Wild yam

Wild yam

At last!  Winter has softened into Spring!  Persephone, the Goddess who spends half the year in darkness with Hades, God of the underworld, has returned to us. Spring Beauties, Violets, Bluets and and Toothwort are blossoming on the forest floor, Welcome dear friends, our plant allies! You have been missed! What I have learned this Winter, and what I will share in this newsletter, affects the reproductive system, energy levels, weight concerns, menopause, aging, and more.

The winter months have been a time of deep realizations and processing, rather than outward expression. I became aware of being hypothyroid, and the knowledge of this has helped me tailor the ways I care for myself.  I’d been witnessing thyroid challenges my sister has been facing these past months, and through our conversations became aware that I have been managing symptoms of being hypothyroid for quite some time, using herbs, diet and supplements. 

Because diabetes runs in both sides of my lineage, I thought I was staving off that disease. I have been successful in that. However I had been frustrated with lingering symptoms such as weight gain, dry skin, fluctuating energy levels and brittle hair. In my research I have found that hypothyroidism is epidemic, particularly among women. Symptoms include fertility issues, menstrual challenges, overweight or weight gain, menopause challenges, fatigue, brittle hair, dry skin and moodiness, exhaustion, brain fog, and so many more.My Earth Day

Many of the symptoms I have mentioned above often show up in my clients, as they are mostly women coming to me for therapeutic massage, herbal consultations, Maya Abdominal Therapy, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and/or Pre and Perinatal Trauma Resolution. While hypothyroidism is a challenge for me, I am happy to now, through this experience, to have a much deeper understanding of the issues facing my clients, and many more tools to support them, not only in achieving relief from these challenging symptoms, but in gaining optimal health at any age!

You may see yourself, or someone you love, in the abbreviated symptom picture I have described. My intention in this newsletter, is to empower you to regain vibrant health by helping you discover likely, greatly variable causes for the disease; share information essential to your getting an accurate diagnosis; and offer resources for resolving symptoms.

CAUSES

The causes of hypothyroidism, and other thyroid diseases, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are many, and often genetic predisposition is present, but can
also be caused by other factors. Genetic expression may be turned on through prolonged periods of intense stress, pregnancy, menopause, aging, and head and neck injuries. Other contributing factors include over-treatment for Graves disease, or Hashimoto’s; bromide (in seafood and some baked goods) and/or fluoride (an added chemical to our drinking water) toxicity; iodine insufficiency, selenium and/or iron deficiency; B12 utilization; thyroidectomy; pituitary gland failure and more. 

For a more complete list and explanation you might be interested in purchasing the book Stop the Thyroid Madness, by Janie Bowthorpe, M.Ed. It is a compilation of the experiences of thousand of thyroid patients. Though I find that writing and editing are not top notch, the10755 information is incredibly useful. And to be fair, I’m sure expediency of delivery was the objective, in order to help as many as possible.

SYMPTOMS

As mentioned above, the symptoms of hypothyroidism are many and varied, including fertility and/or menstrual challenges, overweight or weight gain, menopause challenges, fatigue, brittle hair, dry skin and moodiness, heart palpitations, exhaustion, brain fog, psychiatric diagnoses, and so many more. Symptoms can begin slowly. A person may go from being hyperthyroid when younger to hypothyroid over time, with fluctuations along the way. And for some, hypothyroidism may turn into an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

I have been focusing on supporting my thyroid, based on the research I, and so many others have done, again, through herbs, supplements and diet. And I am very happy with the results so far. My feeling, is that this autoimmune disease, like type II diabetes, may be cured and at the very least managed. Success is possible through developing a supportive community for managing stress that includes family, friends and professionals, through dietary choices, and by using supportive supplements.

UNDERLYING ADRENAL FACTORS

It is essential not to ignore the adrenal glands when determining the causes of  symptoms. The adrenal glands are walnut sized glands that sit above and adjacent to the kidneys. Like the thyroid, they are cued by the pituitary, the master gland of the body. The adrenal glands play a powerful role in managing stress, whether physical, emotional or mental. They are the glands that produce aldosterone and cortisol. 

Cortisol stimulates blood sugar levels. You can see that if under chronic stress, blood sugar levels remain high, causing chronic inflammation, which in turn causes weight gain and oxidative stress on all systems of the body.  The adrenals also produce aldosterone which regulates internal fluid balance and blood pressure, as well as sex hormones testosterone and estrogen, among others. When seeking treatment for thyroid issues, it is essential to test for adrenal function, as adrenal fatigue may be the underlying cause a cascade of symptoms, resulting in thyroid dysfunction.

