Going through life we all experience some degree of emotional pain. For some, it’s very mild, and for others, it can be significant emotional trauma — trauma which ultimately can lead to fatigue. In this podcast, I am talking to Niki Gratrix about emotional trauma, how it influences your energy, and how to heal trauma.
A bit about Niki Gratrix: Niki is an expert on energy and fatigue and specifically the link with emotions and psychology and trauma in particular. Niki is an award-winning nutritional therapist, bioenergetic practitioner, and mind-body expert, helping people to optimize energy.In 2005 she co-founded one of the largest mind-body clinics in integrative medicine in the UK with patients in 35 countries where she worked as Director of Nutrition until 2010. The clinic specialized in treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME. The results with patients at the clinic on the nutrition protocol she designed were later published as a preliminary study in 2012 in the British Medical Journal Open.
In August 2015 she hosted the largest ever free online health summit on overcoming fatigue interviewing 29 world leading experts on optimizing energy with over 30,000 attendees.
In this podcast, you will learn about
- ACEs, what they are and how they can contribute to fatigue (and many other diseases)
- How trauma affects the brain
- What attachment trauma can do to your health
- The three ways childhood trauma becomes adult biology
- How daily reset rituals can help healing trauma
Download or listen on iTunes
Heal Trauma to Heal Fatigue Show Notes
The link between emotional trauma and fatigue (3:47)
How ACEs can increase the risk of early death (4:57)
What some causes of ACEs are (7:21)
How trauma is inherited through generations (7:48)
What silent ACEs are (8:27)
What attachment trauma can do to your health (8:54)
When attachment trauma occurs (9:46)
How the mother’s emotional state during pregnancy impacts the child (11:07)
How your interaction with others develop your brain (11:55)
How parenting advice is different and very contradictory (13:10)
How your parenting style is shaped by the way you were parented (14:07)
How the connection with mom in childhood influences the development of narcissism (14:45)
How narcissists that come from attachment trauma don’t identify as narcissists (15:34)
How childhood biography can become adult biology (16:39)
How trauma can be hidden in your body (18:31)
The three ways childhood trauma becomes adult biology (20:11)
The risky type (20:17)
The giver type (22:05)
The unhealthy beliefs type (24:00)
How limbic kindling is affected by emotional trauma (24:58)
How limbic kindling can change your body (27:32)
The first steps to heal trauma (31:58)
Take and ACE questionnaire (33:22)
Heal trauma by finding out what personality type you are (34:32)
Heal trauma by identifying your self-love deficit (36:19)
Heal trauma by identifying how many ACEs you have (36:42)
The Dodo Bird Effect, and how you can use it to heal trauma (37:52)
How to heal trauma by doing reset rituals (42:30)
How long it can take to heal trauma (45:00)
How relational trauma can influence future relationships (45:55)
How you can heal trauma by surrounding yourself with the right people (46:14)
How to get rid of energy vampires (49:11)
How to heal trauma by getting professional help (51:19)
How to identify the best therapy to heal your trauma (55:00)
Why the integral approach is great to heal trauma (58:28)
How to heal trauma by addressing your biochemical issues (1:00:05)
How addressing biochemical factors can resolve your emotional state (1:01:45)
What Niki does to help her clients heal trauma (1:03:23)
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Heal Trauma to Heal Fatigue – Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hey everyone. I am here with Niki Gratrix, who is one of my favorite people in the world. I’ve had the pleasure of talking with her and meeting her in person recently, just a couple months ago, and we kind of hit it off.
Real quick, interesting story. I had posted in a Facebook group a question, something related to adrenal fatigue. I got all these more typical answers from most people. Niki posted a response to me that peaked my interest. I reached out to her to learn a little more, and she shared with me some presentations that she had done where I really learned a couple things.
One is that she and I actually arrived at a lot of the same conclusions about the causes of fatigue. The second thing I learned from watching her presentation is that she is as much of a science geek as I am, which was pretty cool.
I’ve found a science soulmate, so to speak here, and it’s my pleasure and honor to have her on the podcast and to get to share her wisdom with you all.
With that said, your expertise Niki, I know you have a ton of areas of expertise around nutrition. You are extremely knowledgeable on a lot of things related to health, but really your expertise is around energy and fatigue and specifically the link with emotions and psychology and trauma in particular. Can you talk just a bit about how you got into that in the first place?
Niki Gratrix: Yeah, so thanks for having me by the way, Ari. Great, total soulmate. Yeah, totally connect and a big admirer of your work as well.
Ari Whitten: Back at you.
Niki Gratrix: You’ve impacted me as well in the way that I talk about certain things.
Ari Whitten: Thank you.
