What if with all our advances in healthcare, we were on the brink of having a healthcare system that made people really healthy and really happy? What if all it would take was finding some missing link that could have an immediate positive effect on the quality of their daily lives?
I believe that we are on that brink of healthcare becoming amazingly effective and that the missing link is what I call “brain based health.” The purpose of this blog is to start a dialog in which we learn together how to enter this new age of healthcare that is based on neuroscience, how to tap into the extraordinary power of the brain to control every chemical and electrical surge in our bodies, and ultimately, our health and happiness.
We need to discover that missing link because the health of Americans is doing downhill. The bubble of overuse of medications, procedures, and devices is about to burst. Presently, 70 percent of Americans have at least one chronic disease, if you include the conditions of overweight and mental illness. Substance abuse affects 20 percent of Americans and deaths by suicide have increased by about 30 percent since 1999. We spend double what other wealthy countries pay per person on healthcare, yet rank last in life expectancy among the 12 wealthiest industrialized nations.
The science behind brain based health has been stored in journals that do not result in headline news, such as Neuron, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Current Opinion in Neuroscience. We need access to that science. A few months back, when I was finishing up writing a book on stress overload, I realized that studies were being published that were so game-changing that everyone should have access to them. So, I began thinking about how worthwhile it would be to start a blog.
At the same time, I realized that the time had come when we needed a new pathway to well-being. It was urgent to get these ideas out. In fact, I was accustomed to hearing that we were in a “now or never” position with climate change, and I saw the same situation with brain stress. It was stress in the brain that was causing everything from late night sugar binges and technology addiction, to rancor in Congress, town council members screaming at each other and rising rates of stress-induced conditions such as anxiety, depression, addictions, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
You might wonder at the leap I am making, seeing brain based (?) health as just about everything. It’s because the circuits that cause health issues cause other issues, too. They are the same brain circuits! Here’s how it works:
Stress from our environment worms its way into our brain and encodes brain circuits that cause problems (“Stress Circuits”). Most are encoded during adverse childhood events, some are encoded later during trauma, and some from the sheer overload of modern life. Once encoded, the brain hides them away, so we believe they do not exist until some small (or large) stressor enters the brain and reactivates them. We overreact, shut down, feel hurt, numb out, behavior badly, choose wrong partners, or have difficulty making decisions and following through. That’s what these wires do, and we all have some of them.
The purpose of this blog, Brain Based Health (BBH), is to start a dialog about these wires and how understanding them, not judging them, and learning how to work with them can change the quality of our lives, as well as our health and life expectancy. They are the internal bullies that cause chemical mayhem, and we can fight back in a loving, practical and compelling way. This gives us a new pathway to well-being.
Welcome to BBH, and joining me in this time of discovery and excitement of brain-based health! There are no medications or procedures involved. The recommended “dose” of BBH is one blog per day. Again, welcome!