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Posts Tagged ‘adrenal glands’

You know what it’s like. You go to bed, tired and yet you lie there for hour upon hour, tossing and turning, trying desperately to go to sleep. The more you try to go to sleep the more sleep evades. When you finally drop off, it seems like only minutes before the alarm clock wakens you to face another day. Many of us are trapped on this merry-go-round of lack of sleep and mind/body exhaustion. The harder we try the more anxious we become. 

OR…maybe falling asleep when you go to bed isn’t the problem. The problem is, you’re always waking up like clockwork between 1:00 am and 3:00 am every morning. We may not realize it, but our bodies have many duties to perform while we are sleeping—between 1:00 and 3:00 am is when the liver rejuvenates itself—to do so, it needs glycogen. Glycogen is stored within the muscles and liver as a form of glucose; its role is to increase blood sugar levels in the body when they drop. Therefore, it’s possible waking up at 3:00 am every morning is an indicator of low blood sugar, which causes our cortisol levels to spike.

 (As blood sugar drops it’s the liver’s job to make glucagon, a substance that triggers the breakdown of ‘complex carbohydrates’ glycogen into glucose or blood sugar.   The glucose then streams out into the blood, raising the sugar level again. If a person’s blood sugar is unstable, leading towards hypoglycemia then psychologically there’s a problem with the liver, such as a loss of stamina fatigue and quick to anger. Frustration, anger, resentment, emotional turmoil and repressed emotions can all lead to the stagnation of chi or life-force energy, when this happens our blood circulation is affected and can cause us to suddenly wake-up from a deep sleep.) More on the liver later in the article…

“Have you just lost your job? Has your rent increased unexpectedly? Have you lost a loved one. Has your reputation been tarnished? Did you think you’d be further along in life by now? If so you are probably blaming yourself for not being more in control! Any and all of these so-called setbacks teach us that we cannot control the change in our lives, we can only control how we handle that change.” When Life Changes Or You Wish It Would ~ Carol Adrienne

How well you sleep affects how you feel both physically and mentally—sleep affects how you behave, how well you handle the ordinary stress of life, how well you can get along with other people, and how happy and productive you are. If you are waking up feeling deprived of sleep and drag through the day in an irritable fog, then you have a sleep problem—regardless of the number of hours you spend in bed with your eyes closed.

METAPHYSICAL CAUSES OF INSOMNIA

Major life changes can cause insomnia, such as the loss of a job, financial setback, serious illness, divorce or the death of someone dear.   All these come at a time when we must face certain pain or self-concepts we’ve pushed down into our subconscious.   When we have suffered defeat, setbacks and other losses we are called to deal with painful unresolved personal issues. We are forced to confront our fears about ourselves—fears that have been ignored and rejected. Shame or fear has so much power our former self has little value at the moment.

“Insomnia (long-term)—Inability to relax. Feeling unsafe and unable to let go. Worrying, playing things over in your mind, dissecting situations. Feeling scattered, fearful, anxious, on guard. Harboring feelings of guilt and resentment.” The Secret Language of Physical Ailments ~ Inna Segal

Most people who suffer from sleeplessness have tremendous energy but they frit it all away in a hyperactive kind of way. When tensions accumulate, chronic insomniacs work harder to repress their growing emotional pain and anxiety. In a sense they’re trying to distract themselves so their attention stays occupied—the problem is they pump out more and more energy, becoming more anxious—in a frustrating way.   Most insomniacs are gifted and intelligent but they do not stay with something long enough as they get bored easily and move on to something new. Without much sleep, concentration and focus become increasingly difficult for them and all those great ideas they’ve thought of aren’t always followed through.

Excess touches every area of their lives, including measures to protect their health, which is very important to them. The problem is, they will try everything in their pursuit to happiness—unfortunately this throws the pendulum the other way—they become unhappier—which causes more anxiety. The more anxious they become, the more they lose energy; the lower their energy the more they experience fear and the cycle starts all over again. Anxiety and tension is a downward spiral fueled by fear and lacks conscious understanding.

“Insomnia is defined as chronic sleeplessness, or sleep deficient in either quantity or quality. Psychological studies have proven that insomniacs are generally emotional and anxiety-ridden. If you suffer from frequent insomnia, your sleeplessness probably reflects restlessness in your waking life. You are trying to stay awake so that you will resolve the issues that are preoccupying you. Once you understand that sleep brings comfort and solutions, you will find you are determined to settle the unrest in your life.” Your Body’s Telling You: Love Yourself ~ Lise Bourbeau

We all have our little quirks of habits and behaviors that we know we’d be better off without. We all wish we had more self-control, but when thoughts spin out of control, and become so intense, they take over, against our will. When logic can’t get a grip on something, we go into a tizzy and when this happens our intuitive side is unable to grab the attention of our conscious or unconscious minds.

I’ve noticed many insomniacs become deeply upset over people’s lack of awareness and consideration. They become disturbed by actions that dishonor or destroy life: actions that cause harm to animals, people, and the planet. According to many insomniacs, there should not be war, violence, poverty or starvation on the planet. People should not be hurting or killing one another and some feel the world is dark and hostile. For this reason, they become reclusive, while others become angry, frustrated or turn to drugs or alcohol which causes them to become even more lost, confused, depressed and sleepless.

 “Insomnia is associated with feelings of fear and guilt and not trusting the process of life. If you have trouble with insomnia coupled with anxiety, you can calm your nerves and sleep better with the affirmation “I lovingly release the day and slip into peaceful sleep, knowing tomorrow will take of itself.” All is Well, Heal Your Body with Medicine, Affirmations, and Intuition ~ Louise Hay, Mona Lisa Schulz

Some insomniacs tend to be quiet and shy on the outside while a great deal of inner processing is mentally going on inside. They’re afraid to open up to others and enjoy their privacy (doing intellectual pursuits such as reading, studying, learning) and withdraw from crowds and social settings. But they know on a deep level, they need to mingle with people. They just don’t know how.

WHAT IF….INSOMNIA IS CAUSED BY SOMETHING ELSE?

When suffering chronic insomnia, what else could be going on that we aren’t aware of? Of course if we’ve been so stressed out for most of the day, it’s natural if we’ve found no other outlet to get rid of this excess energy it will still be there when we try to fall asleep. And of course anxiety so extreme will make us more tense and angry about not getting sleep. Anxiety appears in 100’s of disguises and the more tense and angry we get, the more cortisol our body will produce.

If the body is tired, the energy we get from food will not be absorbed or circulated in the tissues properly. Although it is true that the nervous systems relies upon the breakdown of glucose for energy, its ability to function properly will also affected by the kinds of foods (fuel) being utilized in other tissues of the body. Hormones, like the rest of our bodies are created from the food we eat. In order to create all the hormones we need, we have to get enough of the nutrients they’re actually composed, and to make the necessary enzymes to affect the production, metabolism and functioning of our hormones. We can’t do that as well if we’re sleep deprived.

The hormones we’re concerned about in regard to insomnia, is stress hormones that cause too much of an inflammatory response to the body—increasing heart rate, constricting blood vessels and diverting blood blow from the stomach and digestive tract. These stress hormones, in particular cortisol, are secreted from the adrenal glands when we are frightened or in pain but can also occur when we’ve been highly stimulated by ‘too much of a good thing”. Too much stress can cause disease but it can also be caused by disease which means stress is not just psychologically based.

When we are under an enormous amount of stress it also weakens our mental processes. When we are under stress, cortisol levels rise and testosterone levels decrease in both men and women. DHEA, a hormone critical for brain and immune function is also suppressed under great stress. You can have your DHEA levels tested and if low, you can supplement with DHEA, as well as 5HTP and this should improve your sleep quality and protect the brain from excess cortisol, mental clarity and energy returned.

Hypothyroidism and hormonal changes that come with PMS and menopause are strong factors that induce brain fog in women. Children and adults who have experienced injuries to the head and neck can also experience symptoms of brain fog. Poor diet, hypoglycemia, metabolic deficiencies and infections also have a significant role in brain fog.

Calcium is essential for the relaxation of nerve tissue, whereas magnesium is very important in the normal function of the brain, spinal cord, and all the nerves. Our average daily intake of magnesium appears to be only half the adult requirement. Many don’t know that alcohol causes a high loss of magnesium, nervousness resulting from this is a common symptom among social drinkers. Magnesium deficiencies are also produced by meals made of ‘enriched’ white bread, macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, tapioca, sugar, honey and hydrogenated fats…this can cause insomnia as these foods cause a cortisol overload making us feel high strung and unable to sleep.

“The idea that stress is completely psychological is not scientifically accurate and it ignores the significant role of internal inflammation as a cause of imbalance in our stress-hormone levels. You see, the hormone that our body secretes in times of stress is the same hormone it uses to resolve inflammation. This hormone, called cortisol, is secreted by our adrenal glands. The irony in this is that taking anti-inflammatory medications – your average everyday painkillers – causes intestinal-tract inflammation by inhibiting the enzymes necessary for the intestinal tract to replenish and repair itself, and eventually can lead to chronic inflammation. The overuse of antibiotics can also cause intestinal-tract damage, and the average, imbalanced American diet of processed foods, fast foods, caffeine, and alcohol also contributes to intestinal-tract inflammation as well as systemic inflammation in our bodies.” THE STRESS EFFECT ~ Richard Weinstein, D.C.

Since every aspect of our lifestyle can affect every aspect of our lives’ for instance the food we eat, the stresses and chemical pollutants that get in our bodies, we need to look at any unusual mental and emotional reactions in regard to a person’s health:

  • 1) Food intolerances can strongly affect our emotions
  • 2) Airborne chemicals can affect the body’s tissues, such as: pollutants, drugs, allergies or infections;
  • 3) Stress creates a erratic nervous system or brain;
  • 4) Lack of sufficient sleep will deprive us of the body’s ability to repair tissue, necessary to restore the cells’ normal ability to create energy.

 “The connective tissue of the body undergoes a daily repair process that occurs while we are sleeping. A consistent pattern of insomnia inhibits the ability of these tissues to heal, and the likelihood of achieving joint stability is greatly reduced. And not only is it the connective tissue of joints that are of concern, but…also the intestinal-tract lining and other tissues of the body that are not repaired if we are not sleeping.” THE STRESS EFFECT ~ Richard Weinstein, D.C.

