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 – Smiley Micki :)

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 – We’re Doing Well!

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…

New Mind-Body Shop Section

Brain icon  I’ve set up a whole, sparkly new section on the shop where you can find all the mind-body medicine stuff now. It suddenly occurred to me that it might be useful to have the key stuff linked to in the Healing Plan in one place. Anything to make life easier when you’re feeling poorly!

It will evolve, no doubt, but for now you can find:

Healing Plan 3D  The Healing Plan, of course. Plus, the sixteen page sample Preview of the Healing Plan so you can have a nose.

logo Julie’s hypnotherapy, behavioural and CBT services.

Inner Calm & Peace Meditation   A link to all Julie’s hypnotherapy instant audio downloads, many of which I used during my own healing. She will be adding new ones very shortly.  I credit some of Julie’s self-hypnosis and meditation audios as a BIG part of my healing, so please do yourself a favour and start with these if you’re not ready for full hypno sessions yet.

Yoga Nidra CD  I’ve included some of the key recommended programmes and DVDs I followed during my healing journey, such as the Perfect Health challenge, Yoga Nidra and Qi Gong DVDs.

Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, Deepak Chopra  And, many of the key books for your ‘knowledge therapy.’ These are Amazon links so I make a teeny bit on them, which helps to keep everything going, so thank you.

I hope it helps. The new Mind-Body Medicine section is here.

The paperback Healing Plans arrived today too – very exciting. I have been carrying one round and stroking it! It was such a labour of love 🙂

Here’s the back cover as you’ve not seen that!

No automatic alt text available.

New Healing Plan Now Available!!

Healing Plan 3D

Ta-dah!!!! It has taken me over a year to write it, but here is the Healing Plan for you at long last!

195 lurverly pages to help you get well from unresolving chronic illness. The five steps I took to get myself back from very few foods, chronic fatigue and body-wide pain when I couldn’t eat or take any foods, meds or supplements to get myself well. I had to find new ways; what I call: ‘nil-by-mouth’!

Those of you who have followed my epic journey via the Healing Series will know the research and effort behind this book – I thank you for bearing with me through the tears and joy!

Behind the scenes, I have been beavering away trying to pull it all together into something coherent for you. We have….

info iconNew Website Section

You can read all about the Healing Plan here on the new Mind-Body Medicine section of the website.

shop iconPreview and Purchase Ebook or Paperback

You can see a 16 page Preview, buy an ebook and even avail yourself of a paperback version (by popular request!). I’ve deliberately kept costs down to the same as the other Plans, despite it being bigger. The printed version is a little more but much cheaper than the Gluten Plan was – and I have brought the Gluten Plan down to the same price for the ebook and much reduced for the printed version now. Why? Because I want the awareness to continue and I think, as you’ll see below, the two main Gluten and Healing plans work really well together to form a combined functional and mind-body medicine approach so people will no doubt need both at some point. I daren’t combine them; the weight would kill a poor postie! Anyway, I hope it helps.

chatNew Facebook Group

Healing Planners will be able to join a new HP Facebook group for peer-to-peer support.

blog iconNew MBM Blog & Website

And, knowing that I will be wittering on about mind-body techniques, new research, tips etc over the coming months – much as I did with TrulyGlutenFree! – I have set up a new blog site at www.mind-bodymedicine.co.uk where you can register for email updates.

Phew! I have been a busy bee.

Reviews..

My pre-launch readers were very complimentary about the book, which so gladdened my heart. Some of them are still reading it, but here are a few choice comments for you so far:

“I think this is a tremendous health plan that seeks to educate people about the emotional and psychological components of chronic ill health. It teaches the link between the physical and mental and will really help those people who firmly believe this does not apply to them! Just making the effort to purchase and read the Healing Plan will be a big step forward in someone’s healing and recovery.”

“It really is phenomenal. I nearly wrote I felt it was better than the Gluten Plan but then changed my mind as that would be very unjust as I think the GP is fantastic too! But the HP is unique and very comprehensive in addressing a particularly difficult and sensitive topic.”

“I bet lots of people will cry reading this…”

“Another masterpiece!”

“This book is truly exceptional. You should be incredibly proud.”

Eek. How lovely is that?!

Putting it into context

The creation of the Healing Plan and my own healing ‘journey’ has sparked a whole re-think of my approach as a clinic to illness, actually, and I have been busy thinking all that through as well as doing the book. My next job is to spend quite a bit of time on streamlining the Purehealth websites to better direct people to the resources they need.

