Sympathetic Dominance may be the cause of many mysterious conditions….
Health comes down to two basic factors, your genetics and the environment you’re in. Recently researchers have discovered that the environment plays a bigger role than your genes do. There’s an entire field of study called epi-genetics that shows us how environmental factors turn genes on and off. For example, take two siblings who both have the genetic predisposition for type two diabetes. One sibling eats a healthy diet, exercises, and invests in emotional health while the other does the opposite. Who do you think is more likely to develop type two diabetes? Obviously, the second sibling which shows that we all inherently understand this idea, however don’t give it enough credit in our daily lives. Furthermore, it’s all too easy to think that our lives are determined by our genetic inheritance which is simply not the case.
“Worry and stress affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system, and profoundly affects heart action.”
Charles W. Mayo M.D.
The three things that determine your overall health are your chemical health, your emotional and mental health (perception), and structural health. Think of your overall health as triangle that needs to be in balance, and when one area starts to lack, it can affect your overall health or spill into the other areas.
The world health organization describes health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” which leads us to our next point, there’s a difference between functional problems meaning low functioning areas of health and pathology and/or disease. We know that structure and function go hand in hand and so you can have a functional problem before its diagnosed.
Breaking it down
There is a syndrome, called sympathetic dominance, that can throw the health triangle out of balance leading to a lot of secondary conditions or symptoms. Sometimes the cascade of symptoms is so complex, there is not any easy diagnosis. Sympathetic dominance is when there’s an imbalance in how your nervous system controls your body. You have two divisions of your automatic or don’t think about it, nervous system. In physiology this is called the autonomic nervous system and there are two divisions: a parasympathetic and a sympathetic system, each having different goals. The parasympathetic nervous system allows one to heal, grow, and rest. It does this by controlling life sustaining activities like good digestion, blood supply to organs, and hormone production. On the flip side, the sympathetic system is designed to keep you alive in life threatening situations. For instance, if you’re out in the woods, and you see a wolf your brain will react by firing your sympathetic nervous system. What this system does is the opposite of healing, resting, and growing by sacrificing all those things in order to try and save your life. It is designed for short term stress. These systems were designed perfectly and now because of modern society’s tendency to be highly stressed, the sympathetic nervous system could be always on.
Some of the symptoms of sympathetic dominance are:
- Shoulder and neck muscle tightness
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to sound
- Light sleep and vivid dreams
- Digestive upsets like bloating, constipation or diarrhea
- High blood pressure
- Increased blood clotting factors and increased risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and stroke
- Feeling cold
- Difficulty losing weight
- Sugar or salt cravings
- Hormonal imbalances including oestrogen dominance
- Gallbladder problems
- Uterine fibroids
- Hair loss
- Thyroid imbalances
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- Water retention
- Anxiety or depression
A lot of times doctors will look at these issues as separate problems but when sympathetic dominance is concerned they’re all part of the bigger picture. This serves as a review of sympathetic dominance, and the autonomic nervous system. We previously assumed that we couldn’t control our nervous system, but now we know that we can actually help regulate this system. It’s like hacking into a computer to gain better control of your health.
Drs. Jordan and Joe Adams are chiropractors at Calibration Chiropractic, a neuro-structural chiropractic office in Mansfield, TX. They focus on a neurologically-based approach to chiropractic and they work with those who are looking for a customized & comprehensive approach to care.