Holistic Links Between Emotional Disharmony and Body Pain: A dear diary moment of weakness to search for relief from my pain other than numbing pain meds.
I always hear about the medical system failing people and as a holistic therapist I have always been pro-active to encourage alternative therapies, but only now have I fully and personally felt the effects of our non-inclusive medical system. What I mean by non-inclusive is not its usual terminology of leaving a particular group of people out, but instead I mean how ironically NON- holistic it is since it is a common practice to look only at one symptom as its own entity and not tie together or investigate what is happening with the person as whole.
Did you know you really can only replace hips and knees? Well I have it in my back, hips, knees and wrists. My wrists have been in so much pain these past few weeks and the left one just completely stopped working due to the amount of pain for nearly 4 days, it just started to ease up again, after 4 days off work, constantly icing alternating with a wrist support and rest, warm baths and a massage of the hands and in between the metacarpals that felt like a dream. And they are telling me at the age of 30, with already all this pain there is nothing I can do except replace a hip or knee and take medication to help with the pain? I just don’t buy it. In my personal opinion there is always a reason for everything, osteo-artritis doesn’t come out of nowhere, it is not luck of the draw and I truly believe in order to have a disorder you have to be exactly that in “dis-order”;something is out of balance. Something is missing. Or something is too much or too little. Something is off with my system, for a 30 year old women who has always lived a healthy, active lifestyle-never been pregnant, overweight, or lived a sedentary lifestyle, all things they claim to cause osteo-arthritis, along with age and heredity- to which no one in my family has this disease. So that’s it? It comes from those things and I don’t fit any of the categories. I’ve been asked to accept that these are the only known causes and in turn asked to accept by the professionals that this is what I have. So what do I do? My own research of course.
I am 30 years old and I have been diagnosed with Osteo-arthritis. In fact, as it turns out my doctor said he knew that from an old x-ray from when I was a teenager but failed to tell me this information and what I can do to prevent further deterioration, so here I am somewhere between 14-16 years after this developed in my back, with my coccyx now fused to lower spine in one non moving bone, just finding out what I have. My doctor has failed me for over 18 years of my life as I have been going to him about my back pain since about the age of 12. He knew from an x-ray at age 16 what was wrong with me and yet I just found out from him yesterday, at age 30 that it is Osteo Arthritis.
I always hear about the medical system failing people and as a holistic therapist I have always been pro-active to encourage alternative therapies, but only now have I fully and personally felt the effects of our non-inclusive medical system. What I mean by non-inclusive is not its usual terminology of leaving a particular group of people out, but instead I mean how ironically non- “WHOLE”istic it is since it is a common practice to look only at one symptom as being its own entity and not tie together or investigate what is happening with the person as whole.
My doctor decided to look at a young pre-teen and teenager constantly complaining of a crippling bad back throughout several YEARS and just assume because of my age it couldn’t be anything of concern and/or failed to tell me what he found and further investigate why a young child would have a typically age correlated disease. It is for that reason I am writing this research paper, out of personal interest and distress, on Aromatherapy and how it can help ease the pain and perhaps prevent the disease from escalating as quickly as it has been.
The medical industry has told me there is nothing I can do about Osteo-arthritis. That it is a condition with no cure. “Of all the problems associated with the muscles and the joints, arthritis and rheumatism are best known, and perhaps the least understood by the medical profession.” (Source: Aromatherapy by Chrissie Wildwood, published 1996) Saying that the only thing for me to do is take medication, do particular exercises and perhaps get surgery to replace the joints.
Did you know you really can only replace hips and knees? Well I have it in my back, hips, knees and wrists. My wrists have been in so much pain these past few weeks and the left one just completely stopped working due to the amount of pain for nearly 4 days; it just started to ease up again, after 4 days off of work, constantly icing alternating wrist support and rest, warm baths and a massage of the hands and in between the metacarpals that felt like a dream. And they are telling me at the age of 30, with already all this pain there is nothing I can do except replace a hip or knee and take medication to help with the pain? I just don’t buy it.
