Chiropractors have known for over 100 years, that a healthy nerve system is vital for health. A recent article written from a neurologist has some interesting insights.
Kevin Tracey, a neurosurgeon based in New York, is a man with a mission. “My mother died from a brain tumor when I was five years old. It was very sudden and unexpected,” he says. “And I learned from that experience that the brain – nerves – are responsible for health.”
In the late 1990s, Tracey was experimenting with a rat’s brain. “We’d injected an anti-inflammatory drug into the brain because we were studying the beneficial effect of blocking inflammation during a stroke,” he recalls. “We were surprised to find that when the drug was present in the brain, it also blocked inflammation in the spleen and in other organs in the rest of the body. Yet the amount of drug we’d injected was far too small to have got into the bloodstream and traveled to the rest of the body.”
After months puzzling over this, he finally hit upon the idea that the brain might be using the nervous system – specifically the vagus nerve – to tell the spleen to switch off inflammation everywhere.
It was an extraordinary idea – if Tracey was right, inflammation in body tissues was being directly regulated by the brain. Communication between the immune system’s specialist cells in our organs and bloodstream and the electrical connections of the nervous system had been considered impossible. Now Tracey was apparently discovering that the two systems were intricately linked.
The vagus nerve was determined to be one of the vital nerves within your nerve system. It travels down each side of the neck, across the chest and down through the abdomen. ‘Vagus’ is Latin for ‘wandering’ and indeed this bundle of nerve fibres roves through the body, networking the brain with the stomach and digestive tract, the lungs, heart, spleen, intestines, liver and kidneys, not to mention a range of other nerves that are involved in speech, eye contact, facial expressions and even your ability to tune in to other people’s voices.
The vagus nerve is made of thousands and thousands of fibres and 80 per cent of them are sensory, meaning that the vagus nerve reports back to your brain what is going on in your organs.
Operating far below the level of our conscious minds, the vagus nerve is vital for keeping our bodies healthy.
Chiropractors check the alignment and movement of the cervical (neck) vertebrae in order to ensure the vagus nerve is functioning optimally, thus keeping your body healthy.