Tryptophan, red meat and baby steps for anxiety: the Brain Summit

May 1, 2016

Just a quick reminder that the Brain Summit starts tomorrow, Monday, May 2nd.


Here are some snippets from my anxiety interview with host Erin Matlock. We started out talking about diet and grass-fed red meat and why it’s so beneficial if you have anxiety (and other mood problems):

…there’s a lot of research showing now that [a Western diet] diet is not good for so many conditions, and mental health is now coming into the research. And we know this, but to see it in the research is really beneficial. Dr. Felice Jacka did a great study in Australia that was one of the first studies that looked at anxiety and depression in women and found that the Western diet was associated with a higher risk for anxiety and depression. And this whole foods, traditional diet, that actually included grass-fed red meat, was more beneficial for anxiety and depression. And in her thesis, they actually looked at red meat thinking that they would find that red meat was actually detrimental. And, lo and behold, they found that grass-fed red meat was one of the most important predictors for good mental health. So a lot of people say, “I don’t eat red meat any more. I’m being healthy.” And in actual fact, not eating it is doing them harm.

So red meat is wonderful! And it needs to be grass fed because then you’re getting the good levels of the Omega-3s. The Omega-3 three profile of grass fed red meat is very similar to what you would find in salmon. Obviously, fish is great, so while fish like salmon or sardines are great as well, the reason I like the red meat is it’s something that most people enjoy eating. And as well as the Omega-3s, we’re getting the iron, and iron is a co-factor for making serotonin and making GABA, and it’s needed for energy and so many other functions in the body.

It’s also got zinc, and zinc is a common deficiency, way more common than we realize. And when you are anxious, you may have high copper level, and low zinc level. So getting those zinc levels up will push the copper down, and that can help with your anxiety, as well.

We also had a long discussion on serotonin and tryptophan/5-HTP:

…we often associate serotonin with depression. And a lot of people don’t realize that it’s very closely tied to anxiety, as well.  So we’ve got two types of anxiety when it comes to the brain chemicals. One is the low-serotonin type, and this is the anxiety in the head, where you’ve got the ruminating thoughts, and the busy mind, and the negative self-talk, and just this monkey mind that you can’t switch off — this worry, and sort of reprocessing things. And then we have the low-GABA kind of anxiety, where it’s in your physical body and you’re feeling stiff and tense, and you can feel it in your body, and you may feel it in your gut….

I have people do a questionnaire, and depending on how you score on that questionnaire, that’s a clue as to whether serotonin may be a factor. So all of those symptoms I’ve just mentioned, you would rate yourself on a scale of one to ten.  And then I use individual, targeted amino acids. So it’s a supplement, and the other things that obviously have an impact are food, and diet, and everything we just talked about. Getting exercise, getting outside in the light, all of those are factors.

But for quick, immediate results, and pretty profound results – people just say to me, “Could this really be happening so quickly?” that’s how quickly we get results, you know, within 30 seconds to two minutes they’re getting results – is to use these individual amino acids as supplements. And the reason they’re called “targeted” is because it’s targeted to your unique needs. Like when you do the questionnaire and it says, yes, you need some serotonin support, and then you would use either tryptophan or 5-HTP as a supplement. And again, targeted, because you need it, but also targeted to your unique biochemistry.

There’s a standard starting dose for tryptophan, which is 500 mg, while 5-HTP is 50 mg.

Be sure to tune into the interview with Debbie Hampton. She is the survivor of an acquired brain injury (from a pill overdose when trying to commit suicide) and the author of the upcoming book, Sex, Suicide, and Serotonin.  Her story and resilience is inspiring!  Here is Debbie’s wonderful answer to Erin’s question: “What advice would you give to someone who feels like it’s too late to do what they want to do? I’m already so deep in, there’s no way that I could possibly have the life that I wanted or do the work that I really wanted to do.”


It’s never too late. And those limitations, you’re putting on yourself. Those limitations are in your mind. If you think you can’t, and you think it’s too late, then it is. You’ve got to change your mind first and if your mind thinks you can, you’re halfway there.

My advice would be to start small … I’m not big on long-term plans. I’m big on a long-term bigger goal. But what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to take a little step in the right direction towards that goal, and when you get there, you look around and you say, “Okay, what is my next best step?” And when you get to that next step, there may be opportunities that you can see that you couldn’t even see back here.

So you’ve got to take it one step at a time and get there and assess your opportunities. And then figure out the next best step, and then get there and figure out the next one. And it may be a zigzag path, and you may even have to go back sometimes, regress, but as long as you just keep moving forward and keep positive momentum and positive thoughts and be your own cheerleader, and encourager, and supporter— be your own friend—that is the most important thing.

I could not agree more – there is an answer, you can do whatever you set out to do and just take baby steps!

You can register for the Brain Summit here:

Trudy Scott (CN), Certified Nutritionist is the founder of, a thriving nutrition practice with a focus on food, mood and women’s health. Trudy educates women about the amazing healing powers of food and nutrients and helps them find natural solutions for anxiety and other mood problems. Trudy’s goal for all her clients (and all women): “You can be your healthiest, look your best and feel on-top-of-the-world emotionally!”