Niki Gratrix: But, in terms of how I got into this, I did originally, I co-founded a clinic in the UK that specialized in chronic fatigue syndrome. I had trained in nutrition, and at the time my business partner and life partner, he’d been ill for seven years with chronic fatigue, had recovered, and had written a book.
He’d done everything on the functional nutrition side, but the clincher for him had been some of the psychology work. When we founded the clinic, I literally took care of all the nutrition side and was Director of Nutrition. He was the Director of Psychology.
We had worked with thousands of patients. We started in our front room, and then ended up with 10 practitioners. We had thousands of clients and patients all over the world, but we’d already always taken a multi-factored approach.
While I was getting into things like mitochindrial malfunction, diet, and all the kind of biochemical aspects, I was always concurrently working with clients and patients while they were working on psychology as well.
I think that’s where we really saw how important psychology was, especially with chronic fatigue. It’s a big aspect to it, the emotional trauma side for example. We saw the best results come when you at least have the map of what you see in front of you of the person includes both their subjective experience as well as what’s going on in biochemistry.
Then, we got a study published in the Breach Medical Journal Open on Pilot Study, so taking this multi-factored approach as psychology and physical, that was our premise really.
It was because my partner had chronic fatigue that I did sort of end up focusing on that, but there’s been bigger reasons why, I realized afterwards, cause I got a real education in psychoimmunology and the most difficult cases of chronic fatigue, so it was a real baptism of fire for five years.
THE LINK BETWEEN EMOTIONAL TRAUMA AND FATIGUE
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Beautiful. As far as the link between fatigue and emotional trauma, how do these things relate and how prevalent is emotional trauma as a cause of fatigue? How much does it figure into most people who are suffering from chronic fatigue?
Niki Gratrix: It’s so much more prevalent than most people would have any clue about. For example, if you have adversity in childhood, emotional trauma in childhood. By the way, what am I talking about?
It’s things like parents separating or divorce, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, things like physical or emotional neglect, domestic violence, mental illness in the family, substance abuse, incarceration by a family member, this kind of thing.
If you have those kinds of things in your childhood, you have a 600% increase risk of getting things like chronic fatigue in adulthood.
It’s tricky when you talk about chronic fatigue on the emotional psychology side, because people with fatigue, especially the extreme end, have been treated badly. They’ve been thrown into the psychiatric, like it’s not a physical illness. It’s psychological.
HOW ACES CAN INCREASE THE RISK OF EARLY DEATH
It’s tricky to bring this back in, but that’s why I often talk about and I quote these ACES, these Adverse Childhood Event Studies, which are gigantic studies by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente that started out in the mid-1990s with 17 and a half thousand people surveyed.
They found in that that if you had a high level of ACES, Adverse Childhood Events, you had an increase risk of seven out of the top 10 causes of death.
In moderate, like six ACES, 20 year reduction in lifespan.
Four ACES is a 400% increase risk of depression, Alzheimer’s, two and half times increase risk of things like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, cancer was two and a half times higher. I say that to make people realize that emotional trauma is having a massive biological impact.
We’re not saying this is all in your head. We’re saying that emotional trauma changes your biology and makes you prone to chronic complex illnesses, and like chronic fatigue and related illnesses are like the poster child for specifically emotional trauma.
This is all peer reviewed research. When I came across this research, it was kind of like the door opened of wow, this is the data that we need to show how important this side of things is and it does need to be addressed.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, for sure. I have to admit that I really underestimated this side of the equasion as far as the causes of fatigue until I started talking to you and reading your stuff. That’s when it hit me wow, this stuff really is a big factor. It’s not whoo whoo. There isn’t just an idea or a concept of yeah, being psychologically stressed or traumatized can translate into higher risk of fatigue. There’s actually hard data, like you’ve talked about.
Niki Gratrix: Yep.
Ari Whitten: One thing that I’d like you to talk about that I’ve read from you before is you’ve talked about how the stats are underestimated or underestimate the actual impact of these things.
Niki Gratrix: Yes. Yeah. First of all, our fat, big study I mentioned, 17 and a half thousand adults, 67% of that group said they’d had ACES. They’d had at least one.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
WHAT SOME CAUSES OF ACES ARE
Niki Gratrix: Of that group, 80% said they’d had at least more than one. But, that list I mentioned of ACES of things like physical, sexual, emotional abuse, that list of about 10 things I gave out, they missed out things. The visual researchers forgot to ask things like, because they weren’t expecting the results, being a victim of bullying, racism, things like witnessing violence, maybe a traumatic birth as well.
