Final hoorah!

Movember is coming towards it’s illustrious end. It’s been wonderful to see all the moustache’s around the place in support for a great cause.

My last blog post brought up the emotional responsive brain also know as the Amygdala and how lacking consciousness can lead to negative/destructive implications that are widely seen on a daily basis.

I did want to follow on to let you in on a not so so secret on how to quiet your emotional responsive brain down, and I will say that this is quite subjective, as it’s about my experience with meditation and mindfulness but I really want to encourage you to non judgementally take the following on to create your own subjective experience.

Meditation for me has been a life changing experience. I wouldn’t believe that I for one could sit still for 10 minutes without judging my thoughts to a daily practice of 2 hours (Two 1 hour sessions) with absolute bliss, warmth meaningfulness and energy.

So, what are my subjective experiences with meditation..?

My brain is very quiet. And I mean that the combustion of thoughts, especially negative have gone. Clearing my way for intelligent thoughts.

My concentration and ability to potentiate learning and retain short/long term memory has improved amazingly.

Which leads into my next point..sleep! My sleep is deeper! I jump out of bed at 4am, and I feel more energized and grateful, excited for my day to be created.

I feel more centred with my self. I feel secure, I feel self confident, I have surrendered my ego and let go of my judgements of others and most importantly myself. I have no fear or doubts over my future. I have unlocked the genius inside that we all have. I now feel secure about my career in medicine.

And there is so much more, but I’m not one who likes to talk to much about myself I’m more introverted love to give and hence the blog ūüôā

So how do you meditate?

Find somewhere blissful…

Sit comfortably…

Close your eyes…

Surrender your ego…(repeated affirmation will help)

Let go of your judgements…(follow the above)

Focus on your heart (your centre) by generating warmth…(you will feel warmth)

Slow diaphragmatic breaths…(when you go into a hypo metabolic physiological state, which is deep rest your breathing will be slow)

When you finish be grateful for your experience before opening your eyes…

Embrace all the wonderful neurochemicals ūüôā

Happy meditating and Movember peeps.

 

James ūüôā

 

 

 

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Are you “consciously” in control?

Well peeps, were right into the business end of Movember and I’m enjoying the fact that I have less ginger on my top lip from previous years…

Are you conscious? silly question really because you have to be right? because your breathing, your eyes are following my words and your heart is beating a nice rhythm. But all of the above are autonomic functions that we “consciously” don’t have to think about. We have cranial nerves in our brain that do that for us. So know that I’ve got you thinking more lets talk about a area of the brain called the Amygdala.

The amygdala is a small almond shaped nucleus that is located closely to your Hippocampus, and for good reasons the amygdala and hippocampus both share characteristics in potentiating memory.

Scenario…

Your in a state of conflict. You find yourself in a threatening situation. Your fight/flight system is priming you to either fight or flight. Adrenalin is rushing into your periphery, your pupils are dilated and your heart is racing.

What you do next could have massive implications…

Lets bring consciousness back into the scene.

If we loose are higher state of consciousness in a threatening situation that WE CAN CONTROL, if we use our pre frontal cortex, which is our higher order cognitive, planning centre. We can avoid a higher emotional reactive response in our amygdala which would decrease the likely hood of a volatile response. We know from science that the amygdala can turn on before the pre frontal cortex in situations described in the above. We see this in arguments, judgemental comments, and physical fights.

Gentleman this can be trained, calmed and inhibited very easily through practice.

I will talk about how to be more mindful and meta-cognitive next week to calm the amygdala down.

Until then have a “conscious” think about your emotional responses in the past, and how they could have been avoided…

 

James

Dilemma….Can we (sometimes) get away with Pharmacology?

I’ve been in awe and gratitude for a lot of the mental health awareness in the latter months. And for good reason. We are in a state of chronic condition alert! We are more stressed, more overweight and more depressed and anxious. Why? well, that answer could take a novel to discuss, but what I do want to discuss and share my views (non judgemental) is anti-depressant, and the well known¬†(selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, SSRI) vs exercise (self-made neurochemical¬†anti-depressant).

So here is my thought on the antidepressant saga….now I’m not a doctor (yet) but I do have a novel approach.

SSRI, are antidepressants that increase the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the hippocampus, the area in the brain were short/long term potentiating (memory) is retained along with emotional memory. SSRI are used in depression and anxiety and a medical doctor will¬†prescribe if depression/anxiety is mild to severe.¬†Now¬†Exercise, more predominately aerobic also increases and makes (neurogenesis) serotonin in the hippocampus. Aerobic exercise also increases stress robustness, and as human beings we biologically need to be stressed on a daily cognitive, physiological manner. Aerobic exercise also increases the level of norepinephrine which is a catecholamine¬†stress hormone. The more¬†norepinephrine we make when we exercise, the better our brain can cope and use/re-use¬†norepinephrine in a state of acute emergency (fight/flight response). We also know (scientifically) that exercise reduces anxiety and depression, hmm!. Finally if our gut, which is our second brain (enteric nervous system) ¬†contains billions of neurones which thus can communicate with the brain (via the vagus nerve), and if you didn’t know the gut contains more serotonin than the brain? (yes that’s true!), can we as meta-cognitive human beings control the neurochemistry in the brain by controlling sugar and processed food intake along with exercise? And what about are microbiota (gut flora)? can we use a probiotic to improve gut health?, which would improve neurochemistry? and we know again from science that probiotics can improve anxiety.

