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Counselor Morgan Randall's blog, bookstore and more. A place to explore the paradigm shift to systems thinking that views body and mind as one

Drink less, sleep better

Having a drink does not help you sleep. It helps you pass out and keeps you from dreaming so you don’t process emotions of the day each night. You wake up around 3AM when its sugar hits your bloodstream when the liver backwashes. The less you drink, the more mentally, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, physically and financially healthier you will be. Period. If it’s still something you wish to do to yourself and your peeps, that’s your business. But don’t kid yourself.—MR

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that causes brain activity to slow down. Alcohol has sedative effects that can induce feelings of relaxation and sleepiness, but the consumption of alcohol — especially in excess — has been linked to poor sleep quality and duration. People with alcohol use disorders commonly experience insomnia symptoms. Studies have shown that alcohol use can exacerbate the symptoms of sleep apnea.

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September 25th, 2023 | Permalink

Life, death and dignity

Written by an 88-year-old, the below article draws no conclusions about an individual’s right to die, but muses about the dilemma world society  finds itself in when medically lengthening the life span. With a clear mind and intelligent compassion, he asks does one want to undergo a procedure only to shortly die of something more painful and debilitating? Can society actually afford to warehouse the barely alive?—MR

Efforts to expand the lifespan ignore what it’s like to get old

By Dr. Robert Gables, Psyche newsletter, August 23, 2023

As modern medicine extends the human lifespan, quality of life is not keeping up, raising thorny ethical dilemmas. Everyone dies sometime. But when and how? Those questions become more salient as birthdays roll by. It has been said that wherever old people gather there is an ‘organ recital’ of malfunctioning body organs and parts. I, too, have a recital.

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August 26th, 2023 | Permalink

Don’t be fooled

Kratom and cannabis interact with your brain chemicals to stimulate your reward center to overproduce an endogenous opioid to relieve pain. Using either for pain is really no different than as using exogenous opioids such as heroine or synthetics like morphine and fentanyl. An opioid is an opioid whether from a lab, a poppy or your own brain. That’s why cannabis is so habit forming. It creates inner opioid addiction.—MR

WA family awarded millions over death blamed on supplement kratom

by Matthew Esnavra, The Daily News, August 8, 2023

A Cowlitz County jury has awarded $2.5 million to a Castle Rock family in a wrongful death lawsuit after a man with back pain died from ingesting a popular marketed herbal supplement and pain reliever called kratom.

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August 9th, 2023 | Permalink

The lonely become lonelier unless they don’t

After my husband died last year, I felt very lonely. We had recently moved from where we lived for 25 years and his family, after initially expressing their condolences, disappeared. I have no children and for the previous five years had spent my extra time focusing on his healthcare. Fortunately when I woke up alone, I knew the important, if not critical, reasons for social interaction due to being a mental health counselor. Filling a social void is not easy, it’s work, but it’s work that paid off for me when I got up and got out and about. I had to overcome my shyness and spoke to strangers. I pasted a friendly smile my face and instigated conversations. Slowly, but surely, other lonely people responded, and lo and behold, I now have a few new friends and am more comfortable having a casual chat with cashiers, others at the farmer’s market or at an art opening. I befriended myself and helped me make friends with others. You can too!—MR

How Loneliness Reshapes the Brain

The Neumayer III polar station sits near the edge of Antarctica’s unforgiving Ekström Ice Shelf. During the winter, when temperatures can plunge below minus 50 degrees Celsius and the winds can climb to more than 100 kilometers per hour, no one can come or go from the station. Its isolation is essential to the meteorological, atmospheric and geophysical science experiments conducted there by the mere handful of scientists who staff the station during the winter months and endure its frigid loneliness.

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August 5th, 2023 | Permalink

Ask yourself why

The only safe drug is no drug at all. Once people clear their bodyminds of legal or illegal neuro-chemical influences do they really have a chance for at least a modicum of health and happiness. But it takes work. The easy way out leads to increased suffering and too often death. Take responsibility for your own consciousness. Get help, not high.—MR

Family of US woman who died from ingesting kratom wins $11m damages

by Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian US, July 30, 2023

The family of a Florida woman who died in 2021 after ingesting kratom has been awarded more than $11m from a distributor of the south-east Asian herbal extract that has an opioid-like effect on the brain.

