Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) in treatment of PTSD, anxiety, and other health issues

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About 5,000 years ago, the Chinese discovered a complex system of energy channels (called meridians) that run throughout the body. These meridians form the basis for our current practices of acupuncture, acupressure and a wide variety of other alternative healing techniques.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a healing tool that operates on the same principles as acupuncture, but it does not involve needles. It can be used to desensitize emotional triggers and reduce feelings of trauma in people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as alleviating emotional and physical symptoms (such as allergies) in the rest of the population. Clinical trials done with military veterans have shown positive results in just 4-6 weeks of treatment, eliminating the symptoms of PTSD in both the veterans and in their spouses (when both partners are treated).

PTSD is a disorder that has been caused by a traumatic event or series of events that later resulted in severe anxiety, fear, guilt, grief, insomnia, addictions, and depression. PTSD has typically been treated with antidepressant drugs and/or psychotherapy, but success has been limited, often short-term, and often with undesirable side effects from the medications.  EFT offers an alternative to traditional medicine and therapists have found it to be a much less invasive method with no adverse side effects. By focusing on tapping on meridians or acupressure points on the head and body while thinking of specific issues or traumas, the brain learns to reorganize and react differently to memories of the trauma. The process of desensitization reduces the chances of re-traumatizing the person being treated, and it has the benefits of being able to be followed up at home without the assistance of a therapist.

Studies have shown that EFT works more efficiently than traditional approaches.  An absence of client distress is a characteristic of EFT interventions which enables veterans to more easily work through the trauma they experienced.

Emotional Freedom Technique involves the client tapping on specific meridian points on his or her head and body in a specific order while saying affirmations and addressing the memories of trauma. The sequence is repeated several times in each session until the client indicates that the feelings of trauma have been significantly reduced. The combined meridian tapping and affirmations while bringing to mind the traumatic memories, create cognitive shifts in the brain and release the fears at the source. The trauma is held in the very tissues of the body, not just in the memory, and the EFT works at healing one layer at a time. The client with PTSD is guided through this therapy and works closely with the practitioner for a few sessions, then is able to practice the therapy on his or her own when symptoms surface.

Some relief from PTSD symptoms has been found with the very first session, and there are absolutely no negative side effects. While following this protocol, the client does not experience re-trauma in recalling these memories, and the emotional impact of the initial underlying cause is lessened with each EFT session. It has been found that only a few sessions with an EFT practitioner can considerably reduce or totally eliminate the symptoms of PTSD in military veterans, and the results have been found to be long-term. If any mild symptoms resurface, the client has the tool in his or her hands to address them immediately.

 

PTSD presents with many different symptoms: nightmares, insomnia, feelings of despair, guilt, loneliness, anxiety attacks, fear, depression, and often a reluctance or inability to form close personal bonds. It often leads to alcohol or drug abuse as the sufferer looks for ways to dull the emotional pain that they feel. It is a disorder that not only affects the individual, but also entire families and communities. The traditional way of Western medicine to treat PTSD is with short-term counseling and either anti-anxiety drugs or anti-depressants and sometimes sleeping pills. It can take years to find the right balance of medications, and often additional medications are then needed to counter the side-effects of the first ones. It can leave the clients frustrated, disheartened, and sometimes unable to continue treatment because of the mounting costs of medication and long-term expenses. The medication does not eliminate the underlying cause of the disorder; it acts as a band aid to cover the symptoms. Often the side-effects of the drugs (drowsiness and feeling “out of it”, weight gain, loss of libido) create even more frustration and despair.

Sometimes clients feel that they have been “cured” of the PTSD and take themselves off of the medication because they don’t like the side-effects. They plummet back deeper into PTSD and they, as well as everyone closely connected to them, suffer. It can affect the client’s job performance, and it is not uncommon for someone with PTSD to go from job to job because of an inability to cope. Additionally, there is a higher risk of deep depression and suicide among Veterans suffering from PTSD who cannot get long-term relief from their symptoms.

