Focus On Possibilities, Not On Limitations. Youtube interviews of Erik Peper, PhD, by Larry Berkelhammer, PhDPosted: March 18, 2013
Focus On Possibilities, Not On Limitations
This interview with psychophysiologist Dr. Erik Peper reveals self-healing secrets used by yogis for thousands of years. Mind-training methods used by yogis like Jack Schwarz were explored. The underlying message throughout the discussion was that suffering and even actual tissue damage are profoundly influenced by both our negative and our positive attributions. The methods by which yogis have learned to self-heal is available to all of us who are willing to assiduously adopt a daily practice. It is very clear that when our attention goes to our pain or other symptoms, our suffering and even tissue damage worsens. When we focus all our attention on what we want rather than on what we are afraid of, we achieve a healthier, more positive, and more robust level of healing. We suffer when we have negative expectancies and we reduce suffering when we focus our attention on positive expectancies. We can train the mind to fully experience sensations without negative attributions. For the vast majority of us, we have far greater potential than we believe we have. Biofeedback, concentration practices, mindfulness practices, and other yogic practices allow us to condition ourselves to concentrate on the present moment, rather than on our negative expectancies, limitations, attributions, and fears.
Belief Becomes Biology
Dr. Larry Berkelhammer speaks with Dr. Erik Peper about the connection of our beliefs and our health.
Nothing is so hard as watching a child having a seizure.
–Elizabeth A. Thiele, MD, PhD, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School
Until recently, when people asked me, “What would I suggest as a non-toxic/non-invasive biofeedback approach for the treatment of epilepsy?” I automatically replied, “A combination of neurofeedback, behavioral analysis treatment, respiration training, a low glycemic diet, and stress management and if these did not work, medications.” I have now changed my mind!
Epilepsy is diagnosed if the person has two or more seizures. About one to two percent of the population is diagnosed with epilepsy and it is the most common neurological illness in children. Medication is usually the initial treatment intervention; however, in about one third of the people, the seizures will still occur despite the medications. In some cases, people -often without the support of their neurologist/healthcare provider–will explore other treatment strategies such as diet, respiration training, neurofeedback, behavioral control, diet, or traditional Chinese medicine.
It is ironic that one of the tools to diagnose epilepsy is recording the electroencephalography (EEG)– brain waves–of the person after fasting while breathing quickly (hyperventilating). For some, the combination of low blood sugar and hyperventilation will evoke epileptic wave forms in their EEG and can trigger seizures (hyperventilation when paired with low sugar levels tends to increase slow wave EEG which would promote seizure activity).
If hyperventilation and fluctuating blood sugar levels are contributing factors in triggering seizures, why not teach breathing control and diet control as the first non-toxic clinical intervention before medications are prescribed. This breathing approach has shown very promising clinical success. (For more details see the book, Fried, R. (1987). The Hyperventilation syndrome-Research and Clinical Treatment. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press).
Self-management should be the first clinical intervention and not the last. Similarly, neurofeedback– brain wave biofeedback–is another proven approach to reduce seizures. This approach was developed by Professor Maurice B. Sterman at UCLA and was based upon animal studies. He demonstrated that cats who were trained to increase sensory motor rhythm (SMR) in their EEG could postpone seizure onset when exposed to a neurotoxin that induced seizures. He then demonstrated that human beings with epilepsy could equally learn to control their EEG patterns and inhibit seizures. This approach, just as the breathing approach, is non-toxic and reduces seizures.
Underlying both these approaches is the concept of behavioral analysis to identify and interrupt the chained behavior that leads to a seizure. Namely, a stimulus (internal or external) triggers a cascading chain of neurological processes that eventually results in a seizure. Thus, if the person learns to identify and interrupt/divert this cascading chain, the seizure does not occur. From this perspective, respiration training and neurofeedback could be interpreted to interrupt this cascading process. Behavioral analyses includes all behaviors (movement, facial expressions, emotions, etc) which can be identified and then interrupted. As professors Joanne Dahl and Tobias Lundgren from Uppsala University in Sweden state, The behavior technology of seizure control provides low-cost, drug free treatment alternative for individual already suffering from seizures and the stigmatization of epilepsy.
Until recently, I would automatically suggest that people explore these self-control strategies as the first intervention in treatment of epilepsy and only medication for the last resort. Now, I have changed my mind. I suggest the ketogenic diet as the first step for the treatment of epilepsy in conjunction with the self-regulation strategies—medication should only be used if the previous strategies were unsuccessful.
A ketogenic diet has a 90% clinical success rates in children–even in patients with refractory seizures. This diet stabilizes blood sugar levels and is very low on simple carbohydrates, high in fat, some protein, and lots of vegetables (a ratio of 4 grams of fat to 1 gram of carbohydrates and protein). In adults, the success rates drops to about 50%. The lower success rate may be the result of the challenges in implementing these self-regulatory diet approaches. As Elizabeth A. Thiele, MD, PhD, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School points out, dietary therapy is the most effective known treatment strategy for epilepsy. Even though, ketogenic diet is the most effective therapy, it is less likely to be prescribed than medications—there are no financial incentives; there are, however, many financial incentives for prescribing pharmaceuticals.