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July 30th, 2023 | Permalink

Growing peace of mind

Back in the early nineties after surviving a psychotic break due to unmanaged cannabis withdrawal and was learning to live without its emotion-numbing effects, a dear friend loaned me his abandoned garden. It was a sunny circle of 12 raised beds of soil enhanced with composted sheep manure and chicken-poop tea overlooking the Salish Sea. March through October, with fingers deep in the living soil, I tilled, planted, weeded and harvested herbs, carrots, peas, beans, squashes, cabbage, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, tomatoes, peppers and my Self.—MR

When mental health therapy starts in the garden

By Hannah Furfaro, Seattle Times, July 23, 2023

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July 23rd, 2023 | Permalink

Loneliness threat to health

In the article below we learn loneliness can increase the risk of premature death by 26 percent and raises the likelihood of heart disease, stroke, anxiety, depression and dementia. There is only one cure and it’s not online. Sufferers simply must find things to do face to face with others. Volunteering at a local nonprofit can work wonders to boost self esteem and feel surrounded by friends. But the quickest thing you can do is find a counselor for a weekly chat. Counseling not only immediately reduces loneliness, but is a source of grandmotherly caring and wisdom for working out emotional issues that may be getting in the way of connecting with others.—MR

An Epidemic of Loneliness Threatens Health of Americans, Surgeon General Says

By Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, May 10, 2023

Americans are facing an epidemic of loneliness, an “underappreciated public health crisis” that needs to be brought to light, said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in a statement last week. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, about half of adults in the country reported measurable levels of loneliness, which can affect mental, physical and societal health.

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July 15th, 2023 | Permalink

The heartbreak of eating disorders

Over decades, having watched members of my husband’s extended family, i.e. himself, his niece, his grandchildren, stubbornly refuse to eat enough nutritious food to thrive or, in my husband’s case, even survive, I agree with recent researchers who are asking “is modern medicine asking the wrong questions?” We wonder is anorexia genetic not behavioral? Is it indicative of being a super taster, i.e. someone who can only eat bland foods? Is it a symptom of epigenetic PTSD, i.e. ADHD? While it’s clear the disorder is influenced by parental feeding strategies in early childhood and reparenting in this area is required, this disorder is the only disorder I cannot agree to treat. For too many patients, it is simply too intractable and the state of the science surrounding its treatment is in its infancy and going in the wrong direction.—MR

Some anorexia patients want the right to die. A few doctors are willing to listen

by Carrie Arnold, The Guardian US, July 13, 2023

“Mom, I want to go to Oregon.” Jennifer Hesketh Aviles knew her daughter, Heather Thompson, wasn’t asking to finally visit Portland, or hike along the azure depths of Crater Lake. Heather wanted to go to Oregon for one reason: she wanted to die.

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July 13th, 2023 | Permalink

You in Wonderland

One of the least expensive things you can do to improve your mental health is to read a book in a quiet pleasant place. Whether it’s at the library, a bookstore, a coffeeshop, your living room or your grandma’s garden, a flight of imagination and learning clears out cobwebs and is the beginning of a different interior life that starts the moment you lift the cover. If the stuff in your head is driving you nuts, put in new stuff. Couldn’t be more simple.—MR

Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

by author Neil Gaiman, October 15, 2013

It’s important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members’ interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. I’m going to tell you that libraries are important. I’m going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. I’m going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.

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July 9th, 2023 | Permalink

Relax and rejuvenate

My shero, Dr. Schwartz, explains the health effects of the vagus nerve on the bodymind and shares a quick exercise for relaxation and rejuvenation.—MR

Trauma, Health, and the Vagus Nerve

By Dr. Arielle Schwartz, July 19, 2015

When working with clients with chronic trauma I commonly hear stories of seizures, migraines, gastrointestinal problems, and autoimmune disorders. The connection between trauma and health is complex, not surprising because there is still so much to learn about our bodies. One component that has been in the news recently is the vagus nerve, an extensive nerve that is taking center stage as a potential “off switch” for disease.

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June 30th, 2023 | Permalink

Addicts are addicts

“Ultra-processed foods make up 73% of the US food supply” says the below article. I’d rephrase that to “73% of the US food supply is not food, but food-like commodities designed to addict the consumer and trick them into overeating by stimulating hunger hormones. No wonder so many folks are anxious and depressed! Their nutrient-starved obese bodies are very unhappy.—MR

Flamin’ hot addictions: why is America so hooked on ultra-processed foods?

by Cecilia Nowell, The Guardian US, June 23, 2023

Richard Montañez knows he’s cracked the code when his son Steven exclaims, “Ow, ow, ow, it burns!”

