COMMON SHOULDER PROBLEMS
(PART III) BEATING DEPRESSION NATURALLY
HOW TO BEAT MOST CASES OF
DEPRESSION WITHOUT SSRI MEDICATIONS!
SSRI's first appeared in 1988 with the release of Elli Lilly's PROZAC. By 2005, sales of SSRI's had rocketed Antidepressants into the stratosphere of drug sales --- number one on the "Best Selling Categories of Drugs" chart. But do you really think it's possible that such a huge percentage of Americans have the kind of organic brain dysfunction that requires an SSRI? I would hope that I have already proved to you that this is not the case --- not by a long shot.
The problem is that prescribing drugs is easy. Way too easy. It's just plain easier to write prescriptions while shooing patients out the door than it is to educate them, and insist on some potentially difficult lifestyle changes. This would mean that doctors would actually have to confront their patients, and even risk losing them to another doctor who will prescribe them whatever they want. Most physicians are not willing to do this; particularly when writing a prescription for Prozac, Paxil, Lexipro, or any of dozens of other SSRI's is so darn easy ---- and profitable.
But the truth is, if you want to have any chance of defeating DEPRESSION naturally ---- without drugs ---- you will have to buckle down and make some changes in the way you live. Some of these are relatively easy (getting outside in the sunshine more often, or having more sex). Some are more difficult and may involve making some radical changes in your lifestyle (eating differently, exercising). It really boils down to what you want out of life. Effectively dealing with most cases of Depression is really no different than dealing with most other health issues. Your doctor cannot do it for you. It is completely up to you. Many of you have already figured this out the hard way. For those of you who have not figured this out yet; I know what you're thinking.
You are just itching to learn about these special secrets and anti-depressive supplements that only I have ---- natural products that will "cure" you of your Depression. The first thing you must understand is that it does not work that way. There are no shortcuts or "Wonder Products" that are going to effectively deal with all the underlying issues working to cause (or at least contribute to) your Depression. To understand this (and to gain the foundational knowledge it will take to kick Depression's butt), you need to go back a couple weeks and read HOW TO CURE JUST ABOUT ANYTHING. Don't argue with me. Just read it. You'll see. Once you have some foundational truths under your belt, we can proceed.
Just understand is that although some of my suggestions are not easy to implement, they are simple to understand. There are things that you can do to help deal with Depression naturally and avoid all the crazy SIDE EFFECTS that go along with SSRI Antidepressants, but it's not as easy as simply taking a pill ---- even if the pill is "natural". If you understand a little bit about how the body works, you will begin to understand where I am going with this. And although there are a whole host of things that you can do to deal with Depression naturally, I am only going to cover the basics. Be aware that the last thing I cover will be the most important for most of you.
KICKING DEPRESSION NATURALLY
TIME TO GET HAPPY
- PHARMACEUTICAL GRADE FISH OIL: According to the most current medical research on the topic, Joe Average American (or "Jolene" as the case probably is --- Depression is far more common in females) is getting about 1 / 30th (that's one thirtieth) of the amount of Omega Three Fatty Acids they need. Lack of Omega 3's is a big driver of Inflammatory Processes in your body, and most diseases are known to be intimately related to these Immune System chemicals we collectively refer to as INFLAMMATION. The two active ingredients in Omega Three Oils are called EPA and DHA. Unfortunately, many of the good sources of Omega Three Fatty Acids (Flax Seed Oil for instance) contain negligible amounts of these two oils. This is why your sources of Omega Threes must come from wild game (venison for instance) grass-fed beef, free-range chickens / eggs, or wild, cold-water fish. When grain is introduced as animal feed (yes, unfortunately most salmon is farm-raised), the amount of Omega Three Fatty Acids these foods drops precipitously. Enter PGFO. PHARMACEUTICAL GRADE FISH OIL is being used by the most cutting-edge portion of the medical community to treat not only a whole host of common killers (DIABETES, Heart Disease, CANCER, etc) they are using it to effectively help people suffering with a whole host of BRAIN-RELATED DYSFUNCTIONS as well. Some of these include ADD / ADHD, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder, OCD, and yes, Depression ---- the very things that most people are prescribed SSRI's for in the first place.
- CLEAN UP YOUR DIET: This is nothing more than common sense. If we go back to our grade school days, we all remember the simple slogan, "You are what You Eat!". Although it is a cliche, it is as true now as it was then. But be honest; has your doctor ever said one thing to you about the relationship between the foods that you eat, your overall health, and / or your moods? Of course not. You were prescribed more drugs! A simple rule of thumb is that there are two kinds of foods --- foods made by man and foods created by God. Avoid the former and eat only the later (HERE). Just be aware that sometimes in our society, the line between the two can become really blurred. One of these is wheat, which we will discuss in a moment.
