Mental Health

How to Turn Your Brain Off to Sleep (part i)

 

how to turn your brain off

Natural Cures for Insomnia (Excerpt from my book: Med Free Bipolar, Ch. 10) 

As a Dr Amen Certified Brain Health Coach, I would estimate that about 75% of my clients report this major sleep problem: they just can’t turn their brain OFF at night to go to sleep!

Did you know that your brain actually has neurotransmitters that function as ON and OFF switches? I used to have this same problem, and had to take Ambien to even get any sleep; that is not very congruous for an author who writes med free books!

My husband can say: “goodnight” and be snoring within 30 seconds! How does he do that?! I asked him one time how he does that and he replied, “I don’t know, I just tell my brain to turn off, and it does. It’s like an “off switch in my brain.” Ugh! I don’t have one of those I thought!

Nothing seems to mess your day worse than irregular sleep, and my sleep trouble started around age two with night terrors (I will later do a whole blog on how to stop these)!

I think it is important to find sleep aids from natural sources if you have trouble falling asleep on your own.  For me, I sometimes need to use several tactics, especially in the fall when I still get some mild hypomanic break-through symptoms (formerly diagnosed bipolar 1).

I understand that sleep is often difficult for the many people’s. There are things that can augment and compliment other natural therapies instead of throwing chemicals at a brain that may not tolerate them as well as a brain that is stabilized.

Look for Sleep combinations that contain GABA-

THIS IS THE MOTHER SHIP of HOW TO TURN YOUR BRAIN OFF!

GABA is the “OFF” switch to the brain (I seem to have been born without one)

These ones with GABA work great for me, and when I looked into why they might work, it made a lot of sense. It does not work for everyone, however, even those with racing thoughts.

GABA- Many natural sleep aids contain GABA (Gamma-amino butyric acid), which is produced by neurons in the brain. It is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in our central nervous system. I had finally found my brain’s “off switch.”  GABA can be an excitatory neurotransmitter in a developing brain, so it may have the opposite effect in children and thus is for adult use only. My favorite blend is called Theanine Serene with Relora (Amazon).

Theanine- Is an amino acid that comes from green tea and can cross the blood-brain barrier. It is known for its stress relieving properties. It can cross the blood-brain barrier. As an amino acid, Theanine helps you wind down before sleep, and then once asleep, can help you sleep more soundly through the night.

Many sleep blends also contains herbs and melatonin.

Common Sense Suggestions

Create a restful environment where you can sleep. My house is always cluttered, but I try to keep all of it out of the bedroom. A clean space can do wonders for peace of mind. I keep a bottle of lavender water next to my bed to spritz pillows with occasionally. My hubby loves it too. You can also try a lavender essential oil diffuser or a warm lavender bath.

Make sure you have a good mattress and pillow; the foundations are important.  We suffered with a queen mattress that was not very suitable to us, so I sold it on Craigslist to a new college student who loved it, and I was able to buy a king-sized mattress of even better quality for the same price that I had sold my old one.  Be creative in solving problems, as it does not always take extra money.

Have lights on a dimmer switch or use low wattage light bulbs. Low lighting can actually help trigger your body’s natural sleep cycle and induce melatonin. Turning on bright lights can interrupt the circadian rhythms.

Do not watch TV in the bedroom or work on the computer. Do not do stimulating activities such as exercise right before bed. Instead, try journaling, especially in a gratitude journal, listening to classical or soothing music or nature sounds, writing down what is on your mind, or reading a book that is not a page-turner.

Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine as both interfere with sleep patterns. Alcohol may seem to make you sleepy at first, but can disrupt sleep in the middle of the night or increase trips to the bathroom, which is obviously also disruptive.

Think of things that you are grateful for as you lie in bed. Gratitude can help combat some of the negative self-talk and other things that go along with what may be going on inside your head. Shifting to gratitude is a powerful tool.