Ingrid Dinter, a Life Coach who specializes in helping Veterans who are suffering from PTSD, believes that Veterans are suffering in silence because they feel there is no hope for them to be healed: “Treatments in military and Veteran’s hospitals and clinics usually include medications and conventional forms of psychotherapy. At the same time, Veterans are usually told that PTSD cannot be healed. In my experience, however, there is a lot we can do to improve their condition profoundly”

Dinter says, “The Veterans and family members I have worked with feel that PTSD is not a mental illness, PTSD is a symptom of the soul. They describe “losing their soul,” “something breaking inside,” “a disconnect from the outer world and from their own true self.” The result is overwhelming loneliness, emptiness, living with “a wall” that protects them from the outer world. Every Veteran I have worked with who was diagnosed with PTSD has confirmed this in some form as his reality…”

In her online report “Alternative Medicine,” Beth Baker found evidence that the Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities support the use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practices: “The VA wrote in an email that soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are expressing interest in CAM as an alternative to medication and that veterans who’ve used CAM practices have made testimonial videos saying ‘what a significant impact these therapies have had on their lives”. However, she also found that insurance companies are reluctant to cover CAM treatments because of skepticism about whether or not it really works. There is research and anecdotal evidence to support the effectiveness of CAM, but the insurance companies want more blind trials done before they will consider coverage. CAM therapies are cheaper than traditional medical treatments, but lack of insurance coverage puts the entire cost on the shoulders of the Veterans and it might be the deciding factor of whether or not they elect to try them.

Veterans continue to struggle to survive long after they are removed from combat and return home, and they are being done a great injustice by our society. They have put their lives on the line to protect us, they have endured horrific situations of war for us, and they deserve to be given an opportunity to heal their emotions and bring peace to their soul.

 

Other Sources:

Clinical Report On The Effectiveness Of EFT In Treatment Of PTSD

Medical Journal Abstract

Nick Ortner on EFT

NOTE: Valerie Lis in the video above is one of the instructors in the Integrative Health and Healing Program that I completed. She also has a private practice treating clients with EFT.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

 

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I have been using coconut oil for a little over 3 years. I add a heaping teaspoon to my coffee (in each of two mugs full) in the mornings, to hot chocolate, and I use it topically as a natural (toxin-free) sunscreen. I’ve also been mixing it with my Young Living essential oils to create facial scrub (mixed with granulated sugar or sea salts for a natural exfoliant), facial cream and whipped body butter. It leaves skin moisturized, silky smooth, and supple. (It can be used to remove make-up as well. Just saturate a cotton ball and wipe away make-up effortlessly.) I use both unrefined and refined coconut oil; the unrefined has a definite coconut smell and taste, and the refined is odorless and has no taste. I prefer the refined when mixing with my essential oils so that the fragrance of the essential oils are not overpowered by the coconut fragrance.

*Note: When mixing with essential oils it is important to store in a glass or essential oil-approved container. Pure essential oils can break down the plastic, and you don’t want to apply that to your skin. Small canning jars are the perfect size and are inexpensive.

Coconut oil is liquid at room temperature but solidifies when chilled. For sunscreen, I pour some coconut oil into a small cup (like the disposable individual serving applesauce cup), cover with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator. When needed, just pop it out of the cup in solid form and run lightly over skin, then smooth it in until absorbed. (It is a bit greasy at first, but it does absorb.) Something stronger may be needed if time is spent at a lake, but for my purposes of sun protection while working in my yard it has worked well to prevent burning and excessive drying of my skin. It allows in the beneficial rays needed for our bodies to produce vitamin-D.

I have been seeing mixed reviews lately on health benefits, so I wanted to share some information I found.

Composition of Coconut Oil

More than 90% of coconut oil consists of saturated fats, along with traces of a few unsaturated fatty acids such as monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. We have been told for years to stay away from saturated fats because they cause health issues, but more recent research is showing that not all saturated fats are bad. Some are beneficial and even needed in order for our bodies to absorb other nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, and K; we just need to investigate which are healthy for us and in what amounts.

Coconut Oil Info

Saturated fatty acids: Most of the saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which have been shown to be easily assimilated by our bodies’ systems. MCTs are a fat source for patients who cannot tolerate other types of fats. Researchers also think that these fats produce chemicals in the body that might help fight Alzheimer’s disease.

Coconut Oil and Medium-Chain Triglycerides

-Lauric acid: Coconut oil contains 40-50% Lauric acid, followed by capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic. The lauric acid in coconut oil is used by the body to make the same disease-fighting monolaurin that babies make from the lauric acid they get from their mothers’ milk. Monolaurin helps to prevent microbial infections and studies have shown it to be effective in fighting viruses, fungus, and bacteria.

