I've been walking a long road toward wellness, since my body fell apart from chronic Lyme disease over 12 years ago. Since then, I've learned that becoming whole isn't just a matter of whacking some bugs with an antibiotic or eating organic salmon and salads. It's not just a matter of healing the daddy wounds or coming to grips with a lifelong story of rejection.

It's about finding a relationship of unconditional love with God, because it is love- not a doctor, herb or belief system- that ultimately heals the whole person. Yet God gives us answers to healing through holistic medicine, as well as by His supernatural hand.

Indeed, most of the focus of the books that I've written has been upon medicine, but I realize that it's time to share all that I have learned from God as I have walked through the dark valley of this past decade. This includes strategies that heal the heart and spirit, as well as the body.

My knowledge is based upon my belief that Jesus Christ still heals supernaturally today, and that spiritual healing is the highest level of healing that we can attain to. Spiritual health can make us completely well, but it is also noble and good to seek healing at the physical level.

The journey to wholeness is always a journey, as none of us ever completely arrives this side of Heaven, but we can enter into a place of relative health and peace, with joy as the centerpiece of our days. I'm not there, but I am not the same person I was a decade ago. May victory be upon your horizon as it has been upon mine...

Monday, May 26, 2014

It's Not About Who We Are, But Who He Is For Us

God gave us the ability to reason, but reason and intellect without the input of God's Spirit are the devil's playground. I am deeply intellectual and prone to operating out of my reason when pondering the things of God, but I can get into trouble with this when my thoughts aren't of His Spirit. Because what also lives in my intellect are deeply embedded strongholds; patterns of lie-based thinking that were programmed into me at an early age. We all have them.

So at times, instead of submitting all of my thoughts to the Holy Spirit, I end up meshing God's truths with lies, and coming up with pseudo-religious beliefs that alienate me from the life of God.

For example, one that comes up frequently is the idea that God can only bless me if I'm faithful to obey Him perfectly in my work. Because of this deeply-embedded belief, I end up setting standards for myself that God never asked me to set. I work long hours, believing that the bills won't get paid unless I slave myself into exhaustion. The excuse the devil gives me is that "Most normal people work from 8 to 5"-and since my workday starts closer to 11 AM, if I want to prosper, I am beholden to work until late into the evening.

Granted, I am an entrepreneur, and from what I've seen, most entrepreneurs end up working long hours, but after having been sick for ten years, I don't have the luxury of being able to push myself like some others do.

I also am wary of falling into a "prosperity gospel" mentality which is that if I just trust God, I'll be blessed with financial wealth or He'll drop some millionaire opportunity down my chimney.

But then where does trusting God as my provider come in? If God can only bless me because I work like a dog or make perfectly wise business decisions, then why do I need Him? It puts the onus of blessing entirely upon me, and leaves no room for Jesus Christ to open doors of favor for me. Not only that, but it causes me to create impossible standards for myself, because I can never know with certainty how much work is enough work, or how much wisdom is enough wisdom to make it in this dog-eat-dog world.

It's performance-based thinking; it's legalism; it's religion; it's the idea that God will give me favor, if I just do it all right!

It is a subtle, but insidious lie that creeps its way into my daily thinking, and suddenly the Cross of Jesus Christ become irrelevant because I'm living out of performance, instead of God's grace.

Many of us do this, because we live in a performance-based society where accolades, admiration and financial rewards are bestowed upon the productive, witty, brilliant and energetic. We are loved when we do it all right, whether in work, ministry or our relationships. So where is God's provision for those that don't have the natural strengths and abilities that society values?

Phillipians 3:3 in the Amplified version of the Bible provides a great answer to this question. It states "...For we are the true circumcision, who worship God in Spirit and by the Spirit of God, and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put NO confidence or dependence (on what we are) in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances."

What the Holy Spirit communicated to me through this verse is that I shouldn't put my faith or confidence in my natural ability to produce; in my intellect, and worldly knowledge. That God can guide me and bless me, whether I have worldly wisdom or not- whether I am able to work 4 hours or 10- whether I'm sick or well; able to walk or not, or have friends in high places or no friends at all.

I do think that God expects us to use the talents, gifts and abilities that He's given us, but I believe that we are more blessed because of our heart towards Him, and are rewarded not because of what we accomplish, but because of our trust in Him. Psalm 147:10-11 of the NLT Bible states: "He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the LORD's delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love."

