April 12, 2014
[00:00] About Dr. Eudene Harry
[03:18] What Causes Anxiety
[10:13] Anxiety Before An Event
[14:27] On the Locus Coeruleus
[18:29] Inflammatory Cytokines & Anxiety
[21:22] Probiotics & Hormones With Stress
[30:14] Methods & Supplements To Combat Stress
[39:18] Laughter & Decreasing Inflammation
[43:24] End of the Podcast
Ben: Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield here, and I got to tell you. I actually didn't used to be a very anxious guy, but it seems like the more that my life goes on and the more tasks that I take on, the more pressure there is for me to maintain a fit body or a healthy nutrition protocol, the older and more active my twin boys get, the more responsibilities that I have, it seems like I get just a little less laid back, and it affects my sleep quality and some days I find myself laughing less. There are some days where I really need to go out of my way to remember to just kind of stop and smell the roses. And it was during this summer last year that I actually did some blood measurements that included a cortisol reading that was very high, and it was high in a way that really concerned me and convinced me that I needed to do some pretty serious stress management before I started to take years off my life. So I delved into a lot of stress management and anxiety management protocols, and since then, I've actually been really interested in this whole feed of the anti-aging and the life enhancing and the health bestowing benefits of managing stress and anxiety in natural ways.
So a few weeks ago, when I got this book in the mail called “Anxiety 101: A Holistic Approach to Managing Your Anxiety & Taking Back Your Life”, I was pretty interested, and I have to admit. I kind of thought when I first got the book that it would be kind of the typical ho-hum advice like quit worrying or get a massage or learn how to meditate, but this book actually went into a pretty comprehensive list of a wide variety of holistic management options for anxiety and for stress that I didn't know about, and it also had some really good explanations of the biological and the biochemical mechanisms underlying a lot of our stress behaviors.
So this book was written by a holistic physician who practices in Florida and who happens to be on the podcast with me today. Her name is Dr. Eudene Harry, and she really has turned out one of the better books on stress and anxiety that I've ever read. So Dr. Harry, thanks so much for coming on the call today.
Dr. Harry: Well thank you for inviting me, I appreciate it.
Ben: So let's just delve right in, you talk about a lot of things in your book that can cause anxiety and I think one of the things that you mentioned that I thought was really interesting was this whole concept of brighter tomorrow. Can you explain how the concept of brighter tomorrow affects our anxiety levels?
Dr. Harry: I think oftentimes, what creates anxiety in a lot of individuals is that we're always anticipating ahead. What things should be better and not focusing on where we are right now, so we always tend to say we want a brighter tomorrow, and so what can we do to get that? And that's a reasonable question, except when you keep over-focusing, honest.
Ben: So one of the things that I've found, and again this is just something as I get older that sometimes I find myself slipping into that trap of feeling like maybe I'm not going to be able to achieve everything that I wanted to achieve or be as great as I wanted to be. Do you find that common in the folks that you work with, with stress and anxiety? Is this difference between, kind of our perception of what our life should be and what it actually is? If so, what do you do about that?
Dr. Harry: Here's the thing, the word “should” I find is an interesting world in the English language because it always sounds like it tends to cause increased stress in individuals because you’re always shooting yourself, and you're correct. When we get to be, maybe about 30 or 35, we start looking at ourselves and thinking, “Oh gee. At this stage, I should have accomplished this, I should have done this already,” and we start comparing ourselves to everyone at the time, and the thing we start doing is looking at ourselves and thinking we are not worthy, shoot me at this stage of our lives, and we start generating a whole bunch of anxiety and around that. And that's what we do at that point, we diminish our accomplishments that we've already achieved, we negate those. So let's say you have a fantastic job that you got, like a Bachelor or College Degree. You completely negate that and say well, “you know, so-and-so has a massive degree in so-and-so, has a PhD and I should have that as well.” And many times that I ask each individual. You have to pay attention to what you've accomplished and really giving yourself some credit for what you've already done, and when you use the word “should” from your vocabulary. I think it's one of the most dangerous words in our vocabulary today, it's the word “should”. It's always saying that we are not enough, and that's basically what the word “should” has said. If you're never enough, it keeps you living in a state of anxiousness.
