Client #1: A 42 year old female presenting with multiple chemical sensitivity mast cell syndrome allergies and asthma. She also reported extreme sensitivities to light and sound in a weakened immune system.
Client #2: 45 year old female presenting with concerns of Constipation digestion IBS, and mood fluctuations.
Individually, I told them what I have said to many, “Your greatest hurdle is not going to be these physical symptoms you are facing; your biggest hurdle is going to be yourself.”
When I first start working with a new client, I spend a good amount of time getting to know them and their bodies through assessments and conversation. And after fleshing out all the symptoms described and getting a good idea of the pictures each were presenting, I was able to see there was more behind the symptoms than the intake forms suggested.
The conversations naturally turned towards the general experience of life, feelings about life and history of what childhood taught them about themselves. What cannot go missing in any good report of systems and symptom review is a general feeling of wellness and acceptance of oneself, the history of their past experiences and what those experiences have created as far as beliefs about themselves.
What was evident in both of these women was a shared history of generational trauma and the resulting concepts created such as
“I'm not good enough”, “Nobody loves me”, and “I'm not worthy”.
Interestingly they've had all the counseling but missed three major factors:
- The body has an altered need for trauma nutrition related to the ongoing stress their situations caused them, even into their adult lives. Nutrition makes the chemistry that makes the mood and the matter(body). And time is inconsequential. You see, the nervous system doesn’t recognize a timeline. If you’re feeling it NOW, it doesn’t matter to the body that it happened 10 years ago.
- The past is not separate from the physical symptoms of today.
- There is a habit to illness.
Let’s start with major factor #1:
Principles of trauma nutrition have us paying attention to this important fact, knowing the body isn’t going to function optimally when it’s trying to recover from a constant and chronic factor. It has us looking at sufficient energy intake in general. Is the client eating enough? Of the right kinds of foods? And are they digesting those foods?
Malabsorption and poor digestion can happen across the board but protein has its own specific need. Protein breaks down into tiny amino acids which are the tiny building blocks that cause cellular activity which forms health or disease.
For example, methionine and glutathione act as antioxidants for removing heavy metal toxicities, tryptophan for its impact on insomnia and sometimes depression, and lysine for it’s effect on illness or herpes infections. Amino acids come largely from animal protein foods and plant proteins like nuts and seeds and some vegetables.
There are many reasons malabsorption or improper digestion can happen based on stress levels, symptoms and the absence or presence of necessary digestive chemicals. In a person with a history of trauma or abuse that potential is elevated. It was certainly a factor for both of our women in their individual situations.
Adding to our consideration in chronic stress and chronic symptoms we need to address the fact that proteins need to be complete in order to produce all of the amino acids necessary for chemical actions to happen in the body.
Did you know that if a single essential amino acid is not present in the gut when protein is taken in, protein cannot be synthesized? That’s like saying the protein you just ate is a moot point, you didn’t get the benefit, but still had all the work and pressure to digest it.
Also, if there is not enough intake of energy in general, protein in tissues can be used to become the glucose needed to fuel the body.  Can you imagine the muscle breakdown, weakness, fatigue, blood sugar and hormone complications this can account for?
On the other hand the answer isn’t just to eat excessive amounts of protein either as this can negatively impact other systems, like putting extra burden on the pancreas and the liver.
In our cases, it comes down to the right energy intake, understanding the positioning of the nervous system, utilizing the right functional diet, and supporting the ability of the systems to digest and metabolize. This is Phase II of our wellness plan: Support. Phase 1 we work to understand why the body is expressing in the way that it is, and phase 2 we set our appropriate targets for nutritional therapy. In this way we are providing the body with its needs rather than addressing the symptoms. All the nutrient factors essential for the health of the body are required in their right quantities in order for health to be manifest and the assessment of that need is the task of the practitioner. 
We are here to work on the UNDERLYING CAUSE of illness. Illness can be treated by a doctor, but the underlying cause of that is the work of the individual along with the rest of their team. To think we can only focus on treatment is to miss the whole boat of what “health” means.
Major Factor #2:
When we see people suffering in front of us, it is easy to get focused on the picture presented on the surface, to take the symptoms off of the intake form and slap the symptom reliever into the mix. But all of the symptoms presented cannot blind us to the fact that there is a long chain of activity that involves all of the nutrient factors, the chemistry and the messaging of the body to itself based on its experiences and interpretations of the environment. “All of the factors which promote and maintain health are seen to be the factors which will restore it or allow it to be restored when health is absent.”
Where it would be easy to slap a bandaid on the burn we see on the skin, we can’t see the trauma of the nerves and tissues underneath, and it’s the same with emotional wounds. The physical manifestation of the body is in direct correlation to the chemistry that caused it, and stress and emotion play a big part in that.
Major Factor #3
There is a habit to illness. Once illness is present or once symptoms show up it is often seen as real, true and permanent. For many people this has become huge makeup of who they are. Struggle with chronic illness or chronic symptoms compounds this further especially when answers can't be found and it goes on addressed. It just makes it seem all the more hopeless and never ending.
We get in the habit of our illness.
We get in the habit of our symptoms.
We get in the habit of having to accommodate our symptoms. The actions our symptoms cause us to take becomes a habit in our lives, like we avoid certain situations or activities. We have to do this whole routine in order to keep the symptoms mild.
This makes the routines of our day habitual as well and we eat the same things at the same times, do the same things, and by necessity have to control our environments and our partners and relationships to accommodate these needs as well out of fear and the innate need to keep ourselves safe.
Change can't come from repeating the same cycle. The things that got us ill are not going to be the things that make us well. But to get off that circle can be scary.
This is why I can recognize that sometimes the bigger hurdle is not the physical symptoms but helping the person off of their personally designed hamster wheel.
Spending some time imaging a world in which you are healed is a primary part of the healing process. You need to allow your mind and body to change. You need to understand that it never stays the same. This relates to a primary premise employed in our clinic... that a person needs to believe they are capable in order to heal. We teach them the skills and help them practice the new habits but the willingness to get off that hamster wheel is a difficult one. There is fear there and that leads us back to my essential primary premise... the body cannot heal in the state of fear.
When we work, we work in a therapeutic way, combining all parts, a whole-ism of the person, and this takes time. We help create the environment and provide the support. If you are ready to get off your hamster wheel, take the first step by building your program here.
1. Chaitow, Leon, D.O. ND. Amino Acids in Therapy. Healing Arts Press; 1985.
Amanda Plevell, PhD, MSCN, NMD, CNHP is a Board Certified Natural Medicine Practitioner and Clinical Nutritionist. Together with ANMC’s team of support professionals, she’s bringing the pieces of nutrition, the mind, and therapeutic ongoing relationships to the healthcare continuum. ANMC combines curated education programs with personalized plans that make it easy for anyone, anywhere to benefit from. Find out more here: anmcholistichealth.com
“Our unique offer fills in the gaps to complete your picture and provides a powerful therapeutic relationship for a complete whole health solution, because I know that our clients want to have all the pieces, education, and trust so that they can make informed decisions for themselves.”