When I walk in a spirit of Sonship, rather than out of a spirit of slavery, I understand this. The natural laws of the world still apply- such as, for example, I must work in order to eat- but I also have the help of a supernatural God who can open doors of favor and opportunity for me, when I choose to put one foot in front of the other. I have a God who can re-route me when I walk in the wrong direction; who can send finances when tragedy befalls me, and who can provide messengers and messages, dreams and visions, words of wisdom, and many other things, to make sure that I receive all that I need for life and godliness. Anyway, it is His Spirit that works in me to will and to do (paraphrased, Phil 2:13), NIV, -when I choose to acknowledge Him in all my ways.

The Bible is replete with stories of people who were blessed by God, financially, in their health and otherwise- when they chose to thank Him, and trust Him to provide for all of their needs.

I know many people with chronic Lyme disease who feel condemned and like they are "doing it wrong" because they have been sick for years, and tried every medical protocol under the sun, only to still suffer symptoms. Treatment of chronic Lyme disease is a quagmire for even the most brilliant of minds, so it's easy to get caught in a perpetual maze of decisions, striving and wondering if you're doing the right thing. I know, because I've been there, too. And it's easy to feel like you can't be blessed by God unless you're doing all the right treatments, and can afford the thousands of dollars that it costs to treat the disease. It becomes a near impossibility for many.

But as I wrote in my 2010 book, Healing Chronic Illness: By His Spirit, Through His Resources, I don't believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross so that only the financially well-off or the intellectually privileged, or those that have had a balanced upbringing could be healed. His grace covers our mistakes, financial hardship, and lack of resources, and can override our bad decisions, so that even if we do the wrong treatment, it can be blessed anyway- provided we trust Him to bless it. We can be led into an unconventional path of wellness, if He ordains it. We can experience healing in our bodies, or favor in our work, if we believe Him to make good out of our meager, but sincere efforts, to do the right thing.

This is contrary to the world's wisdom, and, let's face it, God did create natural laws; if you get a bug, you get sick; if you eat GMO food, it will harm you- but He's also above the natural realm, and He can bring supernatural favor and blessing into our lives so that we aren't affected by the world in the same ways as someone who doesn't know and trust Him.

I have much to learn in this area, but as I dismantle my own mental strongholds, and He teaches me how to operate out of Sonship rather than slavery, He continually reminds me that He "...is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us."

May we know that favor, love, power and grace, when our own inadequacies tempt us to believe that blessings are dependent upon who we are, rather than who He is for us.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Seven Simple, Low-Cost Detoxification Strategies

Environmental toxins are one of the foremost causes of many of today's chronic and degenerative diseases. In Dr. W. Lee Cowden's and my upcoming book, Create a Toxin-Free Body and Home...Starting Today, we share some common environmental toxins and how to remove them from your body and home, in order to be in optimal health. The book will be available on my website as well as on the website of the Academy for Comprehensive Integrative Medicine, in approximately 2-4 weeks: www.conniestrasheim.com and ACIM.

Toxin removal can be a costly and complicated process, but below I share a few of my favorite toxin-removal strategies, which I like because they are (mostly) inexpensive, give you great bang for the buck, and are highly effective at removing a variety of toxins, including heavy metals, industrial chemicals, plastics, pesticides, pathogens and many of the other toxins that we come into contact with daily through our food, water, air and personal care and cleaning products.

I advocate doing all of these strategies for a well-rounded toxin-removal protocol. You may need to do additional types of detoxification, according to your personal needs and your doctor's recommendations, so please don't take the following as medical advice! We all have unique needs, although the strategies that I share below are beneficial for most people.

1) Sauna Therapy- Okay, so saunas aren't cheap, but over the long run, they don't cost as much as some other toxin-removal therapies since they are a one-time purchase. I bought my sauna slightly used on craigslist.org for $800. New, two-person far infrared saunas cost about 2-3K, but you can sometimes get good deals on craigslist or elsewhere. Cheap, portable, tent-like saunas which cost less than $200 are available on the Internet, but these may or may not be as useful as other types. Far infrared saunas mobilize toxins from deep within the tissues, and are great for removing stubborn toxins such as phthalates (which come from plastics) from the body, as well as heavy metals.

