Putting My Mental Illness into Remission

I was medicated for bipolar disorder for 18 years. Ten years ago, I went off anti-psychotic medication. Eight years ago, I weaned off my remaining medication, an SSRI antidepressant.

Today, I am mentally healthier than I’ve ever been, particularly in the last five years, since I have been (mostly) gluten free and eat a lower carbohydrate diet. In fact, my husband would agree that since I changed my eating habits, there has been more of an increase in my mental stability. The times that I consume a bit of gluten here and there, and eat a little more carbs than usual, I typically start to sense some mental instability creep up. The connection between gluten, carbohydrate content, and psychiatric disorders has much clinical evidence behind it, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

I always feel the need to offer a few disclaimers before I share more of my story. Number one, I never encourage anyone to go off medication cold turkey or without the support of a medical professional. Unfortunately, many medical professionals don’t offer much caution in the tapering of medication, so there must be more of a support team in place, in my opinion. Going off medication cold turkey can lead to many unfavorable side effects and can often lead to a person feeling worse than they did BEFORE medication, so it is a very bad idea. When I weaned off my last med, I had a support team in place, and I had established many health practices that had me in the best physical shape possible. It wasn’t a quick decision; it took a lot of detailed planning and prayer.

Number two, every mental illness manifests differently in every individual who experiences symptoms. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1999, back when they still called it manic-depressive illness and didn’t distinguish between bipolar 1 or 2 as they do now. The symptoms I experienced at the time met the diagnostic criteria. Unlike most clinical diagnoses, diagnosing a mental illness means checking boxes on a list of symptoms, not looking at a blood test – and definitely not a brain scan. Because of that, and because I no longer experience the same symptoms, I consider myself to be in remission from this illness.

Here are the symptoms I experienced at the time that categorized me with bipolar disorder: periods of depression, lasting longer than a week where I felt fatigue, loss of interest in regular activities, sadness, apathy, worthlessness, and an inability to get out of bed at all. I also experienced symptoms of mania and hypomania, which meant that for short periods of time I felt increased energy, euphoria, an inability to sleep or slow down, racing thoughts, distractibility, and an increase in risky behavior and impulsivity.

Continue reading “Putting My Mental Illness into Remission”

Getting Relief from Seasonal Allergies

The design of the human body is amazing, and the immune system never ceases to blow me away. Its primary job is to scan the environment and tolerate. It is constantly scanning, for our protection. It then decides what it wants to tolerate, and what necessitates an attack back. It’s a beautifully protective design.

Mold, pollen, trees, grasses – these are not new things to the human body. We have always lived in community with our natural world. So what is the deal with seasonal allergies? Why are so many people struggling, and getting worse and worse from year to year?

It goes back to what your immune system is tolerating.

We are exposed to a myriad of foreign substances every day. Yes, we have the natural world. Yes, we have viruses and pathogens the body is protecting against. But now we have outdoor air pollution, synthetic fragrances in everything indoors, pharmaceuticals, medications and supplements with fillers our body has to figure out what to do with, pesticides on our food, food that isn’t really food, and all manner of chemical/toxin exposures from beauty products and antibacterial soaps and sanitizers that disrupts the microbial balance. Whew!

We are overexposed to foreign man-made substances and underexposed to the natural world. We don’t get nature time, play in the dirt, or live in close proximity to a variety of animals. We have a decline in vaginal births and breastfeeding, which decreases microbial diversity as a result.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Most of your immune cells live in the gut. So any damage to the gut impacts the way the immune system is able to function optimally, but a failure to function optimally… creates more damage to the gut. It’s extremely cyclical.

It’s no wonder you go from living and tolerating all manner of foods, substances, allergens… then one day in your 30s or 40s you realize you have an abundance of skin issues, digestive problems, food reactions, and allergies gone wild! The allergy medicine that you used to be able to use with no problems seems not to work as well, and you experience brain fog and confusion when you take it.

It is all connected.

The good news is we can restore immune health. We can restore nutrients, and we can support our body’s desire to be in balance.

But we have to be able to look beyond the presenting symptoms and question what is driving them.

