There are four basic steps to conscious communication, which involve four questions you ask yourself whenever you find yourself becoming defensive.
When someone pushes your buttons, it is tempting to want to push back. But that is not an optimal response—nor is it productive; it wastes valuable personal energy, and it creates more turbulence in the world. For this exercise, think of a recent situation when something irritated or upset you in some way. Keeping that experience in mind, follow these four steps:
Separate Observation from Evaluation: Define what actually happened, instead of relying on your interpretation of what happened. Ask yourself, “What actually occurred?” What did you see and hear?
Example: “You don't love me anymore.” vs. “You don't kiss me when you come home from work anymore.”
The first statement is the interpretation or evaluation. Whenever you find yourself reacting emotionally, step back and observe. Observations are empowering because they allow us to recognize how much of our response is based on interpretation, which in turn allows us to change our patterns of responding to the actions of others.
Define your Feelings: Think to yourself, “What am I feeling?” As you describe your feelings, use language that reflects only the feelings you are responsible for and avoid words that victimize you. For example, you might feel appreciated, angry, anxious, bored, joyful, lazy, or lonely. Avoid words that require another person to “make” you feel a certain way. You cannot feel “attacked” by yourself—that emotion is in response to another. For example, avoid words like abandoned, manipulated, misunderstood, rejected, and unsupported. Using these words to identify emotions gives others power over those emotions. When this happens, we tend to attract those who evoke those feelings.
State your Needs Clearly: Ask yourself, “What do I need in this situation?” You would not be having strong feelings if all your needs were being met. Identify the need as specifically as possible.
Example: “I need to feel less alone. . . . Why? I don't have close friends—I need to find some friends and develop relationships.”
You cannot ask another person to make you feel loved, which is beyond anyone's capability. You can ask that person to go to a movie with you though.
Ask. Don't Demand. Use positive language when making requests: Ask what you are requesting, not what you are not requesting. When others hear a demand from us, they see two options: submit or rebel. How do you know if it is a demand or request? Observe what the speaker does if the request is not complied with. It is a demand if the speaker then criticizes, judges, or lays a guilt-trip. It is a request if the speaker then shows empathy toward the other person's needs.
These steps are helpful in all situations, but they are especially helpful if there is a conflict. Step back and choose conscious communication:
1. What do you observe?
2. How does it make you feel?
3. Determine what you need.
4. Make a request.
Deepak Chopra, M.D., and David Simon, M.D., are co-founders of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing at the La Costa Resort & Spa. Dr. Simon brings healing, love, and strategies for nurturing relationships in the upcoming workshop, Healing the Heart, April 7-9, 2006 , in San Diego . For more information on this and other programs, visit chopra.com, email: email@example.com, or call 888.424.6772 x1639.
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Amino Acid Therapy: Still a Secret
Two years ago I attended the Orthomolecular Health Medicine Conference. All of the speakers were prominent directors of specialty labs. Some labs specialize in immune system testing, others in infections, vitamins, minerals, etc. At the end of the conference, during a question and answer session, the speakers were asked what the single most important nutritional/metabolic test is, and they unanimously said, “amino acid analysis.” Yet, there was not one presenter in three days who spoke about amino acids.
There are innumerable good books on vitamins and minerals and perhaps one decent book on amino acids by Dr. Eric Braverman, called “The Nutrients Within: Facts, Findings, and New Research on Amino Acids.”
Conventional medicine tends to lag 50 years behind breakthroughs. I regret that the clinical use of amino acids is already at the 40-year mark, and there are truly only a few doctors in the country who have expertise. That does not mean that the testing is not going on. An enormous amount of amino acid testing is going on, but the laboratories are making recommendations based on computer programs. These programs do not “think” and they do a poor job in their recommendations.
In order to convey the importance of amino acids in health, illness, and treatment, we need to start at the beginning, which, in the human body, is DNA. DNA is made up of an alphabet, consisting of 4 letters or “nucleotides,” namely: Cytosine (C), Guanine (G), Adenine (A), and Thymine (T). Under normal conditions, C and G always pair with each other, and A and T always pair with each other.
