Why Don’t My Antidepressants Work?

Mood Disorders Are Common… but whats the Root Cause?

Anxiety and depression are crippling problems for the American healthcare system because of the sheer number of people who suffer from these conditions. 30 million combined people have been diagnosed with some sort of variant of anxiety or depression. This is staggering considering the inefficiency of the mental health system, which is not prepared to handle that many diagnoses. So perhaps rather than focus on how to temporarily treat these mental disorders with medications, we should focus on why these diagnoses are sky rocketing? Why are so many of us anxious for no reason at all? Why do many of us feel as though we have lost the joy of life? Moreover, why do so many of us complain that the prescription medications don’t work or bring us back to feeling like ourselves?

Anxiety and depression are usually multifactorial,  meaning they have many causes. What baffles many is that their prescription medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) fail to bring them back to baseline and leave them feeling numb. The secret is that the problem is often not a neurotransmitter imbalance, but an INFLAMMATION PROBLEM. That being said, gut inflammation leads to brain inflammation. Nutritional imbalances can lead to brain inflammation. In fact, any systemic inflammation can lead to brain inflammation. Adults with bipolar disorder are commonly seen swinging from one emotional extreme to the next. This is due to transient inflammation within neuroendocrine immune cells in the brain rather than severely fluctuating neurotransmitters as previously thought. (1)

A study published last year showed that microglial cells, your nervous system’s immune cells) have rampant inflammation in disorders like schizophrenia and depression. No wonder drugs like Prozac or Lexapro, used in depression, only partially work for so many patients.

Its often hard to pinpoint without a personalized consult, but here are my top tips for getting to the root cause of your mood disorder. I want to stress that you do not have to live like this! Please never stop your medication without consulting your doctor first

A diet poor in fruits, veggies, healthy fats and clean protein-if this is you, be prepared to change your diet!

There was a time not too long ago where I did not value the benefit of a holistic lifestyle. I ate convenience food, which included diet soft drinks, microwavable dinners and boxed foods. I took birth control pills that affected the action of my natural hormones. I drank tap water, which often contains endocrine disrupting chemicals. I stayed up late when I had to get up early and drank wine. Then felt exhausted in the mornings but kept pushing my adrenals with a few cups of coffee. I was REALLY stressed out and pretty unhappy with my tedious career choice. Everything in my life was promoting inflammation. What ended up happening was that all of this compounded and lead to severe free-floating anxiety. It made me irritable and reactive. However, during that time, I was unaware of the fact that the cheese I loved may be contributing to my brain fog. And I’m sure there are many of us that have not made this connection. Mood disorders don’t affect everyone-some people chronically living the preformentioned lifestyle may end up with an autoimmune condition or cancer, but my genes predisposed me to mood disorders.

Our guts are connected to our brains via the housekeeping and calming nerve in our body, known as the vagus nerve. Indulging in a bag of chips that contain preservatives and fillers feed pathogenic bacteria in the gut that then send signals up this nerve to the brain. These bacteria have been proven to shape our moods, cravings and overall immunity. If we are helping to promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut, then our thoughts and focus will be affected as well.(1)

The majority of our serotonin, melatonin and immune cells are housed in the gut. This means that if we are not feeding harmonious bacteria, then our happiness, sleep and ability to fight infections will all be impaired. Inflammation of the gut leads to irritation of the microglial, or immune cells of the brain and disruption in neuro immune signaling is indicated in recent studies to play a large role in many mood conditions.

Aim to eat organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains like quinoa or brown rice and clean meats (if you eat them). This means free range, grass fed, no antibiotics or hormones. I can’t express how many of my patients resolve their lingering mood disorders by changing their diet alone.

Exercising-whatever calls to you-this is a great stress reliever and can release “happy” neurotransmitters

We all know exercise is good for us, but sometimes I don’t think everyone realizes just how good. When we build up a sweat, your body recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your blood pressure increases and your respirations uptick, your brain releases a protein called BDNF, or brain derived neurotropic factor, to protect you from the stress. This protein is protective and can even repair neurons and act as a reset switch. Not only that, but your brain also releases endorphins, or feel-good hormones, when exercising. The purpose of this is to lessen the discomfort associated with exercise. It can acutally become addictive, but the good news is that for the most part, it is a healthy addiction. This is why we feel so calm and focused after exercise. Daily exercise can prove to be REAL medicine for a mood disorder.

Herbs and Minerals That Help the Happiness Factor 

Due to diet and lifestyle, many of us are drained, nutritionally deprived and stressed to the max. Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed the power of herbs and minerals on one’s mental state. Many conventional medicines, especially for anxiety, are habit forming and have risks like withdrawal seizures if not weaned off properly. Thats why I always try to supplement naturally before trying other avenues (I’m partial to my own Stress Master that contains many of the herbs listed below).

 

Fave herbs/Minerals/Compounds for Anxiety:

Ashwagandha

Holy basil or Tulsi

Rhodiola Rosea

Chamomile

Passionflower

CBD, cannabinoids, the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant

Skullcap

Magnesium (magnesium glycinate is the most absorbable)

L-theanine

Gotu Kola

Beta Glucans

 

Fave herbs/Minerals/Compounds for Depression: 

SAM-e

St Johns Wort

5-HTP

Ginseng

Vitamin D

Curcumin/Turmeric

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Probiotics

Low dose naltrexone is also useful for depression and autoimmune disorders. Please be sure to consult your trusted healthcare professional before trying to self diagnose or cure.

Genetic Testing

This is an avenue that I encourage many patients to follow. Rather than simply offer herbs or medications by trial and error, genetic testing for mutations can provide the missing links or keys in mental health.

One of my favorite genetic tests is the SNP test by Great Plains lab (it however requires a prescription). If you’re looking for something you can order easily, then 23 and me is a good choice. It tests multiple genes and scans for mutatations throughout the genome. It can tell you if youre at risk for Alzheimers or prone to panic attacks. The OAT (organic acid test), also by Great Plains lab, is excellent as it measures neurotransmitter by-products in the urine. This tells us what neurotransmitters have too much or too little activity and can target specific therapy for the patient. If you have tried everything else, then this is definitely something you don’t want to exclude.

Heres the skinny on the best SNPs/mutations to look out for on tests.

  1. Stat4-normally codes for proteins that activate TH1 immunity but a mutation here codes for an aggressive inflammation response instead
  2. TNF (tumor necrosis factor)-cytokine or cell communicator that codes for T and B cell activation. A mutation means T cell overactivation that leads to mood disorders through brain inflammation.
  3. CTLA4-cytotoxic T lymphocyte associated protein-4-downregulates the immune system when needed. A mutation means that you have chronic inflammation as the immune system is too overactive.
  4. MTHFR-40% of the population has a mutation in one or both of these genes. These patients cannot methylate or activate B vitamins and methylation is used in thousands of processes in our bodies. This causes a propensity towards depression and anxiety.
  5. COMT or MAO mutations-this means that the enzyme that breaks down certain neurotransmitters is slow, so there are higher levels of adrenaline throughout the body that these patients are not able to rid themselves of. This can lead to severe anxiety and behavioral issues.

Lifestyle Changes and Lab Checks

Tempering your exposure to EMF from computers and cell phones can help moods as well. Have you ever looked at the informational insert that comes with cell phones? They directly warn about the dangers of continuous EMF and low level radiation. On May 21, 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a committee of 27 scientists from 14 different countries working on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO), concluded that exposure to cell phone radiation is a “possible carcinogen” and classified it into the 2B category. This is the same category as the pesticide DDT, burning coal and dry cleaning chemicals, just to name a few. Be sure to put blue screens from computers and phones away at night. Practice good sleep hygiene.

If you still cannot sleep and are suffering from racing thoughts and mood swings, ask your healthcare provider to check your sex hormones (refer to my blog on hormones), your salivary cortisol levels to screen for adrenal fatigue and your vitamin D levels. These are crucial labs when dealing with mood disorders.

On top of diet and exercise changes, incorporating these lifestyle changes and checking on lab values can help to treat chronic depression and anxiety.

Addressing Emotional and Spiritual Wounds

Stress and trauma are inherently tied into our wellbeing. If you were abused or mistreated as a child and have not thoroughly processed the truama, it can reveal itself through disease or mood disorders. Autoimmune disorders nearly always have a traumatic event that proceeded the onset of the symptoms. Heart attacks can even occur due to a severe heartbreak, like the death of a loved one. Many mood disorders have root in trauma, emotional wounds, childhood abuse and unprocessed emotions. Be sure to let yourself grieve, mourn and cry over these events if this sounds like you. Even journaling can help with releasing suppressed emotions and pains.

Final Word

Treating mood disorders takes a multilevel approach. Don’t give up just because one thing didnt work for you. You can take control of your life by taking action in areas that need TLC, but be honest and ask for help when you need it. You are becoming your own best doctor!