Integrative Medicine Approach to Pediatric Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety

April 29, 2016


Gluten was found to be the cause of a childhood case of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In this case report, published in January this year: Integrative Medicine Approach to Pediatric Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety, the authors state

This case study is the first reported case of OCD associated with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is prevalent in 1% to 2% of the population. Emerging studies have correlated non-celiac gluten sensitivity with psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, depression, mania, and anxiety.

The 7-year-old boy was treated at an integrative medicine practice in the United States and experienced these results on a gluten-free diet together with other integrative medicine modalities:

marked reduction of OCD symptoms and anxiety along with marked improvement of social behavior and school work

The authors conclude the following and recommend further research:

The patient’s rapid response without side effects behooves the medical research community to further investigate the association of non-celiac gluten sensitivity and pediatric OCD.

These are truly amazing results and I always recommend that anyone with any mental health condition needs to consider the effects of gluten. I have all my clients go gluten-free for this very reason. Even if you don’t have a diagnosis of OCD, going gluten-free frequently helps with the obsessive thinking, ruminating thoughts, negative self-talk, anxiety and worry.

Of course, this approach or this approach alone, may not work with everyone with OCD (severe or mild) since the root cause can be multi-faceted.

Other approaches for OCD could also include (with or without a gluten-free diet, although I’d err on the side of caution and always remove gluten):

Please share if you’ve found benefits from any of the above approaches for OCD, obsessive thinking or anxiety.

Trudy Scott (CN), Certified Nutritionist is the founder of, a thriving nutrition practice with a focus on food, mood and women’s health. Trudy educates women about the amazing healing powers of food and nutrients and helps them find natural solutions for anxiety and other mood problems. Trudy’s goal for all her clients (and all women): “You can be your healthiest, look your best and feel on-top-of-the-world emotionally!”

Music Therapy for Vagus Nerve rehab: on the Brain Summit

April 25, 2016

Just a quick reminder that the Brain Summit airs May 2nd to 6th.


Here is a snippet from the interview with Alex Doman: Using Music to Rewire Your Brain. Alex is CEO of Advanced Brain Technologies, the third generation of a family of pioneers in the field of human brain development, co-founder of Sleep Genius, author of the best-selling book, Healing at the Speed of Sound and co-creator of The Listening Program, a sound therapy program.


It’s a fascinating topic that I didn’t know much about until I heard this interview. Alex shares some of the basics of sound and sound therapy:

Sound affects us on a myriad of levels, from lower brain centers to the higher brain centers. So bottom-up and top-down processing, emotional regulation, moods. So it has a swath of impact on us as human beings, and, you know, the music that’s in our personal playlist we use, you know, to self-regulate, and, as you said, maybe an up-tempo piece for our cardio; a slow tempo, very calm piece when we’re in a stress state; maybe some baroque music to help focus us.

And the principles of using music and sound for self-regulation, there are a few components, right? One is frequency, which you mentioned, which is a big area of focus for us. Different sound frequencies have a different impact on our functions and performance, right? So we’ve learned that low-frequency sounds have a very calming effect on the nervous system. They have an effect on our motor functions within the brain; fine and gross motor skills, our sense of body and space, our left-right awareness, our coordinated movements, and our vestibular functions, primarily. Whereas, the mid-frequencies are very focusing, as opposed to the low frequencies being grounded, and they are more related to our communication with one another, our ability to receive and express language, both orally and through written communication. And then these high frequencies, which are rather magical, in a way, that are very stimulating and tap into our intuition, our beliefs, our creativity. And actually, in the brain, there’s more neural area for the high frequencies than any other range of sound frequencies.

So we are working with sound and the components of frequency to affect different functions within our lives — from the low to the mid to the high frequencies—in very specific ways, but then there are other features, like the tempo, the pace of the music, right? Slow tempos will entrain our body rhythms and brain waves to lower states, and fast tempos will activate us. So, in way, you can think of high frequencies like sonic caffeine that I have here in my cup, to get me activated, and the low frequencies might be like taking a lavender essential oil to help kind of calm our nervous system. So they affect us across a great range.

Once he started talking about stress, burnout and the vagus nerve, I was even more fascinated and really intrigued:

What’s happening is our stress resilience is getting lower and lower and lower. So what’s interesting is noise is a big contributor to that. But sound is also the antidote. So there was some research that was done in Europe a few years ago with child care workers that experienced burnout symptoms to the magnitude that many would qualify for a depression diagnosis.

So the investigators wanted to research the impact of Music Listening Therapy with a special mode of stimulation that would impact the vagus nerve and the autonomic nervous system with more impact—and we’ll probably talk about bone conduction later—and to use one of our protocols to see if, in fact, symptoms of burnout would be lessened in response to that intervention, compared to the standard care, that standard care being visits to a psychotherapist for these workers.

So they did a controlled study, and one group saw the therapist and one group, their therapist was themselves using sound as the input and to help heal and change their state. And what was miraculous is that those that did the listening had statistically significant improvements going from stress burnout to normal stress resilience, and those getting talk therapy made very little change. They stayed kind of stuck in their pattern of stress response. So it’s really a testament to the power of the right sound done in a very specific manner, right? This isn’t haphazard; this is a very focused, structured program to create a massive change to a very big issue that many of us face.

