What Does it Mean to Be Healthy? Homeostasis and the Central Integrated State

By Dr. Gilbert S. Jaudy, DC, FACFN, FABVR, FABCDD, CCST

binary manHow Do You Define Health?

Do you consider yourself to be a healthy person?  What does it mean to be healthy?  Does being healthy mean eating well and exercising?  Does being healthy mean being free of symptoms and disease?  Does being healthy mean feeling well?  While all of these can fulfill the idea of being healthy, what does being healthy really mean from a scientific and medical standpoint?

A State of Equilibhttp://www.drjaudy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/binary-man.jpgrium: Homeostasis

Your body is made up of billions and billions of cells; nerve cells (neurons), blood cells, skin cells, liver cells, kidney cells, bone cells, and so on.  All of these cells are organized into organs and body systems, such as your brain, your liver, your heart, your nervous system, your respiratory system, your skeletal system, and so on.  These organs, organ systems, and other body systems interact in a complex system of electrical and chemical communication, each affecting all others in one way or another.

When all of your body’s cells, tissues, organs, and systems are functioning in a state of equilibrium it is considered to be homeostatic or you could say it is in homeostasis.  So, what is being healthy?  It is being in perfect homeostasis.

When the body is in homeostasis, the functions of all of your body’s organs and systems are working together in harmony, in perfect orchestration.  If this orchestration is disrupted in any way, you lose homeostasis and, as a result, you become unhealthy.  To understand how we become unhealthy, we must first understand how our bodies are designed to maintain homeostasis.

The Amazing Brain: The Maestro to Our Symphony

While all of our organs and body systems must work together to maintain homeostasis, there is one organ that stands out among the rest: the brain.  And it’s not only the brain, but the entire nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and all nerve networks.  Why is the nervous system so important?  To understand this, imagine you are at the symphony.  There are over a hundred different musicians who all must play their instruments in synchronicity, otherwise the music will not sound right.  How do these musicians manage to stay in time with each other during the performance?  The maestro.

In the human body, the brain is our maestro and our bodily functions are our symphony.  The brain provides our other organs and bodily systems with the instructions and timing to perform the correct functions at the correct times.  The brain also provides our organs and bodily systems with the energy needed to perform their functions.

Before we talk about the Central Integrated State (CIS), we must give you some background on how the nervous system works.  This information may seem somewhat technical, but it is important to understand in order to understand what being healthy truly is.

Neurological communication is electrical and chemical.

Neurological communication is electrical and chemical.

Neurons and Axons

The brain and nervous system are completely comprised of nerve cells (neurons) and axons and dendrites, which make up a vast wiring system throughout the brain and body.  Sensory neurons take in information in the form of signals, the same way that an antenna does, except these signals come in the form of pressure, temperature, pain, body position, light, sound, smell, and more.  This information is then converted into chemical and electrical signals that transmit information to the brain (transduction).  Motor neurons receive signals from the brain and create responses in the form of movement.

Central Midline Structures

When considering the CIS, we must discuss the central midline structures.  These structures include the spinal cord, the brainstem, the thalamus, and the basal ganglia.  These structures must have neurological and electrical integration in order for the body to be homeostatic, or healthy.  Before we discuss what happens when these structures lose integration, let’s go over the functions of each.

Thalamus

The thalamus plays a role in both processing sensory information and relaying that information to different brain regions.  The many sensory systems that connect with the thalamus include the auditory system, the visceral (organ) systems, the visual system, the gustatory system, and the somatosensory system, which is a complex sensory system made up of many different receptors.

The thalamus shares connections with the cerebral cortex and other brain regions, such as the basal ganglia.

Basal Ganglia

The basal ganglia are a structure within the human brain that are comprised of various nerve fiber bundles.  These are responsible for coordinating the various messages that are sent and received by the brain.  It is the location where the all our body’s systems come together.  The basal ganglia are responsible for controlling our autonomic responses and a variety of functions such as cognition, motor control, learning, emotions, as well as hormone and enzyme regulation. The basal ganglia is involved in much of our functioning.  Actions such as muscular movement: kicking, running, swimming, smiling… and those of emotional and motivational functioning are initiated by the different divisions of the basal ganglia.

