Category Archives: education

A TEDx talk about SPECT Scans and Psychiatric Diagnosis

Psychiatry is a field that relies on talking and questioning patients about their symptoms and lives for the purposes of diagnosis. A pioneer in the field has been using a method to scan the electrical activity of the brain for the purpose of more accurate diagnosis with the goal of providing more accurate treatments.

Dr. Amen shares his findings from 83,000 SPECT scans taken over many years of his clinical work helping individual patients improve their health and quality of life with individualized diagnosis and treatment recommendations. While his findings have helped many patients with a variety of conditions, autism spectrum disorders are not a primary focus of his work. The scans can help clarify diagnosis of ADHD and many other psychiatric conditions and may be helpful with autism disorders but that will likely require more time and more patients. It is a private clinic that expects payment to be paid in full at the time of the appointment. The fees may be able to be covered in part by your health insurance company but you would have to submit the bill and work with your insurance company yourself – and it may require preauthorization so check with them first if you hope for some reimbursement.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

“Yes, autistic people do have feelings”; a link

According to one writer at least, “Yes, autistic people do have feelings.” Having difficulty understanding emotions can also leave a person with less skill when trying to communicate about their emotions. The linked article explains it better than I can try to re-explain, but it struck a familiar note with me.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

An Open Letter to the President of the Royal Society and GMO Scientists; a link

For more on the history of glyphosate, and the companies involved in developing genetically modified organisms with increased tolerance to herbicides and pesticides read “An Open Letter to the President of the Royal Society and GMO Scientists,” by Rosemary Mason MB ChB FRCA (June 14, 2016) [http://rinf.com/alt-news/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Open-Letter-to-the-President-of-the-Royal-Society-and-GMO-Scientists-1.pdf]

In an independent research study on animals fed GMO foods with or without Roundup/glyphosate  chronic deficiencies in kidney function was significant in 76% of animals of either gender.  Many diseases that have become more prevalent in recent decades have also been associated with increased applications of glyphosate including: “Hypertension; stroke; diabetes, incidence & prevalence; obesity; lipoportein metabolism disorders; Alzheimer’s; senile dementia; Parkinson’s; multiple sclerosis; autism; inflammatory bowel disease; intestinal infections; end stage renal disease;  acute kidney failure; cancers of the thyroid, liver, bladder, pancreas, and kidney and myeloid leukaemia.” [http://rinf.com/alt-news/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Open-Letter-to-the-President-of-the-Royal-Society-and-GMO-Scientists-1.pdf]

A shorter overview of the article is also available here: [http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/17/gmos-biggest-fraud-in-the-history-of-science/]

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and  the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

There is never going to be a good time to say that glyphosate is unhealthy

 

Business practices that are established are likely to be more difficult to change or stop than strategies that are first being introduced. And it isn’t easy to be one of the few people saying “Wait a second, there seems to be a problem.

Satire or dark humor may take a blunt look at uncomfortable reality and laugh rather than cry about the pain or feeling of futility of the situation. The Onion is a satire magazine that moved online and responds rapidly to news of the day, but sometimes with the same old story — reinforcing the feeling of futility that real world tragedies can leave: [Read more.]

How we communicate with each other tends to be different depending on who is speaking to whom. Research suggests that men and women tend to communicate differently with each other and with their peers and peer groups. This tendency is discussed in the following article: [read more.]

We learn from our parents and siblings but many of the lessons we learned about communication styles tend to go all the way back to the interactions and childhood games  that we played with our peers. Boys tend to play in larger groups and have a clear leader or leaders within their groups while girls tend to play in smaller groups and value working together without emphasizing any one girl as being more dominant within the group.

Observational research suggests that girls seem to value building each other up within a team while boys  seem to support having a more dominant male or small group of males that take on the decision making roles for the whole team. A group with all girls might not appreciate a girl who is more forceful about speaking up while a group with all boys might not appreciate a boy who is more forceful about speaking up if he is not within the smaller group of boys who are accepted as the leaders of the group.

We tend to listen to each other differently based on gender or level of authority also and that can be life threatening in dangerous situations.

There can be risks to not accepting information from people in positions of lower authority. An excerpt from the linked article is about an airplane crash that would have been easily prevented if the captain had listened more closely to his copilot’s tentative concerns about ice build up on the aircraft:

“Shortly thereafter, the plane took off, with tragic results. In other instances as well as this one, Linde observed that copilots, who are second in command, are more likely to express themselves indirectly or otherwise mitigate, or soften, their communication when they are suggesting courses of action to the pilot. In an effort to avert similar disasters, some airlines now offer training for copilots to express themselves in more assertive ways.”

