Dopamine Deficiency Part II: The Medication Connection
When the topic of substance abuse is broached, the neurotransmitter dopamine is often brought into the conversation. Recalling our earlier discussion, dopamine contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction and directly influences the way our brain achieves happiness by “guiding” our behavior to get to that feeling. Heroin, cocaine, and MDMA (ecstasy) are three of the bigger illicit guns that initially trigger a surge of dopamine in the body. Sugar also induces a massive (but short lived) dopamine surge. The body is filled with protective mechanisms (thankfully!), and if dopamine surges continue, a mechanism will kick in that reduces the number of dopamine receptors available for triggering. Consequently, it becomes harder and harder to achieve the same feelings of pleasure. As you may have already guessed, common opioid prescription medications do this too especially when used chronically. Some offenders would include:
When you review the introduction to dopamine deficiency (see Part I), you’ll notice that neurodegenerative conditions, chronic back pain, aches and pains, and persistent constipation are symptoms of deficiency. Those are also four very common complaints in people who use these pain medications chronically. Certainly, other factors are involved as well (do some digging!), but dopamine deficiency plays a significant role.
Dopamine sabotage by way of medication💊 is also an unfortunate common side effect of drugs that block dopamine binding to receptor sites. When a medication does this, dopamine cannot “do its work” in the body.
💊Haloperidol is used to treat schizophrenia, Tourettes, and severe behavioral problems in children and adults.
💊Risperidone is used to treat schizophrenia, disinterest in life, strong or "inappropriate" emotions, or disturbed thinking.
💊Metoclopramide is used to treat GERD, nausea/ vomiting, and slowed gut motility.
💊Olanzapine, Aripiprazole, Quetiapine are used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.
💊Buspirone is used to treat anxiety.
🧐If you were to pick up and read a package insert on each of these medications, you would find side effects listed giving evidence of dopamine deficiency (refer to Part I for symptoms).
What I write next might be the most technical and one of the most important concepts to understand in this entire book, so stay with me…. even if the slogging feels uphill! According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), an estimated 1 in 5 adults have a mood disorder in the USA. Sadly, when prowling around the NIMH website, I found very little in the way of suggesting lab work to rule out a hormonal, thyroid, or nutrient imbalance, or selfcare suggestions (clean diet, well developed exercise routines, tips on improved sleep hygiene, or connecting with a high frequency community, and most importantly, having a personal relationship with God). The website is quick to advocate for mental health medicating. Go figure.
💊Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) are a class of drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Common SSRI’s include 💊Citalopram, 💊, Fluoxetine, 💊Paroxetine, and 💊Sertraline. By definition, this class of drugs is supposed to be “selective” in their mechanism of action, and while they are marketed as products that raise serotonin in the brain, they simultaneously lower dopamine levels significantly. Additionally, there is very strong evidence that, depending on the individual and the SSRI used, there may be a significant effect on the HPA (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal) axis in the brain, where cortisol, hormones (including serotonin and dopamine) are regulated and long term memories are stored. The hypothalamus and the pituitary play a significant role in regulating the thyroid. You may imagine how important all of this is in balanced overall body and brain function.
I offer this information to you as clues, not as medical direction or individualized medical advice. Risk versus benefit should always be first and foremost whenever utilizing a medication, especially one that modulates “motherboard” (brain) activity. I read one doctor’s thoughts recently who described antidepressant use as a “sledgehammer to repair a fine watch.” Does the tool fit the need? That is only for you and your healthcare provider to decide.
Last week, I listened to a podcast that dovetailed into this topic. It is called “Unscientific Diagnoses Medicalize Normal Human Experience”. I’ve posted a link to this 30 minute podcast on my blog (found on my website www.goodmedicine.info). You won’t regret listening to it. We must get back to living in tightly knit communities where we love and care for one another well while also learning that experiencing emotions in a healthy manner is part of vibrant living. I’m so very very thankful for Young Living, because we exemplify that community, and there is plenty of room at the table for everyone who wants to #knowbetteranddobetter for themselves and their families.
We live in a broken world that is bandaged by a broken medical system. I encourage you to use your finely tuned tools for finely tuned processes in the body. Whenever possible, leave the sledgehammer in the shed.
Next week, I’ll discuss readily available inexpensive tools to help support optimal dopamine levels.
(If you answered #2, you’d be correct!)