Dr Jess

 

REFERENCES:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4701682/
  2. http://neuroscienceresearch.wustl.edu/userfiles/file/Gut_brain%20axis%20How%20the%20microbiome%20influences%20anxiety%20and%20depression_Tran%20%20%20.pdf
  3. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/06/18/finally-experts-admit-cellphones-are-a-carcinogen.aspx

 

 

Six STELLAR and SNEAKY Ways You Can Educate Your Family to Pursue A Holistic Lifestyle

I’ll never forget when my mom bought all natural deodorant for the first time from the local wellness store. She presented it to me proudly, grinning ear to ear like a little girl. “It contains NO aluminum and parabens,” she touted. It was in that moment that I thought-FINALLY. I had spent weeks lecturing to she and my dad about the importance of ditching the antiperspirant for a safer alternative. She had watched wide eyed in slight fear as I explained that the we are rubbing questionable preservatives and aluminum right into our armpits where many women just freshly shaved, providing easy access to the bloodstream. She winced as I reminded them that’s right where some of our lymph nodes are, whose job is to carry and dispose lymph throughout the body. So many of us don’t realize that suppressing sweat is suppressing your body’s ability to detox itself! But this exercise in parental education actually ended up teaching ME. Let me explain why.

You see this was not my first “lets wake the folks up” rodeo. In years past, I had gone about all of it the wrong way. As I learned about herbs, holistic healing and (especially) corruption in medicine, I began to openly share with them and the rest of my family. But sometimes….ok actually A LOT…my delivery was all wrong. I used to “preach” at them. I would provide SO much overwhelming information and statistics about the scary side of the health world that it was counterproductive. My point was to show them why the system is broken and must evolve. It was easy for me to spit out health facts and basic science gems because of my background. But no one likes preaching and reprimanding. No one likes to focus on the negative. No one really enjoys being told they are inadvertently harming their bodies.

Unfortunately, it seems to be quite easy to get frustrated with the older generation who can be set in their ways and not willing to give up their unhealthy lifestyles. And don’t get me wrong-I don’t mean to single out the baby boomers only. Of course there are people of all age ranges who obsessively eat McDonald’s, indulge in tobacco and don’t fully understand that food is medicine. However, in my experience, the older generation grew up in an era when tobacco was promoted by doctors, Monsanto food was everywhere beginning in the 1980’s, and fast food restaurants were a nice convenience when both parents began working. Society spent a DAMN long time brainwashing them to believe that all of these vices were healthy and acceptable. So always keep that in mind before you get frustrated with them! Some of them are here to teach us how to temper our words and control our tongues!

The key is to know your audience. What do they enjoy? Talking, cooking, debating, movie watching or reading? So without further ado, here are my best ways to sneakily and stellarly encourage those you love to look at health from a whole new perspective.

  1. Watch Documentaries that Incite Radical Change

Ok so this is probably the easiest way since all the info is presented nicely and most of us don’t have to do a lot of work. There are so many wonderful, enlightening choices that are packed full of lifesaving information. The difficult part is getting your parents/siblings/friends to sit down and actually watch. If they generally like educational documentaries, then you might be in luck. However I wouldn’t push the topic too much if this is not their cup of tea. Remember that anytime you force a subject, you are often not winning the case. Being overbearing causes others to stop listening to our message. Be kind in your journey. My top documentaries (if they are willing to watch) are:

  • The Truth About Cancer (found on youtube)

  • Food Inc
  • GMO OMG
  • Forks over Knifes
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
  • The Human Experience
  • Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare

If food documentaries aren’t there thing or you intuitively know they aren’t quite ready to watch, maybe try an enlightening film instead.  Two of my favorite, feel-good-movies are I Am and Happy. Sometimes you have to sit back and wait until they approach you, but you may be able to crack them open with a film about

   2. Cook For Them (everyone likes mad kitchen skills) or Take Them Shopping with You

I’m not exaggerating one bit when I say that most people don’t know how good a plant based, healthy meal full of vibrant herbs and colors is. It wasn’t until I went to India in early 2015 that I realized how many foods we do not enjoy much in the USA! Eggplant, tempeh, buckwheat, barley, turmeric, yucca, greens, flavorful herbs and spices filled each plate that I was served DAILY. Unfortunately many of us think a diet Coke, pasteurized fruit juice or a sandwich with cheese and brominated bread is healthy. Sometimes its not about what we are eating and more about what nutrients we are NOT eating. Nutritional deficiencies account for an alarming number of chronic diseases. So you can make a huge dent in your family’s understanding of what IS healthy by cooking it for them! Of course, this does make you a bit vulnerable since there’s no guarantee that they’ll like it. But don’t give up and definitely don’t take offense. There is actually studies demonstrating that it is the colonies of bacteria in our guts that determine our palette. This is why if people can stick to a diet, over time their tastes change and they don’t crave sugar anymore. The bacteria that were in the gut, thriving off of the sweet stuff, have been eradicated since they were starved of their substrate of choice!

Even going on a couple of grocery trips can be super eye opening for people. Sometimes they aren’t sure what to eat so you have the opportunity to be a wealth of information if they are open to it.

Don’t forget to leave some recipes lying around for your folks! HINT: This means you have to keep yourself in check, know how to cook, and have done at least some of your research. Don’t worry! If you don’t like cooking, then there are plenty of other ways to sway your folks….

 3. Educate Them (Science yo)

I think most of us grew up eating Fruit Rollups, Pizza bites, Cocoa Puffs and Gushers, didn’t we? I am a firmly believer that many of us would do better, if we only knew better (ok not everyone, but I know a lot of people who would!) We are all doing the best we can from our consciousness level. This route is great for the cerebral parental unit or friend. Some people are hardwired to only believe black and white scientific studies. And I’m not knocking it-these stuides are absolutely needed to rigourously and objectively test our hypotheses! But these left brained minds also need to be shown the evidence of money controlling the publications behind closed doors. They need to be guided to see some of these ties between biotech firms like Monsanto and the federal goverment. (Think of examples like Michael Taylor-who served as VP of the biotech firm, Monsanto and then also worked for the FDA).

It is also useful to dig up studies which link gut bacteria to mood, cravings and immunity. I know there’s no way my grandparents knew that 85% of your immune cells reside in the GALT, gastrointestinal associated lymphatic tissue that line the intestinal tract. That means that whatever we decide to ingest is in intimate contact with our soldier protector cells. Heavy metals, allergens like MSG or aspartame and diets lacking in basic vitamins/minerals can eventually affect our genes and defense systems. Vitamins like D or C and other trace minerals like magnesium, folate or zinc are used in countless reactions in our bodies. They help to make the very building blocks of our cells. If someone you love is eating a diet lacking these nutrients, they need to understand that the body cannot function in good standing for long like that. Based on the genetic makeup, some people with this lifestyle will come down with a physical ailment while others will suffer mentally, which brings me to my next point.

90% of our serotonin receptors are located in the gut. What this means is that the food we choose will feed beneficial gut bacteria or pathogenic gut bacteria. When we choose boxed, prepared food, dead food, or food our ancestors would not recognize, then we help to feed bacterial colonies that release toxic byproducts or biofilm into our bodies that contributes to brain fog, lethargy, obesity, depression, and anxiety. Many patients have reversed their anxiety with dietary changes. If you have a loved one who needs to see some cold hard studies before they even consider skipping the Oreos, then reference some of my fave studies below.

4. Talk About Their Emotional Issues Surrounding Food

This is an interesting concept but it does work by revealing hidden thought patterns that may have been blindly accepted, but not properly evaluated. I think we can all agree that when people are addicted to alcohol, tobacco or are morbidly obese, they are usually self medicating due to an emotional wound or trauma. It is rarely JUST about the food or the drug of choice. Have you ever sat down and asked your parents how food was “used” in their household? Some patients use food to soothe them as they did not recieve the love they needed at home. Unfortunatley, I have seen women who were sexually abused overeat as a defense mechanism so they will not be attractive to men. Others were rewarded with food, so eating brings about feelings of pleasure beyond what is sometimes healthy. My mother distinctly remembers feeling less loved than her brother, the only boy, because he would get special treatment by being rewardedd with ice cream in the evenings while all the girls sat and watched.

I think its always good practice to hear another’s story as this brings mutual understanding. Once you hear the societal programming that most of us have received over our lives on top of food and family dynamics, you may understand where your dad, who comes home from work and self soothes with a greasy burger and beer, is coming from.

Most of us wouldn’t believe the HUGE impact that just talking about our emotional wounds can have. If you believe your parents or grandparents may have an emotional blockage driving mindless or unhealthy habits, then just getting them to talk about it can crack them wide open. Act interested in their story. We all have one. Question their beliefs surrounding that story. Sometimes the limitatons or stories we tell ourselves are FALSE and all we need is someone to question those beliefs before we see that they are a fallacy. We often subconsciously lie to ourselves so we don’t have to change. Just having a conversation can make others become more aware of their emotional baggage that needs healing. Remain supportive and don’t judge. Your role here is to stay curious and loving AF. Great things rarely happen overnight!

   5. Provide Examples of Success Stories 

I’ll never forget the pushback I got from friends and medical professionals when I launched my first product, which happened to be a gut bacteria and parasite cleanse. They chuckled in disbelief…”parasites are a problem for third world countries, but not here in the United States.” It was not until my patients began to bring in pictures of disspelled worms or stories of complete health 180’s that they began to question our standard medical trainings. Some still refused to believe the evidence, but the overwhelming majority were shocked. Remember that occasionally, even when presented with the truth, people will refuse to acknowledge its presence. Oftentimes this happens when they cling tightly or feel secure in their belief systems. The cognitive dissonance and potential reality that their whole lives have been lived in misalignment can be too much to bear. Plus old habits die hard!

