Relaxation-response techniques could reduce the need for health care services by 43 percent

I love seeing a study like this out of a respected hospital such as Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Relaxation-response techniques, such as meditation, yoga, and prayer, could reduce the need for health care services by 43 percent, according to a study at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) that looked at participants in a relaxation-response-focused training program…The relaxation response was first described more than 40 years ago by Harvard Medical School Professor Herbert Benson, founder and director emeritus of the BHI and a co-author of the current study. The physiologic opposite of the well-documented fight-or-flight response, the relaxation response is elicited by practices including meditation, deep breathing, and prayer, and has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of stress-related disorders ranging from anxiety to hypertension”

“I think of it this way: There are many gates to wellness, but not everyone is ready to walk through a particular gate at a given time. From a public health perspective, it is better to be prepared to offer these tools to people in their customary settings than to wait for them to seek out these interventions. For that reason, we feel that mind-body interventions — which are both low-cost and essentially risk-free — should perhaps be incorporated into regular preventive care.”

http://bit.ly/1Ps1bU6

Foods to fight anxiety. And possibly RSD?

RSD/CRPS is often described as an anxiety disorder (certainly gone awry) and a sympathetic system stuck in “fight or flight.” Maybe you don’t believe that. But likely anxiety has set in anyway from the overwhelming stress of the prognosis (a prognosis I believe doctors will learn later does not have to be and possibly contributes to the decline in some patients). What we do know is that western medicines like ketamine sedate the body. We now have learned ketamine is being used for depression as well. We know that many medications for RSD are anti-anxiety meds. With that knowledge, why aren’t more doctors prescribing meditation and a change in diet?

I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. I can only speak for me. But I did improve significantly when I started to practice qi gong on a regular basis. There is a cumulative effect to meditating. Food is another tool that has assisted in my calming endeavor. Turmeric, avocado, kale, fish oil, ginger root tea, among others (okay sometimes Cabernet).

Below is a list of 13 foods from a mindbodygreen blog that can help ease anxiety. So often we ignore the food we are putting in our bodies, eat unhealthy foods and then seek outside medicine. Maybe those foods aren’t unhealthy but they might not be helping our bodies. Perhaps they would be foods better suited for another medical condition.

What if food is the answer?

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-15428/13-foods-to-help-ease-anxiety-stress.html
from mindbodygreen:

1. Oysters Research has correlated an imbalance of zinc to copper with anxiety. This trace mineral ratio is responsible for proper neurotransmitter function and adaptation to stress. Increased copper and decreased zinc may lead to symptoms of anxiety.

2. Chamomile Tea Sip on this natural anti-anxiety medicine for its natural calming effect. This soothing, mild tea was shown to significantly decrease anxiety symptoms in just a few weeks!

3. Rooibos Tea Rooibos, or African red bush tea, is a delicious way to bring a natural calm to your day. Researchers are looking into its effect on cortisol. It seems to work by having a balancing effect on the body’s main stress hormone.

4. Full-Fat Kefir In functional medicine, the gut is considered the “second brain” because it’s home to 95% of your “feel good” hormone seratonin. With more than 100 million neurons, your gut’s health is essential to manage anxiety.

Bacterial imbalances in your gut can alter brain chemistry, and kefir, an ancient fermented dairy drink, might just be the most powerful probiotic ever! It also has fat soluble vitamins A, D and K2, all important for brain health.

5. Turkey …Tryptophan is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps you to feel calm. Tryptophan in the form of meat, has been shown to reduce anxiety disorders!

6. Turmeric Curcuminoids, the antioxidants in turmeric, have a neuroprotective quality and help enhance your mood. It was shown in a randomized controlled trial to be an effective option for major depressive disorder, which is closely linked to anxiety disorders.

7. Organ Meats If you eat meat, organ meats are some of the best sources of nutrients needed to beat anxiety, like zinc and vitamin D. They also contain copious amounts of choline, needed for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Liver is also abundant in B vitamins, which are needed for methylation, a metabolic process in the body that is responsible for proper synthesis of neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Homocysteine levels and MTHFR mutations are two tests that I run to ensure optimal neurotransmitter metabolism and methylation.

