The June meeting was held on June 24th. The facilitator was Nancy and there were 6 people in attendance.
PAIN MANAGEMENT (excerpts from an online presentation by The Sacred Science, founder Nick Polizzi)
Pain is your friend…without it you would walk on that strained ankle w/o knowing it…pain is to let us know what is wrong – once it’s done its job, there is no reason for continued pain signals.
However, some of us have chronic pain (continued pain signals).
Some professionals believe “ALL PAIN IS PERCEIVED IN YOUR BRAIN”. Others believe there are pain nerves near the injury and there’s the vagus nerve (SEE DETAILED EXPLANATION BELOW) that transmit signals to the brain.
Peripheral pain, i.e. injured knee – generates genes in that area that turn on the cell and they start making inflammatory product – thus, local pain is conveyed to the brain.
The immune system regulates how much pain you will have – it differs in acute pain as opposed to chronic pain.
We need a very active immune system to heal an injury (for example, digestion stops – you find you aren’t that hungry).
When we have chronic pain, the brain is on high alert…it perceives threat – inflammation is created…some call it “chronic pain brain”….we need to quiet down the brain and take care of the injured tissue.
New Technique to Manage Pain:
Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) – has been around for 20 years. It is considered Electro-medicine.
Microcurrent therapy is given at a millionth of an amp.
It can work on acupuncture points or on the injured area.
Someone pioneered determining various frequencies in the body and they all have specific jobs….some reduce PTSD, inflammation, congestion, or tell the lymph system to get moving. Some FSM therapists utilize this system of determining frequencies in the body to apply this microcurrent. They treat the cause of the pain…for instance – they would run the frequencies in the inflammation to the cartilage, bone tissue, ligaments, tendons or nerve but wouldn’t treat the muscle.
Here’s an example: if you have gluten sensitivity – you irritate the muscles in the abdomen but the pain shows up in the low back – a microcurrent therapist would the small intestine not the back.
It can also be used after surgery for pain management and to add healing.
BIOFEEDBACK – tracking a function in the body, see how it’s functioning and learn how to train that function. Monitor the tension and control the tightening and relaxing mechanism.
To learn more about these techniques or about the presentation on pain management, feel free to email me.
What Is The Vagus Nerve And What Does It Do?
Vagus in Greek means “wanderer” or “traveler”. It’s the perfect name for this special nerve, which “travels” throughout the body, taking in more or less everything as it goes. It begins in the brainstem before heading down and into the front of the neck via the carotid artery sheath.
The vagus nerve travels into the body, passing the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, the reproductive system, and many other organs. It takes readings from each and passes on messages from the brain, like a neuronal superhighway. As the largest nerve in the body, it covers a stunning amount of ground.
There’s little going on in your internal organs in which the vagus nerve is not involved. Interestingly, it provides an alternative link between the brain and the genitals. Many with spinal cord injuries are able to achieve sexual pleasure thanks to the vagus nerve.
The Vagus Nerve And The Autonomic Nervous System
We tend to think of the human nervous system as a single entity. In fact, it consists of many interlocking elements. Of these, the most important for our purposes is the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS controls ‘autonomous’ functions, i.e. those you have little to no conscious control.
Things like heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, digestion, the subconscious aspect of breathing and so on all come under the ANS.
The ANS comprises three main elements: the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), and the Enteric Nervous System (ENS). The SNS is responsible for the so-called ‘fight or flight’ reaction. It's the SNS which causes our body’s instinctive response to danger. It increases the heart rate, pumps up the lungs, diverting blood from organs to muscles. This floods the body with oxygen, and triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol.
The ENS is concerned with how the intestines function (although digestion has its own independent reflex activity). It has a role to play in communication with the central nervous system.
The PNS is responsible for the ‘rest and digest’ system. It calms the body by bringing down heart and breathing rates. It re-diverts bodily resources to the vital organs, allowing the deeper autonomous systems (such as digestion) to work at full capacity. The vagus nerve provides the vital communication highway to help these systems operate. It acts as the ‘central switchboard’ of the ANS.
Fight Or Flight Vs Rest And Digest
The SNS, though essential for survival, is not designed to remain active for long periods. But, when needed in an emergency it has to come on-line immediately. Consequently, the SNS is always at the ready, held back only by the ‘braking’ effect of the PNS. The ‘fight or flight’ reaction involves pumping up the muscles, giving the individual a shot of energy, and dulling the pain response.
In theory, it should last long enough to let the person fight or flee from a potentially dangerous situation. At this point it should be extinguished. In order to achieve this (theoretically) temporary ‘boost’, the SNS diverts resources from the organs and deeper autonomous systems. This powers the muscles and heightens the sensory responses.
Needless to say, too long spent in a ‘fight or flight’ state does the vital organs no good at all. Sadly, modern stressors are not as temporary as the threats our SNS evolved to protect us from. Our SNS cannot distinguish between physical and psychological distress.
