The nervous system plays a major role in our health and wellness because it stimulates brain function which controls our body function. Physical treatments and neurological rehabilitation can work together to help correct any problems in the nervous system and restore wellness.
Please explain how the nervous system works to keep our bodies functioning properly.
Dr. Greg Olsen: Great question to start today with. The nervous system is essential to our overall body functioning. In particular, understanding two differences called the central nervous system and the peripheral. That central portion being our brain. 80% of our nervous system is sitting up there in our skull. The rest of it travels down and basically works to keep every cell system and part of your body functioning properly. The integration between the two, the flow of that energy of that nervous system from the brain down is essential. It’s the hard wiring for our body that keeps everything working properly. There are some focuses to what’s happening from the neck or head down and there are some approaches that are focusing on just the brain area. I like to focus on the integration of the two.
But, how the nervous system keeps our bodies functioning properly is through a delicate balance. One way I explain it is, input equals output. From that area, the brain functions through a couple of basic mechanisms. It needs a fuel supply. It needs oxygen and blood sugar. Then it also needs what we call activation. 90% of the activation, or stimulation to the brain comes from the body. When that stimulation comes in, that’s our input. If we have good input, or proper input, or sufficient input to the brain, then it’s able to have a proper output. Sometimes that’s through a straight process of directing it to stimulate different areas and sometimes that’s having less input to inhibit certain parts of the brain or keep them from over-firing, or over-stimulating areas going back down.
What are some common conditions or illnesses that can be traced to problems in the nervous system?
Dr. Greg Olsen: Common conditions or illnesses associated with the nervous system, there’s an extremely long list, but just going over some common ones. Typically, when we’re looking at how the nervous system is involved brain-wise, that can be brain fog, it can be changes in your mental speed, not being able to process. We call it sensory processing deficit. Sound disturbs you. Light disturbs you. There can be a loss of words, not being able to think clearly. Some common areas for that for below, we can migraine headaches, we can have headaches, we can have neck pain, we can have pain that goes shooting out the arms. We can have digestive trouble, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, small intestine bacteria overgrowth. Moving from there, it can be everything continuing down to low back pain, leg pain. Those are some of the most common areas where the nervous system isn’t working properly.
What is the testing process like to try to uncover where the problem is occurring in the nervous system?
Dr. Greg Olsen: The testing process begins, for me, with a detailed questionnaire, finding out what the process is, and then doing a series of questionnaires. One I use, the Brain Health and Nutrition Assessment form identifies how that nervous system, that 80% of the nervous system, being the brain and brain stem, are functioning. The rest of it is identified through an examination process. That could be, we call it a cranial nerve exam, a neurological exam testing how the cranial nerves are doing. In the lower body, the areas to test how the brain is working as well as how the peripheral nerves are working. Typically, it’s the process of going through the questionnaires and then the physical examination to test these individual areas for how they’re working.
Once the cause of a patient’s illness or pain is determined, how do you determine the best treatment plan and what are some examples of effective treatments?
Dr. Greg Olsen: Once a patient’s illness or pain and the cause is determined, through functional medicine we are really looking to address that root cause is identified. As an example, if somebody’s experiencing low energy, fatigue, brain fog, when looking at the example treatment for that, typically, it’s going to be dietary component. We’re going to be addressing what’s happening with food intake. We’re going to be addressing what’s happening with digestion. Very simply, we’ve got to make sure that you’re taking in the proper food and nutrients and they’re not irritating you. If your digestion is not working well, then even if we have the proper nutrients coming in, they’re not going to be able to digest or absorb effectively.
That is essential to address that part. That’s really looking at what we call the metabolic side. From a physical standpoint, if somebody’s nervous system isn’t working properly, and that could be treatments, everything from biofeedback, or neurofeedback, to specific types of physical treatment or adjustments to the body to stimulate those areas for the pain or to address how the brain is functioning. That could be everything from physical treatment, like adjustments. It could be neurological rehab exercises being done on a vibration platform, coordinated with a metronome or rhythmic beat and integrating a hyper movement, as an example.
For someone trying to be proactive and maintain their health and wellness, what should they be doing to ensure they have a healthy nervous system?
Dr. Greg Olsen: Essential components for having a healthy nervous system is, I break it down into three areas, is getting rid of toxins in your environment. Getting rid of toxic foods or toxic intake, getting rid of toxic thoughts or toxic environments. That could be people in your life, situations in your life, or it could be your own self-talk. And getting rid of toxic body or pain and inflammation.
Being proactive, you got to make sure that you’re taking good care and intake with your food and then you’ve also got to make sure that your body is moving. Activation or stimulation is essential and doing coordinated movements. It could be simple as bouncing a basketball, or tossing a tennis ball up and down. There’s lots of great programs that have those movements, or something as simple as dancing. Those are essential for having a healthy nervous system.
To speak with Dr. Greg Olsen, visit www.askdrolsen.com or call (949) 859-5192 to schedule an appointment.