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.

Neural connections in the brain can be flexible or can be linked together in behavior patterns that might be described as being a bit like playing with a line of toy dominoes. The designers spend hours placing the dominoes 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. A description of brain cell connections without the dominoes analogy is available on ScienceDaily: Brain pattern flexibility and behavior, (ScienceDaily)

 

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.

_____________________________________________________________________

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.

  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]

Dietitian Recommends less Vitamin D and Calcium

We can cure the epidemic of ill health and obesity that has seized our nation and the world. The food supply is low on some important nutrients and has too much focus on calcium. Calcium is important but health is built on a variety of essential nutrients, and clean air and water of course.
We can have health if we seek to rebuild instead of hunt for a disease to name and for a magic bullet cure. There will always be a need for acute care but we are overloading the medical system with chronic degenerative disease. Chemotherapy kills and so do corticosteroids. They are powerful drugs that are aimed at the disease but our bodies get in the way. Food that nourishes with a full range of essential nutrients in forms that can be absorbed and used can help us heal ourselves from within.
We are designed to fight cancer and to rebuild organs using our own stem cells and white blood cells but we can only do that if they are working right. White blood cells protect us by patrolling for old, pre-cancerous or infected cells. The bad cells can be mercy-killed in a process called apoptosis. We grow new skin cells every day and new intestinal cells weekly. New cells of whatever type we need can be rebuilt from our own stem cells. Any organ can be ours for the making – if we have the essential nutrients in our food supply in a mixture that we can absorb.
Our food supply isn’t providing us with the variety of nutrients that we need, in ratios that we can absorb well. Our nutrient guidelines were developed in the 1940’s to help make K-rations that could keep our soldiers strong and healthy under conditions of war.  The original work has been reviewed and modified by the Institute of Medicine. The calcium guidelines were increased in 1997 and while they have been reviewed they haven’t been changed since. The increase was based on an estimation of how much calcium might be needed for better bone absorption.
Do we have stronger bones now as a nation then we did in 1996? That is a simple question with a simple answer – no.Our nation’s diet was changed in 1997 and since then chronic illness, obesity and osteoporosis rates have been expanding quicker than our budgets or belts.
We can’t grow strong bones out of excessive calcium and vitamin D supplements. Bones do require some vitamin D and calcium but we also need magnesium, strontium, vitamin K, and water to name a few essential nutrients.
Calcium is being consumed at levels that our bodies are not able to excrete. The kidneys actively save calcium and use magnesium to remove acidic wastes and some of the excess calcium. Diuretics and alcohol use also increase magnesium losses. Magnesium is lost in sweat but many brands of electrolyte beverages don’t contain it. Our food supply is low in magnesium and high in calcium from dairy products, fortified foods, and supplements.
The dairy products available in our U.S. food supply in the year 2007 provided 716 milligrams of calcium in just 351 calories of cheese and milk per day. Many people eat more than 351 calories of dairy products daily. On average we are consuming more cheese and less milk than we did prior to 1970. Cheese is a more concentrated source of fat and calcium than liquid milk.
Toddlers (n=925) usual intakes from food, beverages, and supplements as reported in FITS 2008 provided on average 892 mg/day of calcium and 160 mg/day of magnesium.
The abnormal vitamin D levels have been misunderstood. Low lab values are linked to ill health and obesity but more of the vitamin won’t fix the underlying problem. The mega-dose is a short term fix but not a long term cure for chronic illness and cancer. It is considered safe for everyone but it is only safe for those with healthy kidney control over the activation of vitamin D to hormone D. High levels of the active hormone D can cause health problems to worsen over time, adding to chronic degeneration.
Vitamin D has two forms and two lab tests of interest, and one test is more expensive. The cheap lab test for 25 hydroxy D (Dᴣ), is what most of the research is based on. It is the inactive form of the vitamin and is available as a supplement. It is considered safe at higher doses because it is assumed that all people, not just healthy people, have very good kidney control over the activation of the vitamin to the hormone. The enzyme needed for activation to 1,25 dihydroxy D is being produced uncontrollably by inflammatory white blood cells and it has been shown to be produced by some cancer cell strains as well.