BLOOD and SA16636-1LIVA TESTING

The place to begin is to have relevant blood tests and a saliva test done to determine where your body needs support. Thyroid issues do not respond to a one-size-fits-all approach. Relevant blood tests are Iron and TIBC panel (Total Iron Binding Capacity), Thyroid antibody panel, anemia panel (including B12 levels), and a Weight Loss Panel which includes TSH, free T3 + Free T4, hormone levels, cholesterol and more. Adrenal testing is done through a saliva test, resources for this can be found on http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/ site. The book, by the same name, provides detailed information on why these tests are needed for proper diagnosis and treatment.

HERBS, SUPPLEMENTS AND DIET

There are many plant allies that support adrenal and thyroid health. In the case of thyroid issues, it is helpful to consult a practitioner to find which herbs are right for your situation. Herbs supportive of adrenal health are schizandra, ashwagandha, licorice and ginseng (panax). Herbs that are supportive of the thyroid include bladderwrack, hops, passionflower and sage. 

It is also useful to know that thyroid imbalances have been found to be aggravated by gluten. So, step one might be just to remove gluten (wheat, rye, barley) from your diet. It’s much easier to do than you think. I did, and my I soon had no discomfort in my abdomen, and I dropped about seven pounds!

Supplements that are supportive of thyroid health specifically include iodine and l-tyrosine. Patients have found that raw dessicated porcine thyroid works much better than Synthroid, and even the newly reformulated Armour. I offer this information as a beginning point, and recommend seeking supportive health care providers to assist you on your journey.

FINDING SUPPORTIVE HEALTH CARE PROVIDERSfoot work

It is important to work with a doctor, or other health care provider who understands and supports thyroid and adrenal health. Again, the website http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/ is a valuable resource in helping you find a suitable doctor. Another resource is http://www.brodabarnes.org/, though you may need to pay to receive a listing of doctor’s in your area.  I am an advocate for health professionals that will support your return to optimal health. 

Remember, our genetics are a factor: Experiences that have been passed down to us through our lineage, such as famine, war, surviving holocaust and more, influence genetic expression. There are countless people who would benefit from this knowledge, yet they are unable to use it, as they have no support from family, friends, nor the society around them.  I welcome the opportunity to support you in finding your way on your journey, through the challenges discussed here, or another.

It is through educating ourselves, and making empowered choices, that we will change our own lives to reflect our true values. By living these values we shape our communities, influencing the directions of institutions designed to support us. If established institutions will not support our values, our empowerment will be the catalyst in creating structures that do. 

May we all flourish in the gentle sunlight and warmth she brings!

Yours in health, 

Angela,
Body and Soul Healing Arts

This is such an amazing, poignant article. Well worth taking the time to read. Sharing perspective such as this, and the work it takes to embody it will truly heal our hearts.

Crying in Restaurants While Slawing Cabbage.

Thank you Mark!

When I was asked to write about prenatal massage, I could only think of all the things I am learning about how pre and perinatal birth experiences may imprint us for life, and have the potential to affect generations!. Common prenatal massage benefits are the mother-to-be’s physical and emotional well-being. Sometimes it is mentioned that the unborn little ones receive benefits from endorphin release as well. All true. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg!

The latest in neuroscience and the new field of epigenetics have shown researchers that there is so much more to this. As I am in a Pre and Perinatal Trauma Resolution training I’ll be able to explain it all better soon. But for now, since it is transforming the way I language things. And is permeating all aspects of my practice. In the paragraphs that follow, I’ll share resources I believe will support any child at any stage of life, whether in utero, childhood or adulthood.

pregnancy imageSome of you may already know that we are present in our mothers, when our mothers are in our grandmothers womb. Yes, a four month old fetus already contains all the eggs she will carry forth into her maturity. Epigenetics tells us that the emotions, thoughts and experiences of our grandparents effect the expression of genes (which genes are turned on or off) in their grandchildren. Consequently, the greater the endorphin enriched environment a little one is exposed to, the more resiliency the child will express, as will their children!

Science finally supports the instinctual bonds that exist between generations. It it no longer a question of nature vs. nurture: it is nature AND nurture. If your are interested in learning more about this refer to the research eloquently and exuberantly demonstrated in the youtube lecture, The Biology of Belief  by Bruce Lipton, PhD;  The Neurobiology of We by Daniel Seigel, MD; and The Neurobiology of Secure Attachment a youtube interview with Allan Schore, MD. Enjoy!