Last week, as I was getting ready at my hotel for a leadership conference, I listened to this mic🎤 💥drop podcast: "Unscientific Diagnoses Medicalize Normal Human Experiences". I sat down late that night to share it with you all.... and wouldn't you know it, the black hole of social media oblivion swallowed it when I hit "post". So, here I am... back home ..... trying again! Yes, this information is THAT important... that I'm willing to write about it twice.
We are taught how to think. All of us. Healthcare professionals and laypersons alike. However, what we are taught isn't necessarily true. Nonetheless, we believe and act upon those beliefs. This podcast shatters some of those beliefs that surround mental illness.
Key points of the podcast:
* There is no research evidence for a chemical imbalance that leads to mental health problems. Example: Low serotonin levels are blamed for depression. This is an overly simplistic myth perpetuated by Big Pharma. The reality is that serotonin levels cannot be easily measured in the brain (if at all).
* Where do ideas about the cause of mental distress come from? We (as a cumulative society) are led to believe they come from a chemical imbalance as perpetuated by prescribing physicians, pharmaceutical ads (a pill will fix ya), pop culture (normalization of a pill for everything), and interaction with family and friends who endorse the "pharmaceutical fix" model. (note: in cultures where Big Pharma 💊 doesn't have a big footprint, mental health disorders are quite low.)
* Side effects of antidepressants include chronic depression (that's a fact).
Normal human experience includes suffering in life. Suffering may mean something different to each of us. Perhaps it is grief, social shyness, disappointment, fear, angst, or __________ (fill in your blank). Experiencing suffering does not mean the brain is broken..... it just means you (we) all are living a human experience and processing emotions as we go. Don't get me wrong..... psych medications definitely numb the mind and do so without differentiation. When suffering is numbed, so is joy. Psych meds could be considered an emotional anesthesia, but here's the thing..... anesthesia by itself doesn't heal does it? Acknowledging the problem and then working on the root cause is wherein lies healing (and living fully).
Community, whether that be family, friends, or a combination of the two is balm to healing. Generational curses (Biblically speaking) are very real, more real, I would argue (based on science and the word of God) than an estimated low neurotransmitter in the brain. Generational curses can be broken. It starts with us to break them. Purposefully and intentionally.
Find your tribe friends. We were not meant to be islands. We are to lean on one another in times of joy and in need. Yes we have tools of all variety available to us of the natural variety in addition to the Big Pharma ones. Do you want numbing or do you want deep true healing?
No medical advice given here, other than this: Know truth and then do with it what you will. It just might change your life.
Oh.... final thought and not mentioned in the podcast. There are MANY biological imbalances that can aggravate emotional peaks and valleys. Hormones, thyroid, vitamin and mineral deficiencies are not uncommon culprits, but it takes a good sleuth willing to spend the time looking for the clues. These ARE measurable in the body. Request comprehensive labwork before accepting any prescription. If your doctor or insurance company won't honor this request (and I do mean comprehensive!), find one that will.
www.goodmedicine.info (If you have questions about what comprehensive labwork looks like, let's chat!)
Click black box below for full article.
Isn't that snapshot of the microbiome on that child's hand beautiful? Pretty is as pretty does. Our body NEEDS cooties. Without them, we'd be in a sorry state. Take care of whatcha got, and work to create diversity among the community within you. You won't regret it! 😉
The microbiome is truly beautiful! 🍄
*This is the hand of an 8-year-old boy who placed his hand on a petri dish after coming inside from playing. Now I am sure at first glance you thought to yourself how disgusting this is and how this MUST be a bad thing, however, it is actually the contrary
* First I want to point out that we are made up of more foreign matter than we are our own cellular DNA. Let me explain, there are more microbes in and on your body that quantitatively make up more cells than the ones that are YOU
* The microbiota is said to be about 1.3 for every 1 cell that is our own. These microbes are responsible for keeping us healthy, digesting our food, creating nutrients, assimilating our vitamins/minerals, the processing of our information/neurotransmitters, our immunity and nearly every process and mechanism in the entire body. They exist in your mouth, on your skin and most importantly in your gut. (Terrain)
* With the continuous rise of industrialized farming, environmental toxins, and even the overuse of hand sanitizers, we are not only depleting the microbes in our soil but the ones on our bodies, too. This is like taking down our force field and allowing the pathogenic bacteria, viruses, mold, and other pathogens to infiltrate. .
