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.

Meditation to rebuild gray matter in 8 weeks – a Harvard study

This is amazing and, as someone who practices meditation, it makes complete sense to me. We have more control over our physical health than we know.

http://www.feelguide.com/2014/11/19/harvard-unveils-mri-study-proving-meditation-literally-rebuilds-the-brains-gray-matter-in-8-weeks/

The study was led by a Harvard-affiliated team of researchers based at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the team’s MRI scans documented for the very first time in medical history how meditation produced massive changes inside the brain’s gray matter. “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing…the participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing mindfulness exercises, and this is all it took to stimulate a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. McGreevey adds: “Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.”

Keep giving thanks. It might be good for your health.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/11/27/thanksgiving-gratitude.aspx

No wonder it feels so good to be thankful!

“Besides sharing time with family and friends over food, the primary ingredient of the American Thanksgiving holiday is gratitude. While it’s certainly good to have an annual holiday to remind us to express gratitude, there’s much to be said for the benefits of cultivating the spirit of thankfulness year-round... One way to harness the positive power of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal or list, where you actively write down exactly what you’re grateful for each day. In one study,3, 4 people who kept a gratitude journal reported exercising more, and they had fewer visits to the doctor compared to those who focused on sources of aggravation. As noted in a previous ABC News article,5 studies have shown that gratitude can produce a number of measurable effects on a number of systems in your body, including:

Mood neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine)
Reproductive hormones (testosterone)
Social bonding hormones (oxytocin)
Cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters (dopamine)
Inflammatory and immune systems (cytokines)
Stress hormones (cortisol)
Blood pressure and cardiac and EEG rhythms
Blood sugar

…People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude).

Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, it’s a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate further.”

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

The Still Point

I have posted about this inexpensive, booby shaped dream product before but since I cannot quite work this blog, you get a new one. 🙂 This product is pretty amazing, I have to say. Since many of us are extra on edge as of late, perhaps this might be a way to help.  One can get a craniosacral massage (I do want to try this next) but I use the still point inducer which is fairly cheap and I don’t need to rely on another person for the relief. There is a link of places to buy at the end of this post. I bought mine at Amazon.

“A Still Point can occur spontaneously or it can be induced by the CranioSacral Therapist to help facilitate the release of restrictions in the membranes around the brain and spinal cord. It works quite simply. The delicate interruption of fluid flow causes a momentary buildup of fluid in the system. When the tissues are subsequently released and the fluid begins to flow again, it gently “flushes” the system, causing the membranes to stretch a bit and release tissue restrictions or adhesions. …The results, which also include increased blood flow to the brain, can have a therapeutic effect on the central nervous system and the entire body. Some other highly beneficial effects include headache and muscle pain relief, a reduced state of stress and ready response, a deep state of relaxation, and a general sense of well-being.”

…Therapists can induce a Still Point by using manual techniques to resist either the flexion or extension phase. Generally, it is easier and more efficient to resist the filling (flexion) than the emptying (extension). Still Points can also be self-induced using either a homemade tool (two tennis balls placed in an athletic sock and knotted at the end), or a simple device called the Still Point Inducer…”

http://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=12047

You can buy one at several stores online:

https://www.google.com/shopping/product/453572880200082692?output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=still+point+inducer&oq=still+point&psj=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.77161500,d.cGU&biw=1438&bih=726&tch=1&ech=1&psi=-fM6VL2TA4KxogTmhIKgAw.1413149688827.3&sa=X&ei=APQ6VNWSIoruoASvsICwCg&ved=0CH0QuSQ

Stress-Related Weight Gain

As I reported a few weeks back, I started to gain unexplained weight (there were no other lifestyle changes) when i was undergoing the two months of intravenous vitamins. My gut (pun intended) tells me it was the high dose C. I felt an extra pull on my system the days i had high dose C.

I have tried the normal tricks to lose weight – more exercise, fewer calories, more green tea. Those didn’t work and I actually think it made things worse!

Then something clicked for me last Friday. If it is an increase in cortisol and other stress hormones from the extra pull on my immune system, working out and adding more caffeine might make things worse. So, I started doing several epsom salt baths a day to get that magnesium in. I also did a few baths where I included raw apple cider vinegar with the salts to pull out excess toxins that have been building up. I have a fat belly. But it’s now deflating.