- AVOID SUGAR & HIGH GLYCEMIC INDEX CARBS: Avoiding SUGAR goes right along with cleaning up your diet. My most popular Blog Post ever pertains to this subject. If you have not read it, you really need to take just a moment and see why the scientific community is coming around to the fact that in the Westernized world, uncontrolled blood sugar is the number one root cause of more health problems than any other single thing on the planet. Along these lines, if Depression is an issue for you, it is important to stay away from alcohol which is itself a depressant. Conversely, for many people, sugar provides an emotional lift / high. The problem is the crash that comes shortly afterwards --- it makes people crave that sugar high. Do you see the potential for a vicious cycle here? It is only one of the reasons that sugar is as addictive as "crack" for a lot of people ---- particularly women (HERE). Just be aware that many people will tell you that carbs are a great booster of both Serotonin and mood. There is more to this than meets the eye (HERE).
- LAUGH AND HAVE FUN: Some of you seriously need to stop being so serious. Laugh! Have some fun. A great "Depression-Buster" is the old "Mr. Bean" series (like where he gets the Christmas Turkey stuck on his head (HERE); or the time when he drives his little yellow car from an Easy Chair tied to the roof (HERE). Not only are there lots of studies about the physical / emotional benefits of laughter, there are plenty of Bible Passages as well (A merry heart doeth good like a medicine).
- GET REGULAR EXERCISE: The web is flooded with studies from Harvard, Duke, and other prestigious research institutions showing that exercise has major Antidepressant qualities. Just understand that to receive these benefits, your exercise program will have to be "regular". "Regular" exercise does not imply that you have to become a power lifter, be training for a marathon, or doing an hour and a half of P-90X per day. It simply means that you have to be deliberate about doing some exercise every day (HERE is my favorite). Besides increasing several of the body's "feel-good" chemicals such as endorphins ('endogenous-morphine'), exercise also drives OXYGEN into the brain (no other tissue uses more Oxygen per capita). And while I am talking about exercise, it is as good a time as any to mention sex. SEX releases the same anti-depressive chemical mediators as does exercise.
- DEAL WITH CHRONIC PAIN: I do not know anyone who has not at least made the attempt to deal with their CHRONIC PAIN. In fact, most people struggling with CHRONIC PAIN SYNDROMES have already tried everything they know to try. They have been through every conceivable test, and seen every specialist there is to see. And just what do we know about the relationship between Chronic Pain and Depression? According to the September 2004 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, "pain is depressing, and depression causes and intensifies pain. People with chronic pain have three times the average risk of developing psychiatric symptoms — usually mood or anxiety disorders — and depressed patients have three times the average risk of developing chronic pain." Although I do not claim to be an expert on the subject, I have been treating Chronic Pain patients since 1991. I can assure you that Chronic Pain is far more likely to cause Depression than the other way around. On top of that, there are better ways to deal with Chronic Pain than taking drugs. If you want an idea of what I am talking about, just take a minute or two to watch a couple of our PATIENT TESTIMONIAL VIDEOS.
- SPECIFIC SUPPLEMENTS: I already mentioned Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil and will talk about another critical supplement at the end of the post. However, there are several supplements that are potentially quite effective for dealing with Depression. Some of the most common are St. Johns Wort, 5-HTP (a precursor to Serotonin), and SAM-e. WARNING: Supplements are no substitute for a clean, healthy diet! Let me say that again in a different way. I know people who want to eat whatever they want, and then take nutritional supplements in hopes that this will help "balance things out". It doesn't work that way. And if you'll be honest with yourself; you already knew that.
- GET SOME SUN & FRESH AIR: We live in a society where people either worship the sun, or they avoid it like the plague. Do not be afraid of getting outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. Those of you who spend winters in cold or dark climates can use a lightbox. No I don't know. Just look online.
- GET PLENTY OF SLEEP: This can be a particularly difficult challenge with Depression. Your main sleep hormone, Melatonin, is actually made from Serotonin. Although Melatonin is a popular "natural" sleep aid, I usually advise people not to take it as a supplement. Healing the gut will help boost Serotonin production back to normal. Then you can watch Melatonin levels improve on their own. The result is usually much better sleep.
- AVOID EXCESSIVE SCREEN & TV TIME: Because the average American is watching something like 5-8 hours of TV a day, it is hard to know what one would consider "excessive". Although there are all sorts of studies linking TV viewing (particularly "late nite" TV viewing) with Depression, the one that caught my eye was published in a 2009 issue of the medical journal, Archives of General Psychology. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard Medical School teamed up to look at the screen habits of teenagers. They concluded that once you get past something like 2 1/2 hours a day, each additional hour of TV boosted the odds of becoming depressed by 8%. Numerous other studies have shown similar things --- not to mention the fact that TV viewing has been shown to dramatically increase hunger, diminish personal contentment, and decrease happiness.
- SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND: Yes, even though the idiots at Yahoo wrote an article yesterday saying, "there's good reason to think science will ultimately arrive at a complete understanding of the universe that leaves no grounds for God whatsoever," I for one am not buying it. The truth of the matter is that there are a bundle of studies from the medical-scientific field showing the benefits of regular prayer and a relationship with God as far as Depression is concerned. Go online and read them.
GUT HEALTH AND GLUTEN SENSITIVITY
What are some of the ways that we destroy our guts? Besides our poor diets, most of us are exposed to a wide variety of chemical toxins, including all sorts of VACCINES, from the time we are infants. On top of that, the average person living in America has been through dozens of rounds of ANTIBIOTICS over the course of their lifetime. And if you remember one thing about antibiotics, you must remember that they do not strengthen the Immune System ---- they weaken and destroy it (HERE)! Despite anything you may think about this statement, it is a cold, hard, medical fact.