2) Coffee enema/liver cleanse- Most of us have dozens of gallstones in our livers, which cause them to become inefficient at toxin removal. You can improve your liver function by doing a Hulda-Clark type liver cleanse every 3-4 months. I personally like the cleanses developed by Dr. Steve Hines, ND, which are similar to the Hulda-Clark cleanse, but easier on the body. I have done Dr. Hines' cleanses and eliminated lots of stones. (They aren't always fun, but are definitely worth it!). Dr. Hines claims that he's seen many of his clients' PMS symptoms disappear after doing multiple liver cleanses. To read more about Dr. Hines' protocols, see: http://www.hopewellness.com/forms/LiverFlush.pdf

Coffee enemas also cleanse the liver and gallbladder (and colon). They are useful when you just need a fast, superficial cleanse. They don't remove liver stones in the same way as a full-on liver cleanse, but they do remove a lot of garbage from your body! For more information about how to do a coffee enema, visit: http://www.sawilsons.com/basicenema.htm.

3) Zeolite Of all the toxin binders out there, I really like zeolite because it is a relatively safe toxin-binder and can remove a wide variety of contaminants, including heavy metals. If you know that you have heavy metal toxicity, you'll probably also need to use other binders in addition to zeolite, but if you can't handle intensive detoxification regimens, low amounts of zeolite daily can help to lower your overall toxin and heavy metal burden. I recommend Dr. Garry Gordon's zeolite product for this purpose, which can be found at the Longevity Plus website: http://longevityplus.com

4) Rebounding/jump-roping- When detoxifying your body it's important to keep toxins moving through your lymphatic system, which is like a superhighway that shuttles toxins out of the tissues into a network of vessels that carries the toxins to the excretory organs for elimination by the body. The lymphatic system gets "backed up" easily, so to keep toxins flowing through your lymphatic vessels, I recommend either jumping for 10 minutes daily on a rebounder, pretend bike pedaling with your feet in the air for 10 minutes, or, if you can afford to purchase one- lying on a Chi machine, which moves your body side to side in a fishlike motion. For more information on Chi machines, visit: http://www.thechimachine.com

5) Exercise- Any type of exercise that gets your body moving will aid it in its detoxification processes, since exercise increases oxygen delivery to the tissues and encourages the movement of toxins through and out of your body. Combining some moderate cardiovascular exercise with strength training, stretching and rebounding is a good regimen to follow, if you are able to exercise. If you aren't, simple deep breathing techniques can also aid in tissue oxygenation and toxin removal. Check out Dr. Lam's site for some great videos on how to do deep breathing: www.drlam.com.

6) Clay Mud Treatments- Bentonite clay, as well as green, red and some other types of clay can bind toxins and carry them out of the body. You can take some types of clay orally, or mix them with enough water to make a paste which you can spread over the entire surface of your skin. If you do the paste method, allow the clay to dry on your skin for about 10-20 minutes, before rinsing it off. Alternatively, you can take a clay bath, although this doesn't seem to be quite as effective as painting your skin with the stuff, or taking clay orally. Clay is inexpensive and relatively safe compared to some other types of toxin-removal products, which is why I recommend it. Different types of clay can be found at most health food stores, or online. You can even buy clay in bulk to save money. I like Mountain Rose herb's products: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com

7) Juicing- Juicing is a great way to super-charge your body with nutrients while also eliminating toxins from it. Certain vegetables and fruits encourage the tissues and organs to dump toxins- especially carrots, beets, cucumbers, lemons, cranberries, and apples-, and when you spend several days or weeks juicing, you can help your body to eliminate an abundance of toxins, especially if you aren't also consuming a lot of animal protein.

It's important, however, to use organic vegetables and fruits, so that you don't re-toxify yourself with toxins that come from non-organic food. It's also a good idea to eat as little animal protein as possible while juicing, since the liver works really hard to process animal protein, and when you take a break from eating it, you give the liver a chance to rest and regenerate itself, which in turn enables you to better eliminate toxins over the long run!

Also, if you are hypoglycemic or have other blood-sugar issues, avoid using medium and high-glycemic fruits for juicing, such as papayas, melons, bananas and even apples and pears (if you are sensitive). For some great juicing recipes, visit: http://www.all-about-juicing.com/detox-recipes.html

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Soul vs Spirit Prayers- A Key to Prosperity and Abundant Life

God has given our spirit charge over our soul and body. The spirit commands the soul, which in turn, commands the body. At least, that's how it is supposed to be. The trouble is, most of us live more within the natural realm, and so we spend more time feeding our soul and body, while neglecting the part of us that is supposed to reign above both of the lower entities.