Ben: Yeah, I like that approach. I find myself slipping into that trap often with everything from my kids “should” be doing this activity and that activity and another activity, or I “should” be at this point financially in my life or at this point, from a fitness perspective in the year, and yeah, I think that framing thing is not necessarily based on other people's expectations but where you are at in life is important. I like how you point that out in the book. Genetics play their part is something that you say. How much of a role do genetics play in anxiety?
Dr. Harry: Genetics may actually have a significant contribution in anxiety, and I always start of by saying that we should not let our genetics determine who we are, who we're going to be, but basically what we use genetics for, in my opinion, is to let you be aware that you've got to be very selective about your environment. So the few genetic studies that have gone on and continues to go on, and we're finding that, for example, the gene called the serotonin transporter gene, and what that gene does is it manages serotonin and brain levels. And people who inherit the shorter version of that gene, they respond to stress a little bit more negatively. So the response to negative stimuli, just a little bit stronger than those who inherit a longer version.
So what that says to me, we've got to be respective of ourselves and of others as well, and so just because you're able to tolerate whatever enzyme, it doesn't mean everybody else is able to tolerate that enzyme. And at oftentimes, I think we judge ourselves and we judge others based on that. We're even finding out that prenatally, it may have some impact on how we handle stress and how the brain enduring the prenatal period as well. So all of these things, I think, contribute to make up who we are and deform the brain, but I think what it needs to do above all else is just to really make us be focused about the environment that we place ourselves in. So I'm very on the edge about whether we should be doing genetic testing because I think what it might then lead to is to people either giving up or saying well, what's the point? I've got X, Y and Z instead of seeing it for what it is, changing your environment 'cause there's such a thing also as ethyl genetics, and what that means is because we've got the genes for that, and it doesn't mean we have to activate that gene. The environment activates the gene or quiets the gene, so I think that's how we should be using genetics.
Ben: Yeah, I have one sibling who seems to be wired very much like me, and I've noticed them go through a stressful time in their life that actually resulted on a lot of gut issues and ulcer issues and almost like autoimmune issues. Kind of like an activation of these really deleterious stress responses based off of the way they responded to stress, and some of the information you would go over in your book as far as how genetics affects these things, seeing something like that makes me, all the more, want to make sure that I'm careful with managing stress in my own life and my response to anxiety. So I think that is important for folks to at least be aware of potential for genetic predisposition to some of these issues.
One of the things that you talk about is that worrying about an event can create just as much anxiety as if you were actually experiencing the event. Is that really proven by science, or is that something you've actually seen occur from a biological level?
Dr. Harry: Both, actually, and they have performed a scientific study where they did show that just the anticipation of an event creates just as much havoc as actually experiencing the event itself, and that's what we were talking about. When you're living in constant anticipation of something bad happening, or as my mom used to say, if you have a shoe to drop, you are actually creating all of those nasty things that stress tends to do to us. So oftentimes, even vacation times, for example, or holiday time, it's something that comes up a lot because it's Christmas or you're thinking about Christmas in June, and you're thinking about all of the things that you have to experience. You're already creating that stress, and now you have six months of living that stress instead of maybe the week of living that stress, so we have to be very careful about that because our thoughts can set that whole trespassing emotion.
Ben: So if you have something that you know is going to be stressful or anxious, kind of coming up in life, one of the things that you shouldn't do is actually dwell on that or focus on it or go through that scene in your head?
