FDA is wrong about Kratom

Last month the Commissioner of the FDA Dr. Scot Gotlieb issued a press release concerning Kratom. Who would have thought a piece of government propaganda would be full of lies, misrepresentations and authoritarian arrogance.

https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm584970.htm

Kratom must be something really horrible and dangerous if the FDA and DEA want to ban it, right?

Kratom is a plant that grows in Southeast Asia. There are many different strains that have helped people relieve pain, fatigue, depression and manage the symptoms of opioid withdrawal for centuries.

I personally have used Kratom as a adjunct pain reliever and to help with opioid withdrawal symptoms. I have found it very effective with no side effects.

What’s ironic is that I started taking Kratom because of the DEA and the FDAs actions last year. If the DEA hadn’t attempted to classify Kratom as a Schedule I drug I wouldn’t have found the hundreds of compelling and passionate videos of folks telling their story about how it’s changed their lives for the better.

The entire recent press release from the head of the FDA has no specifics about why Kratom should be illegal. He stresses it should be illegal because of a smattering of calls to Poison Control, 36 deaths which weren’t caused by Kratom and the fact that there is no scientific evidence for its efficacy and safety.

There is in fact evidence that it is safe and effective. In fact you can go online right now and do what I did before deciding to take Kratom and see the thousands of videos online in which individuals detail how they’ve greatly helped by it. I don’t think the commissioner did this. For thousands of years this plant has been used safely.

Dr. Gotlieb doesn’t want individuals to take Kratom because it’s unapproved. Well Cannabis is also unapproved but it’s used by millions of people everyday and has been used by humans for at least 5000 years. How long has the FDA been around?

Kratom is no different. In fact every adult has a natural right to choose what he or she consumes. We don’t need his permission to do so.

I trust thousands of years of indigenous use and the thousands of testimonials online that Kratom can help with serious conditions like pain and depression. The internet has destroyed the monopoly on medical information once held by those in power. He does however fail to talk about the thousands and thousands that have died from approved drugs since the FDA was created.

Thirty six deaths have been blamed on Kratom. Of these the autopsies are problematic and others will not be released to the public. Millions of people in this country and around the world take this plant medicine without dying. If were as unsafe as he claims hundreds or thousands would be dead. That’s just not the reality.

He further implies that only the FDA can keep Americans safe and ensure they are taken care of by the medical system. He fails to talk about the 250,000 deaths caused by medical errors each year by government licensed healthcare providers. He might want to spend some time on that.

This entire press release besides attacking Kratom is also an attack on anyone who desires to exercise medicinal freedom. This press release and the actions it describes are meant to keep people within government controlled healthcare and the pharmaceutical pipeline so they become dependent on the power of the prescription pad.

The hysteria around the risks of Kratom and the so called opioid crisis is being spread as a way to rebrand the immensely unpopular War on Drugs.

The compounds that make Kratom effective are in fact being being studied because they don’t have the same abuse and addiction potential as prescription opioids. That being said the rate of actual addiction with opioids is less than 3% of users.

If Dr. Gotlieb wanted to help those with addiction and with managing opioid withdrawal he would be encouraging the use of Kratom. There is nothing I’ve found and thousands and maybe millions of others have as well, a more effective means of alleviating the misery of opioid withdrawal symptoms.

All Dr. Gotlieb needs to do is spend an hour watching the videos of people crying when they explain how Kratom helped them kick heroin. There is a quote that I heard Dan Carlin say and that is “quantity has a quality all its own”. Even though those people and myself weren’t part of a double blind placebo study we know it has helped eliminate opioid withdrawal symptoms.

He believes along with the upper echelons of the FDA and DEA to determine what I should ingest and that I am too stupid to figure out what dosages to take. I figured out the right dosage of Kratom through personal experimentation, from the advice from the local health food shop and from those sharing their experiences in online videos. People aren’t as helpless, stupid or incompetent as the FDA Commissioner fears

Throughout the press release he admonished we the public that we should only go to government licensed health care providers and only use approved drugs. I myself have been chronically ill for 30 years. In that time I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals and going to doctors. Today I’m still sick and in chronic pain everyday. I like millions of other Americans are tired of the traditional paternal Medical system and know that we can make our own health choices without government interference.

