November 25, 2021
Meditation and the Effects On The Brain
- In meditation, you will often hear the term monkey mind. We also refer to it as Default Mode Network (DMN). Mediation reduces this activity in the brain.
- The lateral prefrontal cortex is the center of the brain responsible for logical reasoning and rational thinking. Neuropsychological studies suggest that regular meditation regulates the functioning of the lateral prefrontal cortex, making us feel in ‘control of our thoughts at all times (Goyal et al., 2014).
- Meditation affects the prefrontal cortex allowing us to be more empathic and compassionate toward ourselves.
- Parts of the brain that regulates our emotions and reactions to fear and anxiety.
- Blood circulation
- Increases chemicals that fight diseases
- It can assist our anxiousness and panic attacks; meditation improves physical health by boosting immune functions, regulating hormonal discharge, and decreasing cellular inflammation.
- Improves focus
- Improves endurance pain
- Stress reducer
- Can reduce the gray matter in the brain in parts of the brain that connect to stress and anxiety
- Studies suggest that meditation functions on specific brain parts that create depression, anxiety, and stress responses.
- Amygdala, or the ‘fear center’ is a part of the limbic system that creates fear responses and activates the fight-or-flight system in the body,
- Types of mediation:
Mindful mediation: the explicit goal of mindful meditation is to reorient our focus to the present and make the most of our sense organs to stay connected to this very moment.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Relaxation (MBSR)
Often uses body scan techniques
Kindness or loving-kindness meditation
It is just like it sounds.
Meditation Retreats: Often done in a daily, weekend retreat setting.
November 12, 2021
Audio: 16-second breathing technique:
November 3, 2021
Sharing this information and link that I found interesting as it was on Dr. Amens Blog: https://www.amenclinics.com/blog/
Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Feeling alone and isolated.
When you have cancer, family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues wrap themselves around you to offer support. People show up at your doorstep with homecooked meals. Parents offer to drive your kids to school or to after-school activities. They do your grocery shopping or drive you to medical appointments. When you have mental health issues, such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or bipolar disorder, people often shy away from you. They don’t know what to say or how to help, so they back off. This can leave you feeling like you’re completely on your own in your battle.
2. Feeling ashamed.
No one is shamed for having cancer even though the disease is strongly linked to lifestyle habits. Conversely, in our society, there is a stigma attached to having psychiatric disorders. In fact, many people with mental health issues say the shame and ostracism they experience is worse than the psychiatric disorder itself, according to research in The Lancet. If you’re anxious or depressed, people may tell you to “get over it.” If you have ADD/ADHD, they may push you to “try harder” to concentrate or stay focused. Can you imagine someone telling you to “get over” cancer, or to “try harder” to make it go away? When others make you feel like you’re to blame for mental health issues, it makes you feel even more helpless and hopeless. No one should be shamed for panic disorders, addictions, schizophrenia, or any other mental or behavioral issue.
3. Fear of consequences at work prevents treatment.
Although changes at work can follow a cancer diagnosis, they don’t typically prevent people from seeking treatment for the disease. When mental illness is the issue, however, fears about potential workplace discrimination can get in the way of treatment. Approximately half of American workers are apprehensive to talk about mental health problems in the workplace, according to a 2019 poll by the American Psychiatric Association. More than one-third of are concerned that if they seek treatment for mental health issues, they may face consequences, such as being fired. These fears keep many people from getting the psychiatric help they need.
4. Conventional psychiatry diagnoses conditions with no biological information.
Getting a cancer diagnosis often involves a battery of tests, such as bloodwork, genetic testing, advanced imaging (such as CT or MRI), and surgical biopsy. This leads to a high level of accuracy in the diagnosis, subtyping, and staging of the disease. Not so in traditional psychiatry. Most mental healthcare providers continue to make diagnoses based on symptom clusters alone—the same way Abraham Lincoln was diagnosed with “melancholia” over 150 years ago. This leads to alarming rates of misdiagnosis and keeps you from getting to the root cause of your symptoms. For example, by the time people visit Amen Clinics, they have already received an average of 4.2 diagnoses. This is why it’s important to visit a psychiatric clinic that tests and evaluates biological health in conjunction with psychological health. At Amen Clinics, a comprehensive evaluation may include brain SPECT imaging, bloodwork, and additional testing as needed.
5. Traditional psychiatry uses cookie-cutter treatments.
Advances in cancer research, diagnosis, and care mean that patients can receive targeted treatments for their type of cancer. Unfortunately, in conventional psychiatry, most providers continue to take a one-size-fits-all approach to treat mental health conditions. This often involves antidepressants for depression, anti-anxiety pills for anxiety disorders, and stimulants for ADD/ADHD. Although these medications may work for some people, they can make others worse. Prior to coming to Amen Clinics, people have tried an average of 5 medications without getting relief from their symptoms. Finding the most effective treatment plan for your needs depends on an accurate diagnosis and is the key to getting well.
When you consider these issues, it’s easier to understand how someone could say they would choose cancer over depression, anxiety, or some other mental health condition. For people with this perspective, getting a proper diagnosis thanks to brain imaging and a comprehensive evaluation can lead to a treatment plan that helps overcome all of these factors so healing can begin.