You can combat this Antibiotic-induced destruction of the Gut's Immune System with Probiotics. Think of HSO PROBIOTICS as the exact opposite of antibiotics. If antibiotics destroy the Immune System & Gut, HSO Probiotics help restore them. But unless you are eating quantum amounts of homemade fermented foods (pasteurization and chemical processing are designed to kill bacteria in commercial foods), you simply cannot get enough good bacteria in your food sources to restore them from diet alone. Probiotics must be taken! Acidophilus is the most common product product used for this. The problem is, it is only made up of a single strain of bacteria --- acidophilus (this is why for some people, FMT might be the only viable solution). HERE is more information on this topic.
Now, I want you to recall the FIRST PART of this series (I warned you that there would be a quiz). Where is 90 - 95% of your body's "Happy Hormone" Serotonin produced? In the GUT! Due to antibiotic use / overuse / abuse, and unbridled SUGAR CONSUMPTION (sugar and high Glycemic Index starches are the food-of-choice for the bad bacteria, fungus' and yeasts we collectively refer to as DYSBIOSIS), we are destroying our Guts, and thus destroying our health. When it comes to the good bacteria that should make up our normal Gut Flora ----- we are "Running on Empty". And when you realize that 80% of your Immune System and 90-95% of your Serotonin-making capacity come from the Gut, you should begin to grasp just how critical this issue of Gut health really is (HERE)! And for many people (83% of all Americans carry the gene(s)), nothing is more toxic to gut health than Gluten.
I hear it all the time ---- "Jesus ate Gluten --- why can't I?". The wheat that Jesus ate is not the same wheat that people are eating today (HERE). There is a reason for the incredible growth of the Gluten Free section of the supermarket. People are beginning to learn the truth about Gluten. The recent explosion of Gluten Sensitivity is nothing less than the results of our genetic tinkering coming home to roost. I just heard about a yet-to-be-published Australian study saying that today's wheat contains 6 proteins in it that did not exist 20 years ago. This may not sound like a big deal, but these unrecognized proteins are labeled as "foreign" and then attacked by your Immune System. And the crazy thing is, once people start making antibodies to Gluten, they frequently start making antibodies to self. That's right; Gluten is being intimately related to the way that many people's bodies start to attack its own tissues, glands, and organs. This process is called AUTOIMMUNITY, and if you need an example, look no farther than America's THYROID EPIDEMIC. The vast majority of our thirty-plus million thyroid patients have Autoimmune Hypothyroidism that the medical community calls Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, and almost 100% of them are Gluten Sensitive (HERE and HERE)!
You can begin to see why with every passing day I am increasingly convinced that for most Americans, Gluten is toxic. And even worse, it's neuro-toxic. A 2005 issue of the medical journal Gastroenterology stated that, "Celiac Disease [wheat sensitivity that is seen in the Small Intestine] has long been associated with neurologic and psychological disorders including ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, epilepsy, dementia, and depression." Did you catch that? Gluten is linked not only to things like NEUROPATHY, but to Depression. But forget about Depression for just a minute. It is being linked to a whole host of other neurological problems that are arguably much more severe.
This past weekend, I attended another one of Dr. Datis Kharazzian's courses on the Brain-Gut-Immune-Endocrine System. We were shown, using the most current research available from the Bio-Medical research journals, that even though we refer to Gluten Sensitivity in the Small Intestine as "Celiac Disease", we should be referring to Gluten Sensitivity in the Brain and Neurological System as "PARKINSON'S DISEASE". "MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS". "Cerebellar Ataxia (chronic equilibrium issues)". "ALS". "EPILEPSY" "FIBROMYALGIA". Do you grasp how big this is? The most current medical research on the planet is saying that numerous Nuero-Endocrine problems (including Depression) are the result of Gluten-induced Gut Dysfunctions. Gulp!
By far, the most prominent / common of these "Gut Dysfunctions" is something known as LEAKY GUT SYNDROME. The medical journals are now touting Gluten Sensitivity as the #1 driver of Leaky Gut. However, just 15 short years ago, the medical community debated whether Leaky Gut Syndrome even existed. Now there are almost 10,000 medical studies on the subject. Just remember that if you research this topic online, you should be aware that the medical community refers to Leaky Gut Syndrome as "Increased Intestinal Permeability". Fortunately, I have made understanding GLUTEN fairly easy. Just search my blog and start reading.
Do not even think about going GLUTEN FREE without having a basic understanding of what GLUTEN CROSS-REACTIVITY is first. Yeah, I know. This stuff is nutty. It's crazy. In fact, much of it is downright scary --- especially if you have children or grandchildren! But here is the really cool thing about the suggestions found in today's post. If you follow them, you will not only dramatically affect most cases of Depression, you will dramatically affect almost every other health problem you happen to be dealing with as well. In other words, if you follow the steps I lay out in this blog series, your overall health will improve ---- probably dramatically! And thanks to a man who is arguably the most brilliant Immunologist on the planet (Dr. Aristo Vojdani of Cyrex Labs), there are now very accurate blood tests for the three things mentioned (Leaky Gut, Gluten Sensitivity, Gluten Cross Reactivity). The tests not only tell you if you if you have a problem, it will tell you on a scale of one to ten just how bad that problem is.