-Capric acid: It reacts with some of the enzymes secreted by other bacteria, which subsequently convert it into a powerful antimicrobial agent, monocaprin.

-Caprylic acid, caproic acid and myristic acid: They have antimicrobial and antifungal properties

Unsaturated fatty acids: Linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated fatty acid) and Oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid)

Poly-phenols: Coconut contains Gallic acid, which is also known as phenolic acid. These polyphenols are responsible for the fragrance and the taste of coconut oil and Virgin Coconut Oil is rich in these polyphenols.

Derivatives of fatty acid: Betaines, ethanolamide, ethoxylates, fatty esters, fatty polysorbates, monoglycerides and polyol esters.

Derivatives of fatty alcohols: Fatty chlorides, fatty alcohol sulphate and fatty alcohol ether sulphate

Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin E, vitamin K and minerals such as iron.

As I was searching for information, I came across quite a few reports of how coconut oil has helped several people who had been diagnosed with dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease). I am not implying that it is a cure, but it has shown promising results in relearning forgotten skills and in improving memory retention.

In a 2004 study published in the journal of Neurobiology of Aging, they found that the MCFA’s found in coconut oil improved the memory problems in their older subjects.

Across all the patients there was a marked improvement in their recall ability after taking this fatty acid. As the MCFA’s are absorbed easily in the body and can be accessed in the brain without the use of insulin, they are able to fuel brain cells more efficiently.    20 Coconut Oil Benefits & Side Effects

 

I found a video about the use of coconut oil in treating the husband of Dr. Mary Newport. Because it was not a standard clinical trial, it has been dismissed by some of the medical community as “anecdotal” evidence. However, much of our traditional and holistic approaches started at one time as anecdotal evidence, and I believe it is important to look further into it as at the very least, an enhancement to traditional medical treatment.

This video is about 30 minutes in length.  Video: The Empowering Neurologist – David Perlmutter, MD and Dr. Mary Newport

This one is a short (8-minute) video with some helpful and maybe surprising insights from four reputable doctors: 4 Doctors on Coconut Oil and Alzheimers Video

This medical article was co-written by Dr. Mary Newport. It contains some interesting findings. Short Report On Use Of Ketones In Alzheimer’s

Other sources used:

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

 

 

Treatment With PEMF Therapy

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Pulsed electro-magnetic field therapy (PEMF) is a reparative technique that directs magnetic energy through injured tissues to promote tissue and bone healing and to alleviate depression (FDA approved). I had the opportunity to try it out when my leg swelled up and became filled with fluid from a ruptured Baker’s cyst.

I was experiencing pain when sitting at a desk or standing too long, and my medical doctor recommended Ibuprofin along with alternating ice-packs and hot-packs to relieve the pain and bring down the swelling. It did not help much. After just three treatments with a PEMF device, the swelling had decreased by half and the pain was gone. After two more treatments, my leg was almost back to normal. I was so impressed with it that I looked into some of the research behind PEMF, and I thought I would share it with others. (A PEMF system is something I do plan to add to my energy healing services at a later time.)

Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that there are approximately 2,000 acupuncture points on the body. These points are connected by 20 meridians, which are pathways of communication and energy exchange. These meridians connect to one another, the internal organs, the senses, and the supporting tissues. Treating the entire body at once with PEMF therapy stimulates all of these acupuncture points and meridians simultaneously, resulting in a more complete therapy and faster healing.

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Magnetic therapies can improve circulation, stimulate cell and tissue repair, stimulate nerve cells, lower blood pressure and decrease heart rate, reduce edema and tissue swelling, reduce inflammation (such as in arthritis), reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia, among many more therapeutic benefits. There have been some exciting studies on its use in treating cancer as well.

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The goal of a PEMF system is to produce a magnetic field that will support the body’s natural functions and to use a wavelength that will completely penetrate the body. To accomplish this, a very long wavelength and low frequency is needed. (Harmful EMFs have significantly shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies than therapeutic EMFs.) Most PEMF systems produce frequencies in the Extremely Low Frequency to Very Low Frequency range on the electromagnetic spectrum.

Magnetic field therapy can be effective in a wide range of health conditions. But before it is used for healing, it is important to have a basic understanding of some of the physical characteristics of magnetic science, including electric and magnetic fields and some of their actions on the body.

