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Hypnotic Healing & The Mysterious Relationship Between Mind & Body

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Hypnotic Healing & The Mysterious Relationship Between Mind & Body
Photo Credit: Waking Times

Steve Taylor, Ph.D.Guest Writer

In the 1840s, a Scottish doctor living in India named James Esdaile was frequently visited by men with enormous tumours (weighing up to 45 kg) in the scrotum, caused by mosquito bites. The operation to remove them was so painful that men would often put it off for years, only having it as a last resort.

Esdaile had read about hypnotism (or mesmerism, as he referred to it) and decided to try the technique as a way of relaxing patients, so that they would agree to have the operation.

To his surprise, he found that not only did the patients feel relaxed, but they also didn’t feel any pain during the operations. In other words, hypnosis had somehow acted as a powerful anaesthetic. Esdaile reported that, in some cases, there was no pain or injury after the operation either, and that the healing process was faster. As he wrote, “less constitutional disturbance has followed than under ordinary circumstances. There has not been a death among the cases operated on.”

Word began to spread about this amazing surgeon who could remove the massive tumours in 20 minutes without pain or after effects, and soon patients began to flock to Esdaile’s hospital near Calcutta. Esdaile began to use hypnotism in other procedures too, including eye surgery, the removal of tonsils, breast tumours, and childbirth. Esdaile was sure that it wasn’t a matter of his patients pretending (to themselves and/or to him) that they weren’t feeling any pain — he noted that, in addition to a lack of writhing and moaning, patients didn’t display physiological signs of pain such as changes to pulse rate and eye pupils.

At the time Esdaile was practising, mortality rates for operations were massive: a staggering 50% of patients died during or after them. But in 161 recorded cases of Esdaile’s operations, the mortality rate was only 5%. The reasons for this aren’t clear. Esdaile himself believed it was due to “vital mesmeric fluids” passing from him to the patient, which stimulated the healing process. However, it was probably related to reduced loss of blood, and perhaps an activation of the same self-healing abilities that occur with a placebo.

The Hypnotic State

The hypnotic state is still mysterious — there is no clear explanation of what happens when a person becomes hypnotised, or how the state is different from normal consciousness. But the essential aspect seems to be that, under hypnosis, the normal conscious self becomes immobilised. Normal conscious functions such as volition and control are taken over by the hypnotist. And with the conscious self in abeyance, the hypnotist appears to have direct access to the person’s subconscious mind.

Certainly, one of the most striking aspects of hypnosis is the powerful influence of the mind (via the hypnotist’s suggestions) over the functioning of the body.  Esdaile was by no means the only physician to use hypnosis, but from the mid-nineteenth century, the practice was superseded by the use of chemical anaesthetics. But there were still some areas of medicine where the practice continued — dentistry, in particular. At the turn of the 20th century, hypnosis was dentists’ main method of pain management, and it became almost universal for dentists during the First and Second World Wars, when chemical anaesthetics were scarce and facial trauma was common. Even now, some dentists still use hypnosis, especially in cases where a person’s medical history precludes the use of an anaesthetic.

Recent research with patients who had teeth extracted under hypnosis showed that “hypnotic-focused analgesia” can increase pain thresholds by up to 220%. (1) This research also found that 93% of patients experienced reduced postoperative pain and haemorrhage. (This links to Esdaile’s finding that mortality rates decreased very sharply as a result of his use of hypnosis. Hypnosis can reduce blood loss and haemorrhage.)

Beyond its analgesic properties, there is a great deal of evidence that hypnotism can have a powerful healing effect. During the early to mid-nineteenth century, the technique was used by physicians as a treatment and found to be effective against conditions such as epilepsy, neuralgia, and rheumatism. However, hypnosis appears to be particularly effective with skin conditions. In highly suggestible people, hypnosis has been used to rapidly heal wounds and burns, to make warts and blisters disappear and to control the bleeding of haemophiliacs. Conversely, highly suggestible people may produce blisters or burn marks, if they are told by a hypnotist that their skin has been burnt, or if they are blindfolded and the hypnotist pretends to touch them with a red hot poker or another object. (2)

Explaining Healing Under Hypnosis

Even though the effects of hypnosis are unexplained, it seems likely that the analgesic and healing properties of the state involve similar processes to the placebo effect. Research has made it very clear that the placebo effect isn’t just about patients believing that their conditions have improved. Real physiological and neurological changes take place; genuine healing occurs. Recent research (most notably by Dr. Ted Kaptchuk at Harvard Medical School) has found that placebos can have a significant effect even when people know they are taking them.