And it is our spirit that communicates with the Spirit of God to bring about God's kingdom on earth, including health to every part of us, since health is His will for us. But if the spirit isn't in charge, because we have chosen to principally feed our soul and body, then God's will for our lives can be hindered.

Recently, God told me that one reason why my spiritual progress has been hindered, and why I've left my meditative prayers feeling less than satisfied at times- is because I've been praying out of my soul, and not enough out of my spirit.

When you pray out of your soul, God seemed to tell me, the focus tends to be on your problems and in imploring Him for solutions to those problems. While God admonishes us to bring our burdens to Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), when the focus of our prayers becomes mostly upon our problems, rather than His answers, we will tend to pray out of desperation, rather than faith.

The soul is supposed to be in submission to the spirit, so when we pray out of our soul, we operate on the level of the natural world, rather than the supernatural. The problem with this is that attaining victory in the soul and in the natural realm doesn't bring about the same peace and everlasting rewards as attaining victory in the spirit, and leaves us perpetually dissatisfied.

When we pray out of our spirit, the needs of our soul automatically become satisfied, because our awareness has shifted to God's goodness, power, love and all of His attributes, rather than the things of the flesh. As the spirit is strengthened, it transfers to the soul and body all that it needs for life, joy and godliness. The focus becomes on who God is for us, rather than our needs. Yet, paradoxically, our needs become met, but not because we are begging Him to solve all of our problems, but because we know our problems will automatically be solved by living in Him and through Him.

It's about a mindset, God seemed to tell me. When my prayers come from my soul, they are orphan-like prayers, in which I feel like I need to beg my Daddy for health, a new job, or whatever the need happens to be. When my prayers come from my Spirit, I'm simply praying what I know that He has already promised to give me, and so there is peace. I'm praying out of a spirit of Sonship and adoption, rather than a spirit of poverty.

Prayers from the spirit involve asking God for things, but they also involve thankfulness and gratitude, and an assumption that our prayers will be answered, if we have prayed according to God's will. Spirit-filled prayers exalt the goodness of God; His love, mercy, kindness, justice, grace, and other attributes, and this is what feeds our spirit.

Prayers from the soul also involve petition, but with an uncertainty about God's will or the outcome. The focus is on who we are rather than who He is for us, because our fragmented or fractured soul isn't sure that God loves and accepts us. So when we pray this way, we'll tend to ask God to bless our agenda, instead of trusting in His agenda for us.

My spirit has been anemic at times because I have been so busy feeding my soul and body with the things of the flesh, or the natural realm. There's nothing wrong with this but...I've learned it only gets me so far because it bypasses my spirit and the most important aspect of my life, which is my relationship with God.

According to John G. Lake, a man that was used powerfully by God to supernaturally heal thousands of people, we can feed our spirit in several ways. First, by praying in faith and in alignment with God's will; by thanking, worshipping and praising Him, by feeding on His Word- that is, Jesus Christ and the Bible- and by publicly proclaiming the kingdom of God to those around us. When our spirit is anemic or has suffered rejection, (especially in-utero), it cannot command our body or soul. The only way to heal and grow the spirit is through companionship with God, and by obeying His commands.

The tricky thing about it, I've discovered, is that my soul likes to complain, and indeed, I don't think there's anything wrong with crying out to God when we are in distress. It releases tension, which is a good thing, but I've found that when it becomes the focus of my relationship with Him, it causes me to lose sight of who He is, as I focus on the works of the devil in my life, rather than God's work. When this happens, doubt and unbelief creep into my prayers. God helps us in our distresses, to be sure, but He also wants us to grow up in Him, and that means focusing upon His goodness and choosing to live in trust and belief that He will meet all of our needs.

When the soul has been in charge for so long, it also doesn't quiet down and submit to the spirit so easily. It's used to being heard and validated, and so, God showed me, it's important to resist the soul's urge to whine and complain and beg for help, and instead feed the spirit by feeding and focusing upon the goodness of God and Jesus Christ.

