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How Does the Body Fight Disease – The Neuroimmunoendocrinological Axis

You’ve got it…just say it slowly – Neuro (brain and nerves) – Immuno (immune system) – Endocrine (hormones, glands, and secretions) – Axis (a central structure). The neuroimmunoendocrinological axis is how your body detects and fights infections and disease.  The 3 parts – nerves, hormones, and immune system – all work interdependently, and like a tricycle, if one of the wheels fall off, you’re not going to get very far – you’re going to be more susceptible to disease. Wait, and this is what a Chiropractor does? Yep, let’s investigate.

When a bacteria or germ enters our body, before the immune system can ever start fighting it, the body has to know that it’s there! Detection is the first step. If the body has seen this germ before, like getting the chicken pox when you were a kid, your body may have antibodies for that germ, which makes the identification process faster. More than likely, though, your body has never seen this germ. There are millions of millions of different pathogens out there. Think about this – the E. coli bacteria that naturally lives in your gut (it’s healthy, don’t kill it!) – that E. coli reproduces about every 30 minutes, having the chance to mutate and become a completely new germ every time. That’s 50 new generations for each single bacteria per day! Their genes change much more frequently than ours. ANYWAY – because your body has probably never seen this new bug, there won’t be any antibodies, so your body has to go all the way around the mountain to start fighting it.

Immune cells like macrophages or white blood cells identify the germs and start to surround them. As they do, they release chemicals called cytokines and other chemotaxic substances. The nerves in that area identify those chemicals and quickly start stimulating the inflammatory response in the area. Inflammation recruits more infection killing cells to the area. This is a good thing – for a short period of time to kill the germs. The nerves also send messages up through the spinal cord to the brain where it immediately relays signals back down nerves to the adrenal glands. An infection or other external stress triggers the body’s stress response. That stress response hormones for the short term will assist in fighting the infection…but if the stress response endures for too long, it can be detrimental to the body. What do I mean? I mean that prolonged exposure to stress – physical, chemical, or emotional stresses like neck pain or headaches, poor diet or prescription medications, or job or family stress – leads to the detrimental long term effects of the body being in a stressed state.

Those effects include:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • high triglycerides
  • high blood sugar
  • immune system suppression (yes, chronic stress turns your immune system off)
  • weight gain
  • water retention
  • craving foods high in sugar, fats, and cholesterol

And when you put them together, what do those effects add up to?

  • heart disease
  • heart attack
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • syndrome x
  • cancer

So if you’ve made it this far, you want to know how to stop this stress response, right? Well, the cure is to eliminate as much negative stress from your life as possible. Especially for people in the Lewis Center, Worthington, and Columbus, Ohio areas lead a stressful life – whether you FEEL stressed or not. Now, I’m not telling you to quit your job, quit your family, and go live in the Montana mountains. But what I AM saying, is that steps need to be taken to reduce those lifestyle stresses, and the body’s negative response to them. That’s where Ability Chiropractic comes in!

Adjustments increase the neurological input to the brain that breaks the stress response pathways and helps the brain change its synaptic pathways to a healthier physiology. (It’s a whole other blog post, it’s coming, stay tuned!) Removing the neurological interference (subluxation) that allows stress neurological pathways to propagate is one of the most important long term health creating and disease preventing steps a family can take!

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