To that end, I have begun by creating a new Start Here…page on the Purehealth website to guide people. Here’s the flow chart I’ve shared there:

Home page flow chart

I was quite proud of that 🙂

Anyway, I’ve made a start and over the next few weeks and months, I will develop the resources and simplify a bit as I promised in my last blog post.

I hope you like the Healing Plan anyway – do let me know. I’m sure there will be typos aplenty as I went cross-eyed staring at it for so long – as did the beta-readers! So do let me know your thoughts and anything you spy.

OK, I truly hope it helps for you. Go and have a read about it and I’ll see you on the other side in the Facebook Group where we have Jilly, Julie and me ready to chat with you! After I’ve had a lie down….

I wish you much success in getting better. I never thought I would say I was ‘normal’ again. But I am – and that’s all I ever wanted. Isn’t it you?!

Natural, alternative, holistic, functional, integrative? Time for a re-think and a return to simplicity…

naturopathy symbol Standby for a bit of a rant! Over the past 2-3 years, I have become increasingly worried/annoyed/frustrated by the way so-called ‘natural medicine’ is going. Ooer. Deep for a Wednesday afternoon!

More and more, I am finding myself saying things like: ‘do the simple stuff first and only get complicated if you have to’. Or, I hear the result of a really complex test and treatment ‘journey’ from someone and end up thinking: ‘yes, the liver needed support; it shouldn’t have taken all that to get to that pretty obvious answer, someone should have picked that much earlier!’ or something like that. I confess I have been doing some chuntering 😉

In essence, I think the emphasis has become much too complex, too medical; we are becoming like mini doctors offering plug-the-deficiency, influence-the-pathway sort of solutions to physiological illness, using supplements like medicines a bit too much and being influenced by some supplement companies who are acting not dis-similarly to Big Pharma ‘educating’ doctors to build sales. Not all of them, but there is a definite feel of it in the air and I think we need to become more aware of it.

It’s actually made me think quite carefully about what the Purehealth philosophy is and what I do next and I thought I might share the whys and wherefores with you!

Complex functional approaches

We have been experiencing a major shift over the last few years, not least with the growth of ‘functional medicine’ from the US. I have been an IFM member for several years and have been watching it build, including the massive growth of US websites and news articles propounding the FM approach and I confess my head has been in my hands at the hundreds of Summits being put out. I can’t say I’m entirely happy about it. Ooer. Controversial, but bear with me!

I’m not saying that functional medicine is wrong or bad or anything like that and I love the way people can get really useful information now where it used to be so hard before. I do also believe the movement is doing a lot to raise the science-base of natural medicine approaches in mainstream, which is fabulous, and it is giving a lot of insight into complex cases when it is needed.

BUT, I am saying functional medicine is not the whole story in natural medicine – and the complexity involved is confusing an awful lot of people – including practitioners! – hence I think the reason for me keep saying: ‘you’re getting too complicated, slow down and let’s look at the obvious’!

Some of you I know are shouting at me now, and I’m sorry about that, but I am not the only person saying this, it turns out. Phew.

Are we turning into pharmacologists?

As I say: my feeling, in a nutshell, is that we are getting far too ‘medical’ for want of a better word, using tests to identify things that may or may not make any difference in the end to a person getting better, using supplements like mainstream meds to upregulate or downregulate genes and body pathways etc.

I have studiously refused to get pulled in by genetic testing, by so-called personalised medicine, to full blown functional medicine. I got to the stage at the end of last year where I felt I either had to book myself onto a functional medicine course to learn more, or give up. My knowledge of all these pathways just wasn’t up to scratch. I couldn’t see how personalised medicine really helped unless you did a very specific diet and used single nutrients for each person, which is pretty untenable in real life practice, not least because of the cost. More chuntering.

Then I realised I have 25 years’ experience in natural medicine, most people have got well doing as I’ve asked, and this FM and genetic stuff has only been around a very short time. People were getting on well fine before it. I started to think about it and realised many people are simply missing out a whole raft of obvious stuff and diving straight into complexity, which can’t be right. Obviously, I can only say how I am seeing it, but I talk to a LOT of people and have definitely seen a shift in the last year especially. People are lost with it, to be honest, and I feel lost with it, let alone them!

My feeling is that it can indeed be important to do the complex biochemical stuff but not before you have done the obvious and far simpler elements of healing an illness first, for long enough and done well enough. Try telling that to someone who has already committed a lot of time, effort and money into a complex testing and treatment regimen; it doesn’t go down well when I suggest we go back to the basics and make sure we have covered them. There is an element of more complexity in illnesses nowadays, I am aware of that, but that may actually be partly because we are not covering the basics well enough like absorption, elimination, detoxification, inflammation etc, which I think are actually needed even more if anything nowadays.

