Did you come in to the new year with a list of resolutions for a healthier you and have already fallen off the wagon? Don’t feel defeated. Don’t see failure. Pick yourself up and start again. In this post, I will help you choose realistic, achievable goals and remove the blocks that keep you from success.
Every year I have gone through the highs of expectation and hope and the lows of defeat and failure with my resolutions. So this year I took a different approach. I got real. It is hard enough to change one thing never mind several. So I asked myself what was the real goal for me – the big picture goal. For me it was to embrace a healthier lifestyle. There is a lot in that one goal. So then I broke it down into sections. For me, embracing a healthier lifestyle meant: making changes in my diet, finding the right balance of exercise, knowing when I could realistically accomplish the exercise I needed and choosing on home, gym, classes or a combination. I had to get really honest with myself to see what was realistic for me, and what I would actually do. Take a moment, and do the same for yourself. Get real and reasonable with your resolutions.
I have been working on the food part of my healthier me for a year, slowly embracing changes. I have tried in the past to make lots of changes and I was not ready. It felt overwhelming. I was holding onto attachments around certain food and beverages. I just did not have the mindset that I was really ready. Then this past fall, I reached the place where I was ready. So, I began working with Dr. Robyn Giard, ND of Starry Brook Natural Medicine. Dr. Giard has helped me to understand some of my health issue and changes I needed to incorporate in my life including diet, supplements, and exercise. She is helping me understand how to manage my fibromyalgia and build up my immune system – in addition to EFT and energy work.
I have also had the support of Erin Holt Health. I have done several of Erin’s cleanses in the past two years. With each cleanse, I embraced a certain aspect of the whole food, delicious, nutritious approach to cleansing my body and making sustainable changes. She has also helped me understand how certain foods are wreaking havoc on my body and which ones are nourishing it.
Today I began a winter cleanse offered by Erin Holt Health through 3 Bridges Yoga. I have been gearing up for this, so this time I can embrace the whole program. It is only 12 days, but many of the elements are already in place. I don’t eat gluten, so that won’t be a challenge (this time – the first time it was!) I have been slowly letting go of coffee and enjoying it occasionally instead of daily, and it has been easier for me to drink and enjoy herbal teas and yerba mate or green teas on the days I do need a lift. So, this time it will be easier to let caffeine go for 12 days. I have been making healthy green smoothies and juices daily and enjoying them. I am drinking more water and I am eating less. I have cut down my alcohol consumption considerably over the past two weeks. I feel more confident about committing to this cleanse and I am excited to offer this loving gift to my body. This is not a cleanse where I have to drink lots of packaged shakes, or take pills. I will be eating whole, healthy, unprocessed, yummy real food! This is how I mostly eat, anyway but it is easy for me to sneak things in and with the past holiday season, I was not so diligent. This is a wonderful opportunity to reset my metabolism and clear out the toxic junk of holiday eating.
“This is not a drastic fast or a crash diet – there are no extreme measures involved. Short-term deprivation does not achieve long-term results. When we start from an extreme place and seek extreme results, we set ourselves up for extreme disappointment. The idea is to support, rather than shock, your system. You will be eating whole foods and creating healthy habits in order to nourish and rejuvenate the body. This cleanse includes a simplified diet of whole, fresh, unprocessed foods that bring the body back into balance.“ ~ Erin Holt ~ from Winter Cleanse 2014.
In the beginning of January, I wrote down my goal of establishing a daily exercise routine. I made a list of potential pitfalls and excuses of why I couldn’t do this. I wrote down why I thought I should have this goal and why I wanted this goal. Then I tapped from the script I created from this exercise. I was so surprised at what unfolded for me and what I released. Since then it has been much easier for me to get on the treadmill, practice yoga daily and incorporate weights, and get to some yoga classes.
So whether your goals this year include eating healthier, exercising, being more organized, establishing a mediation practice, blogging or creating video, use this tapping exercise to help clear what may be making it difficult for you to stick to your goals.
Let’s get started!
Grab a piece a paper, a journal, or blank page on your computer screen.
