Study: Magnesium Found to Treat Depression Better Than Antidepressant Drugs
Study: Magnesium Found to Treat Depression Better Than Antidepressant Drugs
Study: Magnesium Found to Treat Depression Better Than Antidepressant Drugs
Coffee has been the world’s favorite stimulant for hundreds of years, yet scientists are only now figuring out its impact on human health. In a new Journal of Internal Medicine study, scientists report that the addictive beverage has a unique impact on a person’s metabolism. In particular, coffee changes the metabolism of steroids and neurotransmitters that are usually associated with another of our favorite drugs — cannabis.
At the base level, the international team of researchers reported on Thursday, coffee shifts the levels of certain metabolites, which are chemicals in the blood that spike or drop after we eat or drink. Extremely heavy coffee drinking caused neurotransmitters related to the stress-regulating endocannabinoid system to decrease — which is the opposite of what happens after a person smokes marijuana. The researchers reasoned that the decrease in metabolites could be the body’s way of trying to get stress levels back to equilibrium after getting so hyped up on coffee.
“These are entirely new pathways by which coffee might affect health,” lead author Marilyn Cornelis, Ph.D., an assistant professor of preventative medicine at Northwestern University, explained in a statement released Thursday. “Now we want to delve deeper and study how these changes affect the body.”
For three months, the 47 study participants willingly let the scientists screw with their coffee schedule. In the first month, they didn’t drink any coffee; in the second month, they moved up to four cups a day; and in the third month, they slurped down eight cups a day (four more than what’s recommended as the healthy limit). Then, the scientists examined the hundreds of metabolites floating around in the blood samples collected after each stage of the study.
Heavy coffee drinking appeared to raise the number of metabolites linked to the androsteroid system, which helps the body get rid of steroid molecules. But the scientists also found that the blood metabolites related to the endocannabinoid system metabolic pathway decreased with coffee consumption, especially when participants were drinking eight cups of coffee a day. The endocannabinoid system regulates a wide range of functions in the body, including stress.
The body naturally produces endocannabinoids, which mimic the cannabinoid activity caused by chemicals in marijuana. But when a person smokes weed, endocannabinoid blood metabolites increase in the system — the opposite of what happens when you drink coffee.
What happens when you drink weed-infused coffee is a whole other question scientists have yet to figure out — and with the rapid legalization of marijuana, it may have to be a scientific puzzle they need to figure out soon.
That sounds awesome and expensive.
You know, just everyday stuff.
The newest application for graphene isn’t quite as world-changing, but it’s still pretty amazing – making ‘chemical free’ black hair dye.
The researchers behind this feat claim that it’s a less damaging way to colour hair, which makes sense when you understand how regular hair dye works.
The outside of the hair, called the cuticle, is made of cells that overlap in a scale-like way.
When you dye the hair, you actually have to open those scales with chemical compounds in order to deposit the dye inside.
“Your hair is covered in these cuticle scales like the scales of a fish, and people have to use ammonia or organic amines to lift the scales and allow dye molecules to get inside a lot quicker,” says senior author Jiaxing Huang, a materials scientist at Northwestern University.
This is why the more the hair is dyed, the more damage it can potentially do, leaving your locks dry and brittle.
Enter everyone’s favourite: graphene.
Instead of penetrating the hair, graphene actually just coats it, in the same way that wash-out dyes do. But the difference is that the graphene hair colour stays in long enough to be considered permanent – at least 30 washes.
What makes it possible is the thin sheet-like structure of the wonder material.
“Imagine a piece of paper. A business card is very rigid and doesn’t flex by itself. But if you take a much bigger sheet of newspaper – if you still can find one nowadays – it can bend easily. This makes graphene sheets a good coating material,” Huang says.
When comparing graphene to other temporary hair dye particles, such as carbon black or iron oxide, there’s basically no competition, according to the team.
“It’s similar to the difference between a wet paper towel and a tennis ball,” he said.
“The paper towel is going to wrap and stick much better. The ball-like particles are much more easily removed with shampoo.”
At this point you may be thinking about how expensive graphene is, and you’re totally right. But while it’s hard and pricey to make high-quality graphene for scientific purposes, some of it could be cheap enough to end up as hair dye.
“You can have graphene that is too lousy for higher-end electronic applications, but it’s perfectly okay for this,” says Huang.
“I think that this could happen a lot sooner than many of the other proposed applications.”
It works, so when will you be seeing graphene hair dye on your supermarket shelves?
Although the team is super excited about it, it’s important to note that it’s still definitely in the research phase. But it’s definitely an interesting way of using our most exciting wonder material.
“This is an idea that was inspired by curiosity. It was very fun to do, but it didn’t sound very big and noble when we started working on it,” Huang says.
“But after we deep-dived into studying hair dyes, we realized that, wow, this is actually not at all a small problem. And it’s one that graphene could really help to solve.”
How did we even get here?
We have nanobots that swim inside our bodies and monitor our vital organs. We have autonomous robots that work alongside human doctors to perform complex surgeries. There are rovers driving across the surface of Mars and, as you read this, thee humans are orbiting high above you, living in the cold vacuum of space.
In many ways, it seems like we’re living in the future. But if you ask Neil deGrasse Tyson, it seems like we’re little more than infants trying to clutch sunbeams in our fists.
At the 2018 World Government Summit in Dubai, Tyson gave a presentation to an enraptured audience. The topic? How humans will – most definitely not – colonize Mars (Tyson, if you aren’t aware, is an eternal skeptic).
It seems fitting then that, following his rather depressing speech, he took the time to discuss how humans are, in many ways, entirely ignorant.
Here are three things that, according to Tyson, show just how far we have to go:
A portion of our Universe is missing. A rather significant portion, in fact.
Scientists estimate that less than 5 percent of our Universe is made up of ordinary matter (protons, neutrons, electrons, and all the things that make our bodies, our planet, and everything we’ve ever seen or touched).
The rest of the matter in our Universe? Well, we have no idea what it is.
“Dark matter is the longest standing unsolved problem in modern astrophysics,” Tyson said.
He continued with a slightly exasperated sigh, “It has been with us for eighty years, and it’s high time we had a solution.”
Yet, we aren’t exactly close.
The problem stems from the fact that dark matter doesn’t interact with electromagnetic radiation (aka light). We can only observe it because of its gravitational influence – say, by a galaxy spinning slower or faster than it should.
Dark energy is, perhaps, one of the most interesting scientific discoveries ever made. This is because it may hold the keys to the ultimate fate of our Universe.
Tyson explains it as “a pressure in the vacuum of space forcing the acceleration of the [expansion of] the Universe.”
Does that sound confusing? That’s probably because it is.
If you weren’t aware, all of space is expanding – the space between the galaxies, the space between the Earth and the Sun, the space between your eyes and your computer screen.
Of course, this expansion is minimal. It’s so minimal that we don’t even notice it when we look at our local Solar System. But on a cosmic scale, its impact is profound.