The preganglionic fibers receive information and send the incoming signals to the brain for processing. Once signals are processed, the responses are sent back to muscles and glands by way of postganglionic fibers.  The messages are sent using the chemicals norepinephrine as neurotransmitters and acetylcholine for endocrine signaling (such as within the sweat glands).  The responses consist of the reactions of the autonomic nervous system.

The basal ganglia, or basal nuclei, are a group of nuclei (brain structures made up of relatively compact clusters of neurons) that play a complex and integral role in the control of movement.  Some of the prominent functions of the basal ganglia include:

  • Choosing and sustaining purposeful motor activity while inhibiting undesirable or impractical movement.
  • Helping monitor and manage slow, sustained contractions related to posture and support.
  • Inhibiting muscle tone throughout the body (proper muscle tone is normally maintained through a balance of excitatory and inhibitory inputs to the neurons that innervate skeletal muscle).

 

The basal ganglia are made up of five main components, which each contain subdivisions that are functionally segregated by motor, oculomotor, associative, and limbic functions:

  1. Striatum – best known for its role in the planning and modulation of movement pathways
  2. Globus pallidus – involved in the regulation of movement; works in conjunction with the cerebellum. The globus pallidus has a role of balancing functions with the cerebellum (globus pallidus inhibits movement, cerebellum excites movement)
  3. Substantia nigra – plays important roles in eye movement, motor planning, reward seeking, learning, and addiction
  4. Nucleus accumbens – plays important roles in pleasure seeking, laughter, reward, reinforcement learning, fear, aggression, impulsivity, and addiction
  5. Subthalamic nucleus – one of the main regulators of motor function related to the basal ganglia

 

The basal ganglia are located beneath the thalamus.  They connect with regions all over the brain and beneath them lies the brainstem.

Brainstem

The brainstem is a vital part of the brain.  All of the nerve connections for the motor and sensory systems from the brain to the body pass through the brainstem.  These nerve connections are made via pathways, specifically the corticospinal tract, responsible for transmitting information to provide motor function, the posterior column-medial lemniscus pathway, responsible for transmitting information about fine touch, vibration sensation, and body positioning (proprioception), and the spinothalamic tract, responsible for transmitting information about pain, temperature, itch and crude touch.  The brain stem also has important roles in the regulation of cardiac and respiratory function, regulation of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and many autonomic functions such as heart rate, respiration, regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, and eating.

From the brainstem, nerve connections are made throughout the body via the spinal cord.

Spinal Cord

The spinal cord extends from the brain (specifically the medulla oblongata, which is the lower region of the brainstem).  It has three major functions:

  1. Acts as a conduit for motor information (descending pathways)
  2. Acts as a conduit for sensory information (ascending pathways)
  3. Acts as a center for coordinating certain reflexes

The four structures (thalamus, basal ganglia, brainstem, and spinal cord) are the central midline structures.  When all of these structures are functioning properly, there is homeostasis and you are healthy.

The Internal Environment and the Central Integrated State (CIS)

Our internal environment means all of the functions that are happening within us.  Most of our internal functions are involuntary, meaning that we have no control over them.  These include breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, blood vessel dilation and contraction, bronchial dilation and contraction, digestion, immune response, salivation, perspiration, production and release of hormones and enzymes, plus many more.  These functions are mediated and monitored by our brainstem, which is the center of our autonomic nervous system.  When all of these involuntary functions are properly controlled and regulated by the autonomic nervous system, the body is in homeostasis.

Research breakthroughs in Functional Neurology point to what’s called ‘the Central Integrated State’ (CIS). This is the forgotten link in maximizing human function. The Central Integrated State (CIS) increases or decreases the functional balance between nerve electrical currents, chemical synapses, and secretion of neurotransmitters and cell signaling based on inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs) and excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs).  If the CIS becomes altered, this functional balance is lost and homeostasis is lost.  When the CIS and homeostasis is lost, your health is lost.  To maintain homeostasis, the CIS increases (excites) or decreases (inhibits) of the aforementioned, hence ‘excitatory’ and ‘inhibitory’ postsynaptic potentials.

