Have you heard the term "HPA Axis" before?
It is short for the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis. What the heck is that? Hypothalamus in the part of the brain that interfaces between the central nervous system and the endocrine (hormone) system. The endocrine system includes, among other glands, the thyroid and adrenal glands which are responsible for energy, stress, and sex levels.
The HPA axis is also intimately linked with your digestive tract, a link that is called the "Brain-Gut Axis." The Enteric Plexus is the massive cluster of nerve cells and bacteria that are along the lining of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
This cluster is so large that is is often dubbed as, "your second brain." Not only digestion, but this system is actually critical for the normal function of your immune system. The connection between the brain and the gut is called the vagus nerve.
It originates from your brainstem at the level of your atlas (first vertebra in the neck) and goes down all your organs including voice box, heart, lungs, and controls your digestive tract. The point is that even though he thinks of our hormones and our digestion as two separate systems, your body chemistry is controlled directly by your central nervous system. (Listen to this amazing talk by Dr. Reggie Gold on the subject).
There is increasing awareness of how disruptions of the HPA axis and the Brain-Gut Axis lead to many different chemical imbalances in the body, which are commonly called depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, etc. Disruptions of the Brain-Gut axis also seem to be strongly linked with the development of Spectrum Disorders, which include autism, Asperger's, ADD, and ADHD.
Why does this happen?
In short, the system controlling them is out of control and out of whack. And the emerging branch of research is focusing on called the brain/gut axis which is the influence and connection between the HPA axis the hormone system with the brain and the nervous system and gut.
Picture Brisbane Airport with airport ground control at the bottom and a sky full of planes. Now imagine instant and complete radio cut off. Ground control cannot talk to the planes. What will happen? Chaos! Similarly, when your brain is not properly communicating and coordinating the activities of the HPA and GI systems, the likely end result is chaos, which leads to all kinds of metabolic and immune disorders.
How do you restore the Connection & Communication?
There are several things can affect the HPA axis and the Vagus nerve. One of the biggest is a healthy diet (or lack thereof). Any chemical imbalance due to things in your diet and in your environment that mucks up the normal balance of intestinal bacteria (like the Inner Health Plus commercials) or things that are accidentally or intentionally put into your body that affects your body's ability to heal and regulate itself will have an effect.
But the other essential element is that the brainstem is clear to communicate with the rest of the body in the first place. This requires proper alignment of the craniocervical junction (CCJ), which is another way of saying that the skull, C1, and C2 vertebrae need to be properly aligned.
Misalignment of this part of the body can disrupt the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, blood and create tension on the spinal cord itself, all of which affect your brain's ability to work as efficiently as possible. Does that mean that all digestive or hormone issues can be resolved by correcting the atlas and axis misalignment?
No. As I said before, there are a great additional number of factors that are also at play. But certainly if those vertebrae are misaligned, it makes it much harder for your body to be able to coordinate your health properly. To learn more or to know if we may be able to help you of a loved one, please contact Atlas Chiropractic in North Lakes, Brisbane at 07 3188 9329.Misalignment of the upper neck may affect the HPA and the Brain-Gut Axis, which control your metabolism, digestive, hormone and immune systems.