Updated: Jun 25, 2019
I’ve talked quite a bit about the mind/body connection and the importance of healing unresolved trauma and false core beliefs in order to fully heal the body. Now I’d like to mention some of the external things which have helped my insides further heal (without getting all science-y on you.)
First of all, there is no shame in taking an anti-depressant to help the body and brain when things are dire and life circumstances leave you needing the extra assistance to get those feel good chemicals flowing. If possible, though, it is best to avoid them in favor of very effective natural methods, such as diet, supplements, herbs and exercise.
It‘s also very important to understand that often times there are unhealed issues which need attention and that by taking chemically mood altering meds, these issues often go unresolved. I did all in my power to avoid my own and I’m very real proof that no matter how hard you try, they will sneak up on you in the end and sometimes lead to serious health complications.
(Less than two years ago I was struggling severely both mentally and physically no matter the medication).
I’ll briefly describe my own experience with anti-depressants:
Looking back, I was being unconsciously triggered quite often which would eventually lead to a severe depressive slump and have me grasping for a numbing agent... when I realized just how harmful alcohol had become for me, with its inflammatory and depressive effects combined with my inability to have ‘just one glass of red,’ inevitably I would find myself trying out the latest mood med, the few I can recall by memory being Zoloft, Prozac and Wellbutrin (not all at once!)
Everyone is different, but for myself, Wellbutrin XL had the fewest side effects; I was fortunate not to get the jitters with it and it didn‘t make me ravenously hungry or totally numb me out like some of the others. Within one week of starting it, my uncontrolled crying jags and hopeless feelings would lift and I rarely needed to resort to a dosage increase.
This leads me to now, as I recently got off of it quite easily along with some anxiety/sleep meds and with all I know now, I‘m quite hopeful I’ll never need to get back on and if I do, I’ll know how to quickly and safely wean myself back off when the time is right.
Here’s what I did in a nutshell. Again, everyone’s situations are unique, but eating cleaner and giving yourself the best shot at proper nutrient absorption can’t hurt! I’m not a doctor, so always be sure to check with yours before embarking on a medication taper or before introducing certain supplements which might interfere with meds or simply not agree with you. This is unlikely to be the case with the next few, though!
Did you know that turmeric has been referred to as ‘superior to Prozac?’ 😱 This potent spice is good for a lot of things, including helping with depression and taming inflammation. Sprinkle liberally on your food or try it in a capsule form. I try to find supplements with as few fillers as possible. In general, Dr Amy Meyers products are a win, though a bit pricey. I like that I know what I’m getting with her stuff. (Edit: since writing this, I’ve heard conflicting things about excessive turmeric/curcumin use. Do your research and do what you feel is best for you).
Omega 3 (fish oil) is amazing for its anti-inflammatory effects as well as helping brain health, mood, skin, and nails! And the list goes on. Truly, truly, it‘s one I wouldn’t go without. You can get your Omega 3s via fatty fish such as salmon or nuts, especially walnuts.
Much of our D3 comes from the sun, so it’s not surprising that many of us become severely D3 deficient during the winter months especially. Low D3 contributes to many health issues, perhaps most notably fatigue and depression. Do consider having yours tested and/or supplementing. I like to take a D3/K2.
It’s tricky these days to get all the minerals and nutrients we need from food alone, especially if like so many Americans, you have leaky gut/absorption issues, so a daily multi-vitamin is important.
Your healthy food choices will be in vein if you’re not absorbing properly! We are what we eat.. err, rather, we are what we digest and absorb.
If you suspect or know that you’re one of the millions with absorption issues marked by digestive issues/bloating, skin problems, brittle hair and nails, and even sleep & mood disorders, taking digestive enzymes with meals is a great way to break down the proteins etc in foods, making nutrients more readily available and even aiding in weight loss for some. This doesn’t have to be long-term, but is a great way to get your gut pointed in the direction of healing for good.
Many of of us have insufficient stomach acid which can actually be the cause of heartburn! Go figure. 🤷♀️ And actually, prescribed and over the counter heartburn/reflux meds might be worse in the long term, further blocking necessary stomach acid.
Try this instead, with or without your digestive enzymes:
Many people swear by a tablespoon or so of ’The Mother’ apple cider vinegar in a couple ounces of water before or between meals. I like it on salads, too!
A daily probiotic is so important to help rebalance gut flora and to increase the ‘good bacteria,’ especially after a course of antibiotics which severely deplete healthy bacteria. Game changer for sure! (I actually take Dr. Meyers 100 billion, but I’m all out at the moment, so I had to swipe a photo from her site).
Most of us are deficient in magnesium as it’s hard to get enough from natural sources, so you really can’t go wrong by supplementing. It’s great for a blocked poop shoot, too!
Simply take twice the suggested dose (or more) until stools comfortably soften. You’ll learn quickly what works best for you. General rule of thumb, magnesium citrate will affect the stool situation more than say, magnesium glycinate. Magnesium is vital for so many systems, and great for its calming effects. It is now all I need to take nightly for a restful sleep! Admittedly that’s mostly thanks to healing trauma, but getting my gut in check certainly didn’t hurt! 🙏🏼
Something else I like to do is soak in a warm bath with some Epsom salts for relaxation to ease sore muscles and calm my nerves at the end of a long day. It’s another great way to get your magnesium.
