a word to the wise about milk thistle--and self hypnosis
Monday, April 15, 2013
hi everybody! hope you all have a great Monday. I wanted to pass on a couple recent experiences--the first is with milk thistle.
milk thistle is a time honored herbal remedy particularly for liver problems. it is one of the few herbal remedys that has been shown to actually live up to its reputation by virtue of some double blind controlled studies. I recently read that milk thistle is beneficial to eye floaters since Chinese medicine links the eyes and the liver, and I had some milk thistle on hand so I began to take some. side effects listed were primarily gastro intestinal in nature, and that seemed to be fine. it was a kind of high dose but I wasn't noticing anything bad. Saturday was about the 5th day I would have been taking this--but I awoke to the most incredibly devastating depression. so profound that it really scared me (which just made it worse). it seemed unshakable at the time and all I wanted to do was sit in a chair and stare at the floor. rob was frantic and I didn't know what to do. couldn't figure out where this had come from--I have been dealing with this eye floater issue, but this was light years worse than what I have experienced with that.
so I made my way to the computer and began to recheck milk thistle side effects--same stuff-gastro. considered very safe. but then I found something that said milk thistle (and dandelion) is an estrogenic mimic. as I thought about this I began to realize that the sensation I was feeling was a very strong version of the emotions I felt with pms. at 57 I don't deal with pms anymore so I had forgotten what this felt like--although it was much stronger than I remember. a little more reading (what I could manage to concentrate on) told me that estrogen can sometimes cause and sometimes help with depression--the mechanics are not well understood.
in addition, the information told me that women with certain "female" conditions related to their breasts or reproductive systems should NOT take milk thistle. I don't have these issues, but it is a very important thing to take note of.
fortunately on Saturday I had not taken any, and by sunday the condition was lifting and I awoke feeling better, albeit kind of shaky and hung over. as the day progressed, my spirits got better and I can now say I am back to normal. the milk thistle is back in the closet--I keep it on hand because of the dogs, and I will leave it to them. so that is my adventure with milk thistle--just in case this is useful information. I did find one other account online of a woman who took milk thistle and dandelion together (not an uncommon combination for liver health) and rapidly experienced a deep pms like depression.
an now for more interesting news--here is my update on self hypnosis. I recently purchased two cd's for self hypnosis--one by glenn Harold (a well known hypnotherapist from the UK) and one from dr. steve gurgevich (an associate of Andrew Weil from Arizona). the Harold one is a healing cd and the gurgevich one is for sleep. you know what? they work! I am still in the early days but my experience so far has been positive and I have ordered two more--both from dr. gurgevich. one is for weight loss and the other is about mind body connections.
here is what I have learned so far--most of this is from the introduction on the gurgevich cd.
all hypnosis is self hypnosis. it is not something that is "done" to you, it is something you allow to happen to yourself. we all enter trance or trancelike states on a regular basis. if you are reading a book and become so engrossed you don't experience any background stimuli or notice time passing--you are in a kind of trance. likewise if you are driving and suddenly realize you don't know how long you have been driving or you are 30 miles down the road and don't remember driving that distance. or if a lecture is boring and you gaze out the window and no longer hear the voice talking. in this state, the conscious mind is quiet and the unconscious mind is sort of on an open channel. you are receptive to ideas and suggestions in this state. hypnotherapists have different ways of helping you achieve these states (the process is called induction) and the people on my two cds have a couple ways of teaching it. basically it is a way to help you deeply relax, and the more you practice the actions the more automatic the relaxation becomes when you initiate the action. the healing tape does this by deep diaphragmatic breathing. after instructing you on the proper way of doing it, the speaker begins to repeat the word "relax" as you are supposed to repeat this to yourself as you exhale. the interesting thing about this tape is that they loop the suggestions so they bounce from the right to the left headphone, and it sounds as if the words are encircling your head. this cd also uses music and some sound effects that run at a consistent 60 bpm--I am not sure what the purpose of this is, although I would guess that it is meant to calm your body down. after this breathing portion concludes, you are given an image--a series of ten stairs that you descend, which is meant to take you into a deeper trance state. at the bottom of the stairs is a healing space, where you are given some more images that are meant to help you visualize a healing process. once again, suggestions are made that cycle from one speaker to the other. at the end of the session, you are quickly brought awake with a ten count, and then instructed to listen to the music until the end. there are subliminal suggestions in the music and what they say is listed on the cd cover. they are positive affirmations, but you don't hear any words.
I love the music on this tape-and the speaker's voice is very evocative--he has a pronounced british accent--he actually sounds Australian to me--but it's not distracting to me. while I am still not really good at achieving the trance state--I am getting better with practice, and I have fallen asleep or tuned out the speakers voice on occasion--which is perfectly okay to do. I feel like the benefit of this cd will take a little while to manifest itself, but I do know that if I get stressed and begin the deep breathing, I now experience a kind of reflexive relaxation, which is evidence that my work is paying off.
the gurgevich tape has helped me almost immediately. there is no music on this cd other than a sort of chime at the beginning. it is simply his voice--which some reviewers object to. he doesn't have the beautiful speaking voice of glenn Harold, but his speech is carefully studied so that it becomes a part of the hypnotic experience. he teaches a couple induction methods--one is by staring at the ceiling and feeling your eyelids get heavy (yeah--like in the old movies and stuff) and one is by touching your thumb and forefinger on your dominant hand and holding your breath. the staring one has worked the best for me so far. like glenn harold, he then takes you deeper into a trance state by a 10 count, and then begins to sort of tell a story to you. from his explanation I understand that by giving images and affirmations in a story form you sort of bypass any judgement made by the conscious mind, which leaves the unconscious mind open and able to pick up the information without any input from the conscious. in the story you go to a greek island to a healing place and meet the ancient greek healer, asclepios. after this it gets a little fuzzy to me--because wonder of wonders--by this time I am ASLEEP. the cd continues with affirmations about sleeping deeply and receiving healing--and although you are asleep, your unconscious can still hear and understand what is being said. unlike the other tapes, you are not "awakened" at the end of the tape, although I do seem to wake up when it is ending--but just long enough to take my headphones off and go back to sleep. and I sleep through the night and even dream and remember my dreams. one of the suggestions you are given is that your mind will allow you to sleep for whatever period of time YOU choose, and then you will awaken naturally at the time you wish. if you knew how lousy my sleep patterns are you would understand what a difference this is for me. this is the "healing" sleep portion of this set--there are also sessions for "creative" sleep, dreaming sleep and "easy" sleep, which is designed to help you fall asleep in unusual situations like traveling. I haven't done that much with these sessions--the healing sleep is the one I have used the most.
obviously--there are some cautions here--first of all they both tell you NEVER to do this while driving. duh. but beyond that--it is apparent to me that if you choose to try hypnotherapy you need to be very careful about who you let have access to your unconscious mind. both of these people are well respected in their fields, and I looked around and read a lot of reviews and things before I chose them. I think I am also going to get one for anxiety because the work I have done so far has helped me realize that anxiety is what is really causing my problems with my eye floaters-and while both these cd's address relaxation etc. they don't address anxiety specifically.
I am very interested to experience the weight loss cd--will report back when I have it.
also--you need to "practice" this modality as much as possible--once a day if you can manage. you need 30-45 undisturbed minutes and a set of headphones is best. I usually do the healing one in the late afternoon or evening after my bath--I just curl on the couch with rob and stick my headphones on--he knows that I am not available for that period of time. and when I go to bed at night I just put the headphones on and turn on the sleep one.
that's my experience so far with hypnotherapy. hope its useful to you! have a terrific day!