In my personal opinion there is always a reason for everything, osteo-arthritis doesn’t come out of nowhere, it is not luck of the draw and I truly believe in order to have a disorder you have to be exactly that in “dis-order”;something is out of balance. Something is missing. Something is off with my system, for a 30 year old women who has always lived a healthy, active lifestyle-never been pregnant, overweight, or lived a sedentary lifestyle, all things that western medicine claims to cause osteo-arthritis, along with age and heredity- to which no one in my family has this disease. So that’s it? It comes from those things and I don’t fit any of the categories. I’ve been asked to accept that these are the only known causes and in turn asked to also accept that this is what I have. So what do I do? My own research of course.
Turning to various holistic resources, including my Aromatherapy course modules, and have found that they have other insight to the causes of Osteo-arthritis such as stress, emotional conflict, perfectionism, too much acidity in diet, chronic emotional disharmony, and deficiencies in minerals or other nutrients- now we are getting somewhere. There are also several references stating that estrogen deficiency is being linked to osteo-arthritis, coming both from holistic and medical resources.
So this is what I know, I do not live a sedentary lifestyle, I have a healthy diet, I don’t have any of the “typical” causes, I don’t know if I have too much acidity in the body, but I will change my diet immediately to ensure I change it to alkaline, I do not know about my estrogen levels, but I will ask my doctor to do a test as soon as possible, but I do have, without a doubt am experiencing a lot of emotional disharmony, stress and perfectionism- all at exceedingly high amounts.
This is the focus of my thesis, releasing and easing my emotional disharmony, stress and perfectionism head on with aromatherapy in order to try to ease my osteo-arthritis symptoms and maintain healthy joints.
Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils can be extremely helpful when it comes to Emotional Disharmony, Stress and Perfectionism because our sense of smell is directly linked to our limbic system which can help shift your state of mind quickly. (Source: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/using-essential-oils-to-help-with-emotional-disharmony.html) Therefore I feel it will be beneficial to use aromatherapy as the main focus of my therapeutic program to help achieve almost instant ease of these 3 conditions that may be contributing to my osteo-arthritis and overall well-being.
The first condition I will be focusing on healing with aromatherapy is Emotional Distress. The definition most commonly found on Emotional Distress is described as experiencing some kind of conduct that is so terrible that is causes severe emotional trauma and can be characterized by sleep disturbances, change in eating patterns, unexplained physical symptoms, difficulty managing anger, obsessive, forgetful, chronic tiredness or lack of energy, withdrawing from social situations, lack of sex drive and mood swings. In my personal opinion, these are very similar symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“When we have unresolved chronic emotional stress in a particular area of our lives, this stress registers in our vibrations as a disturbance that can manifest in physical illness.” (Source: Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christaine Northrup
Addressing some of these symptoms of emotional distress individually, aromatherapy can help aid almost all in a natural, safe, manner where as the medical industry can only provide relief for some of the issues with medications that either numb the symptoms rather than helping bring the body back to balance.
According to Christaine Northrup, MD and Author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, the main reason for sleep disturbances or insomnia is emotional conflict such as depression or anxiety. One of her examples is of a patient that experienced sexual abuse as a child and lived with depression and insomnia all her life. It wasn’t until her 50’s when she remembers that she was sexually abused and begins to heal and release the memories that she was able to lift her depression and insomnia. The problem with not being able to sleep properly is that our adrenals can get severely fatigued leading to other issues listed below such as tiredness, lack of energy, lack of sex drive, less produced estrogen- which is also correlated to causing osteo-arthritis. “Sleep restores adrenal balance more effectively than any other modality” (Source: Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christaine Northrup)
(Interesting Side Note: Another statistic found in Christaine Northrup’s book worth mentioning is that sufficient amount of sleep is extremely important for women and not getting enough has proven to increase the risks of breast cancer by one third. I note this as, another one of my symptoms that has come on with this diagnosed osteo-arthritis is that I have very sensitive and tender breasts, ALL the time- the doctor has found several lumps and cysts the same day he said I had osteo-arthritis but we have not yet received results from the ultrasound. It just seems the more research I do, the more these so called individual issues, seem more and more correlated and more and more proven to be caused by emotional disharmony than anything else.)