Pray your way to sleep or use imagery to put yourself somewhere relaxing. I like to picture myself as a baby chick, wrapped in the shelter of His wings, and I do not think God minds if I fall asleep talking to Him in the middle of a prayer. Here are a few great ones:

  • Psalm 4:8: I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.
  • Psalm 16:7: I will bless the Lord, Who hath given me counsel: my reins [heart] also instruct me in the night seasons.
  • Psalm 29:11: The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.
  • Psalm 34:7: The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.
  • Psalm 42:8: Yet the Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
  • Deuteronomy 33:12a: The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him.
  • 1 Kings 8:56a: Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto His people.
  • Job 11:18,19a: And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety. 19 Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid.

Imagining a peaceful setting can be helpful. My dad kept an erratic sleep schedule for thirty years while working as a locomotive engineer for the Union Pacific Rail Road, and he said that imagining the waves lapping at the shore and then receding further and further back into the ocean really helped him fall asleep. I remember him telling me this over a dozen years ago, so it has probably helped me as well.

“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Psalm 91:4 (NIV)

GOT MILK?

Drinking about 8-16 oz. of milk at bedtime, preferably warm if you like, is not just an old wives tale.  My grandmother swears by it, but so does science. Milk contains tryptophan, which the body converts into melatonin, helping you fall asleep very naturally. It has never been quite enough for me to take it alone, but in conjunction with some of my other recommendations, it should help.  If you do not drink milk, a slice of cheese can work also, but if you do not consume dairy products, there are plenty of other natural remedies to try.

HERBAL SLEEP TEAS

Making a cup of tea about an hour before bedtime can have both relaxation and health benefits. Green tea has been found to be a high anti-oxidant and weight-loss booster, and there are thousands of herbs that are used medicinally around the world that can be as or more effective than prescription medications.  Herbs for sleep are no exception, and if you look at the ingredients in most over-the-counter sleep aids, you will find many of them are herb-based. Using these in teas is just another way to get dosing, and can be used in conjunction with most of the other recommendations.

Many herbs can contraindicate with medications however, so be sure to talk with your doctor if you are on other prescription medications.  Remember that many drugs are based on herbs, so just because it is natural does not mean that it cannot be powerful.

There are many herbs that can be used in teas to aid in sleep. Valerian is especially helpful in helping people fall asleep, may improve the quality of sleep, and can even help with anxiety. Valerian by itself does not make a very good-tasting tea, so it is best to mask it with something else, like lemon balm and hops.  According to Mark Tengler, N.D., in his book, The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies, Valerian should not be taken in conjunction with tranquilizers or antidepressants.

OVER THE COUNTER SLEEP REMEDIES

It took me a long time to find ones that worked for me. Melatonin by itself did nothing, nor did Valerian. It took combining several tactics until I finally found a natural over-the-counter one that worked.

QSleep sublingual spray by QSciences: ( $15-$20 @ www.medfreechild.com)

I recommend this one the most, but I have had to take it with GABA (see above) to shut my busy brain up. The reason I recommend it is my naturopath, Dr. Daniel Nuzum, says the best herbs for the brain are valerian, hops, passionflower, and skullcap. This one has most of them in one absorbable spray form, along with 5HTP. I read an entire book on 5HTP, and it is amazing!

QSleep contains:

  • 1mg of melatonin per serving. This specifically proportioned amount of melatonin is gentle enough to not raise melatonin levels in the body higher than are naturally produced when the pineal gland is functioning properly, but sufficient to aid in restful sleep.
  • 0.75 mg of 5-HTP per serving. 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a chemical by-product of the protein building block L-tryptophan. It works in the brain and central nervous system to increase the production of serotonin, which affects sleep.
  • QSleep also contains a proprietary herbal extract to help a person stay asleep throughout the night. The proprietary extract includes the following:

o       Cramp bark: The chemicals in cramp bark seem to decrease muscle spasms.

o       Feverfew: The feverfew herb has many uses, but it seems to be effective for preventing migraine headaches, which can interfere with sleep

o       Ginkgo biloba: Ginkgo biloba leaves are generally used to make extracts that improve blood circulation, which might help the brain, eyes, ears, and legs function better.