Loving prenatal care in all forms will positively affect mother, father, family system, newborn, and their little ones; rippling out into the future. Prenatal massage and bodywork is certainly supportive of resiliency. Prenatal care that supports the empowerment of the family is essential. As is the environment surrounding birth and infant development, as mentioned earlier. One of many wonderful resources supportive of empowered birth is Spiritual Midwifery, a very readable classic by Ina May Gaskin. I highly recommend it to anyone planning on parenthood.

So, this wasn’t exactly an article on the benefits of prenatal massage. But I hope it offers compelling resources that are empowering to mothers and families for generations!.  With love…..Angela

Prolapses of the uterus, and attending other lower abdominal organs, i.e. the bladder and rectum sometimes occurs after childbirth with some women. For other women, most of whom have had children, these challenges often appear in our 50′s or later. And for women who have never had children, as well as for those who have, posture plays a huge role! This was a recent epiphany for me.
The following resources support prevention and rehabilitation of these challenges:
  • Maya Abdominal Therapy is very supportive in rehabilitating prolapse/cystocele/rectocele. The self-care massage, which is taught during the session, is done with a pillow under the glutes, tilting the lower abdominal organs back into the body and allowing for greater access to them manually.
  • Postural corrections are essential for rehabilitating the condition and to prevent these challenges from happening at all. It is important to realize that we, as women, are supposed to have a curve in our lower back. Our behinds are not supposed to be tucked under us. Enculturalization, whereby anything remotely provocative of sexuality is suppressed is the basis for requiring denial of healthful posture, and by extension, healthful expression of sexuality. By healing your posture you can heal your sexuality.To remedy the physical aspect of these challenges, strengthening the gluteal muscles and the lateral (outside) aspect of the hips is suggested. Great resources in supporting you to heal your self  (imagine that!), are found at the following websitesWhole Woman, Inc.Aligned and Well, and Hab-it Pelvic Floor Exercises.
  • My experiences have taught me that most dis-ease begins at the psycho/spiritual/soul/emotional level: To support your self in preventing or healing prolapses, I highly recommend reading and following the suggestions in my colleague, Tami Lynn Kent’s book, Wild Feminine. It will empower you in ways that you hadn’t imagined.
  • And finally, the latest yummy oil I have been exposed to is Ashwaganda/Bala Oil, made with a sesame oil base. Soaking a tampon in the oil and inserting in brings it’s tissue tonifying properties to where they are needed. It can also be used as a topical over the abdomen, or anywhere  muscle or fascia may be damaged, debilitated, or in need of restoration. You can purchase this oil at Banyan Botanicals.

Please feel free to share this with anyone you know who might benefit from this information. Share the love and help create a wider and wider circle of empowered women!

Entwining treesMy healing arts practice has supported women and men of all stripes quite intensively for more than twelve years, through Maya Abdominal Therapy sessions. My work always challenges me to grow personally and professionally.  And sometimes my own challenges lead me to study certain disciplines, as is the case with pursuing Biodynmic Craniosacral Training. After a head injury in Guatemala from falling off a horse, it was the modality that helped me thrive again in so many ways!

Through the Biodynamic Craniosacral Training I completed last June, I was exposed to pre and peri natal psychology and health. This sounds like it relates solely to infant health. Not so. This work supports healing for anyone, at anytime, who has undergone challenges in utero, through the process of birthing and post partum as a wee one, prior to the age of three. I offer a quote from the Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health website:

“We find that prenatal and perinatal experiences have a profound impact on the subsequent quality of health and human behavior; we see that life is a continuum which starts before conception, not after birth. During this formative period, parents and babies are not isolated from each other but fundamentally interconnected. A loving prenatal and perinatal experience inspires such things as bonding and sensitivity to others which have long-term consequences for both individual relationships and for society. Ultimately, womb ecology reveals itself in world ecology as the seeds of peace or violence are sown by parents, their models, teachers, and caregivers during pregnancy and birth.”
My perinatal period was challenging, and through receiving and training in Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, and especially experiencing a “Birthing Your Self Process Workshop”with Myrna Martin I have been able to heal up a primal wound with my mother that eluded all other attempts at healing! Profound.

This month I began a two-year training with Myrna, with the intent of bringing this work to my clients, and making it available to more communities.  I am so looking forward to being able to offer this work in the future! Stay tuned!

This article is republished with permission from the author.

As a nation we are horrified by an epidemic of mass shootings at the hands of young killers, and an escalation of bullying in our schools.  Though many constructive solutions have been offered, something is being left out of our national dialogue.  This something is what science has to say.

Findings from decades of child development research have given us a new lens with which to understand children’s needs, and may shed some light on the escalation of violence at the hands of young people. The field is exploding with new information, yet pediatricians, educators, and mental health therapists are often unaware of this science, or the breadth of the research and its implications.