“This solution seems self-evidently appropriate to most Americans. But when I assigned Linde’s article in a graduate seminar I taught, a Japanese student pointed out that it would be just as effective to train pilots to pick up on hints. This approach reflects assumptions about communication that typify Japanese culture, which places great value on the ability of people to understand one another without putting everything into words. Either directness or indirectness can be a successful means of communication as long as the linguistic style is understood by the participants.” [https://hbr.org/1995/09/the-power-of-talk-who-gets-heard-and-why]

So is our society better off when women and men in positions of lower authority are expected to hint or to suggest and cajole regarding issues they consider dangerous? Or would our society be better off if we had more of an open suggestion box where anyone could speak up and say “Danger, Will Robinson,” (to quote a robot from “Lost in Space,” wikiquote)?

So our food supply is just fine and our health care system is just fine then we don’t have any problems do we. And vaccinations are guaranteed to be safe by our government and if there are any adverse reactions then our government will be there for individuals who apply for help (except for veterans of the Gulf War who have symptoms of the “emotional disorder” Gulf War Syndrome – a syndrome that has only occurred in American soldiers who in the early 1990s received an experimental series of vaccinations intended to protect against anthrax and not in any troops from other nations who fought in the Gulf War) but you might need a lawyer to negotiate with the government for you — possibly for years. Actually vaccinations are probably not the biggest issue, but they may be part of the problem for those who are also at greater risk for autism for other reasons.

The rapidly changing rates of obesity and autism and Alzheimer’s Disease in modern society all have suggested to me for a while that something in the environment changed because the biology of a whole group doesn’t change that rapidly. Genetic adaptation as suggested by theories about evolution can occasionally have sudden changes show up in a population but more typically changes in biology are small and occur over many generations.

Around 1985 increasing rates and severity of chronic health issues started to escalate in the U.S.. The accepted reason has been attributed to people eating too much and exercising too little. So if you are one of those people who has been frustrated by stubborn health issues that don’t seem to respond to your dedicated attempts to “eat healthier and exercise more” than you may need to change your definition of what eating healthier means. If avoiding glyphosate is something you’re interested or sick enough to be willing to try then avoiding the crops that use a lot of glysophate might help with weight loss by increasing your exercise too. Avoiding “corn, soy, sugar beets, canola oil, and cottonseed oil, as well as wheat and sugar cane” is enough of a challenge that your level of exercise is also likely to increase due to spending more time cooking whole foods and cleaning up afterwards. [http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/roundup-the-nontoxic-chemical-that-may-be-destroying-our-health/]

That kind of dietary change is kind of unreasonable to expect from anyone — unless they are already so sick that they are willing to try anything to feel better. Having been in that position myself though, and having helped others resolve their health issues with simple dietary changes, I have continued to share information that I’ve found helpful and strategies that I’ve found helpful.

Changing the safety rating of some of the genetically modified crops and herbicides and pesticides that are in common usage seems like it would be easier for individuals but before a problem can be solved it has to be recognized as a problem and currently our U.S. food supply is considered safe and we as a group seem to be considered unhealthy due to our own habits and possibly our emotions.

I love avoiding most of the food supply and it makes me emotionally feel very safe to enter grocery stores or to drive near agricultural fields where herbicides and pesticides might have been sprayed — not really. If you like traditional marriage and traditional genders then caring about traditional food supplies and traditional agricultural methods would probably be a good idea. Infertility is increasing along with obesity, autism and Alzheimer’s Disease so maybe we won’t have to worry about chronic health issues in children if we just stop having as many children — or maybe we’ll have a few generations with fewer children who have more severe health issues before we have to be concerned about infertility problems being severe enough to lead to no more new children being born at all. Or maybe we should start doing something about it now.

Glysophate has been associated with male infertility and erectile dysfunction — “Danger Will Robinson,” 60-80 million couples are now having difficulties with fertility: [http://naturalsociety.com/new-study-pesticides-a-major-cause-of-infertility-male-erectile-dysfunction/]

So if you are a tourist interested in visiting the U.S. you probably do not have to worry too much about chronic health issues associated with our food supply, as a short term use may not immediately cause long term health issues – animal studies on short term use of glysophate suggested that it is safe over the short term — studies performed by the chemical company. For those of us who live here, then there’s always satire.

Thank goodness it’s Friday, that at least gives me something I can be thankful about.