Be patient with whoever you speak with because everyone is right where they are supposed to be, even if you don’t want to believe they are. Give examples like the success stories in Gerson therapy, that uses juicing, coffee enemas and herbs to help treat cancer. Give examples of how autism, cancer, and autoimmune disorders have risen in frequency since the industrial revolution. In fact, one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes! This is not just genetics. To elaborate on this, explain epigenetics to them. Lovingly discuss how environmental toxins, triggers and pollutants can lead to genetic changes that then present as physical diseases. Takosubo cardiomyopathy is a documented heart attack often leading to heart failure that is caused by stress!

    6. Be The Change You Want to See (with a dose of humility and patience)

I can’t stress this enough. If you are going to be leading the way for the older generation, friends, family, or the younger generation (basically anyone), then you must be walking the walk. Your dad probably isn’t going to listen to you about holistic healing if you’re out getting drunk every night that you don’t have to work. Your overweight aunt won’t be too keen on your ideas if she sees you cheating more than maintaining a clean diet. Your brother might not believe you if you’re sick all the time but preaching about how diet can improve immunity.

If you have parents that are stubborn as mules or grandparents resistant to change, then you may have tried different versions of what I listed above to no avail. So what can be done? Well obvi you can’t change anyone who is not ready. And with veganism, plant based diets and holistic health booming, then this information will soon be everywhere. We all come to it on our own time and when we are exactly supposed to. Sometimes we can feel pressurized to “save” our families, but what I have found are these lessons are often for the person who continues to press the issue, not the one who isn’t listening to the lesson. In this situation, it is best to continue to live your lifestyle to the best of your ability and to show them the changes in your own health, body, and mind. The inspiration bug is quite effective!

Last but not least, if those in your life don’t change despite the evidence, it is really an issue of self love and this is deeply personal. Perhaps it is in their life plan to do it their way and accept the knowledge when the time is right for them. My dad has asked me multiple times to “just love him and accept hime the way he is.” Dont get me wrong-both my parents eat super clean and don’t take prescription meds, but when it comes to other governmental policies…well, thats another story. Hey its baby steps!

Balance is key when dealing with our families and close friends. Emotions can run high and we all want the best for those we love. Sometimes the best thing we can do is give love where its accepted and trust that the universe will teach what needs to be taught, on its own magical time frame of course.

 

 

The Importance of Bioindividuality of Diet + The One Promising Diet For Brain Health

THE IMPORTANCE BIOINDIVIDUALITY OF DIET

Most of you know by now that I’m a doctor that really loves to encourage the plant based lifestyle. I follow it myself and am trained as a Gerson therapy practitioner. I always encourage whole foods and organic choices. Following a clean, plant based or even vegan diet may be right for MANY people. It is a great way to prevent disease while you are young or on your journey to health, but that does not mean it is right for every single person. What if I told you that some people get vitamin deficiencies on a vegan diet? Or that some people have to cut out meat to improve their constipation? Everyone is different. Because we all have a different genetic makeup with unique genetic codings or mutations, then certain foods, nutrients and even medications are absorbed at varying rates, in different ways or not at all. It is not plausible that one diet can be suitable for everyone on the planet.

For example, even the Gerson Institute acknowledges that liver capsules or bone marrow/broth is needed for parasympathetic dominant conditions such as lymphoma or leukemia.  They will often add kefir, organic yogurt, hemp, chia, or bone broth to the Gerson diet, especially in someone who needs to add weight. Often, in the elderly or cachetic (those wasting away due to disease), you must urgently rescue them in order to reverse their disease. This may mean incorporating a diet high in protein and often patients cannot do this with plants alone-even under the supervision of Gerson. People with adrenal fatigue, sympathetic driven, or type A may be prone to constipation. If this is the case, they should not be consuming meat for the most part. Other people are sensitive to gluten or even fiber and still others excel as a vegetarian or vegan. My point is that I believe in bioindividuality of diet. Did you know that there is a diet that has been scientifically shown to drastically improve certain conditions that affect the brain?

WHAT IS THE KETOGENIC DIET?

YES. This diet is the Ketogenic diet. And wait–don’t jump the gun on me here-its not your typical Atkins bacon indulgence fest. The ketogenic diet is being taught to everyone from children with epilepsy and autism to patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease, brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, Parkinsons and other mitochondrial disorders. Epilepsy affects some 2.3 million adults in America and close to half a million children. Further, about one in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point in their lives.

The strict diet consists of about 90% fat and 7% protein and 3% glycemic carbohydrate ratio. Note that veggies other than potatoes are considered non glycemic carbohydrates and are therefore allowed. A more lax version of the diet is 80% fat, 15% protein, and 5% carbohydrate; the ratio of fat to carbohydrate plus protein ranges from 2:1 to 4:1. Higher ratios are more restrictive but also more effective!

No one is quite sure how the diet works so well for epilepsy. However, multiple anecdotal events and even studies have shown that when it is quite beneficial for children who have been resistant to standard anti seizure medications.  One theory in the ketogenic diet’s success is the state of ketosis is produces and how this affects the brain. It is thought that hyperpolarization of neurons occurs, stabilizing synaptic function and increasing resistance to seizures throughout the brain. And studies show this may be similar to how fasting works!

Prolonged fasting can produce a metabolic state called ketosis. It is difficult to achieve and hang out in continually, but when done properly, the body will use fat for energy as opposed to carbohydrates/sugar. The brain can also use fat for energy and this has a profound affect on how the brain functions and interacts, although it is not fully understood quite yet. Eating a diet which increases the availability of fat and limits the amount of carbs and proteins has a similar effect as fasting. In fact, a proper ketogenic diet is kicked off with a 24-48 hour water fast.

“Now a report, appearing several weeks ago in the journal Neurology, reveals that in fact, a ketogenic diet is also profoundly helpful in treating adult forms of epilepsy as well. This research, published by investigators in Maryland, found that there was at least a 50% reduction in seizures in 32% of patients treated with a ketogenic diet as well as in 29% of patients who went on a modified Atkins diet. In fact, 9% of those placed on the ketogenic diet and 5% of those placed on the modified Atkins diet had a greater than 90% reduction in the frequency of their epileptic seizures. These diets were designed such that the bulk of calories, between 67% and 75%, came from fat. The study revealed that “the anticonvulsant effect occurs quickly with both diets, within days to weeks.” Interestingly, the most common side effect was weight-loss which the office indicated “maybe advantageous inpatients with obesity.”

Another clinical trial at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2008 showed that the diet significantly reduced the number of seizures in some children whose seizures did not respond well to automatic electrical devices. After three months, 4 in 10 (40%) children who started the diet had the number of their seizures reduced by over half and were able to reduce their medication.

The diet should be followed for approximately three years. There are many stories like 11 year old Charlie at the charliefoundation.org-who adopted the ketogenic diet for five years and became seizure free. He is now in college and eats whatever he wants!

Believe it or not this information has been well studied in the neurology field since the 1920s. There are multiple studies validating its efficacy.

WHAT OTHER BRAIN DISORDERS CAN THE KETOGENIC DIET HELP?

  1. Brain Tumors and Possibly Other Cancers: Remember I talked about how the ketogenic diet produces ketosis which forces the brain to use fats for energy and drop glucose utilization? Normal tissue can adapt readily to using ketones (instead of glucose) as a substrate, but malignant cancer cells probably do not have the same degree of metabolic flexibility. Therefore, cancerous tumor cells are preferentially killed over healthy cells! Although I love Gerson Therapy, I have to question the fat restriction (other than flaxseed). Gerson therapy seems to work well for certain cancers while the ketogenic diet seems to support other cancers. Ketogenic diets have been associated with decreased tumor growth in animal models of gliomas, prostate cancer, and gastric cancer.
  2. Traumatic Brain Injuries: Again the theory here is that ketosis provides a new and novel way for the brain to extract energy, better known as ATP.  Sadly, human studies are lacking. “Several animal studies have investigated the effect of ketone bodies in traumatic brain injured rats. A state of ketosis from either fasting or provided by a ketogenic diet has been shown to improve recovery. In direct contrast to the benefit of ketogenic diet on brain recovery is the negative effect of high-sugar, high-fat diets given to brain injured rats. The recovery in these rats was measurably worse.” Can we have some human studies please?
  3. Autism:  A study published in 2003 demonstrated that some children with autism on an intermittent ketogenic diet experienced a significant reduction in autistic symptoms. It has been hypothesized that this is due to the production of adenosine. It seems this diet may be very restrictive for children with autism, who often have a limited variety of foods they choose to eat. A casein and gluten free diet has also shown to be promising, so you can imagine how difficult it might be for parents to follow another diet on top. More studies are needed to confirm the extent at which the ketogenic diet could help those with autism.
  4. Alzheimers/Parkinsons/ALS Disorders: In a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 152 people with Alzheimer’s, a ketone agent extracted from medium-chain triglyceride oil was given as a medication along with a normal diet. The degree of memory improvement was significant in the study group who had Alzheimer’s and was positively correlated with the blood levels of the ketone agent. Aging mice were able to navigate mazes and recognize objects better while on a ketogenic diet compared to a control group of mice on a regular diet. Another animal study showed that ketogenic diet fed to brain-injured mice protected neurons from damage and even allowed them to regenerate! Moreover, a few of my patients have made vast strides concerning their neurodegenerative condition using medium chain triglyceride fats, better known as coconut oil. Studies are now showing the diet may hold promise in repairing faulty mitochondrial (powerhouse of the cell) dysfunction too.