Later on in the interview, there is more discussion about the vagus nerve. If you’ve been following my blogging recently you’ll be aware of the issues I had with my voice and the breathing and humming work I did for my vagus nerve rehabilitation. Now I have a much better understanding of why it helped so much!  

And what’s interesting is the vagus nerve, which is a cranial nerve, has enervations within the ear, meaning connections, inner connections within the ear. So when we hear or experience sound, that sound carries along the vagus nerve. So it connects our central nervous system and our autonomic nervous system; that’s the main bridge, the main connector that happens. And it’s very important for emotional regulation; it’s the center of emotional regulation.

And what we’ve found with Music Listening Therapy, the observations are that it helps with that homeostatic state, that balance of acceleration when we need it and deceleration in the brake when we need it. So that we can have improved stress resilience and better emotional regulation

Erin Matlock is founder of Brain Summit, a mental health advocate and popular speaker. After overcoming a crippling battle with severe depression, she went on to create an online community where she openly shares her search for a better brain.  

During this interview she shares how much this music therapy helped her to feel joyful and more connected:


I’d spent four weeks in the high frequency range, and that produced a joy. And I have never described myself as joyful, not since I was a little child, because of the history of depression. And I can’t remember – and I know I wrote about that – a time when I walked around saying, “I feel joy,” for no reason, none at all.

And then the other part was the connection. And this part was interesting. As an introvert, as someone who has always felt very out of place, like I was born in the wrong time, I used to describe myself like that saying, “alone in a crowded room.” That was me. And to feel connected — not to any particular person, just in a general sense— for me it was spiritual; it’s not that way for everyone else. I don’t know where that connection comes from, but it was something that my brain wasn’t giving me before. And that came directly as a result of this training.

Overall it is a fascinating interview and one I know you’ll want to hear! I look forward to checking out other interviews and hope you’ll join me on the Brain Summit. Erin interviews 25 global experts who present cutting edge information on brain health, mental health, peak performance, neurotechnology, nutrition and much more.

You can register here:

Trudy Scott (CN), Certified Nutritionist is the founder of, a thriving nutrition practice with a focus on food, mood and women’s health. Trudy educates women about the amazing healing powers of food and nutrients and helps them find natural solutions for anxiety and other mood problems. Trudy’s goal for all her clients (and all women): “You can be your healthiest, look your best and feel on-top-of-the-world emotionally!”

Anxiety, ADHD, autism and insomnia: how a weighted blanket helps

April 22, 2016


I shared this article on facebook recently: Sleeping With Weighted Blankets Helps Insomnia And Anxiety

Traditionally, weighted blankets are used as part of occupational therapy for children experiencing sensory disorders, anxiety, stress or issues related to autism. ‘In psychiatric care, weighted blankets are one of our most powerful tools for helping people who are anxious, upset, and possibly on the verge of losing control,’ says Karen Moore, OTR/L, an occupational therapist in Franconia, N.H.

The response was so positive I promised I would share some blog posts with more information, so here we are. The first is to share some additional information and stories from people who have seen results or heard positive things about their use.

A 2008 study published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, observed the effects of a 30lb weighted blanket in a sample of 32 adults: Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket. These results were observed

  • 63% reported lower anxiety after use
  • 78% preferred the weighted blanket as a calming modality

When I shared the article I asked a few questions. The first one: Have you used weighted blankets personally, or with children or recommended them to patients/clients?

The feedback I received was amazing! Lynn shared this magic blanket comment for ADHD and anxiety:

Someone close to me got one for her foster child, who suffers from emotional dysregulation, ADHD, and anxiety. It works like magic– in fact the child calls it his “magic blanket.”

She also shared this about her younger brother who is autistic and mute:

When we were young children, he would suffer terrible insomnia and agitation whenever there was a full moon. My older brother and I would take turns sleeping with him on full moon nights because that comforted him somewhat. We figured out as small children that we could get him to calm down and go to sleep by draping one leg and one arm across him. I think it was the heaviness and pressure of our limbs that settled his anxiety. Our parents could not do it, I suppose because their limbs were too large. So when I learned about Temple Grandin’s solution [more on that below], it made sense to me. Interesting, hmm

Phaedra commented saying some of us like to sleep with heavy blankets even in the summer and said this:

Deep pressure is calming and nurturing. Helps us get into our bodies and stimulates our proprioception (awareness of our body in space). I use weighted yoga bags filled with sand. Simply placing one across the chest or anywhere else on the body can be calming.

Diane shared that she used to write for a company called Mosaic Weighted Blankets and one of her jobs was to interview customers as testimonials:

I can’t tell you how blown away I was with my first few interviews. Parents of kids having autism, Asperger’s, special needs kids, kids having night terrors…it truly brought them (kids and the entire family) great peace and an ability to sleep through the night, almost immediately in many cases.

Adults also gained benefits, especially relating to issues with PTSD and restless legs syndrome.

The weight is part of the reason it provides calming…the pellets also provided something for the kids to touch/manipulate while they were trying to go to sleep. Mosaic’s blog should still have a lot of good articles on the benefits and how it is also used by occupational therapists. They can be on the expensive side if you compare it to a blanket, but if you compare it to the need for less medications and such it could be a very viable option.