o       Passionflower: The passionflower is a plant often used for insomnia, gastrointestinal (GI) upset related to anxiety or nervousness, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and relieving symptoms related to narcotic drug withdrawal. The chemicals in passionflower have been used for calming, sleep inducing, and muscle spasm relieving effects.

o       Peppermint: Studies have shown that the leaf and oil from the Peppermint plant provide numerous health benefits. It may aid in helping relieve muscle pain, nerve pain, digestive processes, upset stomach, and inflammation.

o       Skullcap: Most commonly, skullcap is used for trouble sleeping, anxiety, stroke, and spasms.

o       Valerian root: Valerian is an herb that has been used for centuries to help with anxiety and act as a sleep aid.

According to the Dr. Oz show on April 8, 2014: “Take a supplement that combines Valerian, Hops, and Passionflower to help you get a better night’s sleep. Dr. Low Dog shared a study that showed this combination to work as effectively as Ambien, but without the same side effects.”

Ambien used to be my sleep drug of choice, and it still amazes me that three little herbs can hold their own in medical research studies to a hypnotic drug that comes with scary side effects like sleepwalking and memory loss.

Homeopathic Calms Forte by HIGHLAND’S

This is a homeopathic sleep remedy that I found at Whole Foods market, but I personally did not find it to work for me.  I am including it, however, because mine is not the only bipolar brain out there, and it has worked great for some of my other friends who have bipolar.

Flower Essences: There are blends for sleep and dreaming (My only recommended source is Freedom Flowers, as how they are made is important. (http://www.freedom-flowers.com/about/)

Somnapure: Natural Sleep Aid by PEAK LIFE

This is a non-habit forming sleep aid that contains valerian root extract, lemon balm, L-Theanine, hops extract, chamomile flower extract, passion flower extract, and 3 mg of melatonin.  I found this one effective, but I thought that others were more effective but a lot less expensive.

AMINO ACIDS– An amino acid blend can help with sleep. My first experience with aminos I actually slept so deeply that I wet the bed. Yep, that happened. And I even slept through it!

5-HTP– is the precursor to melatonin production, and it worked a lot better for me than melatonin itself.

Reverse Psychology

This may seem too simple, but reverse psychology works even on yourself. Chant over and over: “I am not tired, I am not tired; I can’t fall asleep. I must stay awake.” There are other visualization tricks beyond counting sheep. You can find more good ideas at: http://www.sleepingtricks.com

Circadian Balancing

In approximately fifty percent of those who suffer from bipolar, the circadian system is unstable. Internal regulation of sleep patterns is weak. Our circadian system is what allows our body to maintain a consistent 24-hour cycle of activity: being able to sleep at night and alert during the day. At different times of the day we have increased or decreased activity of certain organs and hormones. These rhythms originate in our brain but are kept in check by external clues such as light and darkness, activities, meals, routines, etc. When these are working, we feel healthy, happy, and energized, but when they are out of balance a lot of problems can occur.

Things that can help balance the circadian system include:

  • Using an alarm clock that simulates the sunrise.
  • Using a light box for 30 minutes in the morning (note: bright light therapy should always be used with dark therapy to prevent switching to hypomania/mania.)
  • Dark Therapy- dimming lights 2-3 hours before bed or using low-light glasses can help. Even just a few seconds of bright light can trigger alertness.
  • Consistent routines. Eating, drinking, exercising, and other daily activities are best done at the same time everyday.

Summary Action Plan: APPLICATION:

For example: have a small but concentrated cup of tea (Chamomile, valerian, hops, passionflower, skullcap blend would be great!), then dim the lights around the house, play some relaxing music, drink a small glass of milk, brush your teeth, and take some GABA, then read for a while or pray before lights out. Spray the pillow with some lavender water. I usually need to also wear silicon earplugs and a sleep mask, as even a little light and noise are enough to re-stimulate my senses.  It has also been helpful to get my husband a z-quiet device that helps reduce his snoring. If you are the one who snores, be sure to eliminate any underlying causes like sleep apnea. As your eyes are closed and the room is dark, try some of the visualization tips and whisper some memorized scripture verses regarding sleep.

