Adrenal Health: A Direct Link to PTSD

By Heidi Toy, Educated Nutrition      

Psychological trauma can cause both acute and long-term issues in individuals. Acute impact can include things such as panic, anxiety, confusion, and heightened cortisol levels due to this response. Some individuals will develop acute stress disorder (ASD), and 80 percent of those individuals will go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The psychological trauma brought about by the experience of profound threat leads to a longer-term syndrome that has been defined, validated, and termed PTSD in the clinical literature. PTSD is often accompanied by devastating functional impairment. PTSD is a debilitating anxiety disorder that can be triggered by the smallest things. PTSD victims suffer from hyper-arousal, reliving traumatic events, and avoidance.

Most individuals are aware of trauma’s effects on our mental states, but not the physical effects it has on our bodies. During times of trauma and the PTSD that may follow, an individual’s adrenal glands take a terrible toll. When the brain perceives a threat, the adrenal glands flood the body with adrenaline and cortisol; our body’s natural reaction being “fight or flight.” In individuals with PTSD, quite often military personnel or first responders, the persistent state of hyper-arousal can even lead to permanent neurological changes.

The brain monitors the amount of cortisol our bodies require. Cortisol helps regulate the immune system, blood sugar, and tendencies toward depression. The adrenal system is responsible for processing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can be severely affected after significant trauma leading to PTSD. A variety of symptoms can occur, such as fatigue, exhaustion, and stress overload.

The adrenal glands not only help regulate the body’s reaction to stress, but also produce hormones that regulate reproduction. The major stress hormones are cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These hormones help increase energy, increase blood sugar levels, and speed up circulation and respiration to help the body survive through fight or flight. The major sex hormones produced by the adrenals are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These are all critical for growth, metabolism, strength, endurance, mental drive, menstrual function, and reproductive ability.

Depending on how long an individual with PTSD suffers from adrenal fatigue, they can suffer from both hyper-adrenal issues, as well as hypo-adrenal issues. Individuals with current on-set PTSD are stuck in a state of stress producing stress hormones at higher than normal levels. Individuals who have suffered from PTSD for a longer period have lower cortisol levels than normal, like with advanced adrenal fatigue where energy levels crash from reduced adrenal function.

Most Veteran’s Affairs (VA) hospitals are now being staffed with individuals that are well-versed in PTSD; however, many still do not understand the role the adrenal glands play as the Western medical community does not recognize adrenal fatigue as an accepted diagnosis, although, the symptoms are significant enough to impair a person’s life following the experience or trauma.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include: slow morning starter, insomnia, crave salty foods, tendency to need sunglasses, bright lights at night bother eyes, tend to be keyed up/trouble calming down, become dizzy when standing up suddenly, experience “hangry” hungry and/or angry if meals are missed (hypoglycemia). If you experience any of these symptoms, lab-based adrenal testing via saliva or DUTCH urine by a practitioner who is versed in reading these tests and writing adequate healing protocols using supplementation, diet, and lifestyle changes should be considered. For the months of May/June 2017, any military or first responder personnel who presents this article to our office will receive $50 off an adrenal saliva index test (not redeemable for cash).

Adrenal Restoration Tips:

Stress management   • Get adequate sleep. 7 to 8 hours of sleep beginning at 10:00 p.m. is much more restoring to the adrenals than 8 hours beginning at 1:00 a.m. Nap, if needed, but not enough to interfere with night sleep • Relaxation: Breathing or skilled relaxation exercises, listen to relaxation tapes, meditate, biofeedback • Accept nurturing and affection • Laughter • Counseling

Diet • Whole foods • Avoid refined sugar • Avoid alcohol • Adequate protein • Eliminate/Reduce caffeine • Avoid all allergic foods such as gluten, soy, corn, which can weaken the system and can be an adrenal stressor • Fasting and detoxification/cleansing diets should be avoided, at least initially

Heidi Toy is a functional medicine practitioner, and the owner of Educated Nutrition, located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Her focus is helping people heal holistically, with an emphasis on digestion, weight loss, depression, female hormone issues, and fatigue. 