Dr. Harry: If you go through it in a different way, if you're drawing on it with an anticipation of a negative result, then you've already set up that stress cascade for that negative result. So if you do want to go there and visualize that situation, I would strongly suggest to try visualizing a positive outcome of that situation. So you tend to remove some of the angst that zones along with assuming that it's going to be negative. The first thing that you're doing there is fortune telling 'cause we really don't know what zoned to happen in that situation, and what I have found out is that once we think you'll find yourself for a negative outcome, we tend to start asking in a way that brings that on. If we have a situation that's coming up, let's say for example a big presentation or a big seminar. This is something that you haven't done before. Instead of people heckling you or visualizing people getting up and leaving the room, why not visualize them enjoying your presentation, asking a lot of questions. What that does is it flips the switch a little bit. It turns that stressor into perhaps, a challenge that motivates you, a challenge that inspires you and puts you in a better place emotionally, to be able to give a better performance.
Ben: So in the same way that thinking about something can cause us to become more stressed, we can also kind of almost use that inner game of tennis, inner game of golf type of approach to visualize success and kind of turn that on set?
Dr. Harry: Absolutely, because they really made a golf experiment method exam, now that you mentioned golf, and what they did was they find a necessary group. One group to actually visualize cutting in through a hole, one group that actually visualizes missing the hole, and the other group, they just sort of liked to do whatever they wanted. And of course the group that did the worst was the group that visualized missing the hole. They missed the hole consistently, and the group that did the best was those that visualized that actually getting the ball into that hole. So yeah, the things, they work that way.
Ben: You know, speaking of visualization, I know that a lot of people that listen into this podcast are high achievers. Many of them are all of nothing personalities. Many folks, especially in this day in age, are multitaskers. In your book, you talk about this persistent tonic state and how there's a particular part of our brain that is responsible for this persistent high level of firing or activity. Can you talk about how that if we do have this kind of all or nothing or multitasking or do-everything-at-once approach, how that can actually affect us from a stress level?
Dr. Harry: Absolutely, and the part of the brain that mess with locus coeruleus is what you're talking about there.
Ben: It's called the locus coeruleus, is that how you pronounce it?
Dr. Harry: Yes, so if you're growing along, let's say just simply walking and something jumps out, that part of psyches and allows you to pay attention and allows you to decide what to do at that point, but if you're constantly in that tonic that you're talking about, and I that was a thing you'd say where it spikes when it's appropriate, but if you're constantly at a high level all the time, you're not going to be able to tell what to pay attention to 'cause you're trying to pay attention to everything. So everything, you want to make everything important, so nothing is important. You're not really able to differentiate at that point what really needs attention and what doesn't need attention.
Ben: Gotcha, so when this locus coeruleus is in a constant state of overstimulation, what happens?
Dr. Harry: Well blood in the brain with more neuroadrenaline, and the prefrontal part of the brain that is considered the cognitive part of the brain, on the part of the brain that kind of tops the emotional part of the brain down, so to speak, 'cause they've really got a nice connection going on and allows us to make a clear decision and an organizational decision. That has an optimal amount of neuroadrenaline that it uses to help us to stay focused and clear and make executive decisions. When that part of the brain becomes overstimulated with all of the sweating from the locus coeruleus, all that neuroadrenaline that comes in from the locus coeruleus is actually functioning in the opposite direction. It starts losing more focus, so you're actually able now to make less informed executive decisions. You actually become less of an executive. Think because with that much neuroadrenaline, it activates. There's different receptors in that part of the brain that then makes that efficient.
Ben: Wow, so basically when you're trying to focus on doing a bunch of tasks at once, you're basically flooding your brain with norepinephrine. Are you eventually craving almost like an insensitivity to that neurotransmitter?
Dr. Harry: Eventually that's a very good way of putting it, and the body has an interesting way and a lot of mechanisms in place that when you have too much, it's something that's like insulin resistance, for example. When you got too much of insulin, it almost stops listening to insulin, and it ends up functioning appropriately. And so that then leads to that whole pre-Diabetes stage, and perhaps be curious about Diabetes, that Type-II. It's very much the same thing. It's that the mechanism in plays that when the brain gets surrounded with something, what it actually does is the brain or the body reduce receptors for that thing to become sensitive to that thing.