There are many companies as well as sites showing how to make them yourself, just be sure you are focusing on the “pressure” effect and not the “heavy”…these blankets are not the same as just throwing 6 thick blankets on someone.

She also shared this article she wrote: Sensory Processing Disorder Treatment, Mosaic Weighted Blankets


Source: Mosaic Weighted Blankets

Tara lives in the UK and uses a medium weight duvet/comforter and has two very useful tricks/tips to hopefully get similar benefits if you don’t have access to a weighted blanket:

GREAT thread, everyone! Thanks so much! I find deep pressure *very* soothing. I don’t have a weighted blanket, but we do sleep with a 10.5 tog duvet [spring/autumn weight comforter – tog is a British measure of warmth pretty much year-round. (Ah, the “joy” of living in the UK. Not!)


That said, here are two other tricks: 1) if your climate allows (i.e. it’s not too hot), make yourself a *full* hot water bottle and tuck your feet *under* it. This will put some weight/pressure on your body and will feel comforting. (I’m thinking this could even be done with cold water if it’s too hot where you live.)

And 2) if you don’t have a weighted blanket, but find yourself struggling with insomnia, lie on your side and tuck your arms between your legs (so that your arms are “sandwiched” between your legs and the gravity of the leg on top presses onto your arms). It’s not the same as having the full weight of something on you, but you will be creating a bit of deep pressure all the same. I’m not an OT (I wish I were!) but if you think about what the best thing to do with a small baby is – swaddle it!!! A weighted blanket makes total sense! It’s calming to our nervous system because it “contains” us (but not in an oppressive, limiting way).

I have not verified if these two trick/tips do in fact work the same way but it makes sense that they would so feel free to share if you’ve found they work for you. I personally love the hot water bottle feeling and have always done this for as long as I can remember. I will also often start off sleeping in the arms-sandwiched position and then end up in arms folded position, sort of hugging myself. I had no idea why except that it just feels good.  

Tara mentioned also Temple Grandin’s deep pressure squeeze machine.

Temple Grandin (one of my heroes!) actually made her own deep pressure “machine” when she was little – she intuitively knew that it would help and soothe her. I’m not saying that anyone here is on the spectrum, but I have a hunch – tell me where I’m wrong – that a whole bunch of us have super “highly tuned” nervous systems! Thanks so much for all you do, Trudy and thanks to everyone in this group/community/village!

Based on the response this facebook post generated many of us have super “highly tuned” nervous systems, myself included!

Many years ago I had read about device in her book: Thinking in Pictures, My Life with Autism many years ago. She is a fascinating woman and it’s a great read!  I see there is now an updated version.


Here is a little more about her: Temple Grandin PhD is an American professor of animal science at Colorado State University, world-renowned autism spokesperson and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. On her website it states that she is now the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world.

She writes about her squeeze machine and how it helped her anxiety and oversensitivity to touch here: Calming Effects of Deep Touch Pressure in Patients with Autistic Disorder, College Students, and Animals

I will describe here a deep touch pressure device (“squeeze machine”) that I developed to help me overcome problems of oversensitivity to touch, and that allays my nervousness. Reactions of other people to the squeeze machine, including children with autistic disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are also reported.

When I posted this on facebook I also asked: “Do you have a source you can recommend -organic cotton cloth, non-plastic beads?”

I received some great resources but none that use organic cotton cloth and non-plastic beads. Some companies use stones and/or glass beads and one company has the option to send in your own fabric so you could buy your own organic cotton.  

I just feel that with sensitive individuals, having organic cotton and beads that are not plastic is the best option, especially since many of you will spend quite a bit of time under these blankets or wrapped in them.

I appreciate having the opportunity to share all the great facebook comments here. Thanks if you contributed to the discussion!. If you’d like to see all the responses here is link to the facebook post. Join us on facebook and be part of future discussions. We have a lot of fun and some healthy and sometimes heated debates too!

Stay tuned for part 2 where I will share resources for buying a weighted blanket. I’ll also share more of the research on how these weighted blankets work, resources for making one plus how to know what weight is best for you.

If you’ve used a weighted blanket for anxiety, stress reduction, ADHD or insomnia please do share how you liked it and how it helped you. Have you used one personally, or with children or recommended them to patients/clients?

If you have a resource that offers organic cotton cloth with non-plastic beads please do share it.


Trudy Scott (CN), Certified Nutritionist is the founder of, a thriving nutrition practice with a focus on food, mood and women’s health. Trudy educates women about the amazing healing powers of food and nutrients and helps them find natural solutions for anxiety and other mood problems. Trudy’s goal for all her clients (and all women): “You can be your healthiest, look your best and feel on-top-of-the-world emotionally!”

You’ve got the Magic – a song by Robin Nielsen

April 15, 2016


My dear friend and Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Robin Nielsen wrote and sings this inspiring and uplifting song – it’s just beautiful and so much fun! She shares:

This song and music video is for you. Inspired by Tina Maze, the beautiful 2014 Winter Olympic Gold Medalist who made a music video about her journey to Gold, Marianne Williamson’s poem “Our Deepest Fear”, and all of my beautiful clients over the years, I wrote this delicious song with my sons, Nick and Duncan Nielsen to inspire women to tap back into their own magic, and shine no matter what their age.

