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Neurons Get Help From Their Friends

Neurons use most of the energy produced in the brain. Yet, they don’t store enough energy to meet their constantly fluctuating needs. To do so they get help from their cell partners, called macroglia.

There are two kinds of macroglia: astrocytes and oligodendrocytes.

Astrocytes have many vital functions, like: forming an interconnected network throughout the brain; regulating synapse signaling; controlling blood flow; balancing biochemical levels; maintaining energy reserves for neurons; and supplying neurons with energy. Current research shows that astrocytes supply neurons with almost all of the energy neurons need to function.

Oligodendrocytes insulate axons, which is crucial for organized and fast neuron signaling. Recent research suggests that oligodendrocytes transport energy into axons. An axon is a slender projection of a neuron through which impulses are conducted.

Astrocytes and oligodendrocytes transform glucose or ketones, which are primary brain energy sources, into a substance neurons use to produce energy, which is called “”lactate”. This lactate is stored in both astrocytes and oligodendrocytes and transported to neurons as needed.

The work of the neuron is monitored moment by moment by both astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. When a neuron requires more energy, such as during times of conducting impulses, it needs help immediately to meet its energy needs.

For example, a neuron is constantly receiving energy in the form of lactate from astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. The neuron also takes in a little glucose or ketones from the extracellular fluid (the fluid outside of cells). The glucose, ketones and lactate are transformed within the neuron into an energy-bearing molecule called “ATP”. ATP is then used by the neuron to do its work.

When the neuron conducts impulses (signals) it needs more ATP immediately. Both astrocytes and oligodendrocytes will recognize this need and transport more lactate into the neuron and its axon. This lactate is quickly converted into ATP and used by the neuron to signal, or prepare to signal again.

If energy demands of neurons are not met moment-by-moment then neurons cannot do their work efficiently, fast enough, completely, or at all. This can lead to a wide range of brain difficulties, such as: epilepsy, decreased memory, hyperactivity, dizziness, or even neuron death.

CranioSacral Therapy helps the brain process energy by lessening strain of the connective tissue container of the brain. This container is connected directly to astrocytes, and indirectly to oligodendrocytes. As stressful patterns are decreased in the brain container a corrective stimulus is transferred to astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. This can improve the way they process, store and transfer energy to neurons. In turn the energy needs of neurons is optimized and the brain as a whole can function most effectively.