This post is the fourth in a six-part series taken from the article by Keith Wassung entitled “Diabetes and Chiropractic”. This series focuses on diabetes as a disease, treatments for diabetes, and the ways chiropractic care can help. Last week’s post explained how diabetes impacts the body’s signaling systems. Today’s features the connection between the body’s central nervous system and metabolism.
Part 4: Central Nervous System & Metabolism
The central nervous system in the master control system in the body and every single function reflects it’s activity.
Nerve impulses travel from the brain, down the spinal cord and out through nerves to all parts of the body. Nerve impulses than to the brain through return pathways.
There are in excess of one hundred billion neurons or nerve cells in the human central nervous system and the number of possible interconnections between all of these cells is greater than the total number of know atoms in the universe.
Recent research has clearly shown that even activity that occurs at the cellular and molecular levels are controlled and coordinated by the central nervous system.
The nervous system does much more than transmit sensory information to the brain or control motor functions. It actually controls the peripheral organs, including its biomolecular environment. The central nervous system is involved in all disease conditions as the CNS not only processes incoming physical and chemical information from the body, it actually controls organs and cells to maintain health and homeostasis.1
Metabolism: The sum of all physical and chemical changes that take place within an organism; all energy and material transformations that occur within living cells.2
Tabers Medical Dictionary
The limbic system is the area of the brain that maintains homeostasis and the hypothalamus is perhaps the most important part of the limbic system. It is the “brain of the brain” and is without question the single most intricate and complicated part of the brain. The hypothalamus controls homeostasis in the brain by way of feedback loops. The combined neurological and endocrine function of the hypothalamus allows it to play a prominent role in the regulation of numerous bodily functions including the control of metabolism.
Factors such as blood sugar levels, temperature, fluid and electrolyte balance, blood pressure, and body-weight are held to a precise value called the set-point, and though it can migrate from day to day, it usually remains remarkably fixed.
To achieve the task of maintaining metabolic balance, the hypothalamus must receive inputs about the state of the body, and must be able to initiate compensatory changes as needed.
The hypothalamus receives millions of nerve messages from complex areas of the rest of the nervous system including the nucleus of the solitary tract, reticular formation, the retinas, circumentular organs, the limbic and olfactory systems, sense organs, neocortex, osmoreceptors, as well as numerous touch receptors through the body.
This input into the hypothalamus allows it to regulate and integrate heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, digestion, emotional responses, behavior, sex drive, body temperature, appetite, sleep cycles, blood sugar levels, metabolism, and much more.
When the hypothalamus senses any type of imbalance, it corrects it by one of two ways.
- Sending nerve signals to the autonomic nervous system.
- Sending endocrine signals to the pituitary gland.
The effectiveness of the hypothalamus to control metabolism and other functions is directly related to the functional capability of the nervous system to be able to send and receive nerve messages and especially to maintain the integrity of those nerve messages as they travel along the spinal cord.
- Lee, T. “Thalamic Neuron Theory” Medical Hypothesis 1994, 43, 285-302
- Taber, C. Tabers Medical Dictionary, F.A. Davis and Co. Philadelphia, 1938