WHAT DO YOU EAT ON THE KETOGENIC DIET?

Think tons of heathy fats, nuts, seeds, oils like olive or coconut, grass fed creams and butters. This diet is not for everyone. It is for those with a brain condition, and even then, is not recommended long term because of side effects such as kidney stones, elevated cholesterol, constipation and in some, weight loss. There are a number of fabulous recipes over at charliefoundation.org-think almond flour crackers, spinach souffle, avocado ice cream, broccoli slaw, high fiber rolls and flaxseed porridge.

Again this diet is not for everyone and all patients should begin by talking to their trusted healthcare provider to see if it may be right for them. It is not meant for longterm strict adherence.

This is just one example of a diet that is not the norm for what many of us would consider healthy. Although the plant based diets is what is normally touted, the ketogenic diet has proven that it too holds a place in the healing realm. This is why I personally believe in bioindividuality of diet and nutrition choices. We could all use some more fruits and veggies in our lives, but perhaps we should have a bit of compassion for people who choose a different path than us.

You are becoming your own best doctor!

Much love

Dr Jess

 

 

REFERENCES:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2902940/
  2. http://www.drperlmutter.com/new-study-validates-ketogenic-diet-epilepsy-treatment-adults/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898565/
  4. https://www.charliefoundation.org
  5. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/08830738030180020501

 

Why Trying to Lose Weight Rarely Works Until This is Addressed: The Real Issues Behind Obesity and Addictions

Have you ever noticed that some people are on an endless diet plan, but never seem to lose the weight that they so desperately want to lose? Anyone know the girl who is mentally preoccupied with exercise and calorie counting but never seems to follow through with the plan? How about the guy who always talks about quitting cigarettes, but the next month he’s puffing away again?

I think every one of us can think of a loved one, whether it be a friend or family member, who suffers from a food, tobacco, alcohol or other drug addiction. We all have our downfalls or vices. We learn at different paces. This blog is not written in judgment, but instead to shed light on a sensitive subject that many of us may not have considered in our own battles against unsavory habits. What is the disconnect between yearning to change our lives, but not being able to carry out our wishes? Do we not know what we REALLY want? What blocks longterm success against these temptations?

Characteristics of Smokers 

In college, I had a girlfriend who smoked like a freight train. Not only was she up to a pack a day because working at a bar made it so easy, but she began to have recurrent bronchitis, requiring loads of antibiotics. Finally she had had enough. But it soon became clear that she was unable to quit. No matter what was said, we all knew she being buying a pack the next week. And she’s not alone, smokers on average require 5 to 7 attempts at quitting before they are successful. The thing about my friend was that she had pretty severe, untreated anxiety. Cigarettes always “calmed her down.” After taking so many history and physicals in residency and as a hospitalist for 7 years, I began to notice this same trend. Patients who had untreated anxiety or panic attacks are more likely to get hooked and have trouble quitting.

A 2010 Australian study confirmed this when it published its findings in the Australian Journal of Psychiatry. It showed that people with anxiety disorders are more likely to be smokers, are less likely to cease daily smoking, and on average, smoke for longer exposing them to greater risk of tobacco related harm. In fact, other literature has shown that all mental disorders have a higher risk of smoking and other harmful behaviors like alcohol dependence. So ok, that makes sense. You can maybe see why its been so hard for your friend to kick that tobacco or drug habit? They are self medicating for a deeper issue. This is why it is never wise to just try those nicotine patches or gums, methadone, subaxone, or even Chantix, without first addressing a deep rooted issue inside.

Quitting smoking -whats it take?

What are you treating? Is it depression, anxiety or something else? I urge anyone suffering from these issues to dig deep inside. Just recognizing the feelings won’t be enough. You must decipher where they are stemming from, and in most cases, these deeply rooted feelings arise from our upbringings and childhoods. I’m not trying to knock anyone’s parents or childhood, but the truth is that no one is perfect. Most young parents bring their own set of unresolved issues-pain, hurt, neglect, shame, self loathing, anger, or fear right into the family dynamic. And although we are all doing the best we can, we usually can’t see ourselves. We are all molded by the opinions and guidance of the people who shaped our world when we were impressionable. And sometimes those emotions are mirrored in our own lives because thats how we were taught.

This also does not mean you have to be stuck in old feedback loops or unhealthy patterns forever. You hold the power of every decision you make. If you truly want to quit smoking, address the underlying cause as most are not successful at breaking the habit until this is achieved. If you are suffering from a mental disorder, take the steps you have been avoiding to heal. If you have self deprecating behavior because you lacked a loving home environment or parent, then seek self help books, be open to change, and start giving yourself the love you need. We all have aspects of ourselves that could be cleaned up. I liken it to cleaning out the closets of your mind. Self work is never pretty.

In the book The Tobacco Epidemic: the Psychology of a Smoker, the author notes that studies reveal that smokers tend to be more extroverted, anxious, tense, angry, and impulsive, and show more traits of neuroticism and psychoticism than do ex-smokers or nonsmokers. Again here, the literature also reveals a strong association between smoking and mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression. Of course not all smokers fit this bill, but it is important to bring the statistics to light. Be sure you are honest with yourself when trying to toss out the cigs-your success rate will improve. Are you constantly worried? Are you numbing something else? The interesting part here is that although anxiety, for example, can make quitting smoking more difficult, studies confirm that anxiety and depressive symptoms IMPROVE after the patient does stop smoking. So we anxious and can’t quit smoking, but are happier once we do.

Numerous studies have confirmed the validity of spirituality and self assessment, accountability, forgiveness, and self love in the healing journey. The same goes for alcohol and any other substance abuse problem.

But what about obesity? 

A food addiction affects so many people today. Nearly 70% of Americans are overweight with the numbers climbing. If you know me, you know I definitely feel as though chemicals, not calories, are mostly to blame. But we are responsible for our portion size and the choices we make concerning each meal. Many people plan to begin to eat healthy, only to fall off the wagon the following day when their friend orders cheese covered nachos out at the local restaurant. What makes some people be able to resist dietary temptations while the rest of us fall victim?

The emotional cause of obesity and overreacting is protection. Extra weight is a cushion for the body physically and emotionally. We can kind of “hide” in our own skin. Think about it-thats why its called comfort food! The extra pounds can serve as an armor from a very harsh world. Of course, sometimes mental conditions like depression or sadness are to blame, but this does not apply to everyone. Top that off with dysregulated gut bacteria and dysbiosis that help to continue fueling cravings for the wrong types of food, and you have a real addiction. If you always are looking to lose weight, but can’t quit eating too much of all the wrong foods, then look into self love and check yourself. Are you afraid to be seen? Are you afraid for the world to notice who you truly are? Do you feel safe when you can hide? Do you feel happy or sad when overindulging? Have you dug deep into why this is?

I was a chunky kid and teen. I can remember feeling super insecure about it. I would cuss my thighs while looking in a full length mirror. I would wear baggy clothes so no one saw my cellulite. As much as I wanted to be skinny, I couldn’t quit indulging in hot cheetos and pasta. And my mother was a dietician! As I got older, I realized that my weight was shielding me from the fear I had of speaking up. I grew up in a very oppressive and religious household where I was taught what to think and feel. Once I became semi independent, I really didn’t know how to think for myself. I was terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing in the eyes of God and the world. Food had become my comfort and worst enemy. Only when I began to come to terms with the unresolved emotions I had from childhood, was I successful at ridding myself of the weight. Once I began actually telling my body I loved it, rather than hating it silently, things slowly changed. I forgave my parents. I forgave myself. Over time, I began to not want cheetos anymore.

One of my friends growing up I had an issue with obesity. She confided in me that her parents had shamed her every time she did not clean her plate at dinner. This had carried over as subconscious thoughts that she was a selfish and bad person if she wasted food—so she always ate all of it. Another friend had been molested as a teen and used weight as a way to deter men from finding her sexually desirable. There are many ways that we may use weight to protect us, but we can overcome these deeply rooted thoughts and be successful at kicking any habit.

Research has found a link between obesity and physical or sexual abuse in middle aged women. Even when taking variables into account like education, stress, and inactivity-this large California study of over 11,000 women found a connection between childhood abuse and obesity. It is estimated that up to 40% of significantly obese patients have experienced sexual abuse. This is not to say every overweight person has been abused, stress and genetics also play a prominent role. This is a multifactorial problem that is NOT just connected to the physical.

