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!
Happy New Year Friends!
Have you begun thinking about what 2022 is going to look like for you and your family this year? Mindset is EVERYTHING as you walk through life. It will even mean the difference between how you view success and failure. My dad (who passed away in 2013) intuitively grasped this concept and lived it. He would willingly talk about his failures in life and in business...... but he could always find the positive personal growth he gained even when he failed at something. When I was a young adult, and and lamenting the struggle of the drama or trauma I was going through at the time, he would say,
"This is life 101 (or 201 or 301.... depending on the severity of the situation). Imagine how much money, time, and energy you would have paid in college to gain the lesson you've just learned. You got this education at an accelerated rate. (In some cases, I would feel like I had just got a crash 4yr degree in economics or psychology or human behavior. ) Now, don't waste what you've gone through. Use that education and find all the benefits you just got from this experience."
This life lesson is among the top 5 pieces of wisdom my dad gifted me. Life 101. We can't avoid life lessons, so we might as well learn from them!
Young Living is giving us tools to help us as we use what we've learned in past years to make a difference in our lives this year.
Freebie Tools! Are you going to take advantage of receiving $196.72 in educational tools this month? I am!
🌿When my concentration stinks, I'll incorporate Cedarwood, Peppermint, and Rosemary into my day.
🌿If I've let my immune system get puny and I need respiratory support, I'll reach for Rosemary, Eucalyptus Radiata, Tea Tree, and Peppermint.
🌿 If I'm feeling sluggish both emotionally and physically, I'll grab Grapefruit, Lime, and Peppermint.
🌿 Should I need a little help relaxing and unwinding at night, I'll grab my Lime, Lavender and Cedarwood to create a diffuser blend.
If you've been around, you already know that these 8 oils have hundreds of potential uses. ( no exaggeration!).... every single essential oil we have access to does. Are you spending a little time each month learning how to maximize the benefits of the oils you already have on hand? Letting them sit and gather dust unused would be like buying a computer and then leaving it in the box on your desk.
Is this your year to take back control of your health? If so, reach out to someone who has been walking the Young Living lifestyle ahead of you. Learn as you go. Don't quit. Learn from your victories and your boo-boo's ( try a little lavender if that boo-boo is a physical one, tho it often works on emotional boo-boo's too 😉 )
Maybe your goal this year is to hop back into community? We're here and we're always doing something, and we'd love to have you join us!
Perhaps your goal is to have a little extra money💰 ... enough to pay for your YL box of health, a car payment, or a special date night occasionally? Talk to someone you know who has chosen to help others help themselves the Young Living way.
2022 is going to be whatever you make of it! Make this YOUR YEAR to shine, grow, and live abundantly!
www.goodmedicine.info (Complimentary 30 minute initial coaching sessions are always available to kickstart your health journey!)
Years ago, (before I knew better), I'd stock up on all the Christmas candles and plug ins from Baths and Bodyworks when they went on sale. Ugh...😬😳.... but I just didn't know any better.
Once you know, you can't unknow.
Here are some excellent Christmas scent diffuser blends to make your season scent filled in healthy ways! Just like cars, food (and even crayons 😉 ), quality matters with essential oils. I won't give you the pharmacist science-y reasons here, but I'd be happy to share what I know with anyone who wants to chat sometime..... #iykyk !
Simple changes can make profound impacts on life, both now and for our future selves.
Merry Christmas month friends!
T'was 31 days of🌲 December, and all through the land, people were scrambling to combat and support bodies against the cooties at hand.
Orders were placed with Young Living with care, knowing boxes of goodness would soon be there.
The kiddos were nestled all snug in their beds, with R.C. on their chest and Thieves on their wee little peds.
Papa in his boxers and me in my tee, we had just settled down for a good night of Zzzzz's.
When suddenly he rolled over and said, "Shoot I forgot, can you help me out of this spot? I need to bring a gift for exchange to the office tomorrow, do you have anything you could get ready quickly?" Thankful again for Young Living's freebies, I hopped out of bed and began assembling with ease, a gift🎁 that would be useful, lovely (and mostly free!).
I sprang from the bed with a idea in mind, and began assembling a wellness gift basket of the most amazing kind. The Winter Nights Foaming Hand soap will surely be a hit, along with a DIY Sugar Scrub made with Christmas Spirit. Oh, don't forget, bath salts made with🌲 Pine. THEY may not know the benefits, but we do (#IYKYK ), and that's all just fine. A gift with benefits, even if hidden, is better than sugary treats, or trinkets soon forgotten!