The CIS is balanced by signals received from afferent nerve fibers, which begin in muscles and are sent up through the spinal cord, to the thalamus, to the hypothalamus and cerebral cortex, then back down the spinal cord to the stimulated area. Failure of these signals begins a sequence of failures in other signals and in our body functions. This failure of signaling migrates from cell to cell, organ to organ, system to system, division to division, until everything is destroyed, symptoms multiplied, complications magnified, and life severely challenged. Our nervous systems work on the basic principle of excitation (+) and inhibition (-) and this central integrative state (CIS) of the central nervous system (CNS) is dependent on afferent impulses (i.e. signals going to the brain). Think of the brain as the major electric fuse box for a building with several rooms and divisions. In order to get electricity to any division, all connections have to be positively and negatively wired, if not, then a short circuit happens, then light goes off and connections are lost with the central fuse box.

In order for this CIS to be achieved, you have to have electrical and chemical synchronization of the central midline structures discussed above.

What Does It Mean to Be Unhealthy?

If the central midline structures are neurologically or electrically impaired, such as having lesions at different levels of the spinal cord, of the brainstem, of the thalamus, of the basal ganglia, then homeostasis will always be irregular or impaired. These structures receive information, process information, regulate information and function, and coordinate tasks.  No matter what type of treatment or therapy you do, if these central structures are not addressed with Brain-Based Neurological Treatments, then these structures will not regulate and normalize in function.

From these central structures sprouts the orchestration of entire body systems.  For people to be healthy and maintain homeostasis, then all these central structures need to be integrated and they need to share electrical frequency (the same sharing of information) without any abnormal misfiring.  For people to maintain homeostasis, the central structures have to be synched together, synched with the structures around them, and with the midline structures. If this doesn’t happen, they won’t achieve homeostasis.

Dysautonomia and Other Conditions

When we consider the functions of our bodies, any alteration in our normal functional output makes us unhealthy.  Such alterations change our central integrated state and lead to deregulation of autonomic functions.  Dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, which is housed in the brainstem, is known as dysautonomia.  When you develop this condition, a wide variety of symptoms can arise including:

  • lightheadedness
  • fainting
  • generalized weakness
  • heart palpitations
  • tremulousness (shaking)
  • shortness of breath
  • chest discomfort
  • chest pain
  • reduced or loss of sweating
  • excessive sweating
  • delayed gastric emptying
  • bloating after meals
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • bladder dysfunction
  • pupillary dysfunction
  • blurred vision
  • tunnel vision
  • fatigue
  • sleep disorders
  • headache/migraine
  • myofascial pain
  • neuropathic pain
  • dizziness
  • tachycardia (faster than normal heart rate)
  • intolerance to exercise
  • clamminess
  • anxiety
  • flushing
  • postprandial hypotension (low blood pressure after eating)
  • blood pooling in limbs
  • heat intolerance
  • feeling cold
  • low blood pressure upon standing
  • cognitive impairment
  • narrowing of upright pulse pressure
  • low blood volume (hypovolemia)
  • chills
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • hyperventilation
  • numbness or tingling sensations
  • reduced pulse pressure upon standing
  • low back pain
  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain
  • sensitivity to noise
  • sensitivity to light
  • disequilibrium
  • arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
  • chemical sensitivities
  • easily over-stimulated
  • feeling full quickly
  • feeling ‘wired’
  • food allergies/sensitivities
  • hyperreflexia
  • irregular menstrual cycles
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of sex drive
  • aching muscles and/or joints
  • swollen nodules/lymph nodes
  • excessive thirst (polydipsia)
  • weight loss or gain
  • restless leg syndrome

 

Many people that develop dysautonomia may receive a number of diagnoses including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, chronic pain syndromes, anxiety, depression, plus many more.  What is important to understand is that all of these conditions and symptoms are neurological in origin.