These 4 letters code for genes. One gene codes for one protein. DNA, a 4-letter alphabet, uses amino acids, a 20-letter alphabet, to create the entire human body. So we have two primary alphabets, one with 4 letters and one with 20 letters, and out of that, everything we are, on the physical plane, is created. Amino acids have “D” and “L” forms, of which “D-phenylalanine” and “DL-phenylalanine” are the only ones that are not “L”-form. In this article, the letter “L” will be deleted. Simply know that I am always referring to the “L”-form as in “L-tryptophan.”
A short string of amino acids is called a “peptide.” A chain of 100 or more amino acids is a “poly-peptide,” and a chain or grouping of 1,000 or more amino acids is a “protein.”
The human body contain the same percentage of water as the Earth, namely about 67%. If you remove water, our bodies are 70% amino acids by dry weight. That fact should raise eyebrows, set off a flurry of classes and seminars, but it does not. The science of amino acids remains below the radar of mass consciousness. Is it just too obvious? I don't know. I do know that, during the 1980's there were a number of clinicians who were experts in amino acid therapy. Then came the tryptophan scare in 1998. The Shoyu-Denko Company in Japan had released a bad batch of tryptophan, purchased by the major nutritional companies in America, repackaged, and then sold in health stores. Several hundred people developed eosiniphilic myalgia syndrome and 27 people died.
Once the FDA had determined that the problem was with Shoyu-Denko and not with tryptophan, the moral thing to do would have been to ban Shoyu-Denko, but instead the FDA banned tryptophan. Four or five years later, the FDA allowed tryptophan to be sold, but only as a pharmaceutical. So, you had to pay a doctor and a pharmacist's costs and, as a result, the cost of tryptophan quadrupled. At long last, just over the last six months, tryptophan became available to the public over the Internet, as a nonprescription supplement.
I was not surprised at what had happened with the tryptophan scare, but many doctors specializing in amino acid therapy completely gave up the practice, fearing that if the FDA was going after amino acids, they would be targeting amino acid specialists next. And so a whole generation of amino acid specialists either left, or grew old and retired.
It is worth mentioning that Senator Dick Durbin is working hard right now to reclassify all nutritional supplements as “medications,” through Senate Bill 722, the “Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2003. If S722 passes, the FDA will have the power to pull any nutritional supplement off the shelves, and high doses of supplements (such as 10 grams of Vitamin C daily) is likely to become impossible. It is not clear how much support Durbin has among other senators. The bill should be defeated. You can help. Check out S722 at http://thomas.loc.gov/. If you take any nutritional supplements, you need to be aware of the potential loss you face. In order to protect your health rights and oppose this bill, go to http://capwiz.com/nnfa/home/. Contact the offices of Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, and say, “No, to S722.”
What Are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are called “the building blocks of life.” Protein is 100 percent amino acids. 95% of our neurotransmitters are amino acids. All hormones are made up of amino acids. Some hormones, like insulin, growth hormone, thyroid hormone and many others are 100 percent amino acids. Steroids and sex hormones are made up of amino acids and essential fatty acids. Amino acids are involved in every chemical process in the body.
Amino acids are classified as “essential,” and “non-essential.” Essential amino acids are those that you must get from your diet. Your body cannot make these. They include: arginine, histidine, iso-leucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, taurine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Non-Essential Amino Acids
Your body ordinarily can make about half of the necessary amino acids from other nutrients. However, under any kind of stress or prolonged illness, we lose the ability to make these “nonessential” amino acids, and hence we have to be careful in declaring a certain group of amino acids as nonessential. This group includes: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.
There are actually hundreds of amino acids. In my opinion, the best laboratories for amino acid testing are Great Smokies Diagnostic Lab (GSDL), Doctor's Data, and Metametrix. I prefer GSDL, whose Amino Acid Analysis has 41 sub-tests. Each of those 41 is important in helping me understand what is going on with someone.
