In the second of four interactive lectures, the team at the Charlottesville Center for Functional Medicine (Rob Abbott, Ryan Hall and Kerri Cooper) describe the basic physiology and neurohormonal regulation of sleep as well as provide a look at the unfortunate consequences of poor sleep and sleep deprivation. Ryan and Kerri provided some insights on how to best track and quantify the duration, quality and timing of one's sleep. We then offer some practical and simple tips to improve one’s sleep hygiene and thus one's overall sleep.
We then seek to provide our best all-encompassing definition of stress
“Stress is any factor, both perceived and unperceived, that exerts tension on an individual or system and requires an intentional physiologic or psychological response to maintain a state of functional homeostasis.”
From this working definition we organize and discuss the differences between perceived vs. unperceived stress as well as physiological vs. psychological stress. We describe many of the common sources of underlying chronic inflammation or unperceived physiologic stress that can be uncovered with a thorough clinical history and targeted functional medicine diagnostics. We end the discussion outlining our clinical approach to building resilience and reducing stress by instituting practical and meaningful therapies addressed both perceived psychological and unperceived physiologic stress.
You can watch the lecture in its entirety or on our Youtube page.
We would love to hear your thoughts, questions and feedback!
Okay, if you’ve read the title to the post, you are probably wondering where in the world is this going.
In truth, I don’t really know, but stick with me for 1000 or so words and I think we will both find a degree of enlightenment.
Band-aids, first of all aren’t really things. It’s a brand. #registeredtrademark.
Really what we should be talking about are bandages. Adhesive bandages.
Johnson and Johnson have done the pinnacle in business marketing, essentially making their brand the item in question, or at least making them nearly indistinguishable.
Because we are on this tangent: other common examples of this brand = item thing include “Kleenex” for tissues and i-Pod for multimedia technological device? (used to just be an mp3 player, goodness where are we now).
For the remainder of this post I will use Band-aids, not because I support Johnson and Johnson, but because it will likely make things WAY easier to explain for you and me.
So why really do we wear Band-aids?
Some obvious and practical answers may be: to protect a wound, to stop bleeding or to promote healing.
But as you likely I have guessed already, I am not going to waste your time writing a blog post about these reasons, I’m instead going to waste your time writing about something a little more abstract and controversial.
Terrible jokes aside, I think there’s something we need to throw out there to break the ice about this whole Band-aid discussion.
Why are Band-aids the same color as most white people’s skin?
There I said. Band-aids could be any color, and yes there are seemingly hundreds of varieties with all sorts of colors and cartoon characters out there, mainly marketed to children, but let’s just be honest with ourselves, Band-aids are tannish white. Period.
I’m not going to spend any time in this post addressing why this choice of Band-aid color may be odd, because yes, the next question could very easily be, “Where are the brown or black Band-aids?”
I’m not going there, but let’s just say it’s a conversation starter.
Back to the original intent in making the point about white Band-aids, perhaps Band-aids are tannish-white because people don’t want others to see their wounds? or Don’t want others to see they are hurt, injured, in pain or suffering?
Now we can all agree, these Band-aids, even being somewhat close in color to white skin, are still fairly obvious and it doesn’t take much to notice one on another human being.
So that begs the question:
Do we wear Band-aids so people DON’T see that we are physically hurt, needing protection and trying to heal?
Do we wear Band-aids so people DO see that we are hurt, needing protection and trying to heal?
Either way Band-aids can speak without us ever saying a word. Only problem: we aren’t able to control what it is people think we are actually trying to say.
I obviously don’t have answers to these questions, but we need to start asking them and recognize the implications of this discussion.
On one hand, If we DON’T want people to see that we are physically hurt, a tannish colored Band-aid for a white person would be a reasonable place to start.
On the other, if We DO want people to see that we are hurting, than a neon pink or “Paw-Patrol” Band-aid would probably be the best bet, but even a regular old Band-aid as we described above would likely still do the trick.
