The Zen Corner

Science, Art, and Philosophy of Chiropractic


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Cancer, Alzheimer’s and Cardiovascular Disease has a Link!

This is a research article review research paper from Clinical Science issue 2012 titled, “You may need the vagus nerve to understand the pathophysiology and to treat disease.” The research article writes about treating the vagus nerve, located in the upper neck, reduces the health risk of major diseases which are inflammatory reactions, increased oxidative stress, and excess stress responses. The vagus nerve activity can be measured by a non-invasive evaluation by Heart Rate Variability.

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High-Risk Diseases

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Frequent causes of death that are worldwide have been attributed to cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Another category that has been on the rise has been the Metabolic Syndrome. This syndrome includes risk factors of obesity, elevated blood lipids, elevated glucose, and blood pressure. All of these diseases and risk factors are manifested differently in clinical science and the screening process, complex treatments, prevention measures are expensive! This paper is attempting to suggest a screening process of pre-medical conditions before they start to have morbid diseases and health risks.

The hypothesis of this research paper is linking all the high-risk health factors have a common problem with the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a nerve that is extending from the brain stem down and front of the neck and travels down in most of the vital internal organs. (https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1875813-overview#a1) This vagus nerve can be evaluated by Heart Rate Variability which is an in invasive and non-expensive assessment.

 

Hypothesis

The article proposes three hypothesis on how the vagus nerve is involved.

Hypothesis 1: Better Vagal Nerve Activity, Reduced Risk

Hypothesis 2: Vagus Nerve Keeps the Stress response and inflammation in check

Hypothesis 3: Poor Vagus Nerve Function means higher risk for a disease.

Solution: Heart Rate Variability Assessments:

Heart Rate Variability is an assessment that measures the beat-to-beat variation in heart rate. This natural rise and fall of heart rate are caused by several physiologic phenomena, including breathing and autonomic nervous system activity. Healthcare professionals utilize HRV for a wide variety of clinical applications. Previous blog (https://zenchiropractic.wordpress.com/2013/04/) has mentioned how this is a way to measure the performance of the vagus nerve.

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Health Risk Factors

There are health risk factors that lead to major diseases like the cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s diseases. The following three are the major steps that lead to major diseases:

  • Oxidative Stress
  • Inflammation
  • Excessive Stress Response

For more information about these steps, scroll further down for a more detailed summary of the article.

 

Oxidative Stress

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Oxidative stress is a condition where free radicals are flowing through your bloodstream. It is an unstable molecule that can damage cells by damaging the molecular structure of the cell. A free radical is a single person showing up to couples only dance party and stealing a partner from one of the couples thus creating a chain reaction. Simple a molecule needs even-electron ions to stabilize and a free radical is uneven and desperately wants to be even. To counter this situation it always adds antioxidants which neutralize the free radical.

Oxidative stress occurs when the free radicals are overwhelming the antioxidants and leading to damaging cellular structures such as DNA. Damaging the DNA of the cell can lead to transforming them into malignant cells. Also, oxidative stress can damage LDL, which carry cholesterol and create promotion of inflammation for plaques in the arteries in the heart and lead to cardiovascular diseases. This same process can happen in the artery of the brain and that leads to stroke and damaging nerve cells in the brain.

Inflammation

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Inflammation isn’t an evil, it is a necessary process for the body to heal. It is the amount of inflammation that causes more risks. Normally inflammation is like construction or house remodeling. Your house or building is the body and all the construction and remodeling will cause an increase of dust, extra equipment in the hallways, plastics taped on the walls and carpets, and more people in the area! This will clog up the hallway or room and often involves destruction or construction of walls. Inflammation is similar to this while the immune cells are repairing damaged artery lining, kill infected or malignant cells. Inflammation serves to prevent tumor cells to grow, infected cells to take over our body, repair damaged tissue.

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Inflammation becomes a problem when there is too much inflammation or the process goes out of control.  When the inflammation process in the artery increases too much it will start to clog up and cause elevated blood pressure and a blood clot to form which leads to cardiovascular disease. When inflammation process goes out of control and the immune cells start to attack good cells; this we call auto-immune diseases and can result in degeneration of the brain called neurodegeneration.

Excessive Stress Responses

Stress responses involve the sympathetic nervous system activity to increase fight or flight response. When this stressful state stays long term, this will fatigue and exhaust your body. This stressful state involves increased blood pressure, arteries to constrict, increased blood sugar, decrease digestive and many more! (https://www.diffen.com/difference/Parasympathetic_nervous_system_vs_Sympathetic_nervous_system) This can easily explain how increased stress response can contribute to cardiovascular diseases with increased blood pressure. During an emergency stressful state, the blood is mainly flowing toward muscles for survival. Increased adrenaline and noradrenaline, increases the opportunity for the tumor cells to grow since all the immune cells activity are slowed down to emphasize the survival state.

