Mind-Body Book Review and New Article

Ooh, nice review from Michelle at FoodsMatter to wake up to this morning!

Follow the link below to read the new Introductory article on mind-body medicine and my journey that she asked me to write for the Foodsmatter site.

Last month I flagged up Micki Rose’s new book on the mind-body approach to managing multiple sensitivities and chronic illness. Well, now I have read it – and it is absolutely fascinating. As a guide to for those who have totally failed to find an answer to their own illnesses, it could be life changing. Micki describes her journey and the book that has come out of it.

Hope you enjoy it 🙂

Can You Test For CSS – Central Sensitivity Syndrome?

a lab icon productsIn the Healing Plan (HP) and on a previous post, I have discussed the fact that many of us with multiple sensitivity, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and chronic pain are probably suffering from some form of Central Sensitivity Syndrome illness. 

So, of course, I started trying to work out if we could get any clues. What could we test to see if we were too-turned up? Here’s a bit from the HP that might help – there’s more in the Plan:

What we’re looking for here are clues about what the sympathetic nervous system is up to. Is the dial turned up?

We can start by checking for neurotransmitter patterns – is the glutamate high and the serotonin, dopamine and/or noradrenaline low? Are you over-stimulated with excitatory neurotransmitters and yet don’t have enough of the inhibitory ones to offset it?  

Some researchers have suggested looking at the catecholamines  – that’s dopamine, adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine) – and others say, if on an organic acids test Vanilmandelate and Homovanillate are high, the person is likely having a heightened sympathetic nervous response and the dial is up, especially if the serotonin marker 5-HIAA is low.

Happily, I have persuaded one of the labs to list the dried urine ZRT NeuroAdvanced test, which includes all of these markers including the VMA, HVA and 5-HIAA below so I reckon this could be termed our CSS test, or as close as we can get to one currently (I am taking a bow…!).

Looking at the adrenals can help too. Seeing cortisol levels on a DUTCH test might be useful. You want a clear picture whether metabolised cortisol is high or low.

In general, these are the two patterns to look for – and to get this you would need the ZRT NeuroAdvanced test and a DUTCH Adrenal Advanced preferably.

I am not an expert by any means and I am feeling my way a bit here, but this is how I might interpret the tests in terms of confirming CSS and relevant treatment; I hope it gives you some clues as to what form of treatment might be best for you. There’s a lot more detail in the Healing Plan in terms of lowering Substance P and things to watch out for in treatment:

  • If adrenaline, noradrenaline and/or dopamine are high and/or HVA and VMA are high with 5-HIAA low and metabolised cortisol is high – that is an acute stress CSS picture to me and this person definitely needs calming down before the body becomes tired out by it all. I would use the Lowering Cortisol advice and protocols in the Adrenal Plan (TGF version preferably) and the amygdala-calming techniques in the Healing Plan.
  • If adrenaline, noradrenaline and/or dopamine are high and/or HVA and VMA are high with 5-HIAA low and metabolised cortisol is low – this person likely has CSS and needs calming down sort of therapy like the Healing Plan. This is the pattern most often seen in PTSD. These people are hyper, anxious and reactive internally, but shattered.
  • If adrenaline/noradrenaline/dopamine are low and cortisol is low, the person is flat, fatigued and needs adrenal boosting as this is more an adrenal fatigue type picture. Use the Cortisol Boosting advice and protocol in the Adrenal Plan.

IBS Factsheet & Gut Plan Update for IBS Month!

April is IBS Awareness month apparently –  and I’ve just managed to get in before the end of the month to update the IBS resources for you, phew! Been meaning to do it for ages.

So, for your delectation, I have extended the IBS factsheet for you, adding a ton more info and updating all the links. I’ve waxed lyrical on serotonin and the gut, magnesium levels, food intolerance, thyroid, the gut-brain connection and the like.

Gut Plan 3DA much bigger job: I have also completely revised and updated the Gut Plan – and brought it down in price to make it accessible for as many of you as possible. I’ve checked all products, reviewed the protocols, changed innumerable links (sorry; it’s a full-time job keeping links updated!), added two more issues to consider in the ‘What else could be wrong?’ section and amalgamated all the bonus guides into the actual plan so it hangs together even better, I hope 🙂

It’s now a lovely 66 pages of help and support for you, whether you need a gut and liver programme or a body MOT – we used it all the time as a first-step protocol for 3 months often no matter what anyone came into clinic with – and it rarely let us down. I still advise it now for all manner of things. Get the body environment right and healing will follow…

You can read all about the Gut Plan here. And I’ve even made an A5 paperback version for you so you don’t need to read it on screen.