The gift basket was finished in less than an hour, and soon I was back in bed, having felt so empowered. I was able to save money, do good for a friend, share health tips by giving from the heart... Young Living is a godsend!
I turned on the diffuser, and blasted the Frank..... and then my hubby rolled over and said a big "Thanks"!
As I lay in bed, drifting off in a slumber, I remembered how many people still wonder.... "How are we to stay healthy and well in these days?"...well, friends, It's up to us to share with them our ways. Our light and hope is not to be kept under a basket, but to be shared to all even to those who don't ask for it.
Merry Christmas month friends! Let your light, wellness tips, and hope shine upon others!
(PS: This Christmas poem is brought to you by all the freebies this month Young Living has offered us with a qualifying purchase!)
Chronic Stress Part III : Solutions
Today’s post is full of butterflies, kittens🐱, and unicorns (Literally!). That’s a welcome change, I’m sure, considering the sobering long term ramifications of unmitigated chronic stress we’ve talked about these past few weeks. Chronic stress usually creeps in on very soft feet, so consider taking a few minutes to answer this simple yes/no “day to day stress assessment”:
Coping with stress involves two steps:
1️⃣Recognizing the signs and symptoms of EARLY burnout and stress (you’ve got the tools now!)
2️⃣Activating any or all of the self care tools below.
Now, here’s the fun part….. Giving yourself some self care time by mixing and matching ways to “de-stress” on the regular. This is not a “once and done” experience. These are lifestyle changes for life!
👉Get regular exercise!
👉Engage in self care activities (ex: a long soaking bath or a massage)
👉Prayer, meditation, and/or quiet time with no electronic or television distractions
👉Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (aka CBT) . This can be a very valuable tool, especially if you find yourself trending in negative thinking patterns. I would really recommend picking up Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book and workbook, “Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling toxic thoughts and emotions” to begin diving deeper into this subject.
👉Journal. Write out your thoughts instead of letting them fester in your mind. Create a gratitude journal, write a letter you’ll never send to someone, or begin success journaling)
👉Turn off social media and electronics as often as your day allows.
👉Limit scrolling time
👉Get outside as much as possible and connect with nature. Go barefoot or get your hands on plants and in soil. (Grounding! ….. We’ve talked about this in previous posts)
👉Read something relaxing and nontriggering (ex: a work of fiction). Allow your brain to wander within the pages of the book.
👉Engage in Yoga, pilates, Tai Chi (soooo many health benefits!)
👉Practice breathing exercises ( left nostril breathing or box breathing are both excellent breathing patterns to quiet the mind)
Improve your sleep in both quality and quantity (we talked about that last week)
👉Try salt water floatation therapy for deep relaxation
👉Listen to 432 Hz frequency healing music ( check out the company WholeTones for more info!)
👉Laugh! It releases endorphins.
👉Spend time with a pet. Did you know that a cat’s purring frequency corresponds with established healing frequencies in therapeutic medicine for humans?
👉Practice saying no to the things that bring stress, and saying yes to the things that will bring joy.
👉Avoid procrastination and just do the thing. Learn time management techniques and goal setting.
👉Eat healthy nourishing foods
👉Engage in a hobby
👉Connect with actual people in a community….. In person. We are not created to be an island.
👉Examine your values and beliefs and then live by them. An enormous amount of internal stress comes from living differently from your beliefs and values.
👉Oils and Supplements. We have so many amazing tools to help us navigate stress:
🌿Lavender, Vetiver (Yes, it doesn’t smell great, so apply to bottoms of feet!), Bergamot, Roman Chamomile, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, Orange, and Geranium are just a few oils known for their calming qualities.
🌿Young Living has created an amazing array of perfectly blended oils to help add to the peace and tranquility in our lives: StressAway, Tranquil, RutaVala, Peace and Calming, and Valor are just a few that come to mind.
🌿An herb called Ashwagandha is known for its beautiful ability to lower symptoms of stress in the body. It is one of the important ingredients in Young Living’s EndoGize (typically for women) and PowerGize (formulated for men).
🌿Young Living’s Calm CBD Roll-on is another fantastic tool to help relax and quiet the mind. Have you tried it yet? Be sure to find and follow Dr. Oliver Wenker MD, DEAA, ABAARM, FAARFM, MBA on his website and social media to learn in depth information on all things CBD.