Because space is so vast, billions of light-years of space are expanding, causing many galaxies to fly away from us at unimaginable speeds.
And if this flight continues, eventually the cosmos will be nothing more than a cold unendingly dark void. If it reverses, the Universe will collapse in on itself in a Big Crunch.
Unfortunately, we have absolutely no idea which will happen, as we have no clue what dark energy is.
We know a lot about how life evolved on Earth. About 3.5 billion years ago, the earliest forms of life emerged. These single-celled creatures dominated our planet for billions and billions of years.
A little over 600 million years ago, the first multicellular organisms took up residence. The Cambrian explosion followed soon after and *boom* the fossil record was born.
Just 500 million years ago, plants started taking to land. Animals soon followed, and here we are today.
However, Tyson is quick to point out that we don’t understand the most vital component of evolution – the beginning.
“We still don’t know how we go from organic molecules to self-replicating life,” Tyson said, and he noted how unfortunate this is because “that is basically the origin of life as we know it.”
The process is called abiogenesis. In non-scientific jargon, it deals with how life arises from nonliving matter. Although we have a number of hypotheses related to this process, we don’t have a comprehensive understanding or any evidence to support one.
There we have it. The biggest mysteries of the cosmos just happen to be some of the most important and fundamental. So, when will we finally figure out these scientific conundrums and move out of our infancy? Tyson refuses to make a prediction.
If there’s one thing he knows, it’s how very little humans actually know: “I’m not very good at predicting the future, and I’ve looked at other people’s predictions and seen how bad those are even among those that say ‘I am good.’ So I can tell you what I want to happen, but that’s different than what I think will happen.”
Just when we thought octopuses couldn’t be any weirder, it turns out that they and their cephalopod brethren evolve differently from nearly every other organism on the planet.
In a surprising twist, in April last year scientists discovered that octopuses, along with some squid and cuttlefish species, routinely edit their RNA (ribonucleic acid) sequences to adapt to their environment.
This is weird because that’s really not how adaptations usually happen in multicellular animals. When an organism changes in some fundamental way, it typically starts with a genetic mutation – a change to the DNA.
Those genetic changes are then translated into action by DNA’s molecular sidekick, RNA. You can think of DNA instructions as a recipe, while RNA is the chef that orchestrates the cooking in the kitchen of each cell, producing necessary proteins that keep the whole organism going.
But RNA doesn’t just blindly execute instructions – occasionally it improvises with some of the ingredients, changing which proteins are produced in the cell in a rare process called RNA editing.
When such an edit happens, it can change how the proteins work, allowing the organism to fine-tune its genetic information without actually undergoing any genetic mutations. But most organisms don’t really bother with this method, as it’s messy and causes problems more often that solving them.
“The consensus among folks who study such things is Mother Nature gave RNA editing a try, found it wanting, and largely abandoned it,” Anna Vlasits reported for Wired.
But it looks like cephalopods didn’t get the memo.
In 2015, researchers discovered that the common squid has edited more than 60 percent of RNA in its nervous system. Those edits essentially changed its brain physiology, presumably to adapt to various temperature conditions in the ocean.
The team returned in 2017 with an even more startling finding – at least two species of octopus and one cuttlefish do the same thing on a regular basis. To draw evolutionary comparisons, they also looked at a nautilus and a gastropod slug, and found their RNA-editing prowess to be lacking.
“This shows that high levels of RNA editing is not generally a molluscan thing; it’s an invention of the coleoid cephalopods,” said co-lead researcher, Joshua Rosenthal of the US Marine Biological Laboratory.
The researchers analysed hundreds of thousands of RNA recording sites in these animals, who belong to the coleoid subclass of cephalopods. They found that clever RNA editing was especially common in the coleoid nervous system.
“I wonder if it has to do with their extremely developed brains,” geneticist Kazuko Nishikura from the US Wistar Institute, who wasn’t involved in the study, told Ed Yong at The Atlantic.
It’s true that coleoid cephalopods are exceptionally intelligent. There are countless riveting octopus escape artist stories out there, not to mention evidence of tool use, and that one eight-armed guy at a New Zealand aquarium who learned to photograph people. (Yes, really.)
So it’s certainly a compelling hypothesis that octopus smarts might come from their unconventionally high reliance on RNA edits to keep the brain going.
“There is something fundamentally different going on in these cephalopods,” said Rosenthal.
But it’s not just that these animals are adept at fixing up their RNA as needed – the team found that this ability came with a distinct evolutionary tradeoff, which sets them apart from the rest of the animal world.
In terms of run-of-the-mill genomic evolution (the one that uses genetic mutations, as mentioned above), coleoids have been evolving really, really slowly. The researchers claimed that this has been a necessary sacrifice – if you find a mechanism that helps you survive, just keep using it.
“The conclusion here is that in order to maintain this flexibility to edit RNA, the coleoids have had to give up the ability to evolve in the surrounding regions – a lot,” said Rosenthal.
As the next step, the team will be developing genetic models of cephalopods so they can trace how and when this RNA editing kicks in.
“It could be something as simple as temperature changes or as complicated as experience, a form of memory,” said Rosenthal.
The harms that electronic cigarettes currently pose to non-smoking teens and young adults far outweigh the potential benefits to adult smokers who want to give up conventional cigarettes, according to findings from a newly published risk analysis.
The risk model by Samir Soneji, PhD, of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues found that in a single year, 2,070 adult smokers would successfully kick the habit using e-cigarettes (albeit with a wide 95% confidence interval).
But the model also estimated that e-cigarette use among non-smoking teens and young adults would lead to 168,000 new smokers.
The study, published in PLOS ONE, concluded that e-cigarette use currently represents more harm than benefit at the population level.
“The model suggests that the harms to kids are substantial in magnitude, while the promised benefits for smokers wanting to quit are not very robust,” Soneji told MedPage Today.
He said the study is among the first to attempt to quantify the balance of harms and benefits associated with e-cigarette use.
The researchers used census counts, national health and tobacco use surveys, and recent e-cigarette studies to calculate the expected years of life gained or lost from e-cigarette use on smoking cessation among current smokers and transition to long-term cigarette use among never smokers in a 2014 population cohort.
Using these data, the team performed stochastic simulation using the Monte Carlo model.
The investigators assessed three outcomes:
The estimates based on the modeling were as follows:
Although electronic cigarette use is widely accepted as being safer than smoking combustible cigarettes, there is now strong evidence that their use by teens and young adults increases smoking risk, Soneji noted.
“There have now been about a dozen studies from different countries consistently showing about a threefold increased risk of smoking initiation among kids who vape. What is even more concerning is that the risk appears to be greatest among kids who are otherwise at low- or moderate-risk of starting smoking.”
He said the current, population-level risk balance could shift if e-cigarettes are adequately regulated to make them unattractive and unavailable to teens, while optimizing their effectiveness as reduced-harm products for smoking cessation.
