Demyelination, continued.

The last post got a little long and it included a link to another health writer who was summarizing a large amount of material on the topic of demyelination – it is amazing what you can learn by reading. I only mentioned the article, (22), briefly because it was already a long post and I hadn’t checked the other writer’s references, (it is primarily all medical research from peer reviewed journals (22.1)); and some of his recommendations are not typical, however I had read of them elsewhere so it seemed thorough and well written. The truly intriguing part for me was just how many other conditions there are that may be susceptible to demyelination and increased negative symptoms due to nerve degeneration.

I have a few of the problems that were mentioned and I have had early symptoms of nerve numbness and pain in my extremities – fingertips particularly. Health is easier to maintain then to restore once chronic conditions develop. I have managed to reverse the nerve numbness and occasional pain that I was having in my fingertips but it is with several daily or weekly health habits, not just a simple take-this-medication-once-a-day solution.

The list of psychiatric conditions that may also have demyelination summarized in an article about possible ways to regenerate myelin, (22):

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Depression 
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Dyslexia 
  • Language disorders 
  • Stuttering 
  • Autism 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder 
  • Cognitive decline 
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Tourette’s syndrome 
  • Schizophrenia 
  • Tone deafness
  • Pathological lying
  • (22)

That is quite a list – protect your oligodendrocytes, because they protect your ability to think and communicate, to control your ability to control your movements and to have stable moods, reduce anxiety, and control your ability to be able to read and speak and to be able to control your impulses and ability to prevent yourself from lying or saying things you don’t intend to say, and to be able to understand that your thoughts are your own thoughts, and to be able to hear accurately. The reference given for the information is this article: [45].

Neurology is the study of the nervous system, Psychiatry or Psychology is the study of mental health and neuropsychiatry is the study of mental symptoms caused by neurological conditions.

This topic of psychiatric conditions and other conditions that may also have demyelination is also reviewed in a summary of Neurotoxicology for neurologists: (6.Neurotoxicology). Neurology is the study of the nerves and nervous system. The nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord and all of the nerves throughout the body. It is subdivided into two main categories: the Central Nervous System (CNS) refers to the brain, the spinal cord and nerves of the brain and spinal cord; and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) refers to the nerves throughout the rest of the body. Neurologists are medical doctors who specialize in conditions affecting the nervous system. They may focus on a subspeciality within the field of neurology (What is a neurologist?, HealthLine) Interestingly dementia, chronic headaches, and Multiple sclerosis are mentioned as possible conditions they treat but all the other psychiatric conditions mentioned in the list that may involve demyelination are not mentioned.

The overview article on Neurotoxicology does mention that psychiatric symptoms may occur in patients with neurological conditions but that the symptoms tend to be dismissed by neurologists, and are not studied in depth, so more reliable information is needed about psychiatric symptoms presenting with neurological disorders  – see “Psychiatric and behavioural disorders.” (6.Neurotoxicology) An article for neurologists goes into more detail about psychiatric symptoms that might deserve consultation with a neurologist rather than having the patient only see a psychiatrist: Neurological syndromes which can be mistaken for psychiatric conditions. Early symptoms of Multiple sclerosis for example sometimes may be mistaken for a psychiatric condition. (Neurological syndromes) Talk therapy or psychiatric medications are not going to help a patient regenerate their myelin after all. Neuropyschiatrists are neurologists that also have a degree in psychology and specialize in treating patients with mental health and behavioral symptoms related to neurological disorders. (neuropsychiatrists)

PTSD was also mentioned as a psychiatric condition that may have demyelination.[45]

Reading the article that was referenced for the list of psychiatric conditions that may also have demyelination [45] provided an additional condition that was not added to the list in the summary article about potential ways to help regenerate myelin (22) – PTSD also may involve demyelination, and confirmed the rest of the list were mentioned [45] . The article also includes more background information about the function and development of the myelin sheath in learning and behavior.

Nerves with myelin provide a much faster signal and oligodendrocytes myelinate several different nerves so there is additional benefit in signals that work in a coordinated manner to also improve speed of function. The myelination occurs over time so the phrase practice, practice, practice applies. Peak time of life to learn skills is in our youth because that is when the majority of myelination occurs -starting in early childhood and continuing until the early twenties even up to age thirty. Healing after injury or learning a new skill later in life would still require the practice, practice, practice so the speedy pathways between groups of nerve cells develop their myelin sheaths in coordinated connections. [45]

This information may help show the difficulties faced by people with PTSD or other psychiatric conditions – the brain connections are coordinated in patterns learned from traumatic memories or are stuck in Obsessive Compulsive patterns. The problem with impulse control might also make more sense if there is simply “leaky” wiring in the brain. Signals that were intended to do one thing might end up activating other behaviors because the myelin sheath is no longer functioning as expected.