* This post is to continue to create awareness that bacteria/fungus/viruses are not truly “bad,” and we must support a healthy microbiome inside/out. THEY ARE OUR FRIENDS and we must respect life even down to its smallest counterparts
* The avg. human should have about 3.5lbs of gut flora in the intestines, however, on the standard American diet of overly processed/refined foods and the overconsumption of pesticides/insecticides, as well as the other near 80K man-made chemicals we interact with daily, we would be lucky to have a couple ounces
* Do your best to avoid high 💯 alcohol-based hand sanitizers as they kill our first line of defense, the same for your mouth, avoid using alcohol-based mouthwashes and synthetic chemicals in/on your bodies; you want to support our little friends, not kill them off. 👾
* PARENTS this is especially important for your developing children and THEIR microbiome!
Shared from Beautiful Beginnings
I sure do love my Jordan. She is a firecracker, owns her own gym and online fitness program, and I'm blessed to be her godmother! Keep on speaking truth girl... the world needs to hear you! 😘
At what point in our life do we go from celebrating our weight to obsessing over it?
My 4 year old steps on the scale and says, “I weigh 45 inches!!” and we all celebrate how much she’s growing (We’re working on correct measurements hehe)
My 7 year old grabs her cute little belly and says “I got a lotta muffins and pop tarts in there” and we all giggle.
But my 23 year old client really wants to lose 10lbs.
My 60 year old client is frustrated the scale hasn’t moved after weeks of trying.
It’s okay if you’re a kid.
It’s okay if you’re pregnant.
It’s okay if you’re old.
It’s okay if you’re sick.
It’s okay if you’re handicapped.
But if you’re between 15 and 60 and there’s nothing fundamentally “wrong” with your body’s ability to lose weight….. You 👏🏼better 👏🏼get 👏🏼it ! together!
No, I call bull shit.
THROW AWAY THE SCALE, SIS.
It literally means nothing.
We KNOW that someone can be unhealthy and weigh 125 while someone else can be at their healthiest and weigh 175.
But we obsess, anyway.
It’s not moving. It’s not working. We’re failing. We’re gross. We should be embarrassed. This is dumb. Why do we even try.
It is working. Our health does matter. We shouldn’t be embarrassed. We are not failing. We can do it.
And the scale has nothing to do with any of it.
If you eat out every meal, make some adjustments. If you still drink 5 sodas a day, do a little better. If you know you could have a more balanced diet, add some fruits and veggies in. If you know you’re not currently at your healthiest, start being consistent in building better habits.
Our health is about how we feel, how our clothes fit, how well we can now get down and back up without hurting, how well we can play with our babies, how living feels better now than it used to, how we treat people better because we’re in a better mood, how we crave good food because we know we worked out hard that day.
It’s not the scale, sis.
It never will be.
"For wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you. " ~ Proverbs 2:10-11
Dopamine Deficiency: Part I
“Feel good brain juice”
Dopamine is all those things and more. It’s a “VIP” neurotransmitter produced within the body whose job description is critical for optimal brain and body function. While dopamine occupies less than 1% of the neuron real estate in the brain, it is a key ingredient for important and finely tuned tasks:
*Controls flow of information within the brain
*Holds a critical role in memory, attention, and problem solving
*Contributes to motor skills and cognitive abilities
*Plays a supportive role in reproduction
*Activates reward and pleasure centers in the brain
*Holds a key role in attention and learning
*Reduces insulin levels in the body
*Protects the digestive system
*Influences the immune system
*Strongly affects mood and emotions
Dopamine is one of the most widely studied neurotransmitters, and yet there is still so much to discover. There is no direct way to measure levels of dopamine in the brain, so healthcare professionals must evaluate clues just like we are about to do: symptoms, lifestyle habits, medical and medication history are all important factors in becoming aware of what a dopamine deficiency might look like. I often wonder how we operate as we do, given the millions of things that can go wrong in the human body. Thankfully, God designed each body with the incredible ability to restore balance if given the correct tools and time to do so.