Hopefully you realize that the protocol I gave you, is suspiciously similar to the posts filed under HOW TO CURE JUST ABOUT ANYTHING. This is because the foundational principles of natural healing are the same universally. No, this does not mean that this protocol will fix every case of Depression (or anything else for that matter). The truth is, you may need some very specific testing & intervention to deal with the underlying causes of your health issues, including your Depression. However, the basic building blocks used to start the healing process are the same for virtually everyone. They're universal no matter what is wrong with you. So, take a few minutes today to sit down, write out a very specific plan of action, and get started (if you don't write it out, you won't follow through). You have everything to gain and nothing to lose!
BEATING DEPRESSION NATURALLY
THE SIDE EFFECTS OF SSRI ANTIDEPRESSANTS
- An Inability to Enjoy Activities which are Normally Enjoyable (hobbies, friends, social life, etc)
- Indifference / Emotional Suppression
- Sleep Disorders. Can be Insomnia or Drowsiness (sometimes both, and frequently severe). Insomnia is much more common (HERE).
- Nausea, Vomiting & Diarrhea
- Headaches (extremely common)
- Ringing in the Ears
- Dizziness / Vertigo
- Clenching the Jaw
- Increased Risk of Fractures / Increased Risk of Any Injury
- Urinary Retention and other Bladder / Kidney Issues (Believe it or not, I have actually seen young children given these drugs in hopes that this specific side-effect would somehow prevent bed-wetting. Simply astounding in light of the last thing on the list.)
- Exhaustion / Fatigue
- Changes in Appetite Causing Weight Loss or More Commonly, Weight Gain
- Numbness, Tingling, or other Various "Odd Sensations"
- Tremors --- Particularly in the Elderly
- Inability to Sit Still
- Increased Sweating
- Strange Dreams / Nightmares
- Anxiety, Depression, & Panic Attacks (Hey; aren't these the very reasons someone would take these drugs in the first place?)
- A wide variety of Psychotic Disorders (And when I say "wide variety", I mean "WIDE VARIETY"! Some of these are downright scary / freaky!)
- Detachment, Confusion, Memory Loss, Amnesia
- Sexual Dysfunctions (Depending on which study you look at, these occur in between 25% and 50% of the individuals on SSRI's and include DIMINISHED SEX DRIVE, Inability to Orgasm, Decreased Libido, Loss of Genital Sensation, and Erectile Dysfunction. The last two are so common that SSRI's are the drug of choice for treating Premature Ejaculation. Be aware that there is also something called Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction that is not only associated with these Sexual Dysfunctions, but with numerous far more serious sexual side effects as well. Many experts say that because some of these sexual problems are so "bizarre", they are dramatically UNDER-REPORTED and actually occur in over 50% of those who took SSRI's (according to the last link, maybe way more). One such example is recurrent spontaneous orgasms (men or women) that are so relentless they are associated with pain instead of pleasure.)
- Dramatic increases of Hostility, Suicidal Thoughts, and Suicides in Children
THE CONCEPT OF WIDESPREAD USE OF ANTI-DEPRESSION DRUGS IS NOTHING NEW
What's behind this explosion of Depression and mood-enhancing drugs? We'll get to what's causing much of the Depression tomorrow. As for what's causing the explosion of Antidepressant Medications? It's a no-brainer. Just follow the money! Instead of educating people about the best ways to deal with underlying issues (both physical and psychological) it is far too easy (and profitable) for doctors to give their patients drugs ---- put them on SSRI's. Of the three hundred plus billion dollars spent on medications in America each year, Antidepressants come in as the number one or two moneymaker depending on whose research you look at. But are they effective?
One of the biggest studies on the therapeutic effects of SSRI's was done by a group of Medical Doctors, Psychiatrists and Psychologists working through the University of Pennsylvania, and published in a 2009 issue of JAMA --- Journal of the American Medical Association. The interesting thing is that their work was not a single study, but a meta-analysis of several major studies on the effectiveness of SSRI's. Their conclusions? "There is little evidence that they [SSRI's] have a specific pharmacological effect relative to placebo for patients with less severe depression.... The magnitude of benefit of antidepressant medication compared with placebo..... may be minimal or nonexistent, on average, in patients with mild or moderate symptoms." Whoa! In other words, we are loading entire segments of our population up on expensive drugs that do not even work well, yet have a whole array of potentially serious side effects? Sure we are! That's how it works in a system that even most doctors will admit is run by Big Pharma. This is why EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE is such a pipe-dream!
