts our experience in reality. Understanding this system will give you the keys to healing your mind and body.
What is the Autonomic System?
The cognitive functions such as thinking, emotions and voluntary bodily actions are governed by the Central Nervous System. The Central Nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. The brain and spinal cord send information to the body and receive information back through sensory neurons.
While we can control how fast we breath (such as slowing down the breath during meditation), it is difficult to consciously control the heart rate. It is nearly impossible to consciously change digestion, for instance, we can not control how fast peristalsis (contractions of the muscles of the intestines) occur.
The Autonomic Nervous System controls the bodily functions that are not under conscious control This sounds deceptively simple. Respiration, circulation, digestion, immunity and reproduction all most be coordinated in order for the body to function in a healthy way. This must be balanced against the bodies need to move in order to acquire energy, expend energy or escape a threat.
The Autonomic Nervous System is divided into two systems, the Parasympathetic Nervous System, and the Parasympathetic Nervous System.
In general, these systems oppose each other. One is always active, and only decreases it’s activity if the opposing system generates more signals.
“Each system is dominant under certain conditions. The sympathetic system predominates during emergency ‘fight-or-flight’ reactions and during exercise…the parasympathetic system predominates during quiet, resting conditions.”
— McCorry L.K., Physiology of the Autonomic Nervous System
Parasympathetic Nervous System
There are times in which the body needs to rest and recover, such as after meals, when it’s time to sleep, or simply relax. There is no significant demand on the body to exert energy for survival.
This mode of operation is when the parasympathetic system is dominant. This system will influence the body to slow down the heart rate, increase digestive activity, and overall create a feeling of being relaxed. This is the feeling we all have relaxing in our favorite chair reading a book for example.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System allows the mind and body to rest, digest and recover. When the body can slow down, the digestive system is able to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste effectively. The reproductive system can operate naturally, allowing for a natural libido that will ensure healthy sexual drive. The cardiovascular system, through the parasympathetic nervous system, will direct blood flow to the organ to ensure the normal bodily functions can perform at their best.
Increases blood flow to digestive tract to encourage waste elimination
Encourages blood flow and nerve function ton augment sexual functioning
Increases blood flow to the digestive tract to improve motility of digestive system and nutrient absorption
Slows down the heart rate
Sympathetic Nervous System
Rest and recovery are necessary, but there are times in which we need to be active and kinetic. We need to be alert, aware, and reflexes need to be at their peak. When driving in heavy traffic, for example, the body needs to be able to react quickly to avoid a car accident. Blood flow needs to be directed to the extremities to augment fast action if needed. The heart should pick up speed in anticipation of a possible threat. The pupils will dilate to improve vision. This is when the sympathetic part of the sympathetic nervous system will dominate.
The Sympathetic Nervous System controls blood flow, reflexes, and temperature of the limbs. Reflexes are an important survival tool for the living body.
The Sympathetic Nervous System operates mostly outside of the nervous system. This system is designed to run on speed and reflex. It is the Sympathetic Nervous System that governs reflexes. One example is if you reach for an object that’s too hot to touch, you will notice you withdraw your hand before you even register the pain of heat.
The Sympathetic Nervous system is activated in times of exercise but also in stress. The design of the sympathetic nervous system operates with speed, and does not require the input of the brain. This system is able to activate the adrenal glands in times of crisis. The “fight or flight” reaction is when some sort of stimuli that creates fear engages the Sympathetic Nervous system, which will cause the release of adrenaline from the adrenal glands. This powerful reaction can be life saving in times of trauma. It is a very necessary system for survival.
Function of the Sympathetic Nervous System
Decreased blood flow to the digestive tract
increased blood flow to the extremities
Increases heart rate and respiration
Turns sweat glands on
Dilates pupils to improve vision
What does the Autonomic System Control?
All of the organs of the body are controlled by the autonomic system. The skeletal muscles and bones of the limbs are controlled by the sympathetic system. Since the “Fight of Flight” of the body usually requires increased blood flow to the limbs, ths Sympathetic System exerts control in this area.
The organs of the chest and abdomen are controlled by both the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous systems.
We often don’t realize our body must be able to respond to external stimuli rapidly. If there’s a threat heading our way, our brain may take several minutes to process the threat. Fortunately, we have intelligent bodies that can take over the process of running, hiding, or fighting. For this reason, the sympathetic nervous system, which governs the body’s ability to respond to external threats rapidly, does not need to communicate much with the brain.
The parasympathetic nervous system governs the body’s ability to digest food, have sexual intercourse, and eliminate waste, as well as influences the cardiovascular system to slow down. From this description we can tell that the parasympathetic system is best to run the body system in times of rest, relaxation or recovery.
Why Understand the Autonomic Nervous System?
The Autonomic Nervous System influences all of the glands of the body. Control of hormonal production is heavily influenced by the Autonomic Nervous System.
I have the blessing of working with individuals with their bodies on a daily basis. Reflecting on this topic has reminded me of the true, miraculous nature of the human body.
The Chakra System, knowledge imparted from the ancient healing system of Ayurveda can be demystified by analysis of the Autonomic System.
It is for this reason I am embarking on my next project with my heart and soul. This project will journey even deeper into demystifying the mind-body connection by understanding the Heart Chakra.