Resistance Can Be From a Deep Rooted Issue

Many of us fail at CHANGE due to resistance. And resistance may come in many forms-friends, procrastination, parents, distractions, extra sleep or a fun night out. It seems many of us–myself included–succeed at short term goals that give instant gratification, but wrestle with longterm beneficial goals. If we don’t get rewarded right away, we have trouble dedicating to the challenge. For me, I can always enjoy a good meal or have a great night out drinking, but it is much harder for me to set a daily meditation, workout or longterm diet plan…AND STICK TO IT. However, it is self loving, albeit challenging, to continue healthy patterns and kick the ones that no longer serve us.

Trust me when I say that you will be more successful if you decide to lovingly work on yourself and focus your energy on clearing negative thought patterns and trauma from childhood (we all have something). Once those negative emotions and thoughts have been acknowledged and you begin your self work journey, you will notice that it is much easier to be accountable to your dreams. Some find that they can overcome the various forms of resistance once they are mindful of it and have done the necessary self work.

Plant medicine like ayahuascua, ibogaine, DMT and Santo Daime are often successful in breaking food, alcohol, or drug addictions. It is postulated that this is because you come face to face with your true self and are guided by a higher power into self revelation. This often propels us in self love and makes us accountable for our decisions rather than seeing things from a victim perspective. Once we truly love ourselves, we will try our very best not to engage in activities or with people that harm us.

I think its very important to dig deep into your ego, or “shadow self” to truly improve your life over the long term. Your shadow self is the murky, “sinful,” or hidden parts of you that you deny, or hide away from the world. Until you can be accountable and embrace your imperfect self, you will continue to put unloving substances in your body. Understanding the psychological factors associated with tobacco, drugs, alcohol or food and dependence can further the development and improvement of therapeutic strategies to be used in cessation programs, as well as of programs aimed at prevention and education.

Much Love

Dr Jess

 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20482412
  2. http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1746&context=gs_rp
  3. www.obesity.ygoy.com/emotional-causes-of-obesity.com
  4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2001.5/full

How Stress and Trauma Shape Us: Why You Should Be Thankful for Hardships

Is Stress Really That Bad? 

Nearly every human I know responds negatively to stress. In fact, most of us will do just about anything to avoid trials, tribulations, stress, troubles, roadblocks and any sort of stimulus that pulls us out of our comfort zones. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the words, “why do bad things happen to good people?” I used to be one of those who echoed that same sentiment when I was going through rough patches, but then I started to notice something about myself. When I was in my comfort zone, I usually became complacent. For me, this equalled stagnation. Why would I change? Everything FELT good, comfortable and easy. Only when I fell on my face and had to re-evaluate my values and life, was I willing to change. You see pain serves a very noble purpose. It pushes us beyond what we think we can handle; it cracks us open; it brings us to our knees and molds us into someone stronger.

I remember when I went through my divorce, it was a bit of an ego death. Who I thought I was, what people thought of me and my life in general were all tested. I hit rock bottom, but something beautiful happened in that dark night of the soul. I was cracked open, and as wise philosopher Rumi says, this is where the light can enter. Only in a time of desperation and pain was I able to look through different lenses. I am now fully convinced that without that pain, I would not have seen the world from a different perspective that helped to change my entire career. Again, very few people transform without something painful to push them in that direction.

Stress becomes dangerous when its too much, we perceive it negatively, or it becomes chronic. It is all in our perspective and how we react to things. Chronic conditions occur because there is some sort of stressor, whether it be mental or physical, that is continual. This can lead to inflammation of the body or brain. And remember-inflammation is the heralding cause of all disease. However, the flip side of this argument is that acute stress and acute inflammation can give us new eyes, a new lease on life and push us in a direction we would’ve never entertained without the “bad” experience. Short lived stress is not necessarily a bad thing it seems after all.  There is great wisdom to be gained if one is able to change perspective and see healthy stress as a challenge, puzzle to be solved, or a “push” that leads to growth. Which leads me to ask-Are there really “good” or “bad” experiences or is our perspective just off? And how do we gracefully deal with stress and then let it go so that it does not turn into a chronic problem?

 

Lessons from Science about Stress

And what does science say about stress? We can easily investigate the animal and plant world to see how stress can become a natural (and not necessarily bad) part of life.

For example, in the plant world they actually have a word for it-xenohormesis. Xenohormesis explains how plants undergoing ecological stress produce “extra nutritional constituents” that confer survival advantages upon the animals or humans that eat them. This is exactly what happened in the blue zones of the plant like Okinawa, Japan. The plants there were closer to the equator and had to make more prominent antioxidants and phytochemicals to protect themselves from the damage of the sun. This is one of the reasons why the population there lives longer.

Concerning animals, a study done by Kaufer, Kirby and their colleagues at UC Berkley Neuroscience Institute subjected rats to short lived stress. For them, immobilization in their cages for a few hours. This doubled the proliferation of new brain cells in area of the brain that retains memories. The rats even performed better on a memory test two weeks after the stressful event.

One of the simplest examples of positive stress in humans is exercise. Whether you love it or hate it, exercise makes us healthier and stronger. But it doesn’t do so through pleasure. No pain, no gain. Through sweat and tears, we build the bodies that we desire that promote longevity. This feat is accomplished through ACUTE STRESS-tearing muscle fibers when lifting weights, pushing our heart rates to build more cardiac muscle and production of lactic acid that makes us sore the next day. This acute stress makes us stronger in the long run and actually makes us live better.

Stress can also come in the form of heat or cold. But does it benefit our health too?

  1. The Importance of Heat Shock Proteins and Anti Aging

There is actually new research coming out on what heat can do for healing. (Cold temperatures place a similar stress on the body. For more info, check out my blog on cryotherapy). Saunas are now being shown to trigger the stress response in the body in a similar fashion as exercise. This is great news for those patients who have trouble physically or don’t have the luxury of being able to exercise. The concept is known as Hyperthermic Conditioning and now research has shown that it can affect everything from endurance to growth of new brain cells. In fact, studies are now showing increases in secretion of HGH, or human growth hormone, as well as activation of HSP, or heat shock proteins. HGH increases stamina, promotes longevity and is anti aging. Its levels drop off after age 30 and this is what leads to aging, so you can see how increasing this hormone is very important to overall health. HSP, or heat shock proteins, are also activated during heat exposure and stress. High heat serves a purpose, you see as it can denature or destroy proteins. This is beneficial as it kills off protein capsids of viruses but does not harm the body’s innate proteins due to none other than, HSP. This is HSP’s job-to prevent protein degradation in the body when it is exposed to high heat. They also have the ability to repair damaged DNA. This is why you should not immediately treat a fever until it is dangerously high-around 105 or so.

Take it from the well versed Dr. Rhonda Patrick,

“Heat shock proteins (or HSPs), as the name implies, are induced by heat and are a prime example of hormesis. Intermittent exposure to that induces a hermetic response (a protective stress response), which promotes the expression of a gene called heat shock factor 1 and subsequently HSPs involved in stress resistance. HSPs can prevent damage by directly scavenging free radicals and also by supporting cellular antioxidant capacity through its effects on maintaining glutathione. (Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant) HSPs can repair misfolded, damaged proteins thereby ensuring proteins have their proper structure and function.”

In one study, rats that were exposed to intermittent heat sessions had a HUGE expression of heat shock proteins that was associated with 30% more muscle regrowth compared to a control group. And the expression lasted for 48 hours after the heat exposure!

There is one specific HSP called HSP70 gene that is now associated with increased longevity, which suggests there may be anti aging benefits.

         2. Heat Shock Proteins and Muscle Soreness

Hyperthermic conditioning has been shown to slow muscle atrophy during disuse, for example, if you broke your leg and couldn’t move around for a few weeks. Not only that, but studies now show that HSP and hyperthermia can prevent against muscle breakdown that can occur in up to 25% of patients on the cholesterol lowering statin drugs.

Many patients are unable to stimulate HSPs through exercise, but now with research indicating that saunas are nearly as effective, this is extremely important for the population to understand.

Moreover, new research is showing HSPs lowering insulin resistance, promoting longevity, and revving up immunity. Stress is not always a bad thing, especially if acute! It actually makes us stronger, no matter how uncomfortable in the moment.

As Above, So Below

Now that we see that the microscopic parts of bodies can perform such wonders when exposed to stress, it only makes logical sense to extrapolate to the environment around us.

  1. Our immune systems become extremely healthy if we are exposed to and live through any disease.
  2. We dread exercise but in the long run, it gives us the body we desire.
  3. Stressful heartbreaks teach us what we do and don’t want in a partner
  4. Fasting can feel mentally stressful, but frees up energy for our immune cells to seek and destroy cancerous or rogue cells.
  5. New business ventures are extremely stressful and take hard work but in the end you can reap great success.
  6. Fevers feel terrible but destroy unwanted pathogens
  7. Speaking our minds can be terribly difficult, but afterwards we usually feel a sense of relief.

Again, let me stress that not all stress is positive or healthy. It all depends on how much, our perspective about it, how long it continues and to what extent. But often, the bad can show us what we do not want to seek out. It can “wake us up” to a new world with new eyes. When we are at our lowest, we become creative and determined. We have nothing to lose. The underlying issue to grasp when dealing with stress is that EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY. The good, the bad, the sun, the rain, joy or pain…all are temporary and will end. It is up to us in deciding HOW we respond to stress. And perhaps stress is a teacher that we should not avoid at all costs?

Only the greatest of warriors are given the greatest of trials. No one else could survive. No matter what you are going through, know that you will survive and be better and stronger for it. SMILE

Much love

Dr Jess

 

How PTSD and Early Emotional Trauma Can Wreck Digestion (plus the tricks that can help correct it)

Stress Affects the Body More than Medicine is Willing to Admit

I went to a Integrative Conference on Anxiety and Depression this past week and was blown away by the amount of information given to us on genetic mutations, stress and emotional factors that play a HUGE role in how we interact and feel about the world. If only allopathic medicine would jump on board, then healthcare in this country could be completely revitalized.

Many healthcare professionals say to me that they don’t believe food or chronic stress can play such a vital role in our health because there are no concrete scientific or peer reviewed studies on this topic. To which I say two words. Takosubo cardiomyopathy. This is a physical heart condition brought about by intense and deep heartbreak. Have you ever heard of an elderly couple that has been together for decades and when one dies, the other passes away shortly thereafter? This is often due to Broken Heart syndrome, or Takosubo cardiomyopathy. The typical scenario is a mother who loses a child or a husband that unexpectedly loses his wife. Takosubo cardiomyopathy is named for the pot in Japan that resembles how the heart pathologically balloons out during this stressful time. All because of heartache, these patients can go into overt heart failure or even sustain a heart attack. Most of them recover, but many of them have permanent disabilities all due to stress or emotional trauma.

One of the main topics that was discussed at the conference was how stress can physiologically disrupt digestion. We all know that when we have to give a public speech, we can get an upset stomach. This is because the vagus nerve connects our guts to our brains. If we are anxious, signals are sent from the brain down the vagus nerve to the gut, where the gut can “feel” those anxious feelings as well. Multiple studies have recently shown that mood disorders as well as chronic brain inflammation can affect the gut. Many of the emotions, cravings and urges that we experience are now being linked to the colonies of bacteria in our guts.

So what does this mean for people who are chronically stressed, whether physically or emotionally? A lot actually. Lets take for example, a Vietnam veteran. These are patients who often have had serious mental trauma because of what they witnessed overseas. They are often plagued by an anxious condition called PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, which involves vivid flashbacks, nightmares, and unbearable anxiety that can lead to irritability. All of these symptoms are pointing at emotional trauma that is “stuck” or resides inside the body. And this doesn’t just include PTSD; many people who suffer from anxiety or panic attacks have their sympathetic nervous system in overdrive.

We are constantly stressed, rushed, worried about deadlines or trying to please other people, we do damage to our parasympathetic nervous system, the housekeeping system responsible for digestion. 40% of Americans eat breakfast in the car! This is not the ideal situation for proper digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients. The sympathetic nervous system is the “flight or fight” mode of operation and opposes the parasympathetic nervous system. In this state, the brain perceives that there is trouble or danger. Blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rate all increase in preparation for the impending threat (whether real or imagined). This is not a good time to eat and expect the body to perform at peak function. So what exactly happens with digestion when you are in “flight or fight” sympathetic mode?

The Importance of Stomach Acid 

The body nearly shuts down digestive capacity during periods of stress. Production of digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid is blocked. Why is acid in your gut so vital? Well, the stomach should have an acidic pH of around 2-3 when food is present. When we are hungry, smell food, and properly chew our food, the body has time to produce hydrochloric acid from parietal cells that reside in the gut lining. This acid is like a barrier and protects us from invasion from bacteria, parasites, viruses and other pathogens that cannot live in such a hostile, acidic environment. The gut is supposed to be acidic!

The hydrochloric acid also activates the production of digestive enzymes, integral to proper digestion and absorption. These enzymes break down fats and proteins so the body can easily use them. If these proteins and fats do not properly get digested, they become putrefied. Yes, the food in your gut can ferment or begin to rot, causing waste products to become toxic. Without the absorption and assimilation of these nutrients, your body doesn’t get essential amino acids and other building blocks needed to make energy, repair DNA and keep you functioning at peak performance. As you can see, hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes triggered by that acid, are imperative.

Not only that, but being stressed stops digestion and acid production, so food sits in the gut longer, waiting to be digested. This can lead to bloating and eventual putrefaction of the food. Gas is created when the food is putrified, which expresses itself as burping, stomach gurgling, and gas. Putrefaction also causes organic acids to form from the fermentation, and this feels like acid reflux. Most people will readily reach for antacids, but as you can see, this is only compounding the problem. Hopefully, you can now see how detrimental long term use of antacids and proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec can be on the immune system in the gut. This is basically blocking absorption of food and worsening the problem of low stomach acid. We all think that acid reflux is caused by high stomach acid, but this is simply not true. Hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid can produce the same symptoms due to the slowing of digestion and putrefaction.

How to Help Your Digestion by Destressing

People who have had childhood trauma, PTSD, high stress jobs or chronic anxiety/panic attacks, have a near constant state of flight or fight. They are at high risk for digestive issues like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, malabsorption, acid reflux and inflammation. This is not only bad for digestion, but all housekeeping activities in the body, including sleep, meditation, and deep breathing. When the sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive, the parasympathetic system is pushed aside.

How do we activate the parasympathetic nervous system which can help calm us and encourage proper digestion? The key is the vagus nerve that connects the brain to the gut. It is activated by:

  1. Deep belly breathing or pranayama breathing-you can slightly constrict the back of your throat until you hear an ocean like breathing. Make sure you take full breaths into your belly. Most patients with severe anxiety, trauma or PTSD only breathe into the top third of their lungs. This one exercise can drastically change thought patterns by activating the parasympathetic nervous system through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve then sends these calming signals back up to the brain where we are told to relax.
  2. Preparing and Blessing your Meals-this may sound a bit out there to some, but appreciation and blessing of the food and its nutritious content sends a mindful message to our bodies. Ancient cultures and religious texts have long encouraged blessings or grace prior to eating. Could there have been an actual emotional purpose to this? The ideal circumstance prior to indulging would be picking your own home grown food from the garden, seeing the colors, picking it with your own hands, smelling it and spending time preparing it. Feeling gratitude and appreciation and sending this energy to the food has been shown in studies to encourage better digestion. You then sit amongst friends and family, full of calm happiness prior to eating. Although our lives today do not often permit this type of lifestyle, being mindful only takes a moment. Make healthy choices, take a deep breath prior to eating, stare at the food and appreciate it. Send good energy and blessings to the life giving nutrients you are about to enjoy. Pausing prior to devouring sends signals to your digestive system to begin to start manufacturing digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid. This makes a huge difference!
  3. Don’t Eat Until You Feel Calm and Safe-take a moment to find a place out in nature or in silence where you can center yourself prior to eating. Do not eat while in a car, in front of a tv, or people who upset you. Do not relish in negative thoughts or anger while eating. Deep belly breathing and happy thoughts!
  4. If All Else Fails, take a Digestive Enzyme with Betaine HCL-this is my last recommendation for digestion as I do feel our bodies can heal if given the correct “recipe,” made for us. If you feel anxious and panicky most days, I encourage you to look into bioneurofeedback to retrain the brain, EMDR work to reset, or mindful mediation practices. Apple cider vinegar or lukewarm lemon water also help to naturally reset the gut pH to a healthy level that will activate your now natural digestive enzymes. If all else fails, then try a good digestive enzyme pill with each meal. Be sure it contains betaine HCL. HCL stands for hydrochloric acid and will help digest the food by exogenously replacing the acid needed. Before going out and buying some, ensure that you do not have an ulcer, are on steroids which erode the gut lining, or have Barretts esophagus. In these cases, HCL replacement is not advised.

I know you can be your own best doctor!

Much Love,

Dr Jess

Ways of Defeating cellulite

The Only Tool You’ll Ever Need To Defeat Cellulite

GUYS-I have the best news ever – holy grail for defeating cellulite.

But first, let me back up and start from the beginning…..

If you’re one of the 85% of women (and even some men) that suffer from some level of cellulite, then I feel your pain. Even in my teens and 20’s, I had cellulite on the sides and backs of my legs that left me feeling super insecure. As I reached my 30’s the problem seemed to get worse. I got the Mirena and before that, had been on synthetic birth control for most of my adult life which completely wrecked my hormones.

Aging plus abnormal hormone levels cause aging skin, sun spots, and the cellulite will worsen! I used to never have a problem with putting on a bikini, but suddenly I had all kinds of unwanted doubts. Mind you, a lot of this is always in our heads. We are our own worst critics. I’m not saying that I’m any different or that my problem was even an enormous issue to overcome. However, it is extremely important that we feel good in our own skin and in this area, I was lacking.

What Exactly is the Physical and Emotional Cause of Cellulite?