It’s not good for business but I am also finding myself saying: ‘are you sure you need that test?’ more. ‘Is it going to help, really, in the treatment scheme of things?’ Many of the newer tests are so complicated and overwhelming. I find, much of the time, I am helping people pull out the priorities and trying to say this or that specific marker shouldn’t be taken out of context. They confuse people – and practitioners – more a lot of the time. There is a case for them sometimes, obviously, if you are looking for something specific and know what to look for, but a lot of people write to me and say ‘eh?’ and off we go with a really complex hunt…and, truthfully, it usually comes back to one of the basics like absorption, dysbiosis, nutrient imbalance etc.  I quite miss the days of gut and adrenal tests lol. I offer the complex tests because people ask for them. Maybe I shouldn’t. Eek.

Not just me saying it, it turns out…

Anyway, I’ve been feeling like this for some time – and wondering what to say, whether to say it or just to ignore my instincts. You know I can’t do that by now ;).

So, this weekend, I was reading my usual journals and came across two pieces in IHCAN (previously CAM Magazine) for practitioners where experts I have known in the industry for many years were saying the exact same thing! (John Stirling, who founded Biolab amongst many other accolades, Patrick Holford, who coined the term ‘nutritional therapist’ and Simon Martin, the editor). I’ve followed all of them since the early 80s and respect what they have to say as they usually have their finger on the natural medicine pulse. To say I whooped and punched the air with relief is an understatement! I’ll let you have that image…. 😉

The magazine sparked the debate by changing their name from CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) to Integrative Healthcare and Applied Nutrition. To illustrate my point, I paraphrase some of the points made in the articles for you and give you some direct quotes, so you can see what I mean:

It’s all in the name..

In my strapline for Purehealthclinic, I say ‘complementary and alternative medicine’. That was very deliberate at the time 20 years ago as I didn’t believe we should be called complementary, the recognised term at the time, and should be seen as a credible alternative to when mainstream medicine wasn’t getting it right for someone.

Holford asks: Complementary or alternative to what anyway? To a system of mainstream medicine that doesn’t want us, understand us and doesn’t work (evidenced by the huge increase in chronic illness which is what most CAM professionals deal with).

Functional medicine, is that the right term? We are all functional – a dentist, a doctor, a surgeon, a nutritionist, an osteopath – we are all working with the function of the body so it doesn’t truly describe what we do. FM has become:

heavily biochemical, pathway-based and not inclusive of the whole gamut of alternative approaches”.

In general, “We have become “too mechanistic, symptom-oriented,” acting like doctors prescribing meds. There is “too much focus on isolated specific biochemical factors upregulating and downregulating genes and pathways.” We are ignoring the underlying causes and contributing factors. “I do wonder whether practitioners are drowning in a sea of complex information that doesn’t add that much.” “There is too much functional testing and mega-dosing of nutrients.” ” The answer is not in higher doses of supplements trying to push pathways.” Some of these tests give results that can be ‘meaningless and are often overwhelming” that many practitioners are ill-equipped to deal with. Many supplement companies are acting like Big Pharma and spending huge amounts on educating practitioners, putting a lot of effort into convincing them of their worth. Not all, but some certainly. “There is too much substituting supplements for conventional medicines.”

Ooh. They weren’t dissing FM in general, of course, FM is very useful. What they – and I – am saying is that it is not the be all and end all and, I believe, in a lot of cases this emphasis is very confusing and we are starting to act like the very mainstream medicine we became ‘alternative’ from all that time ago!

We are spending our time on symptoms and what has gone wrong physiologically with the body, chasing down rabbit holes which, when we get there, often confuse the picture even more. We are simply getting too far away from the basic tenets of good health which, as I have seen from my time in natural medicine, gets most people well. You do those first and then – only if you need to – search and delve deeper.

Everyone says they know that, of course, but in practice I see it is not happening like it used to. No matter what anyone came into clinic with, I used to put almost everyone on digestive and absorptive support, a liver and gut cleanse (the Gut Plan now), remove common allergens and often give homeopathic, herbal or nutrition support for something specific.

I can honestly say I rarely had anyone who didn’t come back after that first 3 months feeling a ton better.

After that, we got specific with anything left and with what may have been triggering illness in the first place. It worked. For example, we used to talk through lifestyle, stress, emotional health, refer for physical therapy, energetic therapy (acupuncture, Bowen etc), hypnotherapy, counselling, foot therapy, holistic dentists etc – all of whom we made sure worked with us in the clinic (apart from the dentist – I don’t think drilling noises would be very relaxing for a natural healthcare centre!).

