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Kathy Marshack News

How to Clear Away Brain Fog and Regain Mental Clarity

Friday, November 16, 2018


Brain fog is when your mind feels like there’s a wad of cotton blocking your ability to comprehend information; some people describe it as feeling fuzzy or disconnected.Does your mind feel like there’s a wad of cotton blocking your ability to comprehend information – you can’t think, calculate, or remember familiar words? You may even feel like you need to tell people to slow down and speak more slowly, because you’re just not getting it. Some people describe it as feeling fuzzy headed or disconnected. If so, it’s quite likely you’re experiencing brain fog.

There are a number of causes of brain fog. Some of the most common are:

  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Food allergies
  • Chemical exposure
  • Depression
  • Medication side effects
  • Medical conditions like MS, fibromyalgia, iron deficiency anemia, hypothyroidism, or menopause

Treatment for brain fog depends on the cause. If you suspect your brain fog is connected with a medical condition, seek the assistance of your primary care physician immediately.

Making some simple lifestyle changes can help reduce or get rid of brain fog if it’s not caused by a medical condition. Here are five ways to lift brain fog naturally…

1. Avoid toxins. You’re already feeling poisoned so why add to your load by smoking tobacco or marijuana, consuming alcohol and abusing drugs?

2. Eat brain healthy food and drink water. Don’t skip meals. Avoid inflammatory producing items like saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and sugar. Choose lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of beans, fruits and vegetables.

3. Support your brain as it cleans itself. You need plenty of restorative sleep to allow the brain time to clear out wastes from the day’s activities.

4. Get moving. Physical activity increases your blood flow to your brain. More blood means more oxygen, which stimulate growth of new cells and blood vessels in the brain.

5. Enjoy the sunshine. We need the full spectrum light from the sun to get our daily dose of Vitamin D, as well as, enabling our bodies to produce energy required for cell repair and regeneration.

Many people have found relief from brain fog, as well as improved overall health by making these lifestyle changes. If you’ve tried and can’t seem to make these lifestyle changes on your own, I can help you develop holistic strategies that will support your total mind/body wellness. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Addicted to Sugar? You Can Kick the Habit!

Monday, October 29, 2018


Stop Sugar Addiction - You can kick the habitWith the Holiday season upon us, it’s a good time to re-evaluate how your family’s is going to handle all the sugary treats put before them. We’ve all heard about the dangers of eating refined sugar. It’s over 99% pure calories, without much nutritional value. Yet, various resources report that Americans are still eating 150 to 170 pounds of sugar a year.

Sugar is often a hidden ingredient in many of the prepared foods you buy. It can be labeled “organic,” “raw,” or “unprocessed”; whatever form it comes in, it activates a chemical reaction in your body that is comparable to the addictive effects of drugs like cocaine, meth, nicotine, and morphine.

According to a study on the NCBI website reports, “Sugar is noteworthy as a substance that releases dopamine and thus might be expected to have addictive potential.” Another sugar addiction study was published the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Sugar addiction is hard to kick because of the resulting withdrawal symptoms.

What are some of the ways sugar affects your present and future health? Sugar…

  • spikes blood sugar, triggers the release of insulin, leading to a sugar crash;
  • makes people hungry and tired;
  • causes weight gain;
  • contributes to mineral deficiencies;
  • interferes with the actions of calcium and magnesium;
  • suppresses the immune system;
  • increases inflammation;
  • contributes to aggression, depression, ADHD and hyperactivity;
  • raises bad cholesterol, lowers good cholesterol;
  • feeds cancer cells; and
  • alters learning and memory, according to a study at UCLA.

When your blood sugar drops, your body goes into emergency mode, so you crave a fast fix of sugar. It becomes a never ending cycle that you have to consciously break. The good news is that you can make behavioral changes that support a healthier lifestyle. I recommend a holistic approach because there’s an inseparable connection between the mind and the body. When you learn to manage the complicated interactions that take place between the mind, body, and the outside world, you’ll be able to stop your sugar addiction.

If you can’t seem to break the sugar habit on your own and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Is Your Brain Getting Enough Sleep for Its Full “Wash Cycle”?

