By: Barry Greenberg, Acupuncture Physician
Our autonomic nervous system is basically comprised of two components, the Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System. Both function automatically, without our conscious input.
In Chinese medicine we frequently refer to this balance within our autonomic nervous system as yin and yang, because both systems are necessary and dependent on each other for our greater good. The ability of our nervous system to respond to situations, such as “fight or flight” for the sympathetic nervous system or “relaxation or sleep” for the parasympathetic nervous system depends on the strength or tone of each system. There are many factors including genetics, medications, past emotional traumas, habituated behaviors or attitudes that determine the “tone” of our nervous system.
Unfortunately, in our present fast paced, action-oriented society, our sympathetic nervous system tends to be dominant, which can lend itself to more edgy, irritable, nervous and anxious feelings. This sympathetic nervous system dominance can often result in an increase in emotional reactivity from old emotional triggers in which the sympathetic nervous system was activated during the old experience.
Typically, resolving this imbalance of sympathetic dominance requires a strengthening or toning of the parasympathetic nervous system or what is commonly referred to as the Vagus nerve. This Vagal toning can be accomplished by stimulating the Vagus nerve, through toning, singing, diaphragmatic breathing, cold water on your face and electrical stimulation to the Vagus nerve. Chinese medicine has always recognized the medicinal benefits of toning or strengthening the Vagus nerve through diaphragmatic breathing and auricular therapy utilizing the acupuncture points along the Vagus nerve.
In my acupuncture practice I frequently advocate toning or strengthening the Vagus nerve through diaphragmatic breathing and auricular therapy. Practicing every day can reduce stress and pain leading to better sleep and an overall feeling of wellbeing. The first step is to practice diaphragmatic breathing at home, in the car and at work. I honestly believe that after a short period of time you will begin to feel the yin and yang of balance. Many acupuncturists do offer auricular therapy, but if you are unable to find one, it is possible to build an auricular vagal stimulator yourself, DYI or Studies
The benefits of balancing the Autonomic Nervous system are enormous! You will feel happier, healthier and more in rhythm with life’s challenges!
Dr. Barry Greenberg is a National Board Certified Acupuncture Physician has been serving the Bradenton and Manatee County community for over 30 years. He specializes in safe, fast and effective pain relief. Director of Acupuncture Center Of Bradenton