Holistic and Experiential Therapies
Humans possess an attraction to nature, a kinship. Being outside can create feelings of appreciation, peace and tranquility. Gardening can heighten those feelings. After many studies, science is starting to understand that gardening can actually improve health and well-being.
Garden Therapy, also known as Horticultural Therapy, has been implemented in hospitals, prisons, schools and communities. The American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) defines it as “a discipline that uses plants, gardening activities, and the natural world as vehicles for professionally conducted programs in therapy and rehabilitation.” The benefits of horticultural therapy include physical activity, relaxation and enjoyment, skill development, creative expression, social development, psychological well-being, sensory stimulation and intellectual and personal growth.
Anyone can benefit from garden therapy, but there are many specific groups that can benefit tremendously from therapeutic horticultural programs, including those with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, mental health problems, senior citizens, those with drug or alcohol problems and juvenile offenders. Garden therapy programs can help them develop social, work and numeric skills and offer opportunities for social interaction
Equine-Assisted Therapy provides a metaphoric experience with horses to promote emotional growth and helps build confidence. This experiential therapy teaches people about themselves, allows recognition of dysfunctional patterns of behavior, and helps define healthy relationships. Horses are typically non-judgmental and have no expectations or motives. Therefore, a guest can practice congruency without the perceived fear of rejection. The horse assists in making guests aware of their emotional state as the horse responds in reaction to their behavior. Through working with the horse, guests can gain insight into their feelings, behaviors, patterns, congruency, boundaries, and stumbling blocks to recovery. The process can be a very effective adjunct to treatment.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are the breakdown products of proteins, some of which are not readily available in diet and need to be supplemented in a concentrated form. They are the building blocks of proteins. Proteins play a very important role in maintaining our health and make up a big part of the diet. The three main macronutrients found in food include carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Proteins are required in our diet, as they are an important building block of muscle and brain tissue.
Amino acids, derived from protein intake, are precursors to brain chemicals such as serotonin, a natural anti-depressant-like chemical produced in the brain. Serotonin requires the amino acid tryptophan, found in foods such as turkey, for its production. Without the proper amino acids in our diet, our brains can become depleted of these crucial chemicals, otherwise known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitter depletion can not only lead to depression, it is also connected with insomnia, Attention Deficit Disorder, anxiety, memory loss, weight gain and addictive disorders (See Table 1).
Can’t You Get Amino Acids From Food?
The amino acid profile of various proteins varies greatly. Foods that contain
protein, whether they are vegetarian or animal in origin, contain different combinations of amino acids. While we do need to keep up our overall daily intake of protein in order to maintain our health, proper neurotransmitter balance cannot always be achieved through diet alone. Protein intake increases the level of amino acids circulating around in the blood stream. Once proteins are broken down into amino acids by the digestive system, they are then released into the blood stream. In order for these amino acids to be taken up into the brain, they have to be carried across the blood-brain barrier using a specific transport system. This transport system will not help to correct amino acid imbalances within the brain. For example, if you have become depleted in serotonin because of high stress, dietary deficiencies or other lifestyle factors, the tryptophan uptake will not increase in any capacity across the blood-brain barrier.
Why We Need Amino Acid Supplements?
So, how can we increase the amount of serotonin in the brain utilizing tryptophan as a precursor? The answer lies in the timing of supplementation. Between meals, the levels of circulating amino acids in the bloodstream decreases. By supplementing with an individual amino acid when one is between meals, we are allowing that particular amino acid to become more available to be taken up by the transporter at the blood-brain barrier. Once the amino acid is taken up in the brain, it can then be used for neurotransmitter production.
Amino acid therapy is often used to help address many of the symptoms listed in Table 1. Each neurotransmitter has a specific amino acid, which is required for its synthesis and plays a particular role within the brain and body.
Surprising Health Benefits of Yoga
Health Benefits Within
From lowering blood pressure to increasing pain tolerance, the following health benefits can all be discovered within the body.
Blood pressure. A consistent yoga practice decreases blood pressure through better circulation and oxygenation of the body. These two exercises can help lower blood pressure.
Pulse rate. A slower pulse rate indicates that your heart is strong enough to pump more blood with fewer beats. Regularly practicing yoga provides a lower pulse rate.
Circulation. Yoga improves blood circulation. By transporting nutrients and oxygen throughout your body, yoga practice provides healthier organs, skin, and brain.
Respiratory. Like the circulatory system, a lower respiratory rate indicates that the lungs are working more efficiently. Yoga decreases the respiratory rate through a combination of controlled breathing exercises and better fitness.
Cardiovascular endurance. A combination of lower heart rate and improved oxygenation to the body (both benefits of yoga) results in higher cardiovascular endurance.