From the Herbalist Corner:
November 2, 2021
Make Fire Cider at Home:
The wintry weather is upon us, at least here in New England. One of my favorite medicinal items to create is Fire Cider. It is easy to make and healthy for you. You will see why if you read the ingredients. If you have never attempted to make an herbal remedy on your own, this one is great for beginners.
¼ cup ginger grated
¼ cup garlic chopped
½ cup grated fresh horseradish root
1/2 cup fresh chopped onion
Cayenne pepper. You can choose to use fresh or dried but just enough to taste not too hot.
Raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
Place the herbs in ½ gallon size jar
Cover with enough raw unpasteurized vinegar to cover the herbs by about four inches. Cover tightly.
Place the jar in a warm place and allow it to sit for three-four weeks. Then, be sure to shake it daily, so it macerates.
When three-four weeks have passed, strain the herbs, and save the liquid
Warm the honey first. Add honey to taste
It will keep for a few months unrefrigerated in you keep it stored in a cool, dry space. You can use this tonic daily and if you begin to feel a cold forming.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
October 22, 2021
The focus of CBT is based on the cognitive process and rational /irrational thinking. Aaron T. Beck developed CBT in the 1960s as he realized that many clients were reacting based on the thoughts or self-talk they were having in their minds. CBT is a therapeutic technique for issues about anxiety, and I utilized CBT often in my work with clients:
The focus involves working on the way we think. It is about learning to become aware of a person’s distortions /irrational thoughts.
An individual learns to apply these techniques for themselves. This occurs within the sessions, and the practitioner provides the client with homework assignments, so the client can practice on their own to develop coping skills that affect behavior, emotions, reactions to emotions, and thinking patterns. Most of the therapies focused on moving forward with more to assist with their healing.
The Nation Association of Mental Health. (NAMI) has found through studies that CBT is an effective form of treatment for several mental health issues: To obtain more information, hit the link below:
From The Herbal Corner/ Creating Elderberry Syrup
Autumn has arrived here in New England, and winter is not far behind, So I am sharing an old folk remedy that goes back:
Now that fall is upon us and winter will be arriving, it is the time of year to create some good Old Fashion Elderberry syrup.
- This fruit is low in calories and consists of dietary fiber.
- Elderberry syrup is made from the berries of the Sambucus tree.
- We know that one cup of elderberries is packed full of vitamin C and antioxidants. So, you must be sure to cook your elderberries well.
- Please note that the seeds, stem, even the leaf can be toxic.
- Never give honey to children one year of age or younger.
- I never recommend the use of non-stick cookware.
- Two cups dried organic elderberries.
- Four cups of cold water (spring water, distilled, purified, or spring water works best)
- 1.5 tablespoon organic dried ginger root
- 1-1.5 organic cinnamon stick
- One cup of raw or local honey, or you may substitute agave or maple syrup in place of honey. If you desire to strengthen the shelf life by doubling the amount of honey or adult use, you can add a cup of brandy or vodka as (this will increase the shelf-life of your syrup.
- Place berries, cinnamon, and ginger in cold water and bring it to a boil.
- Lower the heat and allow herbs to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let steep for 1 hour.
- Strain berries and herbs using a strainer or cheesecloth (double the cheesecloth) and squeeze out liquid (Remember the liquid is hot, so be careful.) Discard used herbs in compost.
- Once the liquid has cooled to just above room temperature, add honey/and alcohol if you are using it and mix well. And stir to incorporate.
- Bottle in sterilized glass and store in the refrigerator.
- Remember to add half of the honey amount to your liquid. If you have three cups of liquid, you will want to add at least 1.5 cups of honey. slightly, and you want to make sure you
- Shelf Life: The goal here is to prevent bacteria, so make it in small batches and refrigerate.
General Anxiety Disorder:
October 7, 2021
Like many things in life, a one-size-fits-all is not always practical, even regarding mental health-related issues. Unfortunately, it is not always practical, and in my experience, the same holds for Anxiety.
In mental health, General Anxiety Disorder is referred to as free-floating Anxiety and consists of psychological and physical symptoms.
- Heart palpations
- Stomach upset
- Difficulty sleeping
- Nausea or diarrhea
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- A sense or feeling that something awful will happen
- Feeling edgy\General Anxiety can have a period of calm
- A person can have thoughts of doom about the individual, or family members can also be present.
- Generalized Anxiety can have periods when Anxiety is not present.
An example of this involves a client I worked with. This client presented all the physical and psychological symptoms. One night he had intense panic attacks at 2:00 in the morning with rapid heart palpations. He found it challenging to keep still, unable to focus, and expressed that he felt like he would die. He had 1-3 triggered thoughts that would do him in every time. He was too frightened by these thoughts. His brain would freeze and cycle in on these negative thoughts for several months-but this time was different; he was able to learn to step out of the thoughts of his mind and knew to look at himself panicking while at the same time standing outside of himself not panicking and followed practice the techniques I gave him. He was able to free himself of something that had held him hostage.
So, in this case, the client was given several different treatment modalities to assist the client, which allowed him to receive relief. Therefore, it was a two-fold process utilizing modalities that addressed the mind (pre-frontal cortex), the parasympathetic, and the sympathetic nervous system. The client’s willingness to practice these techniques commit to the process assisted him with his healing.