Abuse and Trauma
By Steven Horne, RH (AHG) & Kimberly Balas, ND
An underlying cause of many people's health problems is unresolved abuse and trauma that they experienced in childhood. This may have come in the form of physical trauma and abuse or emotional trauma and abuse. For example, accidents, surgery and physical assaults can be traumatizing on a physical level. Abandonment, neglect, ridicule and belittling are emotionally traumatizing. One can also be traumatized through sexual assault.
When we are traumatized, our higher brain shuts down and the amygdala takes over, creating an involuntary fight, flee or free?' response. When we respond to trauma by fight, we get angry and try to fight back against what is hurting or threatening us. Flight involves running away from what is hurting or threatening us. When we perceive ourselves unable to fight or flee (as often happens in childhood abuse) we freeze. In this state, the body remains highly "charged" ready to fight or flee but doesn't move.
Just as our response to trauma is automatic, so are the responses that allow us to heal from it. When the trauma has passed and we feel safe, we instinctively try to discharge the tension in our bodies, which allows the nervous system to return to normal. Animals in the wild do this automatically and do not remain traumatized.
In human beings, this discharging process may involve one or more of the following:
Anger: shouting, yelling, kicking, punching, stomping one's feet, etc.
Grief: crying, moaning, wailing, sighing, screaming,
Fear and Anxiety: shaking, trembling, breathing rapidly, pacing, ringing one's hands, running, etc.
Laughter: talking about the event Or the problem until one starts to find humor in it and begins to laugh.
Once the tension in the body has been discharged, a person is able to reenter the flow of life. Unfortunately, people in our society have been conditioned to interrupt the trauma recovery process. All too often we are told not to get angry, not to be sad, not to be afraid, or not to laugh so loud. This is usually done through criticism or punishment, comforting the person with the intent to make them stop expressing their feelings, or simply showing disapproval for the discharging behavior.
When our attempts co discharge the emotional tension and trauma are repeatedly interrupted, a cycle of trauma is created within us. Every time we encounter situations that remind us of the original traumatic event, the same intense emotions we felt during that event are triggered. We may experience a sense of helplessness, rage, fear, sadness or other intense emotions. Left unresolved, these cycles of trauma can grow stronger over ame.
They also contribute to many health problems. These include "mental health" issues such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders and feelings of tension and stress as well as physical health problems such as constipation, loss of sex drive, digestive upset, headaches and more.
When a person enters an unresolved trauma cycle, there are two major signs that their trauma is being retriggered. First, the person's thoughts and words become negative and incoherent (don't make sense), and these negative though tend to spiral downwards. Secondly, the person thinks and speaks in absolute terms (everybody does this, nobody does that, this always happens to me and that never happens to me).
Professional counseling and/or emotional healing work is usually necessary to help a person discharge the emotional tension from their nervous system, but there are also herbs and supplements that can aid in the person's recovery. Adaptogens like Nervous Fatigue Formula or Eleuthero root are usually beneficial, as they help to calm down the produc'ion of stress hormones and neurotransmitters. AnxiousLess can be helpful where anxiety is present. In many cases, the person's adrenal glands are exhausted from chronic stress. In these cases, Adrenal Support will be helpful.
When muscles are tense, any of NSP's Relaxing Nervine formulas and magnesium are helpful. Where sleep is disturbed, something to help with sleep may also be called for. Cases involving depression may benefit from Mood Elevator or other remedies with an antidepressant effect. B-complex vitamins with additional pantothenic acid or Nutri-Calm can help to feed the nerves and reduce anxiety.
Below is a list of suggested products. Those in bold are key products for the health issue explained on this page.
Herbal Formulas: AdaptaMax, Nervous Fatigue, Stress Relief and Stress-J
Nutrients: Magnesium and Pantothenic Acid
Nutritonal Supplements: Nutri-Calm and Vitamin B-Complex
Nutraceuticals: Adrenal Support, AnxiousLess and Mind-Max
Essential Oils: Lavender, Red Mandarin, Sandalwood
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