You have to apply as many of the best tips above for some of our “tougher to put to sleep” brains. Another day, perhaps I will tell you about how my sleep was miraculously healed in a prayer room, to where now I do not even have to use anything! WOW! There is no substitute for God’s Supernatural Psychiatry! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mental Health

Mental Illness vs. Spiritual Experiences

Is it mental illness? Or is it something else? Could it be something Spiritual or Otherworldly? Are those voices coming from a malfunctioning Temporal Lobe (more in a future blog), which can cause heightened spiritual experiences, feelings of dejàvu, and even hallucinations, or could they actually be coming from something in the spiritual realm? These questions have plagued mankind for as long as the mind has existed. Many illnesses were contributed to spiritual causes once upon a time, but mental illness is the only one that seems to perpetuate this dual causation. I find myself defending a stance that modern psychiatry has long tried to stamp out with only science.

I personally feel it can be both spiritual and neurobiological, either, or neither. And I have experienced all three. I have lived normally (experiencing neither) most of my life, but have also had more than my fair share of psychosis (even catatonia) and have had many encounters with the spiritual realm that no one could ever convince me of being psychotic.

Most of these experiences were very different from each other, although I do think one of them was a combination of both. I will be talking about my journey as someone who has had a successful run of treating bipolar naturally for years (best-selling author of Med Free Bipolar, Amazon), but has also operated in the “seer” capacity of seeing beyond the Veil into the spiritual realm off and on since I was three. I am a follower of Christ, but have spent much time (as an Asian Studies minor in college and living in Japan) studying world religions and know more about most religious/spiritual beliefs than many of the people who claim them.

I also operate in a professional peer-to-peer setting as a Dr. Amen Brain Health Certified Coach, where science, research, proof and evidence reign in my day-to-day work, but where clients regularly are drawn to me to talk about all the spiritual and religious things they can’t explain to their psych doctor without fear of committal and extra medications. It’s a safe place where nurses share about the fading light and spirits they see leave people’s bodies at the hospital where they work, and “new agers” chat with me about astral travel and past lives at the same time they talk to me about their mood swings and anxiety. I even get to pray over some of them for healing if they ask me to, right before I share with them what has worked for me using scientifically-backed natural methods. The juxtaposition between the two should seem strange, but is just a part of my ‘normal’ day. God has given me more than one way to provide them with insight and answers.

But now I am meeting whole groups of people who operate in the supernatural without a diagnoses of mental illnesses. On the “I’m spiritual not religious” side, many of them talk of “astral travel”, meditation, seeing spirit guides and claim to be messengers of angels, as well as healers performing successful hands-on-healing techniques where I have seen results. Many in this group seek enlightenment and talk of hearing voices from the supernatural realms without seeming to care if people call them ‘crazy’.

On the “religious not spiritual” side of this, I have interviewed many people who operate in what is called the Gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthinans 12), or other religious experiences, like seeing into the spiritual realms, speaking in tongues (heavenly languages), discerning whether spirits are good or bad, and even the Christian version of astral projection, called “traveling in the spirit”, or “supernatural transportation” (2 Corinthians 12:1-5, Revelation 4:1-6, Ezekial 8). Many in this group are also performing successful healing miracles, seeing angels and demons, and seeing people delivered from mental illness for good. One of my favorite early “faith-healers” was Katheryn Kuhlman, who saw thousands of people healed in her meetings without even touching them (watch the old videos on YouTube).