/Disclosure: Opinions are my own and this information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Costs of autism care could reach $500 billion by 2025 per research estimates

Current costs for caring for patients with autism spectrum disorder is more than double that for patients with stroke or hypertension and equivalent to that spent on care of patients with diabetes according to a news release by “study senior author Paul Leigh, a professor of public health sciences and a researcher with the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research at UC Davis.” By 2025 the costs to care for patients with autism are estimated to range from “$276 billion to $1 trillion, with $461 billion being the researchers’ best estimate.” Developing improved methods for diagnosis and care could help reduce the cost. The study was published online July 28, 2015 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Read more: [http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/news/20150729/autism-care-costs-could-hit-500-billion-by-2025-study]

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Good news about the deficit and about preeclampsia

With so many sad stories in the news it was nice to read an opinion piece with a positive tone. The deficit may seem huge but  it was encouraging to read that in relation to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the national deficit has stabilized over the last few years. [1]

More jobs leads to more income which allows more people to buy more products and services which leads to more jobs to create more products and services  — which increases the GDP.

There was also good news in the prenatal health industry – an inexpensive diagnostic test has been discovered that can detect preeclampsia during early stages of the prenatal condition. Misshapen proteins similar to those found in Alzheimer’s disease were found to be present in the urine of women with preeclampsia. The beta-amyloid proteins have an unusual folded shape which can’t be broken down by enzymes and instead collect in the placenta and disrupt blood flow to the growing infant. [2]

Discovery of an accurate and inexpensive diagnostic test may add to the GDP through direct sales of the paper-based Congo Red Dot urine test and by helping prevent sick days during pregnancy. Preeclampsia can be life threatening for the woman and child but more typically the condition is associated with high blood pressure and increased protein losses in the urine. It is a leading cause of premature delivery which increases risk of low birth weight and other birth defects. [3] The discovery of the presence of beta-amyloid proteins in preeclampsia may also help researchers identify possible causes the condition, which are not known at this time.

Following the clue about the special type of protein found in common between Alzheimer’s and preeclampsia led me to a third condition that is associated with both conditions and with amyloidosis, which is a non-specific term referring to an excess of the misshapen proteins.

Cardiomyopathy can be a diagnosis  or symptom found with Alzheimer’s, preeclampsia, amyloidosis and it also may be associated with hypo- or hyperthyroidism or with infectious conditions such as sarcoidosis. Cardiomyopathy may also occur with starvation and with deficiencies of potassium and magnesium or taurine, carnitine, selenium and thiamine (vit. B1). [4] The amino acid taurine has also been found useful for preventing damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease. [5]

Starvation is certainly bad for pregnancy and so are nutrient deficiencies but at least those problems have known solutions – increase intake of healthy foods. A prenatal person with severe nausea and vomiting might not easily be able to increase their intake but use of targeted supplements or nutrient dense foods might help reduce the severity of symptoms or prevent worsening of an underlying condition.

Detecting who is at risk for preeclampsia before symptoms are severe could provide time to test and treat autoimmune thyroid disease which may not have been detected by standard thyroid lab tests. If sarcoidosis were present then excessive use of vitamin D and calcium might increase risk of there being a deficiency of magnesium and potassium.

Babies are made from nutrients not from medications. So discovering a medication that helps break down beta-amyloid protein might be helpful but finding out why the body is producing the folded malfunctioning protein and how to stop their production would be more helpful.

Interesting news from the pet food industry – It may be better not to feed cats raw fish more than three times per week because some species, when fresh and unheated, may be a source of an enzyme, thiaminase, which can  cause excessive break down of the B vitamin thiamine. And taurine is frequently added to processed foods for pet cats because heat processing causes destruction of the essential amino acid. [6]

/Disclaimer: This article is for educational or entertainment purposes and is not intended to be used in place of individual medical guidance for humans or cats./

DSC_0531

A catfish perhaps,
and raw, a source of thiaminase;
limit raw fish for cats to three times per week.

 

 

 

Talking about trauma with kids; PTSD, neural mapping, EMDR and reframing

/This article was originally posted on March 21, 2011. It is still important to have open conversations with children about traumatic events or other information they may find confusing, troubling or frightening. EMDR therapy can be helpful for adults with PTSD./
We all need comfort and we gain it from sharing our burdens, talking about troubles and letting out worries. Listening is more important than talking – let kids talk to you about trauma – we don’t know what they are thinking or are worried about until we let them talk it out. Don’t worry too much about “how to talk about it”, pause, listen, and accept – “yes, there are worries but we’ll stick together and work through it”, is a strong message for all of us to hear.
Children and all of us have “hot” emotional memories centered in the amygdala and milder long term factual memories stored more generally throughout the neocortex. Electrical activity of the brain can be recorded and associated with the topic being considered. The amygdala centered emotional memory can be tied to smells, sounds, places or people and can be unexpectedly triggered leaving the person with panic attack type symptoms unique to the individual’s memories of the early traumatic event.