Both the placebo effect and hypnosis suggest that we have a good deal more influence on our physiological functioning than we usually realise. Our beliefs and intentions seem to be able to activate innate self-regulating and even self-healing powers. A hypnotist simply creates the conditions under which these powers can be activated.

One of the most mysterious aspects is why we don’t have access to these self-regulating powers in our normal conscious state. We can’t simply say to ourselves, “Okay, I’m going to make myself numb to pain” or “I’m going to use my mind’s power over the body to improve the symptoms of my rheumatism or back pain.” We can only use these abilities unconsciously, through the intervention of a doctor of a hypnotist.

For me though, perhaps the most important implication of the regulating and healing effects of hypnosis (and also the placebo effect) are what they suggest about the relationship between the mind and the body. In modern materialistic science, the mind is usually seen as a kind of “shadow” of the brain. Mental activity is a product of — and is equivalent to — brain activity. All mental states can be reduced to brain states.

However, if the mind is just an epiphenomenon of the brain, the powerful physiological effects of hypnosis and the placebo effect don’t make any sense. How could an epiphenomenon bring about such powerful changes to the primary thing that it’s a by-product of? How can a shadow change the object that it’s the shadow of? To use a different metaphor, it would be equivalent to suggesting that the images on the screen of a computer can change the software of the computer.

In other words, hypnosis and the placebo effect (and similar phenomena such as psychosomatic illness and psychogenesis, when mental intention generates illness) suggest that the mind is not just an epiphenomenon of the brain. In fact, since mental intentions (either our own or a hypnotist’s) can bring about such powerful changes to the body, it seems likely that mind is more fundamental than the material stuff of our bodies.

I believe that our culture urgently needs to adopt a “post-materialist” model of reality, which includes the principle that consciousness or mind is not by-products but primary qualities of the world. One possibility is panpsychism, which suggests that consciousness is an intrinsic property of all material particles. Another is what I call “panspiritism” which suggests that the primary reality of the universe is a “fundamental consciousness” (or spirit) that pervades all space and all material forms. (See my bookSpiritual Science for more details.)

Such post-materialist perspectives are the only hope of understanding rogue phenomena such as hypnotic healing and the placebo effect.

About the Author

Steve Taylor Ph.D is a senior lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. He is the author of Back to Sanity: Healing the Madness of Our Minds and The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of A New Era.

Steve’s books have been published in 16 languages and his research has appeared in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, The Journal of Consciousness Studies, The Transpersonal Psychology Review, The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, as well as the popular media in the UK, including on BBC World TV, The Guardian, and The Independent.

References

(1) Facco, E. et al. (2011) Effects of Hypnotic Focused Analgesia on Dental Pain Threshold. International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis. 59 (4), 454–68.

(2) Kelly, E. F. et al. (2007). Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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7 Ways To Access Inner Peace Now – What Life In New York Has Taught Me

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Inner Peace
Photo Credit: PixaBay

Juliet TangContributing Writer

Just another day in the city…

It was a cold, grey and windy morning in New York City, one of the thousands I’ve experienced here where everyone’s neck automatically shortens by two inches as they are attempting to shrink into their winter coats while holding onto their Starbucks coffee and battling through the crowds in Manhattan.

The train was more crowded than usual thanks to the presence of people who would otherwise walk or bike to work, and I stood for what seemed like an eternity with purses rubbing against my back and elbows in my ribs, while attempting to ground my energy into mother earth and breathe in the mixed aromas of BO, coffee and stale subway air.

On days like this I could really use some divine guidance, but I knew enough not to expect an ascended master to show up in the subway car and grace me with a pair of wings to fly out of the dark tunnels. My wings had to come from myself, and at that moment, my only saviour was to practice allowing, or being in the moment without judgment or resistance.

Being In the Now

The practice of being in the now has always been a struggle for me and I cannot even blame New York for it, though I have noticed folks outside of New York are a lot more laid back and do not lose it when they have to wait more than 8 minutes for their food to be served at restaurants.