SSRI DISCONTINUATION SYNDROME
With most drugs used to change the way you feel (alcohol, heroin, prescription pain meds, meth, cocaine, etc,), the amount of drug that created yesterday's "high", will not get you high tomorrow. And the cycle continues unabated until people are consuming mass quantities of these substances just to feel a buzz. Years ago, when Rush Limbaugh became addicted to prescription pain medications after a failed back surgery, he had worked his way up to as many as 30 Oxycontins per day. Alcohol works the same way. The more one drinks, the more it takes to get drunk. A similar thing happens with SSRI's and your body's own Serotonin. How does the body respond to the inhibited reuptake of Serotonin in the Synaptic Cleft? Follow along.
Body systems tend to run on feedback loops. These are like the thermostat that we set to keep our house at a certain temperature. When the inside temperature falls outside the range we have set, the furnace or air conditioner (depending on the season) automatically kicks on and regulates the temp back to its set point --- and then it shuts off. When the body perceives it has an overabundance of Serotonin, it will slow down the gut's Serotonin production. SSRI's are designed keep Serotonin in the Synapse by inhibiting its reuptake. But for many people, the body (rightly) perceives this as an excess of Serotonin. For many people who stop taking SSRI's, this is not a huge problem. They may struggle for a few weeks (this is the period where people get the SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome mentioned above), but eventually their Serotonin production goes back to normal (whatever "normal" is). However, for a significant number of people, the feedback mechanism fails, Serotonin production remains diminished, and they end up with a potentially ugly array of long-term problems ---- problems that can be both physically and / or psychologically devastating.
Besides diminishing Serotonin production, the body will respond to these perceived increases in Serotonin levels another way as well. It will down-regulate Serotonin sensitivity. In other words, when there is an excess of Serotonin at the Serotonin Receptors in the Synaptic Cleft, the brain will recognize this and automatically raise the threshold (decrease the sensitivity) of these receptors. The resulting desensitization to Serotonin causes "masked" or "robotic" patients (these are the actual medical terms used to describe these people) who are now physiologically unable to feel extreme joy or happiness. Because the body is no longer reacting normally to Serotonin, these intensely good feelings are blunted. Or worse yet; they become impossible. This helps us understand some of the more common sexual side effects of SSRI's.
IT'S TIME TO WAKE UP
Do your own research. Get on the online SSRI message boards / support groups. Find out what shocking numbers of people who have had their lives turned upside down by SSRI Antidepressant Drugs are saying about them. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of such websites. If nothing else, simply go to YouTube. Educate yourself so that you can make a wise decision. Sit down and make a list of the pros and cons of taking SSRI's. Yes, I believe that there are people who can benefit tremendously from taking SSRI's. However, I also believe that this number of people is far less than the actual number of Americans who are currently taking these drugs on a daily basis.
If you or someone you love is interested in taking the bull by the horns as far as SSRI use is concerned, come back tomorrow. I will show you how to start creating an environment (both inside and outside your body) that at least gives you a fighting chance to defeat Depression naturally. Come back and read the final installment of my series on Depression, when I reveal a list of things that you can do to defeat Depression without drugs (PART III OF BEATING DEPRESSION NATURALLY).
BEATING DEPRESSION NATURALLY
As a clinician who sees lots of patients who are chronically ill and / or dealing with chronic pain, I keep an ear to the ground as far as trying to figure out what sorts of things benefit patients, and conversely, what things are a waste of time, energy, and resources. Anyone who has been in this game very long realizes that when doctors cannot find the underlying cause(s) of a patient's chronic pain, they usually wind up telling them that their underlying problem is "DEPRESSION". And Wallaaaa.... Their magic cure always seems to be one of the latest antidepressant drugs ---- usually an SSRI. Yes; I do realize that there is some medical research out there that links Depression to Chronic Pain. However, nearly 25 years of clinical experience has taught me that just the opposite is more likely to be true --- much more likely. I frequently see people who are fighting Depression because their Chronic Pain is destroying their lives and preventing them from doing the things they have always loved doing. Either way, it can become a vicious cycle. Pain, Depression, Pain, Depression. Repeat ad infinitum.
For decades, the drug of choice for treating depression in America was opioids (derivatives of opium such morphine). As you can imagine, this presented some serious problems --- namely addiction. Is it any coincidence that the 60's saw a veritable explosion of heroin use in the U.S.? By 1960 the medical community realized that this was not a good thing, so they did a total one eighty. The new drug-of-choice for these patients became amphetamines. Once it was determined that "speed" did not make a good anti-depressant either, the medical community did another one eighty. They started prescribing downers. For almost two decades, the number one prescription drug in America was Valium. Doctors may as well have told these patients to drop by the liquor store on the way home and purchase a fifth of scotch ---- it's cheaper, easier on the liver, and probably less addictive. And remember; all of this was done in the name of "science".
Not only do we now have about a jillion different drugs for treating Depression, we have numerous different classes of drugs for treating Depression. However, the only class I am going to address in this series of articles also happens to be the most common here in the United States ---- SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors). Although there are dozens of drugs in this class, some of the most common include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac (Fluoxetine), Seneril, Paxil, and Zoloft (there are dozens of others). But how do they work? Stay with me and we'll get there momentarily.
SEROTONIN & THE GUT
I frequently remind people (especially those who have been on lots of ANTIBIOTICS) about the fact that 80% of your body's entire Immune System is found in the Gut (HERE). But it does not stop there. If you have visited ENDO-GUT, you are already aware that the scientific literature refers to the gut as the "Second Brain". Some of this has to do with the fact that 90% of your body's Serotonin is produced in the Gut.
