Holistic practitioners recognize the body's desire towards balance goes beyond the cellular level. Humans thrive when optimal conditions are established and perpetuated both inside and out. We may not have conscientious control over the chemical reactions occurring within our bodies; however, we certainly can make choices on a daily basis to foster the balance we desire on a multitude of levels.
Chronic stress can cause your body to become stuck in fight or flight mode. Experiencing fight-or-flight for a prolonged amount of time can be damaging to your mind, spirit, and body. Learn details about the fight or flight responses below.
Fight or Flight Responses
Cannon also coined the phrase, “fight or flight.” He asserted that not only physical emergencies, such as blood loss from trauma, but also psychological emergencies, such as antagonistic encounters between members of the same species, evoke release of adrenaline into the bloodstream. To Cannon, the body”s responses to “fight” are the same as those to “flight.” Adrenaline exerts several important effects in different body organs, all of which, from Cannon”s point of view, maintain homeostasis in fight-or-flight situations. In the skeletal muscle of the limbs, adrenaline relaxes blood vessels, increasing local blood flow. This is important to provide metabolic fuels to exercising muscle and remove waste products of metabolism that would otherwise accumulate in skeletal muscle and interfere with performance. Adrenaline constricts blood vessels in the skin and promotes clotting; both effects minimize blood loss from physical trauma. Adrenaline releases the key metabolic fuel, glucose, by the liver into the bloodstream, via breakdown of the storage form of glucose, glycogen. (Claude Bernard discovered conversion of glycogen to glucose in the liver.) Adrenaline stimulates respiration, maximizing delivery of oxygen to the bloodstream via the lungs. Adrenaline removes the electrolyte, potassium ion, from the circulation, an effect that may also promote homeostasis, because trauma destroys cells, which contain high potassium ion concentrations, building up the potassium ion content in the surrounding fluid. From a psychological point of view, adrenaline intensifies emotional experiences and increases what Cannon called “reservoirs of power,” exerting anti-fatigue and energizing effects.
The fact that aggressive attack and fearful escape both involve adrenaline release into the bloodstream does not imply an equivalence of “fight” with “flight” from a physiological or biochemical point of view. On the contrary, emotion-associated behaviors such as aggressive attack, fearful flight, immobile terror, hopeless defeat, emotional fainting, and sexual activity differ importantly in internal physiological and biochemical patterns, just as they do in external appearances and behaviors. Conversely, an increase in the level of adrenaline in the bloodstream does not imply that the individual is having a fight-or-flight experience. For instance, adrenaline levels usually increase slightly just by a person’s standing up, and even a mild fall in the blood glucose level stimulates substantial adrenaline release. Because Cannon used only a single dependent variable, the adrenaline response, he could not appreciate the existence of the different physiological and biochemical patterns.
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Scientific American - "What is Homeostasis?"
Archer & Nelson - Applied Anatomy & Physiology for Manual Therapists
Brain Immune Trends - Walter Cannon: Homeostasis, the Fight-or-Flight Response, the Sympathoadrenal System, and the Wisdom of the Body