Interpreting the Lab Data
As mentioned previously, it requires a brain/mind with a lot of experience to interpret this data. The computer recommendations made by all 3 labs do an injustice, in my experience. Rather than starting off by telling you what each amino acid does, I will lead you through the process I use in analyzing the data. Some of the words will look like Swahili to you. They did to me when I first saw them, when I began this work in 1982. Rather than provide you with a strictly linear way of understanding Amino Acid Analysis, I will use a totally fictitious example of Sylvia, a 45-year-old woman who “recently” came to me due to problems with fatigue, increasingly poor memory and concentration, depression, poor sleep, digestive problems (gas, bloating, feeling uncomfortable after eating), frequent infections, decreased libido, and eczema. Her energy just is not what it used to be and it has reached the point where it is impacting her work, her marriage, and her friendships, and she is now getting too exhausted for what used to be fun, such as socializing with friends. This description is fictitious but accurately fits thousands of you reading this. For some, the fatigue has just started, but for others it has gone on for years. Many people use their weekends to recover from their workweek.
I usually order a panel of 8 or 9 basic nutritional, viral, yeast, and parasite tests. During the “Data Review” session I interpret and explain the comprehensive stool analysis first, proceed to food allergies, evaluation of anti-candida antibody testing . . . and then begin reviewing the Amino Acid Analysis (AAA). Of the 41 sub-tests on the AAA, 20 are tests for nutritional amino acids, those that are involved in building protein, hormones, neurotransmitters, connective tissue, all organs, tissues and body structures. Here is what I “told” Sylvia. The other 21 tests are “markers” that tell you that something may be a problem. Let me explain by taking you through the data review, the AAA analysis, exactly the way I do with patients in my office.
“If you look at the bottom of page 1 of this 2-page test, look for 1-methyl-histidine. It is elevated and is a marker for leaky gut syndrome. You have leaky gut syndrome. We do not give you 1-methyl-histidine if it tests low. It is a marker, not a nutrient. There are hundreds of amino acids. Twenty of them are essential nutrients.”
I have already reviewed Sylvia's stool analysis, which showed that she has parasites, weakened immunity of the GI tract and food intolerances to soy and dairy. I also have reviewed a blood test for anti-candida antibodies that shows that she has very high levels of yeast/candida, both in her digestive tract and also throughout her body.
“The leaky gut is explained by the issues we've already looked at. I don't treat 1-methyl-histidine, but I will help you heal your gastrointestinal tract, and will treat your candida, parasite, and food intolerances.
Now turn to the second page and look for “urea.” It too is a marker, and it lets me know your overall protein levels. Your urea is deficient, which tells me something very important, namely that you are protein deficient. This is a serious problem and is a major cause of all of your problems. I like to jump-start the healing of a protein deficiency with protein powders, as they are quite easy to assimilate.
Go to the bottom of page 2 and look at 3-methyl-histidine. It is elevated, which means that you are breaking down your own muscle. This is not uncommon. If you had a good physical workout or played a sport the day before the test, this marker can be elevated. (Sylvia had not been exercising). In your case, you are breaking down your muscles because you are protein deficient. Your body is literally breaking down muscle because your body requires adequate levels of circulating, free-form amino acids. You're protein deficient, breaking down muscle, and 3-methyl-histidine is the marker that tells me that.
Now, let's go back to page 1 and look at the amino acids leucine, iso-leucine and valine. All 3 are quite low. These 3 are called the “branch-chain amino acids” (BCAA) and they are involved in muscle chemistry. This deficiency is consistent with what I have already shared with you about your muscle wasting.
Let me back up a minute and slow down the pace. In analyzing this data, I am looking at 3 major categories:
1. Important, single nutrient amino acids like tyrosine, alanine, and 18 others,
2. Groupings, or patterns, of amino acids. There are several important patterns that I look for. You happen to have a deficient pattern of the BCAA, the group of amino acids involved in muscle chemistry. This deficiency explains a good deal about why you feel weak, find it harder to exercise, and can't walk as far as you used to. In treating your “pattern,” I recommend a multi-amino acid product that is geared toward rebalancing the branch-chain amino acids. This product contains 18 amino acids, including all of the essential amino acids, so it will pick up the deficient threonine and phenylalanine that we have not even talked about yet.
3. Lastly, I look for “markers” like 1-methyl-histidine, urea, 3-methylhistidine and many more. We don't treat markers. We treat what the markers are telling us is a problem, like the protein deficiency that the low urea points to.
