How Much Is Our Mental Health Part Of Our Physical Ecosystem?

Recent findings indicate that we actually have another brain in our gut. The second brain contains a massive network of an estimated hundred million neurons. The neurotransmitters in the gut, are immersed in and influenced by the same neurotransmitters as the brain. This knowledge can introduce an entirely different conceptual framework around mental health issues and treatment.

In fact the entire digestive track is lined with a network of neurons that communicate with the bacteria in the gut. Instead of receiving information from the brain, they carry information to the brain, hence the common expression, “I just had a gut feeling”.

As far as all the hype around leaky gut syndrome, I tend to think the syndrome can be debunked. To me, it doesn’t make sense our guts would be designed to leak. I believe we can get a build up of toxins in our blood stream that can wreak havoc with our health. But those toxins can enter the bloodstream from root canals, simmering infections, inflammatory reactions, open lesions on the skin, ingested orally, and inhaled through the respiratory tract. Probably more than anything, it happens from an overloaded, fatty or dysfunctional liver.

Our liver, lungs, skin, kidneys and immune system defend us against invaders by getting rid of toxins. The most difficult situations arise when there is a combination of pathogens, allergens, stressors, lack of exercise, and a poor diet. After a certain point, the immune system no longer functions the way it is supposed to. The auto immune disorders send signals for things to go haywire. This chain of events runs rampant, confusing the system by not recognizing friend from foe. It is an internalized form of self-betrayal that we seemingly have no control over.

Addiction is reinforced due to the mood elevating elements of the substance. It short circuits the other more holistic ways of fun and happiness, and quickly becomes a vicious cycle. Our brains constantly crave dopamine, serotonin, food, drugs, alcohol, sex, money – and literally anything that will elevate the mood.

As a new approach to dealing with depression, addiction, and other mental health issues – this knowledge about the second brain and biome of the gut should be at the heart of all treatment. What is the point of going to expensive counselling sessions unless you commit to a completely holistic mind and body treatment plan?

My own suggestion for those with an altered immune response, addiction, depression, mast cells, anxiety, and high cortisol levels – is to do a water only fast, followed by a change in diet. This could be a cheap cure for many ailments, including systemic cancer cells. The autonomy is preserved at the end of it all.

Over a period of time, although I always had allergies and the wrath of histamine, it worsened into a mast cell anaphylaxis. The onset was always in the middle of the night for some reason, so the first time it happened, was a near death experience.

I knew the initial onset was an itching burning sensation in my hands. The first time, I made the mistake of trying to ignore it and went back to sleep for another few minutes. I woke up suddenly, with a feeling like my hands were on fire. The intolerable burning sensation rapidly changed as more symptoms piled on. My hands were swelling so fast, it felt like the skin in the webbing between my fingers was splitting open. Before I knew it, there was no sensation at all in my hands. Within a minute, my tongue and airway swelled at the same rate as my hands were swelling. When I stood up and tried to walk, I had no blood pressure, and could only make it about three or four feet, before collapsing on the floor.

To stay conscious, I had to get into a sitting position, put my head lower than my heart, and focus every bit of energy on taking each breath. For the few seconds I was flat on the floor, it was an out of body experience, looking down on myself. I knew I had to get up and manage my own airway, or I would convulse and die right there. From that experience, I realize why so many people in a crisis, will struggle to try and sit up.

I also know much better what the experience of sudden death is like. It was an awful experience, but the gift I got out of it, was that it took away my fear of death. The revelation in those few minutes was more than I had processed in my whole life. It was like I was given textbooks of knowledge and understanding in a split second. It gave me a much clearer perception of how our our soul inhabits our bodies. I did not travel to a beckoning bright light anywhere – but I knew I could have!

When it happened again, I had prepared myself. I got up right away, and looked at the palms of my hands. I could see the rash and hives starting to crawl up my arms. I immediately took Benadryl 100 mg. orally and then used the highest strength undiluted oregano oil you can buy, and put a full dropper full down my throat. The airway was most activated and prone to swell, so I added another dropper full under my tongue. I sat down and watched the rash travel about another two inches and stop midway up my arms. It had to have been the oregano oil that stopped it, because the sublingual route, especially in a liquid form, is more rapid acting than ingesting Benadryl pills orally.

Even though I had found a method to stop the anaphylaxis from progressing, I knew I had to do something to get rid of the mast cells. The first time it happened, I attributed it to having developed a sensitivity to blueberries, the last thing I ate before going to bed. I tend to think I reacted to some kind of contaminants on the blueberries as opposed to the berries themselves, but I have yet to test the theory. When the onset of the anaphylaxis happened again and again, I knew there was much more going on, and that it had been insidiously developing over many years.

I started researching as much as I could find out about mast cells, and made the decision to do a water only fast. It gives the liver a chance to put all of its efforts and focus into detoxification, by getting rid of the villainous cells in the blood stream. Apparently the immune system can be totally reset with seven to ten days of fasting. Those alarmist autoimmune cells have to be removed from the lymphatic system as well.

My self treatment plan made sense. During fasting, once the glycogen stores are used up, the body goes into a state of ketoacidosis. As a mechanism of survival, the healthy cells are conserved and the damaged cells are destroyed. The digestive system is given a complete rest in the process. The fat cells in your body, including the ones around the liver, get released, and burned as fuel first.

There is a healing crisis on all levels during a prolonged fast. It is more intense when there has been a long-term build up of toxins in the body. I do think it has to be water only, so the glycogen stores are completely depleted for a duration of time. It is not for the faint hearted, and most people do it under medical supervision. In my case, I ended up stopping the fast after three weeks.

The main thing to keep in mind for the duration of the fast, is to maintain a well monitored intake and output fluid balance. You do not want to get dehydrated, which is probably the greatest risk. But over hydration also must be avoided, as you can throw the electrolytes completely off balance by drinking copious amounts of water. A long fast is a personal journey – something a person prepares for psychologically, researches, and then must decide if it is for them, and how they will go about it.

Based on my own experience, the fast cured the anaphylaxis completely. The onset of the repeat anaphylaxis was eight months before the fast and happening every couple of weeks. Following the twenty-one day water only fast I have not experienced even a hint of anaphylaxis. Even for the duration of the fast, there was no sign of allergic reactions, so I knew the causative factors were not in the air or water.

After the fast, I eliminated added sugar, and all processed and refined food. In the months following, for the first time in my life, the histamine settled down. To my surprise, I have discovered olives work better than any over the counter antihistamine I have ever taken. But one word of advice, get your olives fresh at an olive bar!

In my opinion, all mental health, physical, and addiction treatment should have a strong focus on diet, exercise and nutrition. We simply cannot change the communication between the neurotransmitters between our gut and brain otherwise.

Our mental health is part of our entire physical ecosystem. I really did wonder why I had the allergic episodes in the middle of the night, and knew it must have some association with the sub-conscious mind.

We can overcome many of our struggles and demons even though they are complex and multi-faceted. We just have to learn how to redesign and reroute those neurotransmitters. We can truthfully add a few more genial and palsy-walsy cells and microbes into the dark recesses of our minds – just from the micronutrients in food!

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2018). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Valerie Hayes

Quiet West Vintage represents a private vintage and designer collection that has been gathered and stored over a thirty-five year period. I now look forward to sharing this collection and promoting the "Other Look" - a totally individualistic approach to style.