4 Functional Therapy Treatments to Recalibrate Your Nervous System

In today's fast-paced world, stress has become an all-too-common part of life.  Whether it's work, relationships, or personal responsibilities, our bodies and minds are constantly bombarded with stressors that can take a toll on our overall well-being. Many of us turn to various forms of therapy to help manage this stress and find balance in our lives.

One effective approach is functional therapy, which can help to recalibrate the nervous system to promote healing and restore balance.

Understanding the Nervous System

The nervous system is a complex network of cells and organs that transmit messages throughout the body. It consists of two main parts: the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (nerves that branch out to the rest of the body). The nervous system plays a vital role in regulating various functions, such as heart rate, breathing, digestion, and emotions.

When the nervous system is not functioning optimally, it can lead to a range of disorders, collectively known as dysautonomia. Dysautonomia manifests in various symptoms, such as fatigue, cardiovascular issues, digestive issues, and sleep disturbances.

Related: Learn more about treating adrenal fatigue & cortisol dysregulation

The Impact of Stress on the Nervous System

Stress is a natural response to perceived threats, triggering the fight-or-flight response. This response is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, which activates the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. While this response is essential for survival in acute situations, chronic stress can lead to an overactivation of the nervous system (1).

Symptoms of nervous system overactivation may include (2):

  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Digestive issues
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety and mood changes

Nervous system overactivation can also increase risk for the development of autoimmune disease, major depressive disorders, and make it harder to fight off illness or infections.

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing dysautonomia, such as chronic stress, autoimmune disorders, and genetic predisposition.

Related: Stuck in Fight-or-Flight? Avoid These Stress Activators

Functional Therapy Treatments

Integrative medicine offers several functional therapy treatments that can help recalibrate the nervous system and promote relaxation. Here are four functional therapy treatments to consider for managing stress and promoting overall wellness:

1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. It works by stimulating the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain relievers, and promoting a sense of relaxation.

From an Eastern medicine perspective, acupuncture balances the body's "qi" or  energy flow. In Western medicine, this can be thought of as modulating the imbalance between parasympathetic (rest & digest) and sympathetic (fight or flight).

Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in reducing stress, anxiety, and pain symptoms like migraines and muscle aches, making it a valuable tool in supporting nervous system health (3). 

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2. Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, hands-on technique that focuses on the delicate bones of the skull, spine, and sacrum. It aims to release tension in the central nervous system and promote a sense of deep relaxation. 

This therapy is based on the concept of cranial rhythm, which refers to the subtle movement of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain and spinal cord. When this rhythm is disrupted due to stress or trauma, it can have a significant impact on nervous system function (4).

Through gentle touch and manipulation of specific areas, craniosacral therapy can help restore balance and promote healing in the nervous system.

Learn more: Craniosacral Therapy Benefits for Autism Spectrum Disorders

3. Massage Therapy

Massage therapy involves the manipulation of soft tissues to promote relaxation and reduce muscle tension. It can help lower stress hormones, such as cortisol, and increase feel-good hormones, like serotonin and dopamine (5).

Some practitioners offer myofascial release, which is a type of massage that focuses on releasing tension in the connective tissue surrounding muscles, bones, and organs. This can help reduce tension and promote better communication between the nervous system and other body systems. It can also help release trauma stored in fascia and muscles, when trauma is the cause of nervous system dysregulation.

Regular massage can also help improve sleep quality, reduce pain and anxiety symptoms, and enhance overall well-being (6).

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4. Optimizing the Gut-Brain Axis

The gut-brain axis is a complex communication network between the digestive system and the central nervous system. Imbalances in gut health can contribute to nervous system dysfunction and vice versa. 

For example, chronic stress can cause inflammation in the gut, leading to digestive issues and disrupting the communication between the gut and brain (7). And in the gut, specialized cells are responsible for producing about 95% of the body’s mood stability hormone, serotonin. An unhealthy gut may not be able to produce adequate serotonin, leading to worsening symptoms of anxiety & depression (8).

The vagus nerve (VN) is a complex nerve that runs from the brain through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and is essential for the gut microbiota-brain axis. The VN is the main component of the rest & digest part of the nervous system, and is involved in maintaining homeostasis, regulating mood, and modulating inflammation (9). The VN can pick up signals from the gut microbiota in a multitude of ways. 

Functional therapy for gut health optimization may include dietary changes, probiotic supplementation, and other therapies to stimulate & tone the vagus nerve. By addressing gut health, we can support nervous system function and mental health.

Shop: At-home Gut & Microbiome Testing

Integrative Medicine for Long-Term Nervous System Health

Integrative medicine recognizes the importance of a holistic approach to health, combining conventional and alternative therapies to address the root causes of health issues. By incorporating multiple therapies, such as those mentioned above, individuals can provide comprehensive support for their nervous system and overall health.

To incorporate these therapies into a wellness routine, consider the following tips:

  • Schedule regular acupuncture or craniosacral therapy sessions to maintain nervous system balance.
  • Incorporate massage therapy into your self-care routine, aiming for at least one session per month.
  • Focus on a gut-healthy diet, rich in fiber, fermented foods, and probiotics.
  • Practice stress management techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga, to support nervous system regulation.

What to Remember

Integrative medicine offers a comprehensive approach to health, combining traditional and alternative therapies to address the root causes of health issues. By incorporating therapies such as acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, massage therapy, and gut health optimization into a wellness routine, you can provide long-term support for your nervous system and overall health.

If you’d like to experience the benefits of integrative medicine for nervous system health, we’d love to help you. Reach out to our team at CentreSpringMD for more information on how these therapies can support your well-being.


Acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, Holistic Medicine, Massage

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