We live in a time where we have a million ways to escape the present moment such as replaying past scenarios, obsessing over the future, multi-tasking, watching reality shows, throwing tantrums on Twitter or in real life, the list goes on and on. No wonder drugs such as Ambien, Prozac and Xanax are household favourites next to sugar and Plasma TVs.

Lao Tzu said it best, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” How many of us are actually at peace? What is the cost for living outside the now?

Come back to the breath, come back to this moment. I could either allow it to unfold, or I could launch into full attack mode by fighting the smell and the crowd with endless mental chatter that would contain occasional R rated rants. Speaking from experience, I had never won that fight and despite the ferocious battle in my head, reality would always go on like the love from the movie Titanic.

The mind loves to categorize, judge, speculate, worry, project, complain, compare and compete. The mind convinces us its voice is the absolute authority because it has the label “commander-in-chief” written across its forehead. The mind wants us to believe we are that voice and there is no separation between our thoughts and our essence. The dirty secret the mind refuses to share with us is that its voice is always filtered by the belief system we currently hold onto and our past conditioning, so if we were bitten by a dog when we were kids, even if Fluffy the poodle yawns in front of us, we are given a dose of anxiety and commanded to run. Left untamed, the mind can turn into an over-indulged tyrant like Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones who wants to convince us eating the entire pie of pizza plus the trees leches made by granny with 3 bottles of wine is a far more pleasing option than eating spinach and seaweed for dinner. Throughout the years, I had to learn the hard way not to trust everything my mind eagerly shared with me on a day to day basis.

Back to the breath, the breath that connects us to the source.

Back to the moment, the moment that is neither good nor bad, it simply is.

Back to the now, the now that anchors us in our Being.

Back to the present, the present that can only be claimed and opened if we invite ourselves into its space.

Life’s Gentle Reminders

As I walked out of the train into Time Square, I realized I was running a little late for my appointment and since I had a rather long walk, thoughts of worry began rushing into my mind like the Manhattan traffic and the “Do Not Walk” sign at every red light simply did not help.

Had I not believed my thoughts, I would have seen it as one of life’s gentle reminders for me to slow down and center. However, since I chose to believe the priority at that moment was to squeeze as many seconds out of the present moment as possible, something that would have made Lao Tzu turn in his grave, that led me to the rather unconscious and self-sabotaging decision of running through red lights just because my life was obviously not as important as those 15 seconds (though I was hoping for 45) I would have gained from throwing myself in front of the buses that were crossing and honking.

Eventually, life’s reminders became not so gentle and with a loud honk, I began running like a maniac from a cab that apparently auditioned for The Fast and Furious. Living in a city where it is not only the norm but also an encouraged practice to race against time, even if it does not get us physically killed, to be constantly rushing from point A to point B whether they are physical locations or life goals leads to mental and emotional death that is characterized by continuous stress, restlessness, inability to show up in the current moment and living like the walking dead while staring at the iPhone. When we are constantly living elsewhere, it drastically reduces the quality of the life we are living now simply because no one is here to live it.

We have made a rather interesting agreement with divinity and that is, whenever we play small, to me it means surrendering our free will to the mind, our external environment reflects the inner helplessness right away again and again until we shift out of our unconsciousness and come back to the present moment where full consciousness resides. Life’s gentle reminders can turn quite fierce when you ignore them, and running from a speeding cab proves the point. For some people, reminders show up as illnesses so they are forced to take care of their bodies and for others, failures and endless misery in careers and relationships direct their attention from external solutions to internal insights.

I know moving to a more relaxed environment such as Costa Rica like we have been planning to would help my sweetheart and I live a more balanced life, but I do not for one second expect the shift to come from the outside. If I do not practice presence while I am in New York City — which has to be one of the world’s finest “presence practice classrooms” simply because I have nowhere to go but inward — I would probably be shifting the responsibility of my inner peace to the mosquitoes and howler monkeys while I am meditating on the beach in Costa Rica.

The mind is all about Doing, and the higher self is all about Being. Without mastering Being anywhere, even the most tranquil place on earth cannot offer the gift of stillness because stillness requires a conscious choice. Inner peace is not the product of the external but rather the result of an internal decision of being present, and presence comes from stepping out of the mind and into the divine observer (soul, higher self, true self, God presence, etc) which is who we truly are. The moment we choose to become aware of our stream of thought and observe it without feeding into it, we are fully conscious. In that state of presence, there can be no feeling other than peace and connectedness.