Holistic Treatment for PTSD

By Abbie Burgess

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? An estimated 8 percent of Americans have the condition —that’s the size of the population of Texas! According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, the demand for treatment continues to grow. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect survivors not only of combat experience, but also other traumatic events such as natural disasters or assault. It has been recognized as a psychobiological mental disorder since 1980, though symptoms often go untreated or undetected. Some sufferers are now finding help through complementary medicine. Holistic practitioners experienced in working with PTSD abound in Eau Claire—and with treatments including massage, therapy animals, and yoga, their methods might pleasantly surprise you.

Treating PTSD with Bodywork Therapy Chris Hayden of Driftless Bodywork in Eau Claire and Menomonie treats patients with therapeutic massage, acupressure, Rolfing Structural Integration, AMMA Therapy, and Tai Chi. “Body therapists have long been aware that emotions play out in the body as well as the mind,” Hayden explains. “This is never more obvious than in the case of trauma, which can create such overwhelm that one’s body becomes locked into a pattern of tension and guarding…it is as if part of the person was frozen in time at the moment of trauma, unable to process the experience and move on.”  By engaging the body’s tissues in a mindful way, Hayden says bodywork can help these patterns to release, allowing the body and mind to be whole in the present moment.

Equine Assisted Therapy They may be too big to fit in a lap, but horses make ideal therapy animals. According to Trinity Equestrian Center, horses have an innate ability to read a person’s body language. The Eau Claire organization offers free veteran horse therapy to qualified military individuals and their families, no prior riding experience required. The program helps veterans struggling with PTSD identify their triggers and create tools to manage reactions, behavior, and choices. “Through experiential work with horses, we help veterans rediscover their identity and re-establish their purpose,” says Trinity Equestrian Center Therapist Sylvia Piekarz. “It is a meaningful experience that will change their heart and therefore, change their life. Working with our horses creates a connection of their hearts that is indescribable and so very effective.”

Healing Emotional Trauma with Yoga Yoga is becoming increasingly recognized as an effective  treatment for reducing symptoms of PTSD. It can also help with prevention—a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy found that sensory-enhanced hatha yoga shows potential to effectively address symptoms of combat stress before they develop into full-blown PTSD. Sandra Helpsmeet, a registered yoga instructor and psychotherapist at Vantage Point Clinic, teaches Yoga for Anxiety and PTSD class and Yoga for Pain and Depression. Both classes are offered in partnership with her clinic, specialized to address the needs of patients within an environment where they can be comfortable going at their own pace. Helpsmeet says yoga is a beneficial auxiliary treatment to therapy and believes the two complement each other well. “People think yoga is yoga. They don’t realize the broad spectrum of applications it has.” Its emphasis on breathing makes it ideally suited for treating trauma conditions. “Yoga is inherently calming and grounding,” she explains. Helpsmeet says any yoga class could be potentially beneficial, especially if the instructor has a high level of certification, but an instructor with experience working with veterans is ideal. This is just a sampling of what holistic practitioners can offer to help patients cope with PTSD. Whether you or someone you love is interested in holistic therapies, the important thing is there are options available. The best way to find out if a method is effective for an individual is to give it a try.

Ease Holiday Stress with Essential Oils

Is the issue lack of information, lack of motivation, or just not sure where to start? We know education is power. Not just in flexing yourbrain but also in the knowledge of the basics to care for yourself and your family. How do we deal with the emotions of the holidays? Too many health issues that were reserved for the “older” citizens are now trickling down to our children and grandchildren. Arthritis, diabetes, obesity, increases in allergies to everyday foods like peanut butter, nuts, breads, and so much more. What were once considered rare diseases are now becoming common place like autism, ADD/ADHD, or even juvenile auto-immune diseases. There is so much information available, but you have a difficulttime in deciphering what is true and what is in error, what is pertinent and what is hype. Does anyone have any reasonable answers? All you would like is to feel better and take care of your family. Not too much to ask…right? What if I told you that there are answers, and you can take back your control and responsibility for you and your family’s health in a logical, science-based manner without breaking the bank and without needing  a doctorate?