Stressors of the modern age frequently leave people in a prolonged and highly damaging state of persistent ‘fight or flight’. To combat this, we must return the body to a more natural resting state of ‘rest and digest’. This is achieved through stimulation of the vagus nerve.
Parasympathetic Vagal Response
Stimulating the vagus nerve can ‘wake up’ the PNS. This then goes to work in various beneficial ways. Stomach acid and digestive enzyme production increases, ensuring the proper and sustained absorption of vital nutrients. Blood pressure is lowered. The immune system is properly regulated. Hormones and enzymes like oxytocin and acetylcholine are stimulated, aiding the body’s general health and improving psychological wellbeing.
But it doesn't stop there.
Studies show the vagus nerve is capable of taking readings from the micro-biome. Then triggering responses depending upon the results of its findings.
Further, it will mobilize anxiogenic (anxiety-causing) and anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) effects in response to certain stimuli. Here we see the powerful potential for mood-alteration that comes with vagal nerve stimulation.
There's even a school of thought that learning to control the vagus nerve allows you to control inflammatory responses. This effectively slows cellular breakdown, reducing the effects of ageing. This is a far better alternative to treating pain and inflammation than often dangerous analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Some have taken this anti-inflammatory theory further, suggesting the vagus nerve can ‘plug’ into the body’s latent stem cells. Implying that one can not only slow cellular decay, via the vagus nerve, but can actually stimulate a degree of cellular regeneration.
The effectiveness of stimulating the vagus nerve depends greatly on the vagal tone. Vagal tone refers to the strength, speed, and efficiency of the vagus nerve response.
This can be tested via an electrocardiogram, which measures the differential between heart rate during out and in breaths. A high differential indicates high vagal tone.
Improving Vagal Tone
High vagal tone is associated with more efficient blood glucose regulation, indicating a far lower risk of diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease and so on. Low vagal tone is associated with chronic inflammation, raised stress levels, and cardiovascular problems among other things.
Vagal tone can be improved by practicing the stimulation of the vagus nerve. There are various ways in which this can be achieved, some more invasive than others. Since 1997, those suffering from conditions like acute migraines and epilepsy have sometimes been treated by the implantation of a Vagal Nerve Stimulator (VNS).
This works by using electric currents to stimulate the nerve, and patients frequently report an improvement in both physical and psychological health. Plus a significant reduction in seizures and/or migraines. It's also widely accepted that the use of a VNS can be useful for depression, bipolar disorder, and morbid obesity
Non-Invasive Vagal Nerve Stimulation
The nerve can also be stimulated through less invasive procedures, with only slightly less dramatic results than those gained with a VNS.
For example, stimulating the nerve through carotid sinus massage has proven to suppress some kinds of seizure and reduce rapid heart rate. Certain yogic techniques can also feed psychological information ‘backwards’ to the brain via the vagus nerve.
Just as psychological stimuli can cause a bodily ‘fight or flight’ reaction, so physical information can influence a psychological reaction. This physical information travels along the vagus nerve. Using techniques such as yogic breathing and smooth movements mimics symptoms of calm. This encourages the vagus nerve to feed back to the mind that all is well. The psyche consequently allows stress to seep away.
Humming And Hawing
One of the most interesting methods of stimulating the vagus nerve involves auditory vibration. Humming and rhythmic chanting have long been acknowledged meditative techniques, and are proven methods of stimulating the vagus nerve.
Gently expressed sounds, ideally heard through headphones in both ears, trigger a parasympathetic vagus nerve response.
Vagal Tone Exercises
In terms of practical improvements, practicing self-caring meditative techniques are among the most effective non-invasive methods of improving your vagal tone. You’ll find a few suggestions below:
· Humming: as mentioned, humming has a strong effect on the vagus nerve. Try combining humming with yogic/meditative breathing. Take deep, slow breaths in through the nose, and hum as you slowly breathe out. Focus on the vibrations of your hum in your ribs, your throat, your mouth and your cranium. Repeat until you feel relaxed. Communal singing, choir or prayer are also known to be beneficial, as is gargling.
· Cold Water: in cases of high heart rate, you can stimulate your vagus nerve to bring the heart rate back down. You can do this through the simple method of plunging your face for 30-60 seconds into icy water. This promotes what is known as the ‘diving reflex’. The vagus nerve orders your heart rate to slow in order to conserve oxygen. The Dive Reflex, originally noted in cold water diving, is a first-rate vagus nerve stimulation method. It's capable of rapidly chilling down feelings of anxiety, panic, stress and body-wide inflammation as well as elevating moods. A large zip-lock plastic bag, filled with ice or ice cubes and applied from the scalp line to the lips will perform as well.
Meditation: the vagus nerve can be powerfully stimulated by calming and centering oneself via meditation. There are many meditative techniques, some active, some passive. Choosing the right one for you is largely a matter of trial and error.