We are not deficient in vitamin D and haven’t been since milk fortification was begun. The average American’s serum 25-D levels were normal, above 20 ng/ml and Canadian’s had average levels around 24 ng/ml, also normal, from a 2009 Institute of Medicine report. An increased risk of fractures has not been observed at these levels. [4]
Lack of sunlight is not a problem either, according to the research by Dr. James Norman. He has put together a database of over 10,000 patients with hyper-para-thyroidism from around the world who live under a wide range of sunlight conditions. Their vitamin 25-D levels average 19.4 ng/ml, but their active hormone, 1-25 D levels and calcium levels are very high no matter where they live. As soon as their para-thyroid tumor is removed their bodies’ 25-D and 1-25 D balance normalize, no matter where they live.
Dr. Norman, does not recommend supplementing with vitamin D. The supplements push the patient’s lab values for 1-25 D and calcium even higher. He has multiple case examples where stroke or sudden illness occurred after vitamin D supplementation was begun by the patient’s endocrinologist. His seminar about it is on Youtube, listed under ParaThyroid TV, and is posted on my webpage.
I recently started working at an assisted living facility and many of the residents were started on high doses of vitamin D by their individual doctors about a year ago when this research was first getting popular. I read charts cover to cover – and I saw their quality of life deteriorate, their pain levels increase, and worsening of their weakness, cardiac symptoms and dementia, and one death. High doses of vitamin D may not be safe for unhealthy people.
Our public health initiatives have been successful at preventing rickets in the majority; we already won the battle against vitamin D deficiency. Many foods are now fortified with vitamin D not just milk. I met about 4000 babies in fifteen years as a WIC dietitian and only one showed early symptoms of rickets. He was exclusively breast fed and he and his mother both had severe milk protein allergies. They both took to sardines which are an excellent natural source of vitamin D, and supplements were never even needed for the little boy.
We are not vitamin D deficient but we do have a sub-population of chronically ill and obese people with depressed levels of the inactive form of the vitamin. The inactive vitamin Dᴣ is being activated at an unlimited rate in some cancer cells and by white blood cells in wound and inflammatory conditions, resulting in elevated levels of the active hormone form.
Increased levels of the active hormone cause movement of calcium and magnesium out of the bone which eventually leads to osteoporosis of the bone and calcification of everything else. It increases intestinal absorption of calcium and it can increase levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. [39] Too much cortisol can increase abdominal weight gain but it also acts like corticosteroid drugs on the immune system.
Activated hormone D leads to increased cortisol and a short term reduction in inflammatory symptoms because it kills off the overactive white blood cells. However it also kills off the healthy ones. Mega doses of vitamin D are being used in a way similar to corticosteroids. Ultimately the immune system is functioning even worse. The current increase in allergic sensitivities to foods like gluten and peanut butter is due to the over active white blood cells. If we kill off the white blood cells then we won’t get the allergic symptoms as bad but we may get more colds, skin infections, and other illnesses.
Mega-dosing with vitamin D is like paying for Prednisone, if we’re sick and for an expensive cholesterol supplement if we’re healthy. 
Vitamin D is actually a very powerful steroidal hormone based on cholesterol. The average American is making enough vitamin D from their stored cholesterol. Vitamin D is an expensive cholesterol supplement if you don’t need it.[1]  If you are worried about whether you need a supplement or currently are supplementing with vitamin D, then ask your medical provider for both lab tests, cheap and expensive, 25 hydroxy D and 1, 25 dihydroxy D.  The good news is that the combined test result comparison will serve as a biomarker to show who does have chronic inflammatory conditions – proving that fibromyalgia isn’t all in our heads.
Low levels of 25-D combined with high levels of 1,25 D is an abnormal balance that is not seen in the healthy person with good kidney control.It occurs due to the increased production of the activating enzyme in the cancer cells or infected cells. Autoimmune disease may be due to a variety of chronic infections that are not readily identifiable by today’s standard lab tests.
Excessive levels of the active vitamin D cause the bone to lose calcium and magnesium. Too much calcium can cause muscle cramps, increase pain, and can cause anxiety, irritability and headaches.
