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Wellness Wednesday

Webinar Series

Topic: Taking Action - Testing and Prescribing

June 6, 2018

Join Labrix clinical staff and special guests on the first Wednesday of every month at 9:30 AM and 12:00 PM PST. This free, live webinar series will cover a variety of neuroendocrine topics that will enhance your knowledge, with clinically applicable testing and treatment considerations.

IFM (APM)

Hormones/Energy

Portland, OR: July 12 - 17, 2018

Join the Labrix and Doctor's Data team at the IFM (APM) conference on July 12-17 in Portland, OR. Learn what neuroendocrine testing with Labrix and Doctor's Data can do for your patients and your practice. Dr. Erin Lommen will be presenting a lunch lecture on hormones on Thursday, July 12. 

 

Methylation 2018 Summit

Rosemont, IL: July 13 - 15, 2018

Labrix and Doctor's Data representatives will be exhibiting at the Methylation 2018 Summit in Rosemont, IL in mid July.

 

IWHIM

Portland, OR: July 27 - 29, 2018

Dr. Robyn Kutka, ND will be presenting "Sleep Solutions: NeuroEndocrine Answers to Wakeful Nights" at the IWHIM conference in Portland, OR. Stop by the Labrix and Doctor's Data booth during the conference to learn more about utilizing functional testing for patients with insomnia, mood disorders and more.

 

Stress: At the Heart of the Matter

 

Published on 5/30/18

It has been estimated that 75 – 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems.  According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.

Chronic stress has a significant effect on the immune system that may ultimately manifest in illness. Chronic stress elevates catecholamines and suppressor T cells levels, which suppress the immune system. This suppression raises the risk of infection. Stress increases the risk for diabetes mellitus, as psychological stress alters insulin demands. Stress also affects the acid concentration of the stomach, which can lead to peptic ulcers, or ulcerative colitis. Chronic stress is also correlated to plaque accumulation in the arteries (atherosclerosis), especially when combined with a sedentary lifestyle.

Unmanaged chronic stress is so prevalent today that is has morphed into a health epidemic, costing $1 trillion in health care dollars, as estimated by Peter Schnall, author of Unhealthy Work. That’s more expensive than the cost of cancer, smoking, diabetes, and heart disease combined.

The culprit behind so many of today’s health problems is staring us in the face. Yet with such alarming rates of stress, effective treatments to offset the severe impact of this healthcare crisis seem beyond reach. If a provider could discover just one practical tool to address the etiology behind 75-90% of healthcare visits, the positive impact would ring far and wide.

Most of us have been taught that the heart is constantly responding to signals derived by the brain. However, in 1991, the work of J. Andrew Armour, M.D., Ph.D. showed that the heart sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart! The heart possesses its own intrinsic nervous system within a larger connected network referred to as the “heart brain.” With over 40,000 neurons, this “little brain” allows the heart to independently sense, process information, make decisions, and even demonstrate a type of learning and memory. The heart has a mind of its own. His findings were so astounding that a new field, Neurocardiology, emerged. 

The HeartMath Institute’s research in this area has demonstrated that different patterns of heart activity during various emotional states have distinct effects on health. Heart Rate Variability or HRV is thought to be an important indicator of health. Like diurnal cortisol patterns, it is a marker of physiological resilience and behavioral flexibility; it reflects our ability to adapt effectively to stress and environmental demands. The normal variability in heart rate is due to the synergistic action of the two branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and serves as a dynamic window into the function and balance of the autonomic nervous system. HRV is greatest in youth, and although the age-related decline in HRV is a natural process, having abnormally low HRV is associated with increased risk of future health problems and premature mortality. Low HRV is also observed in individuals with a wide range of pathologies.

During stress and negative emotional states, the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered or “incoherent” and inhibits higher cognitive functions. The incoherent patterns of physiological activity associated with stressful emotions can cause the body to operate inefficiently, deplete energy, and produce extra wear and tear on the entire system. This is especially true if stress and negative emotions are prolonged or experienced often. In contrast, the more ordered and stable or “coherent” pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states improves cognitive function.

The shift of emotions and sustained emotional positivity is the key element to create heart-brain coherence. By reducing stress-induced wear and tear on the nervous system and facilitating the body’s natural regenerative processes, regular practice of coherence-building techniques can help restore HRV to healthy values. Positive emotions appear to encourage the system at its resonant frequency, enabling coherence to emerge and to be maintained naturally. Eventually, with continuity of specific mindfulness practices, individuals are able to shift into coherence by directly activating a positive emotion on cue. 

A HeartMath Institute study examined the effects of an emotional self-management program, consisting of two key techniques, “Cut-Thru" and the "Heart Lock-In." The techniques are designed to eliminate negative thought loops and promote sustained positive emotional states. The experimental group experienced significant increases in the positive affect scales of Caring and Vigor and significant decreases in the negative affect scales of Guilt, Hostility, Burnout, Anxiety and Stress Effects, while no significant changes were seen in the comparison group. There was a mean 23% reduction in salivary cortisol and a 100% increase in salivary DHEA/DHEAS in the experimental group. DHEA was significantly and positively related to the affective state Warmheartedness, whereas cortisol was significantly and positively related to Stress Effects. Increased coherence in heart rate variability patterns was measured in 80% of the experimental group during the use of the techniques.

It appears that the heart is truly an intelligent system and individuals may have greater control over their minds, bodies and health than previously suspected. The heart has been considered the source of emotion, courage and wisdom for centuries. Although there is more to learn, it appears that the age-old associations of the heart may indeed have a scientific basis.

 

References

American Academy of Family Physicians Survey, 1988,U.S. News & World Report, December 11, 1995.

American Psychological Association (2017). "Stress in America: The State of Our Nation" Stress in America™ Survey.

Armour, J.A.. (1991). Anatomy and function of the intrathoracic neurons regulating the mammalian heart. Reflex Control of the Circulation. 1-37.

De léan A, Racz K, Gutkowska J, Nguyen TT, Cantin M, Genest J. Specific receptor-mediated inhibition by synthetic atrial natriuretic factor of hormone-stimulated steroidogenesis in cultured bovine adrenal cells. Endocrinology. 1984;115(4):1636-8.

McCraty R, Barrios-choplin B, Rozman D, Atkinson M, Watkins AD. The impact of a new emotional self-management program on stress, emotions, heart rate variability, DHEA and cortisol. Integr Physiol Behav Sci. 1998;33(2):151-70.

McCraty R. Science of the Heart - Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance. 2015.

Rein G, Atkinson M, McCraty R. The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Compassion and Anger. Journal of Advancement in Medicine. 1995; 8 (2): 87-105.

Rosch PJ. America’s Leading Adult Health Problem, USA Magazine, May 1991.

Salleh MR. Life event, stress and illness. Malays J Med Sci. 2008;15(4):9-18.

Schnall PL, Dobson M, Rosskam E. Unhealthy Work, Causes, Consequences, Cures. 2009.

Disclaimer: All information given about health conditions, treatment, products, and dosages are for educational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.