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Entries in Anxiety (4)

Thursday
Mar092017

Probiotics for Anxiety Lactobacillus Rhamnosus

Gut bacteria can change the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) in the body, because certain gut bacteria thermselves manufacture certain neurotransmitters. Some probiotics have a great effect in reducing anxiety. Another way gut bacteria works to reduce anxiety is by sercreting certain chemical messengers called cytokines that change the immune system/nervous system response. This is called psychoneuroimmunology. Photo Credit Niaid

Lactobacillus Rhamnosus and GABA

GABA is a great neurotransmitter. It is the OFF switch of the nervous system and patients with anxiety often do not have enough GABA, or they have too much other excitatory neurotransmitters. GABA helps a person settle down, feel calm, feel safe and stop the fight and flight response. Certain prescription medications that affect the GABA pathway include Klonopin, Xanax, Valium, and Gabapentin. But these medications are often addictive and have unwanted side effects. It’s best that your body makes it’s own GABA. The probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus makes GABA. L rhamnosus can be a GABA making machine in the body if a patient has enough of this strain in their gut. 

An animal study shows that treatment with L rhamnosus decreased activity in the hippocampus, amygdala and local coeruleus.

1. The hypocampus is associated with long term memory, spacial relationship, and behavioral inhibition. Excessively active activity such as over firing in the hypocampus or inflammation can affect the above

2. The amygdala associates the 5 senses with emotions. Overactive function may ingrain more traumas such as in PTSD or excessive negative emotional associations with events, smells, sights, people etc.

3. The local coeruleus  is the part of brain involved in stress and panic. It Secretes adrenaline. 

Lactobacillus rhamnosus also reduced the stress response associated with cortisol. Therefore supplementation with L. rhamnosus is promising for supporting the body in making more GABA via the bacteria producing it. 

Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Inflammation

Too much inflammation in the brain is not good and can contribute to anxiety. We are not referring to the type of inflammation like a concussion, but chronic oxidative stress to the nervous system. Patients with higher levels of inflammation in the body such as those with autoimmune diseases, allergies, aches and pains are more likely to also have more inflammation in their nervous system. Anxiety, depression, and memory loss are definite symptoms that indicate an increased inflammatory response in the brain. 

Think of increased inflammation in the brain as increased firing of neurons. Think of an electric cord with too much electricity going through it that it blows the fuse. GABA helps to slow down this rapid firing and regulate it back down to normal. 

A study shows that Lactobacillus rhamnosus inhibits the inflammatory response by increasing IL-10 levels. IL-10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine and helps to shut down the T cell response after infections or stressors. If there is not enough IL-10, inflammation can extend long after it is needed, resulting in chronic inflammation. L. rhamnosus probiotic can help support healthy levels of IL-10.

Psychobiotics

Lactobacillus Rhamnosus is a psychobiotic. A psychobiotic is a live organism (probiotic) that when ingested in a certain amount produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychological disorders. How does this work? The gut bacteria influence the vagus nerve which communicates with the brain. The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve, exiting the brain and reaching all the way to the intestinal tract. This nerve channels the communication between the brain and the gut. I use a product, Ultra Flora Women's by Metagenics with my patients which contains L. Rhamnosus. 

 

Thursday
Nov102016

Worried About Your World? Homeopathic Remedies for Political, Social Justice and Ethical Related Stressors. 

We’ve just had the most talked about presidential election in the US. Many of my patients have been very stressed about their world and future. Of course many people all around the world are experiencing different emotions. Photo Credit Stevesworldofphotos Remember to respect everyone and try to find common ground among differences. In this article, I mention a few homeopathic remedies you can use, if you find yourself stressed. 

For those who are very passionate about the affairs of their world, you may think it is irresponsible to let go a little. There is a fine balance for each individual as to how many actionable steps to take towards an issue and letting go of what is outside of your control. If the worry and stress is eating you up and you want to decrease the anxiety, consider the hoemoapthic remedies above to support you. 

Click Here to read about more remedies  in this article I've written for the NaturalPath Publications.