We need less calcium then we are getting on average and more magnesium. If we limit our intake to 800 mg calcium we should absorb magnesium better, but we still need about twice as much magnesium as we are currently getting. Nuts, beans, seeds and greens are all excellent sources of magnesium and so is chocolate. Just two and a half dairy servings per day, about what is recommended already, would provide adequate calcium for strong bones without overloading our intestines. Too much calcium is causing magnesium to be poorly absorbed in the intestines and to be wasted in urinary losses.
Magnesium blocks calcium channels in cell membranes and would protect the brain cells from being over-flooded with calcium and being overworked to the point of cell death. The over-excitation of the brain cells causes anxiety and irritability and may be underlying the increase in rates of bullying and violence. PMS is another name for magnesium deficiency that is associated with excessive irritiability and chocolate cravings (a good source of magnesium).
Magnesium provides power inside of the cell – fatigue is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency. Anemia and edema are early symptoms of magnesium deficiency. It is essential for the growth of mature red and white blood cells in bone marrow. It is used by over 300 enzymes and it is essential for apoptosis – the mercy killing of infected and precancerous cells. Hypertension and increased serum cholesterol and insulin are also symptoms. If I were writing the books, then Metabolic Syndrome would be called magnesium deficiency and so would pre-eclampsia.
We can heal ourselves, if we learn how to feed ourselves better and repair the food supply and nutrient guidelines.I recommend stopping the push to supplement with vitamin D and calcium and instead I would encourage trying the DASH diet plan. It was a primary education tool that I used successfully to prevent pre-eclampsia reoccurrence in high risk women. The DASH diet provides a good supply of magnesium from the Bean, Nut and Seed food group. The plan has been found helpful for weight loss as well as reducing hypertension.
I propose ten steps for turning around our epidemic of chronic illness and obesity
  1.  Look for health in Food First, treating symptoms does not restore function.
  2. Increase Magnesium in water and other electrolyte beverages. Softened water adds salt to our daily intake and sucks magnesium from our bones.
  3.  Increase magnesium rich foods. They also give us fiber that builds a healthy glycocalyx lining and stronger immune system. Beans, nuts, seeds, greens, whole grains and chocolate are good sources and there is a little in everything else.
  4. Sub-populations need to be identified and informed about their individual nutrient needs, whether increased or decreased from the average person’s to promote optimal health and quality of life.
  5. Poor intestinal absorption of magnesium is part of the problem. We can deliver nutrients from other directions. Skin lotions and Epsom salt (MgSO4) baths are low budget, low risk and very effective methods. [35, 36, 37]
  6.  Nutrients can be delivered by inhalation in an aerosolized  form that would be safer than intravenous magnesium use. [30, 31]
  7.  Limit calcium intake – more is not better. We will retain more when we consume less. The research on strong bones and calcium supplements were for people whose native diet averaged 300 mg calcium per day – not our current RDA of 1000 mg.
  8. Don’t worry about D deficiency and if you are worried then ask for both tests, the inactive and active form of the most powerful hormone in our body.
  9. Ask your government representatives to support food labeling reform. Neotame and free amino acids may be causing migraines, seizures and lead to dementia.
  10. We need our Nutrient Guidelines – the math – checked by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists who use the numbers – food scientists, dietitians, and biochemists should be involved. The math makes our infant formulas and cafeteria menus and when it is wrong then we all suffer.
All nutrients are equally essential. Currently our food supply and health care messages are over-loaded with calcium and vitamin D and it is hurting us. Draining the magnesium from our bones is draining the energy and fluid from our cells and leaves us puffy and pale from anemia. Without magnesium we can’t grow proper blood cells and without healthy white blood cells we can’t protect ourselves from infections and we can’t breakdown decaying, pre-cancerous cells for normal recycling.
Cancer occurs from old cells mutating. Healthy white blood cells can kill the active cancer too. The Linus Pauling Institute successfully treats tumors with high doses of vitamin C. The Gerson Clinic successfully uses a raw foods approach and detoxification with coffee enemas Not too pretty sounding but chemotherapy isn’t pretty either. Why do we continue to hurt people with harsh chemicals when nature gave us what we need in whole foods and the potent herbs and spices. Cinnamon, oregano and rosemary have shown promise in chronic illness. Spice up your lives and enjoy.
Our bodies can do it, we just have to feed ourselves an absorbable balance of a wide variety of essential nutrients.