1. Choose 1 goal
2. I would like to ______________________
3. I want to this because ______________________ (list as many things as apply)
4. Do I want it as much as I think I SHOULD want it?
5. What is in my way or why do I think I can’t or won’t do this?
6. Tap through your points saying what you have written.
7. Notice what happens. Does a memory surface? Do you feel more empowered? Do you feel worse? Continue to tap on any new thoughts or feelings that you have until you feel calm and centered.
8. Notice how things are shifting for you as the days go on. Do you find it easier to take action toward your goal? Do you feel good about wanting to achieve your goal?
If you are new to tapping, you can download your free guide here.
If you need more support in releasing feelings or moving forward, you can also join me at Tappy Hour, live and virtually. Click here for the schedule.
Posted in Holistic Mental Health, Natural Healthcare, Natural Remedies for Anxiety, Weight Loss
Tagged cleanse, EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques, goals, health, new year resolutions, nutrition, Tapping
Whether you are attempting to eliminate certain foods because of food allergy or sensitivity or wanting to institute an exercise program, or let go of a bad habit, it can be very difficult to make these changes. Often, we think if I just had more discipline or I tried harder, I could do this. Or you may hear yourself saying, “Why can’t I stop doing this? I know what I should do, but…” This is not uncommon and you are not alone! Change is not easy for anyone and here are some reasons why:
You are creatures of habit.
It is not easy to break habits and patterns. Some have been ingrained in you for a lifetime. Everyone has a physiological and energetic level of comfort for what they know. Even if at some level you want to change, at another level you are comfortable with what feels right to you. That is why people get into relationships with the same type of people over and over again. At an unconscious level this is what feels normal or comfortable, even though consciously it is unwelcome.
You are unconsciously triggered.
When you suffer a disappointment or losses at a young age or your needs were not met, and you have not cleared or healed them, you will find that situations, people, or words may trigger you. Often you don’t know why or realize what’s happening. One of my clients discovered that when her husband responded to her in a certain way, it subconsciously triggered a memory from her teenage years when her parents reproached her harshly for not living up to their expectations in a contest. When we cleared that wounding, her husband no longer triggered her in the same way.
There is an emotional connection.
Sometimes there is an emotional connection to a person or time in your life. The other day I helped a client see that her craving for carbohydrates helped her relive the feeling of safety and warmth she associated with her grandmother. Since there was such a positive emotional connection of which she was unaware, it was impossible for her to stop those cravings and desires for foods she knew were making her feel unhealthy.
There is a benefit or it is serving you in some way.
Often we have no conscious awareness that we are actually benefitting by the very thing we wish to change. I helped another who was often sick; see that although she wanted to feel healthy, she received a lot of fussing and attention from her husband when she did not feel well. This was the most positive attention she received, so there was a part of her that did not want to lose that. So once we cleared that belief and benefit, she began to create a different relationship with her husband that is much more rewarding.
There is an upper limit ceiling.
Everyone has a limit to which they feel they can be happy, healthy, loved, or abundant. Did you ever hear yourself saying, things are going too well and you are waiting for something to go wrong? Unconsciously you have a belief that things can only be so good or smooth or right in your life.
You are telling yourself the wrong messages.
Often when you are giving something up, you will remind yourself of how much you miss it, or why you don’t want to give it up. If you are adding something in, it is easy to remind yourself that you are too busy, or it’s too hard, or you don’t enjoy it. None of these will encourage you to make the change. Instead try telling yourself that you are encouraged that by eliminating a food or beverage, that you will have more energy or feel less pain. Tell yourself how good it feels to move, read, and meditate – whatever it is you are adding in. The more you connect to the motivation behind why you are changing and remind yourself of this, the more chance you have to succeed.
You can see that discipline alone does not make for an easy change. Look behind what is stopping you or making it difficult for you to embrace the change and what motivated you in the first place. I always encourage you to begin asking questions. See what pops up for you, and see where you can begin identify emotions that are feeding your unconscious thoughts, responses, and reactions. You can make changes in your life with ease when your conscious mind and unconscious mind are in alignment.
