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Massage and Recovery from Addiction

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“This article was written in 2005 and since then there have been hundred of other studies that have shown the same results: massage helps people. You don’t have to be at a resort or use the excuse of you Birthday to get a massage. The simple excuse of being human is enough. Everyone can benefit from the holistic treatment of massage therapy. And I’m not just saying this because I am a certifiedcpractitioner, I’m saying it because its true. Massage has not only physical but mental benefits as well. In this article you’ll find how massage therapy can help promote a greater sense of well being while in recovery from active addiction. The informat of is backed up by facts that are hard to ignore. You may want to consider taking the money that used to be spent on drugs and alcohol to put towards a weekly treatment. Look for a local massage therapist and ask them about possible discounts that can be given if you schedule a regular session. Let them know your condition and work with them to start your healing process.” -With endless love, Robyn

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Substance abuse is a major public health problem. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, substance abuse costs our nation more than $484 billion per year. This includes costs related to crime, medical care, treatment, social welfare programs, and time lost from work.

Comprehensive treatment for the addicted individual is the key to turning this health crisis around. In the October 2003 edition of Counselor, The Magazine for Addiction Professionals, Joni Kosakoski, BSN, RN, CARN gives us the fuel to propel massage therapists into the realm of drug and alcohol treatment. In her article “Massage: Hands Down, a Treatment for Addiction”, Kosakoski gives us a clear and concise analysis of massage’s benefits for this population and its place in addiction treatment.

Incorporating massage into a substance abuse program is advantageous in all of the stages of quitting an addiction: withdrawal, detoxification and abstinence. The physical, emotional and spiritual components of recovery all can be directly benefited by the healing power of therapeutic touch. The nurturing contact of massage utilizes skin as the translator of the therapist’s intent. Skin, the largest sensory organ in our body, is our primary sense for connecting information from our external surroundings to our internal environment.

The Touch Research Institute in Miami, Florida has performed scientific research documenting the physiological effects of massage on the body. Kosakoski reminds us of some of their findings on massage such as decreased pain, diminished autoimmune response, enhanced immune response, and increased alertness and performance. These effects appear to be related to massage’s ability to reduce cortisol, a stress hormone, as reported by the Touch Research Institute in 2003. Several of the Touch Research Institute’s studies positively document the ability of massage to decrease anxiety, depression, agitation, and cravings.

In order to understand the connection between massage therapy and its benefit in addiction treatment, Kosakoski explains the neurological biochemistry of addiction: “Much attention has been directed to the mesolimbic reward system, the so-called ‘pleasure pathway’ of the brain. The area is activated in part by the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, the chemical messenger responsible for making us feel good when we engage in any pleasurable activity. It is well known that dopamine is significantly involved in addiction and that dopamine levels are lower than average during the withdrawal process and into early recovery until brain chemistry normalizes.”

In 1998, the Touch Research Institute published the findings that a regular massage regimen produced long-term results of increasing dopamine levels. The fact that massage naturally increases dopamine levels, and decreases cortisol levels makes it a perfect addition to a standard detoxification program.

The neurochemistry of an addict takes time to get back into balance, so massage treatments after the initial detoxification phase is crucial. When a person uses a substance to feel good, his/her body stops manufacturing its own “feel good” chemicals, (endorphins), and the substance takes over that task. Therefore, when a person quits using an abused substance, they lose their source of feeling good. Since it takes time for the body to start manufacturing its own endorphins again, this is a challenging interim to endure. This interim is the recovering addict’s most vulnerable time to relapse.

In the 1989 edition of General Pharmacology, Kaada and Torsteinbo of Norway reported on study results that massage therapy increased the amount of beta-endorphins in the blood by 16 percent. The release of endorphins during a massage allows the recipient to feel normal, even fantastic, without the aid of a drug. This can be a powerful, even life-changing experience for the client.

On a physical level, the circulation that occurs with massage is also a desired occurrence during the detoxification process. Therapeutic massage’s invigoration of blood and lymphatic fluid allows for a more efficient exchange of oxygen rich nutrition into the body’s tissues, and the delivery of toxic waste products out of the body’s tissues. Kosakoski adds that “All systems of the body function more efficiently with improved circulation and a reduction in tension of the soft tissues and musculature…”

On an emotional level, part of an addict’s recovery process is learning to identify and manage the triggers that cause them to desire escape. Regular massage sessions can aid the client’s awareness of his or her own body, including where and when tension exists. Being conscious of these patterns is a step toward recognizing one’s own resistance, which can lead to healthfully addressing emotions associated with cravings and stress. In addition Kosakoski says that “Emotional release can commonly occur with massage, which provides a safe, non-threatening opportunity to begin the process of recovering long-buried emotions and memories.”

On a spiritual level, the deep relaxation of a massage can provide a still inner place for the recipient to connect with themselves. Being grounded, centered and fully present can be experienced when receiving therapeutic touch from a grounded, centered and fully present practitioner. A recovering addict has a whole new world opened to them when they acknowledge that they can simultaneously be anchored, present, feel good and be substance-free. As Kosakoski explains, “To allow oneself to surrender to the practitioner’s hands — to breathe fully and easily, to acknowledge and receive the gifts of nurturing, surrender and relaxation ….is an invaluable addition to the newly recovering person’s repertoire of relapse-prevention skills.”

Massage has the unique ability to affect all of our layers of being — from the spiritual plane all the way up to and including our body’s chemical composition. In the process of abandoning an addiction, these many parts of ourselves become fragmented. It is merely a matter of time before all addiction and recovery treatment programs recognize massage’s ability to mend the mind-body connection. When that happens, therapeutic massage will be integrated into addiction treatment, and clients will be optimally prepared to succeed in their recovery.