In the press release he misleads with statistics. He cites the tenfold increase in calls to poison control. In reality there were 26 calls in 2005 and a whopping 660 calls in 2015 representing about .003 percent of the 3 million total calls to poison control per year. And 93% of those calls were concerning minor side effects.

To further put these 660 calls concerning Kratom to Poison Control in perspective, they received this year alone 9996 calls for kids being exposed to laundry detergent and 17,000 calls about kids and hand sanitizer. He deliberately mislead the American people to gin up support for this immoral and criminal attack on Kratom.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6529a4.

http://www.aapcc.org/alerts/laundry-detergent-packets

He also mentions the 32 deaths associated with Kratom. What he doesn’t mention is that zero deaths have been linked to Kratom being used by itself. All of these deaths occurred when a individual ingested multiple substances.

Next he laments the lack of research and urges those who support the uses of Kratom to submit drugs containing Kratom through the FDA approval system. This was before he bragged about how his agency has overseen the voluntary destruction of hundreds of shipments of Kratom and vowed to stop them all.

It’s a catch-22 for researchers. Do the research but without the plant. It’s the same issue researchers have dealt with since Cannabis Prohibition was passed. The FDA would also love to have supporters of Kratom abandon their position that its a safe and natural supplement and not a drug. If those who support Kratom they need to keep it out of the FDA Machine.

How can anyone trust the FDA or the DEA? They have constantly lied to the public about Cannabis, MDMA, and psilocybin Mushrooms.These same institutions are using their tried and true playbook to stop individuals from taking safe and effective natural medicines and driving them by force to doctors who have the power of the prescription pad.

The evidence is mostly anecdotal now but more and more research is showing it is effective at pain relief, helping ease anxiety and depression as well as treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. If the DEA and FDA bam Kratom it will be almost impossible for researchers to study its effects.

Here is a scientific analysis using the DEA’s own 8 Factor criteria from The American Kratom Association. In it Kratom clears all 8 categories and proves using their own criteria that it should be legal and left alone.

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/americankratomassociation/pages/21/attachments/original/1485630505/Henningfield_Eight_Factor_Analysis.pdf?1485630505

The FDA urges supporters p Kratom to use their botanical drug products approval process which in reality is designed to allow big pharma to patent compounds found in plants. This is a clear attempt to stop individuals from buying Kratom and forcing people to buy instead pharmaceuticals based on the plant.

The same process is going on with Cannabis. Just like with Cannabis I believe that taking the whole Kratom leaf is the best way to go instead of using extracts. Kratom has many different compounds that work in my opinion synergistically just like the cannabinoids do in Cannabis. Kratom is a plant medicine that people have been using for thousands of years. Millions of people have taken it and the safety profile far exceeds the majority of drugs approved by the FDA.

The real point to his entire speech is that the American people are too stupid to make their own healthcare decisions. Only government licensed doctors dispensing government approved drugs can be used by those who are sick and suffering. There is no public. There are only individuals. And thousands of individuals have found Kratom to be effective at easing their suffering and making life more tolerable.

Do you think politicians have your best interest at heart? Do you think the FDA is not in league with pharmaceutical companies?

Do you think that the FDA’s arrival process is meant to protect individuals or protect the profits of pharmaceutical companies?

What if I don’t want the FDA to have the authority to protect me? What if I want to live in a country where my natural right to consume what I choose is respected and I can buy any man made compound or natural medicine to ease my suffering or assuage my symptoms as I see fit? He doesn’t address this question.

I don’t want him or any other bureaucrat helping to prevent a substance I know to be safe and effective from getting a grip on me. What he is definitely not concerned about is what does have a grip on me which is chronic pain and a medical system that treats me like a child and a criminal at the same time.