8. Avocados This superfruit is great for brain health and anxiety. They contain potassium which helps naturally lower blood pressure. Avocados also contain beneficial B vitamins and monounsaturated fats that are needed for neurotransmitter and brain health.

9. Dark Chocolate Science has vindicated chocolate lovers everywhere. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology revealed that people who drank a dark chocolate drink, equal to about 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate per day, felt calmer than those who did not.

10. Asparagus This sulfur-rich vegetable also contains the specifically beneficial B vitamin, folic acid. Low levels of folic acid are linked to neurotransmitter impairment, which can lead to anxiety. A 5.3-ounce serving provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid! It also contains moderate amounts of potassium, which can lower blood pressure.

11. Adaptogenic Herbs One common hormonal signaling pathway dysfunction I find in patients struggling with anxiety disorders is the brain-adrenal axis. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is part of your sympathetic “flight-or-fight ” response and something, and can play a role in adrenal fatigue. Stress hormones, like cortisol, can cause seratonin receptors to become less sensitive to activation. Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, rhodiola and holy basil are some of the tools I use to optimize brain-adrenal function in patients.

12. Leafy Greens If you struggle with stress and anxiety increase the greens! Plant foods like Swiss chard and spinach are rich in magnesium, the natural “chill pill,” which also helps regulate the brain-adrenal axis.

13. Fatty Meat Inflammation is one factor when it comes to brain health and anxiety. Omega-3 fats have been shown to decrease anxiety. Omega-rich foods like Alaskan salmon and grass-fed beef can help decrease inflammation and help cortisol and adrenaline from spiking.

Is your need for approval causing you pain?

Another great blog from MindBodyGreen. This struck me for two reasons: 1) I am very interested in Dr. Sarno’s belief that pain (even if there is evidence of structural defect) is likely rooted in emotional issues; and 2) this author says a strong need for approval can force the body into a constant fight or flight response which just happens to be how RSD/CRPS is often described.

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14185/are-you-desperate-for-approval-why-it-could-be-hurting-your-health.html

” Sociologist Martha Beck says, “Pain is like a life coach in your body. It’s what made me a life coach because I started paying a lot of attention to what made me hurt and what didn’t. It turned out my body was trying to steer me away from a life that was absolutely wrong for me and into a life that was absolutely wonderful.” Approval addicts, no matter what your approval seeking personality type fear that survival = “fitting in.” Fitting in takes many different forms, for some it means not doing anything to rock the boat, for others it means being all things to all people, still others think it means to never ask for help. For me, it meant being the “best” at everything (which by the way is impossible). The bottom line is that when you have an irrational fear that your survival depends on external approval or at the very least not making people mad, bored or annoyed, you see other people as threats. You perceive social interactions as threatening and that sends the body into a near constant state of fight or flight. … There’s a name for this phenomenon. Psychologists call it rejection sensitivity.

In a nutshell, people who experience rejection become more sensitive to it. They’re more likely to interpret an ambiguous social exchange as rejection. It’s a tendency to feel deep anxiety in social situations that develops into a kind of paranoia about rejection. Our bodies are not set up to cope with chronic exposure to this a biochemical response to feelings of rejection and despair. So … this leads to “dis-ease” in the body. “

A Prescription to be Lazy!

I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. I really enjoyed the blog below from mindbodygreen.com. I’ve changed my attitude about weekends in that sometimes I take the bulk of a Saturday or Sunday to just practice qi gong and read. I used to feel the need to work at a list of things to do and rest included tv. I feel far more rested and symptoms cease when I shut everything down and just relax.

“Stress underlies most of our modern day maladies. A “doing, doing, doing” way of life contributes to dis-ease over time because the nervous system never gets a chance take a load off. The fight-or-flight affect of stress leaves the body thinking and feeling as if a lion is chasing it 24 hours a day.”

The blog suggests doing the following:
1. Go on a social media and electronics fast. I have to admit that i read this at first as “get on social media and fast” and I thought “what an interesting take. I would have thought the opposite.” Maybe I need to pay attention to #2. One thing at a time!
2. Monotask.
3. Explore meditation.
4. Attend a restorative yoga class.
5. Schedule time into your schedule for simply being.

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11417/want-better-health-try-doing-less.html