Causticum (Bothered by Social Injustice)

  • ·      Great sensitivity to injustice
  • ·      Fights injustice/activist
  • ·      World news and events feels very close to heart
  • ·      Overwhelmed by sad stories or the news
  • ·      Sensitive/Sympathetic
  • ·      Sees dark side of things
  • ·      Serious and intense personality
  • ·      Idealistic Views
  • ·      Rebel. Hates authority. Self righteous
  • ·      Anxiety
  • ·      Fear something bad will happen
  • ·      Nervous system/Nerve/Spine health problems

 Ignatia (Grief, Heartbreak, Loss)

  • ·      Grief, Loss
  • ·      Physical ailments after grief
  • ·      Disappointment
  • ·      Easily hurt
  • ·      Does not want to be consoled. Cries alone often in sadness and anger
  • ·      Puts on a strong/cold exterior, hurting on the inside
  • ·      Waiting for the good to happen that may never be
  • ·      Idealistic, cultured and refined

Cuprum (copper) (Suppressed Emotions)

  • ·      Intense emotions that are suppressed
  • ·      Difficulty expressing emotions, holds them in
  • ·      Feels cramped like they have no way out
  • ·      Cramping muscles, spasms. Spasms as a way to discharge suppressed emotions
  • ·      Feels attacked and helpless
  • ·      Fear if government, police, getting in trouble
  • ·      Wants to escape
  • ·      May stammer and have difficulty finding words, does not want to say something unintended

Click Here to read about more remedies contained in an article I've written for the NaturalPath Publications.

Generally in my practice, no homeopathic remedy, magic pill or medication will get rid of anxiety on it’s own. Usually there are some deeply ingrained belief systems, or early childhood incidences that have shaped how each individual perceives their world and reacts to it. It is important to heal these aspects. I explore these aspects with my patients with techniques such as with NET (Neuro Emotional Technique) that helps to remove ingrained compensation mechanisms stored physiologically in the body that subconsciously drives a patient’s innate fears and emotions. If you would like to be less triggered by fears of the unknown, things that others do to you, issues out of your control and stress, it would be worth to invest your time to addressing it, so that you get to live feeling some internal peace within. Contact Dr. Emily Chan about how NET can help you get rid of unhealthy stress triggers. 

 

 

Monday
Oct032016

GUT-BRAIN Connection. Can My Gut Affect My Brain?

I had a teacher see me for memory issues and fatigue. She had a very difficult time:

  • focusing
  • remembering new information
  • making decisions 
  • staying on top of her tasks
  • experienced brain fog and extreme tiredness. 

Her brain symptoms and difficulty concentrating were so severe that she needed her partner to help her fill out the health history form. She is relatively too young for age related dementia, so what was causing this?

Photo Credit Taylor Maley

Well it turns out this patient also has some digestive problems that new research shows can contribute to the brain symptoms. John Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology conducts research about how the Enteric Nervous System is key to the Gut and Brain relationship. This connection was important to my patient’s recovery. So what is the enteric nervous system? 

The brain is controlled by two nervous systems, one is controlled by your brain (CNS Central Nervous System), the other is the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) which works separate from the brain. Think of it as a thin 100 million nerve cell network that coats your entire GI tract and sends “walkie-talkie” messages, commanding the GI tract to secrete enzymes, digest food, interact with microbes in the gut etc. What happens in the gut is then reported to the CNS (brain). So both the ENS (gut-brain) and CNS (brain-brain) talk to each other. 

I’ve observed patients with GI problems often have more issues with mood, such as anxiety, stress and depression. I’ve also seen patient’s who often report that stress or emotions will worsen their GI problems.

So is it the chicken or the egg? BOTH.

The good news is that research is backing up the gut-brain relationship. Signals from a patients gut with GI issues are more inflammatory than those who are healthy. This explains how inflammatory chemicals can alter their brain chemistry. 

A Harvard Medical School article links stress with increased perception of pain. On the flip side, the article also links patients with GI disorders with increased perception of pain. So perhaps both these issues alter the ENS (gut-brain) and CNS (brain-brain) causing disregulation in pain perception both emotionally as well as physically.