As an adult in the so called land of the free, a nation built on the bedrock of natural rights which includes along with the Freedom of Speech the Freedom of consumption, I like every other adult own myself and I can choose to ingest a substance and bear the consequences.

The oxygen you’re breathing right now and the food you ate today will eventually kill you. The oxidative stress metabolism causes creates free radical molecules that reek havoc on your body. They destroy enzymes that protect your DNA and cause lipid peroxidation which is linked to causing over 200 hundred diseases including Heart Disease and Cancer, the two biggest killers in this country.

No one gets out of this world alive. While we are here we shouldn’t be restricted in what substance we use to make our stay here on Earth more enjoyable. When you are sick and suffering the last thing you need is Dr. Scott Gotlieb or any other bureaucrat of the FDA or DEA or any other agency standing between you and relief. Keep Kratom legal and legalize all drugs!

Brad Miller

Advocate of Medicinal Freedom

My take not the Opioid Crisis as a chronic pain sufferer

 

The current hysteria over the so called Opioid Crisis is not meant to help anyone except politicians, rehab centers and pharmaceutical companies.

I’ve been suffering from chronic pain for over thirty years now. In the last three decades the only way for me to function was and still is by taking pain killers. My main relationship since I have been 11 has been with pain. Believe me that’s not a great way to live.

Government is always looking to grow. Politicians are always looking for ways to use the righteous idigination and ignorance of the masses to further their career while at the same time gaining brownie points with big business. This is exactly what is going on with the Opioid Crisis.

The 55,000 number of deaths linked to opioids is extremely misleading. The majority of those deaths have been the result of a combination of substances ingested which include alcohol and barbiturates along with the demonized opioids. Other deaths are linked to adulterated black market drugs, many pain patients are driven to this horrible alternative because they have been denied treatment. The opioid crisis is not caused by doctors prescribing pain pills to people who are in chronic pain.

This type of misinformation is always used to take away our rights and to enrich the few at our expense. A new wave of opioids that targets the Kappa opioid receptors will hit the market soon. I think that is another reason why the media attention on this is being ginned up as well.

There is no one speaking for the people who are in chronic pain. I’ve lost days, weeks months and years to pain. I’ve missed out on most of life because of pain. The more my access to pain killers is reduced the more pain I suffer and the less life I live. I believe that every individual has a god given, natural or innate right if you will to ingest whatever substance they see fit to consume.

That is why I advocate for government to get out of my healthcare all together. I don’t need a politician or my neighbor determining what I should or shouldn’t ingest. I propose what I hope will become the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution that would simply read:

Every individual has the innate and natural right to ingest, grow, consume, trade, sale or gift whatever substance they see fit. 

Just because someone consumes a substance doesn’t mean they are not responsible for their actions. It doesn’t matter if I kill someone whether I’ve just smoked a joint, taken a shot of Jack Daniels or drank a strong cup of coffee, I’m still responsible for what I’ve done.

When all substances can be bought “over the counter” Pfizer and Merk and other drug companies will be just like Apple or Microsoft. I can envision them opening their own stores and even having doctors on staff that will provide medical consultations and blood work for free. That way they will attempt to keep you in their ecosystem just like Apple and Google do.

Other businesses will open up and will be the Best Buy or the Walmart of medicines. Amazon could be, if they are forward looking enough, to become the number one seller of medicine in the world. Health care costs will plummet and the first time in a long time individuals will not only be able to buy what they want to treat their specific health issues but will also be able to grow their own pharmacies in their back yard. That is real freedom.

Think about growing just about all the medicine you need in your backyard for pennies per dose? A medicinal garden could include poppies, cannabis, and medicinal mushroom. It is a miracle that our bodies have the architecture to be positively and powerfully influenced by compounds made by plants and fungi. By combining the best of synthetic and natural medicines we can all live a happier, healthier and longer life.

