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Dr. Clarke Can TMS/PPD cause chemical changes in the body?

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Water Rider, Jun 8, 2015.

  1. Water Rider

    Water Rider Newcomer

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    For the past eight months, I've been dealing with a couple health issues that after reading John Sarno's The Divided Mind, I'm becoming convinced are largely, maybe mostly psychosomatic. I understand from that book and from a few other sources that various health issues can exist on a spectrum between structural/physical and psychological (or purely psychosomatic). I am curious if what I’m dealing with is somewhere in the middle, and if so, what kind of treatment approach is best. Here is my recent health history:

    Around eight months ago, I developed constipation, bloating, and cramping, that looking back, coincided exactly with a very stressful couple of weeks at work. My stress level prior to that was already somewhat high due to some personal experiences in previous months including having a miscarriage. (About 10 years ago, I had also had some serious digestive issues that coincided with another stressful time in my life, relationally – it was basically chronic diarrhea. A colonoscopy at that time revealed inflammation (colitis). Through working with a chiropractor/naturopath on a strict diet and supplement regimen, I completely recovered, and had been symptom free with the exception of a few minor flare-ups since then.)

    With the constipation this past year, I was hopeful I’d be able to handle it myself through what I had learned previously about diet and nutrition. I started taking HCL which helped greatly with the constipation, bloating, and cramping. But after several months of trying different diets, I was also losing weight and had developed pretty chronic fatigue. Other symptoms were poor sleep and frequent urination. After about four months, I sought the help of another chiropractor/naturopath. Bloodwork she had me do indicated: white blood cell count was low, triiodothyronine (T3) was low, testosterone was low, among a few other numbers that were out of range. She concluded that overall, my body was inflamed, especially my stomach, and it was likely due to a chronic gut infection that I may have had for a while. However, no particular infection, virus, etc., has been identified. So she has had me on a diet (essentially paleo, with lots of animal protein) and a supplement regimen to address this presumed infection and inflammation.

    Over the last few months, I have started feeling better (more energy, gaining weight), and my blood chemistry has improved, although not everything is back in the normal range yet. Digestively, I feel much better, even without the HCL. I have also become increasingly aware of the occasional digestive flare-ups I’ve had being caused by stress, which I am managing much better. So the bigger recent symptom has been fatigue, which seemed to be improving, but very gradually. However, over the past two weeks, I’ve experienced the largest improvement in that area, I believe due to completing The Divided Mind and working through some of the treatment recommendations!

    So my two main questions are:

    1) Is it reasonable that struggling with a psychosomatic disorder over time can induce physical/chemical changes in the body that would show up by certain blood chemistry values being out of range, like I’ve seen? My hypothesis is that the psychosomatic disorder pushed my digestion out of balance which decreased my nutrient absorption which led to some of these other physical/chemical imbalances. And maybe some of the hormone imbalances are just due to chronic stress, or the psychosomatic disorder itself? Does that sound reasonable?

    2) If that is the case, does it make sense to continue with the diet and supplement guidance of my naturopath to assist the physical/chemical issues, while continuing to work on the psychological ones? My naturopath feels that there are still some physical things (most importantly anemia) that would be greatly improved, maybe more quickly, with the assistance of her guidance and supplement regimen. My struggle with this is that John Sarno and others suggest that part of the way to completely accept that you have a psychosomatic disorder and recondition your mind, is to stop any treatments you are on for issues that others have told you that you have. Any thoughts?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 23, 2015
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  2. davidclarke

    davidclarke Author & Physician

    I provided a personal response to Water Rider but was asked by a moderator to repost (with no identifying details of course) so that others might benefit.

    1. Psychophysiologic disorders (the term my colleagues and I now prefer for TMS, abbreviated PPD) generally do not cause changes in blood chemistry or hormone levels. However, PPD can affect appetite (or cause vomiting or diarrhea) which can then affect food/nutrient intake which might affect some types of blood tests. Another and more likely explanation for the abnormal blood tests is that some chiropractors/naturopaths use labs of questionable reliability that give incorrect results. One patient of mine was even told she had parasites in her bloodstream which would typically cause high fever and lead to shock if untreated yet she had neither. You might consider having the abnormal tests repeated by a licensed physician.

    2. Dietary changes and supplements usually have little impact on PPD. Some diet/supplement interventions can improve anemia, though.