There are two things that you can do at home that can calm down your ENS (Enteric Nervous System): 

  • Deep Belly Breathing (tells mechanoreceptors in diaphragm to communicate with vagus nerve to calm your stomach and stress down)
  • Applying gentle heat to the belly (tells temperature receptors to relax muscles in the gut, if you feel like it is all tensed up in a knott).  

In my practice, I use advanced techniques that help to put the nervous system back in balance, like adjusting the dials on the stereo to the correct volume. These work deeply to release an old body memory stored out of compensation from a previous stressor (physical or emotional) and are specific to re-wiring your nervous system set points. You'll know you need re-setting especially if you've felt, "I was feeling fine until...".

My patient stopped her marathon 2 hr naps, was able to prepare her lessons as a teacher and said she had a much clearer mind after working together on healing her gut. If you are suffering from GI symptoms or Brain issues, please contact me and I would be happy to help you, or point you in the right direction. Stay tuned for Part II of the Gut-Brain connection in a few weeks. 

Monday
Oct122015

Worried Sick?

Is my Stress Normal?Photo Credit Bernard Goldbach

Or has our society collectively acquired a new norm of a stressful behavior? The underlying omnipresent knowledge of our “to do list” can vampire the enjoyment out of the very moments we are working on that “to do list” or trying to relax. Our bodies get tired and we just want to relax, but feel guilty to when there is so much unfinished. What will people think of me? Am I irresponsible? Am I a bad person? Maybe as long as I stay busy and “Do” I actually momentarily get some relief from self judgment. 

Deeper than Anxiety

Energetically Anxiety is fear of making an incorrect decision or mistake. This causes the person not to move in any direction, which in turn makes them feel stuck and trapped in their circumstances (which they may have created themselves from fear of making decisions). This may also manifest in the tendency to over research to find answers, feeling confused with conflicting information, and not making a quick decision to action. This keeps you longer in your unfavorable circumstance. 

Anxiety is also related to fear of abandonment, which can manifest in feeling a need to “Do” something, in order to keep other people happy and therefore “like you” and not abandon you. There’s a sense anxious people feel, that their world is not safe, so worrying is somehow a twisted way to make them feel temporary relief. Why is that? 

How does the Brain Interpret Reward?

Feel a low level of guilt or shame over small things in life? For some, it’s the guilt or shame that you feel, that gets interpreted as stress. We have a reward center in the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This part of the brain regulates how we feel pleasure associated with reward for a behavior. If you got rewarded with food when you finished your homework as a kid, you may link food to reward as an adult, perhaps over eating to emotionally feel good. If you got punished when you did not do homework, that punishment also registers in the nucleus accumbens, the reward center. This is why people oddly get addicted to guilt, shame, or punishing themselves. This may be why it’s so hard to break the cycle of worrying and just let go. 

How does Stress Make you Sick?

In a journal published by the Immunology Allergy Clinic of North America Titled “Stress and Allergics Diseases”, it is estimated that over 75% physician visits in America are stress related. Stress increases susceptibility to infections, autoimmune disease, allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease, and negatively affects the outcome to cancer and aging. Studies show that maternal stress while pregnant increases the child’s risk to developing asthma and allergies.

Stress impacts the immune system by increasing the secretion of cortisol and catecholamines. The stress hormones increase stimulation of TH2 type T cells, increasing the production of IL-4, IL-10 and IL-13, which favors an allergic inflammatory response. Cortisol unfortunately suppresses TH1 type T cells and thus IL-12 which is important for natural killer cell function, which decreases susceptibility to viral infections and cancer. 

Stress stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which increases the release of Substance P (SP) which is related to pain and inflammation. Stress also increases the release of Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide (VIP). VIP increases vasodilation, secretion of water (which may increase edema, bloating, or diarrhea), and smooth muscle relaxation (may increase GERD symptoms). According to the British Journal of Medicine, increased VIP and VIP nerve receptors are associated with some inflammatory bowel disease. 

Stress definitely can make you sick, and takes away your enjoyment of life. Stay tuned and I will share some strategies to help you overcome stress in the next newsletter. In the mean time, remember the good things in life and laugh a little.