The interconnection between the mind and body has become much more accepted by mainstream medicine. The effects of emotional stress on psychology and biology has made it evident that what we think about and our perceptions of a situation literally can modulate our physiology. Furthermore, scientific research has long validated how the power of belief impacts treatment results through the placebo effect. These are just a few examples that have proven that one’s mindset, thoughts, and expectations can affect physical health and emotional balance.
What this means is that we have the power to reel in our focus and contemplate positive healing outcomes to influence mental and bodily symptoms.
Some may view this concept as empowering.
For others, this kind of mindful manipulation could be terrifying.
For example, if one is aware that their thoughts can impact their health outcomes, but suffers with anxiety, depression, or has low self-worth, it can seem impossible to break free from that negative mind chatter to get relief.
If you can’t get unstuck off doom and gloom, and you’ve tried positive affirmations, willpower, and hundreds of dollars (or more) on supplements, pills, or other modalities to find a solution, you are not alone. Many in today’s world have found that their amygdalas are constantly being hijacked by current events and terrifying headlines. This makes it hard to see the good in the world.
First, let me reassure you that just because you think a bad thought or fear something will happen doesn’t mean it will manifest instantly. Constant fear and mental stress does put a strain on your nervous system, however, and can create a negative cascade of biochemical reactions. This is why it is good to be aware of tools to interject at the level of perception and seek out the proper support.
I have found my clients who struggle with brain health issues have to get to the point where they can believe in the truth of nourishing words before reciting them can start to make a difference. This means we must address the biochemical, psychological, and/or physical imbalances in cognitive functioning first, or simultaneously, as we are retraining their brain to go from the worst case scenario to a realistic or more hope-filled conclusion.
In this article, I will touch upon how unresolved issues in childhood may be blocking the physical and emotional health you long for.
Later on in this series I will explore more on how the body keeps score of trauma, dealing with recent trauma, and finding a balance between emotional healing and positivity.
The goal of these articles is for you to understand the power you have and can access.
I also want to make those who feel trapped in emotional or physical symptoms aware of how to heal from a holistic, wellness perspective.
Let’s get started…
The Adult Physical Health Ramifications of Childhood Trauma
One of the six philosophies of naturopathic medicine is to avoid symptom suppression. I view this not only on the physical level, but on the emotional level as well. Running away from emotions, rather than embracing them seems to be something our society advocates for. It may be convenient, and even praised, to be able to push aside hurts and traumas and plow forward, but the body does keep the score. Eventually, you will be slowed down by either mental or physical symptoms.
Perhaps one of the most pertinent and more concrete examples of how trauma and adverse events can impact the mind and body is the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) Study.
During the time when I was becoming certified as a functional medicine practitioner, I became more aware of the ACE study and its implications. The study provided evidence of the link between traumatic events in childhood and an increased risk of various diseases. According to the CDC:
…negative experiences in childhood and the teenage years may put children at risk for chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance use in adulthood…These negative experiences are known as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
ACEs are potentially traumatic experiences, such as neglect, experiencing or witnessing violence, and having a family member attempt or die by suicide, that occur in childhood (birth to 17) that can affect children for years and impact their life opportunities. Fortunately, we can prevent ACEs and we can educate parents, communities, and policymakers about how to help children grow up in a safe and stable environment.
The CDC estimated the potential reduction of negative outcomes in adults if ACEs could be prevented. They divided these impacts into health conditions, health behaviors, and socioeconomic challenges. They reported:
Health conditions could be reduced in the following amounts:
- Depressive disorder by 44%
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease by 27%
- Asthma by 24%
- Kidney Disease by 16%
- Stroke by 15%
- Coronary Heart Disease by 13%
- Cancer by 6%
- Diabetes by 6%
- Metabolic issues by 2%
For health risk behaviors, the potential to mitigate negative outcomes in adulthood for current smoking was found to be 33% and heavy drinking was estimated to decline by 24%.
Regarding socioeconomic factors, the potential to lower unemployment was stated to be 15%, earning less than a high school education reduced by 5%, and not having health insurance could be 4% less.
A few years ago, I discussed the impact of adverse childhood events specifically on mental health outcomes. ACEs have been shown to be detrimental to neurological growth in youth and associated with behavioral issues.
Furthermore, it has been shown that these harmful stressors influence the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. If cortisol stays at heightened levels for an extended time, it can perpetuate unwanted brain structural changes and may negatively modulate nervous system responses to stress throughout the lifespan. As stated in a previous article I wrote;
… The strain on the mind from chronic stress leads to downstream physical and mental health effects. Furthermore, when the brain is constantly being triggered by stressful events, rational, productive response patterns from efficient cognitive processing are overridden by the survival instincts. As a result, the body and mind are reactive, rather than receptive. When the brain is still developing, the effects can be even more dramatic.
Knowing these links enables medical professionals to consider past traumas as an important risk factor for various diseases, health behaviors, and a block to healing. (Individuals and doctors can access a sample questionnaire for an ACE score here.)
If health providers are not aware of these connections, they cannot provide resources to support those who experienced these negative childhood exposures. Furthermore, ignoring these associations could mean that many are treating their mental health symptoms without addressing the origin of the problem.
The brain has an extraordinary ability to have specific pathways reinforced and others inhibited. If one is stuck in a traumatic incident, where the body and mind are playing off each other, it is hard to find the thinking pattern to a growth mindset.
Yet, it is possible.
Healing the Childhood Pain
It may not be easy to look at what is blocking one from mental relief. It will likely take digging deeper than applying band-aid treatments to outside physical or mental manifestations. Real, lasting change means that one must get to the root of the issue.
You don’t have to settle for pain and constant struggle.
There are psychotherapy and naturopathic, holistic tools to deal with all the sources of mental and emotional strain, including biological (such as head injuries, hormonal imbalances, neurotransmitter levels, gut health, genetics, etc.), to psychological (past trauma, addiction), and social (for example, stress at work).
In future posts I will discuss how the body keeps score of trauma, the impact of neuroplasticity, the resources needed for posttraumatic growth, and balancing positivity with healing emotional wounds.
This will provide you with more options to retrain your brain to not only think more positively, but to actually the see the world in a much calmer way.
Please do get the support you need if you struggle with mental health.
You may also wish to consider implementing the holistic resources I’ve been providing with your treatment and working with a naturopathic doctor. For example, I offer mind-body support for general mood issues using a functional medicine and wellness-oriented approach.
When the brain itself is misfiring and unbalanced, without proper treatment, it can be glossed over as a painful, invisible wound by the sufferer.
It’s time to end the hurt.
Click here to learn more about my approach to whole-person, mind-body care.
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Naturopathic Medicine and Essential Oils Resources for Holistic Mind-Body and Wellness Support
- If you’d like to learn more about essential oils’ properties and their use for whole-body support, view my database here.
- You can discover the five reasons essential oils and naturopathic medicine make a great team here.
- Feel free to explore my dedicated essential oils website which features the brand of essential oils I use with clients and information on specific products for healthy living.
- Finally, grab my free essential oils guide! It contains all the information you need to get started with essential oils! Even if you are a seasoned oiler, signing up to get the guide will provide access to future education on essential oils and wellness topics. Click here.
Upcoming Mind-Body-Heart-Spirit Passion Project
Be on the lookout in the upcoming months for an invitation to join a transformational opportunity that truly incorporates all integrative aspects of health, including human connection and relationships.
This is part of my passion project to bring the heart and mind-body-spirit back into the forefront of medicine.
I’d love for you to join me and allow me to guide you in the process of releasing the blocks to becoming a more vibrant, healthier, happier person!
Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay and Canva.