I was heartened to see that, recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics incorporated some of this information into a policy statement warning that toxic stress early in life, or even before birth, can harm children for life.  (Pediatrics 2012; 129:e224-e231)

Research results tell us that babies and young children are much more sensitive to stress and to nonverbal communication from adults than we ever knew. Scientists are also telling us that mutual interactions of joy and delight between parents and children, especially in the early years, are crucial to healthy brain development and to their ability to manage strong positive and negative emotions throughout life.  This ability to regulate the highs and lows of emotional life is the key to stable mental health as an adult.  Difficulties with emotional regulation are at the core of most mental health disorders.

For children, a “felt sense” (different from an intellectual knowing) of being valued and understood on the inside is essential to the regulation of their nervous system, and their ability to have full access to their neocortex.  When there is something stressful in the child’s environment— everything from mom and dad being stressed about everyday life, to a divorce, to someone died, to moving, to a medical procedure—children need to have someone they can trust to help them understand how it makes them feel.

We now know that children can be easily traumatized by everyday events without adults realizing it.  There are specific tools that can be taught to parents, to educators, and to every adult who relates to children, to help them help children manage these stressful events.  This would include right brain to right brain communication which soothes the limbic system and develops autonomous emotional regulation—for example, paying attention to eye contact, tone of voice, and timing and intensity of communication; offering validating comments such as “That must have been scary!; or “So, that’s how it was for you!”; or enjoying sensory rich activities together such as kneading dough, drawing, music, playing sports, or dancing.  Also, children can be taught to identify stress in their bodies, techniques to reduce their stress, and what to do if they are about to “flip their lid”. When this type of relationship connection does not happen for a child, we often see an escalation in difficult behaviors, from obstinacy to extreme violence.

Attachment Theory scientists talk about “attunement.”  This is a special kind of connection with the child where the adult is completely undistracted, and can relate to the child almost as if the adult were in the mind of the child.  Attunement fosters spontaneous sharing, a feeling of being understood, and allows the adult to gently explore what is on the child’s mind.  Attuned communication has a huge impact on a child’s overall behavior, and builds their mirror neurons.  Strong mirror neurons are what gives children the ability to have empathy for others—not moral teachings or zero tolerance policies.  Empathy in turn prevents aggression and violence.

Doctors Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate, in their book Hold on to Your Kids, explain “counterwill” (disobedience) and the “the making of bullies”. They convey that, though counterwill (“I want my own way.”; “You can’t tell me what to do.” etc.) is normal in children, it can be tamed through, and only through, a strong attachment relationship, not methods to control and punish.  That means that if children feel truly connected to their parents or to the adults in charge, and feel safe to lean on them emotionally, they are more likely to listen and to drop their counterwill impulses. In other words, if I, as a child, feel safe to tell you how I really feel inside about stuff, and trust that you are not going to judge my feelings or dismiss them, I am going to feel close to you and want to listen to your rules even if I do not want to. I am also going to absorb your core values.  You do not have to drill them into me.

Neufield and Mate go on to describe bullying as a lack of emotional vulnerability stemming from weak attachment connections.  If a child does not feel emotionally safe to lean on an adult attachment figure, then they harden their tender feelings, such as fear, anxiety, love, caring, etc., and defend them by lashing out.  Or, they may turn against themselves and harm themselves. They may also try to find an attachment substitute by becoming obsessively attached to their peers and push away their parents.  But this doesn’t feel safe either, because another child cannot protect them.

Mate and Neufield explain how a strong peer orientation culture is harmful to children and that; in fact, there is much about our modern life which interferes with the type of attachment relationships children need for healthy mental development.

So, yes, we need to get assault weapons off our streets.  And, as a society, we need to stop producing bullies and mass murderers.  Children are not born that way.  Society creates them.  No, it is not a specific gene.  The science of epigenetics tells us that the caretaking environment helps to determine which genes are expressed.

I hope that we can bring this vast amount of empirical science into our local, state, and national dialogue. We have the scientific evidence to prevent violence, but will our culture and our politics allow it?

FAMILIES UNITED
CHRISTINE A. WALKER, LCSW
PSYCHOTHERAPIST

408 EAST MARKET STREET SUITE 204
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA 22902  

434-923-8253

cwalker@cstone.net
www.christinewalkerlcsw.com

A Center for Integrative Psychotherapy and Psychoeducation
Families/Children/Individuals

Solomon’s Seal and I upon boulders

betwixt bubbling streams

absorbing rays through Spring green.

Luscious scent of Russian Olive

everywhere.

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