All matter is made up of moving particles. Forces exist in the space around these moving (electrical) particles. Those forces are magnetic fields. By definition, force is an interaction that changes the motion of an object.

An electric field is the force field created by the flow of electricity (caused by the attraction and repulsion of electric charges). A magnetic field is the force field created as a consequence of the flow of electricity. Electric fields and magnetic fields always exist in tandem – one cannot exist without the other. An electromagnetic field, then, is the combination of an electric field and a magnetic field.

Dr. Pawluk on Magnetic Science  (Dr. Pawluk is considered to be the leading expert on PEMF)

 

According to Dr. Sircus, Ac., OMD, DM (P) (acupuncturist, doctor of oriental and pastoral medicine):

Frequency specific pulsed electro-magnetic fields (PEMF) are the most effective and cost-efficient option for the widest range of human and veterinary disorders regardless of etiology. PEMF therapy does not treat medical conditions; instead it up-regulates the body’s functions and optimizes the body’s ability to heal itself.

PEMF provides stunning regenerative effects because these magnetic fields result in cells generating so much naturally derived energy that they are able to heal themselves. A magnetic switch turbocharges cellular energy production and reduces oxidative stress.

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The following is an abstract of various scientific studies done that reinforce the effectiveness of PEMF:  Abstract: Scientific Studies

 

I found a Ted Talk video with Bill Doyle explaining a bit about tumor treating fields–using electric fields in the treatment of cancer. He does an excellent job of breaking it down into understandable form.

Note: I am not making any medical claims for cancer; I am simply sharing information that I have found.

Bill Doyle: Treating cancer with electric fields

 

Additional Sources:

Abstract: Effect of Magnetic Fields on Tumor Growth and Viability

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy For Cancer Treatment

 

 

 

 

 

Labyrinths As a Tool For Spiritual Reflection and Healing

 

 

Another intriguing spiritual healing tool that we learned about in one of my classes was the labyrinth. A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle with the energy of the spiral to create a meandering but purposeful path. It represents our life’s journey into our own spiritual center and back again out into the world. There is only one path in a labyrinth, and the way in is also the way out. If we meet another person as we walk, we are called to respectfully make way for the other and honor the other’s journey as being as important as our own. Labyrinths have always been associated with ancient pilgrimage routes and rituals of self-discovery; they have frequently been used as meditation and prayer tools by churches, as well as by individuals. They are starting to make an appearance in health care settings as well.

In the Middle Ages, walking a cathedral labyrinth was a devotional activity that was symbolic of going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Today labyrinths are often used as a form of meditation, to focus one’s mind and put ourselves in tune with the Divine, thereby finding an inner peace.

Labyrinth at Le Basilique de St. Quentin
Labyrinth at Le Basilique de St. Quentin
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Marlton

 

 

 

 

 

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Personal labyrinth in a Maryland homeowner’s backyard

Photo of Holy Trinity Church in Greensboro

 

Benefits of Labyrinths in Healthcare Settings

Providing a labyrinth in a healthcare setting can support and enhance the life of the institution and its mission in a variety of different ways.

For patients who are able to walk or ambulate by wheelchair, the labyrinth offers many benefits. Those who are not ambulatory can experience the same benefits by using a hand-held finger labyrinth:

  1. A quiet place where the simple act of walking offers a proactive way to ‘do’ something towards getting better.
  2. An inviting way of getting exercise outdoors in nature.
  3. A clearly non-medical environment where patients can share time with family and friends.
  4. A place where patients can let go of the issues related to illness and injury.
  5. A sacred spot where patients can express intentions and hopes for the future.
  6. A perfect spot for a “get well” ceremony.

A reduction in the stress related to being ill, an improved attitude about coping with ill health, an interest in participating in treatment, the return of hope or the inner peace necessary to complete life’s business before dying are just a few of the responses possible for patients using the labyrinth.

The Labyrinth Society, Inc: Benefits of labyrinths in healthcare settings

 

There is no right way or wrong way to walk the path of a labyrinth; each individual finds something unique to themselves in their experience. Each experience differs from the one they had before. It is continually evolving, mirroring our own lives and our own spiritual journeys. As we walk quietly and reflect, we touch upon our inner joy and sorrows and can start to see them from a different perspective. We may receive inner guidance for the solution to our problems, or we may suddenly see how everything falls together to create a bigger whole in our lives. We need only to approach the entrance to the path with open hearts and minds, ridding ourselves of expectations and allowing peace to flow within us.

