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Befriending Your Parasympathetic Nervous System

Acella Pharmaceuticals, LLC., is partnering with Helene Zahn-Chilberg, MA, LPMHC, LCAS-A to bring greater awareness to the importance of thyroid care and education. This post was sponsored by Acella Pharmaceuticals and should not be construed as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor about your individual medical situation.

Actively engaging the parasympathetic system to increase calm, lower stress and anxiety

In today’s hectic world, everything can seem geared to keeping us amped up. Caffeinated stimulant drink. Driving where we need to go and the work we do. Pressure to meet expectations from others and ourselves. The stress of daily life, work and family can take its toll on our autonomic nervous system.

So let’s take a moment to talk biology. Our autonomic nervous system has two parts or divisions, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The main jobs of these two divisions are complementary to one another.

The SNS is our automatic alert system. It allows us to be aware of when there is perceived threat to our safety. It triggers a whole array or responses in the body to prepare for fight or flight. It is an automatic system which we don’t have to think about, like breathing. The problem is we cannot pick and choose when this system is triggered and many of the stressors we now experience as normal everyday occurrences can be triggering. Just think of a recent driving experience, maybe one where someone cut you off or came close to hitting you. You may recall that your body reacted to the experience with a startle/alert response. You may remember your heart rate changing, your breathing changing or an adrenaline response. This was your SNS activating.

The PNS is meant to balance out the system when the perceived threat has passed and to re-establish calm in the body. It allows your system to gear down, release mobilized energy and move back into a restful state.

There are many complicating factors that create imbalance in the autonomic nervous system. The over-activation of stress in our daily lives, lack of purposeful de-stressing activities, or even hormone imbalances can mimic or chemically induce alert responses. Thyroid issues, which can create hormone imbalance, can be one of these issues. You may be wondering why this explanation is important. The reason is that you may be misidentifying this body activation as “anxiety” and may not know what to do about that. I would like to offer an alternate explanation.

In my last blog, Creating Wellness Through the Mind-Body Connection, I discussed building a deeper understanding of the language of the body and gave you some tools to practice. Today, I would like to build on that information. Though we may not be able to control when the SNS gets activated, we can consciously engage the PNS and bring ourselves back into balance. That is the focus of our article today.

Strengthening Your Parasympathetic Nervous System

The method of strengthening your PNS and actively creating calm is a simple purposeful breathing method. I encourage you to practice it as much as you can daily. By doing it frequently, you are creating a counterbalance to daily stressors. It even works when some of that stress may be hormonal imbalance.

Would you be willing to give yourself two weeks where you practice this no less that twice a day for at least three minutes? Can you give yourself six minutes a day? You can do this easily while doing other things like computer work, household chores, and even light exercise.

How to Active Your Parasympathetic Nervous System

Breathe in and out slowly through your nose only, (no mouth breathing here). This breath should be very slow, breathing in, to the count of at least three.

Breathe in while counting: one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, pause.

Then breath out while counting: one- one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand.

Then repeat, nice and slow. If you can go longer on the in breath and out breath, do so. Please don’t forget the pause between in and out. If you get light-headed shorten the breath.

As you can see, you can do this anywhere and no one knows you are doing a calming breath. They think you are just breathing. See how easy that is? Please practice and notice if you experience a greater and more regular state of calm. Are you willing to make a demand of yourself to create more calm? By making yourself a priority, you can actively engage with your own biological system to create greater well-being.

In my next post I’ll discuss methods of preventing burnout and creating greater life balance. I look forward to continuing to encourage you to grow your body awareness on your journey toward greater health!

INDICATIONS & IMPORTANT RISK INFORMATION INCLUDING BLACK BOX WARNING
Important Risk Information

Drugs with thyroid hormone activity, alone or together with other therapeutic agents, have been used for the treatment of obesity. In euthyroid patients, doses within the range of daily hormonal requirements are ineffective for weight reduction. Larger doses may produce serious or even life-threatening manifestations of toxicity, particularly when given in association with sympathomimetic amines such as those used for their anorectic effects.
  • NP Thyroid® is contraindicated in patients with uncorrected adrenal insufficiency, untreated thyrotoxicosis, and hypersensitivity to any component of the product.
  • In the elderly and in patients with cardiovascular disease, NP Thyroid® should be used with greater caution than younger patients or those without cardiovascular disease.
  • Use of NP Thyroid® in patients with diabetes mellitus or adrenal cortical insufficiency may worsen the intensity of their symptoms.
  • The therapy of myxedema coma requires simultaneous administration of glucocorticoids.
  • Concomitant use of NP Thyroid® with oral anticoagulants alters the sensitivity of oral anticoagulants. Prothrombin time should be closely monitored in thyroid-treated patients on oral anticoagulants.
  • In infants, excessive doses of NP Thyroid® may produce craniosynostosis.
  • Partial loss of hair may be experienced by children in the first few months of therapy but is usually transient.
  • Adverse reactions associated with NP Thyroid® therapy are primarily those of hyperthyroidism due to therapeutic overdosage.
  • Many drugs and some laboratory tests may alter the therapeutic response to NP Thyroid®. In addition, thyroid hormones and thyroid status have varied effects on the pharmacokinetics and actions of other drugs. Administer at least 4 hours before or after drugs that are known to interfere with absorption. Evaluate the need for dose adjustments when regularly administering within one hour of certain foods that may affect absorption.
  • NP Thyroid® should not be discontinued during pregnancy, and hypothyroidism diagnosed during pregnancy should be promptly treated.

Indication

NP Thyroid® (thyroid tablets, USP) is a prescription medicine that is used to treat a condition called hypothyroidism from any cause, except for cases of temporary hypothyroidism, which is usually associated with an inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis). It is meant to replace or supplement a hormone that is usually made by your thyroid gland.

NP Thyroid® is also used in the treatment and prevention of normal functioning thyroid goiters, such as thyroid nodules, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multinodular goiter, and in the management of thyroid cancer.