When our bodies undergo the trauma of a partners illness, death and the aftermath, our bodies take a toll. Chemical changes in the brain lead to physical break down and more. Understanding these issues, we can perhaps apply modern therapies and treatments to perhaps avoid longer term impacts and recover more quickly from the physical issues and grief.
In this episode we tap an expert to discuss, interviewing Russ Scala, the founder of Scala Precision Health, delivering evidence based, gender specific nutritional and hormonal testing and imaging, along with customized treatment protocols to improve patient recovery, health and performance.
Russ is the author of the book American BioHacker, as well as a speaker, educator, and consultant, and we leverage his clinical expertise and research to deep dive on the impact the loss of a loved one can have on the body, and what you can do medically , nutritionally, and physically to get balance restored: to help better recover from grief to growth.
Russ: We know that when you are grieving, there are physiology changes for the widower. Their thyroid may slow down, their testosterone levels may dip, their hormone levels will drift and will stop producing growth hormone, If they’re under stress, we see the elevated cortisol levels, much like those in high stress professions or in warriors. We see elevated cortisol and people that are in the grieving process.
Tom: So the first of when we’re going through a traumatic experience, the limbic system is going to be activated, that’s the middle part of our brain, and in particular, the amygdala. And the amygdala is what kicks in and fires to then fire up the reptilian brain, the brainstem and then the rest of the nervous system, your breathing, your heart rate, your respiration, all of that. And essentially, it puts you into fight flight freeze or a new one I learned now fawn mode.
Russ: A lot of guys are proud, they don’t want to ask for help. And this is one of the only times that you know, you want to be able to ask for help and not worry about what people are thinking.
Russ: You’re running scenarios in your head, you’ve just lost somebody, you lay your head down on the pillow at night and you start circulating these thoughts and you start ruminating. Well, in our 30s, we used to have little Pac Men that ate up that extra stress. Once we get in our 40s and 50s. Those little Pac Man called monoamine oxidase disappear. So if we cycle or we get upset after three o’clock, it will disrupt our sleep patterns through the night. Being aware of this is a good start, and then plugging in some interventions that people can try to improve. Sleep is extremely important.
Russ: During stress, you could be pushing out too much cortisol, and then you hit a wall and your adrenal glands don’t put out any cortisol at all. And it has to be supported. Cortisol also suppresses thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and growth hormone, older people and war veterans and police and fire cortisol hammers, the hippocampus, And the hippocampus….there’s people that are under a lot of stress, they always start to lose their short term memory.
Tom: If you can get the balance in the brain fixed so that the serotonin is being produced, the dopamine is being produced the right way, then you feel less of a need for that medication. Same thing when it comes to the doctor medication of antidepressants, and sleep aids, right? If you can get the melatonin right, if you get the dopamine, the serotonin, serotonin and oxytocin kind of all at the right levels, then maybe you don’t need those antidepressants and sleep aids in the long term.
Russ: As you know, we talked about neuro-plasticity. While you’re going through this process, while you’re following some basic protocols, your brain is developing new brain tissue because your brain is releasing something called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. That’s Miracle Gro for the brain. Now, if you take an antidepressant, or if you medicate yourself with alcohol, you may be shutting that process down. So again, I always try to meet people where they are, and really see how their metabolism and their being impacted. I like to get the patient to tell me what they do on a daily basis from getting up in the morning, to going into bed at night, that sort of gives you an idea where people are.
Tom: It’s finding your tribe from a mental and spiritual place, but also if you’re in a place where you can help, and you can have that purpose. And you can feel like, hey, even if I’m grieving, and even if I haven’t figured everything out, if I could just be there for someone else, and be there to listen and be there to help them. That actually helps you at the same time. And I know this has been, you know, creating Growth through Grief and participating in this with other widowers has helped me as much as this helped anyone else.
Russ: It’s gonna be painful. But suffering is optional. You don’t have to suffer.
Russ: You know, Eric Topol, the head of the Cleveland Clinic wrote a book seven years ago, it’s called The Patient Will See You Now. He said people are going to form communities, people are going to run their own lab work. People are going to heal each other, like Tom is doing here with you all, all without a physician. And that’s coming true as as we’re talking.
The information in this podcast is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical, mental health or spiritual advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental health counselor, spiritual advisor or other qualified health-care , mental health or spiritual provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, mental or spiritual challenges or treatment. Before making any changes to your health-care, diet, exercise or other aspects of your life, please seek professional advice, and never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or heard on this podcast or through other Growth through Grief resources.