Do you remember how easily the gut can be brought out of balance with a pesky virus or an overpopulation of an aggressive bacteria or fungi? The same is true with dopamine. Incrementally small swings of dopamine can make a big impact in either direction. Too much dopamine can lead to some pretty challenging mental health disorders. Dopamine deficiency can be mild or it can be major. Major dopamine deficiency is linked to Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, major depressive disorder, certain neurodegenerative disorders, and addictions. Identifying a dopamine deficiency trend early on allows for the time and tools to assist in bringing the body back into balance. I’ll wager that some of these clues may surprise you:
🔎Struggle to handle stress well (often leading to feelings of hopelessness and low self esteem)
🔎Carbohydrate and sugar cravings
🔎Chronic back pain
🔎Poor blood sugar stability
🔎Lack of motivation (may show up as learning difficulties)
🔎Impulsiveness (Alleviates feelings of loneliness and sadness. Self gratification is used to “force” a dopamine drop that ultimately only creates more depletion long term.
🔎Difficulty organizing thoughts or staying productive
🔎Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
🔎Tremor in the hands
🔎Cold hands or feet
🔎Fatigue or low energy
🔎Attention difficulties (may include a diagnosis of ADD/ ADHD)
🔎Low moods / depression
🔎Muscle cramps, spasms, or tremors
🔎Stiffness, aches or pains that have no cause
🔎Lack of insight or self awareness
How does a dopamine deficiency happen? Three possibilities exist: too little dopamine is being made, dopamine receptors are being hindered or are not available in the numbers needed, or dopamine is being broken down before it can be utilized. Neurotransmitters are just as much a product of the environment as the body is. Environment includes mindset, lifestyle, and habitual behavior. Dopamine deficiency is very much affected by all three:
❓Sleep deprivation (Are you using all your tools and knowledge to get a restful night of sleep? (Immupro, Sleep Essence, lavender, cedarwood, Peace & Calming, Rutavala, and Tranquil are great options.)
❓Adrenal fatigue (Do your adrenal glands need some supportive Endoflex or Endogize?)
❓Vitamin B6 or B3 deficiency (Are you taking Super B?)
❓Heavy metal exposure including lead, arsenic, cadmium, and aluminum. Mainstream cosmetics are a hidden contributor to daily heavy metal exposure. Lipstick is among the worst offenders. YL’s Savvy Minerals cosmetics line has many gorgeous, long lasting colors to choose from that are toxin free and dopamine friendly!
❓C Difficile overgrowth. This is often the result of antibiotic use. Always follow each antibiotic dose two hours later with a probiotic such as Life 9 or MightyPro and fermented foods to minimize risk of this occurrence.
❓Low magnesium, zinc, iron (Get proper lab work. Know your numbers, and supplement if necessary!)
❓Vitamin C deficiency (Are you taking your Super C Chewables?)
❓Vitamin D deficiency (Know your numbers and supplement with Super D or something stronger if your labs reflect the need.)
❓Obesity. This causes a downregulation of dopamine in the brain, and leads to a reduction of the number of receptors in the brain.
❓Drug abuse both depletes dopamine and reduces the number of receptors in the brain.
❓Diets high in saturated fats and sugar ultimately deplete dopamine resources.
❓Chronic stress affects the body’s ability to produce dopamine. Go back and review the section on stress for tips, tricks and habits to mitigate stress wisely.
❓Certain medications often have a disastrous effect on dopamine in the body.
The topic of medications and their effects on dopamine is so very important and unfortunately it is rarely discussed. I’ll devote next week’s post to that discussion! Life is too short to feel “meh” and live in jammies. If you’ve identified any areas of life that may be sabotaging your dopamine production or utilization, it’s always a great time to make some changes and invest in yourself!
I just did a happy dance in the parking lot of Tractor Supply because I got $50 credited back as a "Neighbors Club" member. TSC is one of our all time most visited stores..... we love them, and they love us because we drop so much 💰💰💰at their doorstep for our farm-ily's needs. 🐕🐱🐄🐎🐓🐣
As I was driving home, I thought about how silly that was of me to get all excited for saving $50. Broken down, I believe that $50 credit represented 5 months of $10 back for spending regularly at TSC. .... $10 back per month regardless of how much we spend there. I humbly submit to you that Charlie and I have the dubious honor of being on this Tractor Supply's list of "Top 10 Patrons" (yes, we have THAT MANY animals).... so let your imagination run on what our monthly feed and animal supply bill looks like.
....And then my mind wandered to the Loyalty Program that Young Living has. Because we have used Loyalty Rewards (being a monthly patron of Subscribe to Save) for more than 25 consecutive months, we now get 25% back on all of our orders. (10% back for the first 3 months, 20% back for months 4 thru 24). I did a quick rough calculation in my head and found that in 5 months, I had been able to "buy " approximately $750 in products for free, just by being a valued customer. Wow!!!
