Written by Dr. Daniel Kimbley
We all have a relative, friend or family member that has served in our armed forces to protect our country. As our veterans and their loved ones can attest to, being a service member puts an added amount of stress on the body. This stress can come in different forms: chemical, emotional, and physical. With the constantly emerging new research and understanding of both the brain and mechanisms that the brain interprets and adapts to stress, there has never been a better time to address this stress of being a service member for you or your loved ones.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is just one example that has invariably plagued our service members. New research is suggesting that PTSD is actually a function of abnormal stress responses in the autonomic nervous system. Our autonomic nervous system is split into two divisions: a sympathetic and parasympathetic division. The sympathetic division is our “fight or flight” division which is responsible for protecting us from danger, while our parasympathetic division is our “rest and digest” division responsible for healing and restoration. In regards to PTSD, one study found that the core deficit of PTSD is that the body reacts to things that aren’t dangerous threats as perceived threats. “Similar social actions, which to others provide… ‘safety,’ may be perceived as threat for the individual with PTSD. The context for an individual is interpreted through memory and emotional cues” (Williamson et.al. 2013). In other words, the body’s autonomic nervous system, specifically the “fight or flight” system, interprets things that aren’t actually a threat as a threat. This can result in anger, aggression and other emotional disturbances.
Interestingly, the centers responsible for memory and emotional regulation in the brain are the same centers stimulated by the chiropractic adjustment. This area of the brain, known as the prefrontal cortex has numerous responsibilities, primarily executive functions like: “ability to initiate and carry out new and goal-directed patterns of behavior, sustained attention…short-term memory tasks…working memory, stimulus detection and sequencing tasks, [and] planning”. The authors go on to state that “executive functions are closely linked to emotional regulation as well” (Siddiqui et. al 2008). This frontal portion of the brain is responsible for some of our most important functions as human beings. When there is interference to this frontal part of the brain through a chronic stress response, health cannot be the body’s natural state.
Regular chiropractic care at the core of a healthy lifestyle has been shown to stimulate the very parts of the brain that show deficits in patients with PTSD and other chronic stress disorders. In 2016 researchers found that “mechanisms by which spinal manipulation improves performance are due to a change in function at the prefrontal cortex” (Lelic et.al.). For our vets, this means being able to live a long, healthy life free from the nervous system interference caused by the stresses associated with protecting our country.
Make sure you and your loved ones maintain a healthy brain and nervous system by using chiropractic care as the core of a healthy lifestyle. Regular chiropractic care is sure to eliminate the stress response associated with chronic stress disorders, allowing you to express your fullest potential through every phase of life. Whether you’re suffering from a chronic condition or looking to optimize your health and performance, have your nervous system checked today to optimize your function and increase quality of life.
Lelic D, Niazi IK, Holt K, et al. Manipulation of Dysfunctional Spinal Joints Affects Sensorimotor Integration in the Prefrontal Cortex: A Brain Source Localization Study. Neural Plasticity. 2016;2016:3704964. doi:10.1155/2016/3704964.
Siddiqui SV, Chatterjee U, Kumar D, Siddiqui A, Goyal N. Neuropsychology of prefrontal cortex. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2008;50(3):202-208. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.43634.
Williamson JB, Heilman KM, Porges EC, Lamb DG, Porges SW. A possible mechanism for PTSD symptoms in patients with traumatic brain injury: central autonomic network disruption. Frontiers in Neuroengineering. 2013;6:13. doi:10.3389/fneng.2013.00013.