“Ten million smokers tried to quit last year. Half tried to quit cold turkey, which is a very ineffective way to quit. E-cigarettes may have some advantages over currently available nicotine-replacement therapies, in that, like cigarettes, they deliver nicotine through inhalation.”
Never let it be said that lung cancer patients don’t present clinicians with a unique set of circumstances. For instance, many primary lung cancer patients have “multiple medical comorbidities, often have a heavy smoking history, and a lot of cardiovascular disease — and this restricts the therapeutic options that are available to them,” noted Alice Gillams, MB ChB, from The London Clinic.
Then there are those with secondary metastases in the lungs: “These patients are often more physically fit than the primary lung cancer patients, but they have multiple sites of disease, which automatically puts them at stage IV,” she observed in a Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE) interview at the 2016 European Conference on Interventional Oncology (ECIO) in Dublin.
Fortunately, ablation therapy — delivered via radiofrequency ablation (RFA), microwave ablation (MWA), interstitial laser ablation (ILA), irreversible electroporation (IRE), or cryoablation — has demonstrated good efficacy for this patient cohort.
The benefit of percutaneous thermal ablation is that it has very little impact on lung function, a low complication rate, a limited hospital stay for patients, and can be repeated multiple times, Gillams said. “These patients don’t get just one metastases — they get another metastases sometime later, and another, and another. Having a reiterative therapy that effectively eradicates each metastases is a real breakthrough for ablation.”
However, each ablation modality comes with its own benefits and drawbacks. “For example, with cryoablation you seem to get less pneumothoraces, but you get a little bit more bleeding. So, you choose the ablation technology dependent on the patient — where their tumors are, how big the tumors are, whether they can undergo general anesthesia, what their comorbidities are, and so on.”
International researchers are doing their part to advance the use of ablation therapy for secondary metastases in the lungs.
In a review article, Han Qi, MD, and Weijun Fan, MD, from the Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center in Guadngdong Sheng, China, highlighted the results of current and previous ablation treatments for lung metastases with a focus on the value of ablation therapy for different kinds of lung metastases.
“The lungs are the second most prominent metastatic organs, after the liver, in which malignant tumors develop,” they wrote. “Lung metastasis often occurs through the following routes: hematogenous spread, lymphatic spread, direct inﬁltration or overspread, and airway transcoelomic spread.”
Colorectal cancer patients are particularly prone to developing lung metastases, with 10% to 20% of patients progressing this way. In this patient population, the median survival duration of RFA combined with systemic chemotherapy was 44.2 versus 24.7 months for systemic chemotherapy alone. The 3-year survival rates were 87.5% versus 33.3% (P=0.0041).
Bone and soft tissue sarcoma patients are another population that show a propensity for distant metastases (10-15% of osteosarcoma cases; 20% of soft tissue sarcoma cases), with about 85% of those locating in the lung, the authors noted.
In small-sample populations, ablation has demonstrated 1-year and 3-year survival rates comparable to those of resection (90-92% at 1 year; 60-85% at 3 years). For elderly patients and those who require controlling tumor recurrence, ablation may be the preferred therapy, Qi and Fan said.
Renal cancer often presents (25-30% of cases) with distant metastases at the time of diagnosis, with the lung the most common site. Ablation therapy has shown a 5-year survival rate of 53.8%, compared with approximately 40% in surgical resection with this patient group.
A major difficulty for traditional therapies with this cohort is the extent of metastasis, which trends toward very high, the authors pointed out.
Primary liver cancer is also associated with a high incidence of secondary lung metastases, with 20% or greater being common. If the primary lesion is well controlled, RFA for secondary lung tumors can be beneficial to patients who cannot tolerate surgery. Survival rates in this cohort range from 73% to 83% at year 1 and 30% to 57% at year 3.
Nasopharyngeal cancer also kicks out distant metastases, with the lung among the more prevalent areas of occurrence. Small studies evaluating ablation with MWA and RFA among this group found the therapy to be effective.
In one study, only five of 27 patients presented with new lung metastases 1 year after complete MWA ablation of their lung tumors, Qi and Fan explained. In another group, the median survival of nasopharyngeal cancer patients with secondary lung metastases treated with RFA combined with chemotherapy was significantly longer than for those who received only chemotherapy (77.1 versus 32.4 months, P=0.009).
Percutaneous Lung Ablation Therapy
David Morris, MD, from St. George Hospital in Sydney, New South Wales, and colleagues, tracked the survival of 21 colorectal cancer patients with secondary lung metastases (average of three lesions, 13 patients with bilobar disease) who underwent percutaneous lung ablation therapy (PLAT), either with RFA or MWA.
The overall survival (OS) post lung metastases was 18 months or more in the patients who had ablation therapy compared with those who had systemic chemotherapy (26 versus 14 months, P =0.03). However, 38% of the group had local tumor recurrence post-ablation.
A peritoneal carcinomatosis index >10 (hazard ratio 3.48, 95% CI 1.69-7.19), presence of liver metastases (HR 2.49, 95% CI 1.24-5.03), and ablation (HR 0.43, 95% CI 0.20-0.93) were identified as significant predictors of OS following a diagnosis of pulmonary metastases in colorectal cancer patients.
The Chinese and Australian authors noted that patient sample sizes can be problematic for lung cancer ablation studies.
“Trials have been quite difficult to organize because the randomization process has been so tricky,” Gillams commented. “I think what we’re doing at the moment is gathering more experience, larger data databases, more complete data, more uniform patient populations, and extrapolating retrospective data as to where we should go forward in terms of numbers.”
Xin-Min Li, MD, from the 306th Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army in Beijing, and colleagues, put together one of the larger retrospective studies (476 consecutive patients) of CT-guided lung tumor RFA, although the data is from a single institution.
The group reviewed the records of 668 neoplasms treated in 476 medically inoperable patients (294 men, 60 women; median age of 74; range 29–84) who underwent CT-guided RFA during a 12-year period (2004-2016) at their facility.
Each patient had clinical or pathologic evidence of a neoplastic lesion. The researchers found that 22.1% of the patients presented with primary non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), 22.3% had recurrent NSCLC, 45.2% were treated for secondary metastases, and 10.3% had treatment for small cell lung cancer (SCLC).
The medical records revealed a mean lesion size of 3.8 cm (range of 1–16 cm), and that 21 lesions were re-treated from one to four times. All procedures were technically successful, and there were no procedure-related deaths. A total of 21.8% of the cases had low-grade fever.
The probabilities for various OS rates for primary NSCLC, metastases, recurrence, and small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), respectively, were as follows:
In primary NSCLC, progression-free survival and OS were significantly related to tumor size, but there was no significant difference in recurrent NSCLC, metastasis, and peripheral SCLC.
“RFA offers good local control of recurrent NSCLC, lung metastases, and SCLC,” the researchers stated.
Peter Kennedy, MD, from Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, Ireland, concurred, noting that interventional oncology is the service that surgical and radiotherapy colleagues turn to when they’re stuck on treatment options for their cancer patients: “In terms of surgery, these are patients that are not surgically fit — per lung function tests, per cardiac history, per other co-morbidities,” he said in another CIRSE video interview at ECIO.
