How’s Your aOS?

Stress And Your Automatic Operating System

The Sympathetic Branch Of The aOS

About a week ago, I was the speaker for a group of people resolved healthy eating and living called the HEAL Tribe. I was asked by The Jax Vegan Couple to be their speaker. It was a great event full of delicious vegan dishes(full disclosure, I eat meat)! I spoke about the importance of the autonomic nervous system, which I refer to as the automatic Operating System, or aOS of the body. Before we get into how the autonomic nervous system (referred to as the aOS) is affected by stress, here’s a quick review. The aOS is divided into two branches, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic branch is often described as the fight or flight manager. In response to stimuli, like seeing a bear in the woods, the sympathetic branch releases noradrenaline and can lead to the release of adrenaline. Once these chemicals are released, you will see the signs of the fight or flight response. These include pupil dilation, increased sweating, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure. However, the sympathetic branch also decreases blood flow to digestive and eliminative organs. It does so because when confronted by a bear in the woods, digesting lunch is not as important as avoiding becoming lunch.The sympathetic branch harnesses energy to prepare for defense rather than for nourishment. This branch is also activated by angry thoughts and physical overexertion. The sympathetic branch is catabolic, which means it tears the body down. When the sympathetic branch is in control, healing and detoxing of the body is shut off.

The Parasympathetic Branch Of The aOS

Now, let’s cover the basics of the parasympathetic branch of the aOS. This branch is often called the rest and digest response or the feed and breed response. In essence, it controls activities that occur when the body is at rest, especially after eating, including sexual arousal, salivation, lacrimation (tears), urination, digestion and defecation. It stimulates the immune and eliminative organs like the liver, pancreas, stomach, and intestines. The parasympathetic branch of the aOS is activated by rest, relaxation, and positive thoughts. It is more concerned with nourishing, healing and regeneration of the body for long term survival. For this reason, the parasympathetic branch is anabolic(building up the body). It is the branch responsible for homeostasis, or balance, in the body.

Who’s In Charge?

Both branches of the aOS are antagonistic. Either one or the other is activated most of the time. To promote balance and healing, the goal is to keep the sympathetic branch quite and in the background. When the sympathetic branch is active for too long, it can result in sympathetic dominance. Staying constantly stressed will cause blood vessels to adapt to constriction and become muscular. The  result is a very narrow diameter which requires larger amounts of blood to be pumped through them while increasing blood pressure, not good. Loss of appetite is a common symptom of sympathetic dominance. Can you recall a time when you were pressed for a deadline at work, or spent the day worrying about news of a sick relative? Do you remember going for hours during those days without much to eat? A lowered libido and sexual arousal can also happen in sympathetic dominance due to the interference of testosterone and estrogen production. Low estrogen affects both sexes as estrogen is an antioxidant preventing a number of cardio vascular diseases and atherosclerosis. Another culprit hormone associated with stress and sympathetic dominance is cortisol. Glucose driven by cortisol will cause sympathetic dominant people to not be able to get rid of their lower belly pooch. Other signs of sympathetic dominance are fatigue, exhaustion, moodiness, apathy, and can even lead to depression. Some of the physical symptoms can include aches and pains, indigestion, and insomnia. Over the long term, sympathetic dominance sets the stage for more serious illness like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

What Can You Do?

No one can completely eliminate stress, in fact, we need stress to survive. However, we cannot let stress overwhelm us. Finding things that you truly enjoy and make you feel relaxed is a good place to start. As corny as it may sound, staying positive, practicing forgiveness and gratitude can cultivate contentment. Stay away from negative emotions and people who deplete your energy versus emotions and people that truly uplift you. Simple exercises like stretching and practicing deep breathing will also activate the parasympathetic branch of the aOS. Physical activities like yoga or getting a massage can also be a part of your aOS balancing regimen. Taking care of your physical body is also important to managing stress. Secondary conditions like neck pain or headaches also activate the sympathetic branch of the aOS. We also know that there are anatomical attachments of the upper spinal cord to the base of the skull as well as the top two bones in the neck. Structural shifts of the upper neck create a disrelationship between the head and the neck. These structural shifts can cause an obstruction in how signals from the aOS get to their relay centers in the brainstem. Chronic pain increases stress and all of the domino effects we see in sympathetic dominance.