Change in Eating patterns:
Throughout my research the information found outlines that the emotional disharmony causing eating disorders using come from pressures from society on appearance, so therefore a lack of self-esteem or poor body image or sexual/violent abuse that has lead them to believe they are not good enough, and has sent them on a spiral of self blame and shame. One reference even outlined that when it comes to a change in eating pattern specific to bulimia, many women purge as an outlet for emotional release, trying to find a way to rid themselves of their pain. However, in my specific situation my change in eating patterns is over-eating, in that case some essential oils I could try to treat this specific symptom would be Cardamom or Fennel to balance my appetite or grapefruit or Scot’s Pine to constrict my appetite. However, because I feel the eating pattern of over-eating is specifically a symptom to my emotions, I think this will clear up more effectively when I deal with healing the emotional pain.
Anger or Rage:
According to the book “Aroma Remedies” by Chrissy Wildwood the following essential oils are great from healing anger: Rose, Cedarwood, Canadian Balsam, cypress frankincense, ylang ylang, helichrysum, marjoram, neroli, spikenard, sandalwood
Throughout my research I have not found much on individually healing this symptom, however it has been stated that essential oils to assist with obsession would be Black Spruce and Frankincense.
Tired/Lack of Energy:
The female energy system can be directly affected by our emotions, thoughts or behaviors and it ties up our energy and we become depleted. (Source: Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christaine Northrup, Page 69) According to Christaine Northrup “we leak our energy in any situation which our anger, fear, depression, or sadness is controlling our ability to move forward in our lives.” The thing is when we continue to be angry or afraid or any of the above a part of us is tied up in that and takes away from us being able to heal. If these leaks continue without the body being healed, body stress is often result showing up as physical symptoms such as tired and having lack of energy so that we can bring our attention to that area and begin to heal. Of course, in this situation I need to heal my body by restoring my energy and preventing further energy leaks. By dealing with anger, mood swings and depression through aromatherapy this alone will be able to begin to address and heal the constant lack of energy.
Lack of Sex Drive:
Being this is a symptom of emotional distress, it makes sense that the lack of sex drive could be correlated to adrenals as well. Adrenals, comprised of two layers, outer cortex and inner medulla contain loads of hormones. The cortex itself produces 3 types of hormones, one of them being the sex hormones. These hormones are produced in small amounts to supplement the hormones produced in the sex glands (gonads). (Source: Aromatherapy by Chrissie Wildwood, published 1996). If this in fact the case, then the lack of sex drive can come directly from the fact that my adrenals are fatigued from stress and rage I have been experiencing from the emotional distress of experiencing a traumatic occurrence. Also another correlation worth noting is that if my adrenals are fatigued and not producing an effective amount of sex hormones, this would include estrogen, which as previously stated- a lack of estrogen in the system can cause Osteo-arthritis and break down of joints.
Essential Oils recommended from the book “Aroma Remedies” by Chrissy Wildwood for emotionally induced loss of libido would be rose, ylang ylang, ginger, coriander, clary sage, sandalwood, patchouli, cardamom, neroli, black pepper, juniper berry, altas cedarwood.
According to the book “Aroma Remedies” by Chrissy Wildwood the following essential oils are great from healing mood swings: Bergamot, mandarin, roman chamomile, frankincense, geranium, juniper berry, lavender, lemon, rose, sandalwood, ylang ylang
The second symptom I will be addressing to reduce my physical ailment of Osteo-Arthritis is Stress. I believe there is a lot of cross over between emotional disharmony and stress and through my research I think one area to start on in healing my physical body is to address in healing and supporting the function of my adrenals to bring my body back to balance. I have found that through essential oils I can stimulate my fatigued adrenals in such areas such as exhaustion by using essential oils of Basil, Geranium, Rosemary, and Pine. While I treat my adrenals to gentle stimulation I will be reducing stress head on to ensure I will not be continuously draining my adrenals and therefore my body and the other side effects that come with it.