Conclusion:

To summarize this article, the authors were pointing out that the vagus nerve activity is vital in finding out the precursors for most common diseases that cause death worldwide. To analyze the vagus nerve, Heart Rate Variability is highly recommended due to good data from other research articles.

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Essential to Life

What is essential to survive and thrive?

Well, we know that we need to drink water, breath oxygen, and consume food sources to sustain the body’s needs. There is another important factor that will be more essential than drinking water, breathing oxygen, and consuming food sources. What can be more important than breathing air? drinking water? or consuming food?

The first anatomical structure that develops in a gestational period is the central nervous system. In embryology, it is called the Primitive Streak. The Primitive Streak forms after 15 days of gestation of the Morula, which is a globular mass of cells (blastomeres) that will be stationary in the uterus. Once the Primitive Streak is formed the cells start to form three germ layers and eventually form the rest of the body. It is known that the Primitive Streak is the beginning stage of development of the central nervous system. It is important to start with the central regulating system that orchestrates more complex development because, without it, nothing will form.

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The central regulating system, which is the central nervous system, processes complex chemical and physical development of the body. There are 65 trillion chemicals in the brain processed and produced every second of your life. So even though we can breathe air, drink water, or consume food, if our central nervous system is not regulating the process, giving resources won’t matter. Orchestrated by your Nervous System, your body supplies the correct dosage of antibodies, enzymes, endorphin and other compounds precisely when they are needed. Having a properly functioning nervous system is essential to life as we adapt to stress and thrive. How do we maintain a complex network of nerve cells, multi-billion chemicals that are processing each second, and communicate with all the organs in the body?

Stimulation of the Brain

We all know the phrase, “If we don’t use it, we lose it.” When we don’t exercise our muscles, then the muscles will atrophy. Same with our brain and spinal cord. Chesnut states that,

“Our nervous system do require food (glucose or ketone bodies and Omega  3 Fatty Acids), oxygen, and stimulation.  Movement via exercises is the main source of this essential nutrient. Use it or lose it is so true. Your brain is like a muscle and it needs stimulation or the synapses are lost and neurons get deconditioned and hibernate’.

This means creating stimulation to the brain such as exercise is the only way to keep the brain cells alive. This is an assumption that all of the joints in the body is in proper alignment and stimulating properly. The previous blog has touched on this subject on the blog title of “Gait Analysis: You can run but you can’t hide!” Although, even having enough stimulation to the brain and getting all the resources it needs there is still another important need for the nervous system. The nervous system needs to maintain a certain organizational structure to do complex chemical reactions and movements.

Tone of the Nerve Tissue

To have a properly functioning nervous system is not just providing resources such as drinking water, breathing air, or consuming food. What is a properly functioning nervous system? More then a hundred years ago in 1985, a concept of tone for the nervous system was introduced by D.D. Palmer.cord

D.D Palmer said: “Life is the expression of tone. In that sentence is the basic principle of Chiropractic. Tone is the normal degree of nerve tension. Tone is expressed in functions by the normal elasticity, activity, strength and excitability of the various organs, as observed in a state of health. Consequently, the cause of disease is any variation of tone – nerves too tense or too slack.”

D.D. Palmer continually wrote: “Tone, in biology, is the normal tension or firmness of nerves, muscles or organs, the renitent, elastic force acting against an impulse. Any deviation from normal tone, that of being too tense or too slack, causes a condition of renitence, too much elastic force, too great resistance, a condition expressed in function as disease.”

breig-revisitedThis concept of tone in the nervous system is the foundation for chiropractic philosophy, science, and art. 40 years later a Neurosurgeon named Dr. Breig mentioned many concepts of the biomechanics of the Nervous System. Michael Shacklock summarised Dr. Breig’s concepts in the book Biomechanics of the Nervous System: Breig revisited,

“The total tension induced may well lead to neural dysfunction, and then the involved nerve-fibers in the cord or nerve-roots may be said to be over-stretched. The most significant consequence of over-stretching nerve-fibers is impairment of their conductivity.”

Biomechanics of the Nervous System: Breig                                                                                     revisited Pg xiv

If the Nervous System is not working properly and not regulating the complex process do we need medications? medical surgery?