RESTLESS SLEEP

Whenever we feel trapped in a situation, we may either lie awake night at night, churning with anger or anxiety or sleep 12 hours a day without ever feeling rest. Do you feel pressured, impatient, waiting for things to get better? Or are you bursting with ideas and wanting to do everything yesterday.   When you lie down does it feel like your body is rushing out of control? Do you suffer from weather/time changes, depression or anxiety, external noises, extremes in temperature, emotional or physical pain? Then chances are, you may suffer from a restless sleep or wake in the early hours and can’t get back to sleep.

I don’t think there is a human on this planet that hasn’t suffered from insomnia in one way or another. It could be those nights when you had to sleep alone, or the neighbors dog keeps barking; too many dreams or nightmares created a restless sleep and of course jet lag and problems sleeping in a different bed.

Approximately one out of three people will report having some problem falling asleep, and because most of us have insomnia in times of stress, sleeplessness is usually known to be “in the mind.” When your conscious mind is full of fear, worry, and anxiety, negative emotions that lay repressed are released in your subconscious mind. They flood the conscious mind with a sense of panic, foreboding and despair—their purpose—to instill fear.

“Fear is anxiety, nervousness, a sense of inadequacy, fidgeting, experiencing terror. You have fears that you can prop up with logic, like fear of losing your job, losing your property, embarrassing yourself in front of others, or fear of harm coming to the people, animals, landscape, and things you love. You can provide reasons why these fears are valid and people understand. Yet sometimes your fear doesn’t have any reason. It comes out of nowhere. It just hits you.

 The function of fear is to frighten you. That’s its job. When it does its job, you lose your strength. You lose a sense of humor and playfulness. There is no lightness or joy in your system anymore. Your inner posture crumbles. You feel you don’t have the resources you need and you can’t improvise.” Awake Mind, Open Heart ~ Cynthia Kneen

WHEN RELAXING IS UNRELAXING

Some of us get tense when we try to relax. Just the thought of letting go makes us restless, uptight or upset to the point of crying. Are you so intent on maintaining control that you can’t relax?

 “Sleep is a natural process, and “trying” will have no positive effect. Trying will probably aggravate the insomnia, because the harder you try and the less successful you are, the more frustrating the whole enterprise becomes.

 There’s a very profound reason for this: Trying is not the way nature functions. The Earth doesn’t try to go around the sun, nor does the seed try to sprout into a sapling. Nature functions with effortless ease, invariably taking the path of least resistance. This is the principle of least action and maximum efficiency, and it’s the one to use when we want to fall asleep.

 There, the attitude you should adopt once you’ve gotten into bed is that which I call “not minding.” The key to achieving this frame of mind is a total lack of self-consciousness. In other words, don’t watch yourself, don’t monitor yourself, don’t become a commentator on your dilemma, and above all, don’t keep looking at the clock.

 Instead, just rest comfortably, not minding, and use this attitude as a way of placing yourself in nature’s hands. Simply lie in bed with your eyes closed, not mind whether you’re awake or asleep. The mere act of remaining motionless with your eyes closed, even if you’re feeling anxious or restless, actually provides the body with significant benefits.” Restful Sleep: The complete Mind/Body Program for Overcoming Insomnia

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS THAT ARE KNOWN TO DISRUPT SLEEP

Most people with an autoimmune disease have hyperactive rather than low immune function. This would explain why many have stuffy noses, multiple allergies and unpredictable reactions to prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, and symptoms that change rapidly over time.

Other culprits include, caffeine, alcohol, and medications as well as erratic hours—a fast paced social life or frequent job-shift changes. A few insomniacs are simply five or six hour sleepers, but constant stress and worrying can easily raise it to eight hours a night.

Insomnia can be caused from physical ailments such as allergies, anemia, apnea, body pain (e.g., chronic fatigue, diabetes, arthritis, spinal stenosis, fibromyalgia, lupus, etc.), bruxism (grinding teeth) headaches, IBS, hypoglycemia, hyper/hypothyroidism, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, menstrual pain, etc…. Taking sleeping pills may actually aggravate some of these disorders, particularly sleep apnea a potentially life-threatening interruption in sleeping.

Of the many sleep-disturbing problems, there is a condition known as “Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) If you sleep alone or with someone who sleeps soundly, you may not know that you have it, and may need to have a session in a sleep lab to determine if you have OSA or not.

When we sleep not only do our muscles relax but so do those of the throat. As the throat muscles relax, the air passages narrow. If they narrow enough so that the walls touch, air passing through will cause the walls to vibrate. Snoring usually results but in some people the narrowing is so extensive that the airway walls collapse completely. No air can get through, so the sleep returns to a higher level of sleep; muscle tone increases, the airway opens, and the sleeper, draws a breath. But for some this is a scary experience as they feel a choking sensation and try to inhale but their throat is closed up.

People with OSA breath intermittently when they sleep and that is why they sleep so lightly and hardly ever experience deeper sleep. As a result, they suffer from sleep deprivation and are exhausted during the day. If you think you have it, you should contact your doctor as OSA is very treatable.

Sometimes autoimmune diseases, are hyperactive rather than a low immune function. This would explain why these people can’t sleep as many suffer from stuffy noses, multiple allergies and unpredictable reactions to prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, and symptoms that change rapidly over time.

CORTISOL OVERLOAD

 “There is a daily cyclical rise and fall of cortisol levels that govern our wakefulness throughout the day and night. Cortisol is excitatory; it arouses us and wakes us up. Blood levels of cortisol have been shown to increase between 50 and 160 percent within thirty minutes of waking; that produces the powerful jolt of arousal needed to wake us up and get us moving in the morning. Then cortisol levels decline as the day wears on and reach their lowest point in the evening, allowing us to rest, relax and sleep.”The Insomnia Solution: The Natural, Drug-Free Way to a Good Night’s Sleep ~ Michael Krugman

Whenever our blood sugars drop below normal, (hypoglycemia) the body reacts by sending the stress alarm off. When this happens, the hypothalamus, in the brain, signals the nervous system to send you sugar—fast! Your sympathetic nervous system goes into high gear. Cortisol, is secreted by the adrenal glands which are located atop the kidneys. When cortisol peaks, it brings you to a higher state of awareness and when it does that, while you’re sleeping, it’s going to wake you up!

Is insomnia emotionally based or could there be other chemical or physical problems within the body causing your sleeplessness. Cortisol imbalances have been linked to obesity, diabetes, depression, heart disease, insomnia, autoimmune diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid disorders, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and even osteoporosis. Cortisol also causes an array of symptoms such as dizziness, weakness, fatigue, mental confusion, irritability, nervousness, poor concentration, muscle aches, heart palpitations, sweating, and a whole lot more.

The body is governed by a highly complex network of endocrine glands and energy fields; these energy fields working together as one unique powerful system affecting us spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.   So in truth the potential for breakdown is limitless. Everything that affects the body affects the mind and everything that affects the mind, affects the body.

Many health ailments that crop up later in our lives usually have to do with painful memory patterns programmed in our cells that make our bodies tense and in an up-tight survival mode—unable to stay in the present our minds jump back and forth between the past and the future, forcing adrenaline to start racing through our bodies. Under this intense stress, our bodies release ten times the amount of norepinephrine (cortisol) and epinephrine (adrenaline). These two stress hormones deeply affect our sleep quality; causing our minds, like virtual hurricanes, to spin out of control. For some insomniacs the culprit could be a compromised immune system (autoimmune disease) or other factors such as a car accident or some kind of emotional trauma that’s upset the body clock.

CORTISOL IMPACTS THE LIVER

Cortisol does have a huge impact on the liver, which has an important role in regulating blood sugars and removing toxic substances from your bloodstream. If the liver can’t function at its best, it gets weary and tired. Not only is it the breeding ground for negative thoughts and feelings, it physically affects the blood, the immune system and your ability to fight infections.

“The functioning of the liver is very involved in addiction behavior, whether the addiction be to food, alcohol or drugs, as it is the liver that removes toxins from the blood and deals with th excess fat and sugar intake.   The emotional tension that gives rise to the need for release through an addiction is felt here, as this tension may be based on anger and resent (towards the world, or towards specific individuals). Often the toxins are ingested through the addiction as a way of hiding from those toxins already in our system: hate, frustration, rage, incompetence, self-dislike, hurt, greed and a need for power. By taking in external toxins we do not have to admit to, or face up to, what is already inside us.

 The liver is closely connected to the third chakra, that which focuses on power and self identity. By transforming these qualities we are able to rise above them to the highest levels.   But it can be just as easy to become a victim of these energies as it can be difficult to transform them. The liver then reflects the anger and confusion experienced in trying to find ourselves and our purpose.” Deb Shapiro The BodyMind Workbook

The liver, the largest organ in the body, is responsible for up to 500 different vital functions. Not only does it govern the secretion of bile, the formation of blood, and the production of heat, it provides muscle fuel (glycogen), processes dietary fats and manufactures vitamin A. The liver also creates and stores amino acids, proteins, fats and cholesterol, which are used in the creation of hormones. It also

deals with detoxification; so important is this process that if caffeine or certain drugs were injected into ‘exit’ vessels leading to the heart, we would be dead within minutes. Inject them into the ‘entrance’ vessels of the liver, and the ‘sting’ is extracted within six to ten seconds—the time it takes for the blood to pass through the organ. The liver is the only organ that has the ability to regenerate itself, so it is appropriate that it’s known as the organ of Spring, which is all about rebirth and new life.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) The liver meridian starts at the big toe and travels up the leg, circles the sexual organs and enters the lower abdomen…it then connects with the liver and gallbladder, moves up the lungs, curves around the mouth and then branches out to each eye. “If you consistently wake up between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., this may indicate liver toxicity or a congested liver, as these are the hours when the liver is most active”. FAT LOSS REVOLUTION ~ Paula Owens … also many woman wake up sweating during this time due to menopausal symptoms.

The liver represents our deeper self and emotions. It’s involved with family affairs; our health and it takes part in every battle, especially excessive ones. When it is affected, our whole body becomes congested and sensitive. Do you suffer shoulder pain?   The liver is linked, especially to the right shoulder via the nervous system…it’s also linked to the elbow. This is one of the ways it communicates to us through the body.