7 Ways to Access Presence

There are many ways to be in the now and one does not need to be in the middle of Time Square surrounded by stressed out New Yorkers, or in an ashram in a remote location of the world to embody it. Breath work, yoga, and meditation are certainly great ways for us to center, but watch out for the mind’s favourite way to get out of surrendering its power by providing you with a list of seemingly valid excuses as to why you cannot do this thing. They include but are not limited to: lack of funds, lack of time, lack of energy, lack of interest, yoga studio is too far, meditation is too boring, I cannot sit still, my apartment is too small, the traffic outside my window is too loud, I don’t believe any of it will work, I have to take care of “real life,” my cat doesn’t like it, my dog barks too much, etc.

Below is a list of my go-to practices that even the busiest person on Earth can adopt to cultivate presence. (Consistency is key.)

Just Breathe: Pay attention to the breath and consciously slow it down to a pace that is comfortable for you. Do it for a few moments. Repeat several times a day or as many times as you desire.

Meditating With the Senses: If sitting in a corner with candles and crystal singing bowls isn’t your thing, you can meditate literally anywhere. Whatever activity you are engaged in, bring in all of your senses and allow them to guide you. If you are taking a walk, take in the scent of the air, the texture of earth beneath your feet, pay attention to your surroundings and colours, feel the air around your fingertips, imagine tasting the air if you want to, feel your body moving, etc. You can engage your senses in any activity in life which means anything can turn into a meditation.

Let the Consciousness Flow: Anchor your presence in the body by moving your consciousness to different parts of the body and allow it to linger there for a moment. Combine it with deep breathing if you’d like. You do not need to be visual, just imagine, or pretend the consciousness is in the head, make a note of what it is like. Now drop it down to the throat, then to the heart. What is it like now? Acknowledge it and move it to another spot. Again this can be done anytime, anywhere.

Channel Your Inner Michelangelo: Channelling your creative energy is a great way to cultivate presence. Even though our New York apartment does not allow me the space to spread my oil paints, I have taken to the hobby of adult colouring which is extremely soothing. My sweetheart is a drummer and can always step into his inner-bliss in his Brooklyn drum studio. But please remember, you don’t have to be Leonardo da Vinci, a Mariinsky trained ballet dancer, a Berkeley graduate or the understudy for Phantom of the Opera to do this. Singing in the shower, drawing stick figures, baking for your neighbours and making crafts for your Etsy shop are all fantastic ways to embody the present moment.

Why So Serious? Laughter instantly brings you back to this moment and this is why Seinfeld is still having its reruns. No one needs to be taught the physical and emotional benefits of having a sense of humour, even the joker from Batman, among all his faults understood the importance of letting his hair loose though he has obviously taken the idea too far. The point is, reality is really happening in our heads and two people can have two very different responses to the same situation. That BO in the subway is not dissipating whether I grind my teeth or laugh at my own silliness for attempting to fight it with the thoughts in my head. It is up to us to find humour in life and laugh whenever we can.

Popping Bubbles: My mind used to be like a yenta who didn’t sleep, as a result, I didn’t sleep for over a decade. I decided with everything she said, rather than entering a conversation with her which would only strengthen the yenta, I would imagine the thought being a bubble and watch the bubble rise from the bottom of the lake to the top. As the bubble surfaced, it would pop on its own. It was a fun way to passively allow the thoughts go if I did not get too carried away by the effort of creating bubbles. Nonetheless, the point here is to practice being aware of the thoughts without resisting them or giving them your energy.

That Thought Is Not Mine: This one takes a bit of practice and self-awareness. Most of our thoughts are not ours. At birth, we are born into a tribe whose very beliefs, values, fears and judgments are passed onto us. In addition, our thoughts are influenced daily by media, politicians, and anything that makes its way into our mind. Without constant self-inquiry and inner house cleaning, other people are essentially telling us how to live our lives.

When a thought enters the mind that says, “I am a failure,” “I am fat” or “I need to risk my life to run across the street to save myself 2 seconds,” you can bet that thought has been filtered by a limiting belief that does not belong to you because your higher self always speaks to you with love, compassion and inspiration. A simple way that depletes the energy behind the thought without declaring world war on it can simple be practicing saying to yourself, “That thought isn’t mine.” If the source of the thought naturally comes to you, more power to you. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter. Just the acknowledgement and believing in this statement renders the thought powerless.

Embrace the present.