From IntergrativeHealthcare.org

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6 Science-Based Tips For A Healthy & Happy Brain

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“This is an article from one of my favourite sites: http://www.mindbodygreen.com! They share some helpful and inspiring information about living a happier holistic life. I stubbled upon one article today that caught my eye. Having an addiction or disorder can send out brains into chemical imbalance. Thats why its important to change your diet to promote brain health. Here are some tips!” -Love, Robyn

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Our society is experiencing an epidemic of chronic brain problems. An estimated 40 million people in the United States experience some sort of anxiety-related disorder. As many as 30 million suffer from depression.

The use of antidepressants doubled from 1995 to 2005, and they’re now the most prescribed drugs on the market. There’s been a twentyfold increase in attention-deficit drug consumption over the past 30 years. Autism now affects 1 in 88 children. From anxiety, attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and autism to brain fog, dementia, depression and mood swings, one thing is clear: we have a rapidly growing mental health problem.

What is the mainstream medical system’s answer? As with most chronic conditions, its solution is to diagnose a disease or condition and match it with a corresponding pharmaceutical drug. In Functional Medicine, my goal is to clinically investigate the underlying, unlooked, and uninvestigated factors that are at play in chronic health issues such as these and to naturally address them.

Obviously conditions like these are complex, and there’s no easy answer. Below I’ve laid out some great pieces of the puzzle for optimal brain health. They’re a great starting point, and are not intended to be quick fixes.

The tips and tools below are not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill advice that you’ve heard a million times. Most people know they should be eating more vegetables; that’s a given. I wanted to give you the best, fresh plan for promoting a healthy brain, and to push you out of your comfort zone and into optimal health:

1. Eggs

This incredible, edible superfood is one of the most unjustly and inaccurately persecuted foods, ever! The yolk of the egg gets a particularly bad rap, but the yolk contains the majority of the eggs nutrients. I see so many well-intentioned people throw out the yolk or buy egg whites because they’re fat-phobic.

From a health perspective, this is very misguided. The yolk is so rich in nutrients for your brain that a separate article could be devoted to the topic. The yolk is truly nature’s multivitamin. Organic, pastured eggs from chickens who roam outside in the sunlight offer us essential brain food like choline. Choline has a variety of functions for healthy brain function, including the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and cell-membrane signaling, which is needed for all hormone function. Symptoms of choline deficiency include fatigue, insomnia and memory problems. Pastured egg yolks are also rich in omega-3 fats which are essential for a healthy brain.

As with all meat and dairy, not all eggs are created equal. Pasture-raised eggs have been shown to contain three times more of the brain beneficial omega-3 fats than supermarket eggs!

2. Organ meats

A second real food multivitamin is organ meat. Powerhouse superfoods, like liver, have been consumed by abundantly healthy societies throughout history, but now are eaten sparingly in modern Western society. The liver is a storage organ for many important brain nutrients, like vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron. A great way to get these nutrients is through a liver pate. Fermented cod liver oil is also a great option, and comes in different forms like gels and capsules if you want to take it in a whole-food supplement form.

3. Bone broth

To have a healthy brain, you need to have a healthy gut! The two are inextricably linked through nerve pathways. It’s no coincidence that your gut is also called “The Second Brain:” 95% of your serotonin, your feel-good hormone, is made and stored in your gut. Conditions like leaky gut syndrome and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can have damaging effects on your entire body. The connection between your gut and your brain (gut-brain axis) has been linked to depression, anxiety and autism. Bone broth is one of the best foods you can consume for a healthy gut. This nutrient-rich liquid is filled with collagen, which acts like a healing ointment to a stressed-out inflamed gut.

4. Coconut oil

This amazing food can do wonders for your brain health. A study in the journal Neurobiology of Aging suggested that medium-chain triglycerides, like those found in coconut oil, improved cognitive function among older folks with memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease. The amazing thing in this research was that cognitive function was improved almost immediately following ingestion of the medium-chain triglycerides!

5. Grass-fed dairy

Your brain is made up of 60% fat and contains more cholesterol than any other organ in your body, yet we were raised to avoid these two essential brain nutrients. In addition to this, the cell membranes of our body, where your hormones communicate, are lined with the same components of saturated fat and cholesterol. That’s why it’s important to acquire these nutrients through your diet, and high-quality dairy is a good way to do that.

Dairy should always be grass fed, organic, and preferably raw. Fermented dairy like kefir is also a good option. The healthy fats of grass-fed dairy are where all the brain food is, so avoid low fat! Two fats that your brain wants and needs are saturated fats and arachidonic acid, both of which can be found in grass-fed dairy. Another nutrient your brain craves is vitamin K2, which is critical for the formation of the myelin sheath and the nerves in the brain. We get this power nutrient from the fat of grass-fed animals, the very food that’s disappeared from our modern low-fat diet.

6. Sunlight

It’s no secret that a lot of people are deficient in vitamin D. Our culture lathers up with toxic sunscreens and avoids the sun like the plague. But moderate sun exposure is healthy for most people. Vitamin D has many jobs, and one of them is its critical role in making your endorphins.

If you live in places that don’t always have strong sunlight, or if you work inside a lot, then get your vitamin D from the foods you eat. When we consume the dairies and fats listed above, from animals who live outside in the sunlight, they will have plenty ofvitamin D in their fats.

As I’ve said earlier, these are pieces of the puzzle to regain your health, not the entire picture. Hormonal imbalances, food intolerances, chronic infections, toxicity, and nutritional deficiencies are all factors that need to be investigated for the individual. Acomprehensive health program tailored for you and your unique needs will be necessary to create sustainable results. In Part II of this series on natural mental health, I will give you the top things you will want to get rid of for a healthy brain.