A cognitive therapy technique, involving frequent practice/repetition of new ways to talk to yourself – it might help strengthen more positive neural networks with new myelin sheath connections.

Learning new patterns of thinking, replacing traumatic or anxious thoughts that were learned as a child or during a traumatic phase of life can take time and a lot of repetition but it is possible, just like it can be possible to relearn how to walk or do other basic life skills after a stroke or traumatic physical injury. A book by Shad Helmstetter, PhD discusses how to rephrase your own internal self talk to be more positive and gives examples for a number of different types of concerns. I found the technique helpful for emotional overeating and share phrases that I wrote regarding healthy eating and lifestyle and a link to the book in a previous post: “What to Say When You’re Talking to Yourself.” The recommendation that I followed was to read the statements several times every day – for a while, months even. I don’t remember how long I read them daily but it was for quite a while and I still have the little ring binder of statements that I wrote.

Often changing behavior patterns is easier when the new pattern is created first, rather then trying to stop the old first. Build the new and then the old is no longer needed.  Addition, I found the source of that idea:

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

A new way to think about demyelination – what is the underlying problem? Possibly excess cell death, at rates above the ability to breakdown and remove nucleotides (ATP, ADP, UTP, UDP).

The article on demyelination and cognitive disorders, [45] , also mentioned that adenosine plays a role in signaling oligodendrocytes to make myelin and an article with more information on the topic mentions that increased amounts of ATP, ADP, UTP, UDP can signal breakdown of myelin. Increased presence of those chemicals was suggested to possibly be due to increased cell death without normal clearing away of the old cellular material. And some types of Multiple sclerosis seems to involve increased levels of the enzyme that breaks down adenosine so there would be less available to signal the production of myelin. (8.adenosine in MS)

Take home point – protect against excessive cell death and/or mitochondria damage by not having excessive glutamate (11.link) or aspartate – excitatory amino acids that may be overly available in the modern processed food diet – and by having adequate magnesium to protect the cells from their interior by providing the needed energy to block ion channels in the cell membrane and prevent excessive amounts of calcium, glutamate or aspartate from being able to cross the cell membrane and enter the cell’s interior.

As usual however, it is not that simple, (not that avoiding glutamate and aspartate in the diet is easy, they are in many processed foods), other things can also cause excessive cell death.

  • Exposure to toxins in the environment or due to drug use, illicit or legal, can cause excessive cell death and lead to demyelination disorders. An overview:(6.Neurotoxicology)
  • Lack of oxygen can also be a cause. Lack of nutrients in general can increase the breakdown of cellular parts to provide enough nutrients however if malnutrition is severe and ongoing the breakdown (autophagy) can become excessive. (7.Metabolic Stress, Autophagy & Cell Death)
  • Traumatic injury and infection can increase the  rate of cell death above the level that the body’s detoxification systems can cope with clearing away the cellular material. Traumatic injury is associated with increased risk for infection for reasons that are not well understood, the immune system is considered functionally suppressed: (10.Immunobiology of Trauma) Also mentioned briefly in the Skeletal Muscle section of this overview: (6.Neurotoxicology).
  • Anything that causes excess oxidative stress may cause increased rates of mitochondria breakdown so protecting against stress is protecting the mitochondria which is protecting the cells. (7.Metabolic Stress, Autophagy & Cell Death) Mitochondria are the main energy producers within cells and make up about thirty percent of the volume of cardiac/heart cells. Other type of mitochondrial problems can also increase risk of their switching from promoting health through energy production into a mode that promotes cell death. One of the roles mitochondria play in normal health is storage of excess intracellular calcium. If the mitochondria become dysfunctional then the extra calcium is released into the cell where it can signal increased activity such as release of cannabinoids from the membranes. (9.mitochondria in CVD)

This is approaching really long again, so I am stopping here for now.