I sometimes wonder what would happen if a psychiatrist could hear these two groups talk about spirit travel and angels without locking them up for good! There is already one in five people diagnosed with a mental illness! There is a debate beginning whether mental illness even exists, or if psychotic experiences are just a “shaman” or “seer” coming into their abilities. (Shamanistic view of mental health). I personally, however, have seen people develop their first psychotic episodes due to delving into spiritual practices such as reiki, yoga and meditation. (See the chapter in my Med Free Bipolar book titled: Mind, Body, Spirit)

So, how do you know whether what you are dealing with is mental illness, or something spiritual? Well, sometimes you just can’t. But there needs to be more discussion about both, and more dialogue about options that are out there for addressing the underlying neurobiological issues (see www.medfreebipolar.wordpress.com), as well as the spiritual solutions that exist. In this blog, I will be openly talking about all things mental health, as well as things that seem quite crazy, like exploring the word God laid on my heart recently: See-ER (Spelled SEER in a vision but pronounced to me in my heart as See-ER, one who sees.) As I study the differences between diagnosable “crazy” and “seeing” and “hearing” voices from God, my life weaves back and forth between the two like a braided cord my whole life. There are many stories I will tell that are clearly not “diagnosable”, or explainable by the world of psychiatry, which include many visions that later came true, as well as incidents that other people witnessed.

I believe God’s Psychiatry is the answer, both in the answers He has given us for Med Free mental health, as well as the spiritual answers. We are body, soul and spirit, and separating them and compartmentalizing them is part of why we have found ourselves in such a mental health mess.

It’s time to open our Hearts, Minds, and Spiritual Eyes to the only One who has all of the answers.

Mental Health

Life without Medication

I have been asked for a program that would help them beyond my book, Med Free Bipolar. A program to walk them through becoming med free and mind free. This program is the closest thing to the program that I would create myself. If one were to add in the Empowerplus™ Q96 brain vitamins on top of this 44-day Program, I believe extraordinary healing will occur in the brain! I highly encourage you to take advantage of this special offer Dr. Kelly Brogan is giving my readers. Blessings & Med Free Health!  –Aspen Morrow

VMRMedsNoMeds800x800.png

What would you give to feel whole again?

According to my friend, Dr. Kelly Brogan, this is all you really need to change your life:

Knowledge. Tools. Support. And a Reset.

Maybe you’ve been told that depression, anxiety and stress are an imbalance in your brain. That something in you is broken, and you can only “fix” yourself pills. That idea is a terrible myth. What is broken — and outdated — is our healthcare system.

These myths handed down by trusted authorities are keeping you sick and confused.

But with the right knowledge and tools — combined with the right support — you can hit the reset button and awaken the person you were meant to be. Naturally.

You can heal yourself.

Dr. Brogan, author of the best-selling book, A Mind of Your Own, sees patients in her practice in NYC as a holistic psychiatrist. She told me:

“I’ve seen women come to me drained of energy. Overwhelmed by anxiety. Sunken by depression. And I’ve seen those same women walk away feeling fully alive again. Healthy. Self-assured and in control. All without drugs.”

Now, Dr. Brogan has taken the very same knowledge and tools she uses with her patients, and combined it with an online support program called Vital Mind Reset.With this life-changing, step-by-step program, you can take the steps to a better life from your own home, and for a fraction of the cost her patients pay.

Here’s what one Vital Mind Resetter had to say about her experience:

I did the reset diet when A Mind of Your Own came out and felt fantastic. However the changes I’ve experienced while doing the Vital Mind Reset program have been dramatically more than I ever expected. This wasn’t just about diet. It was about changing my mindset and focusing on all of the components that the program addresses. Having the support of other people working to change their lives as well was also invaluable.

Vital Mind Reset is a 44-day program that will hold your hand and introduce you to a community of people just like you – all working to transform their lives and revive their power and joy.

This is the first time Dr. Brogan has opened up enrollment for Vital Mind Reset to my followers. So, for a limited time you can join the program at a steep discount.

Visit the Vital Mind Reset page to learn more.

kellybroganmd

Mental Health

You are not crazy, just Hangry

Imagine a sweet little puppy: happy, playful, not a care in the world. Now, take his food away for three days, then set a big steak in front of him teasingly, then try to take it from him; he will bite your hand off and has turned MEAN. This is the case in about 80%+* of cases causing mental illness: the brain is just HANGRY. 

When a horse chews on a fence-post it is called “cribbing”, known to farmers as a sign of mineral deficiency or digestive distress. When humans act out, it is the same. Signs of micronutrient mineral deficiencies include: cutting/self-harm tendencies, hair-pulling, skin picking, autistic “stimming”, eating disorders, & most mental health disorders.

