This week in my clinic I have been working a lot with the nervous system, as this is an integral part of holistic healing.
If a person is experiencing IBS, bloating or inflammation -it isn't enough to simply remove foods which are aggravating the symptoms, or adding in supplements.
We need to get into the ROOT of the issue - asking WHY is there inflammation present in the first place?
The answer lies in the nervous system.
Using Stephen Porges' Polyvagal theory - our autonomic nervous system is constantly surveilling and responding to our environment, and according to the polyvagal theory, has 3 main modes of response.
Connected, feeling safe : no threats detected. (AKA ventral vagal pathway)
Fight / Flight response. Blood sugar levels increase, cortisol increases, and the person experiences hyper vigilance (AKA Sympathetic pathway)
Freeze response. This state feels numb, unable to move forwards or backwards. Nothing feels safe here (AKA dorsal vagal pathway)
Working with a persons digestive health, or inflammation markers - without supporting their nervous system is like building a house without putting in the proper foundations. (note: I runHTMA tests with my clients to ascertain their adrenal and inflammation status)
We absolutely need to work at this level, to repattern the persons 'tendency' towards a disease - otherwise the person may experience health for a short while, but will fall back into the same trap again and again.
A person in the sympathetic dominant state commonly experiences:
Increased heart rate
May have food sensitivities
May have hyperactive tendencies/ reactive or impulsive
This state is chronically stressed, with cortisol resistance. The body works harder and harder to secrete cortisol, and as the cells become more resistant to the cortisol levels - inflammation starts to rise.
If a person has been in a state of stress for a long time, their nervous system begins to shut down, as a survival response. This is known as the dorsal vagal state - and the symptoms of being in this state are:
Inability to make a decision
Inability to regulate emotions
Autoimmune disease likely
May have an inability to make healthy choices for themselves, may lack boundaries.
Likely to have low thyroid function - feel cold
Susceptible to viral and bacterial infections
A person in a ventral vagal state::
Knows that they are safe to feel a range of emotions
Feels safe in their body
Has a good memory
Is able to regulate their emotions
Has a coherent heart rate
Has good digestion
Is able to make healthy choices for themselves
You can see why being in a ventral vagal state is so important for overall health.
So, whilst I have been giving my clients’ nutritional advice based on their symptoms, I have also been guiding them back to what it feels like in their ventral vagal state - their calm, rest & digest and regenerate state. In this state, the heart rate is steady, the mind is clear and calm - and we feel ‘ in our body’.
It is a marker of a healthy nervous system to be able to travel between the states and back into neutral. Too often, because of chronic stress ( this can be caused by lifestyle - environmental, emotional, social, historical, inherited) the body stays in sympathetic state. Many of my clients have resided in this place since childhood - and feeling safe is unfamiliar to them.
This is why I use a range of gentle tools, chosen for their relevance and ability to bring people back into a state of safety in their bodies. As they remember this sensation and start to inhabit this place more and more, their digestion improves, inflammation reduces and they experience a cascade of benefits on their health.
I use a variety of tools - choosing from EFT, nervous system repatterning, Heart Coherence, presence and connection coaching, and energy medicine to create the most connected experience possible for each person.
I am running a 6 week course on just this topic, starting the 21st April. Click here for tickets