by Megan Caper | health, illness, physical, wellness
Migraines wreak havoc in people’s lives and are much more than a headache. Migraines cause pain (headache, or stomach ache in the case of abdominal migraines) and can also include symptoms like light and temperature sensitivity, dizziness, distorted vision or “floaters”, numbness in face or extremities, nausea, vomiting, and racing thoughts. Scientists are still unclear about what causes migraines, but current research points to a connection between serotonin levels and sudden changes in blood pressure and there appears to be a genetic component, as well.
However, the real reason for migraines isn’t just biological – people who are HSPs (highly sensitive people) and who tend to internalize stress and blame themselves (rather than blame the situation or other people) are the ones who will eventually develop migraines.
First, let’s look at the HSP link. People who fit the “highly sensitive person” profile are more finely attuned to both sensory stimuli and emotions. HSPs make up about 15-20% of the population and have brains that process more information than the norm and reflect on that information more deeply than others. HSPs tend to be more sensitive to sensory stimuli in their environments like flashing or bright light and noisy environments. They will often need to recharge with some alone time, preferably in a cozy Hygge-like environment. They also tend to pick up on details that others may miss – a brain that processes more information and reflects on it more deeply is not a bad thing after all, and can be a superpower. HSPs are good at seeing both the big picture and the little details, simultaneously. HSPs also have heightened empathic abilities as they are more aware of their inner emotional environment as well as the emotions of others. HSPs have more “mirror neurons” which are a type of brain cell that allows deeper social connections and greater awareness of the emotional state of others, which allows knowing more quickly and deeply what others are feeling, often more deeply than those others may know themselves.
As you can imagine from this description, HSP brains also tend to get overloaded more easily, and that’s when migraines can occur. If HSPs are constantly trying to operate in an environment or in social situations with high levels of sensory and emotional stimuli, it will eventually be more than they can handle. This tipping point of overwhelm is what can cause the neurological and blood pressure changes that can trigger a migraine.
But the overwhelm itself is not really the issue, it’s what we do with the overwhelm that matters.
There are two basic options for a brain that feels overwhelmed or stressed – we can blame the situation and other people (“That meeting was too crazy! I feel exhausted just from being in that room.”) or we can blame ourselves (“I should have been more prepared for that meeting. Everyone got upset and that probably could have been avoided if I’d had the information they were looking for beforehand.”) For those of us that tend towards the “freeze” or “appease” type of stress response, we usually will blame ourselves or put undue pressure on ourselves at work or school to try to avoid any feelings of shame or guilt. The changes in hormones and neurotransmitters caused by this type of self-blame, self-abandonment or self-gaslighting are the real culprits when it comes to migraines. When I made an effort to stop being a perfectionist (which is really a fear of the shame from disappointing people) my migraines reduced significantly.
When we can shift from thinking that there’s something wrong with us and we’re not doing a good enough job to realizing that our HSP sensitivity is just another type of neurodiversity (that is also a superpower) and that we are most likely doing plenty at whatever job or task is at hand, then our bodies will no longer have to stop us in our tracks with a migraine.
You are a sensitive soul, with the ability to think more widely and deeply than most, and that is a superpower. You are enough, and in fact people admire you and want to have you around just because you are you.
If you can start believing these two things, your migraines will diminish and you’ll find yourself on the road to true healing.
PS: This post was by request! When I talked about digestive issues last week, someone asked if I could do one on migraines. So, if you have a medical issue that you’d like me to write about please let me know and I’ll make a future post about that topic.
by Megan Caper | health, illness, physical, wellness
I see a lot of clients that have digestive issues and so I want to address what I’ve seen as the common emotional correlations for issues with the stomach, small intestine and large intestine. What does it mean when you’re having issues with your digestive system?
Stomach: If you have issues with your stomach like gastric reflux, ulcers or stomach cramps it can be helpful to think of the saying, “I can’t stomach that.” Stomach issues often come up when we aren’t living in alignment with our ethics or values and we’re being asked, or are asking ourselves, to do something that we don’t feel good about. For example, maybe you have a job with a company whose corporate culture is toxic. Or maybe you’re in a relationship where you’re putting up with a lot of BS from your partner and you know you need to do something about it, but you haven’t. In Chinese medicine, stomach issues represent over-worry or stress, so what is it that you’re stressed about but haven’t done anything about yet?
