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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Carpenter

The HP in your HPA Axis

Alright, we started talking brain and today we are really going to get to the center of it!

And by center I mean the Pituitary (Master Gland) and Hypothalamus. You may remember these from the adrenal gland write up, as the three together make up the HPA- Axis or “Holy Power of Addiction-Axis!” as I like to call it.

If you recall, the brain is in our big to; the pituitary and hypothalamus would be dead center in the pad on the bottom of the big toe.

There is quite a bit packed in to this little area of the brain and in the zone we straight up drill the area directly four different times. Now, I love the hypothalamus, because its main role is to keep the body in homeostasis as much as possible…which means we have the same job! That’s right, the zone brings your body into rest, relaxation, balance and a state of homeostasis, so it makes sense that we are going to activate this little part of the brain a BUNCH.

The hypothalamus is the connection between your endocrine system (hormones) and nervous system (control center). Nestled right under the hypothalamus is the pituitary gland, the master gland of your endocrine system. Basically, the endocrine system and nervous system run your entire body as you know it and they hold hands in the hypothalamus.

Some of the things this area of your brain is responsible for regulating are: body temperature, appetite and metabolism, emotions, sleep cycle, sex drive, blood pressure, heart rate, growth, reproduction and response to stress and trauma. So, yeah, it’s kind of a big deal. But what does that have to do with addiction, you ask?

Fantastic question!

Whenever we do something pleasurable (i.e.: food, sex, drugs, rock’n’roll) the reward systems in our brain light up and push dopamine to other areas. Dopamine is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone. As you can see from the image of dopamine pathways, these are pushing right out of the center or base of the brain.

Feelings held in this area of the zone happen to be: Depression, anger, mass negativity, negative thoughts or self-talk, low self-esteem, issues with impulse control, issues with addiction, exhausted willpower and desire for change.

If we use mind altering substances to deal with any of the above feelings; we take a double hit to the center of the brain. Yes, they can flood the body with chemicals that light up our dopamine pathways, but they also require these parts of the brain to try exceptionally hard to rebalance the system (create homeostasis). They also high-jack your reward centers while degrading the body over time, which is basically causing more disruption and discomfort in the body. This is why every high has a low. You feel like crap because there is poison in your body. The reward chemicals wear off and we are just left with the damage and pain. If we continue to use we effectively try to trick our brain into craving damage to the system it’s trying to preserve and repair. This a toxic cycle if ever there was one.

And in cases like amphetamines, including meth, studies show repeated drug use can actually cause significant changes to the function of the HPA axis and contribute to a shift to anti-reward pathways, which can change a drug abuser’s motivation from pleasure seeking to a desire to reduce internal distress. That’s a whole other level of mind-altering!

Bret’s Question of the day: “If I was in complete control of my life and my destiny what are some things I would change today?”

Zoner question: “How would it FEEL to take complete control of my life and make it everything I want it to be?”

Feel that in your body, it knows the answer.

If you are weary and the path you are walking is particularly hard, come in a get a foot zone…it’s a safe space to take a rest and reward your brain and body in a healthy way.

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