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Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

Have you ever wondered  why the sun must go down at the end of the day ? Have you ever wondered why when a day is finished darkness must follow?

BECAUSE NATURE WANTS US TO GO TO SLEEP AT NIGHT!

One of the  reasons we are able to survive  is because we sleep every night. When we sleep, the body  enters the phase of repair, restoration, regeneration and rejuvenation. During sleep, cells repair and clear out metabolic waste products, tissues regenerate, endocrine organs realign and reconnect again, memory circuits consolidate, hormones re balance, ….

And the grand switch to sleep is the substance called melatonin. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin switches on the sleep cycle. As we enter dusk, natural light diminishes and the light sensitive receptors in the retina of the eyes send signals to the pineal gland to active the production of meletonin, which helps to initiate sleep. When morning comes, natural light enters the eyes and activates the retinal light receptors which send signals to the pineal gland to switch off melatonin production, so that we could exit the sleep cycle. This is one of the many aspects of the famous ” circadian rhythm”.

The invention of electricity and artificial lighting means our retina is exposed to light for a much longer period each day than nature intended. Hence the term “light pollution” is derived. To combat the rising rate of insomnia and sleep deprivation in our society, restriction to light exposure at night and setting good bed time hygiene practices  is paramount. This is especially important for young children in terms of their development as growth hormone is secreted during sleep.

Try some of the bed time hygiene practices listed below, and observe the positive changes in the body.

  1. Setting a routine bed time, preferably before 11pm (earlier the better, before 9pm for children)
  2. Dimming light or wearing sunglasses one hour before going to bed
  3. Restriction on using electronic devices before bed
  4. Natural light exposure in the morning

 

 

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Emotional wellbeing is about feeling grounded, present, and at peace. It is about responding to the environment (internal and external) with appropriate amount of emotional energy at the right time and for the right duration, and being able to recover and become whole again.

There are two most common situations that jeopardize our emotional wellness.

One is past emotional trauma that has not been resolved or properly processed. This leads to abnormal “short circuiting” and exaggeration (or suppression) in our emotional response to future stressors as part of our survival behavior. Emotional psychotherapy or breath work is one of the useful ways to undo the damage.

The second situation is less well-known and is becoming more and more important as our society gets increasingly stress driven. It is to do with biochemical imbalances  in the brain that are determined by our genetic makeups. It is often a huge relief for patients to realize that there is a biological reason for them to feel lousy. They just simply can not make neurotransmitters as well as other people under stressful situations.

Medical research has now discovered a few genetic polymorphisms (variation in the same gene) that affect neurotransmitter (brain chemicals that controls our moods, among other functions) synthesis. I am now going to introduce to you some of them.

1. Undermethylation

Methylation is a vitally important biochemical pathway that is operating in our cells. Its function is to add a methyl group (CH3-) to a substance to make it become active or complete. Our mood chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline etc need to be “methylated” to become functional.  Some people have a slower than normal methylation cycle, meaning that they make neurotransmitters very slowly. We call this condition undermethylation. When in a stressful environment where the body copes by increasing serotonin level, people with undermethylation tends to struggle and feel overwhelmed. At times major depression may result. Tendency towards perfectionism, obsessiveness, allergy like hay fever or asthma, insomnia or depression are some typical symptoms in a undermethylating person. Diagnosis can be made by measuring specific biological markers. A combination of nutrients in the appropriate dosage are then formulated and prescribed to facilitate the methylation cycle. Depression and other mood disorders have been successfully treated by this approach.

2. Kryptopyrroluria

This condition is described as a situation where the body excretes abnormally high amount of  a substance in the urine called hydroxyhemopyrrolin-2-one (HPL), commonly known as kryptopyrrole. The biological origin of this HPL is unknown, and it may be a product associated with abnormal hemoglobin synthesis. This condition is genetically determined. High HPL level is strongly associated with zinc and Vitamin B6 deficiency, with these two nutrients being essential for neurotransmitter production. In addition to that, HPL is a highly neurotoxic. As a result, a person with this condition may exhibit some of the following symptoms:  anxiety disorder and panic attacks, explosive temper,mood swing, stress intolerance or avoidance, ADD tendency, poor memory, poor dream recall, poor tanning, hypersensitive skin (irritated by labels of clothes or woolen materials), stretch marks, sensitivity to light or sounds, etc.  Diagnosis can be made by measuring the HPL level in the urine and treatment is usually simple and effective by supplementing adequate doses of Zinc and Vitamin B6.

3. Copper excess (not to be confused with an other genetic condition called Wilson’s disease)

Copper is an essential nutrient for blood vessel formation and red blood cell synthesis. But too much copper (only 2 to 6 units higher than upper normal value commonly) disturbs hormone balance, increases oxidative stress, and is potentially associated with higher risk of developing breast cancer. Typically high copper patients have a tendency to be highly hormonal,  very symptomatic during their periods or menopause, prone to gynecological conditions like endometriosis or fibroid, highly anxious, sensitive to hormone replacement therapy, and tendency to develop post natal depression. Serum level can be measured to identify the condition. Treatment is centered in providing the necessary nutrients including zinc to restore the intrinsic copper balancing mechanism.

This approach to mood disorders, behavioral disorders and learning difficulties  is known in Australia as the “Pfeiffer treatment” or the “Advance Nutrient Therapy”. Medical practitioners are qualified to test and prescribe treatment after receiving special training by the US Walsh Research Institute outreach team. A list of qualified doctors if you are interested can be found at

http://www.biobalance.org.au/patients/find-practitioners

Good luck in searching the way to mental wellness.

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