I have heard that the phrase, "Walking in the Spirit" is literally translated, "Stumbling in the Spirit" in the original Greek of the Bible. God knew that we wouldn't just one day know how to live entirely out of our spirit, and that our walk would be more of a stumble! Fortunately, with His help, we can become more and more spirit-oriented, and as we pray out of our spirit, our soul and body are also healed, as we discover that it's not all about having our problems solved, but having peace in the One who provides an answer to all of our problems.

Friday, May 9, 2014

My Journey Through Insomnia and Six Strategies that Led Me Out of the Wilderness

One of the biggest beasts I've had to conquer in my journey towards wellness has been insomnia. Perhaps you can relate. A host of assaults, including chronic Lyme disease, derailed my autonomic nervous system about a decade ago, and when herbal remedies, melatonin, and hot baths failed to put me to sleep, I resorted to the heavy-hitters; sedatives and antidepressants.

Big mistake.

When you're desperate, you do what you gotta do, but the medications did a number on my body and made a bad problem catastrophic. In 2010, when my sleep medications quit working, I realized that they had done nothing but use up the remainder of whatever neurotransmitters that I had previously had, and screwed up my neurotransmitter receptors.

As I saw it, I was left with two choices- first, I could increase the dosages on the medications and face more damage to my brain and body over the long run, and in exchange I might get a few more years of sleep and sanity. Or, I could get off the drugs and endure withdrawal symptoms, and determine that God would help me to find another way to get sleep.

In my heart I believed that He didn't want me to choose a path that would further damage my body, so I chose the latter, and entered a world of sheer hell as withdrawal symptoms kept me from deep rest for over two years.

As I weaned off the medications, I gained twenty pounds from a lack of rest, and became severely depressed. Many nights I remained awake the entire night, emailing friends and begging for prayer. And as one sleepless night turned into two, and then three, I was tempted to cave in to the drugs, time and again, as hopeless thoughts tormented me, but God urged me to persevere, assuring me that He would heal me.

Occasionally, I would scream at him. "When is it enough!? You promised to heal me! What do you want from me?!" I would rage in difficult moments. When you don't have a good night's rest for many, many months- never mind a few days-, insanity threatens, and screaming at God and throwing objects was sometimes the only way I survived the immense stress of withdrawal. Many times a sinister voice spoke to me, There's no way out. You'll never sleep again.

During this process, in the middle of 2012, two carcinomas appeared on my back. The fear of death loomed and added to the stress. My doctors had said that I no longer had chronic Lyme disease, and after eight years of battling infections, now there was this. God isn't healing you the sinister voices whispered to me daily. I fought them tooth and nail but I felt like I was drowning.

In the meantime, well-meaning friends admonished me to speak positive words over myself and meditate upon God's truths. I tried to stand upon God's promises of healing, but unless you've walked a trial that pulls at every fiber of your emotional, mental and physical strength, you can't know how hard it is to do this. Part of the problem was that I didn't understand the power of God's Spirit to overcome my biochemistry and unbeknownst to me at the time, I also had curses that had been spoken over me that needed to be broken.

Fortunately, God gave me the strength to endure, and He sent a few of His messengers- friends and companions who truly walk in His love- to come beside me and lift my arms up when I could no longer do it myself. One of them is my sweetheart Bill Gonseaux, who daily spoke life into me, encouraged me, prayed for me, and carried me when I couldn't take another step.

His love for me was relentless and untiring- a rare love but a love that abides in those who truly know and live in the love of God. I'd sob my guts out for hours in the middle of the night, and Bill patiently stayed awake with me, consoling me, until peace overcame me and I finally succumbed to a few hours of rest. A couple of close women friends- women who have also endured the trials of Lyme- also stood by me, their love unconditional and non-judgmental.

I think it's difficult for people who have never walked the tragic and difficult journey of chronic disease to fully appreciate or be able to help those who are in the midst of it. A few can, and do, but my experience has taught me that it's better to not expect things from people who haven't been there, done that (or from anyone, really) but to simply cry out to God and ask Him- and believe Him- to bring the help that we need. And there have been times in my healing journey when Jesus Christ was the only One who was there to get me through the difficult times, and in those moments, I experienced sweet companionship with Him and that love was enough to keep me going.

The love of Bill pulled me through the trial of insomnia, as did the love of my friends, and one of my physicians, Dr. Cowden, whom God also sent to help me out of the mess.