Small intestine: The job of the small intestine is to figure out what parts of our food are nutrients to be absorbed and what parts are indigestible waste that needs to be passed on to the large intestine. Issues with the small intestine like leaky gut, food allergies, or issues with slow or fast digestion come from having difficulty with discernment around if things in your life are good for you (nutrients) or something you need to get rid of (indigestible waste). I see a ton of my people pleasers coming in with small intestine issues because they have trouble discerning what’s actually good for them and what they are doing so others stay happy. They take on (or absorb) everything for everyone. If you are someone who says, “I love making other people happy!” and you have digestive issues, then this may be an issue of discernment. The way to heal this issue is to practice having better boundaries around what is emotionally healthy and good for you, and get better at saying “no” to the things that are draining or consistently center others’ needs over your own. On the other end of the spectrum, I also see people coming in who do the opposite – instead of absorbing everything, they are too rigid and controlling and don’t take the chance of opening up to (absorbing) anything in case it might hurt them. The way to heal this is to work on feeling safe around other people.
Large intestine: Let’s talk about how you handle your $h!t. Are you someone who is able to let emotions come up in real time and process them? Or are you someone who is always on the ball, productive and damn near perfect but then needs a glass of wine at the end of the day to come down from the stress? The large intestine is all about how you handle being upset, disappointed or stressed and whether you hold on to these emotions or have healthy ways of addressing them. If you don’t have a healthy way of handling these as they come up, the energy in your large interesting can get backed up and that’s when trouble arises. The physiological function of the large intestine is intertwined with water balance – too much and you have loose stool, too little and you’re constipated. Emotions and water are BFFs, water is one of the main ways emotions move through our bodies. So if your water isn’t moving well, I can almost guarantee your bowels won’t be either.
If you’ve been working with digestive issues for a while and still aren’t seeing the progress you’d like, feel free to contact me and we can set up a call. Also, if you liked this article and you want to know more about the emotional connection with other body parts or systems, reply and let me know which ones! If there’s enough interest, I can make this into a series.
by Megan Caper | emotions, healing, health, wellness
There is mounting research showing the massive effect on our health of a well-balanced psychosocial ecosystem. A psychosocial ecosystem includes things like our roles, our social connections, and our daily routines. If we are feeling stress or imbalance in any of these areas, it hampers healing, especially of chronic conditions. Let’s look at these three areas and how they impact our health and bodymind.
Our roles are the “parts” we play in our lives. If you think about the credits at the end of a movie where it says “mother” or “bank teller” and then lists the actors’ names, this is like the roles we play in our lives. We all have multiple roles, like “friend”, “daughter”, “co-worker”, “employee”, “crafter”, “film buff” and many more. Each of these roles brings some sort of meaning to our lives and each of them is fulfilling in a different way (some more than others!) The key is to look at where the stress lies. Which of these roles are stressful? Are there any of these roles that we simply hate? If there are roles that are causing you stress or unhappiness, then it’s important to look at how to modify them or get rid of them all together. For example, if being a “daughter” is stressful because your parents are toxic, how can you lessen the time and energy you spend on being with them? How do you lessen the role of “daughter”? However, if a role brings you calm and joy, then look at how you can increase that role in your life. For example, if your favorite part of your job is being a “co-worker”, how can you increase opportunities to interact with others at work?
Social connections are the people we have in our life. This could be family, friends, co-workers, pickleball buddies, online gaming friends, or our favorite waiter at that restaurant we go to – anyone who you know and have some sort of connection to. It’s been shown many times over that the quantity AND quality of these connections is incredibly important for our health. So, even if you don’t feel like you have a ton of good quality relationships right now, you can start chatting with folks at the dog park or in line at the store and even that will have beneficial effects, as the quantity and quality of social interactions are both health-promoting. When you make that connection with another person, even a short interaction, it starts a cascade of healing chemicals in your body that positively affect your nervous system, immune system, mood, and more.
Our bodyminds love routines because they love familiar things. We love to feel the calm predictability of something that we know is going to work out in the same way it did before. Bonus points if we know it’s something that will make us happy or fulfilled. Routines can range from where we drink our morning coffee or tea to what aisles we go down first in the supermarket to our daily yoga or meditation practice. When our routines get thrown off, we often become stressed because we don’t know exactly how things will unfold. So take a look at your daily routines at home and at work. Which ones bring you joy? What is it about them that makes you happy? Can you bring more of that into your life? And if there’s some part of your day that seems to feel chaotic or unpredictable, can you bring a routine to it so that it feels more predictable (and therefore less stressful)?