The liver is known as the receptor of family guilt and the concerns of our deeper self. Depending on our genes and poor eating habits the liver will set off specific attitudes and emotional reactions. It houses all our memories, emotions, pitfalls, death of loved ones, illnesses, etc.,   It can cause doubt and uncertainty about our life and lean us more to the past then to the future. It affects our self esteem and the ground we stand on.

The gallbladder meridian starts at the outer corner of the eye, goes to the ear, runs back and forth over the scalp and then down the length of the body where it zig-zags at the hip, continues down the outside of the leg and ends between the fourth and fifth toes. The gallbladder meridian time is between 11:00 pm and 1:00 A.M., if balanced, we sleep soundly and undisturbed; unbalanced, we may suffer indigestion, migraines, tinnitus, hip, back or joint pain.

The gallbladder meridian is geared towards action. It gives to the body, flexibility, coordination and balance (see how it zig zags at the hip).   This meridian runs down the sides of the body so that whenever we lift one foot of the ground in walking and running, it supports the other side so we aren’t off balance. It also keeps the hips level, strengthens the shoulders and supports the sideways bending of the neck. The gallbladder meridian is one of the most powerful meridians in the body. .

I’ve included pictures of the gallbladder and liver meridians to help you see and understand how they both move within the body. Both of these meridians run down the sides of the body and the two sides reflect our ability to choose which way to turn. The liver energy gives us our ability to choose the direction we want to go and then to plan our action. Once the choice has been made, gallbladder energy gives us the capacity to carry it through. When the liver and gallbladder are in harmony, plans are made and followed through without much drama or fuss. But when the liver is unbalanced there may be lots of talk about plans without any action ever taken. Or we are so linear in our approach , there’s no room to be spontaneous or to think or plan ahead.

Pictures are from THE COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO REFLEXOLOGY ~ Inge Dougans

Liver Meridian Gallbladder meridian

THE ADRENAL GLANDS AND SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM

The adrenal system and the thyroid gland are dominated by the sympathetic nervous system, which is part of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls our basic bodily functions like heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, hormonal balance and metabolism. The sympathetic nervous system is associated with stimulating hormones such as adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol (norepinephrine).   When this nervous system becomes active, the heart rate elevates, the heart rate increases as well as our circulation, oxygen supply, metabolism and energy. The sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive when we feel threatened or feel we are really in danger, such as being confronted by a mugger on a dark street.

Many people with adrenal fatigue try to keep their energy levels up by eating junk food and refined sugars to give them a jolt. Others try to boost their energy by exercising to give them a temporary energy surge which helps to release endorphins. But what goes up must come down and this energy roller coaster just makes adrenal imbalance worse. Cortisol and insulin levels are intertwined—when cortisol rises, so does insulin and leptin and a whole cascade of hormones we’re just beginning to understand. The excessive stimulation of the HPA axis and cortisol production can artificially keep insulin levels high, causing weight gain and insulin resistance. Once cells are conditioned to be insulin or leptin resistant, it takes a big shift to restore metabolic balance.

The increase in cortisol released from the adrenal glands causes food cravings, especially for high-fat, high-sugar, high-carbohydrate foods such as cookies, candy, chips, and ice cream. Even though these foods act as a temporary mood “boost,” they in turn feed a vicious cycle, causing additional blood sugar problems, leading to swings in energy and blood sugar, which fuels the stress-cortisol release cycle. Eventually by stimulating excess insulin release, the body is driven to become more insulin resistant, and with more insulin resistance, more fat is stored than the body needs.

The parasympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system too and is associated with the body’s basic needs for, sleeping, relaxing, food absorption, sex and body repair. As we get older the parasympathetic nervous system weakens, leaving it harder for us to relax and get a good night’s sleep. One reason for this is the aggressive defense system of the hypothalamus located in the limbic brain. Known as the ‘seat of emotions’ the hypothalamus reads your emotional reactions to everything, real or imagined as an emotional war zone, especially when it believes your survival is being threatened. It communicates through thousands of nerve fibers to the master gland of the endocrine system, the pituitary. The pituitary reacts by telling the sympathetic nervous system to be on high alert. Your nerves on edge, you’re ready to respond to the fight/flight reflex.

When we wake up in the morning our sympathetic nervous system sends just enough cortisol to waken us and keep us awake. Most of us rush around like crazy to zoom out the door to get to work. If we could take a little time to be more loving to ourselves, e.g., showering longer, washing, shaving longer, lovingly combing our hair, meditating, walking in nature, etc. this stimulates a positive relaxing mood by activating the hormone’s dopamine and oxytocin in the brain. Release of oxytocin has a feedback effect…the more we take in and enjoy what’s around us, the more we’ll have enough ‘happy’ oxytocin in our blood for the whole day.   The more intense the emotional output of oxytocin in our blood, the longer and deeper it lasts, helping us to cope with the stresses of the day.

“Insomnia is the chronic inability to fall asleep or remain asleep for an adequate length of time (Dorland, 2003) There are three types of insomnia, conditioned insomnia, insomnia associated with clinical disorders, and circadian insomnia (Schenck, 2003). Conditioned insomnia is psychophysiological and arises from an episode of acute situational insomnia triggered by pain, illness, medication, stress, travel, or bereavement. The individual with conditioned insomnia associated the bed with not sleeping and becomes hyperaroused at night at a time when he/she would ordinarily feel relaxed and sleepy. Insomnia associated with clinical disorders is very common in psychiatric, particularly mood and anxiety disorders. Medical disorders and treatment most commonly associated with insomnia include asthma, chronic obstructive pulomary disease, congestive heart disease, gastroesophageal reflux, rheumatologic or other pain-related disorders, hyperthyroidism, renal disease, and neurodegenerative disorders (Schenck, 2003). Circadian rhythm sleep disorders result from a mismatch between the edogenous sleep and alertness rhythm and the desired (or required) time for sleep and wake (Schenck 2003).

THE PINEAL GLAND AND SLEEP

The pineal gland, within the brain is pea-sized, shaped like a pine cone and located in the center of the skull, between the ears and between the eyebrows. This endocrine gland secretes two important hormones, (melatonin and serotonin) through the body via the autonomic nervous system; it affects our metabolism, emotions, and moods of elation or depression. Serotonin and melatonin, govern our energy levels, mental activity, sleep patterns, hallucinations and dreams.

Some Autonomic Nervous System Disturbances

  • – breathing problems
  • – poor circulation
  • – palpitations
  • – bladder symptoms
  • – intestinal symptoms
  • – dizziness
  • – nausea
  • – vertigo (balance problems
  • – low blood pressure
  • – rapid heartbeat

The pineal gland is a biological clock and is highly sensitive to the phases of the Moon and even sunspot activity. The body operates on a 24 hour clock regulated by the sun controlling the release of and as darkness approaches the release of melatonin to make us feel drowsy, calm and sleepy. The release of melatonin is essential to keep our immune system strong; hence the healing process through sleep, whereas a lack of melatonin weakens the immune system and leads to deficiencies.

If we are deprived of light for a length of time, it can cause our biorhythms to change to a 25 hour cycle and coincide with the cycles of the moon instead of the sun. When a person is subjected to a permanently light environment their serotonin secretions will intensify to the point where they may become hyperactive, overly stressed and emotionally overwrought. The pineal gland naturally secretes serotonin when we’re eating and if we are tired or depressed, we can easily and readily consume 500 or more calories a day.   Hyperactivity and depression can also affect other endocrine glands and the whole immune system. Other releases of seratonin that can affect our sleep is the contraction of the intestinal muscles, over-excitement – butterflies in the stomach or the ‘gut’ reaction we often feel when scared or overwhelmed.

In periods of daylight the pineal gland’s release of serotonin and cortisol boosts our energy levels, intensifies emotions and induces a feeling of vitality. (We produce more cortisol in the summer than in winter months). During the autumn and winter periods we are more likely to feel ill, depressed or easily catch colds or the flu because of a lack of sunlight. People who live in darker countries far away from the equator are more prone to depressive illnesses and suicide. Between 6 and 10 percent of the North American population suffer season affective disorder (SAD)…..most SAD patients will respond to light treatment, however, a person subjected to extremely long periods of either lightness or darkness can become disoriented and manic.

“When Seasonal Affective Disorder (often called S.A.D.) occurs, the Soul needs adjustment since the Body is not storing enough light (energy). Food represents trapped sunlight and nourishes the Body as oxygen is delivered. Removing both emotional and physical toxins, strengthening cells with Essential Fatty Acids as well as getting the proper nutrients can resolve this issue. Light supports vision, and without vision it supports old habits plus closed off beliefs. Positive affirmations are a great way to dispel habits and beliefs.” Symptoms: the Language of the Soul: A Gift of Transformation ~ Susan Marion MacDonald

The brain is in charge of the endocrine glands and too much light or dark can affect our biological rhythms, our mood swings, stress levels, and reproductive cycles.

WHY IS SLEEP SO POWERFUL

There is no hard or fast rule concerning the amount of sleep one should have – provided that sleep, when it comes, is deep and undisturbed. You won’t be able to relax if you lie there watching the hands of the clock and worry there’s only a few hours left before it’s time to get up.

Getting quality sleep in a dark environment allows your body to release the hormone melatonin that once secreted, lowers body temperature by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. This cooling allows the body to release its greatest concentration of growth hormone known as HGH, which helps to strengthen our bodies and repairs damaged tissue. HGH is only secreted during deep sleep—deep sleep activates the parasympathetic system (our ability to rest and digest) which helps to rebalance our system. giving the parasympathetic system—our ability to ‘rest and digest’ a chance to increase until it peaks which governs our ability to ‘rest and digest’ a chance to assert itself. In this way sleep moderates the effects of stress and switches the body into self-healing mode.

Sleep also prepares the brain to release endorphins and neuropetides to all the nerves, blood vessels, the heart, the lungs, the gastrointestinal tract, and all the other organs. HGH also instructs the body to burn stored fat but if we don’t get enough of this hormone, the body produces high levels of cortisol which is linked to more weight around the belly as well as a decreased metabolism.