HOW TRAUMA IS INHERITED THROUGH GENERATIONS
Also, this is very interesting, but trauma is inter-generation inherited, so a lot of people look at their own childhood and they go I don’t have anything. It’s like what about parents and grandparents? Third generations of survivors of the Holocaust victims have the same physiological, psychological expression as their grandparents.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Niki Gratrix: You find that all over the world, like where there’s been war or famine, you’ll see the progeny have these changes in their epigenetics. It’s passed down epigenetically, obviously. That, it shouldn’t be controversial anymore. It’s mainstream, peer reviewed studies are showing how that affects sperm RNA and how that is actually expressing progeny. It’s more than one generation down as well.
WHAT SILENT ACES ARE
The last thing, and this is a really important area, there’s something called silent ACES. I’ve called them silent ACES, so a group of us are calling it that. It’s very hard to self-report some types of emotional neglect and trauma, emotional neglect and emotional trauma.
If we get physically hit, we have an incident, a specific, discreet incident that happens, we can report that and we can say tick, yes, that’s an ACE. But, apparently the majority of emotional trauma is actually relational trauma, and it’s to do with attachment problems. It’s to do with your attachment relationships.
Most trauma from childhood, it doesn’t qualify for PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which has things like you have a discreet thing that happens, a discreet incident, it’s measurable. It has an effect on you that’s potentially life-threatening, and you get things like flashbacks and you’re definitely more anxious and fatigued, because you’re anxious, so PTSD is that kind of thing.
WHAT ATTACHMENT TRAUMA CAN DO TO YOUR HEALTH
Attachment trauma leads onto something called developmental trauma, and that’s where you get a difficulty regulating your emotions, depression, anxiety, cognitive problems, ADHD, and behavioral issues and problems in social relationships.
By the way, here’s the blockbuster, 50% of all adults don’t attach properly in the first two years of life with their primary caregiver. Remember, that’s the precognitive years.
WHEN ATTACHMENT TRAUMA OCCURS
Attachment trauma happens between zero, the egg and sperm, to age two, so the baby’s picking up everything inside the womb and everything up to age two, but you have no brain to process it, no cognitive. You only have implicit memory, not explicit memory.
You’re just sort of a ball of emotion at that age, and you’re energetically reading the environment. If your mum is in a stress state, she shut down. Maybe she’s arguing with dad all the time during that time. The baby’s picking all that up, and if the mum isn’t expressing energetic emotional love to the baby, the baby experiences that as abandonment and they react in different ways. They can shut down and become avoidant types that don’t value emotional welfare anymore, or you become an anxiously attached type.
There’s all these attachment types, and that attachment trauma leads to what they’re calling developmental trauma, and that is where most trauma actually comes from. It’s ambient trauma. It’s relational. It’s not one single incident. By the way, it probably happened before the age of two for many people, so how can you self-report?
HOW THE MOTHERS EMOTIONAL STATE DURING PREGNANCY IMPACTS THE CHILD
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Absolutely. You just reminded me of something. When I was in my clinical psychology PhD program, there was a course we did on developmental psychology.
There was some fascinating research around the emotional states of the mother while she’s pregnant having effect, and they’ve actually measured this. They’ve shown it has impacts on development of certain parts of the brain and emotional regulation of the child and so on.
It’s crazy that they’ve even done science to show this, but just speaking to what you were just saying, it’s amazing that the impact of a pregnant woman on the developing child before it’s even born.
HOW YOUR INTERACTION WITH OTHERS DEVELOP YOUR BRAIN
Niki Gratrix: Yeah. That’s phenomenal in itself, but I’m still amazed. It’s just getting your head around the idea that the brain is a social organ, and literally, it grows and develops differently depending on how you interact with other people, your primary caregivers.
You’ve got neural pathways that will literally respond to an expression of being held and loved or not. This is why we have failure to thrive syndrome, so if little toddlers and children don’t get physical touch and love, they have smaller brains. They don’t develop properly. They are literally psychologically and physically failing to thrive.
The brain, it’s amazing. We think the brain develops in a closed system and it entirely depends on nature in your genes. It turns out not the case. It’s literally a social organ, so it’s impacted by that.
That will set up, we can talk about how trauma effects biology and how that goes into adulthood, but that’s the start of it, how the brain develops in response to these interactions at an early age will define how you respond to stress in adulthood.
HOW PARENTING ADVISE IS DIFFERENT AND VERY CONTRADICTORY
Ari Whitten: Yeah, for sure. As you know, I have a young son now who’s six months old. For the last year, me and my wife Marcela have been reading like crazy on parenting, on bringing up a child.