See Bibliography on the page with this title. I will continue to add to it as I get it organized .

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. Please see an individual health care professional for individualized health care services. If you have questions or comments please contact me at: jenniferdepew@jenniferdepew.com

The Glycocalyx, Our Jelly Filling

The glycocalyx is a free form matrix made up of a jelly like mixture of starches, fluid, ions and other goo. Gelatin desserts are well known examples of a free form matrix supported by the starch, pectin. The glycocalyx jelly layer may act like glue between cells or like sealant coating the interior and exterior of pipes in plumbing repair. It protects our surfaces around cells and the lining of blood vessels and organs. The stickiness allows cellular interactions to take place more easily between white blood cells and protein receptors found in cell membranes. Imagine trying to build a garden hose out of lettuce leaves and strawberry jam – that is kind of how a blood vessel is made.

A gelatin dessert is

The faster current in blood vessels can flow on while white blood cells can pause and perform tasks safely sticking in the slower goo of the glycocalyx layer. It reminds me of the muddy bottom of river beds where minnows hide and frogs lay eggs. The glycolipids and glycoproteins may be long and branching like sea-weed and algae and the fibrous mixture may be like a net, slowing down and trapping things flowing by in the blood stream or in other vessels like airways and the digestive track. (Strolling through the skin, a live action video of the fibrous collagen network that supports our skin and other ligaments, blood vessels and organs, youtube.)

The inside of a jelly jar.

Our intestines are miles long and wide open to every passing food particle unless our cells are replaced regularly and are well coated with the glycocalyx layer. The digestive track has the shortest lived cells in the body. They are replaced every seven days on average – that is a lot of miles of cells for our white blood cells to patrol in order to identify the decaying ones and provide them a quick death by apoptosis.

Apoptosis is nature’s control over pre-cancerous, decaying cells. Well nourished white blood cells can recognize the old or infected cells, give them a little enzyme blast of death and then engulf the waste material, resulting in no inflammation or discomfort to us. It happens every day. Apoptosis requires the white blood cell to have nutrient building blocks for all the chemical steps in the process, and the white blood cell membrane has to join with the other cell membrane temporarily probably occurring within the glycocalyx layer.

The intestines also need plenty of fiber from our diets to build and rebuild the jelly layer coating its surfaces. Animal foods do not offer any fiber for building this protective layer and a diet high in meat and dairy and refined grains can leave the body more open to allergens and infection. Fiber is found in all plant foods and whole grains. A fiber pill or fortified food is unlikely to meet our need for a variety of different starches. Vine ripened produce has a higher content of some of the essential types of starches then produce that is picked early and forced to ripen with plant hormones. Frozen and canned vegetables are picked at peak ripeness and then processed rapidly. They lose some nutrients in processing but will retain value over time. Fresh produce will retain nutrient value longer when stored as recommended for the variety.

Some natural food sources of healthy types of fiber include: Carrots, apples, pears, pre-ripened peaches and nectarines, berries, cherries, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, peas, green beans, other beans, nuts, seeds, guava, turnips, mushrooms, corn, leeks, dark greens, fenugreek, aloe vera, slippery elm powder, marshmallow root, cinnamon, turmeric, horseradish and ginger. And other whole fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices would also be sources of fiber. It is found in all plant foods.

