May 23, 2013
To read each part of the gut health series, if you have missed them -
There are so many modalities that work with your physical body to increase the health and function of your gut.
Bowen Therapy, Osteopathy, Yoga, Massage, Acupuncture and the list goes on but I am concentrating this particular blog mostly to understanding how chiropractic work helps the mind-gut connection.
There will also be input from a Kinesiologist.
My family uses Chiropractic work for general preventitive health measures.
My daughter had her first visit when she was 3 days old and my son when he was about 14 days old. My husband has been going since he was a youngster as his whole family uses this therapy and I, myself have been using chiropractic care ever since I met my husband (about 12 years!)
Wherever we have moved to, we find a good Chiropractor that can treat the whole family as soon as our electricity and phone is on 😉
But not any type of Chiro, we like to use the NIP protocol or NeuroImpulse Protocol which involves touching rather than 'cracking' which is what a lot of people believe most chiropractors do which is not the case for our family and who we use.
We found a great practice since our move to Brisbane again, and a chiropractor from this Practice, Dr Chris Slater, was kind enough to answer some questions for me as he holds talks on the 'Mind - Gut Connection' so I thought a perfect person to have here on this blog series.
1) How does chiropractic care improve our gut health?
Well first, let me clear up what we do. As Chiropractors our intent is to normalize the natural tone held in the nervous system. We use a form of full body assessment referred to as the NeuroImpulse Protocol, or simply NIP, which is based on gentle touch and very light thrusting (no ‘cracking’). This very specific, low force adjusting method allows your nervous system to better interpret and integrate the sensory input from the body and to appropriately process it throughout the brain and spinal cord. Imagine that your nervous system has a volume control – if you turn the volume up too much it causes distortion – this distorted function in the nervous system can and does manifest as musculoskeletal stress and pain, internal organ dysfunction and diminished immune response. Similar inappropriate responses are also seen when the volume is set too low. When the volume is set wrongly the nervous system sends distorted messages to the body, adversely affecting tone.
Chiropractic releases tensions in the spinal cord and brain by making corrections of spinal and other subluxations, which affect the tension normally held in the dura (hard, fibrous layer of the meninges which covers and protects the brain and spinal cord). Release of tension in this finely balanced body system can lead to profound neurological changes with attendant benefits to overall health.
So when it comes to our gut, one of the first signs of a poorly functioning brain is poor gut health, because altered brain function is going to lead to suppression of our intestinal immune system, changes to the gut’s blood supply, and decreases in digestive acids and enzymes. This leads to intestinal bacteria and yeast overgrowth and incomplete breakdown of our food. Then you’re going to have chronic inflammation, which we already know about, and then those inflammatory chemicals are going to give you ‘leaky gut,’ where the gut wall becomes permeable and this mess starts leaking into your bloodstream. That is very bad news because this leads to inflammation of the blood-brain barrier, which is then going to further irritate the already struggling brain, and this becomes a downward spiral.
So a really important part of recovering is to heal that gut, and I love all the information you’ve put up on that. My job is to help the brain heal too…
2) How does this impact on the type of sleep we get, our moods, our behaviour?
We use the term ‘Cranky Button’ to describe the effects of tension patterns associated with the dura, which is like a Chinese burn for the brainstem. This is actually pretty common, and the increase in tone I mentioned earlier results in everything tensing up: muscles, yes, but think about mood tensing up, too. I visualise a person’s emotions like a tight fist. The brainstem coordinates the lot, and it has a ridiculously low tolerance for tension in the membrane surrounding it, so mood, learning, sleep, memory, concentration and more – these things can all suffer, and can all improve, depending on who you are and what’s not working. One of the first things I hear with most people is that they feel calmer; more focused, and are having better sleep and noticing less fatigue. And we don’t generally do anything different for these people to target specific complaints. We just provide feedback to the brain about what’s not working, and then sit back and let it take over.
The gut plays a huge role in cognition too. Research is now indicating that not having a healthy colony of flora living in our gut can lead to psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. In fact, I read a cool study a few weeks ago that showed the researchers using a probiotic bacterial strain to actually treat depression with demonstrated improvement.
3) In your words, please explain what you believe the gut - mind connection is?