The emphasis was on supporting the body so that it developed more healing and corrective ability and removing any obstacles to that – whatever that might be. We didn’t chase any pathways.

Nowadays, it is much more likely that I try to suggest that but the person is fixated on something that have learned about a pathway – often thyroid, methylation, iron status, hormones etc – or they have had results of a gene test and are working on manipulating a SNiP. That’s all fine and great that we have such sophisticated patients now. BUT, when I dig to see if they have done the obvious first – most often are they absorbing the nutrients properly, have they supported the gut and liver, considered how their emotional past is affecting them physically etc – I get blank looks. We are looking for quick fixes much more often – supplements as drugs? Life is just busy and I would most likely be doing the same! The trouble is that our system of natural medicine is playing into that, I think, a bit too much.

This, I think, is the influence of the way natural medicine has gone and why it is bugging me! It means people have missed out simpler steps and are spending time, money and suffering on things that probably are not necessary. Not all the time, obviously. Sometimes there is much need to dig and do the complex stuff, but I think the emphasis has become warped in far too many cases I am seeing. People no longer believe me about the simpler stuff so much lol!

I am ranting here a bit, aren’t I? I know, but it is important.

Time to simplify…

There is a gradual movement, I think, back to simpler times. The term integrative medicine and integral medicine is being bounded about now. These reflect the fact that we should be incorporating a much more ‘holistic’ approach in clinical practice again – it is coming back around.

“We need to broaden and go beyond nutrition and functional medicine to truly resolve a person’s health issues.”

Many clinics would say they do that already. But do they? We were guilty of the same thing in Purehealth. We had all those different allied therapists all practicing from our clinic but we rarely did any formal case conferencing. I was always sad about that. Maybe I should have set it up better. I did do it with my own patients – which was most of them! – because I acted as a conduit and driver to their therapy through the clinic, reviewing them regularly, referring them to the various people and having conversations about what was needed from each one etc.

Sadly, I think I am beyond setting all that up again in any physical sense, but I have got some ideas about how to pull together some of these strands virtually and offer the simpler steps for people to do – and hopefully, as before, solve the majority of issues thus avoiding the need for complexity unless needed.

The Return of Sparkle…

Does anyone remember my Sparkle Programme? I taught the 12 week programme as the basis for turning your health around and as an illness prevention scheme for years in local colleges and for the NHS and companies. It covered many of the key themes that crop up in most illnesses.

I used to send people off with homework for the week – such as find anything in your cupboards that mentions trans fats and throw it out (remember: this was in the 90s when no-one really knew the issues about trans fats!) or find a piece of music, lay down once a day and try to follow one instrument only when you listen (a form of meditation). We did a full elimination and detox during the 12 weeks, tons of questionnaires and self-analysis and even field trips to the local supermarket! And, we had some wonderful success stories from it. The groups themselves became very close and that was part of the healing.

Here’s just one feedback I was sent at the end of one of them:

I have made dramatic changes… My symptoms have reduced from MAJOR to almost negligible as has my need for and dependence on medication. I feel more alive than I have for years and therefore more positive. I look forward to further improvements and to continuing to follow Micki’s advice. 

Lump in throat.

We did have fun and I quite miss teaching them. Of course, Sparkle is a bit dated now, but I am thinking I may now bring that right up to date with current thinking and research and re-establish it so that people can do a simpler health programme from home, with group peer and 1:1 support and whatever else is needed. Who knows, we might even do some physical classes or even weekend retreats!

Anyway, the purpose of this (very long!) rant is to say that I feel validated in my ‘feeling bugged’ ness, that we have missed a simpler part out somewhere and I am going to do something about it.

Purehealth Philosophy of Medicine

So, now seems a good time to reaffirm what I mean by natural medicine at Purehealth. I have no idea what term we now use and don’t think it matters that much because it seems whatever term we come up with eventually gets dissed and turned into ‘woo woo’!

I actually think ‘holistic’ is the best term we ever had but it is not seen as sciencey-enough. I think Naturopathic, Holistic, Integrative Person-Centred Medicine is about right lol! I shall have to work on that…!

For me, anyway, this is Purehealth’s philosophy just so you know – and writing it down helped me to stop feeling insecure, bugged and more confident!

Holistic, Integrative, Person-Centred Medicine (HIP!) ????