Though physically walking along the path of a labyrinth is the most relaxing way to gain the healing benefits, tracing a labyrinth with our fingers also engages the brain in a similar way.

Here is a short (4 minute) video by Lauren Artress, Psychotherapist, sharing a personal experience of her own:

youtube video “Rediscovering the labyrinth”

 

Note: My own beliefs are Christian-based. The information I have found indicates that labyrinths are spiritual tools for meditation, inner reflection, and healing–not related to any specific religion.

Spiritual Rituals and the Power of Forgiveness On Immune Function

In one of my college classes we learned about the importance of spiritual rituals–setting aside a space and time for yourself in which to pray or meditate alone and uninterrupted. When I started practicing Qigong and meditation, I set up a small area in my family room. I added candles, potpourri (and drip YL essential oils on the potpourri at the time of meditation). When everyone else is in bed, I go there, turn off the lights and light my candle(s), sit on the floor on my Zafu pillow and meditate (with soft music playing in the background). I focus on deep, controlled breathing and then on letting go of the day’s stresses and the things in life I can’t control. As I relinquish any feelings of anger and resentment, my body releases its tension and my thoughts become lighter and more open to inner guidance. I have a very strong, Christian-based faith, so for me it is easy to put into God’s hands what I can do nothing about in my own power. There is a deep inner peace that comes from letting all of that go and trusting in someone/something greater than ourselves to take care of it.

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Sometimes I become so relaxed that keeping awake becomes an effort, and when I go to bed I fall asleep immediately. It has helped so much in being able to reduce the feelings of stress and bring my thoughts back to a more positive mindset.

Research has shown that setting aside time for spiritual reflection and prayer and learning to let go of things like hurt, resentment, fear, and unforgiveness toward others (or ourselves) has a powerful impact on our immune function. Unforgiveness creates a chemical chain reaction in our bodies that can increase levels of the hormone cortisol, constrict our arteries and blood flow, and increase our risk of illness and disease.

 

“The data that negative mental states cause heart problems is just stupendous. The data is just as established as smoking, and the size of the effect is the same.”
–Dr. Charles Raison

 

 

How is the Body Affected?

Lack of forgiveness, which often occurs as a result of having been hurt, humiliated, angered, or having suffered fear or loss, feelings of guilt, or envy, can have profound effects on the way your body functions.

Physically the body is in a state of stress. Muscles tighten, causing imbalances or pain in the neck, back and limbs. Blood flow to the joints is restricted, making it more difficult for the blood to remove wastes from the tissues and reducing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the cells. Normal processes of repair and recovery from injury or arthritis are impaired. Clenching of the jaws contributes to problems with teeth and jaw joints. Headaches can become a problem. Chronic pain may get worse.

Blood flow to the heart is constricted. Digestion is impaired. Breathing may become more difficult. Anger can seriously impair the immune system, increasing the risk of infections and illness.     Lack of Forgiveness Can Affect Our Health by Sheryl Walters

 

“A society that cannot forgive is one without a heart. We should not wish to live in such a society—or a world—in which forgiveness is never extended. With the escalating religious and political hatreds around the world, and the increasingly sinister ways of seeking vengeance, it is uncertain whether a civilization that is devoid of forgiveness can continue to exist.”  –Larry Dossey, MD

 

Another ritual that I started a few years ago was to write down on paper all the things that I felt had been done against me by a specific person or persons, pour out my hurt and anger in words and acknowledge how it had harmed me. At the bottom I then write, “I forgive you.” I place the paper into a bonfire and as it burns I consciously let go of the hurts and resentment.  It takes away the feeling of being victimized and ultimately leaves me feeling empowered and ready to move on in life. It doesn’t mean the offense was okay, but it releases me from the burden of carrying it around in my heart and holding me prisoner. I have on occasion “celebrated” afterward with a few fireworks.

There are many different things we can choose from to lessen our load and offer forgiveness to others. Experiment and find what feels comfortable.

This presentation is wonderful (and not very long): Forgiveness In An Unforgiving World (TedX Talks video)

Here is a link to a guided meditation on gratitude, forgiveness, and letting go:  Guided Meditation on youtube