Ben: Now, of course, that running from a lion feeling a lot of times is the hypothalamus responding to all that norepinephrine and causing us to release cortisol by the adrenal glands, and I think a lot of folks are familiar, of course, with cortisol and how activation of those adrenal glands, if kind of stimulated in excess, can produce some pretty deleterious amounts of stress, and in your book, you actually talk about these cytokines. These inflammatory cytokines and how they play a role in anxiety and stress and that reaction by the adrenal glands as well. Can you explain exactly how that works?
Dr. Harry: Sure, it's like a cat chasing itself kind of a scenario. We have the studies that shows us that actually when you're under a lot of psychological stressors, that can actually increase those pro-inflammatory cytokine, and they themselves can activate that hypothalamus and the adrenal glands and similar to the release of more cortisols, and then you've got that cycle going where you can't put it out because once it's feeling the other thing. So these cytokines, they're important, and the body doesn't generate things for nothing, but then they're usually meant for a few situations and that's meant to be in a tonic state all the time. So what they can actually do is stimulate the stress response to normal, without you actually having a psychological or physical stimuli for it. So they go into the brain and activate that stress response, and so that is something we found to be very careful for because we know that these inflammatory cytokines can actually then go on to create more diseases in the body and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and even autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, et cetera. So you starting this whole tasking is what's so important to me, for people to realize that, and I hear this all the time. They're like, “oh well, it's just stress.” It's not just stress, you're looking at, in my opinion, I think stressing and nutrition really kind of competes for the place in the things that prevent the most tonic helices, if you take care of yourself.
Ben: Wow, so essentially you could do a very good job at eliminating stress and making sure relationships are good and getting enough sleep and being really careful with not working too much, but you could actually consume something that creates gut inflammation or colon inflammation, create these inflammatory cytokines, and they can cross into your brain and stimulate the neurons that cause anxiety. So you could be doing all these good things to manage anxiety and still screw yourself if you're producing cytokines?
Dr. Harry: Yes, exactly.
Ben: Wow, in your book, you talk about how that mechanism is actually kind of tied into how when we age, we tend to grow more anxious, or at least be more known to anxiety. How exactly does that work? I guess the reason I asked that is I've always thought maybe as we age, we take on more responsibilities or we have more things to worry about or we see more things in the news or something like that. But the way that you explain it, there's a little bit of a biological mechanism here too.
Dr. Harry: Yes, I do get a biological mechanism here as well because as we age, there's so many things that happen actually. Inflammation increases as we age, and that can generate anxiety. Years of stress can start anatomically changing the brain, it's actually more susceptible as your anxiety. So these are all things, we also know that years of stress can then shorten the protective end of the DNA called the telomere that years of stress actually starts shortening that as well, and all of that actually accelerates the aging process. We all want to get older and live longer, but we need to be able to think about living well because we've found some people who are older and they're not living so well. I have people there who want to live to be a hundred, so that's great, but what is the quality of that hundred that we're talking about?
Ben: Yeah, and I think that's interesting. I think a lot of people don't really realize that, that as you age, you naturally produce more of these inflammatory cytokines. So controlling inflammation, we actually recently did an interview about how inflammation can inhibit fat cell apoptosis and kind of keep you fat or a least inhibit the ability of fat cells to die or be converted into other cells like neuro cells or muscle cells. It sounds like the constant presence of these inflammatory cytokines that you might tend to be more predisposed to as you age is also a great way to dig yourself into this anxiety hole.
Dr. Harry: Hey, it's also a great way to dig yourself into this anxiety hole.
Ben: One of the really interesting things that you talked about as you discussed inflammation and even gut infection and in this case, infectious colitis, I believe it was mice where bacteria and probiotics play a role in anxiety. Can you explain that?