Sunday, October 07, 2018


There’s a continual “wash cycle” going on inside your body…including your brain. What the brain needs to complete its wash cycle is plenty of restorative sleep.Your body is wonderful made to self-clean. You drink water, and it flushes out toxins. You breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. You eat healthful food, and the body extracts nutrients and uses the fiber to sweep out toxins. There’s a continual “wash cycle” going on inside your body…including your brain.

What the brain needs in order to complete its “wash cycle” is plenty of restorative sleep. According to researchers, your brain needs 7 hours of sleep each night to complete the “wash cycle.”

While studying mice and baboons, researchers discovered that, during sleep, brain cells shrink and make room for a dramatic flow of cerebrospinal fluid to flush through the brain, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up during waking hours.

And when the animals wake up, the brain cells enlarge again and the flow between cells slows to a trickle. "It's almost like opening and closing a faucet. It's that dramatic," said Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester. She also added, "It's probably not possible for the brain to both clean itself and at the same time [be] aware of the surroundings and talk and move and so on."

Researchers have found that one of the wastes removed from the brain during sleep is beta amyloid, which forms sticky plaques associated with Alzheimer’s. While this hasn’t been observed in humans yet, it’s reasonable to conclude that a similar cleaning process occurs in us. If so, that would help explain a number of problems and illnesses related to sleep deprivation also. When you skimp on sleep, overall blood flow decreases in your brain, disrupting your ability to think, remember, and concentrate. All good reasons to get your sleep and clear out the waste!

High-quality sleep is essential for optimal health. I’ve discovered that Neuro Emotional Technique is very effective for clearing stress and tension that is keeping you awake at night. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. Online therapy is also available, if that works best for your busy schedule.

How Adverse Childhood Experiences May Be Affecting Your Health Today

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


How Adverse Childhood Experiences May Be Affecting Your Health TodayHas your physician ever asked you if there was a childhood trauma or stressors that might be contributing to the extreme level of inflammation you’re experiencing today? If not, they should be according to authorities on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE).

Yale researchers discovered that when inflammatory stress hormones flood a child’s body and brain, they alter the genes that control stress reactivity and re-sets the stress response to “high” for that person’s entire lifetime! This increases the risk of inflammation and diseases such as cancer, heart disease, irritable bowel disease, migraines, and autoimmune diseases.

They’re not alone in their conclusions. A 1996 Kaiser Permanente-CDC Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) links childhood stress to adult illness. In fact, over 1500 peer-reviewed studies have replicated these findings.

You can read an informative article by Donna Jackson Nakazawain about how ACE contributed to her own health crisis. Here are some highlights from the article…

Two-thirds of Americans report experiencing Adverse Childhood Experiences. People who’d experienced four types of ACE are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer and depression as adults. Women who experienced three types of ACE have a sixty percent greater risk of being hospitalized with an autoimmune disease. Suffering six types of ACE may shortened one’s lifespan by twenty years.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) can include:

  • sexual abuse,
  • physical abuse,
  • witnessing physical abuse of parent or guardian,
  • suffering from economic hardship,
  • divorce or separation of parents or guardians,
  • depressed, mentally ill, or suicidal parent or guardian,
  • parent(s) or guardian who abuse alcohol or have a drug addiction,
  • death of parent or guardian,
  • imprisonment of parent or guardian,
  • witnessing or experiencing neighborhood violence,
  • and even being the brunt of belittling parent(s).

The Kaiser Permanente ACE Study showed that the type of trauma doesn’t matter as much as the number of types of different trauma experienced. When physicians acknowledged and validate their patients’ childhood trauma, they can help them begin the healing process mentally and physically. I’m so pleased that some medical schools are finally training students to recognize the link between ACE and adult disease.

If you suspect that Adverse Childhood Experiences are making you sick, please speak with your physician as soon as possible. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and you’d like to learn how a holistic approach can help you heal, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. If it’s more convenient, I also offer online therapy.

Read more on my website: Holistic Health.

What Scientists Are Learning About Exercise and Your Brain

Monday, July 17, 2017


Older couple riding bikesDo you exercise regularly? No doubt you’ve heard of all the benefits. Exercise is good for all kinds of things like lowering your risk of heart disease, helping you lose weight, and maintaining your overall health. It also helps you emotionally by releasing endorphins that help regulate your mood.
 