“Ablation is often safer for patients that have lesions in the no-fly zones or have pulmonary fibrosis or have synchronous bi-lateral tumors — these are the typical patients that I’m seeing.”
Why is it so difficult to heal emotional trauma? Maybe it is because we do not understand what our emotional wounds really are, and therefore we go about healing in ways that can never work.
When I was young, I was in a horrifically abusive relationship for over a year. Even though I was able to eventually “get out” and save myself, it took me many years to figure out how to heal the deep emotional wounds.
We tend to think of an emotional wound as the original traumatic experience – as the “thing” that happened to us, but the wound is actually the dis-empowering belief that we developed as a result of the traumatic experience.
In the search for emotional security, our natural response to any traumatic event is to make sense of it. We “make sense” of things by creating beliefs. Beliefs that we develop in response to traumatic experiences are Traumatic Beliefs. Because Traumatic Beliefs are disempowering and painful, they become emotional wounds.
The reason many people don’t heal is because they try to heal the original traumatic experience and not the Traumatic Belief. By understanding that emotional wounds are actually the Traumatic Beliefs that we hold about ourselves and/or the world, we have the power to heal.
When a child experiences himself as abandoned, for example, that child forms beliefs around abandonment in order to explain why he was abandoned. The child may answer the question, “Why?” by creating a belief that he was not good enough. The abandonment is the not the wound. The wound is the belief in unworthiness. In this case, healing involves releasing the Traumatic Belief of unworthiness.
Two people can experience the same trauma and have completely different responses, because they develop very different beliefs about the experience.
Traumatic Beliefs always create corresponding emotional needs which must be met in order to heal. The catch is that a Traumatic Belief also creates an invisible barrier that keeps the emotional need from being met. For example, if the Traumatic Belief is, “I am not worthy,” the emotional need is feeling worthy. If you could feel unconditionally worthy, the wound would heal. The problem is, if you believe that you are not worthy, you will block the feeling of worthiness because it does not align with your beliefs about worth. This is also why healing is so challenging.
When we have been wounded, we feel justified in holding onto Traumatic Beliefs. Part of us may even think that these beliefs keep us from getting hurt again, and the thought of releasing them makes us feel very vulnerable – without these beliefs, what will protect us? But, Traumatic Beliefs do not protect us in the first place. In fact, these beliefs are self-sabotaging by being self-fulfilling. When we look closely, it becomes apparent that these beliefs actually cause, attract and create more of what we do not want. All beliefs effect the quantum field that creates our reality, but Traumatic Beliefs have an even stronger influence on reality because they are fueled with intense emotional energy. Therefore, if we believe we are powerless, we attract situations to us that support that belief.
An essential key to healing is taking complete responsibility for your life and for your wounds. As long as you blame the outside world for your pain, you give away your power to heal. This is not about letting others off the hook who have harmed us. This is about empowering yourself to be whole. If you cannot find a way to take responsibility for your life experiences, then begin by taking responsibility for your beliefs. Regardless of what transpired in the outside world, you are the only one who thinks your thoughts and therefore you are responsible for creating and believing any Traumatic Beliefs. This means that you also have the power to release these beliefs, and, therefore, you can heal yourself.
Traumatic Beliefs disconnect you from who you really are because your true self could never believe that you are powerless or unworthy. When you accept these disempowering beliefs, you experience separation from your true self and this is the cause of pain and suffering. The pain is your inner guidance system alerting you to the disconnection so that you can heal by releasing incongruent beliefs.
The higher purpose of traumatic experiences is to point our attention to hidden or underlying beliefs that already exist in our psyche. The traumatic experience activates the hidden belief so that we are aware of it, in order to heal. This is the point. You cannot heal something that you are unaware of. The pain directs your attention to the belief that needs to be healed in order for you to awaken.
In order to heal, it is important that you uncover the Core Traumatic Belief(s) of the wound. There are four Core Traumatic Beliefs: Victimhood, Powerlessness, Worthlessness and Loss. All Traumatic Beliefs fall into one or more of these four categories.
When I was in that horrifically abusive relationship, the greatest of the wounds was the belief that I was a victim; causing me to live in great fear for many years, even after the abuse had ended. Because I was desperate to heal and have my life back, I finally looked deep into my own self. Eventually, what I understood was that I was feeling like a victim well before that relationship had ever manifested. The relationship overtly demonstrated my inner beliefs in the outer world in a way that I could not ignore.
Later, as an adult, the healing was remembering, at the deepest level, that I was responsible for my own life, and that my life was a reflection of all my beliefs. I discovered that the opposite of victim is not survivor. The opposite of victim is creator. When I remembered that I was the creator of my life, victimhood could no longer exist – and the wound was permanently healed.
The key to healing the Traumatic Belief of victimhood is waking up to who you really are and remembering that you are the creator of your life. Maybe you don’t understand how you created something, and you would certainly not consciously create a traumatic event that would make you feel victimized, nonetheless, we unconsciously create from hidden subconscious beliefs, and physical events in our lives give us clues to these underlying beliefs.
Once we become aware of theses disempowering beliefs, we have the opportunity to consciously heal them, by over-turning them, declaring their falsehood and turning toward a higher truth. In this case, the higher truth is I am the creator of my life. True power comes from learning to be a conscious creator, but this can only happen as we flush out unconscious beliefs and we align with the truth of who we really are.
Even before we experience any traumatic events, most of us are socialized to believe that the world has power over us. So, when a traumatic experience does unfold, the idea of being powerless is already in our belief system, therefore, powerlessness seems an appropriate way to make sense of a negative event.
Healing from the Traumatic Belief of powerlessness is embracing ones intrinsic power – not the power that comes from control, but rather the power that originates in the core of your being and connects you to the universe and all that is. Healing the Traumatic Belief of powerlessness is an emotional journey from powerless to powerful.
Of all the Traumatic Beliefs, worthlessness runs the deepest. We are programmed to believe that we are unworthy from the time we are very young. So when we experience trauma, and we search internally for a belief that will make sense of the experience, unworthiness quickly answers the question, “Why did this happen to me?”
Of course, unworthiness is a false belief and therefore it must be exposed in order to be released. When it is hidden, there is no need to pay attention but once it causes pain, you must do something about it. The good and bad news is that the pain will not go away until the false belief of unworthiness is released and you cease seeking proof of your worth in the outside world. The world cannot give or take away your worth because your worth is intrinsic and guaranteed. Absolute healing is attained when you discover and claim your unconditional worth.
Often, when we have an emotional wound, we believe that someone has taken something from us. No matter how hard we try, it appears impossible to retrieve what has been stolen. This search often keeps the wound alive – believing that we have lost something and it must be retrieved keeps us locked in a vicious cycle of perpetual hurt.