/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./ 

  1. Jordan Fallis, 27 Proven Ways to Promote the Regeneration of Myelin. Feb. 18, 2017, Optimal Living Dynamics,   https://www.optimallivingdynamics.com/blog/25-proven-ways-to-promote-the-regeneration-of-myelin (22)
  2. Reference list: https://www.optimallivingdynamics.com/myelin-references (22.1)
  3. R. Douglas Fields, White Matter in Learning, Cognition, and Psychiatric DisordersTrends Neurosci. 2008 Jul; 31(7): 361–370.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2486416/ [45]
  4. Butler CZeman AZJ, Neurological syndromes which can be mistaken for psychiatric conditions
  5. Anne Masi, Marilena M. DeMayo, Nicholas Glozier, Adam J. Guastella, An Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Heterogeneity and Treatment Options. Neuroscience Bulletin, Vol 33, Iss 2, pp 183–193, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12264-017-0100-y (autism link)
  6. Harris JBBlain PG, Neurotoxicology: what the neurologist needs to know.

    (6.Neurotoxicology)

  7. Brian J. Altman, Jeffrey C. Rathmell, Metabolic Stress in Autophagy and Cell Death Pathways. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2012 Sep 1;4(9):a008763 http://cshperspectives.cshlp.org/content/4/9/a008763.full (7.Metabolic Stress & Cell Death)
  8. Marek Cieślak, Filip Kukulski, Michał Komoszyński, Emerging Role of Extracellular Nucleotides and Adenosine in Multiple sclerosisPurinergic Signal. 2011 Dec; 7(4): 393–402.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3224637/ (8.adenosine in MS)
  9. Sang-Bing Ong, Asa B. Gustafsson, New roles for mitochondria in cell death in the reperfused myocardium. Cardiovascular Research, Vol. 94, Issue 2, 1 May 2012, pp 190–196, https://academic.oup.com/cardiovascres/article/94/2/190/268169 (9.mitochondria in CVD)
  10. Dr. Daniel Remick, pre-ARC Director, Immunobiology of Trauma, pre-Affinity Research Collaborative (ARC), Boston University Medical Center, http://www.bumc.bu.edu/evanscenteribr/files/2009/07/pre-arcimmunologytrauma.pdf  (10.Immunobiology of Trauma)
  11. Howard Prentice, Jigar Pravinchandra Modi, Jang-Yen Wu, Mechanisms of Neuronal Protection against Excitotoxicity, Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress, and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Stroke and Neurodegenerative Diseases. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, Vol. 2015, Article ID 964518, 7 pages,Hindawi.com https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2015/964518/ (11.link
  12. Blaylock, R.L. (1996). Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills. Health Press. ISBN 0-929173-25-2
  13. Blaylock, R.L. (a neurosurgeon) podcast Excitotoxinshttp://www.blaylockhealthchannel.com/bhc-ep-18-excitotoxins (Excitotoxins podcast)
  14. Excitotoxicity, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excitotoxicity (Excitotoxicity)
  15. Aspartic Acid, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartic_acid (Aspartic Acid/Aspartate)

Spiritual gardening for the dissociated soul

Trigger warning: This post is about recovery from sexual assault.

Sometimes a book can speak to you like a good friend, heart to heart, soul to soul, sharing secrets you never imagined anyone else had thought or experienced. The author wrote words many years ago but may have imagined that there would be a reader in need of the wisdom learned from hard experience.

Dissociation is a way for the mind to cope with pain or fear or with other overwhelming emotions or events. Children who experience trauma may have coped by allowing their minds to dissociate or separate from feeling the physical sensations or from being mentally present during the traumatic event. Dissociation is a natural reaction to intense experiences but it can become a lesson that is too well learned, a strategy for coping that becomes too much of a habit for the rest of life. Recovering a sense of connection to self and with the world can be difficult for the survivor of childhood trauma.

Dissociation became a habit for Karla McLaren, the author of Rebuilding the Garden: Healing the Spiritual Wounds of Childhood Sexual Assault (1997). [1] She experienced ongoing sexual assault beginning at age three. The culprit was caught but the dissociation remained for the author as a feeling of being incomplete and disconnected during her youth and young adult years.  The book grew from her personal discovery and exploration of an inner sanctuary that can exist within our minds whenever we care to imagine it and visit. She describes the inner sanctuary in terms of a garden with herself as the gardener. Sexual assault occurring during childhood violates boundaries and can take away an inner sense of self.

“Since the lasting wound of sexual assault occurs in a quiet spiritual center that no one ever mentions, it is very hard for assault survivors to understand why they don’t get better.” [page 5, 1]

The assault destroys the inner sanctuary but the survivor is not the ruined garden but is instead the gardener who can rebuild boundaries that protect and heal. Assault during childhood teaches the survivor that they have no boundaries and are open to invasion. Later in life the adult survivor may have problems relating well to others. Some survivors may be overly controlling of every aspect in their lives while others may seek stimulation and act out of control. Normal sexual relations may be difficult for some survivors.