  • All types of medicine are valid and respected for what they can bring to the table. From conventional meds, diagnostics and surgery to physical therapies (massage, physio, osteopathy etc), energetic therapies (Bowen, acupuncture, reiki, homeopathy), cognitive and behavioural/belief therapies (CBT, counselling, psychotherapy, hypno, neuroplasticity brain retraining etc), emotional health therapies (hypnotherapy, EFT, EMDR, WHEE, trauma therapy, art therapy, sound therapy, journalling), spiritual therapy (deepening connections, community support, meditation etc), biochemical medicine (nutritional therapy, functional medicine, cellular medicine, anti-inflammatory medicine, herbal medicine), exercise (walking, yoga, Qi Gong etc), social and cultural elements and much more besides – those are just the ones that came to mind. The point is knowing about them and when to use them.

  • Open-minded about approaches, but critical at the same time, not just accepting anything – due diligence and all that.

  • Preventative medicine is hugely important – get it right early and prevent the need for deeper treatment. This includes pre-conceptual care and childhood emotional health.

  • Supportive therapy is paramount. The body knows how to heal, we just have to identify and remove obstacles to it and do what we can to remind it how. Everything is designed to get that body into a healing state and help encourage it along. 

  • Get the basics right. You are what your digest, absorb and eliminate first and foremost. The key body systems need to be supported to take the pressure off the body and give it energy to heal. The point is not to give it too much stress and even more to do.

  • Emotional health is a big part of therapy. There is too much research – and evidence clinically now – that past and present emotional stress is a major cause of (very real) physical symptoms and conditions and prevents the body from healing.

  • The patient and practitioner are partners in the healing process. It’s a (hopefully!) beneficial, respectful and mutually-supportive relationship. Self-enquiry, self-development and debate is a good thing! No one person or therapy has all the answers; collaboration and synergy make us stronger.

OK, so there you have it. I apologise for ranting and if you don’t agree with me. I am simply saying things are getting a bit too complex for my liking out there and I am going to try and return to a simpler approach for those who need it – which is about 80% of cases I see. We want to stop the illnesses becoming complex such as autoimmune, hyper-sensitive to stuff, chronic fatigue etc, and also to ward off the growing epidemics of anxiety disorders, diabetes and heart disease, so that will be my focus for now. I personally don’t want to be a clinician chasing down really complex stuff; I’d rather stop it in its tracks before it gets that far!

Of course, part of bringing it smack up to date will be to incorporate all we have learned in TGF and the Healing world over the past few years.

Next week, we’ll have the release of the new Healing Plan, which will target chronic illnesses triggered and exacerbated by emotional stress and trauma: a huge issue that very few people are even aware of, let alone doing anything about. It is a very big part of preventing and treating chronic illness so will form one of the modules of  The Return of Sparkle course, or whatever I call it as that sounds a bit sinister!

Thanks for listening. I feel better now and I shall go and get on with creating it all 🙂

No More ARG Zen – Alternatives For You

200 mg of ZenFor those of you following one of the Adrenal Plans, you will know about the brilliant anti-anxiety, cortisol-lowering Allergy Research Group Zen product. It’s worked for most like a dream. But it has just been delisted in the UK – aargh!! I wish they would stop doing this. The reason is because we now not allowed to sell straight GABA, it seems; a bit like we can’t have pure DHEA in the UK – which is actually not a bad thing in my book, but that is a whole other story.

I do actually prefer encouraging the body to make its own substances like oestrogen, cortisol, DHEA and GABA etc where possible because that way the body can decide how much it needs. Doing otherwise is a sort of form of HRT – a replacement therapy – rather than a boost the production therapy, like using 7 keto-zyme as a precursor for DHEA rather than too-strong-in-many-cases straight DHEA itself, for example or giving oestrogen or progesterone for hormone difficulties instead of checking and boosting the adrenals. That said, sometimes needs must and that’s when I’ve used it.

OK, so up to now, we have used straight GABA in Zen to increase GABA levels in the nervous system and brain. GABA is the key inhibitory neurotransmitter and is therefore very calming; some people call it the body’s Valium. Essentially, we were using it in cases of acute stress adrenal profiles to lower the stress levels and decrease the need for the adrenals to pump out cortisol – simply put: in a nutshell it was to lower stress levels when cortisol was high.

So, now Zen has gone, we need to find other ways of doing that. Obviously, it goes without saying that this is in addition to the usual lowering stress techniques like meditation, yoga, breathwork, controlling your blood sugar, ensuring magnesium levels (known to increase GABA itself) and your B vits.

The other thing we need to say is that I always prefer you do a neurotransmitter test and work with a practitioner when using these sort of things, please. These are complex supplements, designed to support and change brain levels of some key elements. Always best to know what you need rather than just stick stuff in.