God forgave me my rages, because that was His promise through Jesus Christ- to forgive us of all of our mistakes. In His mercy, He even increased my prayer anointing to see others healed and enabled me to write a book, though it was the most difficult project I ever completed because I was so tired.

I have been sleeping now for nearly six months and I feel the dawn of a new day approaching. After eight years of sleep medications, I am now off all drugs and averaging 7 hours of sleep most nights. I really need 8, but after what I went through, I'm not going to complain. I'm functional, sane and hopeful.

Love got me through, but six other things helped me to cross over into the land of sleep and sanity. These were:

1) Amino acids. I described these in my last post. Amino acid therapy is an art, and I learned that my brain and body desperately needed dopamine and serotonin to make up for what had been depleted by the drugs and years of chronic illness. The aminos provided those. Unlike drugs, they gave my brain the nutrition that it needed, rather than robbing from it.

2) Clear Mind neurofeedback device. www.clearmindcenter.com. I used this device at night to slow down my brain waves, so I could fall asleep easier. It helped me to wean off the drugs. The Clear Mind therapy device is expensive at $3,500, but if you suffer from insomnia, you could try a less expensive device, such as a sound-light machine, which also slows down brain waves, but via a different mechanism. These cost hundreds, rather than thousands, of dollars. Tools For Wellness sells these devices. http://www.toolsforwellness.com/light-sound-machines.html

3) Prayer. When I was at my worst, I sent out a prayer request to 50 people, asking them to pray daily for me for a month. It was a tall order, but I needed reinforcements and I stuffed my pride because my life was more important than what people thought of me. Besides, I realized I wasn't fighting jut a physical battle, but a spiritual one.

4) Adrenal gland support. My adrenals had become severely weakened by stress, and I would awaken during the night with hypoglycemia. Adrenal desiccated from Standard Process helped to rebuild my adrenals, along with stress management strategies.

5) PEMF therapy. An iRMS mat helped to balance my energy at night, so that I could fall asleep easier. I used this after 9 months of Clear Mind therapy.

6) Inner healing and deliverance ministry. God sent me a very gifted deliverance minister, who discerned curses over my sleep- generational as well as from people around me. She also discerned that a fragmented, childlike part of me was associating sleep with death, and she prayed for that part of me to be healed. It was after receiving this ministry that I experienced the biggest breakthrough in my sleep, after two years of seeking solutions.

It's interesting because I think many of us tend to see problems as either having a biochemical, emotional, or spiritual cause, when in reality, all three can be at work. But spiritual forces of darkness would like us to chase only the natural causes of symptoms and have us think that we suffer because of a drug withdrawal, or an infection, or an environmental toxin. Often though, spirits use physical problems as a springboard to induce problems in the spiritual realm. Or vice versa.

I would have never guessed that curses were keeping me from rest, because I also had obvious evidence of a physical problem. Besides, I don't have enemies that I'm aware of. When I learned that I was being actively cursed by somebody or something out there, I was hurt. It's beyond me how somebody who doesn't know me could hate me and wish evil upon me- but then I remembered that the curse wasn't personal- and that the battle we wage is a spiritual one, and Satan has his army of folks who are sent to work against God's purposes, too.

Thankfully, the battle against good and evil was won at the Cross. When Jesus Christ died, He made a purchase for our freedom from sin and sickness, and gave us all that we would ever need for an abundant life and godliness, if we would just surrender our lives to Him.

But I've learned that it takes time to learn how to walk in the power of the authority that He's given us, and to understand how deep, and wide, and long His love is for us. The book of Ephesians, chapter 3, verses 17-19 states: "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (NIV).

So in the end, it was my relationship with God that moved me from the difficult place that I was in, to a better place where I now stand. I cried out to him, and even through my anger, rebellion and anguish, He heard me.

If you suffer from insomnia, or other health challenges, I encourage you to cry out to Him, in faith, trust and surrender- believing He will respond, and that it's not because of who you are, but because of who He is, that He hears you.

Sometimes the battle for freedom isn't won overnight, and it's easy to forget that our pain and suffering isn't just a product of a problem in the natural realm. Yet, by seeking God, He will give us the tools we need to walk out that freedom. Perseverance, trust and surrender is what it's really all about. God says in the Bible, in the book of Ephesians, Chapter 6, verse 12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (NIV).