If you’ve tried all of the above to help your gut, this secret weapon (above) might be just what the doctor ordered. Amy makes a potent natural formula, Leaky Gut Revive, which I believe has worked wonders for me. I’ll be sure to list links to these resources at the end of the article.
Vitamin C isn’t all that hard to get in with proper diet alone, but I find it to be true that it helps with detoxification, skin health, mood & more!
Again, no need to dive in and start taking all of these; if you can just pick one or two, I’d say go with the multi-vitamin as most have just about everything you need. Magnesium and omega 3 would be my next two musts! As always, check with your healthcare provider.
I still have to take a prescribed potassium for a wasting disorder, but I have a hunch I’ll be off of that, too, in no time, now that both trauma and my gut are mostly healed. Bananas and avocados are excellent sources of potassium.
The common denominator is of course, stress. Whatever form it takes for you, it is likely wreaking havoc on your gut, leading to leaky gut, low stomach acid and inability to break foods down and digest properly which leads to a host of problems. The gut/brain connection is finally being given its due notability.
In all honesty, I’m unsure exactly how to read the above test results which were conducted on me around two years ago, but I do remember the doc emphasizing in my foggy-brained state that they were NOT pretty! I have a hunch things are looking much different now that my stress levels are down, trauma healed, and gut in check! 🎉
Kelp is a fab natural source of iodine if you’re not getting enough from iodized salt and food; it’s crucial for healthy thyroid function. It’s always a good idea to have your thyroid levels checked if you’re feeling ‘off’ since thyroid problems are fairly common and can cause everything from mood disorders and lethargy to metabolic disorders/extreme weight changes to hair loss to insomnia and way beyond...
Be sure they test your FREE T3 and FREE T4 levels in addition to just your T3, T4, and TSH!!! A super quick way to guesstimate if your thyroid levels are optimal is by taking your basal body temp: simply take your your temp first thing in the morning, preferably before rising. It should ideally be above 97.6 degrees. If it is well below that or way above 99.6 or so, it’s possible you have som’n thyroid related going on. HypO will show a lower temp along with decreased energy, lower heart rate and mood, among other unpleasantries. It can also lead to infertility and miscarriage as adequate thyroid hormone is necessary for sustaining pregnancy.
Many conventional doctors are unaware of the importance of this, which blows my mind still, but I realize it’s not their fault if they aren’t properly educated in medical school. If it weren’t for some serious medical ignorance, I wouldn’t have been forced to self educate and become my own doctor and therefore I wouldn’t be here sharing all my vital knowledge with you! #SilverLining 🤣
If you do have either hyperthyroidism or the more common hypOthyroidism, a medication might be necessary until you’re able to get and keep your levels up naturally. This isn’t always possible, but I’m currently slowly coming down on my thyroid med in hopes to be off by summer’s end 🤞🏼. I’ll let you know how it goes! So far, a bit of hair loss and some increased foggy brain and fatigue are the only notable withdrawal side effects which I’m hopeful will decrease as my own thyroid picks up slack and starts producing again.
(Update: since writing this and trying to taper from thyroid medication, I‘ve learned that my body needs the help still, so I’ve gone back up on my dose. Maybe in time my thyroid gland will be up for the challenge, but for now, I’m okay with giving it the help it needs!) ❤️
The adrenal glands‘ importance can’t be ignored either as they are responsible for the body’s fight-or-flight system and they pump out cortisol in accordance with stressors. Being chased by a lion or that crazy old lady at the grocery store? Hello, cortisol/adrenaline rush! If this has to happen a lot, eventually your poor adrenals will weaken and burn out, leading to extreme fatigue, adrenaline spikes, foggy brain, anxiety, weight changes and more. Symptoms of struggling adrenals can be similar to thyroid problems. When both mine were way out of whack, my temps could go from 95 degrees to 100 in no time. Along with my pulse and blood pressure. This is another thing most docs don’t know to look for 🙄. Speaking of, don’t be afraid to speak up and/or switch doctors. It is YOUR health!
Natural ways to support your adrenal glands include laying off the stressors such as gluten, caffeine, alcohol and sugars (honestly, SO important) as they sap your adrenals further.
Stress maintenance, proper diet, and sleep are key, which I understand is easier said than done, but do your best by at least cutting out refined sugar, booze, and caffeine. Rest as much as possible and engage in some self loving care and go for a walk or take up that gentle yoga class. It’s important not to overdo the exercise while adrenal glands are taxed.
Cortisol is another feel good hormone that is crucial for a healthy pregnancy and it’s another that easily tanks out after giving birth, which I had a LOT of problems with ten years ago.
Unfortunately I was unaware of all of this and instead of taking as natural a route as possible, I ended up on massive amounts of oral hydrocortisone, which is a steroid, but maybe that’s for a future post!
(Update: I’m down to under 1/4 my highest dose of oral steroids, but am choosing to hold here at 25 mg per/day as my body is asking me to slow down..) ❤️
Back to adrenal support, there are plenty of herbal supplements to try in lieu of a medication. Here’s a good one.