In fact, the bowel & digestion section of the A-Z is quite extensive now so do check it out. We have factsheets now on: constipation, gallbladder pain, SIgA (the gut immunity marker), SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and ulcerative colitis.  There’s also quite an extensive one on leaky gut here. Some factsheets are quite small for now, but I am extending them and building more as I go along. I hope they help.

The Gut Plan

Meantime, for IBS Awareness week, here’s a bit of the new factsheet to start you off:

What causes IBS?

There are loads of possible causes here and it depends very much on what type and pattern of symptoms a person has. Here are some thoughts to start you off…

Food Intolerance and Poor Digestion

The biggest cause I have seen over the years is food sensitivity and poor digestion, which is why the Gut Plan below targets that (and more) below. Removing the most common foods involved usually helps, so follow the Gut Plan first. If not, then these might be some other things to think about:

 

Serotonin

If you are the constipated type and especially if you have some of the symptoms in the more severe list, maybe look at levels of serotonin. Why? Well, people don’t realise that up to 90% of our serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter) is made in the gut and it is therefore termed not just a brain neurotransmitter, but an enteric – or gut – one. If you cut the nerves from the brain to the gut, the gut would still work!

Serotonin affects the peristalsis of the muscles in the gut mainly. So, if you have too little of it, you’ll slow up (constipation) and if you have too much of it, you’ll speed up (diarrhoea). That’s why serotonin meds like receptors and agonists are used in IBS cases. However, serotonin is also important in controlling chronic pain, and in what I call hypersensitivity illnesses like CFS, FM, multiple intolerance. So, you can see how it might be worth looking into.

Certainly, I have seen people use 5-HTP, a precursor of serotonin, quite successfully to increase gut movement. Useful herbs to decrease serotonin in diarrhoea cases include ginger and peppermint. 

You can test serotonin levels using one of the neurotransmitter tests here

Interestingly, you can boost serotonin levels effectively using meditation and relaxation techniques too, so do look at the Mind-Body medicine section and especially the Healing Plan if you have some of those illnesses. I wrote it for you! I’ve written some more about this in the Gut Plan below too.

 

Nutrient deficiency

I should imagine a lot of the key issues also come down to poor absorption of nutrients. Magnesium is particularly key, not least because it is anti-spasmodic and the anti-anxiety mineral. Most of those conditions above are somehow connected to magnesium so check red blood cell levels (a standard test can be quite misleading). Interestingly, you also need magnesium as well as B6, B1 (thiamine) and folate for effective serotonin conversion and peristalsis in the gut. 

Follow step 1 in the Gut Plan (below) to improve digestion and absorption and check your nutrient levels here.

 

Adrenals & thyroid

A sub-set of patients with IBS have symptoms such as palpitations, hyperventilation, fatigue, excessive sweating and headaches and I would be looking there first at food allergy/intolerance reactions, adrenals, thyroid and the magnesium level again to start with.

Continue reading here.

 

 

Pain – Physical, Emotional or Both?

Here’s a blog post I’ve written on the new Mind-Body medicine blog, but I will share them here too if I think they might be useful for you. I must work on a way of collating them all together!

As I type, I am in the middle of my first ever bout of TMJ pain. Not. Very. Nice. And that is a gross understatement, I can tell you. In fact, I say it is my first bout, but I am actually starting to wonder if much of the mouth pain I have had over the past few years has been TMJ stuff all along.

TM-what?

TMJ stands for temporo-mandibular joint. It’s the jaw hinge that allows your lower jaw to open and close. Sometimes, it can become inflamed, as with any joint, or more likely stress or some form of reaction causes inflammation and/or tightening of the muscles that keep the TMJ in place. Those are the masseter, pterygoid and the temporalis muscles. Here is a pic for you:

Image result for TMJ

It is usually the muscles that spasm and pull the joint out of place and you get clicking jaws as a first sign. I’m not going to wax lyrical about TMJ problems, don’t worry. Just know that many people suffer with it and it can be excruciatingly painful!

Anyway, I thought it might be worth sharing my (ongoing) story with you as it is a good illustration of why we need to always look at health from both physiological and mind-body medicine perspectives to pick up all the clues.

Physiological

We know that TMJ problems occur mostly in people who clench their teeth or grind them at night. We know stress usually causes a flare-up in TMJ sufferers and I suspect sensitivity reactions does the same thing if that’s a weak spot for you. We can see what happens – the muscles tighten, the joints inflame – and you get pain shooting all over the jaw, head, ear and mouth or in a localised place. Now I know why my mouth pain moves about all the time, sometimes from hour to hour. Not always, but often.

So, off I went in my usual investigative manner. I suffer from mouth infections constantly and one had been present for a good few weeks by the time the TMJ pain started. The TMJ pain started in my ear. Ergo: mouth infection has caused an ear infection.

Off I trotted to the docs – a BIG thing for me to do and it was because you don’t mess about with ear pain after 4-5 days of not resolving it. I duly asked them to check if I had an ear infection and asked for some antibiotics I knew were TGF safe. Nope. No ear infection. Diagnosed TMJ inflammation instead. I assume the recent stress of the Minnie incident (my cat was very poorly for those of you not following the minutiae of my life on the Facebook groups ;)) combined with an infection in my gums is what triggered it physiologically.

I was given a steroid ear spray to lower inflammation.

Up until that point, the pain had been copable. Nasty, draining, but copable. One puff of the ear spray and half an hour later I was in agony. Pain got 10 x worse. On Maundy Thursday night so right when everything closed down for Easter! Ear spray had acetic acid in it which, in my pain stupor, I had missed. Acetic acid comes from corn – and at least this has shown me that I am still NCGS – and therefore grain-sensitive. I was secretly hoping the grains had got better along with the other load of food sensitivities – even though I knew as a true gluten illness, this is not likely. I’m only human and I too live in hope.

I shan’t go into the next 48 hours – my usual corn reaction time – let’s just spare you that.

Anyway, I was ice-packing, hot-water-bottling, massaging, trigger point releasing, applying oils, anti-inflammatories, taking ibuprofen and soluble steroids like sweeties, eating soft foods only, not talking (P was very pleased with that one..) and it was just about copable. I call it panicy-pain and I know many of you know what I mean. I wish you didn’t.

It wasn’t shifting. So, I had to think again.

Mind-body medicine

I did my usual process as described in the Healing Plan, and began by looking at what messages the body may be trying to tell me. I’d been working on the ear messages – ‘what wasn’t I hearing?’ etc for a few days but no wonder I wasn’t getting anywhere because it was jaw pain causing the ear pain. Doh.

I looked up jaw pain. Said to be related to anger. That fitted in very closely with some work Julie and I had been doing just before it started. Bingo!

I duly set off to beg Julie to help me release the pain and was WHEEing on it like mad.

Cutting a long story short, it was something Julie said: did I hate or have any strong feelings about a particular part of my body? No, I said. Then, I thought about it and realised I had hated my jaw area for most of my life and had caused it much pain. I won’t bore you by going into why. I had basically hated the very part of my body that was now hurting me, no doubt because I had caused that area pain repeatedly over many years. Oh. Bugger.

We are now doing lot of work to apologise to the body and to release that anger of me to my jaw and it back to me. Early days, but it is too coincidental not to be a part of it.

In fact, Julie has now done a new home hypno audio specifically about this very thing and has explained a bit about it for me:

Learn to Love And Accept Your Physical Body

Let’s suppose you have pain in a particular part of your body. Why is it there? What has caused it and what is it trying to tell you? Yes, I know this sounds potty, but your body can and does try to talk to you through pain, to share with you and to give you clues so that you can sort it out!

Before you can ‘learn to love and accept your physical body,’ you first need to make friends. You need to listen, open a dialogue, communicate, and be prepared for your body to tell you what’s going on. And be prepared for your body to have a bit of a moan at you! (Let’s be fair, if I was picked on, criticised and told off all the time, I wouldn’t be best pleased either! I might sulk, turn away, not want to talk to you, so be patient.) You will probably find, if you’re really honest with yourself, that you moan at your body a lot – damned migraine, again! Gut’s killing me, again! Argh! Etc, etc….

You may have been at war with your body for some time, hating it. Guess what? It hates you back! So, to turn this around, we need to call a truce, end the war, make peace, and build a new relationship based on mutual trust and respect.  Think about a real war, one between two countries… you don’t just end the war and then be best buddies overnight… there is mutual mistrust, and that takes time to heal and rebuild. You need to have peace talks to build that trust. So how do you do this?