So, that said, here is a list of your possible alternatives and I will change the Adrenal Plans accordingly for you too. I offer a few ideas so that you can choose what might suit you best. As always, start low and build up, trial to see how you get on and follow all the manufacturer’s – and your practitioner’s – instructions.

A straight alternative for now to Zen would be Quicksilver GABA with L Theanine, exactly the same as Zen but half the strength. Four pumps equals one capsule of Zen. I assume that will go soon too. Not TGF. You can find a lot more info on it here.

Next best, and the one I will be using in the Adrenal Plans, is NeuroScience Kavinace which includes what GABA is made from in the body plus taurine, which is also a known precursor for GABA production. TGF safe – yay! Here’s a bit more info on this one for you:

Neuroscience Kavinace 120 caps combines two powerful ingredients that together effectively address symptoms of stress, anxiousness, and sleep issues. This formula contains the GABA derivative 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid, which easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and acts as a GABAB agonist.*1 Kavinace also contains taurine, which functions as a calming amino acid.* Taurine is a GABAA agonist and may increase GABA levels by increasing synthesis, preventing breakdown, and blocking reuptake of GABA.*2-4 Kavinace also includes vitamin B6, an important cofactor for the synthesis of GABA.

It’s a highly specialist product that one so not cheap. If you need a cheaper alternative, you could of course take Taurine or L-Theanine on their own.

Taurine is often used at 500mg twice a day on an empty tum to support GABA production. It’s the most often used supplement for GABA-calming. ARG do a 500mg version here. TGF.

Or, Higher Nature do L-Theanine 100mg. There was 100mg per capsule in Zen. TGF.

Interestingly, L-Theanine works partly by blocking glutamate receptors but can raise dopamine so if it makes you feel more anxious, I’d be testing your neurotransmitters to see if your dopamine is high – which it can be in CSS (central sensitivity syndrome) – ME/FM, chronic pain and sensitivity type patients, take note.

Finally, when I moaned at ARG, who are acutely aware of most of my TGF patient needs by now!, they reminded me that liver is a precursor food for GABA. So, munch more liver or take a liver product – I’ve actually got some of this to try myself for other reasons, but haven’t dared yet as I can’t stand the stuff ;).

Anyway, I have partly shared all this with you so you can make choices, but also to show you what exactly goes on in my day to day life of creating these plans and protocols for you! It’s not as easy as you might think – especially when the rules keep changing!

To finish: you might find this article useful if you are suffering anxiety as it gives a good overall rundown of what to do and consider:

How to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

And see my factsheet on Stress, Anxiety & Depression here.

Hope that helps; I’m off for a lie down! Meantime, here is the info on recommended suppliers if you need it – I just remembered that right at the end!

New Mycotoxins Mould/Mold Toxins Test

Aflatoxins

At last, I have managed to get my hands on the RealTime Labs Mycotoxins test for you and have listed it on the shop. Not cheap by any means but, since inhaled mould toxins have been linked to quite a few chronic diseases in recent years, it might be money worth spent to check it out of your illness is not resolving and you suspect it.

Here’s the blurb on the shop section for you and you can get the test here.

Mycotoxins (Mould/Mold toxins) Test

In recent times, quite a few studies have been suggesting that chronic diseases including lupus, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia can be triggered or exacerbated by toxins released and inhaled from indoor moulds (molds).

I have now managed to list the RealTime Lab’s urinary Mycotoxins Test, which looks for the top 15 mould toxins. You can see a sample report here. Do also read the lab FAQ on it here too which has some really useful info about sample collection and other stuff. Not cheap but could provide some really important answers for you. This is done via a UK lab so no need to send to the US.

Next, here is some useful info on the test and the various moulds and toxins they release for you:

What are Mycotoxins?
There are estimated to be over 50,000 different species of mold, but only about 200 present serious health risks to humans or animals. These harmful species are referred to as toxic mold and are potentially hazardous because they can produce toxins known as mycotoxins. 

The mycotoxins discussed here are the Trichothecenes, Aflatoxins, Ochratoxins, Gliotoxin, Chaetoglobosins and Sterigmatocystin. Where conditions are right, fungi proliferate into colonies and mycotoxin levels become high. Toxins vary greatly in their severity: some fungi produce severe toxins only at specific levels of moisture, temperature or oxygen in the air; some toxins are lethal; some cause identifiable diseases or health problems; some weaken the immune system without producing symptoms specific to that toxin; some act as allergens or irritants, and some have no known effect on humans. 

Trichothecenes are evaluated by using Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay (ELISA).  The test at RTL has been validated as a qualitative test.  Thus, RTL reports whether tricothecenes are PRESENT or NOT PRESENT. 

