The Health Corner Vol. 19 – Autonomic Overview
Last time, we discussed the second step in Nutrition Response testing called calibration. Today, I would like to give you an overview of the autonomic nervous system in preparation of further discussion on the next steps of the procedure.
The nervous system is composed of two major divisions: the voluntary (somatic) and the involuntary (autonomic). The voluntary nervous system is responsible for the functions of the body under the volitional control of the person. This part of the nervous system perceives what is happening in the environment on a conscious level and consciously responds to those things. The autonomic (involuntary) nervous system, which operates behind the scenes subconsciously in response to the environment, controls things like breathing, heart function, digestion, urination, sight, focus, sweating, defecation, and every function of the body which is not under direct, willful control. Of course, some of these functions are under voluntary control to some extent, like breathing, but overall, these functions occur automatically without a person really being aware of them.
The autonomic nervous system is the system I evaluate when using Nutrition Response Testing. It is also comprised of two parts called the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions.
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for what has been termed fight, flight, and fright reactions. One can demonstrate the responsiveness of the sympathetic nervous system by startling someone and watching to see if they jump. A person thusly stimulated will have an internal reaction as well: the heart races, the blood rushes to the extremities, the pupils dilate, the sweat glands may secrete, and the breathing becomes increased. This is all the body’s preparation to fight or flee from the perceived danger. This kind of reaction occurs automatically and instantly without the individual thinking about it.
The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is responsible for the functions of rest and digestion. When the body is still, and preparing for rest, this system slows the heart rate and breathing, causes the blood to be diverted to the trunk, and stimulates digestive and eliminative function, etc.
Both of these systems have a nerve supply directly connected to every organ of the body. These nerves either speed up or slow down the function of that organ, depending on which system is in control.
Now, if we were to make a “map” of the nerve distribution on the surface of the body, we would find that the skin is thick with nerve endings. These nerves have their origin in the spine and correspond with the varying organs and organ systems. The Nutrition Response Testing procedure works with this connection. I, as the practitioner, can place my hand on specific reflex areas containing nerves corresponding with the organ or organ system I wish to evaluate. The slight pressure I apply stimulates the nerves under the skin to send an impulse through the autonomic nervous system to the spine, thereby giving me a reading on the general health of a particular organ. If everything is functioning normally the muscle will remain locked. However, if function is in any way impaired, the muscle will lose its lock and go weak. Once I have a reading on a given organ or organ system, I can apply nutritional support accordingly.
Nutrition Response Testing is a very straightforward and accurate evaluation tool. It is far more effective than any medical testing of which I am aware, in that it actually gives me the ability to assess for a patient’s physiological stress, often times before that patient has any symptoms of disease. This is an obvious benefit because, if a condition can be recognized prior to the patient becoming symptomatic, it can be corrected with the proper nutritional support without the individual having to suffer the pain, expense, and potential damage that might otherwise occur.
Next time, I will continue discussing the Nutrition Response Testing procedure by describing how I, as a practitioner, handle an issue called blocked regulation, so that a proper reflex exam can be done.
Until then, here’s to your good health!
Dr. Jon R. Link