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...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Path to Chronic Illness

This morning, I was reviewing some notes from a Lyme disease conference that I attended last year, and was struck by something that one of the doctors shared at the conference. I guess it's because what he shared is similar to a theory that I've believed for a long time, which is that Lyme disease, and many other chronic illnesses, aren't caused by infections - rather, the infections are the result of a body that's been broken down by stress.

This may not be true for everyone, but I can't tell you how many stories I've heard about people that have gotten sick from Lyme during an intense time of stress.  That stress can be from environmental toxicity, a bad diet, or a harried lifestyle, but more often,  it is the result of prolonged emotional stress.

According to this doctor, prolonged stress causes the sympathetic nervous system, or the body's fight-or-flight system, to activate and remain activated.  This causes the neuroendocrine (or hormonal and neurological systems) to de-regulate, which then causes problems in the GI tract, which then causes problems in all systems and organs of the body. A weakened body then becomes hospitable to infections and toxins. Therefore, toxins and infections are the result of stress, but the terrible catch-22 is that toxins and infections then add to the stress that was already there before.

The sympathetic nervous system is designed to save us when faced with a strong threat or fear- but it isn't meant to be continually activated. Continual activation of the fight-or-flight response, even if it is a low-grade activation, suppresses the immune system and gastrointestinal function, making us hospitable hosts for infection.

Unfortunately, the hurried, harried and isolated lives that many of us in the West (and especially in the United States) live, means that our sympathetic nervous systems are continually activated.

Perhaps even more damaging, however, is when we live in fight or flight mode, because of habitual patterns of harmful thinking and beliefs that were embedded into our limbic systems as a result of PTSD or trauma. Early-life trauma is especially damaging. Some examples of beliefs and emotions that result from trauma include fears of abandonment, rejection and not being able to survive in the world.

Lee Cowden, MD and Recall Healing practitioner Gilbert Renaud have linked the development of Lyme disease to a conflict of separation, or abandonment. In other words- lots of folks with Lyme disease have had the disease process triggered by a situation of abandonment, or an early life abandonment, the emotions of which were reactivated later in life and acted as a trigger for symptoms.

I don't know how often this is true, but I agree with the theory that chronic illness is often triggered by perpetual sympathetic nervous system activation. Or said more simply- FEAR.

Getting sick only adds fuel to the fire of fear, as when your ability to function and provide for yourself becomes compromised, many new fears enter the picture.

I believe this may be one reason why some people with chronic illness struggle to recover. Healing happens when the body is in relaxation mode, but Lyme disease (or any chronic illness for that matter) tends to perpetuate and magnify the stressors that initially caused the illness.

So what do you do, if you find yourself in this sinking boat?

Well...you go after the end products of the stress, and eliminate the toxins and the infections, but you can't stop there. You've got to go after the initial cause(s) of stress.

I'll tell you what I have done, and what I still do. I pray, and I ask God to show me the emotional conflict(s) behind the stressors that were the trigger for living in "fight or flight." Sometimes there are more than just a few, but usually, there is a relatively small core set of beliefs that keep the body in fear mode.

I then pray, and ask God to heal me of the lie-based thinking, or the beliefs that led me to live in a state of low-grade anxiety, or outright fear. I then work on replacing the lie-based beliefs with affirmations of truth, and practicing mindfulness of my thoughts as I go about my day.  The patterns of belief and thought are usually deeply embedded in the limbic system and the cellular memory, which is why I ask for God's supernatural hand to remove the programming from my DNA, and to help me re-wire my thoughts. I don't think it's something that most of us can do by willpower alone. We need Him to literally re-wire our belief systems, and feed His thoughts into our minds.

It sure isn't an overnight thing. I speak from experience. But it is worth the effort, as God promises to heal us, as we seek Him and acknowledge Him in all our ways.  (Proverbs 3: 5-6). And knowing that we don't have to do it alone- that it is He who works in us to will and to do (Phil 2:13) relieves any pressure on us to perform- another factor that feeds fear.

Sometimes, when life gets hard, I have to get off my computer, turn off my phone, and spend hours, or even days, in the presence of God. It's the only way I can get out of "fight or flight" mode, and when I do, I return to the demands of life with a greater sense of peace.  And it works. Twelve years ago, I suffered from such a terrible anxiety disorder that it was as if someone were holding a gun to my head 24-7. I lived in constant fear of dying of a heart attack. I even went to the ER once for a relentless panic attack.

Today, I no longer suffer from that kind of fear. I don't have panic or irrational fears. I still battle to not live in fight or flight, because a lifetime of harmful programming often takes years to undo, and the pressures of society and work lend themselves to SNS dominance. But when I spend enough time in the presence of God, my mind rests, and with that, my body.