Aflatoxins are evaluated using ImmunoSorbant Columns containing antibodies to the group of aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, and G2).  Results are reported as PRESENT or NOT PRESENT.

Ochratoxin A is evaluated using immunoSorbant Columns containing antibodies to the Ochratoxin A.  Results are reported as PRESENT or NOT PRESENT.

Health Problems Associated With Molds and Mycotoxins
Mycotoxins are well documented for their toxic effects on the human cell, causing a number of problems in normal cell function and association with a wide variety of clinical symptoms and diseases:

  • Kidney Toxicity
  • Immune Suppression
  • Autism
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Depression
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Acute Pulmonary Haemorrhage
  • Aplastic Anaemia
  • Birth Defects

Who Should Be Tested?
In light of the above, if you believe someone’s health may be compromised by exposure to mold, it may be worth having the person tested using the RealTime Lab Mycotoxin Panel.

How Are They Tested?
The Mycotoxin Panel is a urinary sample, but sputum, nasal washes and tissues biopsy specimens have also been validated. Patients must be referred for the RealTime Labs by a physician or healthcare professional. If mold or mycotoxins are found to be present, the ordering healthcare professional is notified by our Medical Director.

Testing is done using competitive ELISA, a very sensitive detection method using antibodies prepared against mycotoxins. RealTime Labs has been granted a U.S. patent for its macrocyclic trichothecene test. All mycotoxin testing results are displayed in an easy-to-understand numeric format, showing detection levels in ppb as standardized by the FDA, WHO, CDC and Food Industry for clinical use. Results also tell if the test was positive, negative or equivocal, along with ranges of detection for each.

 

 
 
 
Aspergillus flavus

Aspergillus flavus
Mycotoxin; A. flavus produces aflatoxins, the most toxic and potent hepato-carcinogenic natural compounds ever characterized. There are four major Aflatoxins: B1, B2, G1, G2. Aflatoxin B1 is the most potent carcinogen and is the major mycotoxin produced by A. flavus.

Aspergillus ochraceus

Aspergillus ochraceus
Ochratoxin A has been shown to interfere with cellular physiology in multiple ways. It inhibits synthesis of phenylalanine t-RNA complex, inhibits mitochondrial ATP production, and stimulates lipid peroxidation.

Aspergillus niger

Aspergilus niger
Aspergillus nigeras has also been associated with urinary tract infections and bladder cancers. Ochratoxin has been detected in blood and other animal tissues and in milk, including human milk.

 
Penicillium verrucosum

Penicillium verrucosum
Penicillium verrucosum has also been associated with urinary tract infections and bladder cancers. Ochratoxin has been detected in blood and other animal tissues and in milk, including human milk.

Stachybotrys chartarum

Stachybotrys chartarum
Stachybotrys chartarum is the well-known “black mold” seen in many water damaged buildings. It produces a number of highly toxic macrocyclic trichothecenes.

Aspergillus fumigatus

Aspergillus fumigatus
A. fumigatus is frequently found in homes and buildings. It is considered to be an opportunistic pathogen, meaning it rarely infects healthy individuals, but is the leading cause of invasive aspergillosis (IA) in immunocompromised individuals such as cancer, HIV or transplant patients. A. fumigatus produces Gliotoxin, an immunosuppressive mycotoxin.

 
Chaetomium globosum

Chaetomium globosum
C. globosum is a common indoor fungal contaminant of water damaged homes or buildings. It is found on wet drywall, wall-paper, carpets, window frames and baseboards. Like Stachybotrys, C. globosum spores are relatively large and due to their mode of release are not as easily airborne as other molds. Mycotoxins produced by C. globosum include chaetoglobosin A & C.

Fusarium sp.

Fusarium sp.
More than 50 species of Fusarium have been identified. Most are plant pathogens and can infect crops such as wheat, barley, oats and other feedstuff, where they can produce simple trichothecene mycotoxins such as T-2 and DON.

A. versicolor

Aspergillus versicolor
A. versicolor is one of the most frequently found molds in water damaged buildings. Spores of A. Versicolor are detected and quantified in the ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) test by Real Time PCR. A. versicolor is known to produce a mycotoxin called sterigmatocystin.

 Ooer. Have a look in the Specific Conditions Tests section here.

New Cheaper AutoImmune Test

test iconMany of you have been asking how to test for autoimmunity processes going on in your body lately. I direct you usually to your doctor for an overall screen, where they might do ANA (antinuclear antibodies) usually to see if there is a general sign of autoimmune disease such as lupus, RA or hepatitis there.