Exercise also helps protect your memory and thinking ability. How? By literally changing your brain!
 
Researchers have found that exercise can change the size of your brain. Regular exercise has been found to boost the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that plays an important role in memory and learning. It does this via a process called neurogenesis, or the birth of new brain cells. Exercise can double or triple the number of new cells in the hippocampus. These new cells translate to a significantly better ability to learn new things and remember experiences.
 
A better memory and learning ability is beneficial for your life now, but it is also helpful over the long-term. In Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the hippocampus is one of the first parts of the brain to suffer damage. A larger hippocampus can help delay the symptoms of these diseases as you get older.
 
It is of note that research finds aerobic exercise to be the most beneficial form of exercise to boost the size of the hippocampus. This is exercise that gets your heart pumping, your blood flowing, and the sweat running. Resistance training and balance exercises did not produce the same results.
 
Exercise also helps you sleep better. A number of chronic physical and mental health problems are caused by insufficient sleep, one of which is poor memory. Your brain cleans up while you sleep. There are studies that show that during sleep, the space between brain cells enlarge, allowing toxins to flush out. This research suggests that not sleeping allows toxins to build up, possibly ultimately triggering brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
 
Have you noticed that your thinking ability is negatively affected when you are feeling stressed or anxious? Exercise is a huge help in improving your mood, and reducing stress and anxiety. When your stress levels are under control, your cognitive abilities greatly improve.
 
Hopefully you already have a healthy routine that incorporates regular exercise. The recommendation for exercise is 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. That is just 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Moderate exercise includes walking, swimming, biking, or a sport like tennis.
 
If you are having trouble motivating yourself to keep up an exercise routine, or even start one, then try getting your spouse or a friend involved. Ask them to go with you. It will hold you accountable and make the experience fun! Also, start small. Try a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood at first. Then add more time and distance.
 
Schedule exercise like you would a business meeting. You don’t cancel on your colleagues or clients, so don’t cancel on yourself. Make it a priority, and your brain will benefit!
 
Exercise is only one part of staying healthy and balanced. Make sure to sign-up for my newsletter, Enriching Your Life, to stay up-to-date on new findings that impact your health and wellness. Simply enter your information in the box on the left to start receiving your copy.

Read more on my website: Holistic Health.

Your Gut Bacteria is Changing Your Brain More Than You Think

Wednesday, June 07, 2017


Our gut bacteria affect our digestion, allergies and metabolism, now scientist are finding more links between gut bacteria, our moods and thinking ability.It’s become common knowledge that our gut bacteria affect our digestion, allergies, metabolism and mental health. Now scientist are finding more links between gut bacteria and our moods and thinking ability.

A recent article in The Atlantic lists a number of studies conducted on mice and humans that tested gut bacteria and it’s affect on anxiety, depression, and autism. Their results are fascinating.

“A growing group of researchers around the world are investigating how the microbiome, as this bacterial ecosystem is known, regulates how people think and feel. Scientists have found evidence that this assemblage—about a thousand different species of bacteria, trillions of cells that together weigh between one and three pounds—could play a crucial role in autism, anxiety, depression, and other disorders.”

Did you know that about three-quarters of people with autism also have some gastrointestinal abnormality, like food allergies or gluten sensitivity? Because of this, scientists are examining the potential connections between gut microbes and autism. Here are the highlights from just one of the studies this article mentions:

Microbiologist Sarkis Mazmanian of The California Institute of Technology saw that some autistic children had less Bacteroides fragilis. He and his colleagues fed Bacteroides fragilis from humans to mice with symptoms similar to autism. The treatment changed the animals’ microbiome, and improved their behavior. “They became less anxious, communicated more with other mice, and showed less repetitive behavior.”

They also discovered that when a chemical called 4-ethylphenylsulphate (4EPS) which seems to be produced by gut bacteria was injected into mice, they developed autism-like symptoms. Mazmanian says, “We may be able to reverse these ailments. If you turn off the faucet that produces this compound, then the symptoms disappear.”

