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A Presentation of Vasomotor Reflexes by the Neurological Research Foundation

By Ralph J Martin, DC, Sierra Madre CA and Member of the National Chiropractic Association
Originally printed in The Journal of the National Chiropractic Association, July 1959

For a number of years, the Neurological Research Foundation has conducted classes in California for the teaching of the clinical neurology developed by Terrence J, Bennett, DC. In the past three years, numerous classes have also been held in the East and Midwest. It is therefore reasonable to assume that, at the time of this writing, a considerable number of chiropractors have at least heard of this work.

These teachings have been known as "Autonomic Nerve Control." Since progress through the years has opened up new perceptions and clinical experience has shed new light on former observations, the members of the Neurological Research Foundation feel that this "body of knowledge" has taken on such proportions that the old name is no longer adequate or accurately descriptive. A more properly definitive name has been suggested which seems to meet with general approval. Therefore "Bennett's Application of Vasomotor Reflexes" will replace the teachings which have been known as "Autonomic Nerve Control."

A Statement to the Profession
At the meeting of the Council on Education in Miami Beach last June, the Neurological Research Foundation, represented by Dr. Bennett, offered the NCA-accredited schools the opportunity to teach Autonomic Nerve Control (now Application of Vasomotor Reflexes) as a part of the clinical curriculum for undergraduate education. After careful examination of the offer and numerous conferences and discussions conducted to develop a clear understanding among all concerned, the council voted to accept Dr. Bennett's offer. The conditions of the agreement and understanding are as follows:
1. Each accredited school may send one or more of its faculty members to attend convenient classes conducted by the Neurological Research Foundation.
2. These instructors, as they become qualified to teach the Application of Vasomotor Reflexes, may begin teaching the work as a regular part of the school's accepted clinical curriculum.
3. There will be no charge to the school by the foundation for such teaching to undergraduates.
4. There will be no extra tuition charge to the student because of the inclusion of these teachings in the curriculum.
5. The Neurological Research Foundation will continue to teach the course to practicing doctors throughout the country, either through graduate schools where they exist, or independently where there are no graduate schools in accredited schools of the various areas.
6. Refresher courses to practicing doctors also will be continued by the Research Foundation, whether they had the work originally as part of their undergraduate education, or from the foundation directly after entering practice.
7. The Neurological Research Foundation will continue its research work for the further development of clinical neurology for the enrichment of the chiropractic curriculum in the accredited schools and the benefit of practicing doctors, to the purpose of offering a continually improving chiropractic service to the public.

Applied Vasomotor Reflexes
Frequently, the development of new ideas and even new sciences is merely the rediscovery and revivification of ancient knowledge, with modern inductive methods of examination applied to empirical procedures handed down from antiquity. Early physician-priests sometimes secured surprising results, even though their actual knowledge of the principles involved was frequently woefully lacking. Even today, how many people driving automobiles with satisfaction understand very much about the workings of the motors and other mechanical parts involved in their operation?

The Application of Vasomotor Reflexes, like chiropractic, is a rediscovery of practices found effective at the dawn of history. Two thousand years ago, priests in China practiced aqua-puncture by pressing bamboo slivers into the tissue on specified surface areas in order to treat diseases of various internal organs.

A little later, there is a record of application of similar principles in Asia Minor by "cupping" of surface areas to effect changes internally in treating certain diseases.

Aqua-puncture developed in Japan into "poly-puncture" - a series of needles in a ring pressed into surface tissue to irritate the skin enough to produce reactions internally. Some used only single needles rather than many needles in a ring.

Even today there is a suggestive similarity to these practices in the universally accepted principle and practice of counter irritation. Fitzgerald's zone therapy comes nearer to the use of the same basic principles, even though the mechanical agent is nothing more than stroking pressure with the fingertips. Others of modern origin include Chapman's reflexes along lymphatic chains; Dillon's reflex teaching; KV pressure on the third cervical; Aquarian Age and Basic employing pressure on certain surface areas to relieve structural stress reactions.


What Is the Principle Involved?
It is time that we face the question: What is the basic principle involved in all these related phenomena? To do so seriously is the purpose of this discussion. It is evident as knowledge increases that these reactions are not apparently segmentally arranged. No definite tracts with origin, arrangement, and distribution have been found for the vasomotor system. We may go back to embryology for our most reliable clues, where blood vessels and nerves are found to begin simultaneously. Vasomotor reactions are active from early stages of embryonic development - long before the fetal heart.

The effectors (autonomic terminations) or effector mechanisms found at the juncture of the arteriole, where it divides into capillaries, are all concerned with metabolism, in which the circulatory system and nervous system are inseparable. We deal with metabolism and we deal with vasomotor nerves synonymously. Vasomotor reactions may be produced in several ways. We know that three of these ways are: chemical, such as hormones, etc., emotions, and mechanical, such as the stretch reflex, spinal adjustments, etc.

McKenzie proved that irritations in the stomach produced sensitive areas on the surface of the abdomen superior to the umbilicus; that the specific area of sensitivity was related to the particular portion of the stomach which was irritated. Clinicians are aware that the aortic sinus reflex area is frequently found to be sensitive because something is blocking normal function related to the heart muscle. Furthermore, it is now clinically demonstrated that every organ in the body has a known reflex to a skin area. In research, so far, however, not all skin areas have been discovered and proven. Clinical investigation has furthermore demonstrated that stimulation of the nervous system is equal to stimulation of the circulatory system and it now seems clear that this occurs through vasomotor reactions.

Reactions of capillaries are partly nerve transmission (hypertonic sympathetic stimulation) and partly by chemical stimuli from cell and tissue hunger for oxygen. Such reactions produce constriction of the tissues of the vessel walls, resulting in slowing or retarding of the flow of fluids. This constitutes what used to be known as "autointoxication," which is really lymph stasis. The application of vasomotor reflex release of this vascular constriction (or spasm) allows immediate resumption of normal flow of fluids so that what seems like a miracle is only removal of factors which had blocked normal function. The release has been effected by interruption of the continuous hypertonic sympathetic stimulation. Normal sympathetic stimulation of vascular walls maintains "tone." Excessive stimulation of these walls produces constriction and blockage.

The heart and large vessels are a transportation system which carries blood to points of utilization. The effector mechanism of circulation is located at the points where the arterioles break up into capillaries. This is the key mechanism employed in vasomotor reflex application. Along the vessels are vasomotor nerves. The tissues of the walls are supplied in most areas by sympathetic nerve fibers, in some few special areas by parasympathetic fibers.

Krieg, in discussing the vascular system in Functional Neuroanatomy (1953) on page 503 states, "All of the blood vessels of the body, whether arteries, capillaries, or veins, are accompanied by sympathetic nerve fibers. The number of motor nerve endings is directly related to the amount of smooth muscle, so one can form a rough idea of the relative degree of vascular innervation of any vessel by an inspection of a microscopic section of it. Thus it is apparent that veins have fewer motor nerve endings than arteries, and that the smaller arteries have the greater nerve supply, when the size of their lumen is taken into consideration. Whether capillaries have any motor endings, lacking muscle fibers as they do, is a debated question. Most recent workers believe that the openings or occlusion of capillaries depends on the state of contraction of their afferent arterioles.

"The chief function of the sympathetic supply to the vessels is to constrict them."

"The sympathetic maintains a constant state of tonus in the blood vessels for, when their nerve supply is cut, they immediately dilate."


Since, as above stated, the occlusion of capillaries depends on the state of contraction of their efferent arterioles, we note again the effector mechanism at the point of division of the arteriole into capillaries. It is this mechanism which exhibits the controlling influence on the flow of fluids in the capillaries and also the same mechanism which is responsive to the stretch reflex in Vasomotor Reflex Application.

Clinical experience has demonstrated with consistently repeated patterns that, since it is possible to exert "control at will" of the effector mechanism between the arteriole and the capillaries, it is therefore possible to restore abnormal tissue reactions back to normal with immediate, consistent response. In fact, the effector mechanism responds within fifteen seconds when the stretch reflex is applied.