Or I direct you to Cyrex 5, the really super-duper disease-specific autoimmune test which is beyond many of you at well over £500. Very useful if you need those specific markers, of course, and can be life-saving in fact.

But, what if you need something in-between: a more comprehensive ‘general’ look and a few common specific autoimmune disease markers such as adrenal, stomach acid, intestinal, liver etc?

Well, before Cyrex launched their tests, I invented my own to approximate them as they took so long in coming! One of those was a general autoimmune screen called MR1 and today I have reinstated it as I think it is still needed. I got the lab to dust the info off, give me an up to date price and voila, it is now on the shop for you.

See here on the Gluten, Cyrex & Autoimmunity Tests section.

Here’s the blurb I’ve written for the Autoimmunity bit:

Autoimmunity

We know that gluten is the only common denominator found so far in autoimmune disorders, which is really exciting info! Coeliac disease is an autoimmunity attack on the absorptive villi in the gut, hence the problems that come with CD illness. But that is what we know and have studied. Other people have autoimmune thyroid or adrenal issues, ovarian attack (infertility is common in GRDs), skin diseases, reactive arthritis, psoriasis etc etc. The list goes on.

First, check if autoimmune disease markers are present: I have invented my own ‘general marker’s autoimmunity screen, much cheaper than some of the Cyrex ones to start you off. This is a general ‘can we find evidence easily of autoimmune disease going on?’ test with some specific autoimmune disease types I see a lot included.

Use MR1 Autoimmune Screen if it covers what you need. It includes Thyroid Peroxidase, Thyroglobulin Antibodies, Antinuclear Antibodies, Mitochondrial Abs, Smooth Muscle, Gastric Parietal (stomach eg. for acid and intrinsic factor/B12), Reticulin, LKM, Islet Cell (pancreas), Adrenal, Ovarian and Testicular. Not bad, huh!

Use Cyrex 5 for a really comprehensive autoimmune screen, Cyrex 6 for diabetes, Cyrex 7 or 7X for the neurological autoimmunity screen, Cyrex 8 for joint autoimmunity and Cyrex 20 for blood-brain.

Next, consider if pathogens are causing your issues. Cyrex 12 assesses IgG immune reactivity to pathogens that are documented triggers or exacerbators of autoimmunity and chronic disease. The test looks for IgG antibodies to various pathogens including oral pathogens, gastrointestinal parasites, bacterial and stealth pathogens, environmental moulds (molds), viral pathogens and tick-borne pathogens – you can see all of them here. If an IgG antibody is present, it doesn’t show a current infection, but it suggests there is a hidden or latent pathogenic problem that may well be causing you problems or acting as a trigger.

It can also be a good idea to consider levels of known toxic chemicals in your system. Could you have a high levels of something like glyphosate (Round Up) in your system that is triggering cross-reactivity to organs and tissues maybe or messing about with your gut flora, hormones etc? To check that, see the Glyphosate and GPLTOX tests here and maybe also check Cyrex 11 for any clues that you are immunologically reacting to any of the most common ones. In other words, you can now check for presence and immune reaction to them.

For much more on this whole complex field, do read the TGF site in Resources above, and download the Gluten Plan for full testing and treatment protocols. You can read much more about the Gluten Plan here.

Note: I am just about also to list the new RealTime Labs Mycotoxins Test which measures the 15 most common toxins coming from indoor moulds (molds). It’s not cheap but at least we can get it now if you need it as some of you have been asking. Watch this space.

Hope it helps.

Coeliacs Suffer Neurological and Mood Disorders Too: The Researchers Catch Up..

Ooh, we could have told them this about 6 years ago at least couldn’t we? However, it is nice to see published research backing up the fact that coeliac disease is not ‘just’ a gastrointestinal disorder; it affects us psychologically and neurologically too. And that’s to say nothing of the people who have NCGS (non coeliac gluten sensitivity). As the researchers say:

A gluten-free diet (GFD) could avoid cerebellar ataxia, epilepsy, neuropathies, migraine and mild cognitive impairment…. Common psychiatric symptoms in untreated CD adult patients include depression, apathy, anxiety, and irritability and schizophrenia is also common in untreated CD..

Have a read here of the abstract:

The progression of coeliac disease: its neurological and psychiatric implications.

One of the reasons I started this TGF stuff was the very fact that I kept seeing coeliacs on the traditional GF diet still having these kind of symptoms (including me: migraine, brain fog, restless legs etc). When you remove all sources of gluten, and not just gliadin, some get better. Simple as. When you also treat for autoimmune pathology and barrier hyper-permeability, even more do.

Just sayin’..

Source: Foodsmatter e-news.