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June 24th, 2023 | Permalink

Heal thyself

Thrilled to find the below article about Tōjisha-kenkyū (self research) in Japan. It is a formal anti-psychiatric approach that encapsulates the kind of psychotherapy I’ve been doing for the last 35 years, first in relationship to myself after a potentially-crippling inaccurate diagnosis and then with others after receiving my counseling degree 18 years ago. Bodymind Counseling is about learning to self regulate. I help patients help themselves through studying their own behavioral patterns and choosing to keep and use these patterns more effectively or by changing them to ones that actually work in their lives and relationships. You are not broken, but due to dysregulation, you may be hurting yourself and others. In most cases I’ve seen, while it will take will power and work to become responsible for your retraining yourself, you will not need detrimental side-effect-laden pharmaceuticals to do it. It’s your life and your choice.—MR

Tōjisha-kenkyu

by Satsuki Ayaya and Junko Kitanaka, Aeon, June 16, 2023

In psychiatry, only experts make diagnoses. They do this by referring to detailed lists of criteria in technical guides, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, now in its fifth edition (DSM-5; 2013). With this manual in hand, a psychiatrist can determine whether a person is experiencing trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), schizophrenia, antisocial personality disorder, autism spectrum disorder, narcolepsy, childhood-onset fluency disorder (previously called stuttering), selective mutism, rumination disorder, or any of the myriad other disorders in the DSM-5.

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June 18th, 2023 | Permalink

A gut feeling

I believe that even though the below study says the researchers don’t know what comes first, i.e. an imbalanced microbiome that causes Alzheimers or Alzheimers that throws the microbiome off, that it is the former. My clinically-informed hypothesis is that if people eat and live to keep their microbiomes healthy, the chances of succumbing to any form of dementia will be slim. When I stopped drinking alcohol that damages the microbiome and added aerobic probiotics to my daily diet I felt MUCH better mentally and physically.—MR

Early Alzheimer’s Linked to Gut Microbiome Changes

Changes in gut bacteria were linked with very early Alzheimer’s disease, cross-sectional data showed. Gut microbial profiles of cognitively normal people with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease — defined as asymptomatic abnormal brain amyloid — were distinct from those of individuals without preclinical Alzheimer’s, reported Beau Ances, MD, PhD, and Gautam Dantas, PhD, both of Washington University School of Medicine, and co-authors.

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June 15th, 2023 | Permalink

Bodymind Counseling

Back in the mid-oughts while interning at a psychiatric clinic, I was assigned a patient who a half dozen other therapists had given up on over an 8-year period. She had been diagnosed as Bipolar 1 with psychotic features. After a few months of working with this young woman I suggested she tell a general practitioner that her new therapist (me) thought there may be something else seriously wrong, something physical. Turned out, she had multiple sclerosis. After six months of successful management and treatment for it, she was able to go back to college and regain custody of her children. She wasn’t bipolar at all.  This successful denouement was one of the reasons I started Bodymind Counseling upon graduation in ’06. Sometimes, it’s simply impossible to separate the the mind from the body.—MR

A catatonic woman awakened after 20 years. Her story may change psychiatry

The young woman was catatonic, stuck at the nurses’ station — unmoving, unblinking and unknowing of where or who she was.

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June 5th, 2023 | Permalink

Are you fooling yourself?

It’s how addiction works. Feelings of low mood, irritability and anxiety manifest when blood levels of nicotine drop and these feelings are relieved by smoking another cigarette. Smokers may think smoking another relieves psychological distress; however, distress is caused by withdrawal. Smoking another actually makes it worse as tolerance builds. With cigarettes, withdrawal symptoms start pretty quickly. Almost instantaneously. With cannabis, alcohol or other drugs, blood levels drop more slowly, but the effect is the same–depression and irritability after awhile. If you can’t quit your addiction, please get help. You’ve only got one life to enjoy. Why kill yourself feeling awful on the way down?—MR

Quitting Smoking May Ease Anxiety, Depression

People who quit smoking for at least 15 weeks may see improvements in their mental health, a secondary analysis of the EAGLES trial showed.

