Muntean Health Care

                                                       400 E State St, Athens, OH, Phone 740-592-4229

                                        AUTONOMIC  NERVOUS  SYSTEM  REFLEXES


A host of involuntary reactions are controlled by the Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic branches of the Autonomic Nervous System.  These systems automatically balance activities that allow healing and responses to emergencies.    If one side of the Autonomic Nervous System is suppressed, then these activities are controlled by the other side of this system and the control is imbalanced.  Physical pressure on a nerve can inhibit nerve function and cause control imbalances.  The summary of the functions is listed below:

The Sympathetic nervous system prepares a person for FIGHT or FLIGHT even at NIGHT.  It increases heart rate and blood pressure, breathing, the strength of voluntary muscles, mobilizes chemicals that give quick energy, increases blood vessel wall muscle tightness (causing pale skin), and stops urination and digestion.  The Sympathetic nervous system also makes people irritable, and it increases the pupil diameter which makes it easier to see at night and makes it harder older people to focus.

The Sympathetic nervous system decreases the immune system, GI system motility and secretions, GI system and urinary bladder wall muscle tone, protein synthesis and slows injury repairs.  It also decreases allergic reactions, opens sinus and lung passages, and improves breathing effort by increasing the strength of breathing muscles.

In contrast the Parasympathetic nervous system promotes relaxation and healing.  It increases the activity of the immune system, food digestion, bowel mucus secretions, body repair and building of proteins.  It also increases the activity of the bowels, tightens the urinary bladder walls, relaxes bowel and urinary sphincter muscles, decreases the heart rate and contraction force, slows down the body’s efforts on breaking down fat, and relaxes the muscles in the on blood vessel wall muscles.  It also decreases the diameter of the eye pupils, which makes it easier for older people to focus.


Only the vagus nerve slows the heart rate, slows breathing, and increases digestion.  If the top of your neck has stiff muscles or the upper neck vertebrae are injured and you have a rapid heart rate, rapid breathing or poor digestion you may be having problems that could be helped by reducing swelling or relaxing the muscles in the upper neck.  If you have these symptoms and a tight neck consider seeing an Osteopath that does manipulation.

                                                                                                                  7/27/12 C E Steiner, DO