So i just looked online for other ways to lower cortisol levels.

Omega 3 fatty acids, maybe ironically vitamin c (i assume they mean orally), tea leaves, magnesium, and herbal supplements like ashwagandha, chammomile and even turmeric to help your body fend off cell damage from this chronic stress.  I love taking turmeric supplements for pain.

http://www.ehow.co.uk/facts_5751704_supplements-high-cortisol-levels.html

I may also book an infrared sauna again (i did one of those on Saturday along with a very light Swedish massage and it felt like it calmed things quite a bit).  I also had moxibustion yesterday at acupuncture to get that fat heated and moving on out. And yes, I also have those acu beads taped to my ears. Every few hours i touch my ear and go “what the sh*t is that?! Oh, oh yeah.”  I may need to work on my memory next. 😉

Epsom Salt bath benefits (i know, i know. yes, again).

  • Improved heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.
  • Improved ability for the body to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.
  • Flushed toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
  • Improved nerve function by electrolyte regulation. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
  • Relieved stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.
  • Reduced inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps.
  • Improved oxygen use.
  • Improved absorption of nutrients.
  • Improved formation of joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins.
  • Prevention or easing of migraine headaches.
 
Epsom salt soaks have been so important for my health and continue to help me in my quest to create a calmer me.  I use 2-3 cups per bath.  It soothes me better than even a few glasses of wine and i sleep like a baby after.

IV Vitamin C – Week 5 Report

I wanted to give a little report now that i am more than half way through my IV C vitamin therapy. It’s hard to measure pain because it is so affected by just about everything you do. But here’s what I’ve noticed:

— I work from home as a result of my RSD.  Normally if I put too many hours in or things are too stressful, I end up exhausted  and in a ton of pain. I often then end my work day.  The last few weeks have been crazy at work. I worked all last weekend. It’s been hectic and stressful. But, I haven’t had any days where my pain has been out of control and I have put more hours in than i otherwise normally can.  I have had far more energy.  This, to me, is amazing since one of my biggest gripes about RSD is the fatigue from pain.

— I have a small patch of eczema on one of my fingers. If you’re not looking for it, you’d probably not notice it. It has been much smoother since I started the IV C. On the days i have IV C, it looks like normal skin.  Considering eczema is an inflammatory symptom, I’m excited to actually SEE a difference.

— There is one thing that’s bizarre but also makes sense. I think the day after the infusion my immune system is stimulated. That feeling goes away. I have no idea if other people even perceive that feeling at all or i’ve become way too in touch with my body.

— It’s funny that what i call stress is different than what other people do. I now see the slightest pull on my reserve as stress. I try my hardest not to let things hit me or to run around like i need to be somewhere as if my life depended on it. It doesn’t. I know that any stress is triggering an inflammatory response. I felt my inflammation go bananas last Friday night (from work) and i made an immediate appointment for swedish massage. It was amazing and turned it right off.  AND she restored my neuro signal for a little bit and i even jogged (ok “jogged”) home in the rain for a block after.

I think the biggest test will be to see how my bloodtests come back next month. Hopefully there will be changes to my previously abnormal test results (but in the right direction). 

My favorite delivery just arrived.

10 el beez of epsom salt to calm my muscles, soothe inflammation, provide overall stress relief, detox me and regulate blood sugar levels (for when i have either a cupcake from Magnolia or ice cream sandwich at Joan’s later – something’s happening today).

I order this from Amazon. Sometimes i get free delivery with my Amazon Prime.Image

A great health blog on magnesium.

A great health blog on magnesium.

“Being magnesium deficient can contribute to fatigue, stress, muscle cramps and spasms, and more.  Magnesium is extremely alkalizing so it can help reverse tissue deterioration.  This essential mineral is necessary for the body in order to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, build strong bones, and keep a healthy immune system.”  —  From the oolaboolah blog

I believe magnesium played a huge part of what helped me turn around in 2010.  I had so much difficulty walking.  My ankle muscles would not function (the nerves at L5 took the brunt of the hit from the rogue graft).  Remember: nerves control muscles.  Whether it’s spasm or lack of motor control,  magnesium really could help – a lot.  I take much of mine through my skin in the form of epsom salt baths.

I really do think that, along with Omega 3s, magnesium may be key to curing myself.  Even if it’s not the ticket, I really do love my baths.