Sometimes it's easy to forget or take for granted what we get each month. I'm always amazed by the freebies gifted to us with qualifying purchases each month, but I admit, I sometimes forget about how much those points help our farm-ily take care of ourselves. We have dogs on Sulfurzyme and BLM.... massive amounts for two 🐕🐕of our older large dogs. Neither one would be with us today without these two supplements. That $150 YL credit more than pays for their needs.
Hidden blessings friends....
Tell me, how do you score in money back from where you shop?
Raise your hand if you want a resilient nervous system.🙋♀️ Uh huh… that’s what I thought. I do too! 😊I want to be healthier overall, quicker to recover from stressful situations, happier, stronger, more empathetic, better able to concentrate, and have thriving relationships…. ALL things associated with healthy vagal tone.
Vagal tone should be nurtured daily if it is to function optimally. You might be surprised at how easy some of these tips are!
⭐Poor breathing habits. The sedentary nature of our current society has been no friend to the vagus nerve. Poor posture, including the downward tilt of the head as we look at our computer and phone screens restricts the airways from throat to lungs. If you walk into nearly any nursing home you will see posture associated with long term low vagal tone. Dr. Navaz Habib👨⚕️, author of Activate Your Vagus Nerve, makes a compelling argument that dysfunctional breathing is the most common cause of poor vagus nerve function. Friends, this is such an easy (and free) fix. Address posture (revisit that post!), and incorporate breathing slowly and “belly button” deeply at least a few times every hour. This is nourishing to the vagus nerve, and feels good too!
⭐Alternate nostril breathing👃. Inhaling through one nostril and exhaling through the opposite nostril has a profound effect on the nervous system and an increase in oxygen consumption. One study found that inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling through the left nostril for approximately 3 minutes four times a day for a month increased oxygen consumption by 37% compared to normal breathing practices. (Doing the reverse activity.. Inhaling through the left and exhaling on the right showed an oxygen increase of 24%) It was suggested in the study that this type of breathing may reduce the release of stress hormones (a benefit in vagus nerve health). As an added bonus, you will likely find yourself more focused and awake by “right nostril breathing” and more relaxed and less anxious by “left nostril breathing”. Knowing this, consider supporting these techniques with Brain Power or En-R-Gee essential oil blends when “right nostril breathing”, or Tranquil, Peace and Calming, or Sacred Mountain essential oils blends when “left nostril breathing”.
⭐Prayer and meditation🙏 are both scientifically proven to increase parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) activity which improves vagal tone. Incorporating essential oils during prayer and meditation is a beautiful way to enhance both practices. Some of my favorites include Frankincense, Peace & Calming, RC, and Raven.
⭐Practice tensing stomach muscles or coughing on purpose.
⭐Massage…..even an ear massage. Massaging the areas of the ear👂 called the tragus and cymba concha can trigger a mild vagal response. Additionally, acupuncture or acupuncture point based therapy (check out Dolphin MPS for one such type) are hugely helpful.
⭐Keeping a positive attitude and emotion set. This is truly a “use it or lose it” situation. Affirmations and constructive emotions can spark a self fulfilling future for all aspects of the body, including vagal tone. Destructive emotions can also do this but in the opposite direction. (ex: If you believe you will fail, you probably will! ) Direct good thoughts and actions towards other people and watch your vagal tone improve. Act on kindness, compassion, and empathy. Doesn’t the world need more of this anyway? It’s fascinating that attitude alone can deeply impact the function of the vagus nerve. God has knit us together in wondrous ways!
⭐Belong to a socially active community 🧍♀️🧍♂️🧍♀️. Social isolation does no favors to vagal tone. Find your tribe and spend time with them in person. Oxytocin is a hormone which acts as a neurotransmitter. Its presence has a powerful effect on the health of the vagus nerve. Hugging, laughing, breastfeeding, speaking to someone in person or on the phone, being trusted by someone, and listening to soothing music are all ways to release oxytocin. Surprisingly, shooting guns can be included in this list!
⭐Eating correctly. Saying words of gratitude🙏 over your food actually stimulate the vagus nerve. Chewing slowly and eating mindfully (fully present) allows the body to recognize the type of nutrients being released into the body, and to release the appropriate enzymes and digestive juices needed to make them bioavailable (or boot them out as a toxin). It would come as no surprise that an unhealthy vagal tone has a negative effect on digestive juices, especially those released by the gallbladder.