Taking an allergy pill will not remove the reason your immune system is creating a histamine response. Blocking histamine receptors doesn’t block your body’s need to protect you through the release of histamines. So it only works for so long, and as always, your body creates a compensatory response, at the expense of increasing risk of cognitive decline and glioma (well-documented side effects of long-term use of antihistamines).

So what do I recommend?

I love using quercetin for supporting the body at the root. Quercetin is a flavanoid naturally found in apples, blueberries, and kale. It helps the immune system respond to outside threats, and can act as a natural antihistamine by stabilizing the release of histamines. But the benefits go beyond symptom relief. It may even have anti-inflammatory effects, as well as help promote healing to the intestinal lining by creating a tighter junction and reducing likelihood of enhanced intestinal permeability. It’s a two-for-one value! To get started, I really like this brand, one to two capsules a day. Give it two weeks to take effect. When it is combined with bromelain, like the version I recommend, absorption is enhanced. QBC Plex by Solaray is another great option.

For kids, I really love Snifflex by Creekside Naturals. It’s inexpensive and works. Other options are D Hist for adults or D Hist Jr by Ortho Molecular Products, but those are typically more expensive, and if you have more than one child with allergies, it really adds up!

Boswellia is derived from frankincense, and it can reduce allergy and even asthma symptoms (clinically studied to reduce symptoms in 70% of those studied). There is much research available on Boswellia as an anti-inflammatory alternative to NSAIDs, which do quite a bit of damage to the gut by increasing enhanced intestinal permeability and breaking down the mucosal intestinal barrier (which we need for protection). Taking 300 mg, 3 times a day is a beneficial dose for reducing asthma-like symptoms.

Two other options to try are Stinging Nettle, 500 mg, 2 times a day, or Butterbur, 100 mg, 2 times a day (which can also help alleviate migraines as well).

As always, this information is used for educational purposes. Talk to your practitioner before you start any new supplements, especially if you are on other medications. Please do your own research. Instead of asking “Dr. Google,” I like to do a search such as “Butterbur Pubmed” to see what kind of published research is available. We live in an incredible era with published research available to all, so don’t buy the medieval dialogue to “leave the research to the experts.” That language is best left in the Middle Ages, and has no place in the modern, educated society.

I did not reverse chronic disease dynamics in my family by simply listening to the experts and nodding my head. I played an active role in my healing journey and that of my children, and I was thankful for the experts who partnered with me along the way and encouraged me to research on my own as well. If a practitioner is unwilling to work with you or laughs at your research (yes, this has happened to me), then it’s time to find someone new.

The last thing I will mention for seasonal relief is homeopathy. To be fair, I don’t have as much training in homeopathy as I do in nutrients and supplements using nutrients from food. But homeopathy has been my family secret for five years now, and it never fails in symptom relief. The two that I’ve used successfully are Boiron Histaminum Hydrochloricum 30c pellets and Rhinallergy Tablets. Pellets are great, because you can just drop a few of them in your mouth and let dissolve under your tongue. The tablets are a little trickier to drop into your mouth without touching the outside, which can take away some of the benefits. Homeopathy is great, because it’s heavily diluted and safe for a wide array of ages, and I never have side effects other than relief. Because of the increase of antibiotic resistance, homeopathy is gaining more favor from many traditional practicing physicians, though more study needs to be done and it still may be viewed as “quackery pseudoscience” for some practitioners.

Please remember that chronic stress increases the release of stress hormones and will put your body in a vulnerable position to fight back against invaders. When stressed, everything will look like an attacker and your body will respond accordingly. Your body’s job is to protect you, and it is always on your side, even if it doesn’t look like it.

Finally, if reading this has made you realize that it is time to take your health in your own hands, I would love to help you walk through that empowering journey. Contact me and let’s see what we can learn together!

Easy, Inflation-Proof Granola

I don’t know about your budget, but groceries are ridiculously expensive for us right now.

Because I try to limit the amount of overly processed foods my family eats, it seems even more daunting. However, one thing that has helped me as I try to adapt to these new ever-climbing prices, is to focus on buying foods that will actually fill everyone up.

For example, while tasty and a cultural fave, chips and cereal are not necessarily filling. My kids can eat an entire bag or box and still be hungry in 30 minutes. That is due to many factors, one being the fact that these foods were designed to be hyper-palatable and to keep you eating more while never actually nourishing you on a fullness level. The other reason is that many of these processed foods are devoid of essential nutrients, and notably devoid of sufficient fiber.