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June 4th, 2023 | Permalink

Not all in your body

Chronic stress can seriously injure you. If you have any chronic physical disorder, taking an inventory of stressors and taking a few off your plate may help to alleviate your symptoms. A problem is most folks are not consciously aware of chronic stressors in their lives and will need a counselor’s assistance in figuring those out. Please note: asking a counselor for assistance doesn’t mean you’re crazy, it means you’re human. –MR

Chronic stress can inflame the gut — now scientists know why

Psychological stress is known to worsen the gut inflammation caused by certain bowel diseases. Now scientists have found out why. New research outlines a sweeping narrative that begins with chemical cues produced in the brain and ends with immune cells in the gut — a sequence that spells trouble for people with these conditions.

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May 30th, 2023 | Permalink

A simple fix

There are many things people can do to protect their brain’s ability to remember as they age. Exercising daily or avoiding sugar and alcohol come to my mind. But one simple aid is to take a multivitamin once a day.—MR

Memory Boosted With Daily Multivitamins

by Judy George, MedPage Today,

Multivitamin supplementation slowed cognitive decline in older adults, the COSMOS-Web study showed.

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May 25th, 2023 | Permalink

Surprised? Not.

And the bad news about cannabis use keeps rolling in. We all knew cannabis affects the brain. Makes sense it would effect a growing fetus’s too. They end up growing into babies with smaller heads! CBD exposure in womb is also linked to childhood obesity. Heard of the munchies? Well, you can pass it on. Just because a drug is legal, doesn’t mean it’s harmless. If you wish to have a kid, quit smoking pot a year before you get pregnant. Or here’s a novel idea! Quit using any form of cannabis if you wish to live a healthier happier life.—MR

Marijuana harms development in first trimester of pregnancy

By , CNN, May 16, 2023

If you are pregnant and use any form of cannabis product, consider stopping. That’s the takeaway from a new study that found a significant health impact of marijuana use on fetal development as early as the beginning of pregnancy.

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May 17th, 2023 | Permalink

Say what?!?

I remember my dad shaking his head in disbelief saying, “You’d think all my siblings grew up in different families!” He was referring to the fact that each of my aunts and uncles told a wildly different story of growing up on the western edge of Nebraska in a family of seven now a hundred years ago. Indeed, it boggled my mind to hear my aunt tell tales of her kind and loving father and my father ones of horrible abuse at the hands of the same man, er, monster. Obviously, neither were lying and both were relaying what they experienced, though unconsciously being selective. Accepting the fact that others see many things in this world differently than ourselves is one of the greatest lessons of life. I remember learning “the dress” was black and blue as it became obvious in other photos. However, in the first photo posted, the dress was clearly white and gold. There was simply no denying what my eyes could clearly see…—MR

Why color is in the eye of the beholder

by James Fox, The Guardian US, May 8, 2023

In February 2015, a Scottish woman uploaded a photograph of a dress to the internet. Within 48 hours the blurry snapshot had gone viral, provoking spirited debate around the world. The disagreement centered on the dress’s color: some people were convinced it was blue and black while others were adamant it was white and gold.

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May 14th, 2023 | Permalink

No easy way out

ADHD is difficult to deal with in a loved one or oneself to say the least. I know, my late husband suffered from its effects and his Adderall prescription helped manage his symptoms simply and effectively. He was a happier person under it effects. However, when he had his first heart attack, it was the first thing the doc said NOT to do because of its deleterious effects on his electrical system. He needed an emergency PaceMaker because of its dysregulated functioning. There are healthier ways to manage ADHD, but they require a lot more work. A strict diet and sleep schedule, biofeedback, exercise and meditation can work wonders by actually changing the brain due to its neuroplastic properties, but they take time, effort and willpower daily. Parents and patients have to ask the critical question about which treatment they will choose. My husband and I will never know how much an ADHD med contributed to his death, but it is a no-brainer that it did.—MR

FDA Updates Warnings on All Stimulants for ADHD…

…In a drug safety communication on Thursday, the agency [FDA] said the boxed warning for the entire class of central nervous system stimulants would get standardized language to more clearly state the dangers — including the risk for misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose, and death — given that most of the current warnings are out of date. This class of drugs includes amphetamines such as Adderall and methylphenidate such as Ritalin and Concerta.

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May 13th, 2023 | Permalink

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