A new National Geographic special exploring the latest research on how stress may be killing us features Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky, who has spent decades studying stress in humans and baboons. “Stress: Portrait of a Killer,” a co-production of National Geographic and Stanford University, premiered on Sept. 24 on PBS.
While the focus of the show is stress, the research confirms tenets that, unlike the allopathic medical community, chiropractors have emphasized since the early 1900s. The “educated brain” impacts the “innate” function of the body at the level of the end organ, the tissue cell.
Sapolsky, who holds the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professorship, is particularly interested in how social standing makes one more or less susceptible to stress. His research in baboons is consistent with findings done by other researchers studying humans and monkeys.
One research study followed a cohort of British civil servants, who have a discrete hierarchical structure as follows:
* Administrative Assistant – Lowest of the low, although the numbers in this grade are slowly going down and most permanent staff are being upgraded to Administrative Officer.
*Administrative Officer – The legions of AOs are what keeps the civil service running.
* Executive Officer – This is considered to be the first management grade. An EO may be responsible for a number of AOs, but in some departments an EO would be the standard grade for staff.
*Higher Executive Officer
*Senior Executive Officer
The findings in this research revealed results strikingly similar to the studies in baboon troops (which have a strict hierarchical social structure) and in studies of colonies of macaque monkeys (who also live in large groups where constant and stressful competition establishes the social hierarchy).
In all three studies, the results were the same. Emotional stress causes those lower on the social ladder to exhibit higher blood pressure, higher levels of atherosclerosis, higher levels of stress hormones, weakened immune system function, additional fat storage and even reduces life span.
In other words, nearly identically matched humans and primates exhibited vastly different physiology, based on their THOUGHTS and FEELINGS. The “educated brain” produced vastly different cellular function, vastly different physiology, vastly different immune response, and different physical tissue cells, despite the fact that all other environmental factors were virtually identical.
As is so often the case, the latest scientific research bears out that the chiropractic view of health is correct: That health is controlled by the brain, all bodily function is regulated by the brain, physical, chemical and emotional stressors are the primary cause of disease in the human body and the educated brain impacts the innate function of the human organism. This is truly “must see TV” for every chiropractor.
Sapolsky is part of a group of researchers appearing in the program, whose collective work is illuminating just how big an impact stress has on our health. The documentary is based partly on Sapolsky’s best-selling book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. The broadcast represents the first time National Geographic has joined forces with a major research university to create original programming in the areas of science and technology for television audiences. Randy Bean of Stanford served as an executive producer.