Glucosamine is one of the super starches. It is important within bone tissue and may help those with arthritis problems. A typical supplement size is a large 1500 mg capsule once a day or three 500 mg tablets. Supplemental glucosamine is usually extracted from shells of crustaceans and can be a risk if there is an allergy to seafood. Glucosamine derived from corn has been developed and hopefully will make it into a variety of foods soon. Glucosamine derived from corn is available as a vegan source of the supplement at Deva Nutrition: [devanutrition.com].

/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./

85. [dvd.sagepub.com] Noble, M., Drake-Hollan, A., Hyperglycaemia and the vascular glycocalyx: the key to microalbuminaria and cardiovascular disease in diabetes mellitus? (British Journal of Diabetes & Vascular Disease 2010 10: 66) DOI: 10.1177/1474651409357035

86. [jasn.asnjournals] Singh, A., Satchell, S. C., Neal, C. R., McKenzie E A., Tooke, J E., and Mathieson P. W., Glomerular Endothelial Glycocalyx constitutes a Barrier to Protein Permeability, (J Am Soc Nephrol 18: 2885-2893, 2007.) DOI: 10.1681/ASN.2007010119) Full text

87. [nutritionj.com] Ramberg, J. E., Nelson, E. D., Sinnott, R. A., Immunomodulatory dietary polysaccharides: a systematic review of the literature, (Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:54) DOI:10.1186/1475-2891-9-54

89. [ncbi.nlm.nih.] Reitsma, S.,,et al The Endothelial glycocalyx: composition, functions, and visualization, (Pflugers Arch – Eur J Physiol (2007) 454:345-359) DOI 10.1007/s00424-007-0212-8

90. [ircres.ahajournals] Barakat, A. I., Dragging Along; the Glycocalyx and Vascular Endothelial Cell Mechanotransduction, (Circulation Research. 2008;102:747.748) 2008 American Heart Assoc.

Addition – more recent research has been examining how intracellular structures tend to stay semi-fluid or aggregate into separate droplets like water and oil will separate into layers in some types of salad dressings. Several chronic illnesses and neurodegenerative disorders seem to involve protein clumping and intracellular fluid changes. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-03070-2?utm_source=twt_nnc&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=naturenews&sf204568751=1

Magnesium and calcium both are involved in stabilizing or disrupting membrane structure in cell walls or cellular structures. Increasing concentrations of either cause the clumping/disrupting effects but the effect occurs at lower concentrations of calcium then magnesium. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2018/10/24/453019.full.pdf

During normal health more calcium is available in extracellular fluid and more magnesium is in the intracellular fluid. Both are kept within very narrow ranges. Back stock, extra supplies, are carried in a non-electrically active way on protein or phospholipid transport molecules. When less protein or phospholipid is available then less magnesium is available within the cell in the inactive form which is normally released if needed in case of traumatic injury or other issues cause a need for more of the electrically active mineral. It is used to control flow of other minerals and molecules across cell membranes. See Magnesium in the Central Nervous System for more information. https://www.adelaide.edu.au/press/titles/magnesium/

Summary points based on the textbook regarding magnesium sources, symptoms of deficiencies and food sources of phosphonutrients: https://transcendingsquare.com/2018/07/20/to-have-optimal-magnesium-needs-protein-and-phospholipids-too/

More about magnesium and phospholipid bilayers https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2754194/

Ionic plasma/electrical fields are being experimentally tested to help wound healing in diabetics. Activation of Nrf2 pathways and rebalancing oxidative stress chemicals seems to be involved. The treatment also helps stabilize the cellular matrix/ the glycocalx layer of the healing wound.
Redox for Repair: Cold Physical Plasmas and Nrf2 Signaling Promoting Wound Healing https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/7/10/146/htm