    3. Dr Sarno's experience is that full acceptance of psychosocial stress as the cause of symptoms facilitates recovery. My experience is that this is not essential and that people can work on the psychological issues while simultaneously exploring and/or treating themselves for organ-based disease or structural abnormalities. Typically (but not always) as time goes on the benefits of the former become clearer as does the limited impact of the latter.

    Hope this helps. You might also look at www.stressillness.com and www.unlearnyourpain.com which describe books that usefully complement Divided Mind and each other.

    Best wishes for a rapid and full recovery
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  3. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Water Riser. I am not a doctor so I can't answer your question about chemical changes in the body, but you got an excellent reply from David Clarke.

    I have found over my 84 year live that eating well and healthy has been very important to my general health and my immune system. I haven't gone to fast food restaurants in many years, and in fact rarely eat out at all. I prefer making my own meals with fresh veggies, chicken, turkey, or fish, and fresh fruits. I bought a blender and drink both fruit and vegetable smoothies. I do pig out on Saturdays and have a pizza, frozen to which I add some stuff like spinach.

    If you feel good eating the diet your naturopath has you on, that's fine. Just keep believing 100 percent that your pain is psychological and not structural.
  4. sunshyne

    sunshyne Newcomer

    Walter: I have healed fairly quickly in part because I was very open to hearing about TMS when I read the Great Pain Deception. I believe this is because I had healed myself in years past, without knowing that there was such a thing such as TMS. One of the things as you noted was that was off with me as well was that my thyroid T3 off. My adrenal labs were off. I had other hormone levels that were off and had also developed severe allergies (allergic to 50/53 things tested) and asthma. All of which I had to take medications that the doctors said I'd be on for the rest of my life.

    I also got very depressed as some other stressful things happened in my life, but I knew I was destined to be well and was so tired of being on medications that would only help for short periods of time. Mostly due to the depression, I stopped doing almost everything except what I had to for work. I think - due to the sudden lifestyle changes of my stopping being such a Type A persona all the time and getting rest - I started healing. I had to keep reducing the medications I was taking (I was getting hyper-thyroid symptoms, etc) until one day, maybe this was ill-advised, but I went off all medications cold-turkey. Because I had been on such high doses of thyroid medication, I started to gain weight but just stuck with it. I eventually lost the weight and am totally fine now by symptoms and labs and take no medications.

    Last year as well, I had sever torso pain and it would spill over into my digestive system and I'd have many issues with that. By severe pain I mean I could not get out of bed for a couple of days. I would also get a low grade fever, extreme fatigue and weakness. I went to an acupuncturist/eastern medicine specialist because I didn't want surgery, and he helped me to see I was holding in emotions primarily from my Dad's death. I let those go - it was hard - but the pain went away and has not come back. No surgery, meds or supplements.

    This year I developed plantar fasciitis/foot pain, and residual knee pain from a ski accident. I then was getting health issue after health issue, including eye infections, minor cuts that would get infected, stomach flu... etc etc. I read the Great Pain Deception and bam. My pain has gone away. I realized that my holding myself back from certain areas of my life was spilling over into my health. Foot pain so bad that I could not walk, and not moving forward in life, how could it be spelled out any clearer for me.

    Now when I get a stomach pain or the eye irritation starts coming back or I get pain somewhere else the first thing I do is ask myself, "What is bothering me?" Normally I know what it is, and the issue is resolved.

    So- maybe these things cannot throw labs off in some cases, but I believe it did - for me.
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  5. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    Excellent. And I absolutely agree.
    Every emotion we feel creates chemicals in our body. Any conflict also creates a chemical reaction in our body.
    So any emotion, good or bad, is creating a chemical reaction in our body. Think about feeling elated, something that warms your heart, and how your body then FEELS. . . think about something disturbing and how your body then feels.
    As for something like allergies, what is going on. . .what are you FEELING? I can tell you that I used to mow my parents' lawn occasionally. There were times where I was so angry I had to do this that I sneezed my way through it. Other times I was calm and decided to view it as enjoying the exercise, and I had no reaction at all. (various times of season so pollen can't be blamed) What was the emotion that was causing the chemicals in our bodies? What are we feeling irritated about if we're having an irritation? Whom do we view as a pain in the neck if we're having neck pain? (yes, it is that simple!)

    My profile has a list of books written by many doctors who write about this topic.

    Also, our belief here is going to matter. Do I believe I'm going to [ ]. . . well, yes. . . you can create the reaction. Don't underestimate the power of our brains. :cool:

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