View Full Version : Psychoneuroimmunology


Kunga Dorji
12-11-13, 05:48 PM
The following is a copy of an inquiry that I have posted on several practitioner's forums on linked in.

It is of interest here, firstly because it sheds more light on what we mean by "stress".

Secondly it might just yield me a little of the information I need to prepare some writing I am doing on efficiently using Yoga to improve health.

I am putting this post out as a general query.
I do quite a good deal of work in the mindfulness area, and also use a little biofeedback (Heart Math's emWave)

I have become well aware of the superior functionality of correct, formal sitting posture in terms of more stable and sharply alert attention. I am also becoming aware of the fact that many simple pranayama practices can be exploited to achieve a more even balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic activation.

This is shaping up to be a very important area, given that current research in the neuroscience of attachment theory is demonstrating that the "physiological set point" between parasympathetic and sympathetic activity that is established in early life may have a profound influence on both psychosomatic illness, and on the balanced functioning of the immune system.

Now the last area of note here is that there are also segmental effects on the autonomic nervous system:

Moderator Edit: Please Google "Stephen Porges"

The two research articles here demonstrate that a sway back posture swings autonomic balance towards sympathetic drive.

My second post on the subject covers the thoracic spine:
I am currently exploring the issue of segmental influences on the autonomic nervous system.

This has been brought rather painfully to my attention as I recover from a back injury:
As my scoliosis was correcting I have had issues with a transient "T4 syndrome"- in which the right 4th rib gets jammed in an awkward position causing quite a tachycardia, presumably due to the sympathetic trunk getting stretched as it passes near the costo-transverse joint.

This sort of issue is, of course central to much chiropractic theory, and I recently encountered a fascinating study quoted by an osteopath which shows a strong link between the rigidly hunched, kyphotic posture that many of us get when we sit too much in chairs, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

My experience is leading me to consider that this posture (which imitates the posturing in fear or anger responses) actually has a local segmental effect that helps augment sympathetic activation for fight or flight.

Moderator Edit: Please Google T4 Syndrome

This might also be of passing interest in terms of various comments that have been made about chiropractic theory.

Much has been made of some rather primitive concepts developed in the early days of chiropractic about the body's innate intelligence.

What this rather nebulous sounding theory actually refers to is the natural balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic activity in the nrvous system of a healthy human whose spinal cord is not being impinged upon by any postural deformities.

It is of great note that this sympathetic/parasympathetic balance has a profound effect on the balance between the helper and suppressor sides of the immune system. In fact there is good evidence to tie an excessively parasympathetic skew in autonomic balance to increased cancer risk.

So while some of the chiropractic claims sound odd, they are firmly in accordance with the modern understandings of psychoneuroimmunology.
Furthermore- it is possible to assess the claims using biofeedback and heart rate variability monitoring technology.

SB_UK
12-13-13, 08:23 AM
It strikes me that an individual under no toxic stress who begins training in yoga at an early age - should be able - through flexible stretching - to 'put' their backs into alignment without any outside assistance.
Just strikes me that this should be possible - have no data to prove it.

I just wonder whether the natural approach - zero distress / yoga is kinder on spinal alignment than some of the experts who work in this area.

Have to admit - that I've suffered badly at the hands of an osteopath previously - they perform these scary bone cracking (I know it's not bone cracking) applications on the neck etc ... ... I can still remember him (I only let him do this a couple of times and many years ago) grabbing a hold and snapping my head to one side
... ... not pleasant.

A little violent ??

Yoga all the way ?

Kunga Dorji
12-13-13, 04:41 PM
It strikes me that an individual under no toxic stress who begins training in yoga at an early age - should be able - through flexible stretching - to 'put' their backs into alignment without any outside assistance.
Just strikes me that this should be possible - have no data to prove it.

I just wonder whether the natural approach - zero distress / yoga is kinder on spinal alignment than some of the experts who work in this area.

Have to admit - that I've suffered badly at the hands of an osteopath previously - they perform these scary bone cracking (I know it's not bone cracking) applications on the neck etc ... ... I can still remember him (I only let him do this a couple of times and many years ago) grabbing a hold and snapping my head to one side
... ... not pleasant.

A little violent ??

Yoga all the way ?

I am sure you are right that the preventive aspect is better.
I have now got to the point with myself that ongoing yoga and a slight modification to breathing and posture in meditation has got me able to unlock my own back most times.
The chiro I am seeing almost entirely works in a very targeted way on releasing muscle spasm by targetted pressure on muscle tendons, then everything unlocks by me giving myself a little shake. Clever stuff.