What happens when we go to sleep? After about fifteen to thirty minutes we reach a stage of semi-consciousness (hypnagogic) which occurs between sleep and waking. Most of us think we’re still awake because we can think and hear noises but we are actually in a state of early sleep. Some people in the semi-conscious state have described seeing images of light flashes, sparks, geometric forms, faces, and even whole scenes. The experiences are vivid enough to seem real but most people reporting to have them, know the images came to them internally.

After a few more minutes from the semi-conscious state, we shift to a deeper sleep, our brain waves get slower and slower until after about 90 minutes, dreaming becomes possible. Then our bodies jerk mildly and our eyelids flutter.

The transformation that sleep brings to the body are quite obvious. We breathe more slowly, our eyeballs turn up and out, our fingers grow cold and our toes warm. Blood pressure falls rapidly and is lowest about three hours after the onset of sleep. Believe it or not, we actually change positions from 20 to 60 times during the night without even knowing it and every 90 minutes or so we may return to a semi conscious state for a brief while. Then slowly (unless something like an alarm clock disturbs the process) our sleep becomes lighter, Consciousness, flickers, fails again, flickers….and then we are awake.

Awakening, we’ll stretch and most likely yawn to inhale extra oxygen to lower the carbon dioxide in the body—this is usually because in sleep   we haven’t used our muscles. We might still feel tired, especially if our adrenalin is low;

REM AND NREM SLEEP

There are two types of sleep: REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-dreaming sleep). Most dreams occur during REM sleep in the dreamtime stage, in which the cerebral cortex is active, muscle activity is inhibited, breathing and heartbeat are irregular and body temperature is less controlled.   During NREM sleep, the cerebral cortex is less active, muscles can move and fewer dreams are reported.

Our eyes move when we dream, as though we were looking around. As mentioned, our muscles move during REM sleep, make us almost paralyzed. If we move at all our movements look more like twitches rather than actual motions. Most of us have seen this behavior in our pets, whose dream states are very much like our own.

REM and NREM sleep alternate in cycles. Normally REM sleep occurs about every 90 minutes. Dream cycles are shorter during the night and longer toward dawn. You probably dream every night, but you don’t remember a dream unless you wake up from it. If you go right on sleeping, your dreams are forgotten. REM or dreaming sleep is the deepest stage and is important for the consolidation of memory and learning, as well as for sorting and storing information in the brain. It is generally thought that we need about 25 percent of our sleep to be in REM and the remainder in NREM. The lighter NREM sleep is important because it is only after a certain amount of nondreaming that we pass into REM sleep.   Without NREM sleep dreaming can’t occur.

“Since light, NREM Sleep is so important and since we can often think we are awake when in fact semiconscious, it is important not to force ourselves into full wakefulness during these periods of nondreaming sleep. Many people get out of bed, go to the bathroom, eat a snack, or watch TV–thinking they can’t sleep–when they were actually in a light sleep. But getting up usually brings them to a state of of real wakefulness. If instead they would just lie still and relax, realizing they were experiencing an important part of the sleep cycle, they would soon go back into a deep sleep again…

…If, out of frustration, we force ourselves to true wakefulness during these times, sleep will almost certainly be gone for the rest of the night. Our adrenalin arousal will see to that!” The Hidden Link Between Adrenalin and Stress ~ Dr. Archibald D. Hart

“BODY SCANNING

Close your eyes. Starting with your toes and moving up your body, ask yourself “Where am I tense?” Whenever you discover a tense area, exaggerate it slightly so you can become even more aware of it. Be aware of the muscles in your body that are tense. Then, for example, say to yourself “I am tensing my neck muscles .. I am hurting myself.. I am creating tension in my body.” Note that all muscular tension is self-produced. At this pint, be aware of any life situation that may be causing the tension in your body and think what you could do to change that.” The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook ~ Martha David, Ph.D., Elisabeth Robbins Eshelman, MSW, Matthew McKay, Ph.D

PART II ~ INSOMNIA ~ RULES FOR BETTER SLEEP

Many of us don’t need 8 hours sleep and yet some of us need more.  When we’re wanting to develop good sleep habits, the first thing you need to know is just how much you sleep you really need.  After 6 or 7 hours of sleep can you function through the day?  Are your energy levels still good in the afternoon or are you gravitating towards a coffee or sugar to keep yourself awake. Try to notice how much sleep makes you feel alive and with the ability to function at your best.

To help improve your sleep, try to go to bed and get up at the same every day.  Building a regular sleep routine will become automatic and a good habit to instil your own body’s inner clock.

Turning down the lights earlier in the evening, helps the brain to produce a very important hormone for sleep, called melatonin. Dimming of the lights messages the body that darkness is approaching and makes us sleepy, preparing us for sleep; this also helps to lower adrenaline levels. As mentioned earlier, The release of melatonin is essential to keep our immune system healthy, hence the healing process through sleep, whereas a lack of melatonin weakens the immune system and leads to deficiencies.

Create a comfortable, quiet, uncluttered dark room for sleeping.  Anything in your energy field affects the quality of your sleep, so resist the temptation to stash junk under your bed. Also stale energy hands around dirty laundry, so never keep a laundry basket in the bedroom and be sure to change the bedsheets at least once a week to keep your energy vital and fresh.

If you have a computer in your bedroom there are downloadable programs that tunes out the screen of your computer/tablet at night so their light aren’t in the range that tells the brain it’s wake up time.

Eating a bit of protein as a snack may help you sleep through the night. Bananas may be your choice as they are starchy and rich in melatonin.

“One of food’s best sleeping pills is something sweet or starchy…if falling asleep or staying asleep is a problem, try eating an ounce of so of sweet (pure honey) or starchy stuff (bananas, oatmeal) a half an hour before going to bed. ~Jean Carper ~ Food Your Miracle Medicine

Avoid drinking alcohol, caffeine, or eating spicy or greasy foods before going to sleep.  All these make us more tense and adrenally aroused, interfering with our normal sleep patterns.

Do not force yourself to sleep.  Falling asleep is a natural process and forcing sleep only frustrates you further and causes more adrenalin to be pumped into your body.

You should have a quiet place for sleep.  If you live in a noisy environment, like in the down-town core, you may want to invest in a set of earplugs.  They’re easy to use and effectively shut out the noise. You’ll also sleep deeper and more peaceful if your brain doesn’t have to block out background noises.

Exercise regularly, just not before going to bed.  Exercise helps to release a surplus of adrenaline, release muscular tension, ventilate the lungs and helps to slow down the body that helps us to sleep.

Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Make your bedroom sleep friendly. Keep the noise down. Keep your room cool. Make sure your bed is comfortable. Create relaxing bedtime rituals like reading a book, taking a warm bath, listening to soft music or make simple preparations for the next day.

Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualizing a peaceful restful place.  Practice mind-control relaxation by listening to a soothing CD playing in the background to help you relax.

Find ways to get back to sleep. Stay out of your head. Focus on the feelings and sensations in your body. Make relaxation your goal, not sleep. Do quiet, non-stimulating activities such as reading a book, but keep the lights dim. Don’t let your mind worry or start brainstorming about tomorrow.  If something pops in your mind, keep a small note-pad by your bed and make a brief note of it to get it off your mind.

SUPPLEMENTS

5-HTP (Tryptophan) is an essential amino acid able to ‘manufacture serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to lift depression and is very useful for people who have a difficult time staying asleep through the night.  Bananas are a good source L-tryptophan and simple carbohydrates. L-tryptophan is an amino acid, and it gets converted to 5HTP in the brain, which again gets converted to serotonin (a calming neurotransmitter) which again gets converted to melatonin (which is the natural controller of hormonal rythms in the body, especially sleep). A night-time dose to help you sleep through the night is between 50 to 200 mg. 5-HTP has been found to be safe up to 300 mg.

Tryptophan converts to niacin before finally becoming serotonin.  If your body is deficient in niacin, it can cause nervous disorders, such as: depression, mental dullness, confusion, forgetfulness, disorientation, hallucination, insomnia, and nausea.

Taurine is another calming amino acid that helps to suppress the release of excitatory neurotransmitters like norepinephrine. Taurine acts like a light tranquillizer throughout the whole body.  It is found in large amounts in the central nervous system and the heart.  Taurine is vital to the proper utilization of sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and has a protective effect upon the brain.

When we are under an enormous amount of stress it also weakens our mental processes.  When we are under stress, cortisol levels rise and testosterone levels decrease in both men and women. DHEA, a hormone critical for brain and immune function is also suppressed under great stress.  You can have your DHEA levels tested and if low, you can supplement with DHEA, as well as 5HTP and this should improve your sleep quality and protect the brain from excess cortisol, mental clarity and energy returned.

insomnia can be caused by a lack of thiamine which works with the nervous system.  When there is a lack of thiamine, it can indicate mental attitudes and inflexible attitudes as well has worrying, nervousness, tension and the inability to relax.  A thiamine deficiency may also lower the amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach—when this happens food is only semi-digested so that when bile is poured into the duodenum it cannot properly break down the fats.

Chamomile – a member of the daisy family, tea made from this herb has a mild sedative affect.

Kava Kava – relieves anxiety and stress ~ should not be taken long-term as it may cause allergic reactions, visual disturbance and liver toxicity.

St. John’s Wort – treats mild to moderate depression. Side effects include weight gain and sensitivity to light.  This herb increases serotonin levels in the brain and should not be taken with SSRIs (Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, etc.)

Valerian – an effective stress reducer and sedative

Hops – this herb is a distant relative to marijuana and is a good remedy for anxiety and insomnia.  Some companies combine hops with valerian root as the two herbs synergistically work together.

Passion Flower – is known to reduce anxiety, insomnia and high blood pressure.