Tapping, (EFT) is a great way to access the unconscious and clear the energy of emotions associated with experiences in your life that are keeping you stuck or held hostage from making changes that you want or are advised to make
Energy healing is also another way. When you work with a healer who can access the information in your energy system and clear it for you, you experience more space and comfort to change things up.
If you want to discover for yourself the power of energy work including EFT and chakra healing, you can schedule a Meet and Greet to meet with Cheri by phone or at Starry Brook. We can often identify easily what is blocking you from embracing the regiment or changes that our doctors are suggesting to you, so that you can quickly experience the health benefits of making those changes.
STRESS. We all have varying levels of it in our life. It seems inevitable. How we manage stress can have a huge impact on our health, career, relationships and our life in general. One of the factors that can help improve stress is to recognize it, acknowledge it and choose a positive outlet for it. When you are aware of what is taking place in your mind, your body and your emotions, you can take positive action to minimize your stress levels and the effects it has on you.
There are many ways to reduce stress and I will list some here for you and then I will talk about one of my favorites, EFT or tapping and how you can utilize this life changing tool and join me virtually or in person to experience the benefits for yourself.
Here’s a list of ways for you lessen the impact of stress you are feeling:
- Go for a walk.
- Spend time in nature.
- Exercise – move!
- Take several slow deep, conscious breaths.
- Go to a yoga class
- Listen to relaxing or uplifting music.
- Write in a journal.
- Learn how to say no and set healthy boundaries.
- Express your feelings honestly.
- Play with a puppy or a baby.
- Change your thoughts about the situation.
- Choose to be present with what you are doing and let everything else go until you can give it attention.
- Eat healthy whole foods with lots of vegetables.
Ideally selecting one or more of these and making them a regular practice will actually help reduce your overall stress level. Yet in the moment any of these will work.
Tapping on the endpoints of your meridian system while talking about what is bothering, upsetting, frustrating you is an easy, safe way to let go of the energy building up in your mind, body, and emotions. When you let go of steam in this manner, it neutralizes the charge that is feeding your stress. It allows you to voice what you are feeling in a safe and non-invasive manner while it also reinforces that you are choosing to be okay even though you are experiencing all this stress.
Tapping on your own in moments of overwhelm, intense emotions, and heavy stress can make a big difference in the moment and in the future. Tapping with a professional who can hold space and guide you into deeper realms to release more of the underlying cause of the stress can be life changing.
Whether you stress is related to every day life, your job, chronic pain, an illness, a relationship challenge, or lack of a love life doesn’t matter. What does matter is what the underlying emotions and energy of the situation(s) are doing to your mind, body and spirit. What matters is how this is affecting how you handle your life, relationships, and your choices.
When we are tapping, we work with both the conscious mind – that which you are aware AND the unconscious mind – that which you are not aware. The unconscious mind is where so much information lies that can help shift your energy, health, thinking and choices, which can then reduces stress and the toll it takes on you.
We would like to invite you to download a free introductory guide to tapping to help you get started right away to eliminating stress in your life. Please visit this page, where you will be able to access this guide as well as other resources – http://cherivalentine.com/resources/
We would also love for you to join Cheri for Tappy Hour™ – where you tap as a group. What is so amazing in a group setting is that no matter what your stressors or circumstances are, you will receive huge, clearing, releasing benefits tapping with a seasoned facilitator and guide.
You can tap with us virtually once a month via video conferencing or phone and join us live twice weekly in our office at Starry Brook Natural Medicine, LLC ~ 14 Bow St. Exeter, NH. The investment is only $15 and the benefits are priceless.
Cheri is also happy to come to you if you have a group and want to experience a customized and more personalized group Tappy Hour™.
Whether you choose to explore tapping with us or not, please choose at least one of the suggestions in this article to begin to lessen your stress so your body and mind can expand into healthy realms.
