The body is a system of processes that work together and, like any complex machine, when one part breaks down, it can throw everything out of whack.
“The body is one being, and so you have to address the body as a whole,” said Dr. Justin Stilson, a chiropractor in Great Falls. “It’s not a series of parts and pieces. Everything works together.”
So, if you suffer from chronic stomach or digestive issues, you may need a multi-tiered approach to find relief. A major part of your digestive process is, surprisingly, the nervous system.
It works like this: Your brain sends electrical impulses throughout your body with instructions, according to Informed Health. These nerve impulses travel down the spine and spread to your organs. Some of these nerve impulses are involuntary, like the pulses that digest food.
When you get breakdowns in your digestion, it can be from nerve irritation.
“Think of your nervous system as your body’s breaker box,” Stilson said. “If you plug too many things into an outlet, it flips the switch in the breaker box, and you need to reset it.”
That nerve irritation could come from things such as stress, poor nutrition, or sitting slumped at a desk all day, which can put tension on your spine.
“If the nerves that run to your stomach are not having the appropriate output, it can cause issues,” Stilson said. “You can tell when you are having nerve irritation connected to digestion when you begin to see constant bloating, acid reflux, diarrhea, or constipation.”
So, what can you do to find relief?
Get a spine adjustment
“By adjusting the spine, you can actually improve gut health,” Stilson said. “They work together very well.”
When vertebrae aren't aligned, bones or spinal discs press against nerves, pinching or compressing them, according to Activated Life Chiropractic & Wellness. This can lead to organs not working properly. Chiropractic adjustments relieve nerve pressure by realigning the vertebrae in your spine.
“You’ve got nerves going from your nervous system to the stomach and back,” Stilson said. “When a chiropractor makes an adjustment, it improves the nervous output to your organs and helps them do their job better.”
The same goes for the large and small intestine — improving nerve output can help with chronic diarrhea or constipation.
Improve your nutrition
“There are so many nerves that go to the stomach that they call it the second brain of the body,” Stilson said. “Nutrition is key to having the right nervous system response.”
He recommends eating a nutrient-rich diet and taking a quality supplement, since many foods are not nutrient dense. Stilson’s practice offers a line of supplements that are readily absorbed into the body in an easy-to-take juice packet.
Take stock of your mental health
The Neuro Emotional Technique addresses the physiology behind stress-related conditions, such as digestive issues or migraines.
“Sometimes stress lingers in the body after you go through a stress response,” Stilson said. “Where you should be in a resting and digesting state, emotional hormones get trapped in the tissues, and they start interfering with the tissue health.”
Stilson uses NET to treat the whole person and recommends potential patients take the NET wellness questionnaire to see which systems need treatment.
“Healing comes from the inside and moves to the outside of the body,” Stilson said. “When I meet with my patients, if they’re ready to do the work, we can open a pathway of healing for them.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Stilson, call 406-770-3800 or request an appointment online.