The first thing you can do is to begin the process of ‘hearing’ your body.

Step 1; do a body scan. Stand in front of a full length mirror and examine yourself. Every single bit; bit by bit. Start at your head – examine your face, your hair, your neck and work your way down to your toes. As you are travelling down the body, ask yourself, “Do I have a good relationship with this bit of me? Do I accept it, care for it and support it, or do I hate it?” 

Don’t get me wrong – we all have bits of a our bodies we would prefer to be different (bigger bust, tighter bum, straighter nose, etc – but I’m not talking about these minor things. I’m talking about the ‘REALLY don’t like’ bits!). If you get any of these, or any ‘hates’, you have a problem. This is good! This problem highlights an issue, and now that you are aware of it, you can begin to heal it. You start accepting that part of you, you release the negativity around it, and you begin to make friends with it in a loving, supportive way.

Step 2 is to focus on that area which is in pain, and ask yourself, is there any memory of trauma, drama, shock or anger in this area. If there is, release it. Step 3 is to pour lots of love and support into that part of you that was hurting physically, into the cellular structure. Gradually, you will find that your body starts to work with you, your pain subsides, the attacks of physical pain less frequent and shorter, and bit by bit, you come into freedom from pain and suffering, and into wellbeing and health.

I am listening to this audio daily, WHEEing on it, meditating to calm the reactivity and pain down, as well as doing all the meds, massage and exercises normally given for TMJ problems.

A true blend of physiological and mind-body investigation and medicine, and I share this story to help illustrate how that works in day to day life. I hope it helps – wish me luck. I am looking forward very much to resolving this mouth problem once and for all.

Meantime, if you need some help, book in for a free chat with Julie to see if she can help. If you’d rather get started with DIY for now, there are several audios that fit together as a sort of package to help with this chronic pain side of things:

First of all need to make friends with yourself. Julie recommends listening to  Learning to Love Yourself, then Learning to Love Your Physical Body.

After these two, move on to My Body Can Heal – Part 1My Body Can Heal – Part 2

I’ve listened to (am listening to…) all of them and they are fab – as always.

OK, hope that helps. Pain-free – yes please. Workin’ on it… 🙂

Healing Plan Feedback. Aw shucks..

Home page flow chartPeople have been finishing my new Healing Plan – whilst I have been hiding behind a cushion in case they hate it!

But the consensus, so far, is: they love it. Yay 🙂

It was such a tough, personal thing to write but I am so glad I did now – I tried not to several times!

“..just thought I’d let you know that I read through this very quickly for the first time now and was greatly touched by it.  Part of it is sheer empathy and when you are speaking sometimes I know – literally – exactly what you are talking about.

I think [your] openness will really help other people so much and make them feel very much less alone.

I am also overwhelmed by your knowledge and understanding of so many different approaches.  It truly is a compendium of how to approach chronic illness.  

Well done – massive congratulations, both on the book and on your brave and gentle journey. You are a genuine inspiration xx”

“I have just finished your Healing Plan – what an amazing piece of work! It resonated very strongly with me… I think it is very comprehensive and gives people a really structured way forward while explaining difficult concepts clearly.

I also like the way you are so generous at referencing others’ work – not everyone is.
I loved the book and feel you deserve all the extra success and recognition that will come your way.”

“I dived straight in and read the first 90 pages. Found it excellent and really looking forward to putting this into practice!”

Smiley Micki 🙂

Stats – A Bit of An Eye-Opener!

Just thought I’d have a look at how many followers I’ve got currently. I don’t really care about the quantity as I know my followers are quality ones, which is MUCH nicer! However, I was just coming up to 1000 on the Purehealth monthly newsletter so thought I’d have a look. I surprised myself.

I currently have just under 4,100 followers on social media and email plus a whopping 14,700 unique visitors to the blogs each month (18,965 site views per month). Whoa.

That means 176,400 unique visitors visit my blogs each year and that they get 227,580 views per year so far. Plus all those email and social media followers.

How nice is that?! I know that’s small-fry to ‘real’ bloggers, but I am really pleased with that. I had best keep writing posts then 😉

Thank you for being with me anyway – and I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them! Onward…

Low salt intake: myth or sound advice? P

Low salt intake: myth or sound advice? Personally, I’ve never bought into this. http://ow.ly/cL1730aYz2e