Reducing Allostatic Load & Stress Through Heightened Awareness
By Robert Hoffman, L.Ac.
Your contemporary mental health and psychotherapy colleagues may often approach the treatment of allostatic load as a mental health condition and use prescription psycho-pharmaceutical medicine to affect general and specific central nervous system (CNS) pathways and brainneuro-chemistry medicine to alleviate the associated symptoms.
Allostatic load is a Western medicine term describing a buildup or accumulation of stress forces present in the human psychosomatic condition. The acute stage is called allostasis and causes general mind-body discomfort and restlessness affecting brain cognition, focus, and concentration.
The buildup and accumulation of allostasis is referred to as allostatic load and affects your practice and patient population in subtle ways since allostasis and allostatic load affect the homeostatic balance of the central nervous system (CNS), the autonomic nervous system (ANS), the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system(PSNS).
Traditional Eastern medicine (TEM) addresses this condition through calming the SNS where qi and blood stasis contribute to the origin of allostatic load accumulation. Your ability to address this is the inherent flexibility of a TEM treatment plan using the 8 limbs of TEM therapy to balance yin/yang and qi and blood. Just like the innate natural defense mechanism called the default mode network (DMN) Wei qi is rooted in Kidney Jing and qi, and, like the innate immune system or DMN, Wei qi stops or greatly reduces adverse effects to Heart Shen-mind, Kidney Jing and Spirit from accumulation of allostatic load.
Treating Allostatic Load
A flexible treatment plan includes assessing the Kidney Heart axis and brain-mind rational awareness, neurobiology, and psychosomatics of allostasis and allostatic load and rooting it before the stasis manifests. Collectively the 8 limbs of TEM look curiously like the DMN to restrain stress and allostatic load accumulation. The DMN, innate immune system and Wei qi guard against allostatic load through a psychosomatic awareness rooted in Kidney Jing and Heart Shen axis.
As one of the 8 limbs a qi-gong and Nei Gong practice enable yin and yang balance just like the sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) Shen-mind and the brain-mind for the practice of meditation, contemplation or other forms of prayer and physical components of Nei Gong that build and strengthen Wei qi levels inherent in DMN immunity.
As you practice Nei Gong (the internal form of Qi Gong) the central nervous system (CNS) is stabilized, awareness is elevated and clarity of mind, focus and inherent wisdom of Heart Shen-mind rooted in Kidney Qi are maintained. While we know TEM collectively make up the Sea of Marrow and complex interaction of the brain, Shen-min, and Jing qi represents a gateway to manage allostatic load through the collaboration of eastern and western physiology.
Qi-gong and specifically Nei Gong remain scientifically valid wholistic forms of managing accumulated stress and allostatic load. As a practitioner of TEM your ability to reduce mental stress accumulation in the SNS and PSNS are rooted in the integration of kidney and Heart axis. While we recognize psycho-pharmaceuticals are useful to reduce complex cases of allostatic load accumulation maintaining strong Wei qi levels link the power of Shen-mind rooted in Kidney Jing also command the DMN and immune system to effectively manage the allostatic load. Meditation and specifically Nei Gong practice stimulate several CNS nuances to calm or sooth any escalation or spillover effect of acute stress accumulation like allostasis and allostatic load.
While we may not know if allostatic load is extrinsically or intrinsically generated we do know the practice of neigong and qigong can help produce pro-active novel thoughts in the ANS, clearing a path to reduce allostatic load through the SNS and PSNS response to acute stress, Heart Shen mind reduces allostasis and accumulation allostatic load using the DMN and the immune system to harness the power of the complete CNS (specifically made up of the bio and neuro-anatomy of Shen mind and thought) to triumph over allostatic load.
Maintain your neigong practice or adding Nei Gong practice to your patient treatment prodical engenders the generation of wisdom and conscious awareness to optimize treatment plan results. As a TEM practitioner, you know meditation, prayer, Qi Gong or tai-chi practice done as a practice helps form yin/yang balance in patients. While creating deeper level healing a diligent Nei Gong practice strengthensWeii qi and builds DMN immunity as well. It also elevates your clinical skill-set, opens awareness of Heart Shen and Shen mind to engage forces larger than western psycho-pharmaceutical medication.
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