Blog – Holistic Medicine for Stress,Trauma & Chronic Illness – Portland,OR

In this article I want to help you to get to know your heart. Knowing more about your heart (specifically your heart rate variability) can improve your awareness of how stressors impact your mind and body. To evaluate the health of your heart and nervous system, you just need a heart rate variability monitor (typically […]

I have studied nutrition for many years starting in my youth and then formally in my undergraduate degree and yet did not come across much about the potential deleterious effects of anti-nutrients such as phytic acid in grains, beans, nuts, seeds and some other plant foods. (An antinutrient is a component in food that limits […]

Herbalists speak of the different effects of plant parts and generally ascribe mentally and emotionally uplifting properties to flowers. Many of our key herbs used to alleviate anxiety and depression (and other mental health conditions) are derived from flowers: Chamomile, Lavendar, Lemon Balm, Linden flower, Magnolia, Passionflower, St. John’s Wort, Saffron (Crocus) and Skullcap are […]

Chocolate can nurture and nourishes. It is derived from the cacao tree (Theobroma cacoa). The word Theobroma means ‘food of the gods’. Americans consume, on average, 11 pounds of chocolate per person per year and we are ranked as the 5th major consumer of chocolate worldwide. Research on the health benefits of chocolate shows it […]

Chronic Stress In a prior blog post, I wrote about managing stress and gave some tips for gaining control and a greater sense of calm when facing short-term stress, but what about stress that is unrelenting or chronic? How does one maintain health with persistent exposure to stress? The short answer is that one typically […]

Stress is pervasive and has significant psychological and physiological effects.  Stress breaks down the immune barrier and integrity of the GI tract, leads to imbalances in hormones (the HPATG axis (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Adrenal, Thyroid and Gonads (Sex hormones)) and can have a deleterious effect on sleep (can contribute to insomnia) to name but a few. […]

With more use of devices and longer, darker nights, our circadian rhythms are more vulnerable. Those suffering from bipolar disorder, insomnia or sleep disorders and those who work shifts (shift work disorder) are some of the most affected. Here are a couple of interesting and relevant articles from the news this week:   If you […]

Diagnosis & Treatment Series II In the second post of the Diagnosis & Treatment blog series, I want to discuss beets. This vegetable is currently in season and possesses a host of health benefits, but is also very useful diagnostically (you can engage in some diagnosis yourself at home with the information that follows (ideally […]

Diagnosis & Treatment Series I Defining Reactions to Food Reactions to food are increasingly common and fall into a couple of categories: immune mediated (known as food allergies or food sensitivities) and non-immune mediated (often referred to as food intolerances). These non-immune mediated responses can include reactions to a variety of food compounds or additives […]

This post is to update my current and future patients and readers that I recently attended a five-day intensive continuing medical education course offered by The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), located in Federal Way, Washington. Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice addresses one of the key issues in healthcare practice today – improving the […]

Anxiety Archives – A Healthy State of Mind

In this article I want to help you to get to know your heart. Knowing more about your heart (specifically your heart rate variability) can improve your awareness of how stressors impact your mind and body. To evaluate the health of your heart and nervous system, you just need a heart rate variability monitor (typically […]

Chocolate can nurture and nourishes. It is derived from the cacao tree (Theobroma cacoa). The word Theobroma means ‘food of the gods’. Americans consume, on average, 11 pounds of chocolate per person per year and we are ranked as the 5th major consumer of chocolate worldwide. Research on the health benefits of chocolate shows it […]

Micronutrients in Mental Health Series II Vitamin B12 is nutrient is critical in proper mental functioning and overall health.  If intake or absorption of vitamin B12 is insufficient, a wide array of psychiatric (anxiety, depression, psychosis to name a few), cognitive (memory loss and confusion) and gastrointestinal (constipation and low stomach acid) can result. Vegetarians and […]

Sleep is something so many take for granted and yet sleep problems or insomnia affects a large proportion of the population, 22.1% by recent estimates .  Untreated insomnia can lead to psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression and insomnia commonly occurs in those with psychiatric disorders. Treating the underlying psychiatric disorder will generally improve […]

Recent evidence suggests that the status of our gastrointestinal (gut) flora may affect mood and behavior. This evidence, derived from a study conducted by Bravo et al. and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that bacteria in the gut can communicate with the brain and vice-versa via the vagus nerve1. […]

