The lower part of the brain, called the brainstem, is a like computer, controlling the most basic aspects of survival, from breathing and heart rate, hunger and satiety, to fight or flight and reproduction. This computer-like function within the brainstem is called the autonomic system (ANS). The ANS together with the limbic system act in concert to regulate our most basic survival functions and behaviors. Both require thiamine to function. Fragmented Fight or Flight
... The brainstem autonomic system together with the limbic system enable us to adapt to our environment, presiding over a number of reflexes that allow us to survive. For example, fight-or-flight is a survival reflex, triggered by perception of a dangerous incident that helps us to kill the enemy or escape. This kind of “stress event” in our ancestors was different from that we experience today. Wild animal predators have been replaced by taxes/business deadlines/rush hour traffic etc. These are the sources of modern stress. The beneficial effect is that the entire brain/body is geared to physical and mental response. However, it is designed for short term action and consumes energy rapidly. Prolonged action is literally exhausting and results in the sensation of fatigue. In the world of today where dietary mayhem is widespread, this is commonly represented as Panic Attacks, usually treated as psychological. They are really fragmented fight-or-flight reflexes that are triggered too easily because of abnormal brain chemistry.
Thiamine Deficiency Appetite and Eating Disorders
Using beriberi as a model, let us take appetite as an example of one of its many symptoms. When we put food into the stomach, it automatically sends a signal to a “satiety center” in the computer. As we fill the stomach, the signals crescendo and the satiety center ultimately tells us that we have eaten enough. Thiamine deficiency affects the satiety center, wrecking its normal action. Paradoxically it can cause anorexia (loss of appetite) or the very opposite, a voracious appetite that is never satisfied and may even go on to vomiting. It can also shift from anorexia to being voracious at different times within a given patient. That is why Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia represent one disease, not two.
Thiamine Deficiency, Heart Rate and Breathing
The autonomic nervous system, responsible for fight or flight, regulates heart activity, accelerating or decelerating according to need. So heart palpitations are common in thiamine deficiency. Its most vital action is in control of automatic breathing and thiamine deficiency has long been known to cause infancy sudden death from failure of this center in brainstem.
Thiamine Deficiency and Sympathetic – Parasympathetic Regulation
The hypothalamus is in the center of the brain computer and it presides over the ANS, as well as the endocrine (hormone) system. The ANS has two channels of communication known as sympathetic (governs action) and parasympathetic (governs the body mechanisms that can be performed when we are in a safe environment: e.g. bowel activity, sleep, etc.). When the ANS system is damaged, sometimes by genetic influence, but more commonly by poor diet (fuel), our adaptive ability is impaired. A marginal energy situation might become full blown by a stress factor. In this light, we can view vaccines and medications as stress factors. From false signal interpretation, we may feel cold in a warm environment, exhibiting “goose bumps on the skin”, or we may feel hot in a cold environment and experience profuse sweating. The overriding fatigue is an exhibition of cellular energy failure in brain perception.