The Autonomic Nervous System
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