The behavior of Pharmaceutical companies  will have to adapt to this new era of medical freedom by providing a better product at a much lower price. Without the FDA and government sanction the drug companies will have to start dealing directly with consumers. They will be on the hunt for lower side effect drugs and price them competitively due to the huge explosion of natural medicines that would be available. Research money would more and more go into natural solutions because of their safety profile and lack of side effects. Overall medicine will become cheaper, more effective and cause less deaths and injuries.

Having ready access to pain medicine would change my life for the better. I’m tired of going to the doctor with hat in hand hoping that I’ll get a prescription, which is merely a government sanctioned permission slip. I’m tired of going to the pharmacy and getting hassled because they aren’t able to read a calendar correctly. I’m tired of having to go to multiple pharmacies to get a prescription filled because their out of the pain medicine and their pharmacist is the only one who can order narcotics and he’s on vacation for the week. When you are sick and in pain these type of hassles add to your already mounting misery.

Those harping on the Opioid Crisis may care about those that are dying. But if they really wanted to use their time to the best effect they should be talking about Cigarettes which kill around 400,000 people a year, or alcohol which causes the death of  around 90,000 people  or so per year, or sugar and grain which can cause cardio vascular disease which kills millions per year. It’s clearly not about the numbers of dead that the opioid crisis do gooders are concerned about or they would be going after the big killers in this country.

Sick people are easy targets. Doctors are easy to manipulate because of the state licensing they are subject to. With the new era of Medical Freedom I’m proposing doctors could become health consultants and no longer be beholden to the current state monopoly on certifying health professionals. If doctors want to continue with the current model they could. They could be paid directly by the pharmaceutical companies and become doctors at the Pfizer store. Once doctors and patients are no longer tethered to the prescription pad or state licensing boards, politicians will lose the power to interfere with our health choices and people in pain will not have to suffer needlessly.

Its time we get government out of health care. Its time for adults to take control over their health, to exercise our innate right of self-ownership and buy whatever medicine or substance we choose to. Individuals suffer. And individuals pay the consequence of their actions. We all have the right to ingest what we choose. If the First Amendment of the Constitution protects our right to eject words out of our mouths, shouldn’t  the Constitution protect our right to put into our mouth whatever we choose?

Suffering is part of the human condition. We all suffer emotionally and physically. On this space ship Earth we have synthetic and natural compounds that can help ease the suffering. Psilocybin has proven to help with anxiety and can help end addiction, MDMA can help with PTSD, LSD can help end alcoholism, Ketamine can in less than twenty minutes end suicidal thoughts, Cannabis that miracle plant, is full of beneficial compounds that work together to help lower inflammation, reduce anxiety, increase well being, end seizures, reduce tumor size and help with sleep, and new and old opioids can help end the physical suffering of millions. Why can’t I go buy these chemicals off the shelf or order them off of Amazon? It’s not because they are expensive. Why can’t I grow medicinal mushrooms, poppy plants and Cannabis in my backyard? It’s not because they are difficult to grow.

The real reason we don’t have Medical Freedom is because we’ve forgotten that every individual owns themselves and that we have a natural right to treat our pain or our diseases as we see fit and so we must demand our innate right to ingest what we choose and bear the consequences of those choices.

 

Brad Miller

Fellow Human

 

Taking a short walk today is better than no walk at all 

I’ve learned over the last 30 years of dealing with multiple complicated chronic health issues is that – 

A small effort taken to improve my health today is infinitely better than taking no action at all. 

One of the small ways I seek to improve my health is by taking a walk at least 5x per week. Walking is something that helps the body in a lot of positive ways and it’s a great inexpensive, zero side, effect way to improve mood as well.

Today I only took a ten minute walk. That’s a lot shorter than I like to go but it’s better than not walking at all. I didn’t go as far as usual because of the time of day I went and because of how I was feeling. 

Before I went on the walk I thought for a moment that I shouldn’t go because it’s too hot and that I was too tired.  And that I won’t be able to go as far as I normally do and if I do go I’ll feel terrible and I’ll only be able to go for a short walk. I asked myself “What would be the use of that?”.