Either way, what I am describing here is either showcasing or hiding PHYSICAL wounds, injuries to the skin, soft tissue, etc.
This leads me to the climatic question for this post: If we have Band-aids for these physical wounds, carrying the capacity to either tell people we are hurt or hide it from their knowledge
What kind of Band-aids do we have for Spiritual wounds? Emotional? Mental? Financial?
How can we show people that we are hurting spirituality, emotionally, mentally and have them take notice?
I’ll take one tiny step out on a limb and say in general as relational human beings, we don’t want to remain hidden, we WANT people to see our JOY and our PAIN and either celebrate with us in joy or help us back from that place of hurt in order to rediscover that place of pure happiness.
We want other people to see we are hurting without having to tell them because we want to know they genuinely care and that we are not overlooked.
I can personally say during even the darkest days of my depression, isolating myself to only my work and the things I could control, I wanted people to see I wasn’t well and simply ask:
“Are you Ok?”
Society with a capital S (a big generalization) has created a lot of stigma around what are acceptable “Band-aids” to wear when we are emotionally or mentally hurt.
That’s not OK
Suicide letters, suicide attempts and violent cries for help seem a lot more rational and reasonable when you realize there are no great “silent” or accepted Band-Aids to say “I’m hurting and need some help,” AND that in general we aren’t great at genuinely seeing the Band-aids people choose to wear to show they are suffering.
What if as a Society, we made an effort to first become more aware of the people around us, being willing to see the Band-aids people are wearing or “not wearing” to say I’m in need of healing.
And what if, as a Society, we made a dedicated effort to be more open, more trusting, more accepting so that we could actually use Band-aids for their intended purpose.
Not to hide or cover up the hurt we don’t want people to see.
Not to confuse people as to what is really going underneath the adhesive strip
Not to inhibit the process of healing and growth that can only occur when we peel back the glue and let the light stream in.
But, to let ourselves and other people know we are not invincible, and we will need much more than a little Band-aid to ever come close to knowing what is means to be healing, healthy and whole.
Life moves faster. I try to move faster.
Last week, we featured a wonderful blog article from my close friend Ryan Hall.
Ryan, also happens to be one of the founding members of the Charlottesville Center for Functional Medicine- CVCFM (along with myself and the amazing Kerri Cooper)
I cannot share in words how I excited I am for this new wellness initiative, the true beginnings of my future for wellness in Charlottesville Va. (FYI: I will still be a resident doctor at Front Royal in Winchester, VA for the next 2+ years, but hey, you gotta start somewhere and sometime!)
I wanted to take the time now to write this short message to share with you what you can expect over the coming weeks and months as I shift and expand my content and reach!
You can continue to expect weekly blog posts from me and other supporters of A Medicinal Mind. We will also continue to share weekly podcast conversations with some of the most innovative and creative minds this world has to offer.
And of course the poetry will keep on coming as long as my heart and fingers find the strength to keep the faith.
SO WHAT WILL BE NEW?
You can expect new, weekly blog posts from the entire team at CVCFM, focusing on topics involving ancestral and functional health. Ryan has some great posts already lined up for you and we are hoping to make it a practical playground to expand your knowledge because we know your time and energy are life’s most precious commodities.
We have just started a 4-week community workshop series and hope to start posting the recordings from these hour long talks. Week 1 was a great success, except for the technology failure that prevented the audio from recording. Oh well, learning and growth experience- check.
Over the coming weeks we hope to start a CVCFM community connection page, featuring local business and initiatives in the Charlottesville region that share our core values for cultivating whole being wellness.
RIGHT NOW you can access a wonderful new resource
OUR QUICKSTART TO WELLNESS E-BOOK
It is 16 pages packed with practical tips to get you started on the “7 Relationships” we find fundamental to discovering whole being wellness.
As a bonus, for downloading the E-Book, you will get access to our 10-Part Wellness Series, a collection of daily emails filled with practical wisdom, recipes, a sample day food template/meal plan, our Nutrient Dense Food/Shopping Guide and a sample high intensity workout series you can do at home, no weights or gym membership necessary.