Loss does not necessarily create an emotional wound. We all experience loss – loss of an aging parent or loss of a relationship, for example. Loss is part of the flow of life. Grieving is a natural response to loss and it is the process of letting go. However, if we do not let go, loss can turn into an emotional wound. This occurs when a Traumatic Belief is formed about the loss; for example, beliefs like, “no one will ever love me again,” or “everyone I care about leaves me.” Again, it is the Traumatic Belief that creates the emotional wound and not the loss itself.
When loss creates an emotional wound, we often close down and cut ourselves off from the very thing that could heal us. If we develop a Traumatic Belief around losing love, we not only block potential new relationships, we cut ourselves off from self-love and even higher love. In other words, we do to ourselves what we fear others might do to us.
The healing is remembering that the Source of who you really are provides all that you need, if only you ask, allow and receive – by trusting something greater than the physical self, you align with the rhythm of the universe where the idea of loss does not exist. Inherent in all Traumatic Beliefs is the absolute truth of your existence.
How do we actually heal Traumatic Beliefs?
When we develop and feed wounds with our attention over the course of years, we begin to identify with the wound, or, better said, we create an identity around the wounded-self. So, now we are not just releasing a wound, we are letting go of our identity. The thing is, you are not and can never be a wounded identity. This is a false belief and a false identity. In order to heal, it is important that you begin to release the identification with the wound, and that you begin to see yourself as whole – not the wounded self, but the whole self. Who are you without this wound? This is who you really are, and this is who you must become again.
Emotional wounds are often left open because we continue to look to others to meet our emotional needs. In order to heal, we must take responsibility for our own emotional needs and we must find ways to meet them. So, instead of looking to others for love, for example, we must love ourselves. By giving ourselves love, we fill the wound, and we heal.
Transformational Forgiveness is not about forgiving another or forgiving ourselves, as much as it is about letting go of the beliefs that keep us trapped – as the prisoner of unhealed wounds. Ask yourself, “Do I want to heal more than I want to hold onto these beliefs?” If the answer is yes, it is time to let go of disempowering false beliefs.
In order to heal an emotional wound, emotions must be able to “process through” until completion. If we allow our emotions to come up over and over again without resolution, we are actually reactivating the wound and each time we do, it magnifies. Healing requires resolution. This means feeling your emotions completely and not pushing them down or away. The healing comes when you allow your emotions space to be experienced until the process is complete. In order to allow emotions to “process through” you must get in your body. Emotional wounds are stored in the body, and therefore the way to release them is by getting in your body and feeling your emotions until the process feels complete.
Since the mind does not know the difference between real and imagined, it is possible to go back to a past event and revise it in such a way that the wound automatically heals. The key to successful revision is giving your past-self a new set of beliefs that empower him or her to know your worth, power and connection to who you really are. In this way, you can revise your past-self to speak the truth, set a boundary or exercise personal power in a way that allows your past-self to rise up; ultimately avoiding the emotional trauma or responding to the traumatic event in a way that no wound was created.
For me, my complete healing came from the realization that the person whom I thought hurt me was actually in my life to save me, by physically demonstrating the emotional abuse that I was imposing on myself. Without him serving me in this way, how would I have been able to identify my feelings of victimhood, worthlessness and powerlessness that I carried from childhood? By understanding this deeper truth, my emotional pain transmuted into gratitude. There is always a deeper truth. If you haven’t uncovered a truth that sets you free, go deeper, and keep going until you find it.
Every thought and belief has a coinciding vibration. Fear is at the low end of the vibratory spectrum while love is at the high end. Emotional wounds are low vibratory beliefs about oneself and/or the world. The wound exists at a low vibration and it keeps you stagnated at this low vibration. If you were to consistently raise your vibration to a higher vibration and keep it there, the wound could not exist. In other words, if you turned your full attention toward love and forgiveness, the wound would dissolve because it cannot exist at a high vibration.
Healing requires commitment and consistency. Because trauma wires your brain for disempowering beliefs, emotional healing requires the re-wiring of your brain for empowering beliefs; this involves the development of new conscious thought patterns that are consistently practiced over a period of time.
Enlisting the help of a healing professional to assist you may exponentially quicken the healing process, but in the end you must do it for yourself. In healing yourself you discover the strength, courage and power to live your life the way it was intended to be lived. If you are here to help others heal, maybe you access the skills to do so, that could not have been acquired in any other manner than going through the process yourself.
The ultimate healing is the awakening to your power and worth. You cannot remember that you are unconditionally worthy and intrinsically powerful and still maintain emotional wounds. There is nothing that cannot be healed through the power of knowing your Real Self.
If you live in the United States of America, you live in a giant prison where liberty and freedom are slowly being strangled to death.
In this country, the control freaks that run things are obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that we do. Nothing is private anymore. Everything that you do on the Internet is being monitored. All of your phone calls are being monitored. In fact, if law enforcement authorities suspect that you have done something wrong, they will use your cell phone microphone to listen to you even when you think your cell phone is turned off.
In many areas of the country, when you get into your car automated license plate readers track you wherever you go, and in many major cities when you are walking on the streets a vast network of security cameras and “smart street lights” are constantly watching you and listening to whatever you say. The TSA is setting up “internal checkpoints” all over the nation, Homeland Security is encouraging all of us to report any “suspicious activity” that our neighbors are involved in and the federal government is rapidly developing “pre-crime” technology that will flag us as “potential terrorists” if we display any signs of nervousness. If you are flagged as a “potential terrorist”, the U.S. military can arrest you and detain you for the rest of your life without ever having to charge you with anything.
Yes, the United States of America is rapidly being turned into a “Big Brother” prison grid, and most Americans are happily going along with it!
The sad thing is that this used to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. So what in the world happened?
A fundamental shift in our culture has taken place. The American people have eagerly given up huge chunks of liberty and freedom in exchange for vague promises of increased security. Our country is now run by total control freaks and paranoia has become standard operating procedure. We were told that the terrorists hate our liberties and our freedoms, and that we needed to fight the terrorists so that we could keep our liberties and our freedoms. But instead, the government keeps taking away all of our liberties and our freedoms.
How in the world does that make any sense? Have the terrorists won?
As a country, we have moved so far in the direction of communist China, the USSR and Nazi Germany that it is almost impossible to believe. Yes, turning the United States of America into a giant prison may make us all slightly safer, but what kind of life is this? Do we want to be dead while we are still alive? Is this the price that we want to pay in order to feel slightly safer? Where are the millions of Americans that still yearn to breathe free air?
America is supposed to be a land teeming with people thirsting for independence. For example, “Live Free or Die” is supposedly the official motto of the state of New Hampshire. But instead, the motto of most Americans seems to be “live scared and die cowering”.
We don’t have to live like this. Yes, bad things are always going to happen. No amount of security is ever going to be able to keep us 100% safe. We need to remember that a very high price was paid for our liberty and we should not give it up so easily. As one very famous American once said, when we give up liberty for security we deserve neither.
#1: A new bill that is going through the U.S. Senate would allow the U.S. military to arrest American citizens and hold them indefinitely without trial. This new law was recently discussed in an article posted on the website of the New American….