Well it is hard to not notice the collective stir around love & relationship in February and it prompted me to reflect on the power of relationship to heal. This power is undoubtedly important in any healing dynamic (doctor-patient relationship), but as Dr. Heron so aptly states, perhaps even more so when one suffers from […]

‘Sensitivity’ can be a loaded term in our culture and has a number of connotations, many not very positive. Elaine Aron, Ph.D., author of The Highly Sensitive Person book, defines a sensitive person as one who is aware of subtleties in their surroundings, more readily overwhelmed after being in a stimulating environment for too long […]

The holidays are a time of increased stress for many and as year-end tasks pile up, it can make it challenging to get the support and perspective one needs to re-prioritize. As stress can be cumulative, and is also hard to objectify, I think that introducing a scale to assess the burden of stress in […]

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports month, and with the warmer days and more sun, it hopefully is easier for people to get motivated to move! Doctors have a tendency to overlook or understate the value of exercise in being busy to find the best treatment(s) for a patient’s ills, but the effects of […]

Chocolate: Medicine for the Heart and Mind

Chocolate can nurture and nourishes. It is derived from the cacao tree (Theobroma cacoa). The word Theobroma means ‘food of the gods’. Americans consume, on average, 11 pounds of chocolate per person per year and we are ranked as the 5th major consumer of chocolate worldwide. Research on the health benefits of chocolate shows it […]

Depression Archives – A Healthy State of Mind

In this article I want to help you to get to know your heart. Knowing more about your heart (specifically your heart rate variability) can improve your awareness of how stressors impact your mind and body. To evaluate the health of your heart and nervous system, you just need a heart rate variability monitor (typically […]

Chocolate can nurture and nourishes. It is derived from the cacao tree (Theobroma cacoa). The word Theobroma means ‘food of the gods’. Americans consume, on average, 11 pounds of chocolate per person per year and we are ranked as the 5th major consumer of chocolate worldwide. Research on the health benefits of chocolate shows it […]

Micronutrients in Mental Health Series II Vitamin B12 is nutrient is critical in proper mental functioning and overall health.  If intake or absorption of vitamin B12 is insufficient, a wide array of psychiatric (anxiety, depression, psychosis to name a few), cognitive (memory loss and confusion) and gastrointestinal (constipation and low stomach acid) can result. Vegetarians and […]

Micronutrients in Mental Health Series I The role of optimal nutrition in depression, and a number of other mental health conditions, is often overlooked, but plays a critical role in health and well-being. Iron deficiency, even without being diagnosed with anemia, can lead to low energy, fatigue and depression.  Many of my patients who have […]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data Brief, (in which they report that the rate of antidepressant use among all ages) reports a nearly 400% increase in medicine for depression since 1988-1994. Some salient features of this report are: Females are more likely to be on antidepressant pills than males Greater than 60% of Americans […]

Sleep is something so many take for granted and yet sleep problems or insomnia affects a large proportion of the population, 22.1% by recent estimates .  Untreated insomnia can lead to psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression and insomnia commonly occurs in those with psychiatric disorders. Treating the underlying psychiatric disorder will generally improve […]

Recent evidence suggests that the status of our gastrointestinal (gut) flora may affect mood and behavior. This evidence, derived from a study conducted by Bravo et al. and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that bacteria in the gut can communicate with the brain and vice-versa via the vagus nerve1. […]

Well it is hard to not notice the collective stir around love & relationship in February and it prompted me to reflect on the power of relationship to heal. This power is undoubtedly important in any healing dynamic (doctor-patient relationship), but as Dr. Heron so aptly states, perhaps even more so when one suffers from […]

The holidays are a time of increased stress for many and as year-end tasks pile up, it can make it challenging to get the support and perspective one needs to re-prioritize. As stress can be cumulative, and is also hard to objectify, I think that introducing a scale to assess the burden of stress in […]

Seasonal changes are known to affect those suffering from a number of psychiatric complaints. Seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.) is the most common diagnosis for those suffering from seasonal changes. S.A.D. affects about 6% of the U.S. population. A milder form of S.A.D., known as the Winter Blues or Subsyndromal S.A.D.,  affects approximately 14 % of […]

Chocolate: Medicine for the Heart and Mind

Chocolate can nurture and nourishes. It is derived from the cacao tree (Theobroma cacoa). The word Theobroma means ‘food of the gods’. Americans consume, on average, 11 pounds of chocolate per person per year and we are ranked as the 5th major consumer of chocolate worldwide. Research on the health benefits of chocolate shows it to be of benefit to heart or cardiovascular health, to our physiologic response to stress and potentially to our state of mind.