Dr. Harry: And that seems to be so interesting to me as well, and I know both studies were done in mice and in animals where they actually were able to change the animal behavior, simply by changing the makeup of the bacteria and the gut. And as that was the very interesting 'cause they're done recently now. It's just humans, they use women for their very small study, but they use that probiotic that actually found that there was a wiring change in the brain that make use of probiotics that actually could potentially reduce the amount of anxiety and improve the way that we handle stress. So now we're starting to see these studies being transferred into human studies, even though again they have small studies. It's probiotics that could potentially help me with that, I'm certainly going to be taking my probiotics or eat foods relatively high in that. When you're looking at behavior being able to change just by changing the bacteria constant of the gut, if that doesn't show the mind body connection, I don't know what does.
Ben: Wow, that's amazing, so do you, with the folks who you work with for stress and anxiety, do you use probiotics as a regimen?
Dr. Harry: Absolutely, especially those who are having a lot of gastrointestinal distress, and we know that high anxiety and stress, a lot of it is in the methodology sense to involve the gut. Those people who are having a lot of gut issues, well what I tend to do to see if there is really any significant disruption going on in the gut and really work on healing that. So I really tend to use probiotics quite frequently in my practice. What if, part now, the Chinese slowdown is what probiotics does to that, and I look forward to that research.
Ben: Now kind of going away from probiotics as a nutritional therapy and jumping into the world of hormones, you have an entire, very thorough chapter in your book about the link between anxiety and hormones, and I would really encourage people to go out and get the book and read through some of this stuff because Dr. Harry delves into much more detail that we're even getting in today's podcast, but one of the hormones that you talk about, Dr. Harry, is progesterone. In terms of the link between progesterone and anxiety, what exactly is going on with that one?
Dr. Harry: Progesterone actually seems to be able to activate the gut receptors in the brain, and as we know, the gut receptors are the calming receptors. It's very similar to, perhaps, things that I as a teen will do which will activate the gut. It's the body's own natural way of doing that, so it actually has an angular lyric component to it. Many people actually will find that one they're approaching that paramen or fault phase that they start experiencing an increase in anxiety symptoms. They start increasing issues with insomnia, and oftentimes, that's actually similar to a hormonal endow that's going on there. So it's really very interesting the way the body plays together. It takes one thing to do another thing, and everything helps each other out, and progesterone is just one of the things that is able to help some individuals with that.
Ben: Got it, I like how you also point out that progesterone helps to form the protective sheath of the fats around the neurons. You know, the myelin which helps your nerve cells to communicate better, and I think that should give folks who perhaps are either eating, say like a really low-fat diet which can affect the fat cell issues and then also folks who are maybe doing things that are decreasing progesterone significantly like four to five cups of coffee a day, I know it's one of the days to do it. It should give folks pause when it comes to making sure that they get adequate progesterone. I don't know if you use progesterone creams or lotions or things of that nature in your practice. I usually encourage folks to try and use natural means of elevating progesterone as much as possible, but have you ever used those types of things in conjunction with elements like probiotics to help the stress?
Dr. Harry: Yeah, well for some individuals, and we all know that not everything is appropriate for everybody, and that's why it's important to get somebody on that. I oftentimes really encourage using food-nutrition lifestyle choices because you can really make a huge impact with your hormonal balances or those things, and your lifestyle habits can wreck a lot of that significantly, and that tends to be people wanting to come on the replacement. Sorry to people who aren't changing their lifestyle habits, and to me, it's the wash already becoming a little detrimental when you're not doing everything together. So for the appropriate people, yes I would use that at times, but not everybody really gets candidates for replacement therapy of any kind. Then we'll have to find other ways to grow on that as well.
Ben: Gotcha, now we've talked about cortisol a little bit, and obviously, there are salivary tests out there that you can get for cortisol. I know that a lot of our listeners are probably aware of the adrenal stress index from measuring cortisol and DHCA, and I certainly think that's good for overtraining and adrenal fatigue and potential for stress and anxiety and things of that nature, but you also talk about what you call the mystery of functional deficiencies in your book, and it looks like these deficiencies kind of go above and beyond just a cortisol excess or a DHCA deficiency. Can you talk a little bit about functional deficiencies and how we might be able to test for or address those?