Unfortunately, many doctors don’t recommend steps to help mitigate stress in a patient’s life. Nearly 20% of adults age 18 or older are on medication💊 for symptoms related to stress. A patient may present with anxiety, depression, or any of the other stress related clues we’ve talked about, and a prescription is written without any further discussion (and often, without comprehensive lab work being ordered to ensure there’s not also an imbalance somewhere in the body causing the symptoms). There will always be a time and a place for medication as a final option, but patients need to be fully aware of the problems that lie with using medication long term as a coping mechanism.
💊Many of the medications used to treat symptoms of stress are highly addictive. Additionally, these medications have the capacity to impact brain function when taken over extended periods of time.
💊According to a study published in 2010 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one of the most common classes of drugs (SSRI’s) used to treat mild to moderate anxiety and depression was “unable to outperform placebos for moderate symptoms of depression”. So…. there’s that.
💊All of the medications used to mediate stress symptoms have side effect profiles that may well require a 2nd or 3rd medication to help manage the side effects of the initial medication.
💊Very few studies on the effects of a polypharmacy (using multiple medications concurrently) lifestyle exist, yet we know that prescription drugs are the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA (after heart disease and cancer)...... (Don’t let anyone tell you that essential oils and herbs are dangerous!😉).
💊There is no way of measuring serotonin (the primary “happy” neurotransmitter) in the brain of a living person, nor is there a “normal level” of serotonin we should all have to be emotionally healthy. People with high serotonin levels can still be depressed, and people with low serotonin levels can still be happy and joy filled. Indeed, we are largely the masters of our own emotional state.
💊Many medications used to treat symptoms of stress should be used in caution with people who have preexisting extreme mood disorders, diabetes, kidney, liver, or heart disease, or pregnancy (due to risk of miscarriage, congenital heart disease, or persistent pulmonary hypertension of the baby).
We have so many low cost (to free!) tools available to us when it comes to how we choose to deal with stress, and as you’ve hopefully seen, most are very pleasant options with no icky side effects.
Use the two stress surveys📊 you now have on hand to check yourself periodically, and then evaluate your self care / fun quotient. Your future self will thank you!
(PS: if anyone needs a stress relieving kitten, I’ve got 4 fosters looking for a home! )
Aside from leading people to Jesus, is there anything more important to give as a gift 🌲🎁than something that encourages health and wellness?
If you are wanting to improve someone's wellbeing this Christmas, let me help you with your "hard to shop for" people.
I offer a free health coaching call with all new Young Living accounts using the link below. Nobody walks alone (unless they choose to😉).
(And 30% off many of our favortites thru 11:59pm MST Nov 28th??.... yes please!!)
Chronic Stress as a Clue: Part II
Prior to 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared stress the “Health Epidemic of the 21st Century”. The ramifications of chronic stress costs American businesses an estimated $300 billion dollars annually, though that stat is a pretty cold way to look at stress… from a purely financial perspective. Numerous studies show that job stress is the leading cause of stress for American adults. Other triggers include finances, relationships, parenting, and trauma…. Oh, and let’s not forget simply living through 2020/2021.
Unpacking stress as a clue is like peeling back the layers of an onion. What actually happens to a body that is chronically stressed?
Initially, we may feel the effects of adrenaline and cortisol being released. The heart speeds up, digestion slows down, the blood supply shunts blood to major muscle groups, and fight or flight kicks in. In normal situations, the perceived threat eventually leaves and we relax and recover.
In a state of chronic stress, this scenario doesn’t happen the way it should, and some real problematic changes in the body occur.
The brain actually begins to decrease in both size and weight😳. Ultimately this affects both cognition and memory. The basal ganglia and the pre frontal cortex are especially affected by these changes. The basal ganglia is involved in the processing of information related to emotions, motivations, and movement, while the pre frontal cortex is responsible for “executive decision making”..... The ability to differentiate between conflicting thoughts, identifying good from bad, predictions of outcomes, expectations based on actions, and the ability to suppress urges. This area of the brain dictates our personality, goals and values. As you might imagine, over time, chronic stress plays a very real role in brain disorders like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and dystonia.
Unmitigated chronic stress affects the immune system by activating low grade inflammation🔥 throughout the body. It may take years to develop, but strong evidence suggests that low grade inflammation eventually triggers dis-eases such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, colitis, IBS, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, lupus, MS, diabetes, cancer, and other autoimmune disorders.