The brain requires about 20% of your entire nutritional needs, and just like a baby in the womb, it requires the first 20%! Most people aren’t psychiatric because they aren’t more than 80% depleted nutritionally. We are seeing more and more cases due to our depleted soils, processed food addiction, leaky gut, lack of probiotic  & healthy gut microbes that help assimilate nutrition, and genetic deficiencies that can actually be passed down. (i.e> folic acid and birth defects, potassium deficiency leads to moles & freckles)

I talk about this quite a bit in my book: Med Free Bipolar (Amazon), about Physical Ailments that can cause psychiatric symptoms, and HOW to fix them, step by step, with the med free method™

Here is a list of things that can look psychiatric, or cause people to be diagnosed:
· Hypoglycemia (including subclinical)
· Allergies and Sensitivities to Food, Inhalants, and Other Substances
· Dysbiosis (Overgrowth of unfriendly gut organisms, including Candida)
· Nutrient Deficiency
· Nutrient Overload
· Copper/Zinc Imbalance
· Poor Diet
· Mercury Toxicity
· Other Heavy Metals Toxicity
· Toxins (Carbon Monoxide, Pesticides, Aspartame©, etc.)
· Subclinical Hypothyroidism
· Adrenal Insufficiency
· Reproductive Hormone Imbalance
· Histamine Imbalance
· Pyroluria/ Over-Under Methylation/ MTHFR
· Lack of Exercise
· Lack of Sunlight
· Lack of Exposure to Greenery
· Suppressed Pain
· Musculo-Skeletal Misalignment
· Hearing Disorders
· Visual Disorders
· Sleeping Disorders
· Head Injury
· Sensory Integration Dysfunction
· Dental and Orthodontic Problems
· Parasites/ Urinary Tract Infections/ Antobiotics/ Leaky Gut/ Other microbiome issues
· Psychotropic Drugs, EMF/ELF

So, what if you could reverse some if not all of these issues through simple supplementation?!Some issues may require extensive gut-healing, dietary changes, and customized supplementation, but most can experience relief through a specific group of supplements. Here is a simplified version of my med free method™ that you can do immediately:

  1. Himalayan Pink Salt (2 tsp/day) & Lots of Good, clean, filtered or Alkaline Water!
  2. Empowerplus Q96 Brain Vitamin to feed the whole central nervous system (Backed by 20yrs clinical use, 28 medical studies, 44 researchers including Harvard, and $25 million in independent research. Few meds can top this proof. Nothing else can be substituted for this and work as well!) (Please order at www.medfreechild.com to save $ over Amazon or truehope) Research @ truehope.com/research
  3. Probiotics (QBiotics or Primal Defense) + Digestive Enzymes or Bitters 
  4. Essential Fatty Acids: Coconut Oil (eat it, put on skin), Omegas, Avocados, Grass-fed Butter, Ghee (My fist recommend for omega source is Green Pasture’s Blue Ice Royal Fermented Cod-liver with Butter Oil. It provides vitamin D & Vit K2) If you can’t tolerate it, then QOmega can be purchased with the Q96 and does not burp fish oil)

That’s it! Yes, this plan would run you about $120 per month, but because of this regime, I was able to live a normal life again. Work, get off public assistance, have healthy children and a marriage. I have been med free 13 years now, and a few days to a few weeks without my brain being fed the above nutrients, I return to bat-guano HANGRY. We have helped thousands now fully recover…. so please share this with anyone who might benefit.

Great Resources:

Safe Harbor (http://www.alternativementalhealth.com)

TrueHope.com/research 

www.medfreechild.com (My affiliate link discount passed on to you!) Select one item to cart and one item to auto-delivery for your own wholesale pricing! Even my retail pricing is cheaper than TrueHope or Amazon

Best-selling book: Med Free Bipolar 

Kelly Brogan, MD — Holistic Psychiatrist 

*TrueHope Nutritional Support, Canada (based on 28 research studies spanning 20 years)