⭐Intermittent fasting. There are a myriad of benefits of intermittent fasting, including decreasing inflammation in the body. Inflammation negatively affects vagal tone. Of course intermittent fasting is only one way to help the body in this manner. Any time you remove a toxin source from your body’s daily load, you will be showing your vagus nerve TLC. Thank goodness for the clean household and personal care products we have access to! #ThanksYL
⭐Foods that have been found to support healthy vagal tone include fermented foods (ex: kombucha, cheeses, plain yogurt), high fiber foods (ex: nuts, fruits, vegetables) and foods high in Omega3’s. If you feel you might not get enough of any of these food groups, supplement with YL Life -9 (or MightyZyme) probiotic, Balance Complete Meal Replacement, and OmegaGize3 (or Mindwise) respectively. Additionally, adequate zinc levels contribute to a healthy vagal tone. (You’ll want to go back and re-read the section on zinc. It may tie together some clues for you)
⭐How we sleep matters😴. Laying on the right side has the highest vagal stimulation.
⭐Gargling. This contracts the muscles in the back of the throat which causes direct stimulation of the vagus nerve. Humming (especially while covering the ears) and singing loudly are also helpful.
⭐Improving vagal tone thru exercise💪 and yoga is reason #100 to do both. Seriously. Mental and physical health will only improve in amazing ways when exercise and yoga are incorporated into healthy habits.
For the more adventurous spirit, other ways to spark quick vagal tone improvement include ❄️cold❄️ showers, ❄️ice baths❄️, ❄️cryotherapy ❄️ or coffee☕️ enemas (Yes indeedy! 😉).
Our brains are constantly checking on us to see if we feel safe or not. It is only when the brain perceives safety that we are able to engage socially, have curiosity, feel happy, and be playful. If it has been awhile since you’ve felt this way, this would be another set of clues indicating that your vagus nerve needs some additional love and attention.
It may seem hard to “want” to incorporate these suggestions into your healthy habits if all of this is new to you, but if you raised your hand a few minutes ago in a bid for resiliency, it’s time to do “the things.” Just like a teenager who is hard to wake up in the morning, waking up the vagus nerve may take perseverance. Find your tribe and work together to make those vagal nerves toned and happy!
PS: Friends, there is an enormous amount of information on the vagus nerve and polyvagal theory. If this has sparked your interest, please DO do some more digging on your own. There is simply no way to do this particular topic justice in a couple of posts.
I'm still going through information gathered from the Weston A Price conference last month. Weston A Price is an incredible resource for information and locating healthy local food, and the best of the best in science as it relates to health and healthy food.
I'm going to drop some resources here, and really suggest considering a membership (40$ per year, which includes a quarterly journal with unsurpassed well cited articles). It is well worth the annual membership. (BELOW)
WAPF has also kindly put (on their website) links to several speakers from the conference: ( BELOW)
Robert F Kennedy from the Children's Health Defense
Dell Bigtree and "The Colossal Blunder" (a riveting presentation you absolutely must watch
David Martin ( Weaponization of the c0r0navirus: When nature is conscripted to harm )
WAPF has local chapters that can help you find locally sourced nutrient dense food in your area. You can find information about them on their website.
Here are two companies that also ship Grass fed/ pasture raised, regeneratively sourced meats (if no local option exists for you):
Force of Nature: https://forceofnature.com/collections/all
Burgundy Pasture Beef: https://burgundypasturebeef.com/
Health comes at a price. You can pay the farmer, or you can pay the pharmacist. It's our choice to make.
A policema is on the trail of a very successful serial robber. Using the clues🔎 left behind at each crime scene, he finally identifies the robber and apprehends him. The only problem is that the robberies don’t stop, and they look strikingly similar to the original set of robberies. Now the policeman believes one of two things…… a copycat thief has emerged, or the original robber was actually working under the direction of a kingpin, and he was only one of the minions leaving the clues 🔎behind at each crime scene. The original robber isn’t talking, so the policeman must continue his investigation.
👆Sometimes that’s exactly what being a health detective can feel like!
Every body system affects the others, and clues that are viewed as “the problem” may be just one identifiable member affecting the health “crime scene”. Or perhaps, like the copycat robber, the clue (ex: anxiety) has more than one root cause to identify and correct.