By Alena Ciriello, Certified Hypnotherapist
Hypnosis is very effective tool for changing poor habits. Why don’t more people know this? For one, permanent weight loss is costly to Big Pharma and does little to keep you purchasing shakes, supplements and the like to keep the Weight Loss Industry in business. It also takes a little involvement from you – chiefly willing to sit for an hour and acknowledge what comes to mind. This can be painful for some people as well as startling – “I didn’t realize I hated my body that much!” These thoughts which zip around in our brains at lightening speed undermine our goals and our ability to succeed. Eighteen hypnotic studies showed that patients who learned self-hypnosis lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t (and, in one study, kept it off two years after treatment ended).
The subconscious mind is considered to be the source or root of many of our behaviors, emotions, attitude and motivations. Hypnosis is a powerful tool for redirecting subconscious patterns towards more fruitful thoughts and behaviors.
In this day and age of scientific breakthroughs, people think, “why can’t I lose weight effortlessly?’ People don’t realize that for permanent weight loss, they need to change what is going on outside as well as inside. It’s not just about food and exercise , but many other things such as motivation, stress reduction, habit control, self-love, worthiness, beliefs, relationships, old associations to food and comfort, and many more.
Hypnotherapy can assist you to build your motivation and determination, acknowledge your resistance, identify your stumbling blocks and create solutions that work for you. Hypnotherapy can also help you to reprogram your unwanted habits into good ones, like craving healthy foods, rather than high calorie alternatives. Lack of exercise is a struggle for almost everyone. Hypnosis can help you to develop the motivation you need to start exercising and instill in you the habit needed to continue to exercise.
Another effective method of using hypnosis in weight loss is imagery. It will help you train your subconscious mind to see yourself as a thinner, healthier person, which will increase your motivation, self-esteem, and self-confidence. Your entire mood and self-image will gradually change. This will increase your success rate and before you know it, you will achieve results that you have been visualizing.
By Krista Weikel Delaplane, ND
Many patients ask me, “What is inflammation anyway?“ Inflammation is a stage of the body’s natural immune response. You need a healthy inflammatory response to fight a cold, heal a sprained ankle or recover from a surgery. Inflammation becomes a problem when it happens over a long period of time and starts to slowly damage your joints, blood vessels, heart, lungs or other tissue. Chronic diseases are associated with too much inflammation in the body. Conditions such as heart disease, allergies, ulcerative colitis, asthma, diabetes, eczema, multiple sclerosis all benefit from anti-inflammatory treatments. A great place to start is with eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Many people find relief from symptoms that they have had for a long time by avoiding foods that trigger inflammation and eating ones that reduce inflammation.
Here is a quick guide to what to eat on the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Read more about it at: http://theantiinflammationdiet.com/. Some people adapt this way of eating as a lifestyle, others use this as a guideline for a 30-day cleanse or tune-up before summer. Ask your doctor which approach would be best for your health.
Steamed or blanched vegetables:
- The primary reason for using steamed vegetables is that steaming improves the utilization or the availability of the food nutrients. Use minimal raw vegetables except as a salad. Include at least one green vegetable daily.
- Eat a variety of any and all vegetables (except tomatoes and potatoes) that you can tolerate. It is best to try and eat mostly the lower carbohydrate (3, 6% sugar) vegetables. For example:
- 3% – asparagus, bean sprouts, beet greens, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Swiss chard, cucumber, endive, lettuce, mustard greens, radish, spinach, watercress;
- 6% – string beans, beets, brussels sprouts, chives, collards, eggplant, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, onion, parsley, red pepper, pumpkin, rutabagas, turnip, zucchini;
- 15%: artichoke, parsnip, green peas, squash, carrot;
- Poach, bake, steam, or broil deep-sea ocean fish. Cod, haddock, halibut, mackerel, sardines, summer flounder, wild Pacific salmon are preferred. Avoid shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab, clam) and farm-raised fish.
- Eat only the meat and not the skin of free-range or organically grown chicken or turkey. Bake, broil or steam.