In what may be a tale too bizarre to be believed by millions of Americans, the U.S. Senate appears ready to pass a bill that will designate the entire earth, including the United States and its territories, one all-encompassing “battlefield” in the global “war on terror” and authorize the detention of Americans suspected of terrorist ties indefinitely and without trial or even charges being filed that would necessitate a trial.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham is a big supporter of the bill, and he says that it would “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield”.
According to the PPJ Gazette, the following are three things that this new law would do….
1) Explicitly authorize the federal government to indefinitely imprison without charge or trial American citizens and others picked up inside and outside the United States;
(2) Mandate military detention of some civilians who would otherwise be outside of military control, including civilians picked up within the United States itself; and
(3) Transfer to the Department of Defense core prosecutorial, investigative, law enforcement, penal, and custodial authority and responsibility now held by the Department of Justice.
#2: U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman is asking Google to install a “terrorist button” on all Blogger.com blogs so that readers can easily flag “terrorist content” for authorities.
#3: Most Americans have no idea how sophisticated the “Big Brother” prison grid has become. For example, in Washington D.C. the movements of every single car are tracked using automated license plate readers (ALPRs). The following comes from a recent Washington Post article….
More than 250 cameras in the District and its suburbs scan license plates in real time, helping police pinpoint stolen cars and fleeing killers. But the program quietly has expanded beyond what anyone had imagined even a few years ago.
With virtually no public debate, police agencies have begun storing the information from the cameras, building databases that document the travels of millions of vehicles.
Nowhere is that more prevalent than in the District, which has more than one plate-reader per square mile, the highest concentration in the nation. Police in the Washington suburbs have dozens of them as well, and local agencies plan to add many more in coming months, creating a comprehensive dragnet that will include all the approaches into the District.
#4: In some American schools, RFID chips are now being used to monitor the attendance and movements of children while they are at school. The following is how one article recently described a program that has just been instituted at a preschool in California….
Upon arriving in the morning, according to the Associated Press, each student at the CCC-George Miller preschool will don a jersey with a stitched in RFID chip. As the kids go about the business of learning, sensors in the school will record their movements, collecting attendance for both classes and meals. Officials from the school have claimed they’re only recording information they’re required to provide while receiving federal funds for their Headstart program.
#5: Increasingly, incidents of misbehavior at many U.S. schools are being treated as very serious crimes. For example, when a little girl kissed a little boy at one Florida elementary school recently, it was considered to be a “possible sex crime” and the police were called out.
#6: But what happened to one very young student in Stockton, California earlier this year was even worse….
Earlier this year, a Stockton student was handcuffed with zip ties on his hands and feet, forced to go to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and was charged with battery on a police officer. That student was 5 years old.
#7: In the United States today, police are trained to respond to even the smallest crimes with extreme physical force. For example, one grandfather in Arizona was recently filmed laying unconscious after police pushed his head into the flood inside a Wal-Mart on Black Friday night. It was thought that he was shoplifting, but it turns out that he says that he was just trying to tuck a video game away so other crazed shoppers would not grab it out of his hands.
#8: Did you know that the government actually sets up fake cell phone towers that can intercept your cell phone calls? The following is how a recent Wired article described these “stingrays”…
You make a call on your cellphone thinking the only thing standing between you and the recipient of your call is your carrier’s cellphone tower. In fact, that tower your phone is connecting to just might be a boobytrap set up by law enforcement to ensnare your phone signals and maybe even the content of your calls.
So-called stingrays are one of the new high-tech tools that authorities are using to track and identify you. The devices, about the size of a suitcase, spoof a legitimate cellphone tower in order to trick nearby cellphones and other wireless communication devices into connecting to the tower, as they would to a real cellphone tower.
The government maintains that the stingrays don’t violate Fourth Amendment rights, since Americans don’t have a legitimate expectation of privacy for data sent from their mobile phones and other wireless devices to a cell tower.
#9: U.S. border agents are allowed by law to search any laptop being brought into the United States without even needing any reason to do so.
#10: In the United States of America, everyone is a “potential terrorist”. According to FBI Director Robert Mueller, “homegrown terrorists” represent as big a threat to American national security as al-Qaeda does.
#11: Most Americans are not that concerned about the Patriot Act, but that might change if they understood that the federal government has a “secret interpretation” of what the Patriot Act really means. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden says that the U.S. government interprets the Patriot Act much more “broadly” than the general public does….
“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says.”
#12: The FBI is now admittedly recording Internet talk radio programs all over the United States. The following comes from a recent article by Mark Weaver of WMAL.com….
If you call a radio talk show and get on the air, you might be recorded by the FBI.
The FBI has awarded a $524,927 contract to a Virginia company to record as much radio news and talk programming as it can find on the Internet.
The FBI says it is not playing big brother by policing the airwaves, but rather seeking access to what airs as potential evidence.
#13: The federal government has decided that what you and I share with one another on Facebook and on Twitter could be a threat to national security. According to a recent Associated Press article, the Department of Homeland Security will soon be “gleaning information from sites such as Twitter and Facebook for law enforcement purposes”.
#14: What you say on your cell phone is never private. The truth is that that the FBI can demand to see your cell phone data whenever it wants. In addition, according to CNET News the FBI can remotely activate the microphone on your cell phone and listen to whatever you are saying….
The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone’s microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.
The technique is called a “roving bug,” and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.
#15: In some areas of the country, law enforcement authorities are pulling data out of cell phones for no reason whatsoever. According to the ACLU, state police in Michigan are now using “extraction devices” to download data from the cell phones of motorists that they pull over. This is taking place even if the motorists that are pulled over are not accused of doing anything wrong.
The following is how a recent article on CNET News described the capabilities of these “extraction devices”….
The devices, sold by a company called Cellebrite, can download text messages, photos, video, and even GPS data from most brands of cell phones. The handheld machines have various interfaces to work with different models and can even bypass security passwords and access some information.
#16: The federal government has become so paranoid that they have been putting GPS tracking devices on the vehicles of thousands of people that have not even been charged with committing any crimes. The following is a short excerpt from a recent Wired magazine article about this issue….
The 25-year-old resident of San Jose, California, says he found the first one about three weeks ago on his Volvo SUV while visiting his mother in Modesto, about 80 miles northeast of San Jose. After contacting Wired and allowing a photographer to snap pictures of the device, it was swapped out and replaced with a second tracking device. A witness also reported seeing a strange man looking beneath the vehicle of the young man’s girlfriend while her car was parked at work, suggesting that a tracking device may have been retrieved from her car.
Then things got really weird when police showed up during a Wired interview with the man.
The young man, who asked to be identified only as Greg, is one among an increasing number of U.S. citizens who are finding themselves tracked with the high-tech devices.
The Justice Department has said that law enforcement agents employ GPS as a crime-fighting tool with “great frequency,” and GPS retailers have told Wired that they’ve sold thousands of the devices to the feds.