These lifestyle changes are very challenging to implement. They need to be taught and socially supported. Just telling people what to do does not often work. It is similar to learning to play a musical instrument. The person needs step by step coaching and social support which is an intensive educational approach. To learn more about the research underlying the ketogenic diet as the first level of intervention for epilepsy, watch Professor Thiele’s presentation from the 2012 Ancentral Health Symposium, Dietary Therapy: Role in Epilepsy and Beyond.
Putting it simply: Too much sugar in our diet is harmful and when we return to our paleolithic diet, health tends to improve.
Sugar intake in all different forms is the single most important ingredient that contributes to diabetes. In the last one hundred years our sugar intake has radically increased as is shown in figure 1.
Figure 1. Sugar intake per capita in the United Kingdom from 1700 to 1978 and in the United states from 1975-2000. The line on the right with black dots is the obesity rates in the United States in non-Hispanic white men aged 60-69 y. Values for 1880-1910 are based on studies conducted in male Civil War veterans aged 50-59y. From: Johnson RJ et al, AJCN 2007; 86:899-906; Initial source: http://www.indiana.edu/~oso/Fructose/Fructose.html
Even though research and clinical findings over the last one hundred years have shown that increased sugar and processed simple carbohydrate intake are contributing factors to many illnesses ranging from diabetes, obesity, cancer and even epilepsy, the data is now undisputable. As Mark Bittman wrote in the New York Times on February 27th, “Sugar is indeed toxic. It may not be the only problem with the Standard American Diet, but it’s fast becoming clear that it’s the major one.”
When researchers accounted for poverty, aging, exercise, total food intake, and other factors, increased sugar intake increased diabetes and decreased sugar decreased diabetes. As the authors state, “for every 150 kcal/person/day increase in sugar availability (about one can of soda/day) there was associated with increased diabetes prevalence by 1.1% (p <0.001).” (Basu S, Yoffe P, Hills N, Lustig RH (2013) The Relationship of Sugar to Population-Level Diabetes Prevalence: An Econometric Analysis of Repeated Cross-Sectional Data. PLoS ONE 8(2): e57873. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057873)
Presently, the level of proof linking sugar to diabetes is equal to if not better than the level of proof that linked cigarette smoking to lung cancer and other illnesses. Despite the overwhelming scientific data, it will be an uphill battle to change our diet and diet recommendations from the highly processed high glycemic index diet that promotes inflammation and diabetes to a low glycemic index Paleolithic diet that supports health. The major agricultural and food processing businesses have significant influence with the USA Government (for Senate and House members lobbying pays for the election), the FDA and USDA priorities are also highly affected through direct and indirect lobbying efforts or by the financial reward to be offered a job in the agribusiness after working for the FDA or USDA. In the USA lobbying and being rewarded with a highly paid job in industry is the expression of the democratic process–for the rest of the world it is called bribery. Thus, it is likely that agricultural and food processing industries will continue to delay and obstruct any recommendations to reduce sugars and highly processed carbohydrates in our food supply. A preview of this battle has already occurred when Major Michael Bloomberg of New York City intended to restrict sales of sugary soft drinks to no more than 16 ounces a cup in city restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas. A barrage of negative comments filled the media spaces. For example, Bloomberg News, reported the comments by Kirsten Witt Webb, a Coca-Cola (KO) spokeswoman, who said in an e-mail. “They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase. We hope New Yorkers loudly voice their disapproval about this arbitrary mandate.”
Soft drinks and soft drinks contain often eight or more table spoons of sugar per drink as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Amount of sugar cubes in soft drinks. Source: http://www.sugarstacks.com/beverages.htm
The sugar/highly processed foods battle will be similar to the battle the smoking lobby fought for the last 30 years. Just like tobacco subsidies, farmers receive subsidies to grow corn to make more low cost high fructose corn syrup. As recent as 2005 tobacco farmers were still receiving a billion and a half dollars in subsidy while farmers growing corn received more than seven billion dollars in subsidies as shown in Figure 3.
At the same time pharmaceutical companies continue to reap a financial bonanza from the sugar diet induced illnesses. They will create more and more drugs to attempt to reduce the illnesses and symptoms.
We cannot expect the US government to promote our health as the lobbying power by agribusiness is overwhelming. We cannot expect published information, whether on the web or in print, to be accurate as advertising dollars significantly affect editorial decisions.
We can start eating differently ourselves and with our families and friends. Begin now. Do an experiment by eating a predominantly Paleolithic diet. For the next two weeks, eat only foods that are real foods which your great grandparents recognized as food. Thus nothing out of box or can. Nothing that has been processed or prepared! Buy only foods in their natural form. Shop at farmers’ markets or only at the periphery of the supermarket: vegetables and fruits, the meat and fish counters. After eating this diet for two weeks, check how you feel. Many people report having more energy, feeling less tired and irritability, and some experience a reduction in arthritic pains, inflammation, headaches and even anxiety. For dietary suggestions see the common sense recommendations in Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.