Links

http://www.hydroholistic.com/blog/cleansing/10-reasons-to-do-a-liver-gallbladder-flush/

http://www.drjustingallantnd.com/2/post/2014/02/why-do-i-wake-up-between-1am-and-3am.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757?linkId=12970216

http://www.rejuvinstitute.com/why-do-i-always-wake-up-at-3am#.VTOFOSFVikp

http://www.vitalitymagazine.com/article/kicking-the-sugar-habit/

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/carbohydrates_and_the_glycaemic_index?open

Spring cleaning (Liver and Gallbladder)  http://www.treatrootcause.com/spring-clean-your-acupuncture-meridians/

Nourishing the liver  http://nourishedmagazine.com.au/blog/articles/nourishing-the-liver

Herbs and natural remedies for insomnia http://www.christopherhobbs.com/library/articles-on-herbs-and-health/herbs-and-natural-remedies-for-insomnia/

Treat insomnia with Herbs http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/08/23/is-this-one-of-natures-simple-answer-to-sleepless-nights.aspx

Natural Cures by Dr. Weil http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02037/sleep-aid

14 Naturally Remedies for Insomnia http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/conditionsitoq/a/Insomnia.htm

To be continued….

ravenstarshealingroom@gmail.com

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GIVING AND RECEIVING

The other day a friend asked me an astrological question regarding the North Node or True Node. As I attempted to answer her question, explaining the energies of both the North and South Node an interesting parallel to my last post came into focus. The Nodes are not planets but points where the Moon’s orbit intersect the Earth’s orbit. They signify the balance between receiving (North) and giving (South) in a person’s energy.

The North Node is connected to challenges, growth and moving beyond one’s boundaries…..it shows where we need to draw on other people’s support in order to reach our full potential. The South ‘on the other hand’ represents past achievements and shows us what we are already familiar with and can easily accomplish in this lifetime.

If these two energies are not in balance, there won’t be a link between our consciousness and unconscious, between mind and body, between spirit and psyche. Without this balance our heartfelt desires are deprived of bringing what we love into existence. We become stressed, frustrated, restricting the flow of energy to the heart, the most important central organ/muscle in the body. The fiery enthusiasm of the soul’s quest becomes depleted, losing its tremendous sense of pride and will. Instead of flowing outward from our center (self-worth), we find ourselves looking to others to help us decide our fate in the world. Our energy shrinks rather than expands affecting the heart and every organ, muscle, tissue, cell in the body. We lose contact with our vitality and our soul.

The adrenal glands, crucial in focusing our force of will, becomes exhausted causing wear and tear on the body. Instead of producing endorphins (happy heartfelt emotions) it produces an excess of cortisol, depressing the immune system, increasing blood pressure and cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol can cause calcium deposits to harden in our veins and arteries (cardiovascular system)…..our digestive system slows down, causing stomach ulcers, brittle bones, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, cancer, etc.

From http://www.worldwidehealthcenter.net/articles-415.html

Chronically excess cortisol may contribute to many diseases, including cancer, ulcers, heart attacks, diabetes, infections, alcoholism, strokes, skin diseases, psychosis, and possibly Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis.5 Cortisol excess may contribute to obesity not only because of the metabolic derangements (including insulin resistance) that it promotes, but also because it induces “stress overeating,”

The above site helps us to understand how cortisol when balanced, can enhance our system…..and too much, can deplete it.

This proves that giving and receiving, loving another and loving ourselves is crucial and vital to the health of our heart and soul.

In this section we’re going to look at several different methods of stimulating, transforming and implementing a change of heart. We’ll look at nutrition, stretching exercises, yoga, breathing exercises, relaxation, music, dance, etc. that will help us recharge our batteries, let go of tension, strengthen our will, our self-worth and our ability to give/receive and lovingly connect with others.

NUTRITION

FRUITS

The winter holidays wouldn’t be complete without the addition of cranberries. Hmm, cranberry juice, sauces and jellies are a delight with stuffing and turkey. In fact cranberries are considered a potent source of antioxidants which help to cleanse and purify the body and a protector of heart disease and even cancer. But wait a minute you say, cranberries are known to treat urinary tract infections……and now you’re saying the heart too? Absolutely!!

“Three glasses of cranberry juice just might keep the cardiologist at bay.
That’s the suggestion of a small new study presented March 24 at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans. Researchers from the University of Scranton suggested that nutrients found in cranberry juice can effectively reduce the risk of heart disease — in some cases, up to 40 percent — mostly by increasing levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol. The juice was also shown to increase blood levels of antioxidant nutrients by up to 121 percent.”

http://preventdisease.com/news/articles/cranberry_juice_reduce_heart_disease.shtml

Also,

http://food-facts.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_health_benefits_of_cranberries
“Cranberries and Heart DiseaseBecause they contain flavonoids, studies reported by WebMD Medical News suggest that cranberries can be a weapon in the war against atherosclerosis, or what they used to call “hardening of the arteries”. Flavonoids help reduce the amount of bad cholesterol clogging the walls of your arteries while increasing the level of good cholesterol in your system.”

In fact if you google (cranberries) heart, you’ll learn a great deal about this fruit and its incredible source of nutrition, vitamins, antioxidants and as mentioned above, flavonoids.

Cranberries aren’t the only fruit that helps to heal the heart. Dark colored juices of grapes, beets and blueberries help to increase the production of red blood cells, supply the blood and tissues with potassiusm as well as eliminate accumulated salt from the tissues…..lowering blood pressure. Other fruits that drain out pounds of fluid (natural diuretics) are watermelon, watercress, pears, peaches and nectarines (to name a few). Citrus, black currants and grapes also helps in lowering blood pressure. Papaya contains an enzyme called carpain which has been seen helpful for the heart.

Potassium also helps in regulating the heartbeat and in combination with natural mineral Sodium (not table salt) helps to prevent hardening of the arteries. Pomegranates and its juice contains polyphenols (antioxidants) also combacts this disease as well as prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Fruits are the best cleansers of the body and 20-30% of our daily food supply should be fresh fruits. All fresh fruits are alkaline and vital for body development and repair….fruits store one of the greastest natural sources of energy on our planet….the Sun/Solar Energy.

Winter is a hard time to find fresh fruit…..frozen fruits work just as well.

VEGETABLES

We all heard the healing power of garlics and onions. Both of these are powerful in dissolving cholesterol and the gooey sludge that causes hardening of the arteries. Garlic also helps to increase the absorption of thiamine (B1)….without B1, or a deficiency of, we can suffer from shortness of breath and irregular heart beat.

B1 is found in many vegetables, some examples are artichokes, asparagus, avocado, brussel sprouts, dandelion, parsley, watercress as well as in rice bran, wheat germ, nuts and beans, etc..

Celery is a rich source of the important ‘natural’ mineral Sodium. Sodium is known to keep other mineral elements soluble in the bloodstream which helps to prevent a buildup of solid deposits. It also supplies the body with calcium, phospohorous, magnesium and vitamins A & C…..all of these help in the absorption and metabolism of calcium in the body. This vegetable and its cleansing action of the bloodstream is also helpful to those who struggle with weight problems.

Cucumbers improve circulation of the blood. Cucumbers contain an excellent source of vitamin E – the muscle vitamin. A lack of vitamin E slows down the effectiveness of muscles, especially the heart muscle. Vitamin E has recently been under alot of controversy…..

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,138184,00.html

“Vitamin E hasn’t proven to be good for the heart, and now a study suggests that too much vitamin E — daily doses of 400 IU or more — actually increases the risk of dying, according to new findings.”

Is the above statement true? I’m not sure….but food naturally containing vitamin E are safe! They help to improve circulation of the blood by dilating the blood vessels, even the smaller ones and also helps to nourish the cells, strengthen capillary walls and help in healing skin tissue that has been damaged. Vitamin E also helps to detoxify harmful pollutants we breathe in from our environment suc as industrial pollutants, exhaust fumes from cars, pesticides, chemical fertilizers and even preservatives.

I tried to find an intense list of vitamin E foods and couldn’t find them all in one place and decided to complile a list of my own….

Foods Rich In Vitamin E (not in alphabetical order)

Alfala Sprouts, Asparagus, Cucumbers, Avocado, Carrots, Lettuce, Grapefruit, Corn, Peas, Kale, Spinach, Brussel Sprouts, Chestnuts, Pumpin Seed, Wheat germ and wheat germ oil, Sesame seeds, Almonds, Hazel huts, Rice, Brazil nuts, Peanuts, Walnuts, Sunflowers Seeds, Oats, Pecan Nuts, Barley, Beans, Potatoes,

and I’m sure the list would go on……in fact a great resource for all vitamins and minerals can be found at this site http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/focus/nutrition/facts/vitamins_minerals/vitamin.htm

Brussel sprouts are an excellent source of antioxidant cartenoids (beta-carotene) that help protect our bodies from heart disease and cancer by boosting our immune system. They also help in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Broccoli as well is an excellent antioxidant http://www.phytochemicals.info/plants/broccoli.php

From http://www.alive.com/285a1a2.php?subject_bread_cramb=489
“The brassica family of vegetables, which includes broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, is one of your most powerful weapons in warding off many common diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.

All fruits and vegetables are valuable sources of nutrients that fight disease. They are naturally low in fat, cholesterol, calories and sodium; but rich in potassium, fibre, folic acid, beta-carotene and vitamins C and K. In fact, it is estimated that cancer rates would drop 20 per cent if Canadians ate five to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day. And it is the brassica family that contains the highest level of disease-fighting substances per serving. “

JUICING

I bought a juicer years ago and used it faithfully for about 3 months. It had been sitting in my laundry room and recently was resurrected and moved back to the kitchen. Juicing is making a comeback…..in my life anyways. As I’ve learned more and more about raw fruits and vegetables and their potent healing powers of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, the more I am eating and drinking them.

There are loads of recipes on the net to start juicing your way to health. Below, are a couple to get you started. It is recommended if you’re going to buy a juicer to get the masticating juicer that chews up the plant pulp and extracts the juice. Electric centrifugal juicers are good too. Just make sure the blades are stainless steel and not aluminum…..aluminum can react with the fruit acids.

Cholesterol fighting juice and more http://www.healthmad.com/Fitness/10-Exotic-and-Healthy-Juice-Recipes.82062

http://www.healingdaily.com/juicing-for-health/juicing-recipes.htm

MEATS AND POULTRY

Another controversial topic! Are meats good for us? An excellent and rich site regarding the pros and cons of meat is here…

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/is-meat-good-or-bad-for-us-425192.html

It’s heading states…..”It’s the best natural source of iron and protein – but it has also been linked to cancer. Maxine Frith investigates the pros and cons”

This site also talks of meat being the best source of zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins. It talks of high protein diets and their advantages to weight loss.

It also talks of the different meats…..”The three official red meats are pork, lamb and beef. Pork is the leanest, lamb the fattiest and beef the most nutritious.”