For now, living in a city that never sleeps – my home for the past 22 years – I am making a pledge to allow and embrace every moment knowing that this is why I am here: to call forth my Being so I may embrace the Present.

Will you make the same pledge, wherever you are?

“This moment is as it should be, because the whole universe is as it should be. The moment — the one you’re experiencing right now– is the culmination of all the moments you have experienced in the past. This moment is as it is because the entire universe is as it is.”

Recommended Articles by Juliet Tang
About the Author

Juliet Tang is an intuitive life coach, spiritual mentor and medicine woman. Her work empowers those who are looking for more alignment and expansion to awaken to their power and purpose on earth, activate more love, abundance and joy in their lives, and manifest their soul’s desires using the conscious creation process.

To learn more, go to www.juliettang.com, or follow Juliet on Facebook and Instagram.

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10 Tips To Get A Good Nights Sleep Naturally

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10 Tips To Get A Good Nights Sleep Naturally
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution

Alex ‘Earthie Mama’ Du ToitGuest Writer

Everyone knows how important sleep is to your health and wellbeing. Who wants that feeling of sluggishness and low concentration when you have been deprived of a good night sleep. Not only does not having enough sleep cause issues to the way you feel, it also has been linked to health issues such as weakened immune system, diabetes and heart health. It is important to make sleep health a priority and there are ways you can help yourself naturally while improving your sleep quality nightly.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 60 million U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep. 1 out of 5 people have a problem with insomnia. This is a big problem in our society if sleep contributes to mental wellbeing and performance. So many people are walking around half asleep because they are not getting the quality or quantity of sleep needed to function normally. However, there are ways to change your daily routines to support healthy sleeping habits.

1. Reduce Caffeine 

Not getting enough sleep snowballs into that afternoon coffee which then contributes to not being able to fall asleep and stay asleep. This vicious cycle stops when you break that afternoon cup of coffee. Replace with a decaf coffee, tea, water, juice, etc. Have you tried Rooibos Tea? Don’t forget to drink water all day long.

2. Turn Off Screens/Devices and Get Protective Glasses

Studies have shown that smart Phones, Tablets, Computers emit a blue light that messes with melatonin levels, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. The bus light damages the duration of sleep and even more so, the quality of sleep. Before going to sleep, even an hour or two before, shut all devices down. Also, getting a pair of blue blocking glasses to wear during the day when on a blue light emitting device helps limit the exposure to blue light which in turn makes a difference on sleep quality at night. Click here to order a pair of blue light blocking glasses.

3. Move Your Body

Studies have shown that physical activity during the day improves the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Ultimately it would be ideal to exercise 30 minutes per day at least 5 days a week. However, it would be even more beneficial to try and move the body some way every day.

4. Avoid Alcohol 

Those night caps or drinks that you consume in the evening could be a problem to your sleep quality, studies have shown. Alcohol is known to cause disruptions in sleep patterns and the production of melatonin. Melatonin plays a role in sleep quality and patterns. Alcohol has also been linked to Magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is needed for every function of the body, including sleep. Regular levels of magnesium helps to relax the mind and body but magnesium deficiency can result in anxiety, irritability and poor sleep. Read more about Why Alcohol Disrupts Your Sleep.

5. Create a Good Sleep Environment

How can you make your bedroom a sleep friendly place? Maybe black out curtains or an eye mask? What is the temperature, ideally below 67 degrees? Does your bedroom smell nice? Maybe consider adding an essential oil diffuser? Maybe add plants to clean the air while you are sleeping. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep.

6. Hot Bath and a Cup of Tea

A few studies have shown that taking a bath at night can help the quality and duration of sleep. Lying in a bath of warm water is so relaxing. By adding epson salts and/or magnesium flakes your body will be able to absorb the magnesium that every cell needs to function. Try my Detox Bath Salt recipe and soak before bed as a night time ritual with a cup of tea. Teas like Sleepy TimeRooibos and Chamomile are all very relaxing and great in preparing the body to get into sleep mode.

7. Magnesium Spray

Lather the skin with magnesium spray after your bath and before bed. The skin will absorb the magnesium which creates relaxation in the body and promotes a restful sleep. You can get Magnesium Spray in my store here or click here for DIY Magnesium Spray Recipe.