Additionally, this stress affects the production of blood cells needed to effectively fight off illnesses.
Chronic stress also alters the activity of:
🔥The hypothalamus (libido, behavior, emotions, body temperature, weight, and sleep/wake cycle.
🔥The pituitary (which largely controls both the adrenals and thyroid)
🔥The adrenal glands (produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, and how we respond to stress). Even a minimal amount of stress can activate the adrenal glands.
🔥Growth hormones (can be halted during severe stress)
Additionally, chronic stress can lead to malignancies, genetic instability (epigenetics… the role our environment plays in gene expression), and tumor growth by effectively decreasing the activity of the normal systems within the body that keeps aberrant (cancer) cells from growing.
Digestive disorders are also a common physical symptom of chronic stress, including changes in motility, increased intestinal permeability,and inflammation in the form of Crohns, ulcerative colitis, and IBS.
Chronic stress is no joke when it comes to its impact on health, and not a single person is immune to the effects of it. This is why it is incredibly important to have a plan of action to care for yourself and encourage others to do the same.
We are all built incredibly differently, and stress will ultimately expose the unique weakness that is within each one of us. This is why it is so very important that we know and understand our bodies well, so that we can support it in the manner that best serves us.
Sleep😴 is our body’s only true time of repair and recovery. If you are not getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night, make that a priority. If quality sleep is not happening, work on sleep hygiene and habits to improve your zzzzzz’s.
👉Stop screen time well before bed and keep electronics out of the bedroom (pineal gland disruption).
👉Get 10-20 minutes of full sunlight during the day.
👉Keep sleeping temperature at less than 70 degrees F.
👉Take an epsom salt bath before bed…. Add in Lavender, Frankincense, Peace and Calming, Cedarwood or Sandalwood to the salts.
👉Consider diffusing with any of the calming oils!
👉Exercise earlier in the day, and consider restorative yoga or meditation before bed.
👉Avoid artificial sweeteners (they can cause insomnia!)
👉Support a healthy night’s sleep with either YL’s Immupro chewable tablets or Sleep Essence capsules.
Next week I will cover some strategies for coping with chronic stress.
Heavens!! If you are already YL oily, their Black Friday week sale (starting tomorrow/ Monday) will make you do the happy dance💃 🕺!
Maybe you've been following along here, and haven't yet taken the steps to having your own YL account. (It's soooo easy!) This is a perfect opportunity to get what you need to get started. One of the perks to using this referral link ( https://yl.pe/beablessing ) is instant education access. I will personally guide you through the basics and then help you get plugged in to as much education as you desire for as long as you need. If Young Living has been calling your name.... heed the call and just do it. You won't regret it or the community you'll have access to!
Shopping starts tomorrow!
Assessing Stress: Part I
Alrighty friends, we are going to tackle a booger bear over the next few weeks. Stress is a stealth burglar of health. It can creep up on you, knock you to your knees and follow up with a sucker punch in the gut before you even knew what hit ya. Nobody is immune to the negative influences of unmitigated chronic stress. Oftentimes, we can get so caught up living with stress, it begins to “feel” normal.
God did not design us to live in eternal “fight or flight”. If we do live this way, eventually a health crisis will occur. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory Survey📊 is a widely recognized health coaching tool used to help assess the probability of future “health breakdowns” if stress remains unaddressed.
Link to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Survey: https://drive.google.com/.../1QKMkW.../view...
Take some time to honestly assess yourself.
👍150 points or less: a relatively low susceptibility to stress induced health problems
150-300 points: (if nothing changes) a 50% chance of a stress induced health concern in the next 2 years.
300: an 80% risk of a stress induced health concern within the next 2 years.
Frankly, assessing your stress load (and how well you mediate it) just might be the most important clue🔎 of this series.
I’ll be unpacking additional clues and ways to mediate chronic stress next week. Thankfully, stress management is not an expensive undertaking... there is so much you can do affordably or for free. The hardest part is honestly acknowledging the damage stress may be causing behind the scenes. What you can’t see is still causing harm. Some studies suggest chronic stress is as hard on the heart as a five🚬🚬🚬🚬🚬 cigarette a day habit. Yikes!😳
See ya’ll next week. I’m headed off to bulk order Stress Away!😉
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!