What You Need to Know About the Parasympathetic Nervous System

The parasympathetic nervous system is one of the two branches of the autonomic nervous system, which controls all the automatic functions of your body that keep you alive. If it’s working properly, you won’t notice it.

If it’s not, then you could be dealing with one of many maladies that affect tens of millions across the globe. Parkinson’s disease, for example, is an attack on the PSNS that affects 10 million people worldwide.

Knowing as much as you can about this bodily system will help you protect your quality of life. Here are the essentials.

The Parasympathetic Nervous System Starts in the Brain

It’s sometimes called the “rest and digest” or “feed and breed” system because it slows heart rate, increases digestive activity, and relaxes blood vessels.

The parasympathetic nervous system originates in the brainstem and sacral region of the spinal cord. From there, it extends to all the organs and systems of the body via two sets of nerves: the cranial nerves and the spinal nerves.

It Keeps Many of Your Automatic Functions Going

The parasympathetic nervous system controls things like heart rate, digestion, urination, and sexual arousal. It also helps to restore the body’s energy after a stressful event.

Its primary nervous system function is to help you regulate your body’s responses. This keeps you from always being on an adrenaline high when you don’t need to be. (More on that in the next section.)

PSNS Is Yin to Yang of the Sympathetic Nervous System

The PSNS is part of the central nervous system that is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response.

The parasympathetic nervous system is in constant communication with the sympathetic nervous system. One of its main jobs is to keep the sympathetic nervous system in check.

It does this by making sure that the body’s systems are only activated when they need to be. For example, if you’re sitting at a desk all day, there’s no need for your heart to be pounding and your pupils to be dilated.

Breakdowns Can Occur

While the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for keeping your body running smoothly, it’s not infallible. A variety of issues and ailments are associated with it. Some common ones include heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, urinary problems, and sexual dysfunction.

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s important to see a doctor. Together, you can see if a change in your diet, lifestyle, or medication is needed. More serious issues include the aforementioned Parkinson’s disease or the following:

  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Stroke
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Another significant disease associated with the PSNS and SNS is Hashimoto’s disease. This is way more common than Parkinson’s with 3 million cases diagnosed annually in the US alone. You can learn a bit more about the science behind it at hashimotosfix.com.

Your Body Counts On Your Parasympathetic Nervous System

We hope you can see why it’s important to know more about your parasympathetic nervous system. It’s an unsung hero of the body that allows you to live and enjoy the life you do.

Read also: Severe Injuries In A Slip And Fall Accident

For more information on this or other health-related articles, check out some of our additional posts.