Dr. Harry: Sure, so the usual deficiencies and I say functional 'cause at oftentimes, for example, what I see is we'll shed a half and beat those levels like that, and at many times, it comes back within that huge normal range of 200 or 1,100 or whatever it is, depending on the last as that's testing it. But functional deficiencies really talked about for that person's makeup on that certain level, is he or she getting in that of that nutrient. Is it the appropriate amount for them? And so what we do, and I say we in general, since the lab that does this, but what the lab is able to do is to look at the urine and blood and look at different masses to be able to let us know if that individual is getting the right amount of that supplement, of that nutrient for them.
So functional deficiencies can wreck half the gut. Oftentimes, I see some patients who come in and they start with the game of obsessing, and I'm usually very happy on that sense to say something that I don't have to do, but it turns out they've got perhaps the functional deficiency of magnesium, and that's all it takes. It's always great that I look like a star, but it's really not the taste. It needs to be able to test that individual to see if they have the nutrient deficiencies that could be potentially object in the way that their bodies function normally. For example, we know that who to make the psycho neurotransmitter that we need. So learning, et cetera, but in excess, can actually generate more anxiety that's converted in the body over together, which is a calming neurotransmitter, and the Vitamin-B Complex does not happen. So that definitely has that functional deficiency that has to be systematic to individual.
Ben: Yeah, I think that's actually so important to actually test and take a look at this stuff, and obviously in this day in age, there' a lot of different ways that you can go out and get a test. I know you talk about a urine organic acid evaluation, and I know that, for example, my natural path is able to run that pretty easily, and I think most folks, if they were to hunt down a natural medical practitioner could get a test like that, but then you also talk about functional deficiencies that I know folks might be able to order via blood test through Wellness FX or Direct Labs or any of these wholesale companies. You mentioned magnesium, I know in the book you also talk about some others that if deficient can be directly linked to elevated anxiety and stress. You mentioned the Vitamin-B Complex, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin-D and folate, which I know is a biggie. So really, really interesting there in terms of it kind of going above and beyond hormones and inflammation.
Dr. Harry: You have to, 'cause those things are not going to work often really, if you don't have a couple of nutrients because that's how the body functions.
Ben: Yeah, I've talked before about how sometimes, when I need to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon or if I wake up at night and my mind is racing, I will use passion flower as something to help with anxiety, and I was pleased to see that in the book. But you also have some other herbs in the book that you like for anxiety. Some other herbs and amino acids and remedies, what are some of your big wins that you find to be really effective for anxiety?
Dr. Harry: There are a few things, and I like things because I'm big on mechanism of action. Just tell me how they work and let me look into it myself. The passion flower, it's certainly one that I love. The L-Theanine, I think that's a great one 'cause that's actually been shown to work and gather receptors, actually have some impact in ample ways in the brain which is something else we haven't touched on yet, but it's in the book. I have to keep a common focus and also to optimize dopamine as well.
Ben: That's L-Theanine?
Dr. Harry: Yes, and L-Theanine is exactly from green tea, so for many of us who find green tea relaxing. It actually may help as relapse, and then we want to look at things I know. I think it's over atomic aloe vera or something like that. It's magnolia bark extract that things will actually calm cortisol levels down. So to me, what you think is really based on what that person is shown. Like you mentioned, you got your cortisol levels checked, and you found out that they are elevated. We certainly used a different treatment for that over somebody who seems to have another mechanism like figments of inflammation going on, and you would use another treatment for that. It's visualized.
Ben: You also mentioned something that I actually, when I go down and compete in the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in Kona, tend to find and actually use as an anti-anxiety remedy down there and that's Kava. Can you talk about Kava and how that works?
Dr. Harry: Kava that seems to be another gather-stimulator, and it's been around for centuries as we've all known. We know that there was concern sometime back about potential liver issues, and you know there's some concern about that. I understand at that point, there was some contamination also as well. So it's the whole marketing blood or that’s even caused them that, but I usually say what if I go into work with someone, especially if you've got liver issues and you're got concerns with some of that. It could follow that along with you and make sure you're doing appropriate building, et cetera. You ask why people will tab by looking into you, 'til a lot of Kava. You're focused on foot when you're choosing these. You have to be aware of the thought.
Ben: Yeah, you're pretty careful in your book too to give some recommendations on doses. Like I know for Kava, you say not to exceed. I think you recommend the extract of Kava and not to exceed 250 milligrams daily, because you're right. I think there are some potential for liver issues with that one or with using it in excess as I think would be the case with a lot of these things that you probably wouldn't want to use to excess. One of the things that you talk about that I think is really interesting 'cause you had so many techniques in this book that I hadn't seen before, but one really simple one that you talk about is this hand warming technique. Can you explain what the hand warming technique is and how we could use that for anxiety?
Dr. Harry: The hand warming technique, and sometimes it doesn't work so much at all. Basically what that is imagine or visualize, for example, holding your hand to something that's warm. Holding a warm pot, a warm cup of tea, a warm cup of coffee. What they actually found was that by doing that, which you not only seem to relax more, but it puts us in a friendlier state, for lack of a better terminology. And so that's very simple technology, you visualize hands over the fireplace, but most of us, do not see what types of soothing and calm when you start holding a warm cup of tea or a warm cup of coffee or whatever it is that you do drink? Studies show that is a thing.
Ben: Wow, and it's just a matter of kind of like rubbing your hands together and warming them?
Dr. Harry: You could do that as well, it's just bringing heat to the hands. In their studies, they used the warm cup technique, I think that was probably the name.
Ben: Maybe that's why that nice warn cup of coffee, especially on a cold morning-like coffee or tea or almost feel like it's opening up blood vessels in your brain and decreasing anxiety just by warming the hands. That's really interesting. You have so many other things that you talk about in the book as far as ways to reduce anxiety and reduce stress. If I may, I think I'd like to ask you one other question because I watched a funny movie last night. I actually watched Anchorman and was howling during most of the movie, “The Legend of Ron Burgundy”, but you talk about an actual biological link between laughter and something else that we've already mentioned earlier in this show and how laughter can decrease it. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Dr. Harry: Laughter can be huge information. I think it's a wonderful thing because I know there was a breakout sometime. The young men talk about healing itself with laughter, and when we look at it, there's actually a logical reason, laugh that can actually decrease inflammation. In some studies, they've actually shown cortisol may be involved in that as well. Quite frankly, if I'm with you, if I'm feeling a little down or a little blue, we'll find a funny movie or a funny show or something that I know that will make me laugh, and usually within ten to fifteen minutes, I feel so much better. I think that's the simple thing that we can do. We talked initially in the beginning, you're finding yourself not getting that laughing as much, and that's something that we stop doing. The more or less we become stressful, the less we take time out to handle that, and we've finding out that may actually not be the way to go.
Ben: Yeah, and you know what I think is really interesting. Again, something I like about your book is you tie it into science and biology and studies. You actually talk about the patients who were assigned to a laughter group in this particular study which they measured markers of inflammation like interleukin and TNF Alpha and cytokines, they had a 66% drop in the levels of some of their inflammatory markers.
Dr. Harry: It's that amazing.
Ben: Yeah, you know one of the stress control method that I use that we haven't really talked about is journaling and a gratitude practice, and part of my daily journaling is using this thing called a five-minute journal, and it actually asks you in the morning what your daily affirmation is going to be. Actually my daily affirmation, because I felt so good when I went to bed last night after watching this funny movie, my daily affirmation this morning was simply I laugh a lot. So there you go, so a ton of really helpful information in this book. Dr. Eudene Harry actually practices in Orlando, Florida. I was actually down there, I spend two days at Lego Land. I probably could've used a little anti-anxiety after chasing twin six-year-old boys from Lego Land in Orlando.
