In my thirty-some years in practice, I’ve treated people from all walks of life, for a laundry list of symptoms. While most conditions have several causes, the singular most common cause I’ve seen is stress. One common example is migraines, which can be caused by food sensitivities, hormonal imbalances, cranial structural misalignments, and relationship discord, to name a few – yet, invariably stress is part of the clinical picture.
The pervasive effects of stress are our minds, bodies and spirits is nothing new. In the 1920s, Hungarian endocrinologist Hans Selye described what he called “General Adaptation Syndrome,” or the body’s response to demands placed upon it. He detailed how stress induces hormonal autonomic responses which, over time, can lead to high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, kidney disease, and allergic reactions. At the time, the notion that there is a connection between stress and physical disease was groundbreaking, and controversial.
From the earliest days of my career, I saw evidence of this connection. In those days, I only treated back pain, neck pain, and headaches, and when I gave a patient a full spinal adjustment and applied some physical therapy modality, I helped release their stress and initiated physical relief.
Since that time, stress has increased exponentially. But why? Back in the 1980s, people had financial stress, just as they do now. People suffered from relationship stress since the beginning of time. After 9/11, however, I noticed a dramatic uptick in stress that has only seemed to get more intense and deeper as time passed. And, as I became a better practitioner, I also began to attract harder cases, meaning those with more complex symptoms and disorders. I learned how to do emotional adjustments to counter the underlying triggers that keeps the stress stuck and the body holding onto it. Then I discovered how to turn off chronic stress. People who have prolonged stress get to the point where the cortisol from their adrenals is elevated not only in “fight or flight” situations, but continuously – meaning it never rests. This causes weight gain, lousy sleep, anxiety, and chronic restlessness. It also contributes to all the disorders I see, such as depression, diabetes, autoimmune disease, fatigue, fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), chronic pain, acid reflux, and vertigo, to mention a few.
Again this reaction to stress is not new, so why are people getting these ailments with increasing regularity? What has really changed is the pace of society and attitudinal polarization. When we were kids, we would hear periodically about some tragedy in our city or town. Now we are spoon fed global misery and tragedies on a minute-by-minute basis via the twenty-four-hour news cycle and social media. I could go on and on, but you already know this. Angst has become a staple in the American diet, and nearly every person today suffers from some degree of stress and anxiety. The commercial, I will listen, states one in four Americans are experiencing mental health challenges!
According to a 2012 nationwide study, one in 20 teens suffers from anxiety or depression. One in three of our children have illness such as ADHD, asthma and allergies. One in sixty has autism; this is up from one in 10,000 in the 1960s. America’s kids have fifty vaccines by the age of six, so why are they so sick? One likely reason is that they are internalizing the negative energy of a world they have little control over. Their illnesses, in turn, affect their parents’ mental and physical health.
Prescriptions for medications that suppress symptoms (but do not touch the underlying cause(s) of them) have exponentially and dramatically increased, and opioids have become an epidemic, killing more people than our current wars. It is not just America, either; a recent study from Ontario shows that in 2015, one in every six deaths of people aged twenty-five to thirty-four was opioid-related.
We claim to understand that chronic stress is harmful and must be reduced, yet we still tend to underestimate its effects on us. We may take a yoga class here and there or try some other relaxation technique, but at the end of the day we still accept anxiety as a part of life. We look at brain scans, MRIs, and blood tests to find a tumor or other pathology, yet oftentimes we overlook the chronic stress that just might be the cause of the unexplained symptoms. The medical tests can show changes in the brain and in the heart, but we’re not seeing the source of those changes.
DNA doesn’t really change, but epigenetics – the study of the effect environmental and other factors have on our genes – can explain why we manifest illness. For instance, children of holocaust survivors may get cancer even though there is no cancer in the family tree. The stress and trauma of being in a concentration camp prior to the children’s birth altered the parents’ DNA and “turns on” the cancer gene. Another factor is the food we eat, which over time has become more artificial and processed with sugar in everything, plus more genetically modified food with more pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides on and in it. Such chemicals can turn on symptoms such as gastrointestinal distress; Several factors can lead to epigenetic stress that is pass down to future generations.
The good news is that just as these genes could be turned on, they can be turned back off. In this situation, I combine two techniques – EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and NAET (Nambudripad’s allergy elimination technique)
First I muscle test a patient’s strong arm response to stress. If it weakens, I put stress vials (cortisol) in their hands and do a slow motion EMDR maneuver, which takes two minutes. Often I’ll see the patient’s eyes quiver, which indicates stress is affecting their nervous system and thought processes. Then I retest the patient’s strength to make sure there is no weakness in the muscles due to stress. It usually takes twenty-four hours for the patient to completely process the treatment and for the nervous system to integrate the treatment. As a result the patient will start to be more relaxed in everyday situations and the myriad of symptoms healing is initiated. Stress may not cause the approximately 7000 known rare diseases, but having a rare disease is stressful. Having any disease causes stress, therefore addressing stress without medicating it – is beneficial. That said, there are natural remedies that can help (i.e. science has shown dark chocolate (70% cacao) reduces stress and inflammation).
Our changing world necessitated my going deeper to figure out why some folks don’t respond to treatments. In the process I discovered that this isn’t a mental thing, but at the core of our humanity, the soul. I believe the soul is sacred and for a long time avoided confronting any therapeutic intervention. But now it has evolved naturally, and I utilize a gentle approach to release stress that is affecting a patient’s soul. Patients seem to be responding well, and the only side-effects being decreased anxiety, improve relaxation, and a feeling of joy. You can’t ask for a better and gentler procedure than that!