I want to look at one more marker, before looking at nutrient amino acids. So, let's go back to page 2. Your phosphoserine is quite elevated. This indicates that you are deficient in pyridoxal-5-phosphate or P-5-P, which is the active form of Vitamin B6. P-5-P is required for 13 amino acid reactions, fatty acid chemistry, and for countless enzyme systems. In terms of essential fatty acid chemistry, it is most probable that you have problems with omega-6 fatty acids because that is what happens when you have a P-5-P deficiency. You don't need to supplement with much P-5-P to fix this problem. It is a huge problem, which is easily fixed.
Now, let's take a look at tyrosine. It is deficient. Tyrosine has several major functions, and one of the most important is that it makes the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. The low tyrosine tells me that you are deficient in norepinephrine (NE). People who are low in NE will have problems with memory and concentration, depression, and sleep. And, that is you. Those are major problems for you and low tyrosine is one major cause of all those problems.
Now, here is where P-5-P becomes critical to your healing. Tyrosine requires P-5-P to get converted into norepinephrine in your brain. So your low norepinephrine (which we will confirm on the test called the Metabolic Analysis Profile) is due both to low tyrosine and low P-5-P.
Next, take a look at cysteine, which is low. This almost invariably has to do with problems with toxic overload and depletion of glutathione, our body's natural detoxifier. We can boost your glutathione by supplementing with N-acetyl-cysteine.” Later in the Data Review, we'll look at Sylvia's Total Element urine test to see if she has heavy metal toxicity, a major cause of deficient cysteine and glutathione.
“Check out aspartic acid, which is very low. Right above it is asparagine, which is very high. These two convert back-and-forth into each other and should be at about the same level. And why aren't they? Because you are deficient in P-5-P, and asparagine requires P-5-P in order to make the conversion to aspartic acid. This simply confirms your P-5-P deficiency.”
Like this I go through each of the 41 sub-tests. Right now, we would be about half way through our analysis. I tape record the interpretation, because the huge amount of data can make people's eyes glaze over, just as yours may be right now. Forgive me, but I want to give you a feeling for this process, for the power and depth of the Amino Acid Analysis, and how the interpretation of data directly translates into practical recommendations. In fact, this test is so deep that I could go on and on for another hour, explaining the findings, but I try to keep my explanations practical, and I do not explain each and every one of the 41 sub-tests. I review what is most essential. Please remember that I review another 7 or 8 tests, and 2 of them are as complex as the Amino Acid Analysis. So, I need to avoid overwhelming my patient. Basically, I want Sylvia to get the big picture, knowing that she can go home, listen to the tape to pick up any details she missed. I want her to know that: 1) there really is a scientific reason why she is feeling so miserable. It is not all in her head, and 2) there is logic to the recommendations I make, based on solid science.
Amino Acids: One at a Time
That's how I review the test. Let's now take a quick look at some individual amino acids, what they do for you, and what functions they perform.
Arginine — Essential for a healthy cardiovascular system and immune system. Arginine is also involved in the production of growth hormone.
Carnitine — Helps heart disease and is essential for energy chemistry.
Glutamine — Aids digestion, muscle chemistry, and immune system. In addition, glutamine is the precursor to GABA, our calming neurotransmitter.
Tryptophan — converts into serotonin. When deficient, you get depressed, have problems sleeping, and can have some cognitive problems.
Alanine — a key to blood sugar chemistry.
Taurine — stabilizes brain and heart tissue, so it is useful for people with seizures/epilepsy, mania, or heart arrhythmias.
Lysine — helps fight viruses. Strict vegetarians are usually deficient in lysine.
Taurine and Lysine — help lower cholesterol.
Methionine — helps alleviate allergy.
S-adenosyl-methionine (a variant of L-methionine) — helps alleviate depression and enhances overall brain function.
Histidine — helps arthritis and is involved in the absorption of zinc.
This is a sketch of what a few amino acids do, when working in a vacuum. Remember that amino acids are the building blocks of life. Amino acids have their individual functions as well as their role in building protein, neurotransmitters, hormones, all tissues and organs.
It is my hope and prayer that the role of amino acids in health, illness, and wellness begins to get much broader attention. Research is not a problem. There is an enormous amount of research on amino acids. What is lacking is awareness by both doctors and the layperson. There is near-total blindness to their importance in medicine and the training of doctors. I'd like to make this much less of a secret.