Trust me, I did the workout last week, it may seem simple to the athletes of the world, but try the 8x4 circuit we recommend and you will be sweating and hurting by the end guaranteed.
And this message wouldn’t be the same without a little introduction from the founding members of the Charlottesville Center for Functional Medicine
And one more video SO YOU CAN REALLY GET TO KNOW WHAT WE ARE ALL ABOUT.
I am so excited to share my most recent collaborative endeavor, the first beginnings of the Charlottesville Center for Functional Medicine. To celebrate its “birth”, I want to share with you a thoughtful post by my closer friend and colleague Ryan Hall.
In the post, Ryan shares some insightful thoughts when it comes to understanding how our evolutionarily history and current physical adaptations should inform the major lifestyle habits and choices we make every day.
You can also access this post and learn more about Ryan on the new website "Charlottesville Center for Functional Medicine" using this link:
An ancestral and functional perspective on health, well-being, and thriving brings together the gleanings from our long evolutionary past as well as the insights and discoveries of modern science to address the root causes of dis-ease. We believe the reason we see so much dis-ease is due to the reality that we have grown to exist in a environment, and develop lifestyles, that are still foreign to our genetics and the habits that shaped them.
We find within our bodies' architecture, a story of our past. That past was wildly different than our present, but our physiology hasn't completely kept up with all our advancement. There are major landmarks to our physiology that tell a tale of a daily roaming, hunting, digging, and cooperative being. It doesn't take much to see that we have lost much of that in our modernity. Let's take a brief look at some of the most curious adaptations of the modern human form.
What makes us so Human?
● THE PELVIS:
○ One of the earliest adaptations that has seen several iterations and become more refined within our form, is our pelvis. Our pelvis has grown to face sideways, rather than forward. This is fundamental to our being able to stand easily and walk on two legs frequently; to be bipedal.
● THE SPINE:
○ Our spine differs from our primate ancestors and cousins. It has come to have an S shape and protrude vertically rather than horizontally, allowing us to face forward will being bipedal.
● THE FOOT:
○ Seen through the fossil record of the last 6 million years, there has been a slow and steady development of the foot to include toes inline with one another, rather than protruding from the side to grip trees while climbing.
○ We also can see the structure of the foot change to have a full arch that isn't found in other primates. The slow inclusion of an arch can bee seen to develop over time giving us clues as to how our lives as hominids have changed.
○ The toes of the foot have grown to become shorter and bend backwards to support a forceful propulsion forward when walking and running.
● THE LOWER LEGS:
○ Through the continued progress that was needed for us to run, our lower body has developed significantly to support an energy efficient way of bipedal locomotion. Our femurs (the thigh) have come to angle in towards the midline, and our legs have grown longer. Both adaptations are to save energy while walking and running long distances daily.
○ Additionally, we have developed to have bigger bones and larger joints to support the forceful bombardment experienced when running.
● THE UPPER BODY:
○ Our upper body has changed throughout hominid iterations to drop the shoulders, relieving the constant "shrug" seen in other primates. Our waist has narrowed.
○ We have also developed to support the forward motion seen when running, through changes that allow us to swivel the upper body independently of the pelvis and hips.
○ Also, the semi-circular canals of the ears have become enlarged, allowing us a greater spatial sensory perception.
○ Our shoulders have evolved from the life we lived as well. Our shoulders have come to have great flexion. Which in combination with the ability to generate torque through he swivel of the upper body, and our long legs have given us the ability to generate great force when throwing. Something that would have surely had enormous benefit in the procurement of meat.
● OUR NOSE:
○ As we started to make our way into the species Homo, we lost the snout of previous primates an developed a protruding nose. This allows us to humidify the air as it enters the nose, further keeping the lungs moist.
● SWEAT GLANDS:
○ Our ascent into humanness included the adaptation of millions of sweat glands covering the body. In the heat of the African plains, the ability to regulate body temperature is crucial in being able to procure meat from animals that would rather be lounging in the shade.