Fiber is extremely satiating because it can slow down the blood sugar spike we get after eating refined carbohydrates. Fiber works as a prebiotic for our “gut buddies,” as I like to call them. It acts like a miracle grow so that the bacteria in our gut garden thrives to support proper hormone function and neurotransmitter support, among so many other vital functions.

So that brings me to granola. If I make my own granola, load it up with fiber from nuts and seeds, will that be filling enough for my kids for breakfast or a snack?

The answer – yes!

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Overcoming Cancer, Crohn’s, and Other Autoimmune Disease

Struggling with a chronic illness can feel defeating, and struggling with multiple chronic illnesses can feel debilitating. This episode is for anyone who suffers from autoimmune disease or any other limiting label.

Amber Satterfield is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and the Founder of Feel Good Nourishment, where she specializes in helping people who suffer from gut health issues and autoimmune diseases. She was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2008, followed by rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and cancer in the subsequent years. It wasn’t until she found functional medicine that she says her life & health changed forever. After her own journey, Amber became passionate about helping others do the same in their own bodies. Amber is now sharing her personal healing story in her new book, “Thriving with Autoimmune Diseases”, coming out later this year.

Download and listen to this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

Continue reading “Overcoming Cancer, Crohn’s, and Other Autoimmune Disease”

Chemical Pollution: The Silent Pandemic

This episode is timely, in light of a recent water safety warning by the Environmental Protective Agency. This episode is part personal journey, part information. Tim’s story will inspire you to take control of your health in ways you’ve never thought of before.

Tim James is host of the Health Hero show and the founder and CEO of chemicalfreebody.com, a mission-based organization that is passionate about helping everybody ignite their highest excitement in life by putting themselves and their health first. Tim’s journey led him to a shocking discovery which helped his friend beat cancer and transform every area of his life. Feeling charged with a duty to help others he started sharing his knowledge with anyone that would listen. This led him to producing his own chemical free food products. ‘Chemical Free Body’ was born.

Download this episode here or wherever you get podcasts.

Continue reading “Chemical Pollution: The Silent Pandemic”

It’s Not Either/Or; It’s Both/And

I started my website four years ago because I wanted to share my story of surviving mental illness, and I wanted to give hope for healing for those that are continuing to struggle with errors. I wanted to share how it isn’t just chemicals in the brain, how it isn’t just in your head, and how there are very real physical deficiencies and imbalances at play, just as much – if not more than – imbalances at the brain level.

I have never been anti-medication, and I have never recommended anyone go off their medication without consulting their health practitioner. But I have always wanted to be realistic about the risks that come with taking medication. While medication may have served its purpose for me in the short term, there were plenty of unpleasant side effects I experienced when I took the wrong medication, or medication at too high of a dose, or because the medication I was given didn’t fit the disorder that I was experiencing. I never hallucinated or heard voices or saw strange things… until I started taking an antipsychotic.

With that being said, there are plenty of people in the world that do benefit from medication and will need to be on that medication long-term. For other people, there may be different solutions that improve their quality of life more than medication does. There is no one-size-fits-all to mental health.

I started my podcast because I wanted to seek out experts in the field who are doing things differently, who are looking for new solutions to an age-old problem that isn’t being solved with medication and talk therapy alone.

Because of what we know of the gut-brain connection, the HPATG axis, the vagus nerve, and even mitochondrial function, we know that there is so much going on under the surface when it comes to mental and physical health. We know that our body works as a network, one huge spiderweb, and nothing occurs on its own.

We are living in a time when everything is being polarized and divided into either/or categories. If you look at alternatives to medication or vaccines, you must be anti-med or anti-vaccine. If you take medication, you must be anti-natural health. If you are promoting any kind of nutritional support, you must be promoting dieting. These things aren’t true. It isn’t either/or. We can live in a both/and world.

