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Another problem which contributes to the misery of eczema in both adults and children is caused by the nervous system. This may well become somewhat erratic as a result of skin irritations and, in turn, demand extra attention. There is a distinction between the voluntary nervous system, which we control consciously, and the involuntary nervous system, over which we have no conscious control. The latter is constantly in action and is controlled by the heart, while influencing various functions of the body. A third division of nerves, occupying the skin and part of the flesh of the body, influences certain portions of the lymphatic system. These groups of nerves are so interwoven that they interconnect with each other in various parts of the body, each group having a connection with the brain.

The voluntary nervous system is controlled from the objective part of the brain, and it controls muscle action as in the neck, turning the head, and the movement of the arms and lower limbs. There are many muscles in our body that are consciously controlled. The winking of an eye, opening and closing the mouth, the movement of the tongue, the voluntary muscle action in the anus and the muscles of the bladder, are normally subject to our will. With eczema problems, either in adults or infants, we often see that it is on these parts of the body where the eczema is most active. It is also there that an osteopath can effect some little adjustment in order to control the voluntary nervous system a little better.

The sympathetic nervous system is the preferred name for the involuntary nervous system, as its action never ceases. It is constantly operating throughout the organism. The sympathetic nervous system branches out between the third and fourth bone in the neck. I have sometimes been referred to as the 'third cervical practitioner', as I have often had to make adjustments to this vertebra. I must stress that this adjustment may only be done by a fully qualified practitioner. The third cervical vertebra controls the whole sympathetic nervous system.

Dietary management is also important for eczema sufferers, as the stomach, with the aid of the sympathetic nervous system, creates the continuous motion of the lining of the stomach, causing the food to move slowly, mixing it with gastric juices, which is the first step in digestion. Food is formed into small ball-shaped pieces which travel down ward into the duodenum, where bile from the liver and secretions from the pancreas and gall bladder mix. The rotary motion of the sympathetic nervous system also extends down through the small intestines to the colon which looks like a corrugated tube. When the food material enters the ascending colon, these corrugations, aided by a form of gas, elevate it to the transverse colon. Then the rotary motion of the sympathetic nervous system carries it on to its destination, and eventually out of the body.

In the lower part of the body we find a large group or mass of nerves, called the sacral plexus, just above the lower end of the spine. Attached to the short ribs, commonly known as the lumbars, is a large nerve extending down to the sacral plexus, and at this plexus or nerve centre, the three nervous systems connect. The voluntary nerves continue down the spine to the sacrum, where a group of four voluntary nerves leave the spine and connect with the sacral plexus. The nerves of the skin also connect with the sacral plexus, from the lower part of the stomach cavity. The sympathetic nervous system connects to this plexus and extends from this nerve centre to every organ in the lower part of the body. It extends from the eyes down, through the interior organs, to the sacral plexus and down to the anus, connecting with both creative and urinary organs, and with the rectum. Much of the nerve energy of the lower limbs and feet is also controlled from this centre. There is another important group of nerves that extend down the spinal column from the base of the skull to the coccyx. This group is known as the sympathetic trunk and is held in place by a fibrous tissue that connects with the vertebrae of the spine. The sympathetic trunk connects with the voluntary nervous system and is connected by other nerves to the sacral plexus.

The three nervous systems are very complicated. From different sections of the spine, groups of nerves control the actions of different parts of the body. The second lumbar plexus controls the flexion of the hips, and the third has much to do with the action of the knees. The first, second and third joints in the coccyx control the muscles of the legs and the movements of the feet. The last joint of the spine or coccyx controls the skin from the base of the spine to the anus. The third section of nerves, the nerves of the skin, leaves the spinal column at the base of the skull and is controlled by the subconscious, or that portion of the brain located in the lower part of the back of the head. The sacral nerves appear to be the contributory nerves from the voluntary system. They supply the flesh of the lower limbs, and extend upwards through the muscles of the lumbar region and have a great influence on the sacral plexus.

The reason for explaining the workings of the nervous system in some detail, is to demonstrate the close connections between the skin and the nervous system. The itchiness associated with eczema and infantile eczema can cause loss of sleep for which I prescribe 10 drops of Dormeasan. This is a safe herbal remedy for restful sleep that can also be given to very young children. Dormeasan is a combination of Melissa (balm), Avena sativa (oats), Passiflora incarnata (passion flower), Humulus lupulus (hops), and Valeriana and Lupulinum (hop grains). This fresh herb preparation for mild sleep disorders and stress, has a calming effect when overexcited or restless. It is also beneficial for nervous exhaustion as well as mental over-exertion. It is of great help in such conditions and, when taken in combination with some other remedies, it has helped to clear many a case of infantile eczema.


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