#17: New high-tech street lights that are being funded by the federal government and that are being installed all over the nation can also be used as surveillance cameras, can be used by the DHS to make “security announcements” and can even be used to record personal conversations. The following is from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson for Infowars.com….
Federally-funded high-tech street lights now being installed in American cities are not only set to aid the DHS in making “security announcements” and acting as talking surveillance cameras, they are also capable of “recording conversations,” bringing the potential privacy threat posed by ‘Intellistreets’ to a whole new level.
#18: If you choose to protest in the streets of America today, there is a good chance that you will be brutalized. All over the United States law enforcement authorities have been spraying pepper spray directly into the faces of unarmed protesters in recent weeks.
#19: In many areas of the United States today, you will be arrested if you do not produce proper identification for the police. In the old days, “your papers please” was a phrase that was used to use to mock the tyranny of Nazi Germany. But now all of us are being required to be able to produce “our papers” for law enforcement authorities at any time. For example, a 21-year-old college student named Samantha Zucker was recently arrested and put in a New York City jail for 36 hours just because she could not produce any identification for police.
#20: According to blogger Alexander Higgins, students in kindergarten and the 1st grade in the state of New Jersey are now required by law to participate “in monthly anti-terrorism drills”. The following is an excerpt from a letter that he recently received from the school where his child attends….
Each month a school must conduct one fire drill and one security drill which may be a lockdown, bomb threat, evacuation, active shooter, or shelter-in place drill. All schools are now required by law to implement this procedure.
So who in the world ever decided that it would be a good idea for 1st grade students to endure “lockdown” and “active shooter” drills?
To get an idea of what these kinds of drills are like, just check out this video.
#21: With all of the other problems that we are having all over the nation, you would think that authorities would not be too concerned about little kids that are trying to sell cups of lemonade. But sadly, over the past year police have been sent in to shut down lemonade stands run by children all over the United States.
#22: The federal government has decided to invest a significant amount of time, money and energy raiding organic farms. The following example comes from Natural News….
It is the latest case of extreme government food tyranny, and one that is sure to have you reeling in anger and disgust. Health department officials recently conducted a raid of Quail Hollow Farm, an organic community supported agriculture (CSA) farm in southern Nevada, during its special “farm to fork” picnic dinner put on for guests — and the agent who arrived on the scene ordered that all the fresh, local produce and pasture-based meat that was intended for the meal be destroyed with bleach.
#23: It is an absolute disgrace that all of us (including grandmothers and young children) must either go through body scanners that reveal the intimate details of our naked bodies or endure “enhanced pat-downs” during which our genitals will be touched before we are allowed to get on an airplane.
It is also an absolute disgrace that the American people are putting up with this.
#24: Invasive TSA security techniques are not just for airports anymore. Now, TSA “VIPR teams” are actively conducting random inspections at bus stations and on interstate highways all over the United States. For example, the following comes from a local news report down in Tennessee…
You’re probably used to seeing TSA’s signature blue uniforms at the airport, but now agents are hitting the interstates to fight terrorism with Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR).
“Where is a terrorist more apt to be found? Not these days on an airplane more likely on the interstate,” said Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons.
Tuesday Tennessee was first to deploy VIPR simultaneously at five weigh stations and two bus stations across the state.
TSA “VIPR teams” now conduct approximately 8,000 “unannounced security screenings” a year at subway stations, bus terminals, ports and highway rest stops.
#25: More than a million hotel television sets all over America are now broadcasting propaganda messages from the Department of Homeland Security promoting the “See Something, Say Something” campaign. In essence, the federal government wants all of us to become “informants” and to start spying on one another constantly. The following comes from an article posted by USA Today….
Starting today, the welcome screens on 1.2 million hotel television sets in Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn and other hotels in the USA will show a short public service announcement from DHS. The 15-second spot encourages viewers to be vigilant and call law enforcement if they witness something suspicious during their travels.
#26: Certain “types” of American citizens are being labeled as potential threats in official U.S. government documents. An unclassified Department of Homeland Security report published a couple years ago entitled “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” claims that a belief in Bible prophecy “could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition and weapons.” The report goes on to state that such people are potentially dangerous.
#27: Back in 2009, the State of Missouri issued a report entitled “MIAC Strategic Report: The Modern Militia Movement“. That report warned that the following types of people may be potential terrorists….
#28: As I have written about previously, a very disturbing document that Oath Keepers has obtained shows that the FBI is now instructing store owners to report many new forms of “suspicious activity” to them. According to the document, “suspicious activity” now includes the following….
Do any of those “signs of suspicious activity” apply to you?
#29: Soon you may get labeled as a “potential terrorist” if you are just feeling a little nervous. A new “pre-crime” technology system that is currently being tested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will soon be in use all over the nation. It is called “Future Attribute Screening Technology” (FAST), and it is very frightening. The following description of this new program comes from an article in the London Telegraph…
Using cameras and sensors the “pre-crime” system measures and tracks changes in a person’s body movements, the pitch of their voice and the rhythm of their speech.
It also monitors breathing patterns, eye movements, blink rate and alterations in body heat, which are used to assess an individual’s likelihood to commit a crime.
The Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) programme is already being tested on a group of government employees who volunteered to act as guinea pigs.
#30: The truth is that nobody puts more people into prison than America does. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and the largest total prison population on the entire globe.
To read about some of the crazy things that the control freaks running things have planned for the future, just check out this article by Natural News: “10 outlandish things the ‘scientific’ controllers have in mind for you in the near future“.
Once again, despite all of this outrageous “security”, it is inevitable that a lot of really bad things are going to happen in the United States in the years ahead. When there are incidents of violence, it is also inevitable that there will be calls for even more “Big Brother” security measures. We are going to be caught in a never ending spiral of tyranny where the “solution” is always even tighter security. Eventually, we will have lost all of our liberties and freedoms, and we will probably be even less safe than we are today.
Do not be deceived. We could put a soldier on every corner, a video camera in every room of every home and an RFID chip in every citizen but that would not make us “safe”.
Every single lawmaker that is backing these laws which strip our liberties and freedoms away deserves to be voted out of office. If you love the United States of America, please stand up and say something while you still can.
Please use this article and other articles like it as tools. Share them with your friends and your family. If we can get enough people to wake up, perhaps there is still enough time to turn the direction of this country around.
Will the final chapters of the history of the United States of America be mentioned in the same breath as communist China, the USSR and Nazi Germany, or will the final chapters of the history of the United States of America be the greatest chapters of all?
The choice, America, is up to you.
I felt this sensation in the pit of my stomach – it was a combination of sympathy and anger – listening to Annie tell me, through tears, about her postpartum journey into the world of psychiatry.
“Three separate psychiatrists dismissed me when I expressed concerns about taking an addictive medication like Klonopin. It’s been two years, I can’t get off it, I’m on 4 psych meds and I feel worse than I ever did before I started this treatment.”