Definitely an interesting read!

Too much meat can affect our bodies and our thoughts. Meat is said to have a contractive effect, making the body to focus inward and ‘tighten down’. Vegetables and fruits are alkaline in nature as is our bodies….meat is very acidic. Our cells live in an alkaline environment….as they work to keep you healthy, they naturally produce an acid that our body’s in turn eliminate through the lungs. It’s your body’s way of getting rid of the acid created and generated from your hard working cells.

Our goal is not to add to this acidity by over-eating acid producing foods such as meats, poultry, nuts and even too much fish. A balance of all essential food groups is necessary for optinum growth and health.

The best foods to combine with meats and poulty are steamed or cooked vegetables with leafy green vegetables.

My father suffered health problems, especially heart related most of his adult life. His will to live led him to discover what combination of foods were best to enjoy life and have better health. He eliminated certain foods in his diet, reduced the intake of salt, coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, processed foods and snacks high in fats. He ate a diet rich in cooked fruits and vegetables as well as raw (used a juicer)…..and less in the meat and poultry department. About 25% of his diet consisted of meat and poultry, which helped him to live over the age of 80.

I do believe poultry is valuable to the diet…..Chicken and their eggs offers us a complete source of protein…….turkey (and chicken) contains Tryptophan, an amino acid our bodies cannot produce on its own. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tryptophan

The holiday season is upon us and many will be cooking the traditional turkey dinner with dressing with cranberries – yum! It was quite timely to find this wonderful site on eating turkey http://chemistry.about.com/od/holidaysseasons/a/tiredturkey.htm and if it makes us sleepy. It does talk of turkey containing Tryptophan and includes the influence of carbohydrates, overeating, alcohol and fats contributing to that sleepy feeling.

FISH

“A word of caution: live fishes may absorb contaminants found in the waters. Methyl mercury and PolyChlorinated Biphenyls that fish absorb by fishes may cause harm.
Research says that pregnant women and children should limit their intake of high-mercury species like swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, among others. Farmed fish like salmon have little mercury, but they may have PCBs.
Health Watch recommends peeling the skin and fat of the fish before cooking to minimise harm. They also suggest limiting the consumption of farmed and wild salmon. ” http://www.rediff.com/getahead/2005/apr/13fish.htm

Geez, everything we eat has a caution of some kind or another. With meat, we have Mad Cow Disease, with poultry the Bird Flu. However, adding fish to your weekly diet is still probably good for you, but I’d keep your protein intake at about 25% and the other 75% vegetables and fruits with a side of rice or potato.

Fish contains a high amount of the Omega 3 fatty acids and studies have shown it helps to lower cholesterol, prevents hardened arteries, decrease heart attacks and promotes a healthy circulatory system.

For seafood lovers, remember that crayfish, caviar, oysters, lobsters, crabs are very high in cholesterol.

“There are two fatty acids that are critical. They are ones deemed “essential” because we need them for our survival but our bodies cannot make them. We have to get them from food. They are linoleic acid (omega-6) and linolenic acid (omega-3) [polyunsaturates]. Without these essential fatty acids we perish. With enough of them (and in the presence of adequate vitamins and minerals), the body can manufacture all of the other fatty acids it needs –into arachidonic, gamma-linolenic, and many others……….

Our primitive ancestors had an answer. They were unable to extract oils from plants. They got all of the essential fatty acids they needed from the natural whole foods they ate, including poultry fat, animal fat, fish, avocado, egg yolk, olives, buter, nuts, and seeds and the like. There is wisdom in consuming our polunsaturates as part of the whole nut or seed, where nature’s package protects them from deterioration. It is risky to consume them as extracted and refined oils, in unnatural and potentially dangerous proportions……

Fish body oils contain unique polyunsaturates. The principal one of these is E.P.A. (eicosapentaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid that has been demonstrated to improve the flow characteristics of the blood. It prevents blood cells from sticking together to form clots that might otherwise prematurely plug up the arteries. E.P.A. also tends (a) to reduce serum triglycerides and total serum cholesterol and (b) to increase H.D.L. cholesterol (the “good” kind). E.P.A. is nature’s “antifreeze”, to keep the fish’s body from stiffening up from cold temperatures. Therefore, the colder the water the fish lives in, the higher its E.P.A. content. Almost any fish will do, but the best sources are salmon, mackerel, cod, herring, haddock, trout, whitefish, oysters and squid.” David W. Rowland, The Nutritional Bypass

SUMMARY

It seems that more and more we are somehow being pushed away from the ‘processed’ food industry. Recently, in Canada, we suffered a Listeria scare (bacteria) with processed meats that became a nationwide problem. We are discovering if we want to be and stay healthy, the body needs ‘whole foods’ not processed foods that considerably reduce the nutritional value of its content….they are also very high in salt, additives and chemicals. The more chemicals we injest, the harder our bodies have to work to eliminate these harmful substances….what can’t be eliminated begins to buildup and create havoc in our system. And the body’s health and energy becomes more and more depleted.

Is Mother Nature trying to give us a hint that we were designed to eats food grown naturally from the earth and not processed by man? Indeed I think She is! The Earth provides us with fresh ready-made whole foods in the form of vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds and nuts. Fresh meat, not processed, is beneficial as well, although too much of it is hard to digest on the body.

As I have looked to eat healthier, I’ve noticed my tendency to eat foods given to me as a child as well as those common to my culture. As my knowledge of the different food groups and what they have to offer has changed, so have my eating habits. Some foods tried didn’t have such an appeal, but many others did. Learning the nutrient content of vegetables, fruits, legumes, etc. and eating them has helped to improve my health.

Do I still eat processed and quick fix foods? Oh yes, but not as much as I used too! I still treat myself to my favorite foods, pizza, chocolate cake and apple pie, yum…..just not as often!

Fast foods are so convenient with our busy schedules, we throw it into the oven and literally scarf it down. Something I have done with my meals is add celery sticks, cucumbers and other raw vegetables and fruits to the meal. Also, the Crock Pot has made a comeback in many homes. There are hundreds of recipes on the net that taste great and easy and simple to prepare.

Although supplements weren’t discussed in this blog, we do need to look at why we find ourselves taking them to feel better. The more I’ve learned about the different food groups and the gifts they offer, the more I have reduced my visits to the health store. We need to seriously look at why we take something to physically ‘feel better’….obviously something is amiss within our diet. Supplements definitely do help, don’t get me wrong, especially with the deterioration of nutrients in our soil caused by chemicals, pollutants and bug sprays.

The next section on this blog turns our attention on triglycerides, carbohydrates and fats.  Triglycerides are produced in the liver from carbohydrates.  They are also the fatty substance (lipids) in the blood.  Too much fat can clog our arteries as well as protein and carbohydrates.

to be continued….

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“Louise Hay urges us to think of the heart as the center of joy and the seat of emotions in our lives. How well your life’s blood flows through your heart, arteries, and veins is linked to the degree which joy flows through your life. Cholesterol-blocked arteries symbolize a blocking of the flow of joy, or a suppression of emotion. Heart attacks, Hay says, happens when all the joy has been squeezed out of your heart………..moreover, we know that unresolved and unexpressed anger, sadness, and fear actually cause vasoconstriction, a tightening of the blood vessels connected to the heart. When you feel anger or fear, these blood vessels contrict in response to an outpouring of chemicals from the sympathetic nervous system……Joy and love stimulate the parasympatheic nervous system, which opens the blood vessels and creates more blood to flow to your heart…….Feeling and expressing all emotions, in a balanced way, is essential to health in the fourth emotional center [4th chakra].”
Mona Lisa Schulz

Physically, the Heart Chakra is the heart, circulatory system, lungs, respiriatory system, immune system and the arms and hands. This is the centre through which we love and there are many different kinds of love….selfish, demanding, possessive, contricting, tender and caring. When this chakra is balanced, we experience a ‘spiritual love’ in human beings and discover a greater sensitiviy and not so great a concern for material objects.

When this chakra is out of balance, it can lead to heart attacks, stomach ulcers, emotional rollercoasters, fear, bitterness and resentment.

There are six meridians in the arms and hands which we will go into great detail soon. First we need to get to the heart of matter.

GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER

Suppressed Emotions And Attitudes

It has been said that suppressed emotions are the major cause of dis-ease in our society. Regrets, sorrow, guilt, shame, tear down the cells of he body while thoughts of hate generate a deadly poison. Resentment and anger have been known to create sickness and sorrow. Also, parents who dominate and control their children or fear for them…….their thoughts and anxieties are transferred to the child. The child acts out the parents feelings, producing behavioral and health problems for them both. In fact, parents can smother their children so much, the child’s soul is driven out of his/her body. These children lose their effectiveness to see the ‘Truth’ and their ‘diseased thought patterns’, ‘hardened attitudes’ begin building up as plague in their arteries.

In fact, Low blood pressure could be the result of feeling ineffectual or trapped. It portrays a feeling of weakness in certain life situations and unable to change one’s situation.

Psychologists and researchers have discovered that people who are able to express ‘love’ are healthier, tend to sick less and if they do, regain their health more quickly. Also they age more slowly, have better color, great skin, good posture and a healthy circulation. It is believed that thinking back to a ‘love’ moment creates interesting chemical changes in the body that balances the life flow in the body and brings peace to body and mind.

Of course let’s not forget processed foods, fatty acids, fast foods and years of dietary abuse. If you just tuned in, check out the archives for September and October in this blog for more information.

HARD-DRIVEN, HOT-HEADED TYPE A PERSONALITIES

When quoting Mona Lisa Scultz in this section, I purposely left out her comment on Type A personalities so we could discuss this at greater length later. She said “a vast number of heart attack victims are so-called type A personalities, often driven men whose passion derives exclusively from money, power, and position and who aren’t really much of a joy to have around.” And what of the women? Statistics are showing more and more women are suffering heart attacks too.

The heart, the mighty pump never stops working as long as you are living. But an overload of stress, anxiety and tension have been proven to erode vital blood vessels, the heart muscle itself and the physical body. People who are angry, competitive and always racing the clock can’t seem to relax even when the body is on automatic pilot or sleeping. Researchers and scientists named this type of behavior “Type A”, and also noted it was a common characteristic type for heart attack victms.