8. Melatonin

Melatonin is the key hormone that tells your brain when it is time to relax and get some rest. Studies have shown that taking a 2 mg supplement of melatonin before bed aids in falling asleep quickly without feeling drowsy the next day.

9. Meditation and Deep Breathing

If falling asleep is difficult for you, try focusing on your breath. Breathe in and out slowly, about 15 minutes before bed. This will calm your mind, body and soul, preparing you for a good night sleep. Studies have shown that by using relaxation techniques and changing sleeping habits can help you fall asleep faster and get a better night sleep.

10. Sleep Journal

Keep a journal of when you go to bed and when you wake up. What did you eat during the day? (Try and stay away from heavy, spicy and sugary foods and drinks especially towards the end of the day). What did you drink during the day? (Make sure you are drinking lots of water). When was your last cup of caffeine? Did you do any relaxation techniques like breathing, meditation or taking a bath with a cup of tea before bed? Did they work for you? Did you exercise today? Is your sleeping environment comfortable? This will be a great reference for you to look at as you figure out how to get yourself a good night sleep.

The quality and amount of time you spend sleeping is extremely important to your health, wellbeing and longevity. Many people go to Big Pharma sleeping pills to give them a quick sleeping solution. However, they do not come without side effects. Please look into the sideeffects before taking any sleeping pill.

I always recommend trying to go the natural route before any other path when trying to help yourself. I hope this list above gives you some tools to help you get the sleep that you deserve, in order to live a life where you are thriving not just surviving. Be the hero in your own life.

Be well,

Alex

Recommended Articles by Alex ‘Earthie Mama’ Du Toit
About the Author

Alexandra is a true Earthie Mama, helping others tune into their most natural, thriving state while bringing harmony and balance into all areas of their lives. She hosts a well-known blog, EarthieMama.com, where she writes about health and wellness, conscious parenting, green living, self-sustainability and getting off the grid. Alex also has an MA in Psychology, and is a registered Yoga Instructor, environmentalist, conscious mother, green living advocate and natural birthing expert. She also sells all natural products and her eBooks through her website.

Please check out her website at EarthieMama.com, connect with Earthie Mama on Facebook, or sign up to the free EarthieMama e-newsletter here!

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Treating Anxiety Naturally

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Treating Anxiety Naturally
Photo Credit: www.bluesagecounselingandwellness.com

Alex ‘Earthie Mama’ Du ToitGuest Writer

Everyone experiences anxiety every once in a while. Some people are plagued with anxiety and suffer daily from the symptoms that come along with it.

Anxiety is an overwhelming feeling of worry that effects the body both mentally and physically. Symptoms of anxiety include: cloudy thoughts, heart palpitations, sweaty palms, muscle tension, dry mouth, nausea, insomnia, an inability to concentrate, regularly not wanting to get out of bed, nagging negative thoughts that the worst is going to happen.

For many people, these symptoms can be debilitating and hard to live with. Sometimes, when a person gets to this point, they seek medical attention and are prescribed pharmaceutical drugs that block the symptoms so the anxiety can be easier to live with. However, the anxiety medication may cause awful side effects sometimes worse than the anxiety itself. Medications become addictive while causing damage to the vital organs in your body like the liver and kidneys.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the “fight or flight” mechanism in your body. Our ancestors used the anxiety to keep them alive when they were hunting or being attacked. Adrenaline was pumped into their bloodstream, so they could make the decision to turn around and fight or flee from danger.

Anxiety is necessary for us today as well. It acts as a warning signal. However today, we may not be able to fight or run away from our stressors or anxieties like our ancestors did. If we are worrying about paying a bill or losing a job, we might feel anxiety, but it is not a good idea to fight your boss or run away from the bill. When the symptoms of anxiety are unbearable, it can cause a lot of physical damage on your body and can even result in illness. Rather than taking the pharmaceutical approach to treating anxiety, there are natural ways to help relieve the symptoms of anxiety.

Natural Ways To Deal With Anxiety
1. Healthy Diet

There is a lot of research that shows anxiety can originate in the gut. That is why, when people experience anxiety, they also typically have issues with bowel movements. A change in diet can help a person experiencing anxiety to overcome the symptoms. Reduce caffeine, sugars and dairy and eat more fruits, veggies, grains, seeds and nuts.