Organs. Yoga practice massages internal organs, thus improving the ability of the body to prevent disease. Additionally, an experienced yoga practitioner becomes better attuned to her body to know at first sign if something isn’t functioning properly, thereby allowing for quicker response to head off disease.
Gastrointestinal. Gastrointestinal functions have been shown to improve in both men and women who practice yoga.
Immunity. Yoga practice has frequently been correlated with a stronger immune system. Read this article for more on the immune system and yoga, including some poses that specifically work on areas of immunity.
Pain. Pain tolerance is much higher among those who practice yoga regularly. In addition to pain tolerance, some instances of chronic pain, such as back pain, are lessened or eliminated through yoga (see below for more on back pain).
Metabolism. Having a balanced metabolism results in maintaining a healthy weight and controlling hunger. Consistent yoga practice helps find the balance and creates a more efficient metabolism.
Benefits of meditation
Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health. And these benefits don’t end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and improve certain medical conditions.
Meditation and emotional well-being
When you meditate, you clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress.
The emotional benefits of meditation include:
- Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
- Building skills to manage your stress
- Increased self-awareness
- Focusing on the present
- Reducing negative emotions
Acupuncture For Addiction
The use of acupuncture in addiction treatment began in the 1970’s when Dr. Wen, a neurosurgeon in Hong Kong used it to treat postoperative pain in a man who also happened to be withdrawing from heroin. He noticed that the man’s withdrawal symptoms had disappeared. Wen subsequently began treating narcotic addiction with acupuncture and reports of his success reached Dr. Smith at New York’s Lincoln Hospital, who adopted the approach in the mid 1970’s for a methadone program. Smith and co-workers have refined the detox protocol into five ear points and founded the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA). At the same time, the Haight-Asbury Free Clinic in San Francisco began to utilize acupuncture for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal and drug addiction. Since then, over the past 25 years, the number of facilities has grown steadily and is now estimated to be 1,200 in the US and over 4,000 worldwide. Programs utilizing this acupuncture protocol are located in county jails, maximum-security prisons, outpatient drug treatment programs, homeless shelters and mental health facilities. A 1997 National Institutes of Health (NIH) panel concluded that acupuncture should be part of a comprehensive management program for addiction.
A recent Yale study reported on a randomized controlled trial of ear acupuncture in cocaine-dependent subjects; 53.8% of those receiving the acupuncture treatment tested free of cocaine at the end of the study, compared with 23.5% and 9.1% in the two control groups. Those who completed the acupuncture treatment also had longer periods of sustained abstinence than participants in the control groups. Arthur Margolin, Ph.D., a research scientist at Yale’s Department of Psychiatry stated: “in addition to its effectiveness, acupuncture is a low cost treatment and has few, if any, side effects”. Margolin explains that acupuncture not only minimizes cravings and withdrawal discomforts, it has long-term benefits such as being less likely to return to drug use.
Research published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment from the Consortium Treatment center in Oregon, reveals that acupuncture detoxification had the following measurable outcomes among chronic offenders: increased patient retention, reduced number of arrests, more drug free urinalysis and decreased numbers of days needed for successful patient progress. Patients who had been involved with acupuncture programs for addiction had the following comments: “moods are less erratic”, “full of energy”, “headaches are gone”, “feeling less stress”, “since acupuncture I’ve stopped the craving”. Counselors have mentioned that those utilizing acupuncture come in more balanced emotionally and physically.
A publicly funded study at the Boston University in 1994 found that among the acupuncture clients, 18% were readmitted to detox with in six months compared with the 36% of non-acupuncture residential clients who were readmitted within six months. The study suggested there is great value for outpatient acupuncture programs as a component of a substance abuse treatment system. The authors further noted its usefulness when space in residential treatment programs is limited.
There has been substantial research done on why acupuncture assists addicts with recovery. Dr. Lewith, director of the Center for Complimentary Therapy and Integrated Medicine in Southhampton, UK explains that acupuncture helps with anxiety because it triggers the release of calming transmitters, which are like opiates. Scientific research has shown that addiction, withdrawal and recovery are all related to brain chemicals such as the opioid peptides and to stress-regulating hormones in the body. In a 2005 Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients it is documented that acupuncture increases levels of opioid peptides such as endorphins, substance P and cholecystokinin among many others. In addition, acupuncture may induce alterations in certain hormones including coritisol and ACTH to reduce stress.
The number of programs incorporating acupuncture is growing each year. Those in recovery need acupuncture to improve the quality of their recovery and reduce the risk of relapse. Acupuncture is especially attractive because it does not involve long-term administration of medications, which for a substance abuse addict is an especially positive aspect.