Robin has helped “thousands of women of all ages regain their health and get the twinkle back in their eyes” and she has a lovely message for us:

“You’ve Got the Magic” was written and produced for all of us. It’s time to ask for what we want and discover the beautiful goddess within. Enjoy this fabulous life no matter what, and let your inner light shine bright as an inspiration to everyone. I invite you to rekindle your magic and open all the “love letters” that come your way everyday.

Wishing you joy, grace, beauty and lots of pleasure. Please share with every beautiful woman you know.

Enjoy the uplifting song and the really fun video! I keep watching it and smile the whole way through. I’m also so in awe of someone being able to sing and produce a song and video like this! Wow!

We have been friends since I first became a nutritionist and met when we both volunteered to do speaker support at the National Association of Nutrition Professionals /NANP ( conference. We were later invited to serve on the board of directors and Robin went on the become President of the board, while I served as VP (and later as President).

During production of the video, Robin reached out to her friends and colleagues asking for a short video clip of us having fun and enjoying life. I sent in a clip and I’m actually featured in the video. How fun! See if you can spot me!?

You can get the song on iTunes or Amazon and grab the lyrics here.

Trudy Scott (CN), Certified Nutritionist is the founder of, a thriving nutrition practice with a focus on food, mood and women’s health. Trudy educates women about the amazing healing powers of food and nutrients and helps them find natural solutions for anxiety and other mood problems. Trudy’s goal for all her clients (and all women): “You can be your healthiest, look your best and feel on-top-of-the-world emotionally!”

One Hidden Hormone-Disrupting Ingredient to Avoid: on Hormones – A Women’s Wellness Summit

April 11, 2016

It starts today so I’m just sending you a quick reminder about Hormones – A Women’s Wellness Summit. Join me, Bridgit Danner, LAc, and the 30+ health and wellness experts and educate yourself online and no cost from April 11-18.

(you can still register here

Summit speakers cover the adrenals, low testosterone in women, PMS and missed periods, endometriosis, how to have gorgeous skin, fertility, pregnancy and post-partum, perimenopause, your hunger hormones, toxins in your food, bio-identical hormones, cell phone dangers and much much more.

Here is the speaker/topic line-up for today/day 1:


My interview is Balance Brain Chemistry to End Anxiety and airs on day 3. I talk about the importance of cholesterol and how to figure out how much of the amino acids you may need and how to do a trial. Dr. Jill Carnahan’s interview is also on day 3: What’s the Big Deal About Methylation? You can read snippets from our interviews here.

Here are a few snippets from Lara Adler’s informative interview (which airs on day 6): One Hidden Hormone-Disrupting Ingredient to Avoid

…there are a lot of chemicals that research is showing can have really dramatic impacts on our health. And not just women’s health issues and endocrine disruption, which we’ll get into, but everything from cancers and heart disease and metabolic diseases, as I mentioned earlier, to autism and learning disabilities, behavioral problems, infertility, thyroid problems. Basically, every single health struggle that people have, there is some connection to environmental toxins.

…unfortunately, the most common endocrine disruptor is in thousands and thousands of products. And that is disguised under the word fragrance. And so fragrance is a catch-all word. Like there’s anywhere between, I think, it’s up to…It’s either 300 or 3,000 ingredients that can make up the word fragrance.

So labeling laws don’t require companies to disclose what that fragrance ingredients are because it sometimes a trade secret.

…if you can smell a product, if it has a fragrance, then those are fragrance molecules that you are inhaling into your body.

And interestingly, inhalation is the fastest way for something to enter your bloodstream is through inhalation, aside from injection..This is why this is one of my first stops in having people make shifts – is let’s look at fragrance first.

Here are the other days 6 speakers/topics:


I hope you can join us online on Hormones: A Women’s Wellness Summit

You can register here:

PS. Please share with other women who may be looking for this type of information.

Trudy Scott (CN), Certified Nutritionist is the founder of, a thriving nutrition practice with a focus on food, mood and women’s health. Trudy educates women about the amazing healing powers of food and nutrients and helps them find natural solutions for anxiety and other mood problems. Trudy’s goal for all her clients (and all women): “You can be your healthiest, look your best and feel on-top-of-the-world emotionally!”

Lyme Disease – my anxiety GABA interview, ACEs and replay reminders

April 10, 2016


Just a quick reminder that today is the last day of new interviews for the Chronic Lyme Disease Summit and tomorrow you get a full day of replays of ALL the interviews.

Here is the line-up for today, day 7:

My interview airs today: Tryptophan and GABA to ease the Anxiety and Panic Attacks

  • Many people with chronic Lyme disease have chronic anxiety too and the focus of my interview is how to use targeted individual amino acids GABA and tryptophan to top up low levels of GABA and serotonin while the Lyme is being addressed.
  • This gives Lyme sufferers resolution from much of the anxiety (if not all) right away and they don’t need to resort to meds like benzodiazepines or anti-depressants (like the women in the study below). There is also a big connection between Lyme disease and pyroluria and I cover this too.