Serotonin is synthesized, in the gut, from the amino acid Tryptophan (Tryptophan is a large constituent of the protein found in things like milk and turkey --- foods that are said to make you sleepy). Proper Serotonin synthesis is critical because it just happens to be the body's "feel-good" chemical neurotransmitter that is responsible for things like mood, one's sense of well being, and happiness. It is heavily involved in the regulation of sleep cycles and appetite as well. In other words, if your gut is not making enough Serotonin, you are going to feel crappy, sleep poorly, have low self esteem, eat too much, and typically weigh too much. And unfortunately this describes way too many Americans!
A VERY OVERSIMPLIFIED EXPLANATION OF NEURO-TRANSMISSION
SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) do exactly what their name implies they do. They inhibit the re-uptake of Serotonin. But let me back up a bit. Look at the picture above. Nerves are made up of individual nerve cells called neurons which are themselves made up of a cell body (it looks like an octopus in the picture above) with a long, branching appendage called an axon. It is the axon that actually transmits messages to other nerves, muscles, or organs. The end of the axon is somewhat bulbous and is pictured in the square above, as well as below right.
Amazingly enough, the nerves do not actually "touch" each other when they transmit their chemical / electrical messages. There is a tiny gap between them called a Synapse or "Synaptic Cleft". When the nerve impulse reaches the end of the axon, this triggers the neurotransmitter (in this case, Serotonin) that is stored in tiny bubbles called "Synaptic Vesicles", to be released into the Synapse. The Serotonin moves across the Synapse to the Serotonin Receptor on the dendrite of the next nerve. This causes an electrical impulse to fire up the dendrite to the cell body, and finally to the axon, which stimulates the release of Serotonin across the Synapse. Repeat at extremely high speeds.
Oh, one more critical thing to understanding this process is grasping the fact that the Serotonin has to be removed from the receptors on the opposite side of the Synapse so that it is ready for the next nerve impulse that comes along. And odds are that impulse will be coming along quickly. The adult brain has an estimated 500 trillion synapses, which calculates out to one billion of them in each and every cubic millimeter (unfortunately, politicians have less).
Interestingly enough, another class of drug, SSRE's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Enhancers) do the exact opposite of SSRI's ---- yet are also FDA approved Antidepressants. How can this be? How can two drugs that work in exact opposition to each other be prescribed to treat the same problem? Although hypothesises abound, no one really knows for sure. In fact, some scientists are saying that the current model for the way that SSRI's work is incorrect ---- radically incorrect. All we know is that there are a boatload of side effects associated with both of these classes of drugs. And because no one really understands exactly how they work, no one knows exactly who is going to get these side effects, how severe they might be, or how long they might last.
What exactly are the side-effects of SSRI's? Rest assured, they are many and miserable. Stick around for tomorrow's Blog Post ---- CHRONIC DEPRESSION PART II.
IMAGING THE PIRIFORMIS MUSCLE
ACTUAL PHOTO OF A (LEFT) PIRIFORMIS MUSCLE WITH SCIATIC NERVE UNDERNEATH
Although the use of Magnetic Resonance Neurography (MRN) is increasing in America, most insurance companies classify this test as "experimental" and will not reimburse for it. Because of this, there are not a lot of facilities with the equipment to perform these tests. This is unfortunate, because it is really the only form of diagnostic imaging that has the potential to actually show nerve compression in cases of Piriformis Syndrome (certain kinds of EMG's can also prove Piriformis Syndrome, although they do not "image" the problem). And MRN's are in no way considered fool proof. I have treated several patients with chronic long-standing buttock pain and sciatica that have had MRN results that were negative ---- despite the obvious, classic, and unrelenting symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome.
Probably the most well-known doctor in the field of using MRN for detecting Piriformis Syndrome is Arron Filler. In a ground-breaking study done while working with UCLA's Mount Sinai Medical Center (2005), Filler showed that there are about 30 million MRI's done in America each year. About 1.5 million of these are done because of Sciatica, and about one fifth of these folks (300,000) end up having spinal surgery. Under a very liberal definition of "success", about one third of these SPINAL SURGERIES FAIL. The same study of 240 individuals with Sciatica concluded that Piriformis Syndrome and not Disc Problems is the number one cause of that Sciatica (HERE).
What is the drawback with MRN? Cost is a big factor. An MRN study typically includes standard MRI images along with the neurographic images . On top of that, MRN requires machines that contain very high powered magnets. Another drawback is the fact that MRN's must be performed in "The Tube". In other words, you cannot have an MRN done on an "open" MRI machine.
Dr. Aaron Filler who co-developed MRN technology back in 1992 also happens to be the "go-to" person today for MRN imaging of Piriformis Syndrome. What do I know about the treatments that Dr. Filler is doing for Piriformis Syndrome? Not a lot. What I can tell you is that people either think very highly of him or they have no use for him at all ---- there seems to be no middle ground. I have personally treated several people who have been to him, and were not helped much by what he did. I think it is a case where the diagnostic part of what he is doing is quite valuable, but unfortunately, the medical treatment of Piriformis Syndrome is downright tricky --- and potentially hazardous. Although there are some success stories out there, surgeries to release the Piriformis Muscle are fraught with nightmare scenarios, and injections are not only dangerous and DEGENERATIVE, they never seem to work over the long haul ---- ask anyone who has gone that route. Short term relief is about the best you can hope for --- but at what cost?