Many studies have documented the effectiveness of the NADA protocol. Among the benefits reported by patients and health care providers are:
- Improved retention in drug treatment programs
- Reductions in cravings and anxiety
- Fewer episodes of sleep disturbance
- Reduced need for pharmaceuticals
- More optimistic attitudes about detoxification and recovery
MASSAGE & ADDICTION RECOVERY
During the early stages of recovery from addiction, often people are uncomfortable and experience a gap between their mind and body. Massage is very helpful during withdrawals and detoxification.
Research has shown massage therapy decreases pain, increases alertness, performance and enhances the immune response. Positive studies also document the ability of massage to decrease depression, agitation anxiety and cravings. A regular massage regimen produces long-term results of increasing dopamine levels and decreasing cortisol levels.
The ‘Pleasure Pathway ‘of the brain (mesolimbic reward system) is activated in part by release of the neurotransmitter dopamine; this is the chemical messenger responsible for making us feel good when we engage in any pleasurable activity. Dopamine is significantly involved in addiction. Dopamine levels are much lower during the withdrawal process and early recovery until the brain chemistry returns to normal. Regular massage produces long-term results of increasing dopamine levels.
When a substance is used to feel good, the body stops manufacturing endorphins, the “feel good” chemical, so the substance takes over that task. When the substance is no longer being used the person loses their source of feeling good. It takes time for the body to start manufacturing its own endorphins again and is why it is a vulnerable time to relapse. The body functions more efficiently with improved circulation.
Part of the recovery process is to identify and manage triggers that can lead to a relapse. Regular massage sessions can make the person aware of their body and be conscious of the patterns of tensions, cravings and stress. Relaxation is very valuable in recovery.
Exercise and Addiction
Exercise is beneficial when struggling with addiction for a number of reasons including Providing Structure, Creating a Positive Attitude, Healing the Body and Brain and possibly creating a new set of friends. People who regularly exercise experience improved cardiovascular health, improved sense of well being, and higher self esteem.
Those who suffer from addiction often experience depression and in turn take medication to feel better. Exercising regularly can eliminate depression without prescribed medicine. Feel good endorphins are released which increase positivity and in turn helps to stay abstinent.
By filling your day with a structured schedule which includes exercise, you are eliminating the time you would have normally used to fill your day with negative habits such as relapse. Keeping busy with positive habits will help you to think less of your addiction and think more about how good you feel in the present moment.
Gong Sound Healing Therapy
Throughout history, music has been known to comfort the soul and now studies have shown that sound vibrations are powerful means to heal and restructure the physical & energetic bodies. The energetic effects of sound are known to potentially entrain biological systems at the cellular levels to function more homeostatically. Sound and vibration help facilitate a deep sense of peace, release tension and blocked energies, and balance the energy centers of the body.
The energetic anatomy of the human body is likened to a harp. It resonates and responds to anything and everything that has vibration or frequency. It is through the rhythms and tones of all frequencies that we can either find, loose or maintain harmony and balance of our human structures and thus lives. Sound vibrations are the primordial frequencies that bridge our physical bodies and consciousness to the structures of nature and the universe and to one another.
Gongs are most powerful ancient instruments that, along with crystal bowls, are used to create a remarkable medium through which harmony, balance and healing can be experienced. The gong has been used for centuries as a meditation tool and now it is a prevalent tool for sound therapy and palliative treatments for many illnesses.
The Great Gongmaster Don Conreaux shares that the gong covers the full spectrum of sound, and as such, it has the potential to heal and rejuvenate by means of vibrating all the cells and bones and organs and filling them with life force energy. The sounds from the gongs travel from the outer ear throughout the body via the vagus nerve, impacting brain waves, respiratory and heart rate.
Don calls the healing power of the gongs: The Music of Wholeness. He explains that a lot of modalities read symptoms and approach the body according to illness; whereas holistic sound healing works differently in that we approach the body as if it is already whole and complete. Through sound healing we fill that body with high vibrations that emphasize wholeness and resonance. Whatever the problem may be, the sound will travel to that place that is incoherent and will entrain it to its next highest potential of coherent resonance.
At Ranch Creek Recovery our vision is to illustrate a different type of healing from substance abuse and alcoholism. Through the use of Holistic Therapies such as Gong Meditation, as with our professional holistic instructors, the newly recovering addict and alcoholic will experience and apply these therapies into a daily routine.
Meet our Holistic Therapist, Gong Master:
Tania Massamiri, Ph.D. is Gong Master who has trained with Don Conreaux in the art of Gong therapy, She is a facilitator of meditation, an educator, a practitioner of energy medicine and sound healing. Tania is also a scientist, she holds a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology. After spending 2 decades as a biomedical research scientist and being honoured with numerous awards, she has completely merged both of her innate gifts as nature’s advocate and scientist. As a holistic practitioner, Tania has over 1300 hours of education in alternative healing modalities, as well as several certifications in herbal medicine, astrology, and the arts.
Learn more about Holistic Inpatient Treatment Centers or Call us for more information: (877) 997-8931