If you haven't been healed by herbals, drugs, vitamins or other remedies, I encourage you to seek God for wisdom about any potential emotional conflicts behind your symptoms, and for the power and ability and wisdom and discernment to resolve those. This can help bring your body into a state of rest, so that you can experience deeper healing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

God and His Healing Power- He's Not Just a Form of "Higher" Energy, but Also a Person and the Creator of the Universe

As the premise of this blog states, I don't believe that healing from chronic illness is simply a physical endeavor. It is emotional as well as spiritual.  Most people who embrace holistic wellness would also agree.

Health care practitioners with a new age or Eastern medical perspective (which is popular in holistic and integrative medical circles nowadays) often advocate spiritual practices as an essential component of recovery. Practitioners might suggest to their clients, for example, that they do some yoga or meditation as part of their recovery.

In Christianity, spiritual healing is also central to the entire healing process, and is based on principles found in the Bible and a 24-7 relationship with a living God who leads and guides us in our decision-making, and transforms our thoughts so that they conform to His, not our own, which are subject to fallibility.

It seems to me that in some holistic medical circles, Eastern and new age spiritual practices are almost universally accepted as the best way to address the spiritual component of wellness.  Let's face it- it's cool to be a Buddhist; to channel energy, to be a medical intuitive; to do Reiki, yoga and the rest, but it's not so cool to be a Christian and to practice healing through Biblical principles and the Holy Spirit.

I could be wrong, but these are my impressions based on what I have observed at medical conferences and through talking with many health care practitioners, since I often hear practitioners advocating spiritual practices from the East, but I seldom hear talks about the power of Jesus or the Holy Spirit to heal.

Maybe the collective belief is that this sort of chatter is best reserved for the church, but that Eastern practices are okay because they are based on science or an intellectual philosophy rather than religion (which is not true).  Still, I can't help but wonder why it is okay to talk about God as a higher energy- as prana, chi or otherwise- but not as a person?

Is it because the belief among those in integrative medical science is that God is only universal energy, which we can channel at our will- but that God is not a person, with a will, thoughts and emotions?

Yet the Bible, which I believe is the infallible, inspired word of God, demonstrates that God is actually comprised of three persons- The Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit- and they they all have a will, thoughts and emotions. 1 John 5:8 of the Amplified Bible states: "So there are three witnesses in heaven, the Father, the Word (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one..."

Christianity has earned a bad reputation in the United States among some people. And I don't necessarily blame those that have been turned away from organized religion, since Christians are often known more for what they are against, rather than what they are for. Indeed, some of us have done a better job of reprimanding people for who or what they are or are not, instead of loving them unconditionally with the love of God.

This has led some folks, I believe, who were once open to the idea of a loving God, to embrace the idea of universal energy instead. Which to me is sad because, well...I think that God isn't just energy, but the One that created the Universe and who longs to have a relationship with us! (Notice I did not say that God is human :) And God is the mightiest force in the Universe; the Creator, the alpha and omega; the beginning and end of all things (Rev. 22:3).

And though I consider myself part of the integrative, or holistic wellness community, I don't share the popular new age perspective that the Holy Spirit is simply Christianity's way of defining universal, or higher energy, or that Jesus was just another good man, or healer, on earth. Because the Holy Spirit is more than energy- He is also a person, with a will, thoughts and emotions, and He is part of the Godhead, as is Jesus Christ.

I respect everyone's right to believe differently, and I believe that all faiths have aspects of truth to them- but we let's face it, we all believe in an ultimate truth- and just as some believe in universal energy, so I believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate "way, truth and the life"(John 14:6) - and not just the truth of life here on earth, but in the Hereafter.

I also believe that not all energy is created equal. Our bodies are comprised of electromagnetic fields, which we can channel for our healing and that of other people. But the higher, more powerful energy of the universe comes only from three sources- God, demons, or angels.

Which is one reason why I don't pray for people using any means or medium besides Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. And I don't allow anyone to pray over me using a random form of "higher energy"--because for all I know, no matter how well-intentioned the channeler might be, that energy could be demonic, or from a dark spiritual entity, if you prefer- which can then bring harm to me or someone that I pray over.

Anyway, I love praying through the Holy Spirit, since He is God, and as such, imparts not only physical healing to us, but also a profound revelation of His love, Jesus' love, and God the Father's love towards us. He doesn't just fix the broken bone- He shows us who He is for us, and His remarkable compassion towards us, through His healing touch.