Type A people when in a ‘destructive mode’ are more likely to get angered and stressed over little frustrations, e.g., traffic jams, ticket and shopping lines, and little irritants that make their blood ‘boil’ regularly which acts upon the victim they least intend – themselves! The heart has to work harder, the blood pressure goes up and the liver, sensing a possilibity of injury, increases its cholesterol output. Put this all together and we get what is called Hypertension….the most probable cause of Heart Attacks.

But what is the major contributor to all this? I’m sure we could all say we have behaved from the extremes of Type A to the more laid back Type B behavior. Are Type A’s so gongho they don’t hear or ignore signals from their body? Most of us have pushed our bodies and minds to the max, which we know leads to physical tension, mental restlessness and strain. What we did was deplete our bodies energy, which also suffered wear and tear. Type B’s would respond to the body’s call but what of Type A? Would they continue to neglect the warning signs sent to the mind via the nervous system because their too busy negotiating deals, making money, working 24/7?

When we feel tired or fatiqued, it is a warning signal from the body to slow down and rest. But neglecting these messages the body will intensify these warnings with a headach, backache, eyestrain or irritability. If we still ignore the warnings or try to suppress them with medication, the body will continue to deteriorate. The signals will become so strong, they will force us to see medical help…..by then the body is in need of urgent attention.

High blood pressure can develop into angina, a narrowing of the arteries which happens when we are under great mental and physical stress. Mental and physical stress reduces our ability to give as well as to receive…..Type A’s have a strong need or are preoccupied with staying in control. They want to do everything themselves. This depletes their inner resources which is not continuously filled from learning or receiving from others. or receiving intuitive insights.

With high blood pressure, one has an exaggerated sense of self-importance, which leads a person to believe that he or she will have to do everything on their own. they are pushed from a position of fear, without trusting in the universe to support them.

When we withdraw or repress our feelings Artheriosclerosis, a thickening or hardening of the arteries can develop. Energetically it means we are out of balance, especially of giving and receiving.

ARTERIOSCLEROSIS, by Dep Shapiro

“In bodymind language, the arteries and veins represent the distribution and expression of love throughout your being. A restriction of these vessels implies a restriction in your ability to express yourself, perhaps a withdrawal or repression of feeling, and in particular a narrowing of your emotinal perspectives.
 
* Are you limiting or denying yourself love or support?

* Is this because you are trying to do much and not recognizing your own needs, not seeing where you need to ask for help?
…………
*Are you holding yourself back from involvement”


I found this interesting site Effects of an Angry Temperament on Coronary Heart Disease
http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/154/3/230

and this…..How to control Anger http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/How_To_Control_Anger

The Spielberger Temper Test

Dr. Spielberger developed an anger test that measures our general tendency to get angry and the intensity of anger at a given moment. High scores have been related to Hypertension which is one the major contributors to heart attacks. Apparently the test compares your anger level to that of the average man or woman. But what is average?

I did finally find the test after quite a bit of searching, it’s here http://www.yourhealthconnection.com/topic/angerassess but when I tried it and submitted my answer it came back as ‘not answered’.

If you do want to try the test, and would like to score yourself, here’s where your answers place you with the ‘average ranks’. If you are a man and scored 17, or a woman who scored 18, than you are considered in the ‘average’ category. If you scored below 13, then others don’t tend to provoke a response from you. But if you scored 23 or higher, you are highly stress prone and considered in the ranks of the hotheads. It means you have a tendency to feel anger and rage when frustrated which is considered a potentially lethal to your health.

Emotional stress not only affects the heart but also the lungs which are an extension of the heart. In fact the movment of the heart and lungs affect all the organs of the body through the sympathetic nervous system, which is part of the autonomic nervous system. (discussed in the September 21st issue of this blog)

Here’s a snip

“Blood pressure is controlled by the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system which works similar to a plane on ‘autopilot’. It ensures that your organs, such as your lungs or heart work without you thinking about it. Your awareness of this system is triggered when your body is threatened or needs (cries out) for your undivided attention. It is your nerves that carry these messages to the Thalamus also known as the ‘brains inner room’ . The Thalamus relays these nerve impulses to the cerebrum (responsible for our ability to speak, read and write) and helps you to realize ohh I’m in pain! Other areas of the brain tell you exactly where the hurt is coming from. The hypothalamus controls the movement of the heart, gut and bladder; makes us feel hungry, thirsty; feel angry or aggressive; and stops us from falling alseep during the day.”

Here’s a great site on the autonomic nervous system, which included the sympathetic… http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/auto.html

And wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sympathetic_nervous_system

Before looking at the heart chakra, let’s look at what happens when stress, anger, anxiety, etc. build up in our system…..a mixture of hormones are released by our adrenal glands (fight/flight response) which flows through the bloodstream and/or directly through the nerves. When this happens it suppresses our immune system. When the immune system is suppressed, it can’t work efficiently to protect the body which subsequently lowers our resistance to disease.

“We don’t yet understand all the ways in which brain chemicals are related to emotions and thoughts, but the salient point is that our state of mind has an immediate and direct effect on our state of body. We can change the body by dealing with how we feel. If we ignore our despair, the body receives a “die” message. If we deal with our pain and seek help, then the message is “Living is difficult but desirable”, and the immune systems works to keep us alive.” Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.

THE HEART CHAKRA

“Since the heart chakra is the middle point in a system of seven centers, balance is an essential principle at this level of integration. This implies both the internal balance between various aspects of ourselves (mind and body, persona and shadow, male and female), as well as balance between ourselves and the world around us (work and play, giving and receiving, socializing and being alone). Find this equilibrium supports the basic issues of love and relationship, for without balance with ourselves it is difficult, if not impossible to achieve healthy and long lasting love relationships…………..

The most common block in the heart chakra is the absence of self-love. How can we have intimacy with others if we are distanced from our own self? How can we reach out to others when we are drowning in shame and criticism? How can we maitain balance between ourselves and others if we have no blance within. How can we treat another with respect if we treat our selves abusively.” Anodea Judith, Eastern Body Western Mind

When the heart or 4th chakra is open, all the other chakras come into alignment with it. It is the “bridge” that connects the lower and upper chakras…and, the central powerhouse of the human energy system. The three lower chakras govern self-consciousness, survival and will. These chakras work together, and when balanced, create a receptacle for spiritual, universal messages as well as answers which are channeled through the physical body. So, the heart chakra connects our physical awareness to the spiritual……its sense is Touch. When we are born, we touch the earth and the earth touches us, physically, emotionally and symbolically. And, it is through touch we form relationships and create our existence. We touch each other physically but we are also touched by each other emotionally.

“On a mental level, the heart chakra functions on an emotional basis, our feelings and how we express them towards ourselves and to others. How we think gets turned into how we behave with our feelings on this level. When someone has acted badly towards us, the mind processes these actions and then sends these waves of information to our heart centre, who then in turns, sends them out as feelings of anger, fear or betrayal. When someone tells us that we are beautiful, our mind does the same. It sends these messages to the mind and the brain sends them to our heart centre and we experience feelings of love, joy and happiness, in return we emanate this energy out into our aura toward others. When we smile and radiate love outwards the whole world smiles back at us. It is the same when we are in a negative mood. The same energy comes outwards and lashes onto those around us. We have to learn just how powerful our feelings are, not only to ourselves, but to everyone we encounter. ” Terrific site on the chakras http://www.pharrah13.com/Chakra.html

Emotional neglect can also cause a person to become bitter, insensitive and perhaps even cruel. Abusive emotional behaviour is acted out not only with other people…..emotional neglect can lead to the abuse of animals, for instance, or a deep insensitivity to the needs of other forms of life including, the earth itself.

Without a strong foundation of Love, fear, anger, resentment and regret can develop in its place. All these as well as loneliness, attachment, possessiveness, a broken heart etc., can all lead to heart problems.

The heart is a pump! It freely circulates the blood through our veins. and does not like anyting restricting or limiting its function. This is why this chakra above all the others represents the saying, ‘Let go and let God’. The heart needs a sense of freedom or it will ‘act up’ trying to release itself from the grasp of its captor(s).

I don’t think there is anyone who hasn’t had an emotional history of abandonment and betrayal. Overtime we try or succeed in letting some of these go. The ones that aren’t resolved, (grief. anger, etc.) affect our cholesterol levels, which not only begins to rise but also becomes inflamed and literally turns to stone. Your veins become hardened with calcium.

“When the heart is open and we feel the love of the universe percolating through our being, we feel the greatest security and self confidence. We learn to love without any attachment or feelings of possessiveness. When we truly realize who and what we are, fears and doubts vanish.” Alex Jones

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“Both CFS and FM make you stop, whether with exhaustion or pain or both.  If you have either of these illnesses, there is little doubt you will spend some time resting.  This is an important factor in your bodymind understanding.  A large number of people affected by these types of illnesses—and there are many variations—are high-flyers already climbing their career ladders.  If so, you may well be stressed, and this will certainly strain the immune system.  But it may also be that you are going in a direction that is not true to your inner nature—as if you are going against the grain or against your spirit.  And then you get stopped.” Deb Shapiro YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND

Do you think you have chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia? The only reason I ask is because hypothyroidism can be missed with these illnesses. In Fibromyalgia for Dummies, Dr. Staub mentions that a low thyroid function leads to fatigue and also causes painful and aching muscles. I experienced this a few years back when I became premenopausal. I also had trouble maintaining my body temperature, my skin became dry and I suffered from heart palpitations. Also high estrogen levels can affect the thyroid. To get a proper diagnosis, I highly recommend taking a thyroid blood test. By the way, some auto immune disorders can be yeast related too.

Maybe, like me, you have both! But if it is just your thyroid, taking a synthyroid drug will diminish a lot of the above symptoms. When I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, within a week of taking the medication I felt a lot better. Hypothyroidism has also been known to mimic menopause. With fibromyalgia, there is unfortunately no quick cure. Not yet, anyways.

I consider myself a very spiritual person. As I look at all the different patterns of my life emerging, I’m starting to see that spirituality was initially a form of escape. It was a form of disassociation and a defense from avoiding some of the more painful experiences in my life. Having a spiritual consciousness does not make you immune to dis-ease. This was a huge lesson for me to understand. What spirituality does do however is provide you with certain tools to understand and work with an illness. I’ve also learned that spiritual development is about learning to treat the whole self with love, respect and attention. It means giving the body the things it needs to be healthy.