2. Supplements

GABA: GABA is an amino acid known for its calming effect on our central nervous systems. It is a neurotransmitter that helps nerve impulses communicate. If your body does not have enough GABA, you can experience anxiety. Many with low levels of GABA choose to self-medicate with substances such as alcohol. You may try 500-1000 mg of GABA supplement a day and include foods in your diet that increase its production, like green tea, citrus fruits, bananas, nuts and greens.

Omega 3s: Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the symptoms caused from anxiety, aiding the body keep cellular receptors in optimal condition. According to Everyday Health.

“Japanese researchers found that a diet high in fish protects people from depression and suicide, while in Finland a team of researchers surveyed 1,767 residents and concluded that eating fish more than twice a week has a protective effect against suicide and depression.”

Magnesium: Magnesium naturally calms the nervous system. It can be found in coconut water, seaweed, pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, chocolate and more.

5HTP: 5HTP is recommended for anxiety with depression. It is an amino acid that is essential for the production of serotonin, which helps to elevate mood.

3. Relaxation Therapies

Relaxation therapies such as yoga, meditation, grounding and breathing techniques, massage, acupuncture and soaking in bath all naturally elevate mood and help release the hormones that make you feel good.

4. Movement And Exercise

Get your heart pumping and it will help circulate the blocked energy that is causing anxiety while releasing those feel-good hormones. Move the body 30 minutes a day and you will notice how much better you feel. (Learn more here.)

5. Herbs

The Earth holds all the medicines that we need to heal ourselves, and the following herbs can help you tame your anxiety.

  • Chamomile has relaxing and sedative effects that help with sleep.
  • Kava Kava helps to reduce anxiety by activating GABA receptors in the brain.
  • Valerian root is used for insomnia by taking a supplement or drinking the tea an hour before bed.
  • Passionflower has been used as a remedy for anxiety and insomnia.
6. Aromatherapy

Essential oils can be added to baths, massage oils or infusers. The best essential oils for anxiety are lavender, ylang-ylang, geranium, rose, bergamot and jasmine.

Article Sources
Recommended Articles by Alex ‘Earthie Mama’ Du Toit
About the Author

Alexandra is a true Earthie Mama, helping others tune into their most natural, thriving state while bringing harmony and balance into all areas of their lives. She hosts a well-known blog, EarthieMama.com, where she writes about health and wellness, conscious parenting, green living, self-sustainability and getting off the grid. Alex also has an MA in Psychology, and is a registered Yoga Instructor, environmentalist, conscious mother, green living advocate and natural birthing expert. She also sells all natural products and her ebooks through her website.

Please check out her website at EarthieMama.com, connect with Earthie Mama on Facebook, or sign up to the free EarthieMama e-newsletter here!

Please SHARE this article with your family and friends.

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The Chemistry Of Stress & How It Affects Your Health

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The Chemistry of Stress & How It Affects Your Health
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution

During my general practice, I often encounter many cases that stem from stress. Gastritis is one of the common clinical presentations that come in O.P. A thorough evaluation of the patient’s day will clearly explain why he developed gastritis (stress), and most patients have no problem admitting that they had a stressful day. And so, quite often, I am treating a psychological problem which was manifested as a physical one.

In an interesting study conducted in prisoners of the World War II, it was found that the risk of developing peptic ulcer was twice higher than that of the controls. There are several other issues, like stress induced hypertension, diabetes, bronchial asthma, infections, etc., which come to an O.P. This might make one wonder why stress can cause so many clinical disorders. I will explain why this happens in this article.

In our daily life we often undergo stressful situations. There is no avoiding them. The stress that one experiences is nothing but the response of the body to its outer environment and the mind to its inner fears. These inner fears may be the result of anything, from an examination, one’s family, a job or responsibility, or an encounter with a person or situation one dislikes, etc. (1)

Do You Know What Exactly Happens To The Body When We Are Stressed?

Imagine that you have met with an accident. What happens next? The adrenal gland, which is located just above the kidneys, responds to the accident by releasing an emergency hormone known as adrenaline into the bloodstream. This hormone helps in combating daily life stress by changing the body physiology. The adrenaline decreases the flow of blood to the gut and shunts the blood to the body muscles to tackle the tough situation the body is faced with. This gives your muscles more energy to combat the accident. The adrenaline produced at that time shuts down the functioning of the immune system and gut by decreasing their blood supply. This is known as the flight or fight response. This natural response is one of the greatest gifts the human body has for combating external threats that we often encounter in our daily life. This response gives us more power and energy to survive any external threats (like accidents, being chased by wild animals, etc.). (1)

This was also the case for our ancient ancestors. One flight-fight response would save their life from wild animals. This response is present in every animal to combat their enemies and to save their life from predators. Once the external threat vanishes, the flight-fight response subsides and the body restores its normal functioning. (1)

But this begs the question, why does modern man face this much stress in the absence of predators?

