Total Stress Load Concept

Why Your Body May Not Be Healing Itself

We talk a lot about root causes in the alternative health community, as though by locating and pointing "it" out to the patient, we can help them eliminate their symptoms. Indeed, when chiropractic was founded in 1895, spinal misalignments were theorized to be a primary cause of disease, and a spinal correction could perform miracles for a patient's nervous system. Adjustments continue to play an important role in ensuring the flow of our amazing life force energy, but in this toxic millennium, it is important to take into account our total stress/toxin load when considering root causes of chronic health issues and our body's inability to fully and properly heal.

Any stress or toxin exposure sets off the same sympathetic fight/flight response of the autonomic nervous system. In addition, toxins require anti-oxidants to neutralize the free radicals produced. We were born with different detoxification capacities, which is why some people notice the effects of toxicity much earlier in life than others. Simultaneous stress/toxin exposures lower this threshold for triggering the fight/flight response, and the accumulated free radical damage triggers inflammation and accelerated aging.

What stressors contribute to the total stress/toxin load:

  • structural/fascial - ie. atlas misalignment, scar tissue, adhesions
  • emotional - current and past experiences, toxic relationships
  • digestive dysfunction - mineral/vitamin absorption deficiencies, endotoxins from leaky gut
  • immune - auto-immune reactions, inflammation, food sensitivities
  • environmental - pesticides, fragrances, heavy metals, molds, food preservatives, BPA, flame retardants, etc.3
  • infections - dysbiosis (viruses, fungi, parasites and bacterial imbalance)
  • endocrine - cortisol/thyroid hormone imbalances, high insulin levels, estrogen/progesterone or testosterone imbalance
  • neurotransmitter imbalance
  • oxidative/mitochondrial - poor circulation, poor detoxification
  • spiritual - lack of purpose/connection/trust in life
  • or electromagnetic - interference from wifi, cellphones, computers, etc.

The sympathetic fight/flight response causes the body to increase its heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. Muscle tension increases, blood vessels constrict and prioritize blood away from the skin and digestive system to the muscles and brain. Digestion slows, the immune system is on high alert and blood platelets become "sticky" to help blood coagulation. The liver releases sugar in to the blood for energy. "The mind scans for danger, even magnifying threats that may not be serious...Emotions become magnified - irritability turns to anger, concern turns to anxiety, fatigue turns to depressed mood."

On a short term basis, the body uses up its limited resources to prioritize its own survival. On a long term basis, these functions are destructive, decrease our ever dwindling reserves, and can result in subclinical conditions that eventually manifest into named diseases. Doctors who use the Functional Medicine Matrix of which total stress/toxin load is an underlying concept, recognize the complex interplay between all these factors in supporting and/or blocking the healing process.

Today, when a patient comes into the office with chronic health issues, we ask: If the body is so intelligent, why is it not healing itself? What are the factors that are blocking healing from occurring? 

To find out, we conduct a thorough history, chiropractic exam, nutrition response testing and applied kinesiology to identify possible stressors specific to your situation. Using a myriad of techniques, including low force chiropractic approaches, myofascial deep tissue percussion, neuroemotional technique, nutritional/detox/lifestyle counseling, reiki/energy work, herbs and nutrient supplementation, we partner with you to help you decrease your total stress/toxin load so that you can rebuild your resilience and reclaim your vibrant health.

Here are some suggestions on how you can increase your total health load:

  • minimize your toxic stressors (see above)
  • eat organic/local nutrient-dense foods and drink clean water
  • avoid food irritants/sensitivities/intolerances, processed food chemicals and sugar
  • listen to your body and respect its limitations
  • soak in a sensible amount of sunshine regularly
  • prioritize a good night's sleep (by 10pm is ideal)
  • engage in regular movement/exercise and sweat often
  • touch the ground with your bare feet
  • nourish yourself with regular laughter, hugs, reading, singing, dancing, planting, creating...
  • lead a purposeful, loving, gratitude-filled life
  • and find spiritual sustenance. 

Those who work to increase their total health load, decrease their nervous system stress, and better maintain their structural alignment. They are able to activate and spend more time in parasympathetic rest/digest mode - this is when repair and rejuvenation occurs. They maximize their own body's healing abilities and save on future healthcare dollars.


Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.

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