top of page

HPA Axis and The Stress Response

Updated: Feb 7

HPA Axis and The Stress Response

Let’s talk about the Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal axis, more commonly referred to as the HPA axis. Simply put, it is the interaction between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland (located just above the brainstem), and adrenal glands (located above the kidneys). It describes the biochemical process of the stress response.

What is the HPA Axis, and What Does it Do?

The primary function of the HPA axis involves managing the body’s reaction to stress. When the brain senses a stressor, the hypothalamus gland releases a corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH). Then the pituitary gland makes an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). All of this leads to the adrenal glands secreting glucocorticoids.

Cortisol, also called the stress hormone, helps you deal with stressors. When cortisol is released, your body essentially goes into survival mode. The liver releases stored sugar for instant energy and adrenalin, raising heart and blood pressure to provide additional blood to skeletal muscles in case you need to run for your life. The immune, digestive, and reproductive systems are suppressed to conserve energy.

All of this was a genius stroke of evolution at a time when having to run from a saber tooth tiger was a thing. Unfortunately for modern man, your body can’t distinguish between the extended stress of meeting a work deadline and the acute stress of an axe-wielding murderer. For your body, the reaction is the same. And over an extended period of time, this response can lead to both physical and psychiatric problems, including:

  • Anxiety

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Cognitive dysfunction

  • Decreased ability to handle stress

  • Decreased libido

  • Fatigue

  • Immune system suppression

  • Insomnia

  • Insulin resistance and diabetes

  • Memory and cognitive issues

  • Mood disorders like depression

  • Obesity

How Can Upper Cervical Chiropractic Help?

Upper Cervical Chiropractic aims to detect and correct vertebral subluxations in the bones of the cervical spine, where the brainstem is housed. A subluxation, or joint misalignment, is both a physical and chemical stressor in the body.

Physical because it applies extra strain to the soft tissue structures around the misaligned joint, and chemical due to the accumulation of inflammation it causes. This compounded form of stress floods the brain with negative feedback and triggers the limbic system to kickstart your stress response by activating the HPA axis!

Every time you get an Upper Cervical adjustment, misalignments along the spine are corrected, and the negative feedback to the brain is replaced with positive feedback. Regular Upper Cervical care works to stop or slow the brain’s alert to initiate the stress response, reduces prolonged causes of inflammation, and promotes homeostasis.

Homeostasis describes the body’s ability to maintain relatively stable internal conditions as we navigate a constantly changing world. Upper Cervical care restores the nervous system pathways to an optimum level of function, which maximizes homeostasis and the body’s inherent healing ability.

To find out more about managing your body’s stress response in a gentle, natural, drug-free way, contact Atlas Specific today by dropping by the Durango office at 1800 E 3rd Ave #108, giving us a call at 970 – 259 – 6803, or clicking the link below to schedule a free consultation.


Notice of Disclaimer:

We are doctors of upper cervical chiropractic, but we are NOT necessarily YOUR doctors. All content and information on this website are for informational and educational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. Reading or interacting with this site does not establish any form of the patient-doctor relationship. Although we strive to provide accurate information, the information presented here is not intended as a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in your particular area of need before making medical decisions.

18 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page