Normally, when an external threat is removed, adrenaline production halts and the body will restore its normal functioning. But when we are stressed and the threat is internal (negative thoughts and negative emotions), the production of adrenaline is constant. This will cause deleterious and harmful effects to the body unless the internal threat — “the stress” — are managed. In this situation, “stress” the hormone causes more harm than good. (1)

Do You Know Why And How Exactly Negative Thoughts Impact The Body?

The latest research reveals that this adrenaline is not only produced while combating an accident, threat, or disaster, but also when we are stressed more generally. Stress is indeed the disease of modern man. It follows him wherever he goes, and research shows that “the adrenaline is even produced in the body when a person undergoes a negative thought in his mind, or even when he feels negative emotions” and “the adrenaline is produced the same moment he experience negative thoughts and negative emotion.” The fact is that “there is no time lag between production of adrenaline and negative thoughts that pass through his mind or the negative emotions he feels within.” (1)

So how badly will this Adrenaline affect our body? Adrenaline causes the following:

(1) Increased blood sugar: Adrenaline increases glucose production from liver to blood and decreases the production of insulin, thereby raising blood sugar. This predisposes someone to diabetes mellitus. (1)

(2) Increased blood pressure: Adrenaline increases blood pressure by constricting arterioles and veins, thereby raising blood pressure. This predisposes someone to hypertension. (1)

(3) Increased risk of cardiac diseases: Adrenaline increases the rate, force, and contraction of heart muscles and causes arrhythmias. Concurrent stimulation of the heart due to stress can place an increased workload on the heart, leading to increased chances of getting a heart attack. Women have a premenopausal estrogen that protects them from stress related heart disease. (1)

(4) Obesity: Adrenaline can move fat from storage depots and relocate it to fat cell deposits in the abdomen. This causes an increase in body mass index and generates obesity. Obesity is one of the risk factors for developing diabetes and coronary artery disease. (1)

(5) Indigestion and chronic constipation: Adrenaline decreases blood supply to the gut, decreases peristalsis of the bowel, and increases sphincter tone by acting on its receptors. This leads to indigestion and chronic constipation. (1)

(6) Increases susceptibility to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections: Adrenaline suppresses the functioning of immune cells required to combat infectious diseases and thereby increases a person’s susceptibility to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. Higher stress levels increase our susceptibility to H.pylori infections in the stomach and common gastritis. Chronic stress can increase the chances for Urinary tract infections in females. (1,2)

(7) Increases muscle tension: Adrenaline increases blood flow to muscles and causes increased muscle tension. This leads to tension headaches that we often experience at the end of our working days. The tight muscles can cause headache, shoulder pain, backache, and body pain. Chronic stress induced muscle tension can later predispose us to fibromyalgia, etc. (2)

(8) Decreased interest in sex: Adrenaline decreases the testosterone produced in men and estrogen in women, both needed for sexual arousal. Chronic stress can cause decreased sperm production and erectile dysfunction or impotence. (2)

(9) Altered menstrual cycle: Chronic stress can cause irregular or no menstruation. Sometimes it can cause heavy or painful bleeding. (2)

(10) Creates psychic disorders: Chronic stress is one of the fundamental causes for conditions like overeating, under-eating, and alcohol and drug abuse. (1,2)

So what exactly is the solution for attaining health?

The answer is simple, but tough to achieve. Wipe away our daily life stress!

You might be wondering how we can avoid something which seems so ingrained into modern life. The first step is to bring uncontrolled thoughts and emotions into our control.

To do that, we can use a variety of techniques. NLP psychotherapeutics, mindfulness, and meditation are all wonderful tools we can use to achieve mastery over our thoughts and emotions.

SOURCES

(1) The Science of Emotions: Dr. Fahad Basheer

(2) The Effect of Stress On The Body: Ann Pietrangelo

This article (The Chemistry Of Stress & How It Affects Your Health) was originally created for Collective Evolution and is published here under Creative Commons.

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