I’m glad I answered that a short walk is better than no walk at all.  I overcame that resistance and went. 

Too often it can be overwhelming dealing with chronic health issues to justify doing the small things that seem trivial in light of the amount of pain or the fatigue that one feels. 

But it’s these small choices each day that I make over time have a big positive impact on improving the quality of my life. Today I only walked ten minutes but that is still a small win in the pursuit of healthier me. 

Don’t discount the small wins. They can add up over time to produce amazing results. 

Brad 

Yerba Mate, Inflammation Brain and Flow State     

  
I’ve taken a ton of supplements, vitamins and nootropics in my life to help me develop a cleaer, more calm, and focused mind. Almost all of the stuff I’ve taken hasn’t had any discernible effects. One of the substances that has bucked the trend and has actually helped my mental state greatly is Yerba Mate tea. This powerful elixir from South America has positive noticeable effects on my brain and body almost as soon as the warm earthy green liquid crosses my lips. 

What is Yerba Mate?
The first time I drank Yerba Mate I couldn’t believe how it effected me. It provided mental and physical energy without the jitteriness of just caffeine, plus a level of focus and mental clarity which most of the time escapes me. For the last 30 years I’ve been dealing with autoimmune conditions, chronic pain and chronic inflammation. And these issues create what I call inflammation brain and when I’m under its spell entering into a flow state or simply getting through the day is extremely difficult. 

I’m obsessed currently with getting into, maintaining and living within a flow state as much as I can. Along with helping with forgetting oneself, time dialation and just feeling good, the flow-state produces positive physiological changes which are thought to help with autoimmune conditions and chronic pain. 

Yerba Mate’s unique composition of chemicals produces a similar feeling in me comparable to a low level or micro-flow state. And it also produces the mental jumping off point in which I can enter into a deeper flow state more easily.  When I’m tired and don’t feel well my brain is filled with a sludge or a fog . My mental processes are slowed, motivation evaporates, solution and novelty seeking are dramatically reduced and I just feel stuck.  I chalk this up to my autoimmune and inflammatory issues. This inflamed brain state  makes thinking difficult and making decisions even harder. When I drink Yerba Mate all of these symptoms are greatly reduced or even totally eliminated for up to four hours. 

After downing a cup of the Yerba Mate tea my mind clears and my thoughts are light and move without much effort, instead of being stuck in the mental sludge as usual.  The powerful chemical mix contained within the Mate include caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine along with tons of vitamins and minerals.

Caffeine is familiar to us all and most are familiar with its effects. Theophylline and theobromine are not as well known. Theophylline has anti-inflammatory effects and it is a vasodiallator which helps lower blood pressure and can help improve breathing. Theobromine effects the vagus nerve, the heart  and also is a vasodiallator. These compounds work synergistically to create positive changes to the body and brain. 

This means that when I drink Yerba Mate my fatigue is less noticeable, I can focus on one thing at a time, I can switch to another task or idea seemlessly, my body and mind are more relaxed and energized, and the perceived resistance to starting a task, which I am normally paralyzed by,  is greatly reduced. Also I’m less bothered by interruptions or issues that crop up during the day which, without the Mate, would easily trigger disappointment or feelings of anxiety. 

I’ve wasted hundreds of dollars on supplements, vitamins and nootropics in order to relieve my inflammatory induced brain state. Now for less than two cents a day I can banish the brain fog, gain mental clarity, ignore distractions, more easily, and clear away mental and physical fatigue. By reducing or eliminating these symptoms of inflamed brain I’m able to to enter into, achieve, and  maintain  mental flow states more easily throughout the day. And this makes living a hell of a lot more enjoyable. 

One of my favorite sayings is “Enjoy what you can and endure what you must”. I’m on a perpetual quest for ideas, substances and practices that help me to be able to do this more in life.  A warm mug of Yerba Mate in the morning is a good way for me to ensure that I’m able to enjoy and endure a little more each day. 