● FOOD PROCESSING:
○ As we have evolved so did our methods of nourishment. Early on, as we began to eat roots and tubers, we started to pound our food to release its vital nutrients and to reduce the effort with which it took to chew and digest our food.
○ Eventually, we came to harness fire. This had a massive impact on us. Cooking food allows the nutrients within the foods we eat to become much more bioavailable. Meaning that it no longer took massive effort and time to chew and digest food. At the same time, we were getting more energy and nutrition from our food than we had ever before.
○ In addition to making nutrients more bioavailable, it also made food safer to eat, as cooking kills harmful bacteria that may live on the foods we consume. This freed up even more energy.
● THE INTESTINES:
○ Once cooking our food became commonplace we no longer required the extensive gastrointestinal tract that we had evolved with. Our intestines started to shrink as they had less work to do. The energy once used by the intestines put itself to good use elsewhere.
● THE BRAIN:
○ As our intestinal tract shrank our brains took that extra energy and began to rapidly expand. Over the course of a couple millions of years our brains grew to be rather large in proportion to our bodies. The faculties that developed from our brain's growth have allowed us to create culture, community, art, symbolism, language, to have reverence, and to modify our environment in ways that only cataclysmic catastrophe has before.
○ Perhaps the most defining attributes of our humanity is our ability to create culture, to cooperate and exist within in rather large communities. As we developed we have had to rely more on each other gifts and strengths.
○ Our offspring have grown to need more care over longer periods of time than previous primates (this likely allows us the developmental space to grow such large brains). As men would have gone out on hunts together, women would band together in child rearing and foraging.
○ We would have shared food with other families in our groups when our hunts were successful, because we understood that our survival was more assured when we worked together.
● ANCESTRAL DIETS:
○ Our ancestor's diets would have also varied widely from that of other primates. Instead of hanging about in the trees gorging on ripe fruit we have evolved to ingest a wide variety of plants, tubers & roots, seeds & nuts, and meat. The proportions of our ancestor’s diets and exact composition would have varied depending on their exact locale, but we can be assured that wonder bread, french fries, animal milk, and cereal grains are a novel component of the modern day diet.
The ability to stand, sweat, and breath through a protruding nose have allowed us to move about in the heat of the day without overheating. This is fundamental to the way we likely would have acquired meat. Most animals in the heat of the day want to lay about and save their energy for the cool evening when most of their activity happens. Being able to drive these animals from their rest consistently, without periods of cooling (most animals can't sweat and so regulate body temperature through panting), drives them to overheat so that a hunter can get close enough to forcefully throw their spear in a lethal manner. Persistence hunts still exist in the hunter-gatherer groups living on the planet today.
We can see that our bodies have grown to be able to move around on two legs, cover rather large swaths of land daily (up to 9 mi.), sometimes running for long periods in the heat of the day, sweating to cool the blood and the body, harvesting wild animals, gathering wild foods, lugging around our nourishment, sharing in the fruits of the labor in the natural environment free from artificial light and industrial pollutants. It is clear that we have lost many of those habits.
To be clear, we are not making a suggestion to revert back to a hunter-gatherer way of life. Rather we are encouraging the designing of a life that can include and mimic habits like those of our ancestors.
How can we design a life that supports the healthy inclusion of movement? Do we find nourishment in a way that is inline with that of those who have given us our genes? Do you spend joyful time with those you love? How can we give something back to our community? Is there time within your day or evening to consciously "slow down?" Have you heard the bird song today? The answers to these questions can reveal places where a little can go along way.
Of course we cannot reduce our humanity to the physical attributes that have come to bring us alive as we are. We can, however, use the understanding of our evolutionary history and the physical adaptations that have developed to inform our current lifestyle choices in order to more fully thrive.
We can take the knowledge of where we've been to choose where we are going.
Don't forget to check out the new page "Charlottesville Center for Functional Medicine" using this link: https://www.cvillefxmed.com/