You can read a bit more about some of the research I discuss here:

Here is a snippet from The Role of Stress & Emotional Trauma with Lyme Disease, a fascinating interview with Niki Gratrix (we’ve met and I love the work she is doing in this area of ACEs):


…stress and emotional trauma have a primary effect on your biology. So emotional trauma in childhood, if you like, your biography becomes your biology. And emotional trauma in childhood, unfortunately time does not heal, it conceals. And the body will remember the trauma. And so to 20, 30 years down the line, you’re going to start to have physical expression of illness due to the unresolved trauma.

So ACEs, which are these adverse childhood experiences, they were first studied in the mid-1990s by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente.

And they looked first at 17,500 adults. And they were looking at the health statistics over a lifetime and correlated them with the number of ACEs that they had. When we talk about ACEs, what do we mean? In the context of that study, they were looking at physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, physical and emotional neglect. They were looking at parents separating or divorce, domestic violence or mental illness in the family, substance abuse, and someone in the family being incarcerated.

So as a child, if you experienced one or more of those ACEs, these were some of the statistics. First of all, 67% of all adults said they’d had at least one ACE. And of 67%, 80% of those had 4 or more ACEs. And essentially, if you have a high level of ACEs, this was correlated with a dramatic increase in the risk of 7 out 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. so if you have four or more ACEs, your relative risk of things like cancer is twice as high, hepatitis 2.5 times as high, depression 4.5 times as high, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 2.5 times higher, and suicide 12 times more likely to commit suicide with 4 ACEs in childhood. If you have 8 or more ACEs, you have triple the risk of lung cancer and 3.5 times the risk of getting heart disease.

But there’s also a very interesting later study done on 15,500 people by the same researchers, which was the CDC and Kaiser Permanente, just specifically looking at autoimmune disorders. And what they found, again, dramatic statistics. Two or more ACEs, you’re 100% more likely to be diagnosed with rheumatic diseases.

How that’s translated in the brain is it’s a chronic fear response that is constantly there. And the brain responds by actually increasing the number of neurons in the brain that react to fear and stress. The amygdala expands. It becomes more activated. That will translate through the hypothalamus, through the HPA axis, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, and that will translate, also impacting the immune system.

there’s many experts in the Lyme field who acknowledge that this emotional trauma is a primary impact. And I happen to know Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt’s work very well, very familiar with his work and having interviewed him on my summit, he has his, I think it’s called the “Klinghardt axiom,” which is for each amount of bacterial infection in the body, there will be an equal amount of unresolved toxicity. And for each amount of unresolved toxicity, there will be an equal amount of unresolved emotional trauma. So these things all go hand-in-hand. And they need a multifactorial approach, if that makes sense.

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Trudy Scott (CN), Certified Nutritionist is the founder of, a thriving nutrition practice with a focus on food, mood and women’s health. Trudy educates women about the amazing healing powers of food and nutrients and helps them find natural solutions for anxiety and other mood problems. Trudy’s goal for all her clients (and all women): “You can be your healthiest, look your best and feel on-top-of-the-world emotionally!”

Medication tapering and withdrawal: an interview with Dr. Kelly Brogan

April 8, 2016


I recently had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Dr. Kelly Brogan, holistic women’s health psychiatrist and author of the new bestseller, A Mind of Your Own. I’ve had the section on medication tapering and withdrawal effects transcribed because it’s so valuable.


Kelly: Now much of my practice is devoted to psychiatric medications tapers. Guess what? I didn’t learn that in my training. There wasn’t a single hour of education on this subject. I have learned how to do this from patients, and really from patients globally who are educating each other and frankly educating physicians about how to engage in a safe and responsible psychiatric medication tapers……

…when you try to taper off a medication after long-term exposure, either because you’re no longer deriving that initial benefit from it, or because something has changes about your life circumstance and you want to try a different kind of healthcare maybe, they you might learn that these are some of the most habit forming medications, I would say habit forming substances, on the planet.

I wouldn’t believe this if I haven’t seen it with my very own eyes, but this is what actually compelled me to put down my prescription pad for good. After I read that book, I began to take patients, or at least offer them the opportunity to taper them off of medication. Even when we did it responsibly, I was essentially running an outpatient rehab. I mean from neurologic symptoms to psychiatric symptoms, physical symptoms, autoimmune diseases flaring, patients developing impulsive behavior and even violence. It was beyond description.

Then I began to see that actually a lot of patients around the world are talking about this. They’re talking about withdrawal from anti-depressant specifically, but of course other medications as well. Their doctors are totally ill-equipped to help them because we don’t learn about how to do this in our training. We actually in fact dismiss patients when they talk about these being addictive medications. Of course, now finally Fava is a group of researchers who have finally begun to publish the reality of this withdrawal syndrome, and how disabling it can be.

Since I have 4 grounded lifestyle interventions, and actually begun with nutrition such that I don’t even begin a medication taper until about 2 months into lifestyle change, everything is different now in my practice. I feel that once you can optimize your physiology, you really put yourself in a much, much better position to safely and strategically taper. Wow. Isn’t that something you would want to know before taking your first prescription? I certainly never told any patients that it could be like a horror show and you might never be able come off of a psychiatric medication if you’re taking it for longer than a year or so. I never informed patients of that.

