Well, it's that time of year again – Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And once again we're offering our Pink Ribbon Survive & Thrive Pack, created for all those breast cancer survivors who want to maintain a wellness regimen once treatment is over.
What we found was that people can get pretty anxious when treatment ends, because, even though that's generally a good thing, there's still this feeling of "Well, at least I knew I was doing something – even if the chemo produced nasty side effects, and the radiation therapy was no day at the beach either...".
And this loss of having something to do can be felt especially strongly by people who used guided imagery during that time of treatment, to boost the action of their medical protocols or help with pain or nausea or fatigue, or just to allay anxiety or provide uplift and a sense of mastery. That imagery served a real need.
Well, this month we recognize Domestic Violence Awareness, and a good thing, too. Emotional and physical abuse is far more prevalent and ubiquitous than most of us believe. It's not just beefy, steroidal, misogynistic football players punching out their wives in elevators and then hauling off their unconscious bodies like a cheap sack of potatoes.
And no way is it limited to the underprivileged, or women, or the young, or the non-white, either.
If you want to do a quick breaking of stereotype, think old, wealthy, white guy in wheelchair, who's a little annoying because he's pretty deaf and quasi-paralyzed and hard to move around, who's receiving home health care from a private provider, and you'll have another profile of who gets screamed at, beaten, sadistically teased, over- controlled, pushed around, robbed, derided, mortified and terrified. The guy's kids either haven't a clue what's going on, don't care, or behave just as badly as the caregiver.
Well, so I feel like I turned my attention away for a minute, diapered a grandkid, made myself a cup of coffee.. and while I was gone, trauma treatment turned on its head and transformed – again!
I kid you not, this is the fastest growing psych field I know.
If you're a busy clinician or a concerned family member, there's no way you can keep up with these new discoveries. I mean, NO WAY.
This is very exciting and wonderful, but a tad daunting, I gotta say.
For those of you who celebrate the Jewish New Year, everyone at HJ wishes you a happy, healthy 5775!
I love the ritual of wiping the slate clean and starting over – forgiving others for their offenses and asking for forgiveness for our own. If you've ever tried it, you know it's not so easy to do – either side of the equation. And it creates its own state of mindfulness as we try to stay in that enlightened "fresh and new" space.
And speaking of shaping up and beginning anew, you really must check out Traci Stein's free wellness report – Kicking the Habit: Ten Keys to Positive Change, on how to dump dysfunctional old habits and acquire some healthy new ones – in other words, create positive change in your life, even if it feels like it's impossibly difficult or even hopeless.
Hello again, everyone, and happy fall.
I’ve reduced my public speaking by quite a bit, but I’ve made an exception for this extraordinary local event on October 10th in Solon, Ohio - the upcoming Heal the Healers Symposium offered by University Hospitals. This will be a first-class, all-day cornucopia of holistic, mind-body offerings, presented and demo’d by experts in the field, at Signature of Solon.
It’s a jam packed day, starting with a welcome from the always inspiring journalist, Regina Brett, and interspersed with a delicious, healthy breakfast and lunch. There will be therapeutic yoga, music therapy, acupuncture, chair massage, Reiki, tips on maintaining healthy muscle tone from Robert Truax DO; some important info about substance abuse among health care professionals from Ray Isackila, LPCC; and Peter Geller LAc, LOMP, will be talking about integrating Chinese Herbal Medicine into a traditional practice.
I was really happy to see an order zip past my screen from the Rhode Island National Guard, requesting multiple copies of our guided imagery for Relaxation & Wellness, Healing Trauma and Mind-Body Exercises for Stress Hardiness Optimization.
As many of my good buddies in the military tell me, those guardsmen and women generally get next to nuthin’ when they come home (except grief) – they were thrown in harm’s way with the least preparation or training, and come home to even fewer resources than the regular military and vets get, even though they’re as injured and vulnerable and as in need of help as anyone, if not more so.
So it really gives us all here a big lift to know these men and women are getting something that might really help them. It’s a resource that these outfits can realistically afford and will actually use.
When I asked Cindy and Elizabeth what other Guards have ordered our stuff, they told me we had Army and Air National Guards from California, Alaska, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississipi, Minneapolis, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
I’m eager to tell you about a new book by the amazing, one and only Kathie Swift, RDN, called The Swift Diet: 4 Weeks to Mend the Belly, Lose the Weight, and Get Rid of the Bloat.
Kathie knows more about healthy eating, gut health, weight loss and food as medicine than just about anyone I know. Check out her newest book if you want to understand and act in healthier and more effective ways about food, nutrition and good eating.
More about the book soon, but first a little background on my friend and colleague, the very impressive but delightfully unpretentious K.M. Swift.