What do I recommend? In most cases, I would start with Tissue Remodeling. Because dealing with CHRONIC PAIN SYNDROMES caused by microscopic scar tissue it is one of the major thrusts of my practice, it sounds sort of self-promoting, doesn't it? I guess in a way it is, but it also happens to be the thing that makes the most sense --- starting with the least invasive, least expensive methods of treatment and working your way up from there. If you have watched many of my Video Testimonials, you already know that I am getting good results with lots (certainly not all) of my patients with hardcore Piriformis Syndrome --- many of these cases being long-standing (decades).
However, people also realize that I am not going to post testimonials from patients who do not get the results they were looking for. I'm no different than anyone else. I tout my successes and not my failures. As much as I would like to tell you that I can fix all cases of Piriformis Syndrome, plain and simply stated, I can't ---- and I do not want to ever lead people to think otherwise (HERE). And the most frustrating part of all of it is that it is difficult ("impossible" might be a more accurate word) to really tell from a phone consultation or emailed history who I can help. Although it is much easier to weed out those people whom I know I cannot help, trying to determine whom I can help is much more difficult. No one has come up with any sort of objective criteria for predetermining who will respond to this sort of treatment and who won't (although I am continually working on it).
What I can tell you is that the people that seem to be the most difficult for me to help with Piriformis Syndrome are the people who have really funky anatomical anomalies that can be seen on MRN. For instance, I recently saw a woman from Canada whose Sciatic Nerve split in two, went around the Piriformis Muscle (one part over the Piriformis Muscle, one part under the Piriformis Muscle), and then grew back together into one reunified Sciatic Nerve. Nothing she has tried thus far has helped.
However, some of these people respond. And unless you have had an MRN, you will not likely know whether you are one of those people who was born with this sort of anomaly. What we do know is that there are a WIDE VARIETY OF CAUSES of this thing that we call Piriformis Syndrome. Almost all of these people develop their Piriformis Syndrome in adulthood (some even in later adulthood), and most (but not all) cannot even relate it to anything that happened to them --- a certain incident or specific injury. It just happens --- either all at once or gradually over time.
The crazy part of it all is how physically fit some of these people are that I treat. Maybe it's just the sort of Piriformis Syndrome sufferers that I attract ---- patients (many are athletes) who are highly motivated to get better without surgery so they can get back to their running / lifting / biking / hiking / etc. This group of people tends to really grasp the fact that Piriformis Release Surgery is such a crap-shoot ---- something that a significant percentage of the people who go through with, end up regretting. I am going to do a blog interview with a rarity ---- a person who has done great with the Piriformis Release Surgery.
I never set out to be "The Piriformis Syndrome Doctor". And no; although I see an awful lot of people with Piriformis Syndrome, it is not even the largest thrust of my practice ---- it's just one of many things that I see. I deal with all sorts of Pain syndromes that are caused by FASCIAL ADHESIONS & TENDINOSIS (as well as microscopic scarring of other Connective Tissues). It's just that I recognized early in my career that far too many people with sciatica had what I still call "butt-based" sciatica that adjustments to the lumbar spine did not seem to improve --- at least on a long-term basis. As the word spread about what I am doing in Mountain View, we have more and more people traveling to see us. This is probably a smart move on the part of most patients who have been struggling with Piriformis Syndrome for a significant amount of time, and been through all the tests that their doctors have offered them. Some of the advantages of trying us first includes.....
- COST: Although it's certainly not free, you are going to get out of here for a fraction of what it would cost to go see practically anyone else. You could do scores of our treatments for what an average MRN costs.
- NON-INVASIVE: Injections and Surgeries are extremely invasive (injections also happen to be extremely degenerative as well). Although I would never hope to make people think that we fix every person who comes to us with Piriformis Syndrome, as far as I know, no one has ever ended up worse than they were. And as far as CT goes, make sure to look at the link at the top --- it's a known cause of CANCER.
- SHORT TERM TREATMENT: I have said it before but will say it again for those of you who are not aware. It usually takes several treatments to completely get rid of a Piriformis Syndrome, but you will know after the first treatment whether or not the treatment I do is going to work for you.
- EVIDENCE-BASED: I have always said that the proof is in the pudding. Good results cannot be faked. Just go to our TESTIMONIAL PAGE.
- LOCATION: We are centrally located in the U.S. Although anyone who has visited us will tell you that we are in the boonies, we are not difficult to get to (HERE).
- REFERRAL SOURCES: I run into people who have tried all sorts of things (HERE is one I just learned about) for their Piriformis Syndrome. I am the first to admit that I do not have all the answers. However, I am fully convinced that even if I do not have your solution, there is someone out there who does. If I cannot help you, I will do my best to try and get you to someone who can. And yes, I realize that some of you have already been this route --- and I'm seemingly your last hope. Bottom line; I personally know what Chronic Pain is all about, and will do whatever I can to help you get better --- or find someone who can.