I‘ve yet to be disappointed by Dr. Amy Meyer’s products, including her Organic greens juice powder and Immune booster, both of which have helped to strengthen my daughter’s iffy immune system. My husband and I like to blend them into smoothies with fruits and veggies, along with her protein powder. The Mocha Latte flavor is like dessert in a smoothie cup. Om 😋
Collagen levels naturally reduce with age, so adding some collagen protein to smoothies or even your morning cup of jo can help with skin appearance and elasticity and helps heal leaky gut! I’ll take two, please!
The supplements mentioned above are all available all over; you can find them in your local health food store, most pharmacies and even some grocery stores. Be sure to check the labels for the ‘cleanest’ versions not chock full of fillers and/or sugars.
Pink Himalayan sea salt sprinkled on your favorite foods and mixed into your water is not only delicious, but so packed with minerals and you don’t have to worry so much about overdoing it like you do with regular table salt. It is helpful for those adrenal glands, too!
Donna Labar: a health coach, published author, public speaker and more, knows much more about this and speaks of it at her speaking events and in her book ‘Simple. Natural. Healing’ which I’ll attach a link to below.
Donna has, in all her healing magic, helped me and thousands of others along our own journeys . 🙏🏼🌟
Most of us know to eat lots of fresh (preferably organic, but no worries if ya can’t swing it) fruits and veggies, fatty fish, lean meats & poultry, and healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil, but do you know the biggest things not to eat?
To recap: gluten is inflammatory for pretty much everyone and it isn’t always easy to detect a sensitivity because not everyone reacts right away and not everyone has the more obvious digestive symptoms. Actual Celiac Disease accounts for a small percentage of the population where hundreds of thousands have a sensitivity which you might have to bite the bullet and test for. The easiest way, though, is to simply cut out all gluten for at least six weeks and feel the amazing effects.
The most obvious culprits come in the form of all breads, pastries, pastas, doughnuts... you get the picture. Fortunately, if ya just NEED a doughnut, they do make gluten-free versions and you can make just about any dessert just as delicious without the wheat by simply replacing white flour with almond flour or coconut flour.
There are lots of recipes online and often it’s best to make your own desserts because those ready made in stores are full of added sugars, and sugars are also a no-no while trying to reclaim your health.
Too much sugar is inflammatory and contributes to chronic illness and crap mood and sugar is much more addictive than crack cocaine! The good news there is that, like crack, quitting cold turkey is painful, but doable 🤷♀️. And once you’re off it a while, cravings do away. Phew!
(I don’t actually know much about crack, but I know it is comparable to sugar as far as addictive qualities 🤔...)
Even too much natural sugar in the form of fruit or honey can be a problem as it also causes and contributes to candida overgrowth in the gut which in my case became systemic, so it was bye-bye to all sugar for me for a long while!
Artificial sweeteners aren’t so great, either, especially aspartame, but Stevia is from a plant and is one of the cleaner natural sweeteners. Not everyone cares for its aftertaste, but I say beggars can’t be choosers 😉.
If you do your research, you’ll see that there are plenty of sweetening options that don’t resort to loads of fake sugar and once you’re down or off of it, you won’t miss it as much! And this is coming from a big eater of sweets! I definitely find that avoiding them is easiest because like most things, I’m quite addicted to it! Admittedly I do still get a wave of the Crazy Cookie Monster Munchies and hit up something like this:
These cookies are so delicious and low carb!!! Double win!
Even Betty Crocker makes a mean gluten-free cookie and cake mix, pancakes, you name it. So if you can’t get away with missing that piece of birthday cake or Christmas cookie, hit up the G-free goodies! Just don’t overdo that sugar.
On the spiritual side, I have found spending time in nature, yoga, and meditation quite beneficial. Over time, mindfulness becomes quite natural as you train your mind.
I’m so, so thankful to have breezed through some serious med tapers thanks to the above tricks.
If you feel overwhelmed by info, start small by cleaning up your diet, staying hydrated (water is best!) and incoporating a few of the gut-healing, mood-lifting supps mentioned above. Again, ideally all nutrients, vitamins and minerals will come from whole food sources and I do believe that food is medicine, but in my case at least, taking supplements was necessary and helpful to get me where I want to be.
Again, no worries if now‘s not your time to come off your meds. Just rest easy knowing it is more than possible and your time will come... possibly much sooner than you think...🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼
(Me, today, thankful for what I’ve lived & learned & lovin’ life!)
Be sure to like my FB page Meg Happens and subscribe to MegHappens.com for notifications of further blogs, podcasts, tips, & tricks! Happy Healing! 🙌🏼🙏🏼❤️🙏🏼
Dr. Amy Meyer’s store: https://store.amymyersmd.com/?_ga=2.42533538.666436679.1557764733-1679563515.1525954500
Donna Labar’s book:
Simple. Natural. Healing.: A Common Sense Approach to Total Health Transformation https://www.amazon.com/dp/1614485437/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_iED2CbX8C06D0
For thyroid help: