NIS is the research of Dr Allan. K. Phillips, DO. Founder and developer of NIS, Global presenter and former Consultant to the United Nations.
Dr Phillips is an osteopath from New Zealand born into a family of chiropractors. Having seen the limitations of traditional osteopathic techniques he was introduced to muscle testing and Applied Kinesiology (AK) through an uncle who was a chiropractor.
Fascinated by the approach of AK, he went and studied AK directly from its founder in the US; the chiropractor, Dr George Goodheart. On learning AK, Dr Phillips had further questions regarding the ‘how’ and ‘why’, that were not satisfactorily answered.
On discovering that the roots of AK were in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which goes back some 5000 years, Dr Phillips immersed himself in the teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the meridian system which he found enlightening. However, still the questions of ‘how’ and ‘why’ he found he needed answering. How, could inserting fine needles in the body cause an affect and why were these changes being seen?
Dr Phillips went back to the scientifically accepted fact that the brain governs all function within the body and deduced that on inserting needles into the body we must be affecting the brain centrally which is then causing an effect in function of the body and in turn a symptom change.
Dr Phillips then begun to take his knowledge and insight from anatomy, physiology, neuro-psycho-immunology, neuroscience, stress research, osteopathy and acupuncture and developed it into a system for the reintegration of dysfunctional body systems on a neurological level. And so NIS was developed and has continually evolved over the past 30 years into what it is today.
Science and Theory of NIS
NIS in practice can seem remarkably simple, which in its essence is interesting as the science behind it and how works is remarkably complex. To begin to understand the complexity first we need to look at the neurological organisation of the nervous system. This is where it begins to get a little more complicated, so stick with it.
Neurological Organisation of the Nervous System
The separation of the body systems (e.g the digestive system or cardiovascular system), from one another in a functional capacity is not really possible since they are all intertwined and work seamlessly with the peripheral and central nervous system. The nervous system will respond differently under different mental and emotional states as its function will be relayed via the limbic system of the brain in heightened states resulting in an augmented outcome or function than when under less stressful conditions. It is well known the body reacts differently under stress, and this is one of the reasons.
Segmental anatomy provides some insight into the organisation of the peripheral nervous system as the myotome (muscle), dermatome (skin), sclerotome (ligament and periosteum) and enterotome (organ) all network with one another in the (dorsal horn of the) spinal cord. As the (afferent) signals overlap with one another there can be a projection of symptoms from one body system to another. Science is still trying to fully understand this but this is a hypothesis for the reciprocal functional relationships (one body part affecting another) and the somato-visceral relationships that are observed in the body, and recognised under Traditional Chinese Medicine for example.
For example, when the function of an organ is disturbed, there is always also a disruption in an associated muscle group, consistent for each organ of the body. This muscular inhibition can lead to disruption of structural integrity, and so structural symptoms can develop. Reverse this, and it seems possible that if the function of an organ is improved, so reciprocal muscle inhibition can be improved and ‘physical’ musculoskeletal symptoms can improve. This is observed in NIS.
In addition to the central nervous system (CNS), the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is also governing function (under the direction of the CNS). Cross-segmental nerves such as the phrenic nerve (that originates from the 3rd, 4th and 5th cervical spinal level), and the spinal accessory nerve (the eleventh cranial nerve) have function that relates to both autonomic and motor function related to movement and are networked seamlessly within the nervous system as a whole.
This is why typically a local assessment of symptoms can often be inadequate as it fails to recognise this extensive interrelationship between different facets of the nervous system and all it governs making it difficult to determine the appropriate ‘treatment’ needed when things begin to break down. NIS recognises these relationships in both the investigation and the treatment meaning all regulatory processes are considered independently of the symptoms as they are presented.
The science of communications and automatic control systems in both machines and living things.
The nervous system coordinates conscious and unconscious perception and processes sensory signals from both externally i.e. the environment and internally i.e. from within the body. The nervous system is responsible for allowing the body to adapt to the external environment while attempting to maintain homeostasis (balance within parameters) within the body. This is the fundamental objective of all body function and how well an individual can do this will largely determine how healthy they are.
When stresses or stressors move our body away from the capability of maintaining homeostasis, an erroneous signal-processing pattern will be determined that can lead to symptoms developing. Stress can come in many guises and will typically fall under one of the four platforms:
1. Physical stress – e.g. physical exertion or injury.
2. Immunological stress – e.g. getting ‘sick’ or unwell.
3. Chemical stress – e.g. allergy or intolerance to something.
4. Emotional stress – e.g. ‘stress’ as it is commonly known.
These stresses can disturb normal regulation putting the body in a ‘stress response’ mode, under which many body functions may be substandard, from athletic ability to digestion. Under this ‘stress’, cell metabolism and regeneration can become disturbed and can lead to the development of symptoms of any kind.
Biological control circuits consist of sensors that receive information from processors that process the information in a programmed manner and of ‘effectors’ i.e. systems that produce a reaction. Basic principles in the control of feedback systems are the balance of the ‘current’ state (the value) and the ‘desired’ state (the target value), as well as compliance with the tolerance limits within which the feedback system works.
The aim of the adaptation of any system is to recognise the current state and signal movement towards the desired state under any different condition or circumstance.
The information from the environment is fundamentally recognised by the brain and CNS via receptors of the peripheral nervous system. Feedback typically reaches the brain through the ANS, through various chemical and mechanical receptors located throughout the body including the perineural system. These systems form the sensory part of the regulation continually feeding back to the brain, which is the processor. The brain receives this sensory data stream at about 1 billion bits per second in the form of electrical signals. There are two considerations:
1. The quality of the signal reaching the brain is important. If the signal is disturbed due to inflammation of a nerve for example the brain cannot calculate a meaningful response.
2. The signal needs be evaluated in terms of the function it governs ‘what does the signal mean’, be it related to digestion, respiration, or blood pressure feedback for example.
Once a signal of appropriate quality has reached the brain and been correctly interpreted, control signals are generated in response to this feedback. Signals are then sent to one or more target organs or tissues to control all body functions from blood pressure and body temperature to muscle strength, and also to areas that control emotions and behaviours.
Cybernetics & NIS
Behind every symptom or disorder there’s always faulty signal processing or an adverse programming of the nervous system.
As in any technical loop, security systems are installed in biological control circuits. In NIS, it is assumed that when the tolerance limit of a circuit is exceeded, e.g. by physical trauma or significant emotional stress, the function of that system - in terms of it’s ability to optimally regulate, protect body function and regenerate - becomes compromised. When this occurs, a symptom pattern will typically be the outcome as mentioned earlier.
The NIS approach is to determine which of these circuits have exceeded their tolerance levels in order to allow the brain to re-interpret the appropriate signal and restore optimal function consequently.