Brad 

FYI:

Even though Yerba Mate is stimulating ai don’t just drink it in the morning , I also drink in the evening if I’m finding it hard to relax my inflamed mind and body. It calms and clears my mind and relaxes my body. Instead of keeping me up it actually and helps me to fall asleep. 

Bone broth, hospitals and bad memories 

  
When I’m in the hospital one of the things I hate the most (besides the dehumanization, pain, misery and zero sleep) is the food. And the one food that has turned my stomach more by its mere presence than any other food, was beef broth. The smell always produced the physical preparations for vomiting as soon as the smell hit my nose. That is why I was shocked today when I drank a full cup of bone beef broth and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

I was very anxious as I cut open the package of Kettle and Fire’s grassfed beef bone broth today  and waited to have my nose assaulted by the noxious nauseating  odor of beef broth but that never happened. In fact as I took the initial first whiff of the golden elixir it was not offensive in the least. Feeling a little more confident,  I poured the contents into a sauce pan and began to simmer it. I thought surely as it heated the unpleasant aroma would be released and assault my nostrils just as the disgusting beef broth had always done when I was in hospital.

Again my nose was spared. The aroma was mild but very pleasant. I poured a mug of the clear golden  brown liquid, girded my loins and tentaviley took a sip. I waited for my tongue and stomach to immediately revolt but they did not. I took another sip and another. It took my brain a few seconds to catch up and realize,  that it was not in the least revolting, and yes it was truly delicious.

No off flavors, no tinny taste and most surprisingly I found hints of maple syrup notes in the broth. The more I drank it the more I enjoyed it. Not only was it extremely tasty and satisfying it left my cracked lips moisturized. With each sip a pleasant and tasty glossy residue was left on my lips as a reminder of the reported healing properties it contains.  

I’ve had bone broth sitting in my pantry for six months now. Every time I would see it on the shelf I would say to myself “I’ll try it tomorrow” because I dreaded taking a sip. But the fear was unfounded. Kettle and Fire has produced an amazing product that is something I am going to incorporate into my morning and evening routine. 

Bone broth’s reported health benefits are legion. I am most interested in its reported ability to help heal the GI tract and also help with skin issues such as psoriasis. And on top of all the health benefits it’s also delicious. I plan on having a cup tonight before dinner. 

If you are interested in more of the health benefits visit Kettle and Fire’s website: https://www.kettleandfire.com

Their ingredient list is impressive which includes grassfed beef bones along with veggies and herbs. For me drinking the bone broth not only nourished my body but also helped me to mentally overcome a past negative memory and by doing so enjoy a new positive experience that will hopefully lead to improved health over the long haul. 

How many other things do I avoid today that could be potentially good for me because of the negative memories that I still hold on to from the past? That is a question I will ponder tonight as I enjoy a steaming mug of Kettle and Fire’s grassfed beef bone broth. 

Brad 

FYI: In 2013 there was a study done showing high lead levels in chicken bone broth. The study was severely flawed. You can read a full write up about it here: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/soy-alert/bone-broth-and-lead-contamination-a-very-flawed-study-in-medical-hypotheses/

Roles Reversed

I’ve been chronically unwell for the last 30 years. During that time I’ve endured 20 surgeries, 40 bowel obstructions, a permanent ileostomy and for the last few years pancreatitis attacks. Through all of it from my search for a diagnosis at age 11 through to my last stint in the hospital in May of this year, my mom has been there for me. Now I’m getting to repay a small amount of the debt that I owe her. Our roles have been reversed.

In September she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, has had a mastectomy, a removal of her reconstructed breast, tens of doctors appointments, a port put in and had her first chemo treatment last week. Her surgeries, her chemo treatment and her doctors are in a hospital that’s right across the street from the hospital I’ve gone to since I was 11. Now I’m the one driving her up north to some of her appointments to north of Atlanta so she can get well.

Helping mom heal has been just as healing for me.  Over the years mom has invested so much of her time and energy into my mere survival that I’m grateful I’m able to help her now in her time of need. One of my biggest fears when she was first diagnosed was that I wouldn’t be of any help, and I would be unable to step up and be at least a partial care giver. I was struggling horribly with debilitating pain when she was first diagnosed. I was in the midst of months of pain due to pancreatitis caused by a gallstone.