Where can you make some changes to your roles, social connectivity and routines in your life? Remember to start small and build from there, even small changes can make a big difference over time and we only start making bigger changes by starting small, getting positive feedback, and then wanting more.
What one thing can you change today?
by Megan Caper | healing, health, wellness
There’s an unspoken epidemic happening right now and I want to address it. You’ve probably heard of long Covid, which is when people have lingering symptoms after a Covid infection, but I’m seeing a deeper and more complex story with my clients than is not generally being reported in the news.
Long Covid is one of many “post-viral” syndromes that can cause a whole host of issues that may seem unrelated. Post-viral syndromes have been around for years, they’re what cause Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (aka chronic fatigue), and are suspected as one of the factors in other diseases as well. Long Covid and other post-viral illnesses happen when the body still has some of the virus circulating in a small amount, or when the body gets stuck in a cycle of inflammation from fighting off the illness, or both.
This is why you can have long Covid even if you never actually “got” Covid – we’ve all probably been exposed to the Covid virus at this point, and while some people didn’t get exposed to enough virus particles to cause full-blown Covid, they did get enough to cause long Covid. These people probably never tested positive for Covid because you need a certain amount of antibodies to test positive, and their antigen/antibody levels were too low to detect.
In addition, I think that the same people who have a higher risk of autoimmune issues from being in the freeze/fawn (aka people pleasing) nervous system response are also at a higher risk of getting long Covid. This is borne out somewhat by the data, which shows that the rate of long Covid among those that tested positive is 10.1% of men and 17.9% of women (women tend towards freeze/fawn more than men.) Although, I think the rate is even higher when you take into account that people can get long Covid without ever testing positive for Covid.
The symptoms of long Covid are varied and can look different in each person. Post-viral syndromes often have a few things in common, like fatigue and brain fog, but because Covid is an RNA virus and can cross the blood-brain barrier, there are a host of weirder symptoms that doctors may not think of as the typical post-viral issues. (If they even know about post-viral issues at all! This has historically been an area where medical gaslighting is rampant.)
Here are some of the symptoms of long Covid:
- Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
- Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort
- Brain fog (trouble thinking clearly or finding words)
- Short or long-term memory issues
- Depression or anxiety that often comes on quickly and then leaves
- Chills and night sweats or other sudden changes in body temperature
- Sleep problems
- New allergies to foods or your environment
- New sensitivities to odors, chemicals, light, touch, or noise
- Change or decrease in taste and smell
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, especially when climbing stairs or hills
- Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations) that comes and goes
- Muscle weakness and joint pain
- Pins-and-needles feelings in your arms and legs
- Warm or swollen legs or feet (if this is the case, please see a doctor immediately, it could be a blood clot)
- Digestive issues like diarrhea, stomach pain, or acid reflux
- Changes in appetite or types of food you crave
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Hair loss
- Weight gain or loss
- A general feeling of being “inflamed”
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, but if you’ve noticed any of these popping up in the last 3 years, it could be long Covid. Since long-covid affects so many body systems, I’d suggest finding a holistic practitioner to help you out, like a functional medicine doctor, a naturopath, or an energy healer (like me!) There are steps you can take to improve your symptoms and get your body into a better balance so that it can oust the Covid virus and start the healing process.
by Megan Caper | Happiness, healing, health, wellness
If you’re someone who struggles with depression, anxiety or mood swings, I’ve got some news for you.
Your struggles aren’t all in your head, in fact they’re most likely in your gut.
Recent research shows that 95% of our serotonin (the happy mood regulating chemical) is made by bacteria in our digestive system. Surprisingly, our gut microbiome is responsible for much of our mood cognition and mental health.
It turns out that the state of our intestines and the health of the critters that live in them (our bacterial and fungal microbiome) can affect everything from hormone regulation to our immune system and most notably, our mood and cognition. Research shows that fluctuations in our microbiome cause changes in all of these systems and severe fluctuations can even cause disease in the long term.
There have been multiple studies that show that chronic depression and anxiety are linked to what’s called “gut dysbiosis” or an imbalance in the type, number, and location of various microbiome species. When researchers provided treatment that balanced the microbiome, levels of anxiety and depression decreased.