In working with the effector mechanism, an arteriole pulse is present which is below sound and below sensory perception until amplified or raised by employment of the stretch reflex. This pulse is from 70 to 74 beats per minute without variation, whereas the radical pulse varies from very low to extremely rapid count. The arteriole pulse is presumed to be under sympathetic control. It must be remembered that the effector mechanism is found everywhere that arterioles branch into capillaries. This includes all tissues - in viscera, brain, and extremities. Corollary to this observation is the practical fact that since this mechanism is universal, and since it can be controlled through vasomotor reflex reactions applied at will, it is therefore possible to reach into any capillary beds, no matter where located, and initiate immediate restorative processes. The only limitation to this possibility is from the effects of trauma or irreversible pathology. The vasomotor responses will always act if their capacity has not been too severely damaged. The variation, therefore, in response is consequently only a matter of degree.

Application of Vasomotor Reflexes (Autonomic Nerve Control) has been accepted for introduction into the clinical curriculum of the NCA accredited schools. It thus may eventually become a standard part of the armamentarium of all doctors of chiropractic graduating from our accredited schools.

Vasomotor Reflex Application is based on the sound neurological basis of accepted vasomotor reactions which had not previously been put to modern practical application. It constitutes a comprehensive "body of knowledge," empirical in character and remarkably effective wherever organs or tissues have deviated from normal. Since the vasomotor system permeates all parts, viscera, brain, and periphery, it consequently can be used effectively anywhere abnormal function exists, limited only by trauma or irreversible pathology. Its effects may be expected to produce immediate noticeable reactions, giving its user a superior therapy frequently surpassing miracle drugs in acute infections and correcting abnormal capillary circulation which causes most chronic disorders. The mastery of the Application of Vasomotor Reflexes will give the chiropractor who employs it an enviable reputation as a healer, and add honor and prestige to the chiropractic profession.

The Cerebral Cortex of Man - Wilder Penfield, 1952
Explorer of The Human Brain - Reader's Digest, July 1958, page 138
Functional Neuroanatomy - Krieg, 1953
Bailey's Textbook of Histology - 8th Edition
Autonomic Nervous System - Kuntz, 1953
Gray's Anatomy - 23rd Edition


Tribute to Dr. Martin

By Dr N Rowan Richards

I'd like to take the opportunity to honor Dr. Ralph J. Martin and his contribution to my practice.

From Dr. Martin, I learned to read the body like an open book. I am continually amazed by the amount of information available to a doctor's trained fingertips. NVD is a system of reflex points on the body's surface that relate to each organ in the body. It provides both signposts for diagnosis and open windows for treatment. The doctor can prescribe appropriate testing and judge the effectiveness of a particular therapy based on the organ's response as measured by the changes in the NVD reflex points.

It's truly remarkable the Dr. Terrence J. Bennett, the originator of NVD, was able to discover so much about human physiology so long ago. He used fluoroscopy studies to watch the movement of blood through the capillary beds when he touched specific points on the body's surface. If he touched the liver point he could see the liver take definite shape as the organ profused with blood. From this reaction, he theorized an "Effector" Mechanism" which controlled capillary blood flow. More than 20 years later, the pre-capillary sphincters were discovered by modern research methods. Dr. Bennett had some spectacular clinical results using this simple, non-invasive technique. Dr. Martin began studying with him in the late 50's and became a dedicated student and researcher of NVD. While he was president of the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic' he taught NVD on campus. Furthermore, he founded the Council on Diagnosis and Internal Disorders to further the technique and became the first Diplomate Chiropractic Internist. When Dr. Bennett died, he took over the training seminars for doctors.

When I met Dr. Martin in the late 1970's, he was finishing his book and was preparing to retire for the 3rd or 4th time. His love for people and for NVD made it very hard for him to quit. He was looking for someone to carry on his work.

When he learned I had an interest in health care and a pre-medical education, he very craftily engaged me in editing and publishing his book. He taught me so much about NVD that I had to get a license as a DC to use what I knew. Years later, when I accused him of tantalizing me into chiropractic college, he gave a big grin and said, "Well, it worked, didn't it?"

I can never thank him enough. He pointed out to me my life's work and encouraged me to reach for it. He referred his entire patient list to me as soon as I got out of school. And, perhaps most importantly, he entrusted me to carry on his life's work. . . teaching and researching NVD. I consider that a sacred trust and an honor beyond measure!

Thank you, Dr. Martin.