My GI doctor during this time wanted me to have surgery but I refused. Instead I started a course of cannabis capsules and in about ten days the pain was gone. I’d had that horrible pain for at least two months straight. Before I started the cannabis, I would sleep in the bathtub  at night because the hot water along with oxycodone was the only way I could find some relief. Then one Saturday it just stopped. And this was a couple weeks out from mom’s surgery. I knew if i had surgery I’d been unable to help her. I’m glad I made that call.

I owe my life to my mom not only for giving birth to me but for helping keep me alive through all the trials of surgery and chronic pain over the last 30 years. This year I became a Primal Health Coach and mom was my first client. I live with mom and I do most of the grocery shopping and I’ve cooked the majority of the meals since I’ve moved in. Mom has lost nearly 100 pounds in a year. Her doctor told her that for women who are overweight it’s harder to detect small tumors in a mammogram.

Her cancer was super aggressive and if they hadn’t caught the tumors when they did it could have been a whole different outcome. Her doctor said that losing the weight could have saved her life.  I’m grateful I’ve been able to play a small part in helping get her cancer detected as well with her recovery and ongoing journey now with getting through chemo.

Love isn’t about a scale to be balanced. It’s not about clearing up a “debt”. Mom taught us all that love is unconditional and that it’s not a word, it’s an action. During her recent bout with cancer all of our family have been able to show mom how much we all love her by helping take her to the doctor, sit with her during chemo, cook for her and help her get through the nights of bone pain and nausea. We are doing nothing more than merely acting as a mirror reflecting back a small amount of the love she’s always shown us.

Experiencing the care giver role recently has given me a new respect for what mom and what my family have gone through during these many years of my surgeries, illness and all the uncertainty that goes along with it. In the end we do what we must in the midst of the uncertainty of illness and pain, and we are able to endure because of those that love us most.

Breath of Life

The inside of my abdominal cavity is a war zone. I had my colon removed when I was 12, a bunch of surgeries to try and create a “normal” exit for excrement that led finally to a permanent ileostomy that’s been moved a couple of times. Inside I’m filled with adhesions and on the oust side my belly bears the scares of valiant and successful war fought against Ulcerative Colitis, bowel obstructions and the misdeeds of a lying and arrogant surgeon.

Needless to say the last 30 years have been spent trying to figure out how to live with chronic pain, body wide inflammation and three major kinks in my small intestine. After all of this I’ve come to discover that the most important thing that I can do to increase my ability to enjoy the experience of being alive is how I breathe. In the past I’ve been hostile to those who’ve told me to breathe in order to calm down while I’m balled up on a Emergency room gurney while the sixth attempt at an IV is being made. I’ve found that using breathing techniques in that situation wasn’t 100% effective.  But that is why we have the poppy and the cannabis plant. Any other time I’m not experiencing the panicky pain of my small bowel clamping down or my pancreas digesting itself, I’ve found breathing to be a powerful technique that I can use no matter where I go.

“Breathe Motherfucker” Wim Hof

This morning I didn’t want to get out of bed. I mentally went through the list of all the negatives in my life – from the classic of I’m a loser because I’m not brining in any income at the moment, to the thought that my savings will be depleted in another few months and that  I have no idea how I’m going to pay for insurance plus my bag leaked all over last night, my guts hurt this morning, I’ve got a cold, and I really don’t see a reason to get out of bed…

I’ve been here many times before and these type of thoughts have led to months and months of being miserable. I don’t want to be miserable any more.  One way I’ve found not to be miserable is through berating in specific ways so after a mini-pity party I began my breathing exercises which I really didn’t want to do. I started with a new breathing technique I read about that has helped eliminate the symptoms of social anxiety without drugs or therapy. In fact the control group that just did the breathing exercises twice a day had better results than those using cognitive behavior strategies. The breathing technique is called the CART method. I’ve not found a ton online about it but this is my version.