“Many assault survivors become excellent puppeteers when sex is “happening” to them; they pull the right strings and make the right noises, but they are not present at all. They are off in a dream world, or up on the ceiling.” [page 57, 1]

Meditative relaxation is somewhat similar to the strategies described but the visualization exercises in the book delve more into the energy of the chakras and auras. The author describes the dissociated self in terms of being split. The visualization exercises are varied but aim to help the reader reconnect with their fragmented self and with the world around them.

“Not going anywhere in life, not living in peace, not truly knowing how to behave around people, relying on relationships for inner peace: these are just some of the characteristics of people who come to me for classes, and when I see them, they are often at the end of their ropes. People usually don’t come to psychic healers first.” [page 36, 1]

Seeking guidance from someone who self designates as a psychic healer may not be a first choice for most people but dissociation is the mind or psyche separating itself from the body’s present. The visualization strategies the author shares are designed to help restore a sense of an inner core that is always safe and to help reconnect to the world.

A lifelong habit of dissociation isn’t treatable with a pill. Anti-anxiety medications may be provided to help cope with anxiety if that is also present. Cognitive therapy, retraining the brain, is the most effective strategy used currently for treating people with dissociative disorders. But for that you would need an appointment with a therapist who believes in dissociative disorders. So in the meantime, there’s always Amazon. Finding an author who believes in the problem and believes that recovery is possible is at least a place to start even if it’s not a first choice. [1]

Gloriosa greets the day in the cheerful way, that daisies all share.
Gloriosa greets
the day in the cheerful way,
that all daisies share.

/Disclaimer: 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./

What to say when you’re talking to yourself

What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, is a book about a cognitive therapy strategy that I found very helpful for my overeating problem. I never attended an Overeater’s Anonymous group. I didn’t think my dietitian self could stay anonymous or keep from trying to counsel others. The OA 12 Step group I believe recommends no snacks and controlling your meals carefully. I believe that deprivation and over-controlling eating can make the binge eating problem worse in my experience and based on review of other research in the field of eating disorders.

My individual therapy with a child trauma counselor helped guide me to my suppressed feelings of unworthiness. Deep down I felt bad, naughty, undeserving of comfort or touch. Not at any fault of my parents. I did get hugs and kisses and loving guidance through life but we didn’t talk about our feelings much. I grew up eager to please or eager to avoid attention so I could continue reading my latest book in peace.

Negative messages that you heard your entire life can be hard to change. Reading new statements can help retrain the old negative message into a healthier one. Daily review of the new self talk statements can be done while brushing your teeth if the statement is on an index card by your mirror, or if it’s posted in your car, or by your phone. I wrote them all in a spiral notebook of index cards and would flip through the whole set  a few times a day. I haven’t read them in a while and I think I should start again – they are helpful.

I am posting my modified statements about health and eating based on the recommendations for rewriting your internal self talk,

What to Say When You Talk To Yourself:  Amazon Link .

The book did have eating related examples but some of them were deprivation oriented. Retraining disordered eating habits requires focus on relearning hunger and fullness signals. Deprivation and controlled eating tend to backfire and lead to worse binges in my experience and based on my review of research in the field of disordered eating. The body has to have sustenance and just stop all use, “cold turkey” type strategies do not work the same for substances that are essential to life. We have to eat food for daily fuel and rebuilding purposes and can’t just stop eating “cold turkey” in the same way and some other addictions may be given up 100% rather than be used in moderation or withdrawn from use slowly.

Cravings have to do with real physical needs of the body. Our instincts and taste buds help guide us to the foods that have the nutrients that we need. Trying to fight cravings with a set menu and controlled portions of foods chosen by someone else or even by yourself but at a different time may not be what your body needs at the moment and may leave the appetite unsatisfied and still seeking something.

Allowing yourself to nibble a variety of things by the bite or two can help to retrain the appetite and taste-buds to recognize the flavors and smells associated with the food that ultimately satisfies – when the bite or two leads to the “aha that is what I want” food, then eat more of that and the appetite memory for that taste and satisfied feeling will be stronger the next time that you have that sort of hunger.

Foods deliver nutrients and the body can learn which foods satisfy certain types of needs – salty snacks deliver sodium which is needed after a sweaty day or may be needed in increased amounts after drinking a lot of diuretic beverages such as coffee, black tea, or alcoholic beverages.

