Communication Lines

The brain and the body have numerous lines of communication. The system that manages these lines is called the Hypothalamus – Pituitary – Adrenal Axis (HPA).

Some of these communication lines are neural, and some are hormonal.They use a feedback loop system to report status and request resources. When the body requires a resource, say the hormone cortisol, the cells that needs it will alert the body, which will report to the brain, who will cue the cascade of events necessary to secrete the end product. In this case, cortisol. If the body is healthy and balanced, a feedback loop with not be excessively engaged. Over-stimulation creates confusion and/or fatigue to the line, causing it to dysfunction, or mal-adapt. It is a very yin-yang way of functioning, which is how Chinese medicine assesses function. Too much or too little is generally a problem. Being in the middle, or gray zone, is balanced.

Cortisol

Cortisol is a very important hormone to keep balanced. It can save your life, or slowly kill you. It is recruited for the following reasons:

  • Enables you to fight or run

    If you had to fight or run, your body would optimize this ability by:

    1. Diverting energy and resources from the inner layers of the body, to the outer layers of the body – SNS turns on, PNS turns off
    2. Increasing your sensoral abilities – eyes dilate to bring in more information
    3. Increasing your motor abilities – break down bone to provide the minerals your muscles need to contract and relax
    4. Providing the energy you need – put sugar in the blood
    5. Increasing antibody production in case you are wounded
  • Increase Blood Sugar

    Cortisol is a glucocorticoid that responds to low blood sugar. When the blood sugar drops, cortisol works with insulin to provide energy to cells through a process called gluconeogenesis.

  • Impedes digestion and immune regulation

    When the body is fearing for it’s life, it must optimize it’s ability to survive. Therefore digestion, repair work, sleep and procreation are not a priority.

    1. Diverts resources away from the immune response – all resources toward the “fight or flight” response
    2. Inhibits peripheral conversion of stored thyroid hormone (T4), into usable thyroid hormone (T3) – to maintain homeostasis
    3. Blunts Secretory IgA production throughout stomach’s mucousal tissues – deactivating the parts of the immune system that are not a priority during a fight or flight situation

What are Neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that allow neurons (brain cells) to communicate with each other. These connections are fundamental to all of our brain’s processes. They also play large roles in our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and brain function.

The four main neurotransmitters are dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and GABA.

Dopamine

Dopamine is your main motivation, pleasure, and reward neurotransmitter. It controls your ability to want to do things, to be excited to do things, and to push yourself to do things. If you have trouble finishing tasks or even initiating tasks, that’s a pattern of low dopamine activity. Dopamine dysfunction is also the primary neurotransmitter involved in addictive behavior.

Serotonin

Serotonin strongly influences your sense of general well being. Poor serotonin activity often results in nothing really bringing a person joy — the things that would normally make a person happy no longer do. Unsurprisingly, this neurotransmitter is frequently associated with depression.

Acetylcholine

Acetylcholine is your memory neurotransmitter. Memory loss, slow mental processing, difficulty with comprehension, and difficulty with directions are common symptoms of poor acetylcholine activity. This neurotransmitter is most associated with dementia.

GABA

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps calm your brain. If GABA levels are imbalanced, you may struggle with anxiety and a restless mind, a sense of dread, feelings of overwhelm, and disorganized attention. This neurotransmitter is typically associated with anxiety.