A lot of what I discuss and describe in this book is in service of presenting people with a full picture of what the science has to say before they make a decision. I think we really wish that there was a magic pill. We really wish there was a safe effective quick fix. Unfortunately, what is available is really anything but that.

Trudy: Yeah. We want that quick fix. I’ve got a few follow on questions, because this is a lot of good information here. The fact that you see all these problems when people are coming off the meds, is there a time frame, or is that really dependent on each person?

Kelly: It’s very, very dependent on each person. That ends up being the take home that we are talking about. What I like to call end of one medicine. We’re talking about the fact that our levels of biochemical individuality have ever been more relevant than when we’re exploring how we interact with chemicals in our environment, in our pharmaceuticals. We really need to understand that every single person is an individual.

When I taper patients off of meds, I normally do what’s called a test dose decrease, which often is around 20% to 25% of the dose. We come down by that. Again, this is after we’ve done the initial months at least of fairly strict dietary compliance working with relaxation response, doing 20 minutes or more of movement, working on sleep. All of this has to happen first. Then we begin, and so we start with a test dose. If we see in about 2 to 4 weeks that test dose is completely well-tolerated, meaning you don’t even notice the difference, then we probably can work in bigger increments. That’s actually a godsend. These tapers, when we’re working in 10% and less doses, could take literally years.

You want to begin to learn about what your body is capable of bouncing back from. We begin with 25%. If that’s not a pretty picture, then we’ll just scale it back to about 10% of the initial dose, and work with that 10% increment at about every 2 to 4 weeks, sometimes unfortunately slower. The increment and then the speed are 2 variables that we have to learn for each patient.

I don’t know what I would do without a compounding pharmacy. While many of these medications are available in liquid form, and some of them, like Effexor for example, have beads inside a capsule, to be able to tailor and personalize the dosage to each individual patient is wonderful and that I have that option through compounding pharmacy. I work with one in Massachusetts named Johnson Compounding, and they’ve just been a wonderful support over the years to my patients.

Trudy: Wonderful. Very slow and then obviously very individualized. Now I’m very familiar with the effects of benzodiazepines and the slow taper process that’s needed for someone on the anti-anxiety benzodiazepine medication. Would you say that SSRIs can have comparable effects in some people, or are they not as bad as the benzodiazepines?

Kelly: That’s a great question. What we’ve observed in psychiatry is that there’s really been a transition from using benzodiazepine as sort of like a spot treatment to transitioning into using anti-depressants long-term. When I was in my training, the typical gold standard protocol would be to start somebody on both benzodiazepine and anti-depressant, and then taper them off to benzodiazepine and leave on the anti-depressant with the thinking being that benzodiazepine are acknowledged for their habit forming properties and anti-depressants are totally safe.

What we are learning is in fact, that group that Fava runs, with the papers that they’re putting out, they are essentially equating the anti-depressant withdrawal phenomenon to benzodiazepines. In my clinical experience, I would actually argue that SSRIs are worse with long-term exposure. A lot of people at this point, given that it’s been decades since Prozac, have been on these medications for more than 10 years. We’re really talking about a level of habituation that could be challenging to undo. It’s not that I haven’t. I struggled a lot with Klonopin for example. It’s not that I haven’t encountered challenges with benzodiazepines.

A patient in my practice I’m taking off of Lexapro a thousandth of a milligram a month. I’ve never heard of something like that. Heroin, crack, cocaine, oxycontin: show me something that would ever require that. It’s unbelievable. I think it’s at least comparable I would say, and that’s what the literature is beginning to demonstrate, is that there are actually comparable phenomenon, but we really never ever talked about anti-depressants in this way, so it really is a game changing perspective.

Trudy: The fact that you say people are not told that this could be a possibility, and the fact that you’re talking about this and writing about it I think is so important, because people need to know. They would choose not to do this if they did know. I see there is this MA bill going through [correction: being proposed – you can read more here]. It’s about benzodiazepines and people needing to consent to the fact that it’s going to possibly cause them issues. It sounds like we need to do the same with these anti-depressants.

Kelly: Absolutely, 100%.

Trudy: Now, I’ve heard that certain SSRIs are worse than others. I’ve heard that Paxil can be really bad. Have you seen a difference between different medications?

Kelly: Basically we look at half-life of these medications, and we extrapolate from there. Assuming that Prozac would be the easiest, and there are medications like Paxil and Effexor that are more challenging. In my experience, there are 2 ways of discontinuation – the field likes to call it discontinuations issues. The first is acute. It’s within 72 hours of a dose change where you can get brain zaps and headache, and gastrointestinal distress, you feel agitated. The Paxils of the world are much more likely to cause those more immediate withdrawal symptoms.

What I have found is unfortunately there’s no free lunch. There isn’t a medication that actually is effortless to come off for everyone, so that even when you’re on Prozac, for example, for a long period of time, even though it has this long half-life, it should be easy to come off of, in my experience, it can often be challenging as well. These other medications often manifest as second waves. What I have found is almost uncanny – after about 2 months, it’s almost always 6 to 8 weeks after the final dose or after a major dose change. It’s like the other shoe can drop.