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Super Spinach and Artichoke Dip – and Other Healthy Game Day Appetizer Ideas

It seems that every game day side item is loaded with cheese, cheese, and more cheese…in the form of cream cheese, sour cream, shredded, melted (called “queso” if you live in Texas), and maybe yogurt if someone is getting creative. I love dairy just as much as the next person, but it doesn’t always make me feel my best, and I’m pretty picky about when I choose to consume it. So I wanted to offer a few of my favorite non-cheese game day side options.

  1. Spinach and Artichoke Dip

All right, this recipe is not my own creation. I like to give credit where credit is due. The original recipe is here. It’s delicious, and doesn’t taste dairy free at all!

Continue reading “Super Spinach and Artichoke Dip – and Other Healthy Game Day Appetizer Ideas”

Everyday Practices for Whole Body Nourishment

Dr. Michele Kambolis is a mind-body health specialist, registered therapist, meditation teacher, and an acclaimed author and speaker who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Her second book, When Women Rise, was published in Fall 2021.

In this episode, we discuss how Dr. Michele is an unshakable believer in our innate capacity to self-heal and thrive, while also being wholeheartedly committed to developing evidenced-based resources to help people create the consciously healthy life they were born to live. 

Download this episode here or listen wherever you get podcasts!

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Why I’m Not Bipolar – and Neither Is Anyone Else

22 years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (or manic depressive illness, as they called it back then) based on a set of symptoms, according to the DSM and failure to respond well to SSRI medication. My identity is not in my diagnosis, and neither is yours.

Imagine if we also said, “I am depression,” “I am anxiety,” “I am Hashimoto’s,” or “I am diabetes.” The phrasing doesn’t work for any other diagnosis. I’d also suggest that anytime we turn our diagnosis into an “I am” statement, we are attaching our unique identity to a set of symptoms, and putting our worth in our limitations.

22 years ago, I was suffering from the symptoms of bipolar disorder. I experienced bouts of glorious manic/hypomanic highs, where the world looked brighter and more alive, when I could stay up all night even with an illness like mono, when I felt charming and unstoppable and like the most brilliant person in the room. I also experienced waves of crushing depression, where I was unable to leave my bed, my body frozen, exhausted, and the world was a dark hole I couldn’t climb out of. It confused me because I was taking an anti-depressant at the time. So we upped the medication amount, and the highs got higher. I didn’t have any other tools for support (except my psychiatrist did mention there was emerging research on omega 3 supplements and brain health – too bad I hated burping up fish).

But here is the point I really want to get across:

Just because you were diagnosed with a mental illness by one person, based on a set of symptoms during one period of your life, doesn’t mean you will struggle with those symptoms for the rest of your life. That’s an archaic school of thought, and it doesn’t line up with newer research on brain health.

Often when we ONLY treat symptoms, instead of looking to the interconnecting root causes in each individual body, we don’t heal, and we limit the opportunity to find healing.

There are so many evidence-based tools to support mental WEALTH. Does rapid relief through medication possibly play a role? Sure! But remember, for some people, like me, it may exacerbate symptoms or make things worse, leading to new diagnoses and treatment cycle.

What are the puzzle pieces in my story that potentially led to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder? Some would say I have a genetic predisposition and leave it at that. But based on what we know of epigenetics, we know that our genes are only as influential in the way they express, and they express according to our environment.

Continue reading “Why I’m Not Bipolar – and Neither Is Anyone Else”

You’re Not Fat, You’re Inflamed: The Latest Science on Losing Weight

Fat cells are really amazing protective organs, and contrary to what you’ve been told – you can’t burn them. New research changes the way we approach weight loss and addressing inflammatory fat cells.

Dr. Tracey Stroup is a naturopathic doctor who has been in the health and wellness industry for over 25 years. She joins the show for a second time in order to break down common weight loss and exercise myths.

Download and listen here or find wherever you get podcasts!

Key Topics:

– Weight loss myths (including calorie counting and the phrase “burning fat”)

– What fat cells are and how they are protective

– Reasons for rapid weight gain and what to do to treat the root cause

– Nutrient deficiencies, medications, gut dysbiosis and the role they play in weight gain and loss

– How being 15 pounds overweight or more makes your body pro-inflammatory

– Stress and the impact on exercise

– How to work out without stressing your body out

– Optimizing detoxification and products that can aid in the detox process

Learn more about Nutritional Frontiers and their products here.

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