- Eat only 1 or 2 pieces of practically any fruit except citrus. If possible, it is preferred to eat the fruit baked (such as a baked apple or pear). Like the vegetables, try to eat mostly the low carbohydrate (low % sugar) fruits. For example:
3% – cantaloupe, rhubarb, strawberries, melons;
6% – apricot, blackberries, cranberries, papaya, peach, plum, raspberries, kiwi;
15% – apple, blueberries, cherries, grapes, mango, pear, pineapple, pomegranate;
20+% – banana, figs, prunes, any dried fruit.
- Occasionally maple syrup, rice syrup, barley syrup, raw honey or stevia
- Absolutely no sugar, NutraSweet, or any other artificial sweetener is allowed.
Seeds and Nuts:
- Grind flax, pumpkin, sesame or sunflower seeds and add to steamed vegetables, cooked grains, etc. You may also eat nut and seed butters, such as almond, cashew, sesame, etc.
- For butter, mix together 1 pound of butter and 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil (from a new dark jar). Whip at room temperature and store in the refrigerator.
- Use extra virgin olive oil for all other situations requiring oil.
- Drink a MINIMUM of 6 to 8 glasses of spring, bottled, filtered or reverse-osmosis filtered water every day. Try to drink one glass per hour.
- Eat one to two cups of cooked grains per day of those you tolerate, unless you have indications of high insulin levels such as overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.
- Allowed grains include: amaranth, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, brown rice, teff.
- Eat a variety of any legumes that you are able to tolerate. Soak for 48-72 hours and cook slowly: split peas, lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, fermented soy (tempeh or miso), mung beans, garbanzo beans, aduki and azuki beans.
Avoid the following foods
|all animal milks
||all animal cheeses
||all corn products
|commercial eggs (organic feee range are OK)
||potatoes-red or white
|all wheat products and gluten containing grains
||all fruit juices
||all dried fruit
||any processed food
|red meat (beef, pork)
||all caffeinated teas, coffee
Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state which happens every day. For example, hypnosis is the last conscious waking state before sleep. In order to achieve sleep, we must enter into a light stage of hypnosis. This state of mind actually makes it possible for a person to “get to sleep.” Unlike sleep, hypnosis is a state during which you are consciously aware of what is happening around you. You might even notice more details about your surroundings. When you in hypnosis your eyes will be closed which will extend your other senses. You might notice a background noise, sense of the room, the way your body is touching the chair et cetera.
Another simple way to understand hypnosis is to think of it as an escape mechanism that is built into our behavior. We all possess this mechanism. It is often called the fight/flight reaction. Hypnosis is a state of mind that allows us to escape from any overstimulating experience, such as falling in love, stressful driving conditions, extreme climate condition (heat or cold,) any intense anxiety or fear, intense physical pain or discomfort. To escape these we can enter a trance state of mind.
Hypnosis works with the power of the subconscious mind to change habits and behaviors. The subconscious mind is considered to be the source or root of many of our behaviors, emotions, attitudes and motivations. Hypnosis is believed to be a powerful tool for accessing the subconscious mind and creating improvements in our lives. The basic idea of hypnosis is to influence the subject with his/her own suggestions. All suggestions have to be within the subject’s belief system otherwise the mind will reject it.
A hypnotist is a person trained to trigger the hypnotic state and deliver the message to subconscious mind. At Starry Brook Natural Medicine we use Kappasinian hypnosis (http://www.hypnosis.edu/). Prior to hypnosis we will test your suggestibility; suggestibility is the way you learn and take in information. Some people respond best to direct suggestion, while others respond best to indirect suggestion. Most of us can respond to both direct and indirect suggestions but generally have a preference for one or the other. This important tool helps us to trigger hypnosis for all of our clients.
While you go into hypnotic state a series of physiological changes will happen, some of them you will be aware of some of them your hypnotist will bring to your attention. Once you in hypnotic state your hypnotherapist will assist you to relax, release any tension, create a positive image of yourself and give you tools for your self-improvement goals.
Hypnosis can be used for wide variety life obstacles such as weight loss, smoking cessations, habit control, stress reduction, fears and phobias, improve your relationship, sport performance, built up your confidence, self-esteem, and much, much more. But you don’t have to have any issue at all. You might just simply want to work on your well-being and make the best out of your life.