I have done a myriad of research into cellulite. On the mainstream medicine sites, they claimed cellulite was a “dimpling of the skin” due to persistent underlying, subcutaneous fat on hips, stomach or thighs. I had even contemplated surgery or one of those lasers that uses heat to “break up and melt away” the fat tissue. It was easy for me to ask around since I was in the medical field and every surgeon or dermatologist that I questioned did not seem to know the cause or cure for this pesky issue. It made sense that they could “melt” the fat away since it was a fat problem, right? I didn’t understand how I personally could have this problem. I was a gym rat with a 6 pack for most of my entire 20s. It seemed other girls were in the same boat as me, not matter how much they worked out, they still had cellulite. So something was adding up. So my search continued…

When I began to become interested in energy healing and alternative medicine, I came across a couple books and articles that changed the game for me. They were all about repressed emotions, life missions or traumas that were hidden deep in the physical body. I actually wrote a full blog post on repressed emotions and you can read it here:https://drjess.com/repressed-emotions-can-lead-to-dis-ease-the-mind-body-connection/

The research I uncovered for the emotional cause of cellulite hit me like a blow to the heart. It seemed that many bodyworkers and intuitive healers agreed that cellulite was due to a very oppressive upbringing early in life as well as suppressing one’s natural gifts. Thick thighs and cellulite represented repressed anger at the parents, specifically the patriarchal figure. I love my parents dearly but back then they were religious fanatics who molded me into a God fearing child with little say so in my life. This explanation resonated so hard with me!

It turns out that cellulite has nothing to do with a “fat” problem and everything to do with a fascia problem. Fascia is the thin sheath enclosing muscles, bones, nerves, arteries, veins and internal organs. It is densely woven, right below the skin and can form a spiderweb-like structure, holding us in place. If the fascia becomes too tight or thick, it can create a casing that restricts the blood flow and nerve conduction. Now consider the emotional ramifications of that. Our fascia, or connective tissue, holds us together, but if we have an oppressive upbringing, especially one where our inherent talents are suppressed, then we develop “thick skin.” We must become tough and harden up.  As such, our connective tissue and skin, the biggest organ in our bodies, follow suit. Our bodies do not function properly without healthy blood flow and rapid nerve conduction. Neither do we function well in life if we are suppressing talents in lieu of an oppressive childhood where we cannot be ourselves. This makes perfect sense.

Fascia is the spiderweb below the skin

Enter in…The Fascia Blaster….

What is the Fascia Blaster?

Besides being a life changer? Who knew that a stick with claws on it could have so much power?

Ok I know cellulite is not the worst issue to have at all, but ridding yourself of insecurities is definitely up there. One day I was surfing Facebook with my best friend. An ad came up with a lady holding this curious white stick with claws. I rarely turn the volume up on these things, but my friend squealed, “Have you seen this thing that supposedly gets rid of cellulite?” I was instantly interested. The video turned out to be of Ashley Black of ashleyblackguru.com. She was giving a live demonstration using some sort of tool that I had never seen while claiming that cellulite is a myth! WHAT. How could all my medical training and physiology not be true? Well, as it turns out, mainstream medicine has made quite a few mistakes.

Ashley was interesting to me because this line of work had fallen into her lap because of her own personal life struggle. In her 20s, she had gone into the hospital for a routine operation and contracted a life-threatening flesh-eating bacterial infection that forced her to undergo multiple surgeries and left her with disproportionate and unsightly fascia and muscle pain. She was left nearly crippled. Never fear! Ashley is a survivor and healed herself. She then decided to teach and heal others. She has years of experience training professional athletes, celebrities and other elite stars looking for solutions. She studied fascia extensively and created her wonderful and revolutionary product.

Again, cellulite is a fascia problem and not a fat problem. It has no bearance on what you weigh! After reading Ashley’s story, I promptly ordered the fascia blaster and patiently awaited its delivery.

How Do You Use the Fascia Blaster?

It’s simple! As you can see pictured above, there are three different kinds of blasters. The first one on the left is the full-size version while the middle one is the mini fascia blaster that fits perfectly in your carry-on suitcase. The last one on the right is the face blaster, which helps to define facial architecture and improve circulation. You simply place the blaster on the area you want to improve with the claws facing the skin. Move with quick movements in an up and down or side to side fashion, but try to avoid a circular motion. By scrubbing the Blaster over an area of fat that you want to break up, you can reduce unwanted fat pockets and “spot reduce” while contouring your body!

HINT: You Will feel some slight pain and discomfort! The claws are breaking up the taut connective tissue and fascia just below the skin. I BRUISED like no other the first month of using this thing 10 min daily after yoga or a hot shower. Personally, I found it to work best when the skin and muscles are warm. It is OK to bruise while blasting! Not everyone does and that’s just fine. However, what it does indicate is that the fascia is so restrictive that it is preventing proper circulation. This indicates that the lymphatic system is sluggish and proper blood flow is not reaching areas containing toxins! Remember blood and lymph move so that they can MOVE toxins out as well. Every part of our body needs to be nourished with proper blood flow. Once we break the fascia up, the blood flow can return to these neglected areas, but the aftermath might include some bruising!

This pic is after I had been blasting for nearly two months and is totally nothing compared to the bruising I got at the beginning!

The beauty of the Fascia Blaster is that it doesn’t treat just cellulite. It also helps give mobility to muscles, improves soft tissue pain, breaks up fat, and increase blood and lymph flow.

The Emotional Aftermath

So when I started blasting I had done my due diligence concerning the EMOTIONAL REASON we might have cellulite. What I did not expect was some of the emotional RELEASES I had from doing the fascia blaster daily. The first week, I would be right in the middle of blasting and would suddenly remember what my childhood kitchen floor looked like EXACTLY. They were random childhood memories that I could not recall prior to blasting. I have no explanation for, except that somehow this was connected to the saddlebags on my thighs! All jokes aside, this confirmed that thick thighs and cellulite possibly do represent repressed childhood memories of an oppressed upbringing. I even had a couple crying fits during that first week or two of blasting that was connected to deep pain that I could not fully put my finger on. The more I blasted, the less pain I felt. I could get deeper into the thicker layers with time and patience.

So the verdict is….I actually found a cellulite treatment that works! You can be sure to ditch all those creams and gimmicks that promise results but do not deliver. Today I’m happy to admit that I’m nearly cellulite free! It just takes trailblazers like Ashley Black’s revolutionary product as well as the dedication on our own parts.

This is the holy grail of cellulite destruction and the only tool you’ll ever need!

Repressed Emotions Mind and Body Connections

Repressed Emotions Can Lead to Dis-Ease: The Mind-Body Connection

Emotional suppression, defined as a tendency to inhibit the expression of emotion, has long been suspected to influence health. The ancient Romans, Egyptians and Greeks knew that emotional distress could resurface as disease and therefore the healing arts were practiced much differently than today’s medicine. As more and more studies are revealing, the mind, body and spirit seem to all play an intimate role in our happiness and longevity. Have you ever been super stressed and come down with a cold? I bet the majority of us would say yes. I can’t tell you how many of my autoimmune patients notice that their “break’ in immunity occurs after an emotional trauma! If doctors would take more care to promote emotional well being and healing, then we might see an improvement in many hard-to-treat cases.

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE OF MIND-BODY CONNECTION

Repressed Emotions Mind and Body Connections

Cancer has been documented in observational studies to have an element of repressed pain and anger. Emotion suppression involves intentionally avoiding distressing feelings by thinking of other things or holding things in and not honoring our own truth. For example, at Kings College in London, 160 breast cancer patients were given a detailed psychological interview and self administered questionnaire about suppression of anger. The results were astonishing and published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. They compared 69 patients with breast cancer to a control group of 91 patients with benign breast disease. “There was a significant association between the diagnosis of breast cancer and a behavior pattern, persisting throughout adult life, of abnormal release of emotions. The abnormality was, in most cases, extreme suppression of anger and, in patients over 40, extreme suppression of other feelings.”

Wow right? But the underlying theme for cancer seems to be disregard of self when it comes to emotions, more so anger. Suppression of these emotions seems to resurface in physical disease over time for some people.

Stomach and digestive issues often represent shame and inability to digest what life is handing us

In a remarkable study performed by the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami, researchers found men with prostate cancer had greater suppression of anger and also few Natural Killer cells! Natural Killer cells are the white blood cells primarily responsible for taking care of our immune systems and warding off cancer! Another study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research showed there was a connection between higher level of emotion suppression and all cause as well as cancer mortality amongst patients followed for 12 years!

WHAT DO REPRESSED EMOTIONS LOOK LIKE?

Decades ago, Freud postulated that important feelings could be stifled before they entered consciousness. These are often childhood traumas and defense mechanisms we learned as children that uncover themselves as adults. Often the “repressor” personality is overly concerned with others needs rather than their own. They are “YES” people to everyone else, but say “NO” to their own needs or ignore their truth. They are often very dependable and successful people who are driven by approval. They are prone to internal anxiety, but appear cool and calm on the outside. Basically, repressed emotions emerge in the form of “I’m fine.”

But we are not fine. We are wearing a mask to appear ok but drowning in pain. Recent reports have linked a repressing personality to higher risk for asthma, blood pressure and overall ill health.

Does this sound like anyone? I know I can relate. This behavior pattern is dangerous long term not only for disease risk and shorter longevity, but also because it is the road to adrenal fatigue and stress burnout. That alone can throw our hormones completely out of whack!

