People often flinch at my use of “PTSD” – most of us associate it with people who have been through something else that is undeniably, universally traumatic.
Here’s the thing: almost every person that walks through my door has endured some sort of trauma. We are living in the after effects of something that has happened to us during our childhood or adulthood or both. I talk a lot about emotional health in my book, because I feel so passionately that what you eat is truly only a small part of health. I dedicated chapters and chapters to emotions because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that illness and disease are one hundred perfect related to our emotional experiences.
We all have some form of PTSD because we have all endured some simple experience that changed the way we reacted to that same simple experience in the future. Say for instance, you had a fire in your apartment from burning candles. I think it’s fair to assume that for the rest of your life you would perhaps not buy or burn candles, at least flinch when you enter an apartment with burning candles and/or start triple checking that any candles were sufficiently burnt out before you left the apartment. It’s the same theory that applies to not being able to eat a certain food because of one time you had food poisoning from that food. In reality, it’s not that food item that made you sick, it was the way the restaurant handled it. Just as it’s not that all candles set fire to homes, but perhaps it was a scarf that was too close or a cat prone to knocking things over. Either way our mindsets change about these items and logic does not need to be (and rarely is!) involved.
Trauma of any kind changes the way our bodies physically react to things. Whether it’s abuse or a bad relationship or a mean boss or a broken down car or losing someone you love or food poisoning or a fire in your apartment, you develop a sort of allergic reaction to these things. If you’ve ever smelled something that reminds you of a love lost, you know what I’m talking about.
So why does this matter? Whether your reaction is a full-blown mental breakdown or a little flinch of melancholy, you are setting off your body to high alert. You not only are realizing cortisone (which can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, immune suppression, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, insomnia and more) but I believe that the trauma holds in your body and can manifest as disease later. Studies have shown that people who experience any sort of childhood trauma are way more likely to have depression, cancer or other disease as an adult. It’s important that we learn how to process so that we can see a burning candle and not send our bodies into flight or fight mode.
Here are my tips for treating PTSD and becoming more in control of your feelings while managing symptoms:
- Create a good community around you
This might sound obvious, but surrounding yourself with people whom are aware and accepting of your triggers is incredibly important. Those in your life who may not understand or respect things that set you off, are undermining your trauma, which is a trauma in itself. You cannot process and heal if someone is telling you that your need to process and heal are crazy. Share your experience and needs only with people who can optimistically support you through this.
- Eat to combat PTSD
Glucose is incredibly important in battling PTSD and making sure that your body has enough glucose at all times is helpful in insuring you will be able to remain calm in a triggered moment. If your glucose levels are strong, you are way less likely to feel traumatized by events that may be very traumatic for others. Glucose helps you accept and digest the trauma as opposed to allowing your body to stay in shock. Foods to keep in your regular diet for good glucose levels are:
- Butternut Squash
Avoiding excess caffeine, alcohol and sugar will also help heal your adrenals and make sure you can tap into calm instead of panic.
- Focus on what makes you happy
It has been said a million times before but focusing on positivity and what makes you happy can completely change your emotional mindset. If you have had trauma in your life, it can be easy to focus on that and re-live it every day. You may find yourself constantly on guard and preparing to face this PTSD. Try shifting your mindset to focus on new experiences that make you happy. Don’t think about how much you hate candles; think about how much you love the smell of fresh flowers.
- Heal with supplements
When it comes to calling in the big guns, I always think adding a supplement can be incredibly helpful. For new or overwhelming trauma, try adding any of the following supplements / herbs to your regimen:
- Magnesium – Magnesium has been used to treat depression, insomnia and calm the nervous system. It helps calm the body and combat that flight or fight feeling and restore your body to a natural calm. I recommend both Life Extension L-Threonate Magnesium and Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate
- B-12 – Helps with serotonin production and proper levels can promote reasoning and cognitive functioning. I recommend Global Healing B12 (Adensylcobalamin form) or Pure Encapsulations B Complex.
- 5HTP – Similar to magnesium, 5HTP is helpful in naturally calming the body and relieving stress. I prescribe this to my clients after losing a loved one, it helps you sleep at night, feel energized during the day and balance the mood. I recommend Pure Encapsulations 5HTP.
- PharmaGABA – Gaba is great for those who may have heightened anxiety due to PTSD. It prevents your body from feeling over stimulated, so if you’re prone to feeling overwhelmed or have issues entering into certain situations or environments because of your PTSD, Gaba would be a good match. I recommend Thorne PharmaGABA.
- Valerian Flower Essence – I love this flower essence for trauma in particular because it calms negative emotions surrounding certain people or events. It also can be helpful in not letting situations snowball out of control. This is great to have on hand if you feel triggered and need help balancing your emotions. I ONLY recommend the Flower Essence Services
Another reason to get your body moving, exercise is crucial for PTSD because it creates a steady flow of oxygen to the brain, which is important for emotional health. Exercise is also helpful in slowing down anxiety and depression and making your body less reactive. I love yoga for PTSD clients because it teaches you to tune into your body. That training can be incredibly helpful in pinpointing triggers and working through them when they arrive.
I feel passionately about people living their best lives and that does not start and end in the kitchen. When I got my cancer diagnosis, I knew it was more about my emotional health than anything else. So often, women especially, are quick to downplay their traumas or emotional imbalances because we know it can always be worse. Undercutting your feelings is a fast track to weight gain, high stress levels, disease and more. Taking care of yourself at every level is important and these simple steps can help you find a calmer, more optimistic, more open and happier you!