Kunga Dorji
12-13-13, 04:54 PM
Unfortunately the edit of the link on T4 syndrome will make the best quality site hard to find-- it is called physiopedia.
I had to search about a dozen sites to find a decent one.

anyhow- some of the key symptoms are:


<style type="text/css">P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }A:link { }</style> In1997 Evans described the basic science behind the origins of T4 syndrome[1] (http://www.physio-pedia.com/T4_Syndrome#cite_note-Evans-0). Vasomotor nerve fibers descend in the spinal cord and emerge in the ventral horns and roots. These fibers pass the dorsal root ganglia as it sits in the invertebral foramen. Next they emerge as part of a spinal segmental nerve. Sympathetic fibers leave the segmental nerve and join the sympathetic chain. The sympathetic chain travels down the necks of the ribs with variable areas of ganglia (Greek word “ganglion” meaning “lump”). Branches from the sympathetic chain pass over the costovertebral joints to supply the heart, esophagus, and abdominal viscera. It is not uncommon for these branches to become stretched or affected by neighboring osteophytes. The sympathetic chain fibers ascend or descend a variable number of segments, synapse in a ganglion, and leave the chain to join a peripheral nerve.

<style type="text/css">P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }</style>
Sympathetic fibers can pass distally leaving the peripheral nerve to join an artery in the neurovascular bundle. Here they assist with the control of blood pressure via vasoconstriction. Sympathetic fibers are motor but do contain afferent filaments which synapse in the dorsal root ganglion and enter the spinal cord with somatic afferents.
It is thought that the head and neck are provided with sympathetic outflow from T1 to T4. The upper trunk and extremities are thought to be supplied by T2 to T5. Symptoms in the neck, head, and upper extremities are believed to be due to any of the following:


Entrapment of segmental spinal nerves which carry sympathetic afferents
Entrapment or ischemia of sympathetic nerves over rib necks or osteohpytes
Referred pain from the heart, esophagus, or abdominal viscera
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Referred pain from a thoracic spinal structure
Referred pain in the neck from a dorsal spinal structure
Referred pain from any structure in the upper quarter

Mechanism of Injury / Pathological Process

The exact mechanism of T4 syndrome is unclear but it is hypothesized that sustained or extreme postures can lead to relative ischemia within multiple tissues contributing to symptoms of sympathetic origin[1] (http://www.physio-pedia.com/T4_Syndrome#cite_note-Evans-0). Symptoms originating from the sympathetic nervous system are distinctly different from somatic referred symptoms. The sympathetic nervous system provides pathways for referral of symptoms from the thoracic spine to the head and upper extremities. Symptoms may not be derived solely from the fourth thoracic vertebra, but also other upper thoracic vertebra<sup>[1] (http://www.physio-pedia.com/T4_Syndrome#cite_note-Evans-0)[2] (http://www.physio-pedia.com/T4_Syndrome#cite_note-Mellick_.26_Mellick-1)</sup>. Hence “T4 syndrome” may also be referred to as “upper thoracic syndrome”.

<style type="text/css">P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }A:link { }</style> Upper extremity paraesthesia and pain with or without neck and/or head pain


Paraesthesias in all five digits, or whole hand, or forearm-hand (glove-like distribution)
Hands feel hot or cold
Heaviness in upper extremities
Hands feel and may objectively be swollen
Non-dermatomal aches/pains in arm and/or forearm
Pain often described as crushing or like a tight band

Less common symptoms could include[1] (http://www.physio-pedia.com/T4_Syndrome#cite_note-Evans-0)[3] (http://www.physio-pedia.com/T4_Syndrome#cite_note-DeFranca_.26_Levine-2)


Pain and/or stiffness radiating around chest wall
Interscapular pain and/or stiffness
Worse pain at night often waking from sleep
Creepy-crawly feelings or sensations of gushing water in arm
Normal UE sensory, motor, reflex testing



The significance of this is that sympathetic overactivity either from direct irritation of the sympathetic nerves, or from a centrally driven reaction to pain can lead to a generaised stress response that will impair attention
(who focusses well while in pain or agitated?)- and this illustrates a clear mechanism by which the poor posture associated with back and neck issues can further compromise attention.

meadd823
12-16-13, 05:10 AM
was this meant to discuss an alternate treatment to ADHD or was it meant as a theoretical discussion?

SB_UK
12-16-13, 08:47 AM
Barliman, have you ever attempted assisted stretching ie somebody helping you to stretch by supplying pressure ?

I adore adore adore it - but it's ever so hard to find a willing partner.

Really do think that it could take off as a 'class' and be very effective too
- more so than yoga to the frozen solid amongst us.