The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)
THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (ANS)
One of division of the nervous system is the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is comprised of both voluntary and involuntary systemic control in the body.
The word autonomic literally means to be “selv-governed”. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) carries out its function involuntary in the body, without any conscious intent or control. While the SOMATIC nervous system controls voluntary function in the body (skeletal muscle), the ANS is the motor system which controls glands, cardiac and smooth muscle. The ANS is something referred to as the visceral nervous system due to its primary target organs, the viscera of the thoracic and abdominal cavities.
The ANS coordinated physiological processes which maintain most of the steady states in the organism are so complex and so peculiar to living beings – involving, as they may, the brain and the nerves, the heart, lungs, kidneys and spleen, all working cooperatively regarding our body ability to self regulate (homeostasis states)
ANS can be further divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Although there are basic differences in their anatomy and function, they often innervate the same target organs and can have both contrasting and cooperative outcomes. This process is collectively known as dual innervation of effector (target organs) tissues.
Read more about Sympatetic Nervous Division & Parasympathetic Nervous Division...
The Sympatetic Nervous Division...
The Sympatetic Nervous Division...
Although the sympathetic nervous system is always active to some extent in the body, this is the system that takes over in times of stress. Its responses during stressful occurrences comprise the “fight-or-flight” response. These responses include:
- · Increased heart rate and breathing
- · Dilation of blood vessels
- · Bronchial dilation
- · Increased sweat production, and
- · Glucose mobilization
The sympathetic division prepares the body for physical activity. When sympathetic function is dominant we experience increased heart rate and blood flow to cardiac and skeletal muscle. Blood glucose, cortisol, and adrenaline levels increase to support the body’s increased energy consumption. Pulmonary function improves and oxygen uptake in the body increases. We experience a heightened sense of alertness and greater capacity for physical activity, while digestion and other normal resting state functions are diminished or completely stopped. These defensive reactions referred as our “fight or flight” response. When properly balanced against its counterpart the parasympathetic nervous system, sympathetic innervations allow reaction and adjustment to an ever-changing environment.
Sympathetic “overload” is a condition that many experience with dire health consequences. Chronic sympathetic stimulation can lead to weight gain, mental fatigue, and glandular and hormonal imbalances. Immune function may be diminished and diseases involving chronic inflammation and degeneration can become more apparent. Conditions of prolonged emotional (anger, fear, unwilling to forgive, vengefulness and isolation) and physical stress (food, toxins, lack of sleep, poor nutrition and intense physical activity) trigger sustained sympathetic activity in the body.
The Parasympathetic Nervous Division
Parasympathetic Nervous Division...
The parasympathetic nervous system is a complementary system to the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system controls body responses during rest and responses include:
- · Pupil constriction
- · Stabilization of heart rate
- · Increased gastrointestinal function
- · Waste excretion
The parasympathetic division is largely responsible for relaxing and calming the body. Energy expenditure is reduced and normal states of digestion and waste elimination along with additional body maintenance functions are most active. This neurophysical state is referred to as the “resting and digesting” state.
A common misconception regarding the autonomic nervous system is that the autonomic divisions operate according to an “all or nothing” principal-in either sympathetic or parasympathetic, but not both.
In reality, the body is in a constant reaction state of reaction. The autonomic nervous system can react in seconds to internal and external influences and most changes in both the SNS (sympathetic nervous system) and the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) are imperceptible. Because the body is continually adjusting and readjusting, both autonomic division must be active simultaneously. This background of constant activity is referred to as autonomic tone, or homeostasis, and the balance between sympathetic tone and parasympathetic tone shifts in accordance with the body’s changing needs.
In summary, the autonomic nervous system is responsible for homeostasis. Its primary action is through unconscious control of glands, smooth muscle (stomach, intestines, bladder, blood vessels, respiratory tract, etc.) and cardiac muscle targeting mainly the viscera (organs) of the thoracic and abdominal cavity.
The AromaTouch Technique improves well-being by helping to balance and restore autonomic tone (homeostasis) by modulating physical and emotional stressors. CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils are also known to enhance and improve normal autonomic function by inhibiting these stressors.