The Autonomic Nervous System

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Holistic care of a child understands the impact of emotions on the nervous system, and the impact of the nervous system on health.

EMOTIONS -> NERVOUS SYSTEM -> HEALTH

In children, if we can keep the nervous system settled, most issues will resolve themselves.

The Parasympathetic Nervous System & The Sympathetic Nervous System

For good health on all levels there must be a balance of activity between the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) & the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Both are part of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The PSNS & SNS work in a ratio. When one increases activity, the other decreases its activity.

The SNS is responsible for our fight/flight - when activated it mobilises us for action and keeps us alert.

* Accelerates heart rate & relaxes bronchi in lungs for increased airflow

* Stimulates glucose release from liver (hence sugar cravings!)

* Stimulates adrenal medulla for release of epinephrine (adrenaline) & norepinephrine

* Inhibits immune system, emptying of bladder & mobility of intestines


When the SNS is chronically overstimulated, it depletes the body of:

* dopamine (the predominant neurotransmitter in your prefrontal cortex- cognitive behaviours & learning)

* GABA (calms the brain down & relaxes, essential for speech & language)

* serotonin (regulation, calm & focus)




The PSNS is responsible for our rest, digest, detox & heal functions. When activated it:

* Stimulates processing

* Stimulates vagus nerve which 'switches on' digestive organs - Intestines, pancreas, gall bladder, elimination of bladder and stimulates release of enzymes which break down food into nutrients.

* Constricts of bronchioles (breath out)

*** I've found that most issues in childhood can be linked to the lack of PSNS stimulation.

For example if the PSNS is not stimulated enough it can cause:

* Our body to become acidic, creating an environment for candida overgrowth & Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

* Lack of vagus nerve stimulation = decreased digestion - constipation, reflux, lack of HCl production (= decrease in protein digestion - zinc, magnesium, amino acids)

* Lack of reflex inhibition

* Sleep issues

* Lack of emotional processing

* Disruption to immune system

* Behavioural & mood disruption



THE MOST SIMPLE WAY TO STIMULATE THE PSNS & SWITCH OFF SNS:

Is to breathe!

Make the out breath longer than the in breath.

For children - playing games such as blowing ping pong balls across a table with a straw or blowing bubbles each day.

Deep pressure (i.e. squeezing joints) is also a useful way to calm the ANS

Autonomic-Nervous-System-Sensory-Disorders-ASD.pdf