Please join us on Tuesday evenings at Unity Christ Center for FREE educational classes. Please  contact me if you would like further information. Drlynnthompson1@gmail.com

Dangers of Mercury in Dental Fillings

By: Jan Carroll

Various heavy metals enter our bodies through what we eat, drink, touch, and breathe, and then build up in several body organs. For at least some people, these metals can cause various health issues such as dementia, kidney and liver diseases, insomnia, personality changes, emotional instability, depression, panic attacks, memory loss, headaches, and vision disturbances. One source of mercury toxicity is dental amalgams or “silver” fillings.

Many people have amalgam fillings,and millions of new fillings are placed each yea. The American Dental Association and FDA state that they’re safe. Anti-amalgam dentists say they aren’t. Those who oppose amalgams say that mercury vapors can be released into the body during filling placement or removal, or when fillings arcracked, heated, or exposed to acidic juice or hot coffee.

There have been several studies showing the dangers of amalgams, and they have been banned in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. In the United States, however, the FDA ruled that the levels of mercury vapor released “are not high enough to cause harm in patients” and that only a few people are mercury sensitive.

The good news is that less amalgams are being used, almost 50 percent less, in the last seven years. But if you still have older amalgams, should you have them removed? Anti-amalgam dentists say yes, doing so will help your immune system and will positively affect your health.

Natural Remedies for Summer Fun

By: Michael J. Court

Growing up, I always loved getting outside once the snow and ice cleared. I could not wait to start riding my bike, playing ball, and getting into whatever kind of trouble I could muster. Inevitably I would find myself getting cut, bruised,bleeding, or bit by some type of “blood sucking creature”!  As a result, I would usually go to my mom, and she would go into our first-aid cabinet and get some type of remedy.

Over the years I have come to use more natural remedies to handle non-emergency-type problems that have come up for my family. I have put together a partial list of products that I consider to be essential to any home that wants a more natural first-aid kit. I recommend and give them to my patients.

I have always had ready a healthy, live aloe vera plant. It has been used for centuries and is widely known for its healing qualities. Aloe can be used as a pain reducer for just about anything from burns and sunburns to insect bites. Pure aloe works best, especially the mucous after you cut the leaf and apply it to any of the above maladies. It has a soothing and pain-numbing effect.

Another topical agent I like, especially for hard to heal wounds, is wheat germ oil. Natural non-rancid wheat germ oil contains whole food vitamin E for the healing of skin tissue. It is essential that you use wheat germ oil that is pure and has not been exposed to air too long. If left in the presence of oxygen or exposed to heat or light, it will denature the effectiveness. That is why I like the perles from Standard Process. It comes in small perles that can be opened with a pin when they are needed.

Another product is colloidal silver (from Life Silver). You can safely apply the liquid or gel to any cut, infection, or insect bite. Colloidal silver has the unique ability to kill pathogens and reduce infections. In fact, some researchers have found silver to be so effective that they are putting it on dressings and sutures to prevent infection. Water-soluble silver works best and is non-toxic.

Another unknown first-aid product is fulvic minerals. I likeit to treat stubborn fungal infections, insect bites, and bad cuts that will not stop bleeding. Fulvic minerals come from decayed matter that has been processed over hundreds of years by organisms in the soil. It is safe and non-toxic for external and internal use. It is important that it be stored in a dark glass container, in that it will leech out of plastic. I prefer using Optimally Organic brand.

Ever been exposed to too much sun and get a slight case of heat stroke?  This can be a serious problem, so do not mess around, get help immediately if necessary. For those cases that do not require medical attention, an old remedy by Dr. Royal Lee may help. He found that many cases of over-exposure to the sun resulted in an over-production of vitamin D. This resulted in too much calcium getting trapped in the bloodstream. This usually results in symptoms quite frequently seen in heat stroke. Dr. Lee found that by supplementing with Cataplex F you could quickly normalize the blood calcium imbalance. He also found it very effective in helping to protect against infections that thrive in a low calcium environment.

None of these remedies take the place of appropriate medical attention when needed. When a home remedy will do, give it a try!

Dr. Court graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1989.  He received his Naturopathic degree in 2010 from the American Naturopathic Medical Institute.   He is one of 500 doctors who have received the Advanced Clinical Training (ACT) from Ulan Nutritional Systems (UNS), and is the only ACT graduate in the Chippewa Valley.  Dr. Court lectures on topics relating to regaining your health through natural means.  He is an instructor for UNS, training other doctors in Nutrition Response TestingTM technique.