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Retained Primitive Reflexes

Retained primitive reflexes can have a substantial impact on social and educational development. Inability to concentrate, difficulties with reading and writing, problems with hand/eye coordination, poor balance, outbursts of anger, hyperactivity, low self-esteem, difficulty with peer relationships and difficulties fitting in can all be signs of retained primitive reflexes.  Others include being overly fearful and general feelings of anxiety.  

Retained primitive reflexes can affect both children and adults, and can make life difficult and challenging. A series of gentle exercises can help to improve or eradicate symptoms.

What are primitive reflexes?

Primitive reflexes are involuntary reflexes that we are born with that help us with survival in first few months of life.

They are an immediate and involuntary response evoked by a given stimulus.  For example a loud noise causes a baby to throw its head back and arms back with its hand open (Startle/Moro Reflex). When touching an infant’s palm with your finger the infant will automatically curl its fingers around yours (Palmar Reflex).

All the reflexes are checked by doctors at birth and during regular check ups as a sign of natural, healthy development.

The primitive reflexes are integrated (or absorbed) into body between several months and two or three years after birth, depending on the reflex. They are replaced by higher level reflexes that are conscious voluntary movements

What happens when they are retained?

Problems can occur if the primitive reflexes are not integrated and are what is termed as ‘retained’. When retained they can cause the person to remain in the primitive reflex state, stuck in the patterns of infancy.

To take the analogies used earlier.  When the Startle/Moro Reflex (that causes the baby to throw its head and arms back at a loud noise) is retained that person may experience problems with sensory overload or have low tolerance to stress. When the Palmar Reflex (that causes the baby’s fingers to curl at a touch to their palm) is retained that person may have problems with manual dexterity, for example have difficulties with handwriting or holding a knife and fork.

Why are primitive reflexes retained?

The reason primitive reflexes are retained is usually due to the nature of the birth. For example:

  • A difficult  or traumatic birth
  • C-Section birth
  • Very quick birth
  • Premature / low weight birth

What is interesting is that primitive reflexes are integrated, they never completely disappear, so can in some cases re-emerge:

  • With aging (reported in some cases of Altzeimer's)
  • Following head injury
  • Disease

What can be done about primitive reflexes?

The good news is that symptoms can be reduced or eliminated through a series of simple exercises. Kinesiology muscle response testing is an ideal medium to assess which, if any, primitive reflexes might be impeding a person. Following assessment, a series of exercises will be recommended that can help to integrate the relevant primitive reflex/es.

 The chart below can help to assess whether retained primitive reflexes might be relevant for you or someone close to you.

Primitive Reflexes - types  signs of retentionpng
Photo by Sofia Garza from Pexels 

World Health Day: Importance of Gut Health in Chronic Conditions

I am sharing this article for World Health Day (7th April) in the hope that it will help many people suffering from chronic health problems. Chronic is the term used to describe long term health conditions.

If you are suffering from a long term condition, or think that pain and discomfort is an inevitable part of the ageing process and something you ‘have to live with’, then please read on.

Whilst many chronic conditions are not life threatening, they can have a huge impact on our quality of life and wellbeing. By the very nature of being constantly there, there is no reprieve from them. People learn to live with them but feel worn down by them. When you are living with a chronic condition it’s all too easy to forget what it’s like to feel well, let alone to feel vitality alive.

In my kinesiology practice the majority of people I see present with chronic conditions. The most common ones include digestive issues, IBS, migraines, skin conditions, joint pain and back pain. In many cases I have found that the key to restoring health is to focus on improving gut health.

Recent science recognises the gut as ‘the second brain’, which connects with all systems in the body - including the nervous system, the immune system, the cardiovascular system and even the skin – and that any changes in the balance of the trillions of bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal tract can adversely affect those systems.

So how can those trillions of gut bacteria, or ‘microbiome' as it is collectively known, be put out of balance?

Researchers at University College London (UCL) recently found that just one prescription of antibiotics can change the composition of the microbiome (click for more information). Antibiotics are undoubtedly necessary at times but can have side effects. When I question clients about when their health condition first started it can often be traced back to a course of antibiotics.

Symptoms typical of gut dysbiosis (imbalance) include, although are not limited to:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • IBS
  • Upset stomach
  • Bad breath
  • Vaginal or anal itching
  • Difficulty urinating
Probiotics are all the rage and can be found everywhere, including supermarkets. However, for me this standard ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not targeted enough and may potentially contribute to putting the existing gut bacteria even more out of balance by overpopulating with strains that are already present.

I prefer a more targeted approach and work with a range of 23 different product strains of bacteria to identify a combination that is tailor made for each individual. If you suspect you have gut dysbiosis I would recommend seeking someone who takes a similar approach.

Parasites (or intestinal worms) can be a taboo subject, but they are incredibly common! They can be picked up from a variety of sources, including pets, undercooked meat and from veg/salad that is not washed sufficiently.

Common symptoms of parasites include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Wind/bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss or never feeling really full
  • Waking up a lot in the night
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Mucus in stools
  • Grinding teeth in sleep
  • Diagnosis of iron deficiency
Parasites can be easily treated using over the counter medication. However, if you would like to check you have them before treating them then you can visit your doctor or a kinesiologist.

Leaky Gut
Leaky Gut is a condition in which the intestinal lining becomes more permeable than normal, allowing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to enter the blood stream. These are recognised as foreign by the immune system which triggers antibodies, causing inflammatory and allergic reactions.

Symptoms of leaky gut are not dissimilar to parasites and include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Arthritic type joint pains
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Irritability
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Sensitivity to many foods (when you sort the leaky gut, the sensitivity often disappears)
A leaky gut can affect the body’s ability to produce the enzymes needed for proper digestion, so the body may struggle to absorb essential nutrients, which can lead to a weakened immune system and subsequent health issues.

Leaky gut can be resolved through diet (there is much information online). In addition it can be supported and healed by targeted formulas/nutritional supplementation. Kinesiology can help to identify which ones will do the best job for you as an individual.

As you can see there are a dizzying range of unpleasant symptoms caused by imbalances in the gut microbiome. I have been humbled by how resolving many of these issues and gut health has helped to restore the health of so many of my clients. I very much hope this article will help other people.

Kinesiology recognises that we are all unique and have our own unique genetic make up. Its focus on the individual, rather than the disease/condition itself, can be highly beneficial in helping to manage many chronic conditions.

If you would like to find out more about kinesiology or would like to find a kinesiologist in the UK please visit the website of The Association of Systematic Kinesiology.

Image courtesy of