Anyways though, for those of you who are in the Florida area, she practices down there, and for people listening in from anywhere in the world, definitely check her book out. I'm going to put a link to her book in the show notes for this episode over at bengreenfieldfitness.com. The name of the book is “Anxiety 101: A Holistic Approach to Managing Your Anxiety & Taking Back Your Life”. I've been taking notes during our call, and I'll put lots of helpful resources for you as well over on the show notes for this episode at bengreenfieldfitness.com, and Dr. Harry, I want to thank you for your time and for coming on the call today.
Dr. Harry: Well thank you so much for having me, and I am always excited when someone really appreciates the information because I find it so interesting that when we start seeing how the body plays together, then we can start actually taking steps during focus.
Ben: Yeah, it's fascinating stuff. I love it, and you did a great job on this book. So folks, until next time, this is Ben and Dr. Eudene Harry signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.
I didn't used to be a very anxious guy.
But it seems the more tasks I take on, the more pressure there is to maintain a fit body or healthy nutrition protocol, the older and more active my twin boys become, and the more responsibilities it seems like I have…the less “laid back” I get. Sleep quality diminishes. I sometimes laugh less. There are more days where I need to remember to simply stop and smell the roses.
During the summer last year, a WellnessFX blood cortisol reading that was extremely high convinced me I needed to do some serious stress management before I started to take years off my life. So I delved into the type of protocols I outline in the article “7 Of The Best Ways To Stop Stress“.
Since then, I've been very interested in the anti-aging, life-enhancing, health-bestowing benefits of properly managing stress and anxiety.
As a a holistic medical physician practicing in Florida, today's podcast guest Dr. Eudene Harry noticed a similar thread running through many of her patients’ lives.
They were all extremely stressed out.
And that stress was drastically affecting their physical health in a variety of negative ways. So, Dr. Harry decided to make stress and anxiety management and elimination a primary focus of her work.
Several years later, the ultimate result was her new book: Anxiety 101: The Holistic Approach to Managing Your Anxiety & Taking Back Your Life.
Now I have to admit that when I first got this book, I figured it would be the typical ho-hum advice, like “quit worrying”, “get a massage”, “sleep more” or “learn to meditate”.
But in this book, Dr. Harry goes way above and beyond, not only giving one of the most thorough biological and biochemical explanations of anxiety I've ever seen, but providing a comprehensive list of the wide variety of integrative holistic treatment options available – and many, many techniques, tips, foods, supplements and strategies I didn't know about.
In addition to a refreshingly unbiased review of the pharmaceuticals commonly used to treat anxiety (serotonin boosters, GABA boosters, and beta blockers), a long list of alternative therapies are included in this book, including many of the strategies we talk about on this show, such as:
Natural anxiety remedies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), neurofeedback, exercise, herbs, nutrients and vitamins, nutrition, meditation, visualization, essential oils, massage, probiotics, laughter, sleep, and weight loss. You're going to learn about all that and much more in today's interview, which includes:
-How the concept of a “brighter tomorrow” can actually make you more anxious, and exactly what you can do about it…
-The surprising role that genetics plays in anxiety…
-Why you need to pull a specific part of your brain – the locus coeruleus- out of a tonic state…
–One rogue molecule that can make you more anxious no matter how good your stress management techniques are…
-The link between probiotics, progesterone hormone and anxiety…
-How something called a “functional deficiency” can wreak havoc on your stress and anxiety levels…
-How L-Theanine, Valerian, Kava and Apigenin can also help with anxiety…
-A simple “hand-warming” technique that can instantly eliminate anxiety…
-And much more!
Do you have questions, comments or feedback about how to eliminate anxiety and take your life back? Leave your thoughts below, and be sure to check out Dr. Harry excellent book “Anxiety 101: The Holistic Approach to Managing Your Anxiety & Taking Back Your Life“.