Influenza virus (Flu) has been spreading quickly throughout the United States this year. One of our favorite anti-viral herbs that are safe for kids and adults is elderberry (Sambucus nigra or Sambucus canadensis). Elderberries are made into syrup that is a very effective treatment for preventing and treating influenza and other viral infections like the common cold. Several studies have shown elderberry extract to have anti-viral effects while circulating in the body. Elderberry extract prevents the virus from being able to infect more cells in your body. Without the ability to infect more cells and reproduce, the virus cannot survive. Elderberry helps your immune system fight the virus which helps you recover faster.
Elderberry can be used to treat symptoms of the flu or as daily preventative immune support. We often recommend one (1) teaspoon of elderberry syrup every morning for children over age 6 during flu season to protect from potential exposure. For younger children, please check with Dr. Delaplane. Adults require higher doses and may need additional support such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC).
If you do not have a plan in place for your child to strengthen their immune system, please schedule a consult with Dr. Delaplane, Starry Brook’s pediatric specialist. She will create a winter health prevention plan tailored to your child’s health needs. Elderberry syrup does not work the same as the flu vaccine; it needs to be taken on a regular basis to prevent viral infections.
The best prevention guidelines for the flu:
- Avoid contact with people who are sick. Symptoms of the flu include: fever, fatigue, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, possibly diarrhea or vomiting.
- If you experience these symptoms call your doctor to seek treatment immediately. Treatments for influenza are most effective when started within 24-48 hours of onset of symptoms.
- Stay at home from work or school when experiencing flu symptoms and at least 1-2 days after fever is gone without fever-lowering medication.
- Cover your cough! Cough into upper arm, sleeve or tissue. Droplets from your mouth and nose spread infection to others.
- Always wash hands after coughing or sneezing, blowing nose, before eating or preparing food, after arriving home and after using bathroom. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid sugary foods – these can slow down the body’s natural immune response.
Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med 1995;1:361-369.
Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res 2004;32:132-140.
Posted in Children's Health, Flu, Natural Healthcare, Seasonal Health Tips
Tagged cold and flu, cough, Elderberry, fever, flu, flu shot, influenza, vaccine, Vitamin C
For ten years, my fiance, Bryan Giard, has raised funds for the Muscular Dystophy Association (MDA). The Trans NH Bike Ride is a three day, 250 mile fundraising ride. Each rider must raise $750 – Bryan’s personal goal this year is to raise $2,500. The funds the Trans NH Bike Ride donates to the MDA provides help and hope in many ways:
- Clinics – expert specialized medical care
- Research – cutting-edge investigation into treatments and cures
- Support – help obtaining equipment and coping with challenges
- Camp - a barrier-free week of fun, friendship and laughter for kids
Help us reach (and surpass!) Bryan’s goal. We look forward to tipping back a cold one at Red Hook with you at the end of the ride!
How to Help:
Riding is the easy part. (Cheering Bryan on is even easier!) It’s the fundraising that can be difficult. But with your help, you can help us reach and surpass our goal. We’re almost at the fundraising finish line!
- Visit Bryan’s secure fundraising page. This will automatically send a receipt to your email for tax purposes.
- Make a check payable to Trans NH Bike Ride and mail it to Starry Brook, I’ll pass it to Bryan.
2012 Ride Dedication
Your donation will go a long way in the fight against neuromuscular disease!
This year’s ride is dedicated to Anthony Jennings. He was diagnosed at 9 years old with Becker Muscular Dystrophy. “Can’t” is not in Anthony’s vocabulary, but rather “we’ll find a way.” True to form, despite the difficulties of BMD (needing assistance to pour drinks, get out of a chair, or walk from one end of school to the other), Anthony is a member of the PVC Pirates FIRST Robotics team, a recent inductee into the National Honor Society, Manager of the LHS Varsity Baseball team, and the radio voice of Lancer football.