The battle is spiritual as much as it is physical and emotional, but thankfully, "I (we) can do all things through Him who strengthens me (us)." (Phil 4:13). Amen, Jesus.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Art of Amino Acid Therapy for Alleviating Depression

In my last post, I described how depression is a multi-factorial condition that can be caused by physical, emotional and spiritual issues. In this post, I share a nutritional healing strategy that radically impacted my emotional and physical wellbeing, and which has helped me to overcome depression, along with other strategies.

It's very validating to discover that the reason you can't get out of bed in the morning, or think positive thoughts, or do much of anything,really!- is simply because your body is screaming for some amino acids. For me, it was such a relief to know that my problem wasn't because I wasn't trying hard enough to be positive. I'm sure you can relate!

Over the years, I had seen many doctors for depression. If they were a conventional MD, they would give me a drug. If they were a naturopath, they would give me some 5-HTP, or some random, one-size-fits all combination of amino acids. Neither worked.

I'll keep this simple. What I discovered is that depression can be caused entirely, or in part, by a serotonin or dopamine deficiency (these are brain chemicals that regulate mood), and most depressed folks don't have enough of either, or they have an imbalance between the two! 5-HTP is an amino acid precursor to serotonin, and L-tyrosine is a precursor to dopamine. You need both of these NTs to balance your chemistry, and in the right proportions.

Amino acids don't tend to work well in isolation, though. You also need vitamin and mineral co-factors to help make neurotransmitters, especially vitamin B6, magnesium, and Vitamin C- among others. I describe these co-factors in more depth in my recent book, Beyond Lyme Disease

Many people also need some SAM-e, which helps with neurotransmitter methylation, a process that also helps the body to make neurotransmitters. If you take amino acids such as 5-HTP and L-tyrosine without SAM-e, and you have a methylation problem (many of us do!), you're likely to feel worse after taking amino acids. This is what happened to me and I gave up on aminos for a long time for this reason. Don't do it!

Or, if you can't afford a high quality SAM-e product (and it must be high-quality, from a source such as Sabre Sciences or Protocol for Life Balance), try a teaspoon of creatine and some methyl-folate. Creatine helps the body to recycle its own SAM-e so you get more mileage out of what it produces.

Many people have told me that they feel worse when they take amino acids, and so they continue in their misery. This breaks my heart, since they can be incredibly helpful, if you just know how and with what to take them.

Amino acid balancing is an art. Yet I haven't met many doctors who understand this, and who simply prescribe random amounts of 5-HTP or L-tyrosine, among others, to their patients, without the proper co-factor support and without taking into account their patients' unique chemistry. Then, when the therapy fails, patients resort to taking anti-depressants, which always deplete the body of neurotransmitters even more over the long term. Drugs never get to the root of depression, but amino acids can help the body to heal from the biochemical aspect of it.

If you've tried amino acids in the past and have felt worse after taking them, it may be for any of the following reasons (among others):

1) You have a severe serotonin or dopamine deficiency and your body needs time to build up its NT reserve. (You can feel worse before you feel better on amino acids, if you are severely deficient in them).
2) You aren't taking balanced amounts of 5-HTP (or its precursor, L-tryptophan) and L-tyrosine (or its precursor, L-phenalalaline).
3) You don't have enough methylation support
4) You have too much methylation support
5) Your body doesn't need the amino acids, or you are using products that have allergenic fillers in them, or which simply don't work.

It's not easy to sort out what your body needs. I had to experiment for several months with amino acids before I figured out the dosages and co-factors that I needed, and in the meantime, I endured some bumps in the road as I got worse before I got better.

But take heart- if you can find a doctor with an open mind, and who is knowledgeable about amino acid therapy, I recommend sharing these guidelines with him or her. Sabre Sciences www.sabresciences.com does amino acid, methylation, hormone and neurotransmitter testing and can help you and your doctor to figure out what you most need. I don't, however, recommend doing amino acid therapy on your own, as it requires skill and mistakes can exacerbate the depression.

To learn more about how amino acids can help to heal the body from depression, I also recommend checking out Dr. Kaslow's articles on Neurotransmitter Repletion: http://www.drkaslow.com/html/neurotransmitter_repletion.html

Stay tuned for more information on how to heal from the chemical aspects of depression, as well as the emotional and spiritual causes. In the meantime, don't forget to subscribe to this blog (see the email box up near the top right) to receive regular updates about this and other wellness topics!