The proper functioning of the vagus nerve is what allows us to feel calm and relaxed and thus is one of the most important determinants of our physical and emotional wellbeing. In this podcast, I’ll discuss the many roles of the vagus - from peacemaker, overseer of many bodily functions, activist against inflammation, filter of sensory input to influencer of social communication (all the subtleties of communication beyond the words we say). While learning how to access calm from the body is useful for everyone, understanding the vagus nerve can help connect a lot of physical and brain related symptoms for those with psychiatric conditions and provide endless opportunities for healing.
In this episode, I'll be discussing what I would say is the root cause to suicide. When someone dies by suicide, the cultural story focuses on an emotionally stressful event. I'm going to be telling another story one that involves inflammation of the brain, Just as the joints and other parts of the body can be inflamed, so can the brain. It is likely when someone takes their life they've already had a degree of chronic brain inflammation before the emotional trigger takes it to another level. Here, I'll discuss the evolving research into brain inflammation and suicide separately. I'll be discussing how from a functional medicine standpoint I address inflammation and how I address and treat what is causing it in the first place. Though my focus will not be on psychiatric medicationsI do recommend medications when they can save someone's life alleviate significant suffering, or even help someone get to a level of functioning so that they can address the deeper root causes.
To read more on the research into suicide and brain inflammation.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
To read more about brain inflammation, see my blog post "Mast Cell Activation, Brain Disorder, How to Calm Things Down"
I start this episode with briefly discussing the startling statistics on student mental health and the stories our culture tells for why students are receiving more psychiatric diagnoses and even dropping out of college. Mainly I focus on the rarely considered - but, I argue - very common root cause to mental health issues in college students - mold toxicity from dorms. I explain how physiologically someone can go to college thriving and having great hope for the future to living in a dorm with mold (seen or unseen) and then go on to become diagnosed with depression, anxiety, ADHD or even bipolar disorder...or simply loose motivation and energy for school and drop out. I also discuss other potential symptoms, how one can acquire testing for mold toxicity without a physician and what treatment for mold toxicity can look like.
In this episode, I explain through my personal story, how and why I moved into this type of psychiatry. I explain the less know root causes of symptoms that I evaluate and address as a holistic psychiatrist, including nutrient imbalances, inflammation, the health of the microbiome, toxicity including biotoxins such as mold toxins, structural issues involving the head and neck impacting the cranial nerves including the vagus nerve, attachment history, trauma, chronic and persistent stress and how these impacts stress hormones which can trigger brain inflammation. I also address how a spiritual perspective (ie. learning to roll with uncertainty, finding purpose, finding peace in one's body, and recognizing that we are part of something larger than ourselves) impacts our physiology and brain health.
In this first podcast, I briefly discuss:
-the debate in the psychiatric community re: psychiatrists commenting on the mental health of public figures included presidential candidates, before discussing
- terms that are being mentioned or alluded to in the media, such as personality disorders, specifically narcissistic personality disorder and dementia.
I will discuss
- the difference between Alzheimer's Dementia and Frontotemporal Dementia
- why Frontotemporal Dementia is more difficult to recognize than Alzheimer's and how it may be related to Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- the likely biochemical link between these two conditions
- how these issues are evaluated and treated from a functional medicine standpoint
- how this understanding can impact how we make sense of the behaviors and choices of people with these conditions.
In this conversation, Dr. Judy Tsafrir and I discuss:
how we test for mold toxicity,
how one can test their home or have it tested,
remediation of an environment with toxic mold, and
treatment for mold toxicity
We look forward to our next conversation which will be live and where we can respond directly to any specific questions about mold toxicity or other topics of interest.
Mold toxicity is a surprising common root cause of brain related symptoms.
In this conversation, Dr. Judy Tsafrir and I discuss:
- Water damaged buildings and how someone might unknowingly be exposed to toxic mold.
- How mold toxins get into and impact the body (and brain)
- Symptoms and associated diagnoses
In our next episode, we will discuss testing (for people and for physical spaces) followed by an episode on treatment.
Lastly, we hope to then have a recap on facebook live which would allow for questions and answers.
Undermethylation has been associated with depression, ADHD, delusional psychosis, autism, dementia, eating disorders, and a number of other brain related symptoms.
In this conversation Dr. Judy Tsafrir and I discuss:
the important role of methylation
the consequences of undermethylation
personality traits and symptoms
evaluation and testing
treatment and dietary recommendations
controversies related to undermethylation.
In this conversation Dr. Judy Tsafrir and I discuss how we evaluate and treat some of the more common root causes of depressed mood that we see in our daily work -
Nutrient imbalances, inflammation and toxicity, but more specifically:
Under and Overmethylation
Mast Cell Activation
(with brief mention of Lyme, Bartonella, EMF sensitivity, head and neck trauma and instability of the upper cervical spine)
We also discuss the challenges people can experience as they discontinue psychiatric medication, when these underlying issues haven't been addressed.
In this conversation Dr. Judy Tsafrir and I address:
Available on Apple Podcast, Spotify and most listening Platforms.
In these podcasts, I use a common cultural reference - such as something from the news, the arts, media, or politics, as a starting place before delving into the fascinating and less known roots to our brain related symptoms and mental wellbeing. Along the way, I discuss new and evolving treatment options that address these root causes. Her hope is to challenge us to look at ourselves, our families, our lives, our culture and even our humanity through a different lens - a lens that offers more possibility and more hope.
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