According to Christaine Northrup’s book “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” Stress comes down to a few things and one of them being unresolved emotional issues such as worry, anger, guilt, anxiety, fear, depression or lack of pleasurable experiences. Again, re-confirming that addressing the emotional disharmony will inevitably alleviate stress by ridding the body of the unresolved emotional issues that cause stress in the first place.
Of course, stress could potentially have a dual meaning. Meaning that it may not just pertain to emotional stress, but also to physical stress on joints, in which this case would be much more evident and easing up on over use or heavy use of the joints would be a recommendation as well as incorporating aromatherapy to support joint pain or overuse. In saying this, to be proactive in treating the physical stress of my joints I would also want to bring my body back to a normal acid/alkaline balance. To do this I will be using a mineral salt bath with evening primrose oil and essential oils listed above to aid emotional distress as my base as one of my aromatherapy methods of application. Chrissie Wildwood’s Book “Aromatherapy” suggest that evening primrose oil can help give the “vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids including gamma linolenic acid” and can be used as a “nutritional supplement to help such conditions as [arthritis]”
However, to address relieving stress head on, Aromatherapy has many favorable oils that are claimed to ease stress symptoms such as Bergamot, grapefruit, Lime, Basil, Chamomile, Vetiver, Neroli, Frankincense, Jasmine, Rose, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, helichrysum, spikenard to name a few.
The Third Symptom I will be addressing to reduce my physical ailment of Osteo-arthritis is Perfectionism. Before researching holistic causes for osteo-arthritis I didn’t realize perfectionism could be a symptom, in my mind it was nothing more than a personality type, it never occurred to me it could be a symptom or perhaps even a cause to a physical disorder.
Perfectionism can be defined as taking conviction “to the extreme by believing that any mistake or sub-par performance is unacceptable. They become undone by any error, blunder or oversight and believe that only flawless performance is acceptable and to the perfectionist- performances, traits and behaviors are fundamentally tied to their self-worth. They believe that their worth as a person is reflected by how well they perform the desirability of their traits, or the quality of their behaviors.” (Source: www.eatingdisroderhope.com)
Perfectionism can be related to being a cause to Osteo-arthritis because a perfectionist personality will always relate everything they do to their self worth, they may tend to go further and harder than their body would normally allow, push themselves beyond limits and perhaps ignore the physical signs that their body is giving them to protect them from injury.
After extension research, the only way I personally feel to address perfectionism is to heal the individual emotional disharmony and past pain so they can re-gain their self worth and individualism. In doing this, they can slowly begin to let go of the obsessive nature to being perfect in all areas of life and begin to be more rational and realistic and connected to themselves, therefore more intuitive to listening to their body and their bodies needs.
“At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success.” – Michael Law (Source: http://trueselfhealing.com.au/)
According to trueselfhealing.com, using the following essential oils through application of vaporizer or massage may help ease perfectionism:
German Chamomile to help you let go of your high expectations
Grapefruit to help you with high expectations of yourself and others and the feelings of guilt, frustration and blame surrounding them when they are not met.
Juniper can help clear the negative thinking surrounding fear of failure.
Tea-Tree can help you see another perspective.
As I continued to research this topic I not only found that healing emotional disharmony, stress and perfectionism are all very much interlinked but in fact the more I found that all causes lead back specifically to emotional disharmony regardless of how you break it down. It seems to me that more often than not diseases, disorders and imbalances can lead back to an emotional issue and once that issue is addressed it begins the initial stages of healing the self overall. In saying this, through healing my emotional disharmony I can begin to heal myself and hopefully ease the physical stress I have put on my joints and the pain I am receiving in response.
In conclusion, through using essential oils specific to each off the above symptoms I can begin to release and ease my emotional disharmony, stress and perfectionism head on with aromatherapy in order to try to ease my osteo-arthritis symptoms and maintain healthy joints.
You can visit Andrea’s website at www.andreaashley.ca