One of the greatest tools that continually helps me on my journey is astrology. It has taught me to dive into my emotions and feelings. It has shown me emotions are an essential source of personal power. On a physical level it says ‘there’s a real world out there, and you’re in it’. Astrology helps us to find our own individuality and compass in life. North, East, West and South = NEWS! It’s definable and measurable and it never lies. It helps us to nurture and understand ourselves and evolve to higher levels of understanding. When this happens the healing process begins.

Accepting an illness means we have to do something about it. It makes us stop and take notice of something gone wrong that needs our attention. If we don’t we tend to feel powerless to face the challenges ahead. Instead we face whatever happens, happens….we become a ‘victim’ instead of empowering and healing ourselves. We cannot run away or try to suppress it….pain is real and there are times we have to learn to live with it. The pain itself will teach us what to do, that’s if we ‘listen’ and stay mindful of it. Accepting what is, takes time and patience to initiate.

Our body and spirit goes through many cycles of cooperating and compromising. When this happens, there is less tension. Our bodies and our health is in a constant flux of change. It’s up to us to continually work at keeping it balanced. To heal, we must turn back the tide and use our own initiative, will and spirit to get well. Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and Hypothyroidism are all auto immune diseases. This literally means your body is under attack from itself!! It’s as if our body and soul are at war with each other. So how do we find peace within ourselves?

When I learnt Reiki, I discovered there were three levels to each initiation. Reiki I, represents the body, Reiki II, the mind/emotions, Reiki III the Spirit. Learning and understanding what FM was, took me through three different `stages.

From my Reiki I Manual…

The Reiki attunement awakens our abilities to feel, hear, touch, smell and live again. It takes us back into our bodies and jolts us back to life. A body that reawakens and allows the spirit to feel grounded and connected within a solid structure. Our body is our best friend and lifetime companion. Yet it really is an automated machine that willingly obeys and acts out our every thought, feeling, word and desire. Reiki rebuilds the energetic system of the body. It reconnects our emotions to our spirit and our spirit to our body, helping us to rebuild a stronger foundation and a healthier body.

Anatomically, the 1st Chakra relates to physical body support. The 2nd Chakra represents our emotions. We’ll be covering the chakras and their meanings shortly.

The First Initiation – The Body

This was when I started looking seriously at my diet and my intake of processed foods, alcohol, caffeine and sugar. Sugar, I discovered really aggravated my FM. I try to avoid sugar, especially at night and carbonated beverages as well as juices.

In the morning, I haven’t been able to give up my first cup of coffee. Ohh, that’s a must! If I need more of the ‘taste’ of coffee, a decaffeinated works just as well. And besides, too much caffeine definitely stimulates our nervous system and exhausts our adrenal glands. These are the glands of emotion and help us to survive through sudden emergencies, releasing energy and vitality into our body. Without them we’d surely die.

Also, I mentioned about salts in the previous post and I have found myself craving for chips, salted nuts, pretzels, etc. So it does seem, my blood pressure must dip at certain times when FM strikes and knocks me down. I’ve also craved dark chocolate and have discovered dark chocolate is actually good for CFS and FM, as it work as an antioxidant as well as an anti inflammatory. The darker the chocolate the better! Oh and not the whole bar (aw sucks)…..a piece a day is sufficient.

Three meals a day is good practice and also increasing your fiber intake. Fiber can actually cleanse the body by absorbing toxins and moving them out of our system…re the bowels.

Foods and cleansers that contain preservatives and chemicals are also known to magnify FM symptoms. Even wheat, corn, soya, dairy products and citrus fruits can aggravate FM. Also, be aware of artificial sweeteners, sulfites, MSG and food coloring. These are toxic!!

Magnesium is essential for muscle and tissue and requires calcium for proper assimilation. Magnesium cannot be stored in the body for long periods and therefore we need to supplement our diet regularly with it. Magnesium is an alkaline mineral.

Special note: Drinking too much milk can lead to a magnesium deficiency! Milk contains high amounts of Calciferol (synthetic Vit D) which actually withdraws magnesium out of our bloodstream. Also, if you’re taking a Vitamin D supplement, make sure its coming from a natural source.

“Theories suggest that the root cause of fibromyalgia is an imbalance somewhere in the body. For example, people with fibromyalgia generally have low levels of serotonin the hormone known as the pain messenger. A deficiency of magnesium, which can cause achy joints, has also linked to the condition. There is also belief that people with fibromyalgia have high levels of toxins in the blood.” Debora Yost



Read the labels of everything you buy and notice how you feel when you eat certain foods. I learned that a high intake of protein lowers our calcium and magnesium in the body. I also discovered carbohydrates enhance them. By observing what we eat, brings our body into balance. Once the needs of our body are met, then its ‘whole’ can be addressed.

CFS and FM symptoms can also be minimized by mild exercise. Even when you just want to curl up in a ball, find a way to get up and keep moving. Don’t fall into self pity, believe me, it only makes it worse. Also, muscles that aren’t used, tend to lose their stretch and eventually shorten. Stretching exercises are great in putting elasticity back into our muscles.

Don’t get discouraged if you can’t do an exercise all the way. You will. Don’t strain or rush. I had to train myself to work slowly and smoothly without jerking or bouncing. Slowly you can build from a 10 or 15 minute workout to a half an hour. Take your time. Most of us with FM and CFS have a tendency to ‘over extend’ ourselves, I know I do. Now we’re learning to nurture ourselves and pace our movements.

Have you looked into practices such as tai chi, Qi chong, water aerobics, walking or yoga. Natural endorphins are released during exercise and help with pain relief. It also keeps our joints limber. Physical exercise also pushes fluid through our lymph system which helps to move waste through our bodies.

Posture is very important. I’ve become aware of slumping as well as jutting my head forward, especially at my desk at work. Being a dispatcher for a busy courier company, I don’t always have time to do a regular ‘body check’. The problem is, when the phone calls quieten down, this is when I really start to notice how I’m sitting and of course feeling my pain.

My greatest tension is in the neck area. This is where I’m learning to to be aware of and break old physical habits, like jamming the phone between my neck and shoulders and trying to do several tasks at once. I’ve also noticed when putting my mascara on in the morning, I have a tendency to tilt my neck back, which overstretches the muscles in the front and compresses the vertebrae in my neck.

The most vulnerable neck muscle is the trapezius http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trapezius_muscle it runs from the base of the skull down the back of the where where it fans out to the shoulders blades and spine. This is a nasty one for me!

Also look at the sternomastoid. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sternocleidomastoid_muscle ohh when tense, this is the muscle that can also affect the face, ears and jaw. It supports the neck to the side and front where the trapezius controls the front and back. Schrunching our heads and neck to the telephone strains and tenses both these muscles. Also mental stress, depression and anger can tense these muscles up without us even noticing.

Another major symptom these muscles can create when stiff/tense is the feeling of being off balance and feeling dizzy…..they have also been the cause of unexplained fainting.  The sternomastoid when affected can send pain deep into the ear and to the eye and the sinuses.  This muscle can make your teeth hurt and the root of your tongue hurt.  Sometimes it can cause a chronic cough or sore throat, I’ve met many people with FM who have had these symptoms and yet their doctor flatly refused to believe muscle tension was the cause.

The inner ear acts as a guidance system for focussing and tracking of the eyes.  The sternomastoid when extremely taut or overstretched can affect the inner ear as well as the eyes, causing blurred or double vision.

Where do you hold tension in the body? What muscles feel tense and taut? Make a note of the areas and then search wikipedia or other informative sites. Learn how the muscles in your body work.

“The muscles enable all the bodily systems to function, such as circulation, digestion, breathing and nerve impulses.  Their freedom of movment is essential for optimum health.  When the muscles are restricted, whether through tension, tightness, or lack of tone, your energy will be unable to flow smoothly, and you may suffer from related problems.  Stress release and emotional expression are therefore essential for muscle ease.  Exercise is also vital–it not only releases muscular tension but psycho/emotional tension as well.” Deb Shaprio YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND

Vitamin A and E as well as essential fatty acids and a good calcium/magnesium supplement could help your CFS and FM. Your body will guide you to what works and what doesn’t. What works for someone else, might not work for you. As mentioned earlier, CFS and FM is a multi symptom disorder; to treat it we need a multi faceted approach.

Barley greens are ten times richer in calcium than milk. I was astonished to learn that. To absorb magnesium in our bodies we need calcium, phosphorus, vitamins B6, C and D as well as a normal intake of protein. For my body size I require about 50 grams of protein a day.

I found this really great site http://www.immunesupport.com/understanding_cfids/ It also has chat rooms and newsletters on FM and CFS.

Reiki, acupuncture, ‘light’ massage, therapeutic touch, homeopathic medicines as well as reflexology all help to minimize the pain of CFS and FM. Shiatsu (pressure points) is also good in helping to move blocked and toxic energy.

I’ve found aromatherapy oils, chamomile, lavender and sage help to soothe the muscles. They’re great in the bath or add a drop to your favorite body lotion. Epson salt baths help to draw out pain from our aching muscles.

There are a lot of great sites on natural herbs and vitamins to use to relieve the symptoms or pain of CFS and FM. Part 3 of Chronic Fatique and Fibromyalgia addresses how healing is related to the mind. It explores our emotions as well as the body/mind connection. Exploring the complexities of the Self, starts setting us apart from everyone else.

CFS and FM seem to be an internal battle; to heal we need to STOP and listen to our internal struggles, our judgements and how our belief system thinks our life should be. We need to look at our habits and routines; as well as put aside what we think other people expect of us and tap into and identify with our true nature.

Do you think FM and CFS could also be related to our high-tech world? Is this a form of disconnection from the rhythms of Nature. Have we allowed our bodies to become immobilized, tense and frozen.?

Technology has allowed us to expand our minds, our self expression and group awareness. Its invisible webbing urging us towards greater connectedness. But…..

“We tend to think of the rational as a higher order,
but it is the emotional that marks our lives”
Merle Shane

Scientists link processed foods to autoimmune disorder http://www.trueactivist.com/scientists-officially-link-processed-foods-to-autoimmune-disease/

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