resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
July, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 07
Freeing the Heart: The Importance of the Vagus Nerves/Cranial Nerve X
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
In my clinical work involving clients who typically present with chronic somatic problems, it is truly a joy when markers emerge that reflect, "the means by which" their healing experiences occurred.Since beginning to write this series of articles on "Freeing the Heart," more and more of my clients are regaining their quality of life more quickly.
Additionally, for those clients who have progressions of degenerating physiological function, their bodies are expressing their symptoms in more classic medical ways allowing for clearer and more appropriate diagnosis and treatment. And, for those whose bodies have held sub-clinical infections, many for multiple decades, they are responding so fast that I am in true amazement.
My latest premise about human aging is that the vagus nerves, for many possible reasons, cedes the functioning of the digestive system to the enteric nervous system which is probably overseen by the celiac plexus. The ceding of this responsibility is proposed to be the result of the need for the organism as a whole to concentrate its efforts toward running of the heart/lung complex and its contributions to our ability to speak.
The progression of cardiovascular disease is an exceedingly subtle one until, it isn't. Let's be clear, our bodies are not that different from how we organize our lives. We prioritize and distribute our energies as the obvious needs present themselves, disregarding what we can and delegating to others what we must.
Consider this analogy: Life gets hectic in the family, more money is needed to make ends meet and one or both parents take on a second job to financially keep up with the expanding needs, wants and desires of their children. As a result, one or more of the children is assigned the cooking responsibilities or even does the shopping, planning, clean-up and taking out the trash to accommodate this loss of parental skill and supervision. Most everything gets done but without the finesse, organization or thoroughness of an adult. It's a crude analogy but, in the ballpark for our purposes.
So it is when our autonomic nervous system is evolutionarily focused on the higher priority of getting the next breath and pumping freshly oxygenated blood, digestion becomes a secondary priority. Thus, without the brain's monitoring the Gastrointestinal tract, digestion, assimilation of nutrients and waste removal all happens, but with less coordination and efficiency.
Two years ago, a former student of mine had sent me an article that referenced that the Vagus Nerves were composed of 90% afferent fibers and 10% motor nerves.1 This information was novel, but it floated by in my consciousness without me acting upon it. Then, more recently, I happened upon a book that validated much of what I have asserted over many years regarding the importance of the length and tone of the esophagus and also restated this 90%/10% ratio between sensory and motor supply inherent within the vagus nerves.2
It suddenly dawned on me that the style of stretching I had developed to vent pressure from the thorax might also be stretching the filaments of the vagal nerves. This technique was described in the "Equalizing the Pressure" article of this series (Massage Today, February 2012). Could it be that these gentle stretches might be stimulating the vagal afferent fibers such that the brain was again coordinating the body as a more unified organism? And, could it also be that the immune system was also being stimulated to wake up and began to recognize deteriorating physiological progressions and aggregations of bacteria and viruses that it previously had been too overloaded to notice? Admittedly, it is a curious idea yet, it has very significant positive implications.
Might this be "the means by which" such improvements for clients were being realized? It is a very possible therapeutic response to my constant mantra of the past few years, "if one can restore nerve and blood supply, then almost any healing can occur." Full credit is given to Dr. Richard MacDonald, DO, for presenting this maxim from his long Osteopathic teaching career when I assisted him in his Functional Anatomy courses in 1989 & 1990.3
Let's return to the notion of 90% afferent vagal fibers and 10% vagal motor fibers. Stimulating the afferent filaments is being proposed as a method to assist the central nervous system in re-engaging its full attention to coordinating physiological function inclusive of a more alert and responsive immune system.
The next proposal is that reducing the compressive forces upon the vagus nerves motor fibers is also a part of this re-engagement of normal vagal function. Based on my clinical experience with clients, the most frequent places in anatomy where this compressive force is most plausibly obstructed is where the vagus nerve exits the cranium through the jugular foramen and in the superior sympathetic ganglion immediately lateral to C1, C2 and C3 where there exists an intimate relationship between the sympathetic fibers and the parasympathetic vagal fibers.
The successful long history of upper cervical adjustments by osteopathic and chiropractic physicians in addressing a plethora of somatic and visceral dysfunctions bear testimony to the importance of these anatomical relationships. Then, when one adds myofascial stretching to the fibers of the esophagus and to the stretching of the pleural, pericardial and peritoneal sacs, this is how the proposed stimulation of vagal fibers as they descend into the abdomen is effected. I share these observations and ideas, not because of my certainty that they are absolute facts, but because I desire to stimulate other practitioners in our field to join with me and explore whether these ideas can be reflected in our choices of skill sets and techniques which collectively comprise our profession. Thus, producing more effective results for our respective clients. In doing so, anatomy is our common language.
It has long been my instinct that our profession can make a number of significant contributions to how healing may be realized. It is my prayer that this concept of "Freeing The Heart" may simply be one of many more to come.
Author's Note: Additional credit to John Upldeger, DO, developer of CranioSacral Therapy, for his healing paradigm of lowering sympathetic tone and assisting parasympathetic outflow; to Dr. Jean Pierre Barral, DO, for his premise about the importance of re-establishing normal pressure differentials between the body's three great cavities in its role toward enhancing normal circulatory efficiency; to Lansing Barrett Gresham, founder of Integrated Awareness® for his postulation that since the visceral organs are functioning well before the skeletal muscles are capable of moving the body in a coordinated fashion, that the tensional patterns of the visceral suspensory ligaments play a major role in the eventual range of motion for most of the body's joint structures; and finally to Frank Lowen, LMT, for his contributions as I have an indelible memory of his fascial stretching between the thorax and the abdomen in 1991 in West Palm Beach that I know was part of the inspiration to develop these techniques.
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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