MY EXPERIENCE

When I worked as a hospitalist, I saw a case that will never leave me. One was a young woman who had lost her young son to cancer. She was understandably emotional distraught and a week later presented to the hospital with Takosubo Cardiomyopathy, which is a big doctor phrase for Broken Heart Syndrome. This actually exists and is named for the Japanese pot that the heart resembles when ballooning, due to dysfunction. It causes heart failure and often, a heart attack. The young mother recovered, but it cost her part of her heart function-all due to a very significant loss and a broken heart.

In one study done by Kroenke and Mangelsdorff in 1989, 84% of 567 common complaints such as chest pain and dizziness, yielded no medical diagnoses. All of us docs would agree that dizziness and chest pain can be some of the hardest diagnoses because often there is no concrete answer. I can’t tell you how many patients would tell me during an interview for these complaints–“its been a terrible month,” or “my dog just died,” or “my family is getting a divorce.”

Medicine doesn’t have to be so sterile, scientific and daunting. It can be HEALING, as it should be, but only if we are able to acknowledge that our studies cannot always capture the full human element or the connection to our very powerful emotions.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Core emotions, like joy, love, pain, anger, grief and fear, are not here to punish us. They have been selected in evolution because they serve a vital function. They are information that talk to our DNA, and if we listen, can provide an internal guidance system for us. What is this anger here for? What purpose does fear serve in my life? What is this pain trying to get me to change? Emotions are messengers, guys! It is how we choose to react or deal with them that shapes our reality. 

Because repressors wear the “I’m fine” mask and tend to not face reality, they are typically reluctant to attend psychotherapy or indulge in activities where emotionality is present. If new coping techniques can be established, or the patient feels safe enough to discuss childhood feelings, then reprogramming can start.

  1. Surprising Studies on Plant Medicines-Studies have even shown psychedelics like MDMA, CBD/THC in medical marijuana, psilocybin in mushrooms and even Ayahuasca may help PTSD, anxiety and repressed emotions by purging them so that the consciousness can face them and reprogram itself. Ayahuasca ceremonies have been held for thousands of years by our ancestors. There are many reports of patients with chronic diseases visiting the amazon for a ceremony and coming home healed.  One of the first steps they face is themselves and their buried fears during this ceremony. Cannabinoids or CBD, is also showing immense promise in brain inflammation, which is a heralding cause of many mood disorders like anxiety and ADHD, that may represent repressed emotions.
  2. EFT, or Emotional Freedom Technique, involves tapping on certain energy meridians of the body to release repressed emotions. The continuous tapping has the ability to release the tight muscles and let go of the repressed emotion or pain that is caught with it.
  3. Chiropractors and body workers are also very successful at clearing stored emotions. The spine is the center of our core and carries much of our energy and emotions. There have been reports of outpouring of emotions or changes in mood after adjustments.
  4. Cognitive behavioral therapy as well as biofeedback also help to treat any traumatic events, but it seems the key for most repressors is to discuss the stuck emotions.
  5. Journaling and Talking to someone we trust is a big step to understanding ourselves and these emotions that are often hidden from conscious thought. Writing has been shown to improve outcomes for autoimmune patents who often suffer from an emotional trauma. Don’t judge your spelling or grammar and put the pen to paper! You may notice tears starting to flow by the end and that is OK! These are repressed emotions being purged from the body.

Our emotions are stored in chakras, organs, meridians and muscle tissues (something Chinese medicine and Ayurveda have known for years). We have been separated from this side of ourselves for so long that we don’t even realize that our emotions influence the development of disease.

Be prepared though guys-when we release old, stored emotions, we might have emotional outbursts or releases. When I trained in NET, or neuroemotional technique and applied muscle testing, we saw outbursts regularly. Yes, you can actually test the body’s strength against a question to see if the conscious mind is lying. The body always knows. I was asked, “do you love others?” and could hold my arm up against pressure from the instructor because I REALLY DO love others. However when he said to me “You love yourself,” my arm could not be held up against pressure. I felt a lump in my throat and begin to cry. You know why? My body already knew the truth and it was the whole reason my spleen, which makes self-loving antibodies, was suffering.

This was an emotional release when hearing the subconscious truth. It is a bit like Herxheimer reactions, or physical die off from pathogens during a cleanse. Both the body and the mind must feel the pain-whether physical or emotional, to release it. It must pass through our subconscious to the conscious mind, realized, acknowledged and then properly released. THIS is the reason most of us do not want to heal. We are afraid of FEELING and RELIVING those painful emotions again in order to release them.

Our bodies are amazing! The mind can heal but it first must wade through our fearful ego, which sometimes can hinder any emotional outpourings and slow down the healing phase.

Here is a chart as well as some areas that repressed emotions have been stored. Much of this information is from observational studies, chiropractors, body workers like massage therapists, and research from eastern medicine practices.  As above so below. Our body movement is reflective of our inner worlds:

  • Neck Pain-linked to stubbornness and inflexibility and lack of forgiveness of others or self.
  • Slipped or herniated disc-sign of instability or feeling unsupported in life
  • Rotated Hips or Hip pain-afraid to move forward in life with challenges; nothing to move forward to
  • Arthritis-nutritional deficiencies or the inability to feel loved
  • Shoulder Pain-shoulders represent our ability to find joy in experiences. Pain here is linked to the fact that our attitude makes life a burden to carry. Often store present life trauma.
  • Spine or Back Pain: Upper back pain-lack of emotional support or feeling unloved; often they hold back love. Mid back pain-guilt is predominant and may be stuck in past (get off my back). Low back pain is associated with fear of money and lack of financial support.
  • Elbows-difficult to change direction and accept new experiences.
  • Bone breaks or fractures-rebelling against the system or authority
  • Bursitis-Inflammation and linked to repressed anger
  • Loss of Balance-not centered or grounded; often shows scattered thinking.
  • Sciatica-being hypocritical; fear of money or the future
  • Sprains-not wanting to move in a certain direction in life; resistance
  • Weakness-the brain needs a break; requesting mental rest.
  • Wrist Pain-represent movement and ease. Has something become difficult lately?
  • Knee Pain-stubborn pride and ego, inability to bend; fear; won’t give in. Big ego
  • Ankle Pain or Issues-guilt; inflexibility; ankles often represent the ability to receive pleasure.
  • Bunions-lack of joy in meeting experiences in life. Something is rubbing you raw.
  • Chest pain-grief, sorrow, sadness, loss, helplessness, despair.
  • Stomach/digestion Issues-deep shame, fear of loss of control and giving your power away to another.
  • Liver Issues-anger, resentment, anger at yourself or others; lack of forgiveness; jealousy
  • Infertility, reproductive issues, monthly cycle pain-childhood conditioning, violations, basic creativity, frigidity
  • Migraines-tied to overabundance of stress; adrenal fatigue; not saying no enough
  • Obesity/Weight gain-emotional eating is tied to anger at the family (especially in lower abdomen and hips/thighs), especially the father; lack of validation from family; overly sensitive; lack of self esteem; over sexualization
  • Acne-not liking or accepting self. Blockage of toxins from bowels
  • Anxiety-not trusting the flow of life and the process of the universe
  • High blood pressure-linked to longstanding emotional issue that is unresolved; defeatism
  • Cancer-deep hurt and anger; longstanding resentment; grief and hatred.
  • Cellulite-stored anger and self punishment (I had emotional releases concerning this when I used the fascia blaster on my thighs!) http://www.fasciablaster.com
  • High cholesterol-clogging the channels of joy; fear of accepting joy
  • Constipation-incompelete releasing; holding onto garbage of past; guilt
  • Depression-anger you feel you do not have a right to have; hopelessness.
  • Heartburn-Deep fear
  • Hepatitis-resistance to change; fear, anger, hatred. Liver is the seat of anger and resentment in Ayurveda.
  • Herpes Genitalis-mass belief in sexual guilt and the need for punishment. Public shame. Belief in a punishing God.
  • Inflammation-fear, inflamed thinking.
  • Left sided body pain-this is the feminine side of the body; the mother; represents receptivity and creativity
  • Right sided body pain-this is the masculine side of the body; the father; giving out and letting go; represents logic and grounding
  • Menopause-fear of no longer being wanted; fear of aging
  • Parasites/candida-giving power to others; letting them take over your life.
  • Sinus problems-irritation of another person, often someone close.
  • Teeth problems-longstanding indecisiveness; Root canals signify root beliefs being destroyed while impacted teeth represent not giving yourself mental space to create a firm foundation.
  • Throat Issues-avenue of expression and creativity; inability to speak for yourself or YOUR truth; swallowed anger and stifled creativity
  • Thyroid Issues-humiliation; not doing what you want to do
  • Urinary Tract Infections-anger at the opposite sex or a lover; blame

Take care of yourselves! Learn how to become your own best doctor!

Much Love

Dr Jess

REFERENCES:

  1. JDC.jefferson.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?/article=1010&context=jmbcim
  2. www.nytimes.com/1988/03/03/us/health-new-studies-report-health-dangers-of-repressed-emotional-turmoil.html
  3. https:www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3939772/
  4. The Link between Cancer and Unexpressed Anger-www.alternative-cancer-care.com
  5. www.kathyhadleylifecoach.com/spiritual-causes-of-diseases/