Event Date: June 22 – 24
Start: Canadian border
End: Portsmouth, NH
I’m counting on YOU to join me in congratulating all of the riders at 1:30pm as they are escorted by fire truck to the finish line at Red Hook Brewery.
Looking for that recipe, appliance or product that Dr. Robyn raved about? Need a recommendation for a gluten-free product? We’ve compiled some of our favorite books, products and tips into a easy-to-use store:
Posted in Acupuncture, Bioidentical Hormone Therapy, Children's Health, Fertility, Financial Health, Holistic Mental Health, Hormones, Male Health, Massage, Natural Healthcare, Natural Intimacy, Natural Remedies for Anxiety, Natural Remedies for Stress, Pregnancy, Starry Brook Updates, Weight Loss, Women's Health
Most animals, including humans, are populated by rich, highly complex and genetically diverse communities of microorganisms. These microorganisms (also referred to as microbes or flora) inhabit nearly every part of our bodies, from our gut to our skin and may in fact vary in populations on our elbow to our face. There are many studies that show the brain effect on gut bacteria (top-down control). It is known, for example, that psychological and physical stress induce dysfunction of the intestinal barrier. However, recent research may imply that gut bacteria can also influence the brain, creating a “chicken or the egg” scenario for clinicians. Clinical research is critical to justify consideration of patients’ gastrointestinal health while treating psychiatric disorders.
A recent article published by Dr. Serguei O. Fetissov and Dr. Pierre Dechelotte in France, suggests that eating disorders, major depressive disorder, and narcolepsy might not originate in the brain but rather is a dysfunction of the “gutbrain axis involving the humoral immune system” (Curr. Opin. Clin. Nutr. Metab. Care 2011;14:477-82). Some of the strongest evidence of this connection may be found in eating disorders.
Dr. Fetissov and Dr. Dechelotte suggest that the microbial environment of the gastrointestinal (GI) system may represent a “”key causative factor triggering production of certain neuropeptide-reactive autoAbs, which in turn will modulate corresponding peptidergic signaling resulting in modification of eating-related behaviors and eventually eating disorders.”
Another study, by Dr. K.M. Neufeld and colleagues at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont., indicates that intestinal microbiota plays a role in the development of the central nervous system and behavior. They evaluated the behavioral characteristics of germ-free (think of mice with no normal intestinal flora) mice and specific pathogen-free (healthy) adult mice. The germ-free mice showed lowered levels of anxiety, however, they engaged in risky behavior more frequently and for longer periods of time than did healthy mice (specific pathogen-free mice). Germ-free mice also exhibited an up-regulation of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, as well as down-regulation of 5HT1A receptors and NMDA receptor expression, all of which are directly related to the stress response and to emotional behavior. (Neurogastroenterol. Motil. 2011;23:255-64).
Not only is there a link between gut microbiota and behavior/stress, but stress in turn, affects the gut microbial environment- a two-way street. A study published by Dr. Michael T. Bailey and his colleagues indicates that social stress can have a profound impact on the population of various intestinal microbiota. The researchers used a form of social stress known to function as a chronic social stressor. They found that exposure to this stressor decreased the number of bacteria of the genus Bacteroides, but also increased the number of bacteria in the genus Clostridium. Stress also increased levels of interleukin-6, a pro-inflammatory cytokine whose expression is known to increase as a result of stress, and Monocyte chemotactic protein-1, which recruits monocytes to injured sites and whose expression is regulated by stress. However, when mice were treated with antibiotics (to redue the number of microbes) prior to social stress stressors, the mice did not show increased interleukin-6 or MCP-1 level. These results suggest that increases in cytokines because of stressors are dependent on microbiota (Brain Behav. Immun. 2011;25:397-407).
The few examples I have provided here are encouraging. I would like to see further clinical studies on probiotics and mood. I encourage patients to evaluate their gut flora through clinical lab tests when natural remedies for stress, anxiety and depression (5-HTP, GABA) or prescriptive medicines (Prozac, Lexapro, Valium, Wellbutrin, etc.) fail to provide optimal results.