Back in the day, when I was researching the imagery for Weight Loss, I couldn’t find anyone who could explain to me the nuts and bolts of how the body loses weight. I mean, nobody seemed to know the detailed biochemical pathway for converting fat to energy – not even these ultra-famous diet docs, who threw around some buzzy buzz words but didn’t really have a lot of depth or understanding beyond those snappy catch phrases.
Then someone put me onto Kathie Swift, who at the time was running the nutrition program at Canyon Ranch in Lenox MA. And, lo and behold, she knew everything, including stuff I hadn’t even thought to ask. She’d tracked down the latest researchers and findings, took the best of it all and did a dazzling job of synthesizing and turning those data and insights into useable, comprehensible English.
And she was possibly the most generous and unterritorial expert I’d ever met (and she’s still that way.) So if you like the cellular imagery on that weight loss audio, you can thank Kathie.
But I digress. Here is what she has to say about her exciting new book, which explains the breathtaking new findings on the microbiome, which may be some of the most ground-breaking, hopeful and actionable thinking in medicine today.
So listen up! Here is what Kathie has to say about this important new book.
I’m wondering how many of you have been having a bigger than usual problem paying attention to the news these days.
Is it just me, or does it seem like things are more of a mess than usual?
I’m interested in hearing how people cope with the onslaught of such terrible world events – beheadings, bombings, shootings, earthquakes – not to mention the uptick of nonstop incivility that seems to be everywhere, but especially in our national politics, which, no doubt degrades the social discourse that the rest of us engage in..
Sometimes I take a news fast – just can’t stand another hideous dollop of it, so I shut it all off. This doesn’t feel like it’s in keeping with my idea of being a responsible citizen, but there you have it. There are times I’m on overload and need to stick my head in the sand – and do.
Sometimes I make a contribution to an organization trying to help on that big, worldwide scale. I’ll spend time finding out from friends and experts I trust where to best send it. If feels like a drop in the bucket, but it’s doing something, and it counters that debilitating helplessness we all feel from passively watching terrible things happening to real people.
Sometimes I just focus in on doing something small but useful and effective – something that I know could actually help somebody in my corner of the world, even if it has nothing to do with the ugliness on the news.
Have you been thinking about this too? What do you do?
For as long as we’ve had a website (since 1997), my go-to site for smart, reliable, up-to-date, research-based, practical answers to holistic health questions has always been Ask Dr. Weil. I trust what he has to say. He doesn’t oversell his advice, and if there’s only modest back-up for claims of efficacy, he says so.
He’s also on top of the latest research, so I often learn about new findings from him. And because he was trained as a botanist before he became a doc, he’s got a real affinity, knowledge and love for the healing that plants and the earth’s natural elements have to offer.
So it was a real kick to see that in his latest post, he talks about posttraumatic stress – especially combat trauma in our service personnel – and the power of CBT and guided imagery to help remediate symptoms. He even points to our Health Journeys page for military and veterans. Very gratifying!
And true to form, he introduced some new ideas (at least new to me), reporting on recent studies using psychedelic drugs, and the potential of methylenedioxy methamphetamine (Ecstasy) and psilocybin (mushrooms), alongside psychotherapy, for helping traumatized soldiers overcome PTS. Who knew? Not I.
Actually, there’s a whole host of new studies combining various medications with CBT to see if remediation of PTS symptoms can be speeded up and deepened. They’re in process now – I’ll report on them as soon as findings are published.
The whole Ask Dr Weil piece is here. Check it out and sign up for the e-newsletter. It’s a terrific resource, and the Q and A database is loaded with important, useable, constantly evolving information.
By the way, we hope you’re finding your way around this new merged BR Blog and HJ Blog without any undue confusion. Let us know.
Take care and be well,
I feel a rant coming on.
I’ve been catching some of the commentary on traditional news outlets and social media over the tragic death of big-hearted, super-talented actor-comedian Robin Williams. It seems pretty obvious he was a great guy and a dazzling talent. I feel for his family and friends. It’s horrible to be left by suicide, especially when you haven’t been consulted. (I know that might sound flippant, but I mean it.)
There’s a lot of confused and simplistic messaging flying around about depression, suicide, celebrity and being a professional comic – now throw in Parkinson’s – and, much as I’m reluctant to add to this overfull conversation, I think I’ve gotta pipe up.
Robin Williams had bipolar illness. (We used to call it manic-depressive disorder). And that’s one very tough condition to manage.
Sure, he had the standard demons. All the stuff people are writing is no doubt true. He had the usual troubles from celebrity and fame. He was never secure with “steady” work. He needed to please people and make them happy, probably to his detriment. He struggled with various addictions, probably connected to self-medicating his mood swings. He was worried about having Parkinson’s.
But the guy was bipolar. And that defines the problem and trumps all of the above, which are no doubt contributing factors, but not the main event.