They do have separate functions and they influence other, both neurologically and hormonally. For me, though, they are one and the same; all part of the same body, and inseparable. Thinking of them as separate is a result of the western medicine, reductionist, mechanistic model that we’re now realizing is a long way behind, in many ways, more holistic paradigms like you might find in, say, Traditional Chinese Medicine.
4) What else do you advise your patients to do for their gut health apart from chiropractic work?
Apart from improving brain function through Chiropractic adjustments, I suggest many of the same things you have mentioned in your gut health series: avoid anything that will inflame the gut (foods, alcohol, caffeine, drugs etc) as this will cause recurrent irritation to the nervous system, plus any other physical, chemical or emotional stressors that will lead to a stress response and brain overload. We stock practitioner only probiotics and prebiotics, and we also use plant-derived digestive enzymes to support healthy digestion and/or detoxification.
I also regularly recommend meditation and yoga for general stress management, and this will mean less systemic inflammation, better brain function, and better gut function.
5) Do you see results in children sooner than adults?
I’d like to say children often respond faster because they don’t have the long-term damage that we often see in adults. The day-to-day truth is, kids sometimes take longer because of poor compliance either on their part, or more tragically, from parents who don’t fully grasp the importance and fragility of the gut in today’s world. But, yeah, when parents are on board it’s generally smooth sailing and the kids can show dramatic turn-arounds. So many times we get the gut right and the parents say with tears in their eyes, “You’ve fixed her! She’s a different girl…” And then I explain, “No, I don’t fix anything. That’s her body fixing itself, just like it should.”
6) What range of gut health symptoms do patients present to you with and how often do you see success in relieving these?
Well, since we now know that gut health problems are also brain health problems, we’re seeing psychological complaints like depression, anxiety, insomnia, ADHD and other neurobehavioural or neurodevelopmental issues, and cognitive challenges like poor memory, poor concentration, lack of motivation, brain fog (how common is this these days?!?), deteriorating eyesight… And then you’ve got your eczema and atopic problems, constipation/diarrhoea, bed-wetting fungal overgrowth… For some people this is affecting their fertility, and even then the conventional advice is to jam their bodies full of more drugs!
For the most part people get better when they can stop inflaming their systems and allow everything to settle down, so we regularly see great improvements, and then it’s a matter of compliance with lifestyle changes to achieve long-lasting balance.
To connect with Chris or one of the other amazing chiropractors that use NIP (including my Chiro) *waving at Cary Gilbert*
Go to their website - Cannon Hill Family Chiropractic Centre OR
Their facebook page - click HERE.
If you are not nearby and would like to find a suitable NIP Chiropractor, visit this website here - www.kirokids.com.au
I love the fact that we can ask our body what is wrong and allow our own bodies to do the work needed to correct itself.
This is what you can use Kinesiology for! Robyn, a practicing Kinesiologist and registered nurse has this to say about how your gut health can be improved with Kinesiology -
"When treating any part of the body, including the gut and all associated symptoms we work on your body's energetic blueprint.
Disturbances in this cause blockages and symptoms. removing or reducing the blockages improves energy flow to initiate the body's self-regulating healing mechanism.
What causes these blockages is individual for each client. There may be structural problems (scoliosis or injury) emotional (take fear for example, can lead to muscle tension as you are always braced for protection) electrical/ nervous problems (the nervous system gets so overwhelmed it get confused or 'blows its Clipsal safety switch') there may be chemical or food sensitivities, invasive organisms. There may even be deeper rooted issues under all of these!
So if someone came to me with physical symptoms that are arising in the gut whether it be IBS, food sensitivities, or something else all together, it is often treated via the gut.
Every approach is different, often its actually about connecting the dots between seemingly separate issues and bringing them back to a common source, like learning difficulties or headaches, foggy head etc, skin issues plus IBS- all comes back to the gut. get to the source and fix that, then the ripples go through all sorts of wonderful places!
Being a Kinesiologist is like being a private detective INSIDE someone's body- where it takes me, no-one knows, not even me until we set off on our adventure. that's what makes it so much fun.
Like Hansel and Gretel retracing their steps collecting stones on the way to follow the path, everything we've ever done leaves a stone. we just retrace until we get to the initial starting place."
Oh, she is a clever lady! To connect with Robyn - go to her very popular Facebook page - Overcoming Overwhelm
She is so lovely and would be happy to answer any questions you may have!
Well there it is peeps! Gut Health wrapped up for now, I hope you've enjoyed the series!
Yours in Health,
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