Chronic stress may have seemed rather innocent until the truth of its ability to damage the body was unpacked in the last topic discussion. It is a kingpin. Another kingpin in the body is the state of health of the vagus nerve and there are a myriad of clues associated with this VIP portion of the nervous system.
The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve, extending from the brainstem to the colon. It is responsible for the “rest and digest” activity of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract, with quite a few additional responsibilities added in for good measure. Some of its major contributing functions include:
⭐️Regulation of appetite
⭐️Control of bowel movements
⭐️Regulating heart rhythm
⭐️Stimulating gastric juice production
⭐️Controlling inflammation response
⭐️Encouraging testosterone production
⭐️Stimulating growth hormone (In adults, this is important for retaining muscle mass, strength, prevention of osteoporosis, concentration, preventing memory loss, and even slowing balding)
⭐️Regulating mood and emotions
⭐️Promoting healthy kidney and bladder function
⭐️Lowering and controlling blood sugar concentrations
⭐️Triggering the release of melatonin
⭐️Stimulating the body’s relaxation response allowing a more rapid recovery from stress, injury, or illness
⭐️Encouraging the storage of strong memories in the amygdala (which is essential for bonding and connecting with others relationally)
The vagus nerve also sends sensory information (on what we see, feel, taste, and hear) to the brain, and is intimately involved as a courier of information allowing the microbiome (the gut bacteria) to directly communicate with the brain. You might have heard of this referred to as the gut brain axis. This is extremely important because many of our neurotransmitters (especially serotonin and oxytocin…. two that contribute to the state of happiness) are directly affected by this feedback.
Having a low or poor vagal tone has a profound effect on the body. Clues pointing to possible vagus nerve dysfunction include:
🔎IBS, Ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s Disease
🔎Obesity, weight gain or weight loss
🔎Irregular heartbeat (both too fast or too slow)
🔎Gastroparesis (slowed movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine)
🔎Difficulty speaking, hoarse, or wheezy voice
🔎Pain in the ear
🔎Unusual heart rate
🔎Loss of gag reflex
🔎Chronic abdominal bloating or pain, nausea or vomiting
🔎Frequent headaches / migraines
🔎Poor glucose control
🔎Chronic feelings of disconnectedness or loneliness (Interesting, right? )
Common Causes of vagus nerve damage include:
🔥Chronic alcohol abuse
🔥Chronic stress / anxiety (Please revisit the information on ways to combat stress effectively!)
🔥Braces or extensive dental work (Revisit the post on the effect teeth have on the entire body)
🔥Posture (Revisit the clues related to posture.)
🔥Complications resulting from surgeries (especially those affecting the small intestine or stomach)
🔥Viral infections which are upper respiratory system focused
🔥Heavy metal toxicity (Heavy metals can be found in tooth fillings, vaccines, environmental contaminants, and even makeup. Young Living’s Savvy Minerals is a safe, beautiful and clean alternative! )
🔥Certain medications that affect the nervous system, including opioids, stimulants (ex: ADHD medications), immunosuppressants, sedatives, and many other prescription and OTC drugs. This is one more reason to identify and incorporate lifestyle changes whenever possible to avoid chronic drug use. Every single medication exerts a negative effect outside its intended target.
The vagus nerve is a key player in living a life of resiliency.🙌 It will come as no surprise that people with high vagal tone have lower incidence of diabetes, strokes, and cardiovascular diseases. They also tend to find it easier to relax😴 after stressful situations, are physiologically 💪stronger, happier, more empathetic, better able to concentrate and remember, and are more likely to have close relationships with others👫. Vagal tone is kind of a big deal! Luckily for all of us, there are some really fun and practical ways to show the vagus nerve a little extra TLC on the regular.
Test your gag reflex sometime soon. (Use a spoon handle and gently tickle the back of the throat on both sides. If you don’t have a gag response to the spoon handle, you’ve got some work to do😉!).
Next week I’ll cover simple ways to incorporate vagal TLC techniques into daily life. It’s important to keep the vagal nerve happy and healthy!
Hey there....thanks for stopping by! This is me (Liz James)... an eclectic mixture of holistic (and organic) farmgirl meets pharmacist. It's a synergy that works well as I speak truths and dissect fact from fiction. If you're looking for healthier living options, you've come to the right place!