One of the greatest gifts we have received, is our central nervous system. It is through this delicate and complex structure that we experience our entire life. If it is clogged and poisoned by foul air,drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and stress, then we can not fully experience life in its beauty. If on the other hand we keep it healthy, by going to bed before midnight, that we exercise regularly and that we maintain a healthy diet, then we can expect it will perform well and reward us.
Introduction to the Nervous System
The nervous system is the major controlling, regulatory, and communicating system in the body. It is the center of all mental activity including thought, learning, and memory. Together with the endocrine system, the nervous system is responsible for regulating and maintaining homeostasis. Through its receptors, the nervous system keeps us in touch with our environment, both external and internal.
Like other systems in the body, the nervous system is composed of organs, principally the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and ganglia. These, in turn, consist of various tissues, including nerve, blood, and connective tissue. Together these carry out the complex activities of the nervous system.
The various activities of the nervous system can be grouped together as three general, overlapping functions:
Millions of sensory receptors detect changes, called stimuli, which occur inside and outside the body. They monitor such things as temperature, light, and sound from the external environment. Inside the body, the internal environment, receptors detect variations in pressure, pH, carbon dioxide concentration, and the levels of various electrolytes. All of this gathered information is called sensory input.
Sensory input is converted into electrical signals called nerve impulses that are transmitted to the brain. There the signals are brought together to create sensations, to produce thoughts, or to add to memory; Decisions are made each moment based on the sensory input. This is integration.
Based on the sensory input and integration, the nervous system responds by sending signals to muscles, causing them to contract, or to glands, causing them to produce secretions. Muscles and glands are called effectors because they cause an effect in response to directions from the nervous system. This is the motor output or motor function.
If we want to keep our central nervous system functioning healthy, we can do so by working also to removing our addictions.
Of course Yoga and Meditation can be of great help, but as long as the addiction is there, we can not expect to have deep regular experiences in meditation, because most of the time spent in sitting, is a time in which the body is struggling to recuperate. There is lots of help out there for all of us, and as my grandmother said often:
“God helps those who help themselves!”
The Ayurvedic system is well appreciated and being used more and more and it is among the best of health methods for today but we must realise that Ayurveda if followed properly is a form of prevention. If I eat properly, have regular exercise and go to bed at a reasonable time and do all those healthy things, it will be much easier to stay healthy.
One of the big ones that many people have to deal with in our society today is tobacco. A doctor once told me that if someone has smoked for even a period of seventy five years, the day that he stops, immediately the body begins to clean itself. At some moment or other it may be good for us to know dangers we risk, by allowing certain things to creep into our lives and what effects they may have on our channel of life enjoyment, our central nervous system.
Effects of Nicotine on the central nervous system
When a person inhales cigarette smoke, the nicotine in the smoke is rapidly absorbed into the blood and starts affecting the brain within 7 seconds. In the brain, nicotine activates the same reward system as do other drugs of abuse such as cocaine or amphetamine, although to a lesser degree. Nicotine’s action on this reward system is believed to be responsible for drug-induced feelings of pleasure and, over time, addiction. Nicotine also has the effect of increasing alertness and enhancing mental performance. In the cardiovascular system, nicotine increases heart rate and blood pressure and restricts blood flow to the heart muscle. The drug stimulates the release of the hormone epinephrine, which further stimulates the nervous system and is responsible for part of the “kick” from nicotine. It also promotes the release of the hormone beta-endorphin, which inhibits pain.
People addicted to nicotine experience withdrawal when they stop smoking. This withdrawal involves symptoms such as anger, anxiety, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, and craving for nicotine. Most of these symptoms subside within 3 to 4 weeks, except for the craving and hunger, which may persist for months.
Health Effects of Tobacco Products
Besides nicotine, cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, many of which may cause cancer or damage the lungs. Cigarette smoking is associated with coronary heart disease, stroke, ulcers, and an increased incidence of respiratory infections. Smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and is also associated with cancers of the larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, stomach, and uterine cervix. Smoking is also the major cause of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Women who smoke cigarettes have earlier menopause. Pregnant women who smoke run an increased risk of having stillborn or premature infants or infants with low birth weight. Children of women who smoked while pregnant have an increased risk for developing conduct disorders.
Here are some natural remedies suggested to reducing and eventually breaking the habit:
Take 200 mg. twice a day of coenzyme Q10 this is a powerful antioxidant that protects the lungs, the heart and increases oxygen to the brain.
Take grape seed extract to repair lung damage.
Smoking breaks down vitamin C therefore it is very important to take 5,000-20,000 mg. of vitamin C a day.
Vitamin E is a very important antioxidant needed to repair cell damage cause by smoke.
Vitamin A helps repair the mucus membranes which are damaged by smoking.
For cravings take cayenne desensitizes the respiratory linings to tobacco and chemical irritants. It’s an antioxidant that stabilizes lung membranes preventing damage. The warm peppery taste reduces cigarette cravings.
Ginger and lobelia prevent nausea and helps quitting reduces anxiety ginger produces perspiration which helps to shed toxins generated from smoking.
Lobelia Relieves withdrawal, including irritability, hunger, poor concentration. It contains alkaloids similar to those in nicotine, occupies same brain receptor sites and exerts nicotine like effects without the damage that nicotine causes, this reduces cravings, and creates aversion.
Oats reduce or eliminate tobacco cravings, also, they reduce number of cigarettes desired even in those people not trying to quit.
And here is another:
- Mix an ounce of cream of tartar into a glass of juice and drink nightly to reduce tobacco cravings.
- Keep a straw or toothpick in the hand to break the habit of lifting the cigarette to the mouth.
- Chew gum, whole cloves, or jelly beans as an alternative to smoking.
- Take three capsules of fish oil three times daily as you begin a smoking cessation program.
Overcoming any addiction is extremely hard, particularly during teenage years, and will take intervention, patience, and the support of others, but these remedies may make controlling the urges a bit easier. When used in conjunction with counseling, they will increase the odds of rehabilitation.