What does this mean for you? If you’re someone that tends towards anxiety or depression, the cause may not be all in your head. Of course, our past experiences and daily lives can affect our mental health, but it appears that even those experiences and trauma reactions affect our gut microbiome as well. Our head brains and gut brains work as one system when it comes to mood and cognition. Changes in our mood or stress level alter the makeup of our microbiome, and those alterations can in turn affect our mood and stress levels. Like much of our physiology, it’s not so much cause and effect but rather homeostasis (or balance) that’s important.
How do I keep my gut critters happy?
Here are 4 ways to keep your microbiome’s critters happy and healthy:
- Eat lots of plants. Our gut critters need to eat, too, and their favorite foods are what are called “prebiotics” found in vegetables, grains, and fruits. Make sure you’re eating a variety of these foods so your microbiome will have plenty to chow down on.
- Eat or drink fermented or cultured foods. There are plenty of foods that contain the healthy bacteria and fungi/yeast we need. Things like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kiefer, yogurt and miso are all good sources of bacteria that our guts love.
- Avoid preservatives, artificial sweeteners and food coloring. All of these have been shown to decimate our microbiome. When possible, avoid these additives in your food. Some common food preservatives to look out for on nutrition labels are: nitrates/nitrites, sulfites, parabens, cellulose, and MSG.
- Meditate regularly. The list of health benefits from meditation keeps growing! There’s a study that recently came out which shows that the gut microbiome of Buddhist monks was healthier than that of neighboring residents in the same town. (I want it noted that the study states that, “All samples were collected and measured by professionals,” meaning that someone had the job title of “monk poop collector” for the duration of this study.)
If you suspect that your mood issues are gut related and you’ve tried all of the above without success, you can always reach out to me. I’m always happy to answer questions, and energy healing is another great way to address microbiome issues. I have many happy clients who have balanced their gut health through our sessions.
by Megan Caper | Happiness, healing, health, illness, physical, wellness
One of the most common questions I get from potential clients is “Can you help me with X condition?” and the answer is most often, “Yes, I can!” The medical intuitive healing system that I’ve created works with your body’s own healing systems on all three levels of body, mind and soul. I meet you at the healing edge of what you’re ready to balance, release or heal next on any of those three levels, and we move forward from there.
Over the next few months, I want to share some case studies with you so that you can understand the power of medical intuitive healing. I’ve changed the names and identifying details of these clients for privacy purposes, but the symptoms, treatment and results are all directly from my client notes.
Julia came to me with severe food and environmental allergies. For years, she’d become increasingly unable to eat any foods without breaking out in a rash or having shortness of breath. When we first started working together, she was down to only being able to eat 5 foods. She couldn’t eat out or to a friend’s house for dinner without bringing her own food. She also was suffering from environmental allergies and sensitivities that made it difficult to be in many public places without developing shortness of breath and headaches.
When I asked what she most wanted from our sessions, Julia said that she wanted to be able to go to her daughter’s house and babysit her young granddaughter. In the past, Julia had been her granddaughter’s regular afternoon babysitter, picking her up from daycare and spending the afternoons with her while her daughter and son-in-law were still at work. In the last 12 months or so, Julia’s environmental and food allergies had become so severe that she hadn’t been able to be in her daughter’s house or prepare the foods her granddaughter liked to eat for afternoon snacks.
Julia and I worked together for about 4 months, slowly bringing her digestive and immune systems back into balance and addressing trauma held in her body from both her own experience of childhood emotional neglect and her contentious divorce 10 years earlier. We worked on everything from her gut microbiome to past life karma, and even epigenetic changes that were causing her allergies.
Slowly, she began to eat more foods. Slowly, she began to be able to go to shops and restaurants without allergic reactions to the chemicals in the environment.
By the end of four months she was ecstatic — she could order food off of a menu and eat without fear! And she was able to prepare snacks for her granddaughter without getting a rash.
And best of all, Julia was back to babysitting again several times per week. I could hear the absolute joy in her voice when she told me about the games she and her granddaughter had played together that week. Julia was finally able once again to do the thing she loved the most, those things that brought so much meaning and satisfaction to her life.
I’ve had so many clients like this, who have suffered for years with unexplained allergies or sensitivities, which really can keep you from doing the things that bring you meaning and joy. If this sounds like you or someone you know, don’t give up hope! Energy healing can bring about healing that sounds miraculous, but is really just your body tapping into its own natural desire to be balanced and joyfully whole.