Dysautonomia is not the only condition that can develop if the central integrated state is lost.  If you consider the functions of the thalamus, basal ganglia, brainstem, and spinal cord, you can easily see how many symptoms and conditions can develop when these structures lose integration.  Movement disorders, like Parkinson’s disease and tremors, balance disorders, peripheral neuropathy, cognitive impairment, metabolic and hormonal disorders, autoimmune conditions, chronic pain, headaches, sexual dysfunction, plus many, many other symptoms and conditions are often the result of improper chemical and electrical signaling between midline structures and organs and tissues.

I’m Healthy, But…

Many people may believe that they are healthy, despite experiencing symptoms.  People may say, “I get headaches from time to time, but other than that, I’m fine,” or “I have liver problems, but other than that I’m healthy.”  It is important to understand that if you have symptoms, you are not healthy.  Other problems arise when a patient is told things such as “Your blood pressure is a little high, but nothing to worry about,” or  “Your cholesterol is a little high, but not in a danger zone.”  If your body’s chemicals are not in normal ranges, then there is a problem and that problem is not likely to resolve itself.

What About Diet, Exercise, and Supplements?

It cannot be disputed that eating healthy is a healthy activity.  However, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and taking supplements can only do but so much.  Eating healthy, exercising, and taking supplements does not alter your internal environment with any permanency.  Unless the midline structures are treated with Brain-Based applications to regulate and normalize function, healthy eating and exercise can only help but so much.

For more on diet and exercise, read 5 Myths About Diet and Exercise That Can Do More Harm Than Good.

For more on supplements, read Are Supplements Good For You?.

By addressing symptoms at their source, which is often a disruption in the central integrated state and your body’s homeostasis, regulation and normalization of your body’s functions is possible.  Through the science of Functional Neurology and Brain-Based Neurological Treatments, including Organ Remapping, it is possible to restore regulation and normalization of your body’s functions and your central integrated state.

To learn more about Brain-Based Neurological Treatments with Organ Remapping, click here.

Sources

Dysautonomia Information Network. POTS Symptoms. Accessed March 27, 2014. Available at: http://www.dinet.org/index.php/information-resources/pots-place/pots-symptoms

Grubb, B. P. (2000, July). Orthostatic intolerance. National Dysautonomia Research Foundation Patient Conference. Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Grubb, B. P., & Karas, B. (1999) Clinical disorders of the autonomic nervous system associated with orthostatic intolerance. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, 22, 798-810.

Grubb, B. P., Kosinski, D.J., Boehm, K., & Kip, K. (1997). The postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome: a neurocardiogenic variant identified  during head-up tilttable testing. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, 20, (9, Pt. 1), 2205-12. PMID: 9309745 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Jacob, G., & Biaggioni I. (1999). Idiopathic orthostatic intolerance and postural tachycardia syndromes. The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 317, 88-101. PMID: 10037112 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Low, P. A., Oper-Gehrking, T. L., Textor, S. C., Benarroch, E. E., Shen, W. K., Schondorf, R., Suarez, G. A., & Rummans, T. A. (1995). Postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Neurology, 45, (4, Supplement 5), S19-25.

Mathias, C. J. (2000, July). Other autonomic disorders. National Dysautonomia Research Foundation Patient conference. Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Robertson, D. (2000, July). General description of the autonomic nervous system and orthostatic intolerance overview. National Dysautonomia Research Foundation Patient Conference. Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Sandroni, P., Opfer-Gehrking, T. L., McPhee, B. R., & Low, P. A. (1999). Postural tachycardia syndrome: clinical features and follow-up study. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 74, (11), 1106-1110. PMID: 10560597 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Stewart, J. M., (2001, Spring/Summer). About being young and dizzy: overview of dysautonomia. National Dysautonomia Research Foundation Youth Network Fainting Robins Newsletter, “The Young and the Dizzy”, 1, 1-2.

Thieben, M. J., Sandroni, P., Sletten, D. N., Benrud-Larson, L. M., Fealey, R. D., Vernino, S., Lennon, V. A., Shen, W. K.,  & Low, P. A., (2007).  Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome: the Mayo Clinic experience. Mayo Clin. Proc. 82, (3), 308-313.