Stay tuned for next week in this series in which we will discuss more in depth be sympathetic any parasympathetic nervous systems.
The next few months at Healing Arts will be full of exciting content.
We all make poor food choices at some point in our life. Food has evolved in our lives to be much more than nourishment for the body. You can be stress relief, used to celebrate, are used to calm anxious nerves. No matter what health condition you’re dealing with, understanding that there may be times you sabotage your own progress helps you to understand yourself. Self compassion is key on any healing journey.
Using Sugar to Calm Anxiety
Many of my patients struggling with their weight or diabetes isn’t it to snacking on sweets excessively and they’re feeling nervous. Furthermore, getting activities very likely occur during times of inside. The impulse to eat my feel nervous stamps from when you take engage the parasympathetic system. The parasympathetic system is a part of the nervous system that covers eating, slow heart rate, sexual activity, and 3digestive function. During times of anxiety, it is the sympathetic system. This is the system that governs me fight or flight. Many of us discover on accident that we can engage our parasympathetic system by eating. The act of chewing swallowing will stimulate the stomach to sin signals through the vagus nerve up to the brain that will help calm the system. Naturally, this is not good for the metabolism. Snacking to Lauren’s body levels will lead to weight gain and possibly diabetes.
If you are suffering from this, this is a good reason to consider starting meditation. You can engage your parasympathetic system with purposeful, slow deep breath.
Eating When Bored or Depressed
The digestive tract is a complex system that starts from the mouth and goes to the anus. They are layers of muscle and also a layer of nervous tissue. The nervous tissue of the gut actually contains more neurons then the grain itself. The gut produces and responses to the same neurotransmitters that circulate in the brain.
Engaging and overeating particular when they are depressed or often attempting to raise their serotonin levels. Serotonin is to feel good hormone and one of the building blocks to make serotonin is carbohydrates.
Relying on food to improve the mood can lead on unwanted weight gain, and disease such as diabetes.
Meditations that focus on the core are a good remedy for this. See my book 21 day meditation journey or sign up for my course to get started today
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Feeding Your Cravings
I often ask my patients as well as ask myself what food is being craved. There is so much media that tells us if we are craving a food particularly something that’s unhealthy we should eat it. Really, when you’re having a craving your body is telling you you are insufficient in some nutrient.
To the craving for sugar, or salt, find a stack that is just the opposite of what you were craving. If you’re wanting something sweet, try snacking on nuts. If you’re wanting something salty, try something like organic fruit. Snacking on nuts for wanting something sweet will help to stabilize your insulin levels and hopefully stop the for something sweet. And you are craving salt, you like clean water, so in addition to drinking water eating a piece of fruit will get water into your body naturally.
Using the power of observation to connect to yourself.
Observation is a tool frequently used in meditation mindfulness to help focus the brain. When we take our attention to one specific object and not only helps to eliminate distracting thoughts, but we can also learn something about ourselves.
Recently I have deepened my studies in the practice of meditation. Learning that observations are powerful tool I’ve also started bringing this into my medical practice. I have offered patients prompts they can use to observe their mind and body.
I have been pleasantly surprised at how the power of observation is helped my patients to understand themselves and has allowed me to help them more effectively. Here are three ways in which observation can be used in your own healing journey.
The clinical encounter medicine can serve multiple purposes. Sometimes there’s a simple question that needs to be answered. Sometimes there is an emotional connection that will be made. Many times there is a transaction of information in which the patient must share. Data gathering, which often takes place in the form of history taking is extremely important.
Physicians and patients struggle with the exchange of information during the clinical exchange. Physicians are trained to think scientifically and to read patients like a book. Patients experience their symptoms in a linear fashion that is often noted to coincide with life events. Physicians become easily frustrated when patients share details that are often on the surface irrelevant to why they’ve come in.
When I’m working with a patient that’s having trouble relaying information, I will ask them to make observations about what their experiencing. This isn’t to be judgmental and it is definitely not to lay blame. But with a few gentle prompts, patients can start to make observations about their symptoms that are very helpful.
Dealing with addictive habits or self sabotage
Primary care physicians often act as health coaches. It is not unusual to offer more coaching advice rather than diagnosis. This can include inspirations to achieve a healthier lifestyle such as through nutrition or healthy movement.
Addictions and self-sabotaging behavior a much more common than most people realize. Patients often have a real struggle coming to groups with why they would return to a habit that’s hurting their bodies.
I have found that teaching patients about the power of observation and asking them to perform 90 seconds of observation before engaging in a destructive habit is extremely powerful. The instructions are simple. Before you pick up the cigarette set a timer for 90 seconds. During the 90 second seconds, observe how you feel prior to smoking. Then when the timer goes off observe if you wish to still smoke the cigarette, proceed with lighting the cigarette.
In the case of addiction, that observation period can often help the brain rewire itself and calm down the reward system in the brain.
Obervation to Empower
Traditionally the practice of medicine was based on a paternalistic model. This meant that the doctor gave orders to the patient that were accepted and never questioned. Times have changed. This is no longer an acceptable way to practice. Due to complexity of healthcare patients must participate in their own care.
Patients that have not felt empowered in most of their life will have a struggle with this. When it is time to make a decision about treatment options they may feel like throwing up their hands and want the physician to make the decision for them.