 

Alex Roes
Alex Roes
2023-12-21
I am a violinist that had tendinitis in both of my hands coming from my neck misalignment. Dr. Zifteh got me back to normal within a few months, and now I am in even better shape than before. 10/10
Brian Roes
Brian Roes
2023-12-18
Dr. Zifteh is an excellent chiropractor, who focuses on finding the least invasive way to get the maximum results for her patients. I have been receiving chiropractic care from her for about two months— the results have been remarkable. Not only has my neck and back pain decreased dramatically, but my posture has noticeably improved! Dr. Vicki Zifteh was recommended to me by a local medical doctor friend of mine as “the only chiropractor in Jacksonville I can wholeheartedly recommend.” I have had other chiropractors previously and I felt like they just started “cracking” without truly assessing what was happening in my body and systematically measuring progress and results. Dr. Zifteh is exactly the opposite. She is very conscientious about holistic assessments, x-rays (when necessary), symptom monitoring… and only makes physical adjustments when necessary. She is also highly trained in soft tissue work which makes the whole process very smooth and integrated. In addition to all of these things, she is punctual with her appointments, communicates professionally, and is very friendly and comfortable all the time. Highly recommend!
Benjamin Lamb
Benjamin Lamb
2023-11-06
Best Chiropractor Ive ever been to, hands down. I went to multille different ones to ease specific pain for over 5 years with no lasting relief. Dr. Soriano identified the root cause & provides consistant relief. He also instructed me with a plan to help the body to heal.
Jessica Hudson, D.C.
Jessica Hudson, D.C.
2023-10-05
Dr.s Soriano and Zifteh are top notch. Every time I get an an upper cervical adjustment, I feel so much clearer. I can think clearer, sleep better and function better overall. I can always count on Apex to put my head back on straight!
Deanne Roes
Deanne Roes
2023-09-29
My son is a violin performance major at university. During his second semester he began to experience pain in both arms, along with tingling and electric shock- like sensations. He became unable to play. He went to a doctor and was instructed to wear braces, take massive amounts of ibuprofen and give it time- there was “No injury only inflammation.” Two months passed, and he was not able to touch his violin, he was unable to text, type, hold a writing implement, or do any kind of fine motor skill activity. He could not work out, sleep well, and was dependent on pain relievers to get through the day. The pain and weakness remained the same. My son lost a semester of progress. During this time, I spoke with my son’s former pediatrician and she said “Without even seeing him I know what the problem is- it’s his neck. And there is one person in the city of Jacksonville who I know can help him.” We visited Dr. Zifteh who did extensive scans and developed a treatment plan. She was both honest in her assessment and full of hope and encouragement. Her approach was non-invasive and gentle, focused only where he needed adjustment. Within two months my son was pain free, edging back into practicing, and had regained full mobility of his fingers, hands and arms. Four months later, he has returned to full strength and stamina. He is performing, playing 4-5 hours per day, teaching, and back on track to accomplish his dream of becoming a professional violinist. Dr. Zifteh’s skill and care created a miracle for my son and we still are marveling at the healing he experienced. Thank you!!
Adison Nikolai
Adison Nikolai
2023-09-20
I started taking my 16 month old to Dr. Vicki for reflux. My daughter loves to go! I noticed an improvement in her reflux after several visits. Dr. Vicki takes the time to listen to you and is great with kids. Thank you!!
john gallagher
john gallagher
2023-09-18
Pleasant and patient, Dr. Zifteh took the time to ensure that I understood what she was doing for me and why.
Megan Kinney
Megan Kinney
2023-09-10
I would give 10 stars if I could. My son showed improvement IMMEDIATELY, after having issues latching for a little while he latched & was so relaxed & comfortable right after his adjustment with just 1 visit. Dr. Soriano is a Miracle worker!! He was very thorough & explained everything he was doing & why. He made us feel very comfortable too
Jennifer Vannoy
Jennifer Vannoy
2023-07-21
Dr. Soriano is so knowledgeable! He does a thorough exam, explains what should be normal, and he has an amazing bedside manner. We can't wait to see the progress he makes with our daughter!
Konrad Klonowski
Konrad Klonowski
2023-05-20
Dr. Vicki Zifteh's adjustments significantly reduced my chronic neck pain and headaches. Highly recommend and thank you for your help.