Salt and potassium delivery units are essential after a sweaty workout or a long night. The piece of fruit in the morning with a handful of lightly salted almonds would quench a thirst for electrolytes with more variety of nutrients then the glass of juice and salty piece of bacon found in a common American breakfast would deliver. Both meal examples are only part of a typical breakfast – I’m trying to highlight the potassium and sodium cravings. We need a little every few hours all day long. Meals and snacks help with good hydration and that helps with energy level and regular removal of toxins. Lactic acid build up in muscle tissue can slow down the  worker/athlete. Drinking plenty of water and having a salty food with a fruit or juicy vegetable will give the body the replacements that were sweated out or used up by the working muscles. Bonus if the salty food is magnesium rich because the muscles waste that as well. (like nuts )

I know how to eat well and it is still a daily challenge, more due to laziness however and less due to emotional reasons  now (I slowly realized that I was stuffing my anger – eating my words with the emotional over eating problem.)

Positive self talk statements

I live actively. My body is strong and healthy.

I have the lung and heart power to do what I need to do every day.

I move fluidly through space.

I have the power to leap joyfully.

I breathe deeply. I enjoy ginger, spicy food, hot soup and tea and saunas because they help my sinuses.

I protect my inner ear from congestion, by avoiding foods that are mucous producing and environments that are dusty, musty and smokey.

I avoid toxic food and environments that make me feel sicker.

I protect myself from sickness.

I rest when I need to rest.

I respect my body’s limits and I don’t push myself past my limits.

I move my body regularly and avoid sitting still for hours.

(I need to start rereading this list – actually I’m going to set my computer up where I can stand in front of it. If the system has problems, then change the system.)

I avoid extremes by planning my time and setting steps towards my ultimate goals.

I plan my day and calmly do what I can towards fulfilling the goals.

I prioritize my goals so that important things are not put off.

I am in control of myself in every way — at all times and in all situations.

Each time that I sit down to eat I remember my goal for health. By eating right, and never giving in I am reaching the weight that I want.

Whether eating in or eating out, I really enjoy not over eating; being overstuffed is uncomfortable.

I never feel the need to finish the food in front of me. I eat only until my hunger is satisfied — and never one bite more.

*I have purposely started a practice of actually spitting out food (into a napkin), if I do notice myself eating from emotional reasons. I stop chewing and spit the food out – just because I made the mistake of starting the angry or sad or anxious eating reaction doesn’t mean that I have to swallow – to continue the emotional over-reaction – and to continue reinforcing the negative habit. Better to break the pattern, even if a napkin is involve.

I eat healthy food for energy and sustenance, not for comfort or boredom.

Starving children on the other side of the world are not going to benefit by my emptying my dinner plate.

Leftovers are for saving for later, not for finishing up even if I’m full.

I put away leftovers and make the meal useful the next day for lunch, dinner, or a healthy snack.

I help starving children by buying less junk food and donating the money.

One way to weight loss that’s easy and works, is less food on my plate, and less on my fork!”   *This and the next statement are from the book, What to Say When You Talk To Yourself,  by Shad Helmstetter, PhD. I kept the two statements but am not a proponent of the “eat less” theory of weight loss. Fiber rich foods are bulky and we eat healthier when we eat more bulky fiber rich whole foods. So less chocolate bars or dessert on my plate – yes – but less food altogether is not necessarily a healthier choice.

Less on my plate means less on my waist.” *** author, Shad Helmstetter’s example – that statement is both true and not true, see above.

When I sit down to eat, at no time do I allow anyone else to influence, tempt, or discourage me in any negative way.

What I eat and the goals I reach, are up to me. And I give no one else the right to hinder or control my success.

I am never, at any time, tempted to take one bite more than I need. I am strong, I am capable of reaching my goal, and I am doing it!

Although others may benefit from my success, I am achieving my weight-loss goals for my own personal reasons — for myself, my life, my future, and my own personal well-being.

I feed my inner child love and nurturing and prepare healthy meals and snacks. Sedating myself with carbohydrates is harmful and not helpful.

I comfort myself with meditation, a warm bath, a hot cup of tea, or music and movement.

***I found the movie “The Celestine Prophecy”[thecelestineprophecymovie.com/] so helpful that I added a few statements from it to my flip-book of cognitive therapy statements. The movie was based on the book, The Celestine Prophecy, by author, James Redfield, Amazon: [amazon.com]

I let go and Let be.”

“I find energy within and avoid battling others for it.”

“I open up and receive energy.”

“I accept energy from others and the energy is amplified for both of us.”

“Instead of taking energy from others I give it.”

“I follow my instincts and listen to my heart and gut.”

“The guidance within us, leads us towards the heaven within us.
To know this . . . is our destiny.”

Our instincts try to guide us towards what we need but it is up to us to pause and listen.

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.