You have those immediate withdrawal symptoms, and then about 2 months later, you can begin to have what has historically been categorized as a relapse. This is when your doctor will tell you, “You see, you should have never even tried to go off your medication. You need it for life. Now you know.” That’s what we’re taught to say. In fact, it’s actually a protracted withdrawal phenomenon. Again, this has now been documented that this can occur for unfortunately, I don’t want to scare anyone, it can occur for months and months and even years after the final dose. That being said, there is a medication that spares you from that arm of this problem.

Even I went for years tapering patients off of Wellbutrin and thinking, “Well, this is the easy one. I can even come down by 50% of the dose, and it’s not a problem.” Right now, I have in my practice, a patient who has been completely destabilized coming down by 25 milligrams of Wellbutrin. Again, it’s a very individualized process, and I don’t think that there are any obvious choices in terms of medications that are easier come off of after long-term exposure.

Trudy: Thank you for sharing that. It’s scary, but the good thing is that there are solutions. People on these medications must do the slow taper and make all the changes that you’ve talked about. I’m glad that you mentioned, “Don’t rush into this, make all the food changes.” We’re going to talk about some of the things that you recommend in a second, but get yourself in a better place to start making these changes. If you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, “Oh my gosh. This is terrible.” Don’t go and rush out and just stop. You simply don’t want to stop cold turkey. You want to be working with someone. Then obviously read the book and get resources so you can be in a good place when you’re starting to make these changes.

Kelly: Absolutely. That’s all incredibly important. Yes. Please don’t ever consider just stopping your medication.

Trudy: Absolutely. I have one final question on the medication aspect. You’ve got a small section in the book where you talk about using amino acids are helping people taper, and as you know, my community is very into using the amino acids. I find them very helpful for helping people with mood and anxiety issues. Can you talk a little bit about how you use the aminos and how beneficial you find them when someone is doing this taper?

Kelly: Yes. Absolutely. I am quite certain that there are many, many, many roads to physiologic and psycho spiritual resiliency. I, in no way, intend to position myself as having the answer by any means. I am very much trying to create a space for all of those who are passionate about natural healing, including yourself and our colleagues, because I think that just about everything in the natural health arena offers you the potential for very high yield, very low-risk healthcare.

I certainly don’t consider myself an expert in amino acids and don’t have a fraction of the knowledge that you have about this arena. That being said, I do use them for tapers specifically. If I use supplements I wait after a month of dietary change before introducing any supplements, mostly because I want to, I don’t know, send patients the message of what a single intervention, in terms of lifestyle, what a dietary intervention can do in terms of moving the needle of their health. I often don’t want to cloud the picture with other interventions like even supplements or even detox.

After that period, if it is necessary, I’ll often lead with some of the supplements that I talk about, whether it’s probiotic or glandulars, I use a lot based on my work with the only mentor I’ve ever had, Dr. Nicholas Gonzales. I learned a lot about using glandulars, using specific minerals, using fatty acids, that sort of thing. Well, we’re working with SSRIs. I tend to use tryptophan more often than 5-HTP. I do use tryptophan even in the 3 to 6 gram range before dinner and before bed. I would say that it’s helpful often, not in every case, with a lot of the insomnia specifically. It’s about the worst thing that can happen in the setting of a taper. It’s the kind of insomnia that’s induced by psychiatric medication taper.

I have several tricks up my sleeve, and that’s certainly one of them. Through my own self-education, and again, you may have a more sophisticated perspective on this that when you use 5-HTP or tryptophan for the longest period of time, meaning over a couple of weeks, so you want to balance it out with tyrosine or DL-phenylalanine. If we are using it for a period of time, I might incorporate that. I have found that when I work with Wellbutrin tapers, it’s extremely helpful. Tyrosine and actually an herb called mucuna support dopamine.

Then all of my patients who are tapering – I have them on a blend of amino acids.


We cover much more than the medication taper and withdrawal and you can listen to the entire interview here:


A Mind of Your Own: The Truth about Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives is superb, brave, bold, science-based (which I love!) and offers holistic solutions for depression (and anxiety). Get the book from Amazon or better yet, get a copy from your local book store (ask them to get it if they don’t carry it)!


It launched March 16th and there is a grass-roots effort to share this book widely because of the mainstream media blackout.  Join the grassroots effort and help share this valuable message!

Take a picture with the book and post on social media with #amindofyourown and you can have an impact. You’ll also automatically show up in “hall of fame” on the tagboard.


You can go and get the first chapter of the book if you’re on the fence (get it here: After reading the first chapter, I know you’ll want to get the book and join the grass roots effort.

If you already have the book lets us know in the comments what you think.

Feel free to post questions on the blog and please do share your SSRI or benzodiazepine taper and withdrawal story so we can all be better informed.

PS. Both Kelly Brogan and myself will be presenting at the Mindd Conference in Sydney in May. We’ll also be presenting at IMMH/Integrative Medicine for Mental Health Conference in September in Washington DC. Come along to those events, and you can hear Kelly Brogan speak live, and you can hear me speak live as well.

Trudy Scott (CN), Certified Nutritionist is the founder of, a thriving nutrition practice with a focus on food, mood and women’s health. Trudy educates women about the amazing healing powers of food and nutrients and helps them find natural solutions for anxiety and other mood problems. Trudy’s goal for all her clients (and all women): “You can be your healthiest, look your best and feel on-top-of-the-world emotionally!”