Another study showed that eating yogurt containing live bacteria (bifidobacterium,streptococcus, lactococcus, and lactobacillus) twice a day created a significant increase in calmness. He speculates that, “the bacteria in the yogurt changed the makeup of the subjects’ gut microbes, and that this led to the production of compounds that modified brain chemistry.”

For years, I’ve advocated a holistic approach toward health and well-being. Our physical, mental and spiritual health is so interconnected that we must obtain a balance. Healthful nutrition is obviously one of the key components to wellness.

Make sure to sign-up for my newsletter, Enriching Your Life, to stay up-to-date on new findings that impact your health and wellness. Simply enter your information in the box on the left to start receiving your copy.

Read more on my website: Holistic Health.

Read The Atlantic article in its entirety.

How Much Are Those Sleepless Nights Costing You?

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


Sleep deprivation or interrupted sleepless nights break down your physical and mental health, making you susceptible to obesity, diabetes, disease and more.Sleep is essential for wellness. Without it, we aren’t happy, healthy or safe. Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep, but if you’re not getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, it’s time to re-evaluate your sleep habits.

Recently the New York Times carried a comprehensive article on sleep. Much of it may be a review for you, but the information is important. Here are some highlights:

A number of chronic physical and mental health problems are caused by insufficient sleep:
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Compromised immune system
  • Depression
  • Poor memory and decision making skills
  • Irritable moods

People who are sleep deprived make more mistakes. One sleep survey estimated that in 2012, 274,000 workplace accidents were directly related to sleep problems, costing $31.1 billion annually.

The article writer, Tara Parker-Pope had an interesting analogy for how the brain works while you sleep…

Think of your brain like a computer that uses the nighttime to back up all your data. It consolidates memories, links with old memories and creates paths for you to retrieve memories, and forms connections between disparate thoughts or ideas. That’s why, when you don’t sleep, your thinking and memory are fuzzy. Some research suggests that when you don’t sleep your ability to learn new information is reduced by almost half.”

Sleep deprivation also make you more susceptible to mental health problems. Why? Your brain does its housekeeping while you sleep. In mouse studies, researchers found that during sleep, the space between brain cells enlarge, allowing toxins to flush out. This research suggests that not sleeping allows toxins to build up, triggering brain diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. We’ll need further research to know for sure.

Many sleep problems can be corrected by better nutrition, exercise, relaxation techniques and better sleep habits. However, if you’re experiencing chronic sleep deprivation, you might want to consult with your doctor to see if there’s a physiological reason, like sleep apnea, that can be treated.

Another option is to try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (C.B.T.-I.) to learn how to shut your mind off. I’ve personally discovered that Neuro Emotional Technique (N.E.T.) is very effective for removing blocks to your well-being. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Alternative Therapies for PTSD – Which Are Effective?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Alternative Therapies for PTSD – Which Are Effective?Do you remember when you first heard about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? It wasn’t formally recognized until 1980. That really wasn’t long ago, so therapies for treating PTSD are still in their infancy.

One traditional medical approach involves using medication and controlled re-experiencing of trauma, called exposure therapy. However, veterans aren’t finding this as helpful as hoped. Rehashing the event, without giving them coping skills, leaves them feeling helpless, which compounds the problem.

As a result, many alternative therapies are springing up. According to a recent New York Times article, some of them are: “therapeutic fishing, rafting and backpacking trips, horse riding, combat yoga, dogs, art collectives, dolphin swims, sweat lodge vision quests and parrot husbandry centers, among many, many others.”

Are these viable options or are they just ways to avoid the issue?

Some of these therapies challenge veterans to overcome fears and build new experiences that put traumatic memories into perspective, which can be helpful.

However, the overall effectiveness of alternative therapies is hard to assess, beyond anecdotal evidence. Yet I believe that a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Neuro-Emotional Technique, Yoga, meditation or pet therapy can help PTSD sufferers maintain lasting gains. I’ve seen it reduce PTSD symptoms of depression and anxiety without any side effects, plus there’s no stigma attached to it.

I’m by no means alone in believing this. For example, in 2006, Dr. van der Kolk published one of the first studies about the effects of yoga on PTSD. He said that even “after six months the positive effects of yoga are still there.”