Health/medical practitioner patient trust is a must. And we can always use emotional intelligence and cheeky placebos to get the right outcome.

So with everything above that you have non judgementally “digested” ¬†can we use less pharmacology?, and more of the naturalistic interventions that to me personally will have a more profound benefit and well-being for the future without the nasty side affects and issues with withdrawing?

I’ll leave the rest to you peeps….

James

MObro time!!!

Lets put a side the male stereotype of being all closed off and manly for a second..or ¬†for a few paragraphs, and talk about expressing ourselves with a little help of the hormone Oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as the “hug” hormone. Oxytocin is released via the pituitary gland and into the blood stream. ¬†Oxytocin is associated with love, connecting and bonding in relationships and orgasms….YES I said it ORGASMS!

NOW, here is the slight problem for us males. Females have a higher amount of oxytocin, and it makes sense. Females are more emotionally intelligent (fair statement?), and they are the bearer of child-birth. This doesn’t mean that males can’t embrace more oxytocin and that’s the message of this blog.

Males secrete and carry more of the hormone vasopressin (which ironically has only two more amino acids, than oxytocin, and hence the close relationship). Vasopressin¬†controls mood, aggression and sexual behavior. Can you see where I’m going here? If we can’t embrace or control our emotions meta-cognitively, and I will discuss more on the emotional brain next week. Our vasopressin side will get the better of us in very lame terms (you know I like to be all nerdy). All I need to do is bring up “hindley street” and the lack of emotional control we males (not always) but most predominately have when faced with a fight flight situation.

OK, so enough of the constructive output! what can we males do to embrace more oxytocin? It’s so simple….REACH OUT MORE! Reach out more to your close ones, give more affection and care and show more vulnerability. Research shows us that by just connecting with people we love and care we release more oxytocin. This can ¬†help calm are emotional fearful brain, and reduce the anxiety that we may have in our relationship. And I’m no relationship specialist but don’t secure/monogamous ¬† couples flourish more?

So there we go Gentleman! Embrace a bit more Oxytocin and get those good hormones flowing.

James ūüôā

Parkinson’s disease as you may not know it.

Parkinson’s disease (PD). We have all heard of it, and some of us may have an interpersonal experience with PD, but did we know that PD can pathologically start in the gut?

Well let me “iNform” you on how dysregulation of your gut can have grave effects on your brain and not just limited to PD!

Our gut has a brain of it’s own named the enteric nervous system (ENS). Our ENS can communicate with our brain via our vagus nerve which stretches from our brain stem (medulla oblongata) to various organs including the gut. Did you know that we have more serotonin in the ENS than we do in the brain?

Our gut contains Glial cells (GC) that have many wonderful functions such as being a neurotransmitter that can communicate with your gut and brain. Our brain also contain there own glial cells called astrocytes, which do much the same, in fact 80% of the cells in the human body are glial cells!!! Glial cells are important for a well functioning gut/nervous system.

So where does it go all wrong for PD suffers?

Lets think of a wall in a house. It is rigid has good structure and prevents externals such as wind and rain to get in. In your gut this is called your intestinal epithelium. The intestinal epithelium prevents the passage of noxious contents while allowing the absorption/secretion of nutrients. What happens if the walls get a leak? enetric markers such as GFAP (glial ¬†fibrillary acidic protein) along with pro inflammatory’s (interleukin-6) ¬†are profoundly expressed in a “red alert” process. Chronic inflammation can lead to nasty bowel problems and you have a pathogen (unknown neurotrophic agent) running around doing what it pleases. Our poor dopamine neurones get oxidative stress and there communication becomes worse than a mobile with no roaming.

So how does this pathogen reach the brain? Well it takes time to get there, sometimes 10-15 years which is scary to think, and why my conclusion will be to stress the point to take care of your gut health. The pathogen travels up to the dura sinuses in the nose, and most PD suffers will complain of loss of smell¬†(anosmia)¬†From here the pathogen will take a northern route to the brain most notably the Substantia nigra and Basal ganglia which has important roles in motor control and autonomic functions and thus you get the rigidity and lack of motor function (including the bowel) and mood depressive symptoms…sigh ūüė¶

So how can we keep our gut healthy? well I’m not a naturopath but I can tell you that avoiding proceeds foods, sugar, excessive amounts of alcohol, reducing anxiety and psychological stress can all help keep your gut in good order. probiotics are also fantastic at keeping your microbiome’s satisfied in your ever changing environment, and they have been found to improve anxiety! lastly exercise and mindfulness/meditation are great ways in keeping you in a parasympathetic state.

I do hope you learnt a bit more about PD, and you will take care of your gut for the greater good of your mind and body.

James ūüôā