Chocolate contains cocoa polyphenols, which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and lead to reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, lowered blood pressure and improved blood flow to the brain. Psychosocial stress is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and cocoa polyphenols have been shown to protect the body against the deleterious effects of stress (by decreasing the spike in cortisol that is typically elicited upon exposure to a stressor/series thereof). These effects are stronger in dark chocolate (as it contains higher levels of polyphenols than milk chocolate). (Wirtz, P. H., von Kanel, R., Meister, R.E., Arpagaus, A., Treichler, S., Kuebler, U et al., 2014)

In a randomized double-blind study examining the effects of cocoa polyphenols (ingested in a dark chocolate drink) on cognition and mood, it was found that cocoa polyphenol ingestion resulted in improved self-rated calmness and contentedness (in the high dose group consuming cocoa for 30 days), though did not lead to observed cognitive benefits. (Pase, M.P., Scholey, A.B., Pipingas, A., Kras, M., Nolidin, K., Gibbs, A. et al.,2013)

In a systematic review published this year to investigate the potential role of cocoa (and coffee and tea) consumption on affective disorders (depression, bipolar and anxiety disorders), the authors concluded that “Consumption of cocoa may have protective effects against depression.” (Garcia-Blanco, T., Davalos, A. & Visioli, F., 2017)

Delving deeper into the nature of the cacoa plant, we turn to the energetic properties and characteristics of chocolate as described in the homeopathic literature. The homeopathic remedy, Chocolatum, is indicated for an individual who did not receive enough nurturing as an infant and thus struggles with how to give and receive nurturing and to exist in relationship. There is a fundamental tension between being in relationship and a desire to escape, flee and abandon loved ones. There can be a complete disinterest in children and irritability and anger towards their loved ones (and others). These feelings stem from a deep-seated feeling of isolation and vulnerability and a feeling of not belonging. There is anxiety, self-consciousness and fear of failure often observed in this remedy picture.

People needing this remedy can feel isolated and vulnerable – leading them to want to be alone and to hide away from the world and also to not wanting to be restricted or trapped. There is restlessness, a desire for activity and difficulty being still. They dislike being observed and can be overly sensitive to criticism and rejection. Physically, there is often oversensitivity. There is a heightened awareness of the heart (which can beat too fast or slow or irregularly). A range of gastrointestinal symptoms can be present in this remedy. There is a tendency to be chilly and to have dry hair and skin. Food cravings are often seen in this remedy picture (for chocolate, oranges and other fruit and refreshing things).

For those needing this remedy, Chocolatum can help heal old wounds, calm and nurture the mind, body and spirit to greater health and a sense of well-being. So next time you are looking for a lift in spirits, a buffer against stress, a boost to your heart health or a little nurturing, remember that (dark) chocolate is your medicine. (For those relating to the remedy picture of Chocolatum, you will not get the benefits that may be needed from simply eating chocolate (homeopathic remedies are prepared via serial dilution and succussion to elicit subtle energetic properties from a substance). If you are interested in learning more, I recommend that you consult with a skilled homeopath or health professional versed in this modality to determine if this remedy is a good fit for you.

If you would like to be notified of future blog posts by email and would like to receive our e-newsletter, sign-up here.

References:

Fixsen, A. (2006). “My Parents Weren’t Interested in What I Felt.” The Homeopath, 25(1), 27-31.

Fraser. PD. (n.d.). A Supplement to Clarke’s Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica. Chocolatum. Retrieved from http://www.hominf.org/remedy/chocolat.htm

Garcia-Blanco, T., Davalos, A. & Visioli, F. (2017). Tea, cocoa, coffee, and affective disorders: vicious or virtuous cycle? Journal of Affective Disorders, 224, 61-68.

Pase, M.P., Scholey, A.B., Pipingas, A., Kras, M., Nolidin, K., Gibbs, A.,…Stough, C. (2013). Cocoa polyphenols enhance positive mood states but not cognitive performance: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 27(5), 451-458.

Vermeulen, F. (2003). Synoptic Materia Medica 2. The Complement to Prisma. (3rd. ed.). Haarlem, Netherlands: Emryss Publishers.

Wirtz, P. H., von Kanel, R., Meister, R.E., Arpagaus, A., Treichler, S., Kuebler, U.,…Ehlert, U. (2014). Dark Chocolate Intake Buffers Stress Reactivity in Humans. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 63(21), 2297-2299.