Posts Tagged ‘gut-brain connection’

Some Thoughts About Physical Stress

May 25, 2011

I’ve received many messages from well-wishers (including great research on shingles)  as well as much help from friends and neighbors. Nothing like a little debility to let one see the web of connection that binds us to our community, and a great opportunity for gratitude for what we do have in our lives. However, a few folks have bravely asked why I think I “got” shingles…as if herbalists and those who take ridiculous amounts of supplements and really pay attention to diet were somehow immune to the ills “lesser” mortals are prey to. We are not “greater” and we are not immune. But all of this did get me thinking, especially when so many well-intentioned blithely talk about “stress” and how I must have been under a lot, etc., you get the picture.

If I were to ask all of you reading this if you are under a lot of “stress”, I bet most would say yes. The economy, dealing with illness and death, years of war, personal problems, Congress doing more harm than good, working too hard and too long, social inequality, anxiety…the list seems endless. Mostly though, it seems that when we think of stress we think emotions, thoughts: worry, doubt, fear, anger, frustration.

Not all stress is lodged in the heart and mind; much is in the gut. And certainly stress can be and often is a mixture of thoughts and feelings that twirl about stealing our rest and our peace of mind. That’s why so-called stress relieving practises, like meditation, mild to moderate physical exercise, visualization, etc., are so helpful: they really do calm the heart and mind and relieve stress. However,  I did a little research from the Chinese perspective, as well as one of my Western medical (both allopathic and alternative) databases, and came up with an interesting piece of information: some stress is actually physical in origin, and it can lower immunity (and according to the Chinese way of seeing the world), is one of the major cause of a shingles outbreak.

Physical stress–which includes lack of sleep (or sleep interruptions), changes in diet (especially from a good diet to one that is less healthy for the individual), changes in climate (e.g., from hot to cold, dry to damp), recreational drug use, strenuous exercise, exposure to environmental toxins (e.g., chemical, electromagnetic, radiation), allergens, etc.–is just as pernicious as the emotional and mental stress that we more commonly think about as “causing” dis-ease. And no one thing “causes” dis-ease: the terrain of the cells is just as (if not more) important than any particular “germ entity.”

So all this rumination is a gentle way of saying to my self and friends that the whole person is a mysterious miracle. We can try to mitigate stress of all kinds; we can be happy and fulfilled in our work and/or our emotional life; we can monitor our thoughts and meditate and be filled with joy… and we still may become ill. My shingles were “probably” the result of physical stress on my vacation (that was added to some emotional stress around work, and a genetic predisposition to shingles). Take home message: how can we each lead a less stress-full life on all levels…and still be authentically ourselves?

PS Next week I’ll look at statin drugs and their natural alternatives. Then some thoughts on cholesterol. What else?

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Six excellent sites for cutting edge alternative health info

February 23, 2011

The Internet is an incredible place for information…and as most of us have realized, not all info found here  is accurate, factual, useful, understandable, or relevent. Many of the  most popular health info sites on the Web are dominated by Big Pharma, the AMA, The Gates Foundation, and others allied to the current “sick-care” industry mis-named health care. 

Since the mid-70’s, when I helped start a rural natural food buying club in southwestern Virginia, I have been studying many aspects of alternative health and lifestyles. The truth that consistently arises is:  prevention is less time-consuming and less expensive than treatment. And way easier said than done!  Also, many strategies for becoming and staying healthy have been marginalized, vilified, or ignored in the mainstream press. This is not to say that the alternative movement is perfect! We have our fair share of  folks whose reach exceeds their grasp.

So here are six helpful sites I use, and my opinion (and me just say up front that it is an opnion, not absolute truth, whatever that might be) about each one. Notice that one is well served by an open mind and a sense of humor concerning  the diversity of those who self-define as being “alternative.”  AlterNet is a great source for news; their health info is both semi-main stream and many shades of alternative.  Often excellent investigative reporting is presented about related health subjects (like food and water) to give one the “back story” or help explain why what is, is.  For a good recent example click  here to read about whistleblowers and food safety.  Also at AlterNet (this was a good day for big picture info) is a story about our food growing system (the political aspect of farming). To read about it, click   here.

Prevention may be key, but most of us are already dealing with “issues.” This next site addresses both. The GreenMed Info newsletter is always thought-provoking, and iconoclastic, as well as one of the most densely researched on the web. Click  here  for the issue on wheat, which will open a veritable Pandora’s box.  GreenMed Info hosts the largest study-based, peer-reviewed alternative health data base on the internet, and it is free.  With over 10,000 useful entries, this database has already helped a client of mine find the best supplement to take for his situation (and it is helping).

The Organic Consumer Association puts out a newsletter called Organic Bytes. This issue focuses on GMO, and what you can do to participate in campaigns to confront, halt, label, and educate. In case you are wondering what genetically modified food could have to do with health….well, check out this site, or the next two for way more info than you really want, but do need.

The next 2 sites are the most well-known, have the most advertising, and reflect the values of their authors.  Both of these men do their homework,  say what their opinion is up front, and cite their research. I may still quibble a bit here and there (both are prone to hyperbole), and you can find out a tremendous amount of info on a very wide range of health issues including healthy food (from the vegetarian and vegan point of view as well as the organic and free-range meat eaters), exercise protocols, supplements, herbs and healthy sleeping habits, as well as the more controversial and political issues like  GMO, vaccines, pesticides, cell phone radiation problems, etc.

For an excellent article on  Lyme disease check  here from Health Ranger Rick’s  naturalnews.com. For a comprehensive look at drinking water check  here  from Dr (MD) Mercola’s  mercola.com.

Last but not least is Byron J. Richard’s Wellness Resources. He always seems to come up with fascinating research (that he quotes and sites) often from mainstream sources. Click here for how the bacteria in our guts affects our brains.  He also has a full range of info on his site. Like the other 2 men above, he is trying to sell you supplements.

OK, now for my 2 second infomercial!  I have a supplement buying club that has a few openings. At some point later in blogdom I’ll elaborate. However, if you have read this far, take supplements, and would like a free 15 minute consult, call me toll-free @ 877-286-2970,