Pharmaceuticals

Maybe there is a shortage of a chemical that we need? Well, the Pharmaceutical industry knows 11 thousand that are on the market. Our body processes 65 trillion chemicals every second. Just from that ratio, we can definitely say that our body has very complex body chemistry and can supply what the body needs instead of injecting, consuming, or infuse into our body. Simply adding a chemical to the nervous system that not functioning is not a long-term solution. It may be a short-term solution for survival but not for the long term.

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If there is something wrong with the nervous system then why not do medical surgery on the brain and spinal cord?

Medical Surgery

Having medical surgery for the nervous system will take drastic changes in the nervous system. Spinal surgery and fusion can change the spinal structure permanently. These surgical procedures require more medication, many days of recovery, and permanent changes that is not reversible. It is definitely a lifesaver for rare brain and spinal cord conditions but it is not a common medical procedure to do casually. Most people are not required or needed for a surgical procedure yet it is almost always a requirement in all spinal conditions.

There are possibly other ideas that may solve the dysfunctioning nervous system.

Impingement and Interference 

Nerve cells make up the nerve tissue and it is known to be a delicate and sensitive tissue. That is why the skeletal system incases the whole entire structure with the skull and spinal column.  Any pressure on this delicate nerve tissue. Stephenson states in Chiropractic Textbook,

“The most delicate tissue in the body, nerve tissue, is so sensitive to injury or annoyance that it cannot ‘put up’ with any rough treatment. It cannot stand pinching or crowd or rough ‘shouldering’.” Chiropractic Text Book Pg 295

In an article 303, Stephenson starts to define impingement and describes how the spinal segments can create impingements.

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“All impingements in the body (and there are many kinds) are due to subluxations,

 

directly or indirectly. Impingements may be produced by fractures or dislocations also, for any abnormal position of a vertebra, relative to its neighbors, may impinge nerves.” Chiropractic Text Book Pg 304

This idea of spinal segments involving tension in the spinal cord is also mentioned by Shacklock’s summary of Dr. Brieg,

“Tension is thus the pathologically significant force, whether generated by a pincer action, by local induration and deformation, or by a space-occupying lesion. ”

These impingements are well known in the medical field of nerve impingements. Often they are associated with spinal stenosis from disc herniation or bone spurs from the degenerative joint disease. From Stephenson, he mentions that subluxation can be a direct or indirect cause of impingement of the nerve structure.  Not only can subluxation cause impingement but also can cause impingements in the spinal canal, which also cause cord pressure and cord tension.

Impingement will lead to interference of the nerves to transmit signals from the brain to all of the body cells. Stephenson states,

“Interference with transmission prevents Innate from adapting things universal for use in the body and from coordinating the actions of tissue cells for the mutual benefit of all cells. Accordingly, the universal forces wear or injure the tissue cells, or cause them to act inharmoniously and thus injure other cells as well.  When a cell is injured, worn down, or ‘out of condition’, it is not ‘at ease’.” Chiropractic Text Book Pg 301

When there is any impingement there will also be interference. The nerves will not function at its optimal potential when there is an impingement. As we have explained in the blog “What is Chiropractic Treatment,” we talked about subluxation being a main interference in the nervous system. Here is the link to that blog. (https://zenchiropractic.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/what-is-chiropractic-treatment/) Chiropractic is very different from Medica approach to dealing with the nervous system.

Chiropractic and Medical

As a common idea of spinal cord tension is the medical philosophy and chiropractic philosophy, the approach to solve the problem is drastically different. Medical philosophy is trying to change the biomechanics of the nervous system by permanently changing the structure that is starting to fall apart. Chiropractic philosophy is to find the most interference caused by an impingement and remove it with chiropractic adjustments.

Symptoms

Medical philosophy is to solve the symptom of survival and once it is gone, there is no need to continue to care for. Chiropractic philosophy differs by addressing the symptom but stabilizing the condition so that the spine can handle more pressure and thrive. A chiropractor may ask about symptoms but there is a difference in the way we interpret how the function is overall.

Conclusion:

Essential to life is to keep the central nervous system to be stimulated properly and keep the structural integrity. We can eat a ton of food, drink gallons of water, and breath all the air but if our central nervous system is not getting the stimulation and proper structural integrity, all the damages in our body won’t repair because the main facilitator is malfunctioning. All the resources we put in our body can go to waste if our mainframe facilitator of the body can not process the right resources to the right channels. To have an optimally functioning nervous system, we need proper stimulation and specific structural tone as we need all the resources to regenerate and build.