Breath in and out a short breath and hold it. When you naturally want to take a breath do. Then breath normally for ten seconds then take another short breath in and out and hold. Repeat this at least three times.

This breathing exercise actually raises CO2 levels in the body. The researchers doing the study found that low levels CO2 may be partially responsible for producing the symptoms of social anxiety. Last year I had comprehensive blood testing done and I had abnormally low CO2 levels. I believe I do because of my shallow breathing patterns due to my abdominal scaring both inside and out. Most of the time it hurts to breath and definitely hurts to take a deep breath.

Lower CO2 levels could also be a part of the reason why I feel like shit when I hurt a lot and have abdominal soreness. This is why I have start off my breathing exercises with this one. It helps to eliminate some of the physical symptoms of anxiety so that I’ll continue with the rest of the breathing exercises and not just say “fuck it” and pull the covers over my head.

The next breathing exercise is meant to calm the mind further by first calming the heart. I found this exercise actually first on the Joe Rogan Podcast episode #873 with Steven Kotler and a more in-depth explanation and implementation of the concept came from a talk by Alan Watkins. It’s something I do while I’m driving and any time I feel my mental state drifting negative or after I’ve had a negative experience or received bad news.

The exercise is to simply breathe in for three seconds and breathe out for seven. The breathing is to be a steady in and a steady out with a break of a few seconds after each exhalation. While breathing I focus on my heart. When the heart is calm the mind calms down. I do this for six reps. By the fifth my negative state of mind has dissipated and the negative thoughts seem to melt away.

I finished off my breathing set this morning with a round of the Wim Hof method of breathing. I always feel better when I do this. This year I almost didn’t go on vacation because my guts hurt so bad. But during the trip down for hours I did this and by the time I got to the beach I was feeling much better and was able to enjoy three days fishing with my brother. Without this technique I wouldn’t have made the trip. This morning it helped me as well. Again this technique is simple but I don’t recommend people perform it while driving – a few times I did almost black out.

The Wim Hof method is again dead simple. Take a deep breath in somewhat forcefully and only exhale a small amount air. Repeat this for up to thirty times. Then take a deep breath in and exhale fully two times and then hold your breath. Then breath once your body wants to breathe again. Breathe a few times normally and do it again for a total of thirty times.

This morning  I started with ten, then I did fifteen and finished the round with twenty inhales and exhales. While I was doing the breath hold I imagined my body being healed by a white light. Last year when I was doing the Wim Hof method course I was able to hold my breath up to 2:30 minutes. This morning I only held it for about 30 seconds to a minute. But that is still enough to gain positive effects.

By the time I was done with my morning breathing exercises I was feeling much better. The general anxiety, demotivated state, uncertainty and over all malaise was gone. I got up showered and even tested my blood sugar. I’m not diabetic but I am starting to chart my blood glucose as it relates to breathing. A study was done by the Navy that showed that SEALS in ketosis had better breath holding times and I’ve experienced much longer breath hold times in the mornings versus the evenings when doing the Wim Hof method protocol.

How I breath greatly determines my mental state. Having extensive internal and external scaring in my abdomen makes breathing something I have to be conscious of throughout the day otherwise I’m shallow breathing all day long. So far I’ve found these three exercises helpfully by themselves and recently started trying them in combination.  This is something that I don’t have to get a prescription for, no insurance company has to approve it, it has zero side effects, makes me mentally and physically feel better, has zero cost and it’s something I can take with me no matter where I go. In the past I would lament, no matter where I go there I am. That’s because my body has tormented me for the last 30 years and I could never get away from it. But now I have a way to calm both my body and my brain no matter where I’m at or what I have with me.

I still can’t get away from my body but I can through breathing create a different mental experience that allows me to clear my mind of negative thoughts and calm my body. All it takes is less than fifteen minutes and it’s like I’m a different person, or more accurately I’m me, without the filter of chronic pain.

Brad Miller