are automatic, instinctual, and involuntary reflexes that we use while we are
in the womb and through the first year of our lives. These reflexes come from
our brain stem because our main-brain has not fully developed to take over
their jobs. The neonatal reflexes are essential in our survival and development
while our brain is forming and then should be integrated back into the
brainstem to allow for more complex (postural) reflexes and further development
of our brain to take place.
If these neonatal reflexes are not integrated properly ("retained") they can cause problems in
many areas of life including balance, coordination, detailed movements, vision,
hormones, social cueing, emotional and academic development, anxiety, panic
attacks, and symptoms of autism and attention deficit.
We will go through a few of these reflexes to show how they
can affect many areas of life. The first reflex is the Fear Paralysis Reflex,
which is related to the parasympathetic nervous system. The
parasympathetic nervous system controls our "housekeeping activities" including
rest and relaxation, immune and hormone function, and digestion. A retained
Fear Paralysis Reflex shows as symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks, weak immune
system, hypersensitivity to touch or sound, dislike of surprise or freezes
under stress. We also find a retained Fear Paralysis Reflex in most of the
autistic children we treat.
The next reflex is the Moro Reflex, which is the early form
of the "fight or flight response."
Because of its association with the sympathetic nervous system or
"fight or flight response", when it is retained, it provides a constant and
excessive input to the adrenals leading quickly to adrenal fatigue. Along with
adrenal fatigue other common symptoms associated with this reflex are asthma,
allergies, chronic illness, thyroid problems, auto-immune disease,
hyperactivity (ADHD) and emotional or social immaturity (temper tantrums).
Balancing these first two reflexes is essential to balancing
the autonomic nervous system. This part of the nervous system controls
all of our automatic responses, just as it sounds. These include sleep,
digestion, response to fear or emergencies, and emotions among others. The
autonomic nervous system also controls our hormone system including our
reproductive organs, thyroid and adrenal glands. As you can see these reflexes
can affect many aspects of our health.
Staying with the hormone association, let's discuss the
Rooting Reflex. The Rooting Reflex prepares the baby for suckling. When you
touch the side of the child's cheek he will turn his head toward that
direction, open his mouth, and extend his tongue. If this reflex is not integrated it can cause
hypersensitivity around the lips and mouth, speech problems and thumb sucking.
Integrating this reflex has been shown to regulate abnormal thyroid and adrenal
laboratory results in some people.
Similar to the Rooting Reflex, the Juvenile Suck Reflex
allows the child to suckle properly when it is combined with the Palmer
Reflex. When nursing, the child
uses his hands to knead while feeding from his mother. This combination brings
hand and mouth movement together very early on in life. Improper integration of
any of these three reflexes (Rooting, Juvenile Suck, or Palmer) can lead to
problems with nursing, speech, chewing, or manual dexterity. Furthermore,
retention of the Palmer Reflex itself can cause problems with hand writing,
drawing, throwing, and catching.
We frequently hear patient's with retained Palmer Reflexes say they have
problems getting ideas from their head onto paper.
Similar to the Palmer Reflex for the hand, there is the
Plantar Reflex for the foot. A retained Plantar reflex can cause awkward
walking or running, poor balance and coordination, multiple ankle sprains and
trouble "walking and talking" or "thinking on one's feet".
There are many more reflexes, some that deal with eye-hand
coordination, depth perception, balance, motion sickness, fatigue when reading,
inability to sit still and even balancing one side of the brain with the other.
While we cannot explain each reflex in this newsletter, we will be happy to
talk with you further. Please call our office (310 445 3350) and we will answer any questions you have about the
reflexes, the adjustments, and how they may benefit you.