If you are a veteran or are experiencing PTSD for another reason, you deserve these life-empowering skills. You don’t have to settle for feeling broken, helpless and hopeless for the rest of your life. With patience and the help of a professional, you can get your life back. Please contact a qualified health care specialist in your area as soon as possible to discuss your options. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can determine and get started on the best therapy for you.

Read more on my website: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Letting Go to Achieve Greater Happiness and Health

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


There isn’t anything you can’t learn to gracefully surrender to and let go of as you become okay with the situation and experience greater health and calm.Many people today are dealing with chronic problems – mental issues, broken relationships and ongoing pain, to name just a few. An important phase of healing is to quit fighting it and begin surrendering to it.

Surrendering or “letting go” doesn’t mean you’re giving up on yourself, that you start self-medicating to forget, or that you’re practicing avoidance behavior. It simply means that accept the way things really are. Rather than continually knocking your head against the proverbial wall, you’ll be able to move in a better direction. When you come to terms with your situation in life, your happiness and health will improve.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to become congruent with your present-day situations. Yes, some of the life challenges in the following list can be really tough to handle. But with the right tools and support there isn’t anything you can’t learn to gracefully surrender to and let go of in time. A few of the difficult life situations we face are and need to become okay with might include:
  • Your current health level.
  • Your current level of pain.
  • Your limitations.
  • The death of a loved one.
  • Being lonely.
  • Your body image.
  • Who you are.
  • Your single or marital status.

It’s important to note that being okay with something doesn’t mean you like it. Many of life challenges require that we practice self-compassion when addressing a chronic negative reality. Be patient with yourself as you process it and learn to live with it.

Never give up on finding a treatment that works for you. One type of treatment may work for one person, whereas a different treatment will help another person better. As a qualified psychologist and N.E.T practitioner, I’ve seen many clients respond well to alternative, holistic treatments. These include dietary supplements, mind-body therapies, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, massage, movement therapies, specialized diets, and neuro-emotional technique.

There are ups and downs in the process of living. Sometimes our problems turn out to be gifts that provide us opportunities to grow as individuals. If you’d like to explore your options and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Holistic Health.

Alcohol Consumption – Do the Cons Finally Far Outweigh the Pros?

Wednesday, June 01, 2016


Red wine in moderation is heart healthy, but alcohol causes holes in your brain as well as a host of other health problems, so is it really worth it?We’ve all heard the reports that drinking red wine daily is heart healthy. But what is it doing to our brains?

Recently Dr. Daniel Amen published an article about debunking the myth that alcohol is a health food. His SPECT Imaging shows the holes and gaps that appear in the brains of even moderate drinkers. He also quotes a 2008 study from the Archives of Neurology, which found that “people who drink just one to seven drinks per week have smaller brains than nondrinkers, and those who have two or more drinks a day have even more brain shrinkage.”

In 2015, the journal Lancet published a research review that found that alcohol use does decrease the risk of heart attacks. That’s good news. The bad news is that they also found that it increased the risk of cancer and physical injuries. Dr Amen goes on to list other negative affects that alcohol has on the brain and body. It:

  • Increases the risk of fatty liver disease,
  • Contributes to peripheral neuropathies (pain and tingling in hands, legs, and feet),
  • Damages neurons, especially those in the cerebellum.
  • Interferes with vitamin b1 absorption, leading to serious cognitive problems.
  • Decreases firing in the prefrontal cortex.
  • Disrupts sleep.
  • Predisposes you to sugar abuse.
  • Stimulates appetite and is associated with continued eating after feeling full.
  • Increases the production of insulin in the pancreas leading to low blood sugar levels and impaired decision making skills.

I appreciate his warnings, because it makes us stop and reassess our own actions and choices. Are they healthy choices? If not, is there an underlying reason for choosing ongoing self-destructive behavior like alcohol abuse?

Personally, I enjoy an occasional glass of wine, especially when entertaining my friends. If we are consistently nurturing and caring for our health, any damage done from drinking a glass of wine or having a beer can quickly be repaired.

However, people who abuse alcohol usually also neglect their nutritional and sleep requirements. Plus they participate in risky behavior. If you find that this article alerts you to a problem, and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can get you onto the road to recovery.

Read more on my website: Mind and Body Health.


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