This month I’d like to take a break from the usual neural therapy case reports and clinical tips to report on a new book I have been reading. The Integrative Action of the Autonomic Nervous System—Neurobiology of Homeostasis, by Wilfrid Jänig, was
released in July by the Cambridge University Press.
Remembering the days of ‘low-tech’ biological science
If you know me, you know I have long been a fan of “old” science—especially that from
the first half of the twentieth century. Much of the biological sciences was explored with
low-tech equipment, used relatively simple mathematics and was understandable to the
average educated lay person, which would include most physicians.
I think of the classical neurophysiology of Pavlov, Sherrington, Brain, Head and
Speransky, the nutritional science of Price, Page and Royal Lee and the biochemistry
(and world view) of Revici. Of course, the Huneke brothers—who discovered neural
therapy—were in this cohort, even though they were clinicians and not professional
It is a sad fact that much of this very fine basic science has never been applied to
clinical medicine. The perennial cry of “more research!” is often an excuse to not truly
examine the implications of discoveries already made. I think of the simple
neurophysiological principles of temporal and spatial summation and their application to
musculoskeletal pain—that there might be a number of converging “pain generators” responsible for a particular pain syndrome.
Neural therapy applies neurophysiology to medicine
Neural therapy is all about applying neurophysiological principles. So it is incumbent on
the practitioner to know these principles and be up-to-date on new discoveries. And
despite my fondness for “old” science, there is much of value “coming down the pipe”—
and some of it actually modifies or even disproves older theories.
The Integrative Action of the Autonomic Nervous System is a big book. It is over 600
pages long, is richly illustrated with line drawings and has 80 pages of references. The
author, Wilfrid Jänig, is one of the world’s leading autonomic nervous system
physiologists and has 45 years of research and hundreds of scientific papers and textbook
chapters behind him.
Jänig’s book is written for scientists. As the author states in his introduction, “This book
is not intended to discuss the pathophysiology of the autonomic nervous system;
however, it is the basis to understand pathophysiological changes of autonomic
Gaining insight into the autonomic nervous system
There is much of value for clinicians in this book as well. Over the years, there have been
some shifts in understanding of how the autonomic nervous system works, which have
not yet been incorporated into medical thinking. Example: The concept of sympathetic
and parasympathetic systems being separate systems, to a certain extent in opposition to each other.
A half-century of research has demonstrated that the only consistent difference between
the two “systems” is their anatomical origin, i.e., the thoraco-lumbar spine for the
sympathetic system, and the cranial and sacral regions for the parasympathetic system.
The former criteria of post-ganglionic neurons being cholinergic or adrenergic has too
many exceptions to be useful. In fact, certain pelvic ganglia cannot be assigned to either
the sympathetic or parasympathetic system and must simply be called autonomic.
For the neural therapist, this is a liberating concept. The challenge is simply to identify
the local autonomic nervous dysfunction, then find and treat the interference field. It
matters not whether the dysfunction is “sympathetic” or “parasympathetic” in origin.
Jänig sheds new light on peripheral ANS function
I must admit I have read only some portions of the book so far. Some sections are
downright intimidating (at least for me)—especially those pertaining to central anatomy.
However “pearls” pop up, particularly in the sections pertaining to peripheral autonomic
nervous system function— the primary domain of the neural therapist. Among them are:
• The concept of “sympathetic tone” being a determinant of peripheral vascular
resistance, and therefore blood pressure, has been disproven (by Jänig).
• Most target tissues are innervated by only one of the autonomic systems (the main
exceptions being the heart and the urinary bladder).
• Fast change in heart rate e.g., during changes of body position and emotional stress,
are generated by parasympathetic neurons to the heart. Sustained increase of heart
rate during exercise is generated by sympathetic neurons to the heart.
• Neuropeptides have been found in many autonomic neurons that correlate with
morphology, electrophysiology and anatomy. However, the function of most of these
neuropeptides has not yet been elucidated and they may have nothing to do
• Autonomic ganglia regulate the quantity of neural signals being transmitted to the
• Single peripheral neurons show a wide array of discharge patterns related to afferent
and centrally generated events.
This is an expensive book ($170 US), but worth it for any physician wanting an up-to-
date review of autonomic nervous system physiology that also includes the discoveries of
many years ago. The emphasis on integrative action of physiological processes is an
Robert F. Kidd, MD, CM
Plan now to attend the mid-winter Neural Therapy Retreat
Feb. 9-10, 2007 in Merrickville, Ontario, Canada
If you have taken at least one neural therapy course from Dr. Klinghardt or me, you are
invited to attend the upcoming mid-winter Neural Therapy Retreat at Sam Jakes Inn,
(www.samjakesinn.com) in Merrickville, Ontario, Canada. Several clinicians have
already responded, so the retreat is a definite go.
The program will be informal: a few lectures, perhaps some invited guests, some
demonstrations, clinic time and opportunities to ask questions. If you would like to
present a free paper, please contact me. Or if you or a family member has an intractable
medical problem you would like to have checked out, this might be the time and place to
Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office at 613-432-6596 to
let me know if you are interested in attending the retreat—even if you are not ready to
make a commitment. If there is an area of neural therapy you would like me to review or
cover, that information will help me plan the program.
More about the location: Merrickville is a little country town situated by the historic
Rideau Canal, about 45 minutes south of Ottawa. During the summer it is a lively place, a
favorite getaway for tourists and boaters. In the winter it is quiet and not much goes
on—a perfect place for a get-away-from-it-all retreat. The inn is cozy and comfortable
and the food is excellent.
Your feedback is always welcome
I invite your comments and questions—as well as brief case histories. Please e-mail me at
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