DR. DATIS KHARRAZIAN & APEX ENERGETICS SEMINARS
Dr. Datis Kharrazian is one of the most brilliant individuals you have never heard of. You don't get invited on "Coma-Busting" missions to Europe with DR. TED CARRICK unless you know your stuff! No one, and I mean no one blends the practice of Functional Medicine / Functional Neurology with the Scientific Medical Literature the way that Dr. K does. The list of his post-graduate degrees and accomplishments would take an hour to list. Besides sitting on the editorial board of the Journal of Functional Neurology, Dr. Kharrazian is board certified in numerous specialties including
- Diplomate of the Board of Nutrition Specialists
- Diplomate of the American Board of Clinical Nutrition
- Diplomate of the Chiropractic Board of Clinical Nutrition
- Diplomate of the American Board of Chiropractic Neurology
- Diplomate of the International Board of Applied Kinesiology.
His unique brand of Functional Neuro-Immuno-Endocrinology has earned him a world-wide reputation as the person that people turn to when there is absolutely no where else to turn. His first book, Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal? (Thyroid Book) has been the number-one selling thyroid book on Amazon since 2009 (and his Brain Health Book is not far behind). His command of AUTOIMMUNITY, Hormone / Endocrine imbalances, and neurological disorders, is second to none. However, it is his work with Apex Energetics that I am personally grateful for.
Dr. K has created about 30 different Seminar Modules for learning how to effectively deal with the common Neuro-Immuno-Endocrine problems that are burying our country alive, and are taught by others who are trying to emulate Kharrazian's work (this one was taught by the venerable Steve Noseworthy of Tampa, FL). You see, although the medical community understands Pathology, they do not largely understand Functional Deficits (HERE). The series of seminars created by Dr. K are all about addressing the underlying Functional Deficits that are causing the vast majority of our country's Chronic Illness.
Dr. K does not make half-cocked statements (like I have a tendency to do). Everything he says or does is backed by the scientific literature. So when he says that celiac disease is the manifestation of GLUTEN SENSITIVITY, but that it manifests very differently in the Neurological System (MS, ALS, PARKINSON'S, ALZHEIMER'S, etc) my ears perk up. I gathered all sorts of other fun-facts from Dr. Noseworthy as well. for instance....
- 90% of the brain's Motor Output is into the Vagus Nerve via the Pontulo-Medulary-Reticular-Formation. In English, this means that the largest majority of your brain's motor activity controls THE GUT (could be just one of the reasons that the gut is referred to as the "Second Brain").
- The brain has 10 times more Immune System Cells (GLIAL CELLS) in it than it does Nerve Cells.
- Every seminar I attend paints a worse picture of Gluten that the seminar before it. Gluten is more neuro-toxic than I ever dreamed ---- way more toxic. The Scientific Literature is now linking Gluten to almost every imaginable Neurological Disease. And if you happen to carry the gentic makeup for Gluten Sensitivity (83% of all Americans do), the more you expose yourself to this protein, the greater the chance of developing a full-blown GLUTEN-RELATED AUTO IMMUNE DISEASE or serious NEUROLOGICAL CONDITION. In fact, the prestigious medical journal Gastroenterology said back in 2005 that, "Celiac Disease [wheat sensitivity that is seen in the Small Intestine] has long been associated with neurologic and psychological disorders including ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, epilepsy, dementia, and depression." We also discussed a yet-to-be published study discussing the fact that Gluten now contains at least 6 proteins that were not in existence 20 years ago. The wheat we are eating today is not the same wheat that Jesus ate --- or that our grandparents ate for that matter (HERE). And furthermore, you cannot effectively go "GLUTEN FREE" without first learning about the GLUTEN CROSS REACTORS.
- Stress actually changes the flora (bacteria) in your gut from good to bad, causing a host of systemic (whole body) health problems (this sounds a lot like "PLEOMORPHISM"). It is critical to understand that 80% of your body's entire Immune System lives in your gut (HERE).
- Healing the Gut is probably the most important factor in healing the body ---- no matter what your problem is. Fifteen years ago there was a huge debate within the medical community over the existence of "LEAKY GUT SYNDROME" (they call it Increased Intestinal Permeability). Within the next year, the number of scientific studies / papers on this subject will pass the 10,000 mark.
- The really cool thing about all of this, is that there are now very accurate lab tests for all of this ---- tests that were not around just a few years ago.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
Brain Based Therapy
Can You Help
Cardio Or Strength
Cold Laser Therapy
Death By Medicine
Degenerative Joint Disease
D's Of Chronic Pain
Evidence Based Medicine
Gluten Cross Reactivity
Ice Or Heat
Jacks Fork River
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Number One Health Problem
Platelet Rich Therapy
Post Surgical Scarring
Re Invent Yourself
Rib And Chest Pain
Scar Tissue Removal
Sleeping Pills Kill
Stay Or Go
Stretching Post Treatment
Tensegrity And Fascia
The Big Four
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Whole Body Vibration