Annie was ushered into the promise-filled halls of psychiatry 3 months after the birth of her first baby when she began to experience racing heart, insomnia, vigilance, irritability, and a host of physical complaints including joint pain and hair loss. No one did blood work, asked about her diet, or cared about any of the myriad observations about her body and its changes in functioning. This was a “head-up” intervention. I believe women deserve better. People deserve better.
Most patients who come to me for treatment of depression and anxiety do so because they want answers. They want to know WHY they are struggling. The closest they will be offered by their prescribing psychiatrist or primary care doc is some reductionist hand waving about serotonin imbalances. I think it is time to speak to these patients with respect, truthfulness, and to offer them more than a life-long relationship with a pill (or pills, as it will inevitably become over the years).
First, let’s review some basics:
Thanks to direct-to-consumer advertising and complicit FDA endorsement of evidence-less claims, the public has been sold an insultingly oversimplified tale about the underlying driver of depression. Here’s how we know depression is not a serotonin deficiency corrected by Zoloft:
You might wonder: Well, then how is it that antidepressants are a billion dollar industry and I have all these friends who are so much better on them? Some pioneering individuals have investigated the data supporting antidepressant efficacy and have made compelling arguments for what is called the “active placebo” effect accounting for “breaking blind” in placebo-controlled trials. In short, the expectation of relief and subsequent change in symptoms experienced by “responders” is related to perception of side effects. This analysis suggests that antidepressants may only have 10% efficacy above and beyond the placebo effect. When you also consider the suppression of negative studies (permission of sedatives in trials, replacement of non-responders, and allowance of placebo washout) by pharmaceutical companies, you may start to worry that you have been sold a bill of goods. When inefficacy, long-term risks, increase in suicidal tendencies and violent behavior are taken into account, it is a marvel to observe the star-power of these medications.
Inflammation is a buzzword that produces 41 million+ Google hits for a reason: it appears to underlie just about every chronic disease plaguing Americans today. A contribution of genetic vulnerabilities likely determines who develops heart disease or cancer or obsessive compulsive disorder, but many researchers are convinced that depression may have a significant inflammatory component. Just as a fever is one of your immune system’s mechanism for eradicating intruders, suppressing a fever, in no way, serves to resolve the underlying infection or to support the body’s return to balance. Similarly, suppressing symptoms of depression does not achieve rebalancing, and will likely result in the Whack-a-Mole phenomenon of shifting symptoms, and protracted resolution.
There appears to be a specific subset of non-responders to medication who have measurable markers of inflammation as explored in this study. We know that medications such as interferon given to patients with Hepatitis result in significant levels of depression and even suicide, and we know that anti-inflammatory agents such as infliximab or even aspirin can result in resolution of symptoms. Investigators like Miller and Raison have discussed, in a series of wonderful papers, the conceptualization of depression as “sickness behavior” with accompanying social withdrawal, fatigue, loss of appetite, decreased mobility. Recent meta-analyses have identified at least 24 studies which have correlated levels of inflammatory cytokines like CRP, IL6, and TNFalpha with states of depression.
What causes inflammation in the body that can affect the brain? This is the subject of an excellent book, Why Isn’t My Brain Working? A Revolutionary Understanding of Brain Decline and Effective Strategies to Recover Your Brain’s Health — and it turns out the list is long. But these are the contributors that I see most commonly in my practice:
It’s in almost every packaged food. Seriously. Look for it and you will find it. It may come with different labels – cane sugar, crystalline fructose, high fructose corn syrup – but it’s all sugar. The way the body handles fructose and glucose is different; however, which may account for why fructose is 7 times more likely to result in glycation end products or sticky protein clumps that cause inflammation. In addition to the above mood and anxiety rollercoaster, sugar causes changes in our cell membranes, in our arteries, our immune systems, our hormones, and our gut as I discuss here.
Gluten, soy, and corn have been identified as allergenic foods and a leading speculation as to how these foods became and are becoming more allergenic is the nature of their processing, hybridization, and genetic modification rendering them unrecognizable to our immune systems and vehicles of unwelcome information. Gluten and processed dairy, when incompletely digested, result in peptides which, once through the gut barrier, can stimulate the brain and immune system in inflammatory ways.
The epidemic incidence of autoimmune disorders in this country is a direct reflection of environmental assault on our system. The body’s ability to determine self from other starts with the gut and our host defenses there. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there because autoimmune disorders typically have psychiatric manifestations. This makes sense – the body’s immune system is misfiring, and the immune cells of the brain (called microglia) are following suit. Beyond rampant inflammation, autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (more here) also result in symptoms related to damage to tissues. Low or erratic thyroid function can cause anxiety, depression, flattened mood, cloudy thinking, metabolism changes, and fatigue. Sometimes even the presence of immune system misfiring can predict depression as was noted in this recent study where women with thyroid autoantibodies in pregnancy went on to develop postpartum depression.
Do a 30-day diet overhaul. If you feel committed to the cure, eliminate these provocative foods: corn, soy, legumes, dairy, grains. What do you eat? You’ll eat pastured/organic meats, wild fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables, and nuts/seeds. If this is not revolutionary, then you may be someone for whom nightshade vegetables, nuts, or eggs are inflammatory. If that seems entirely overwhelming, then start with dairy and gluten. If that is too much, then gluten is my top pick.
Introduce 1-2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil to give your brain an easy source of fuel that does not require significant digestion. When your brain is inflamed and your sugar is out of balance, your brain cells end up starving for nutrients to make energy. This can be an effective shortcut.
I use this spice in therapeutic doses, but it has recently been demonstrated to be as effective as Prozac. If you cook with it, use pepper and oil (red palm, coconut, olive oil, ghee) for enhanced absorption. (See: Groundbreaking Study Finds Turmeric Extract Superior to Prozac for Depression.)
Naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles as well as kefir and yogurt if you are dairy tolerant are a source of beneficial bacteria that can retrain the gut to protect you from unwanted pathogens. A recent study demonstrated that these bacteria can, indeed, affect brain function.
Detox Your Environment
Here’s an important way to call off the dogs of your immune system. Give it less stimulation.
Promote Healing Messages
I have developed an appreciation of the body’s ability to work towards balance when obstacles are removed. An important obstacle is the stress response that is activated by many of the above factors as well as perceptions of busy-ness, lack of downtime and community support, and trauma. Take 10-20 minutes a day (or even 2!) to promote the relaxation response by breathing in with a count of 6 and breathing out with a count of 6. Imagine the air flowing in and out through your heart and cultivate a feeling of gratitude. The benefits of this practice have been well-studied by Heartmath Institute.
Psychiatry has long suffered from pseudoscience and propaganda. From an embarrassing history of pathologizing human behavior, applying crude “treatments”, and imposing beliefs about societal welfare on vulnerable populations, we haven’t come very far in the past century. Incidence of mental illness is rising, partly from changes in diagnostic criteria, commercializing mental illness, collusion between doctors and patients around the “quick fix”, and partly because our bodies and minds are crying out in protest about this toxic world we live in.
Take control of your body to heal your mind – take back your health and bear witness to the power of a lifestyle renaissance.