Jesus Christ still heals through the Holy Spirit today, like He did when He walked the earth 2000 years ago, and abides in all those who believe in Him and who receive Him as their Lord and Savior. Do you know Jesus, God the Father and the Holy Spirit? If you don't, I invite you to put aside all prejudices and preconceived notions about who they are, and ask God to reveal them to you....You just might be surprised at the gentle, loving persons that you meet!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Why Toxins Are A Principal Cause of Most Chronic and Degenerative Diseases Today

According to renowned integrative medical doctor and osteopath Garry Gordon, MD, DO, MD(H), in the foreword that he wrote to Dr. Lee Cowden's and my just-released book, Create a Toxin-Free Body and Home...Starting Today , studies reveal that newborn babies today are born with more than 200 different types of environmental toxins in their bodies. It is a myth that when babies enter this world, their bodies are pristine and toxin-free.  If this is true, then just imagine how many more toxins those of us who have been on this earth 30, 40, 50 years or more have accumulated in our bodies!

Sadly, we have polluted God's green earth with a multitude of chemical, radioactive and electromagnetic toxins- which have soiled our food, air and water supply, and in turn, our bodies and homes. The truth is that we are all full of harmful toxins such as heavy metals, phthalates, PCBs, dioxins, GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, pharmaceutical drugs, radiation, and more.

Nobody is exempt from their influence. Even if you don't yet have symptoms, take it for granted that your body is storing a lot of junk from the environment, and that it is likely to affect your health down the road, especially since the amount of toxins to which we are all being exposed is multiplying exponentially over time.

Our exposure to environmental toxins has resulted in an epidemic of chronic, degenerative health conditions and diseases- everything from heart disease, to cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's, ADD, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, and Alzheimer's- just to name a few. A hundred years ago, these types of diseases were rare, if they existed at all.  In conventional medicine, most of these diseases are managed with drugs, as their true cause remains masked and hidden to the afflicted.

So many of us with undiagnosed and chronic symptoms such as fatigue, pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, headaches and allergies--are really suffering from the effects of environmental toxins upon our bodies. Toxins cause inflammation, disrupt and destroy enzyme systems, metabolism, and other biochemical and electromagnetic processes in the body.

Fortunately, by identifying and removing these toxins from our bodies and homes- we can heal from our "mystery" illnesses and experience a reduction in, or complete elimination of, our symptoms. Environmental toxins are sometimes only part of what is making us sick- but more often than not, if we will remove them from our bodies, we will experience radical, accelerated healing from whatever else ails us (such as cancer, Lyme disease, and other infectious diseases).

It's not always easy to identify the things in our environment that are making us sick. Toxins are often invisible  and we don't feel their effects at the time that we are exposed to them. But as we begin to remove them from our bodies and homes, we may notice our symptoms abating; our energy increasing, our thinking becoming clearer, our sleep improving, and aches and pains disappearing.

This process doesn't happen overnight. For me, it took years, but had I had the information that Dr. Cowden and I shared in Create a Toxin-Free Body and Home...Starting Today  years ago, when I first got sick, I believe I would have healed much faster.

Dr. Cowden and I wrote this book to provide a broad overview of the multitudes of types of toxins that we are all exposed to today, as well as do-it-yourself and doctor-assisted solutions for removing them. It is a short, easy-to-read book, but power packed with useful information and tips that are based on my long battle with chronic illness, and Dr. Cowden's over 25 years of working with patients with environmental illness.

It's not just enough to take some chlorella or do a sauna once a week. While doing one or two things to get rid of toxins is better than doing nothing, we seriously underestimate the problem of  toxins if we think that one or two therapies or supplements is enough to stay become, or remain, healthy.  Removing and avoiding toxins is a multi-faceted endeavor and we all need to understand the how, where and what of a variety of types of toxins, in order to live a long, healthy life, or recover from the health conditions that ail us.

I am passionate about this book, because I believe that it will save lives and cause those of us who follow the guidelines therein to be happier, healthier and stronger over the long run.

We need to all stop eating genetically-modified, contaminated food, and avoid talking on our cell phones and ipads for hours daily, if we want to be well. We need to get informed about how smart meters, mold and microbes are draining the life from our bodies. We need to understand that our bodies weren't created to ingest hormones, chemicals and antibiotics on a daily basis. We need to know that it's not okay to use household and personal care products that contain artificial chemicals, or these chemicals will eventually end up inside of us and make us sick down the road.

I don't want to sound alarmist, but I want my readers to understand the seriousness of this issue- because as you do, and follow the recommendations outlined in Dr. Cowden's and my book, I believe you will feel better, stronger and happier than you ever have before. Longevity these days depends upon maintaining a clean diet, and doing regular detoxification to remove accumulated toxins.

Dr. Cowden and I have tried to make this process easy, by sharing what we know, in simple terms, the different types of toxins to which we are all exposed, along with strategies and tools for eliminating them from your body and environment.

You can read the introduction to our book by clicking here.  Also, Dr. Cowden and I will be releasing two more books in the Journey to Wellness book series later this summer and in early fall. To learn more about these, I invite you to visit my homepage: www.ConnieStrasheim.com. The books in this series are designed to provide you with all the necessary tools that you need to be well- in body, mind and spirit.