While the power of amino acid therapy is great, the approach requires very high levels of responsibility for people who undertake this approach. It requires patience (most of all), the willingness to take quite a number of nutritional supplements, attention to all areas of one's life (body, mind, spirit), some understanding of the logic of the approach, and very strong commitment. Ultimately, nobody heals anybody else. Like any other modality, amino acid and nutritional therapy help ignite the “inner healer,” that part of you that really does the healing. This approach helps restore inner metabolic balance, so that you can start or resume the deeper issues that the word “healing” implies. Amino acid therapy often works like magic, but your healing is greatly enhanced when your own inner magician is vital . . . and involved.
David Gersten, M.D. practices nutritional medicine and transpersonal psychiatry out of his Encinitas office and can be reached at 760-633-3063. Please feel free to access 1,000 online pages about holistic health, amino acids, and nutritional therapy at www.aminoacidpower.com. Access 800 pages about mental imagery at www.imagerynet.com.
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Not quite two weeks ago, I pulled out my lower back, mostly on the left side. I'd done this only once before, about two years ago. Just today I injured my ring finger (the left side again) in a duplicate accident that happened three years ago almost to the day. On the outside, I feel like everything's going along peachy—we're planning a move next spring that will bring us close to our kids but far from my parents. On the inside, I'm aware that I have no real direction, as I'm a new empty-nester who has the whole world as her oyster but is afraid to start shucking. Any outsider insight?
V.K., Chicago, IL
The right side is the masculine, the father. The left side is the feminine, the mother. My physical problems are always on the right side: leftover father issues. When that happens, I think to myself, Oh dear, a little more forgiving for me to do. Then I search for the connection. Your physical problems are on the left side, which means mother issues. The back has to do with support, so you feel that you're not being supported by your mother in some way. And the ring finger has to do with the smaller details of a problem.
You sound happy that you're moving away from your parents. So make sure that you're moving mentally, also. Whatever's left over in the nonforgiveness basket must be forgiven and released or you'll carry those issues with you. Stand in front of a mirror, look into your eyes, and forgive your parents out loud for any hurts you can remember. Then you can move away with freedom and ease. Say to the Universe, “I am free. I am ready. Bring me some wonderful new friends and adventures.” Make sure you give your kids breathing room so that they're always glad to see you.
I read your supportive ideas nightly . . . thank you! The only question I have at present is how do you get over the feeling of running out of time to “get” all of this? I'm sure there's a peaceful answer to this. What is it?
Nobody ever “gets it all.” The Universe is constantly expanding and revealing more and more of itself. You have all the time in the world. There's no act of completion that you need to achieve. When you really “get” that you're here to enjoy every moment of every day, you will have achieved far more than most people.
Stay in the “now moment” as much as possible. Really explore the one moment that you're in. Use all your senses to be completely aware of where you are right now: What do you see? What are you touching? How does the air smell and feel? What sounds do you hear? What can you admire? There's so much more to this moment than most people allow themselves to experience. Time will stretch for you when do this.
I'm currently transitioning between being employed part-time and working for myself part-time, to working for myself full-time, and I'm having difficulty going with the flow and letting things happen. I have trouble feeling positive energy some of the time (other times I'm fine and determined!). I've suffered with lower back pain for years since a riding accident, but lately it's been getting worse and worse. I have a feeling this has something to do with not feeling “supported.” How can I get in touch with feelings of being supported, and being able to trust the Universe to support me in all that I do?
You're so right. The back represents support, and the lower back represents financial support. Relax, breathe, and allow the Universe to support you. Make this fun and not something that's stressful for you. Begin blessing every person, place, and thing in your world with love. Love will dissolve the fear you're creating. When you catch yourself in fear or stress, say, “That is enough of that!” Then talk and think about what you love. The Intelligence that gives breath to your body is the same Intelligence that will make sure that your business is successful . . . if you will just relax and allow it. Affirm: I am flexible and flowing, and the Universe loves me!
Louise L. Hay is a metaphysical teacher and the bestselling author of numerous books, including You Can Heal Your Life , Empowering Women, and I Can Do It! . Subscribe to the Louise Hay Newsletter! Call for a Free Issue: (800) 654-5126. Questions for Louise? Write to: Dear Louise Column, c/o Hay House, Inc., P.O. Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100 (letters may be edited for length and clarity). Visit Louise and Hay House at: www.LouiseHay.com or www.hayhouse.com.
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