Douglas Buchanon described neural mapping in his blog “Follow the Neurons – Your Life Map” [TheGatesofHorn].Neural mapping is a bit like playing with a line of toy dominos. The designers spend hours placing the dominos in line, each the perfect distance and angle from the last, carefully balanced on end and poised for any slight shock to send the entire chain tumbling down. Emotional memories may be triggered by something like a car door slamming shut. A toddler memory may be submerged regarding something as trivial as mom and dad fighting over who has to carry in the groceries and the car doors were slammed shut violently. To a toddler the words may not mean as much as the tone and the violent sounds.

After the event, immediately, and maybe later that day, the next day, the next week – the toddler may pester with questions of what is wrong and what did I do to cause that fight? The child’s world is centered around themselves – natural while young but prone to self blame. The memory can be stored with feelings of “I caused that arguement – I am a bad person – I don’t deserve attention or explanation” and so on. If their worries are left unanswered or are denied as real then the hot memory is ignored and is left unprocessed, instead it is pushed down and forgotten at the daily level. A car door slamming with a combination of shouting voices might trigger a panic attack though.

The hot memory can be toned down and moved to long term storage if time is allowed to discuss the event – and more than once. It might pop up in the toddler’s chit chat daily, and then weekly, monthly, and maybe even over the years if it was bad enough triggering event. Once the connection is made though, (negative event associated with a negative symptom) and discussed, usually the power of the slamming/shouting sound is reduced and similar events in the future may not trigger a panic attack or it might  be a milder reaction.

Children are absorbing knowledge and building their neural pathways – good habits and bad habits are learned by watching the people they love and trust. Spending a few minutes whenever possible to listen to children share their worries allows them to move the memories from the ‘hot’ button zone of the amygdala, to the mellower long-term storage of the neocortex.

Symptoms of PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, can be effectively reframed  and reduced using cognitive therapy techniques like EMDR. A problem or trigger event is visualized and then a state of deep relaxation is reached and the memory is discussed or pondered with guidance from the therapist. New insights from the perspective of the adult framing of the situation can be considered and then the relaxation method is repeated using the new perspective.  The neural maps of the traumatic events can be reached  from a deeply relaxed state of theta waves. EMDR, attempts to help the patient reach the theta state with rapid stimulation of the right side then left side of the brain, either visually with a moving hand or object, or with sound or a vibration buzz in the palm of the hand. Children under seven are already living in this more meditative level of consciousness. In the zone – flow time – playing like a child – we could all use a little relaxed theta time these days and a chance to free a little worry from the hot zone of the amygdala.

The world is changing but denying reality never solves problems it only pushes them down to a submerged hot zone. When we talk about our troubles then we can look for solutions and change. Denying problems, denies a chance for change.

Art therapy can be a useful way to give children and anyone freedom to explore feelings – color to feel not to produce. Playdough and other free form play can help reach a relaxed state where gentle talk about hot topics can be released  as they surface. Picking at the problem with needling questions may not be as quick as open ended play time. Adults may find a walk or bike ride their ticket to free flow brain time.

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  1. Terrorism, and talking to kids about catastrophic mass violence, guidance sheets from The National Child Tramatic Stress Network [nctsnet.org/trauma-types/terrorism]
  2. by Carol Boulware, MFT, PhD, “EMDR Therapy, EMDR Therapists, EMDR information, PTSD,” [emdr-therapy.com/].
  3. by Carol Boulware, MFT, PhD, “EMDR-Breakthrough Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress,Trauma and Self-Sabotage,” [emdr-therapy.com].
  4. by Carol Boulware, MFT, PhD, “Do I Have Anxiety Needing Therapy?” a discussion about anxiety and PTSD focused on adults [emdr-therapy]
  5. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network [nctsnet.org/]
  6. Trauma and Your Family – a guidance factsheet from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network pdf: [nctsn.org]
  7. by Tanya Anderson, PTSD in Children and Adolescents, Great Cities Institute, GCP-05-04, November, 2005  pdf: [uic.edu]
  8. This website is a non-profit 12 step based program for the Adult Children Of Alcoholic (or Dysfunctional) Families. PTSD and neural mapping aren’t discussed but the symptom list includes similar problems: The Laundry List – 14 Traits of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (or Dysfunctional Family) ,  [adultchildren.org]
/Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health care guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./