It’s actually amazing how many wildly different and totally contradictory approaches there are to bringing up a baby. Certain types of approaches are things that people will say ”yeah, you have to train your baby to do this and you need to train them to sleep through the night and you need to train them not to manipulate you and you need to create boundaries for this, this, and this.”
There are people writing books on those subjects and women who swear by those techniques. Then, there’s also at the same time other experts who are saying if you do those things, you’re traumatizing your baby, you know?
HOW YOUR PARENTING STYLE IS SHAPED BY THE WAY YOU WERE PARENTED
Niki Gratrix: It’s worrying. It’s a little worrying. I think unfortunately what’s been proven is how you parent depends on how you were parented. It should be kind of obvious. That is absolutely data driven stuff again. There’s something called the adult attachment interview. There were 10,000 of them done over a 20 year period. They were able to ask adults with this adult attachment about their own childhood.
They were able to work out their attachment pattern was with their own parents, and they had an 85% accuracy rate where they could predict what that parent’s attachment style would be with their own kid.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
HOW THE CONNECTION WITH MOM IN CHILDHOOD INFLUENCES THE DEVELOPMENT OF NARCISSISM
Niki Gratrix: Yeah. The scary thing is when you get the avoidant types, there was about 25% who were avoidant, so that means mum didn’t connect. She didn’t express emotional love and the way the baby responds to that is ”oh, mum doesn’t matter and an emotional connection doesn’t matter.”
We’re talking about developing the traits of narcissism here in adulthood, which by the way, that will pass into how you relate in your romantic relationships as well. You’ll tend to downplay emotions and the importance of emotions in general.
By the way, with that group, mum, she is actually rejecting of the baby. It’s different. She’s actually rejecting the baby and it’s tragic. But, that group is the worst affected. They tend to become narcissists. Narcissists can go on to become psychiatrists, doctors telling mothers how to look after their baby.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Wow.
HOW NARCISSISTS THAT COME FROM ATTACHMENT TRAUMA DON’T SELF IDENTIFY AS NARCISSISTS
Niki Gratrix: That’s what worries me and it worries a lot of other practitioners as well, because they all say usually narcissists that come from that attachment trauma don’t self-identify as narcissists and don’t think they’ve got a problem, cause they’ve never had that.
We’re talking about since pre-cognizant years, right? It’s well known within therapeutic circles that the ones that tend to be narcissistic, they’re never in therapy cause it’s never their problem.
It’s everyone else.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Interesting.
Niki Gratrix: There’s been some scary people around the very Victorian type, don’t hug your children. Wow. My view is that was a very damaging era that we went through. It probably created a lot of sociopaths and narcissists.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Niki Gratrix: Many of them went into positions of power, cause they’re attracted to power.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Niki Gratrix: Getting political here, but okay.
Ari Whitten: Let’s move away from the controversial parenting stuff.
Niki Gratrix: Yes.
Ari Whitten: Let’s go back to fatigue and childhood trauma.
Niki Gratrix: Yeah.
HOW CHILDHOOD BIOGRAPHY CAN BECOME ADULT BIOLOGY
Ari Whitten: What’s the connection here? On physiological level, you have a saying that a childhood biography becomes adult biology.
Niki Gratrix: Yes.
Ari Whitten: I love that way of expressing things. It sums it up so nicely. But, can you just talk about how they actually translate? What’s the physiological mechanism that works by?
Niki Gratrix: Yes. This again, this is data driven. This is research done showing that early life stress will change the epigenetic expression, actually, of the entire genome but specifically glucocorticoid receptors.
What essentially happens is that the threshold of what triggers the stress response, the cortisol response, the HPA Axis response, the threshold is lowered with children that have had early life stress.
It takes less of a stress to trigger them and they’re more likely to stay stressed for longer.
That was originally done in Iraq studies. Then, it was proven in adults and it’s being absolutely confirmed. Almost done say award-winning level research. That’s one way that it happens.
The researchers also found it’s not just the glucocorticoid receptors. There’s this thing in science trying to look and find one gene. It’s the one gene. It’s not just one gene. It’s the entire genome. They found the genetic expression of biological process involved with psychiatric disorders, cancer, heart disease, the whole range were effected.
There’s a lady called Doctor Donna Jackson Nakazawa and she wrote Childhood Disrupted. It’s a great book, the only real book on the science side of ACES. She talks about how the researchers were saying that children with early life trauma, they are marinating in inflammatory cytokines from a young age. It’s kind of sad.
HOW TRAUMA CAN BE HIDDEN IN YOUR BODY
You’ve already set that mechanism up. It’s also Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, the world leading expert in trauma. He’s the Head of Psychiatry at the Boston Medical School. His book is called The Body Keeps the Score. Even though you can’t remember the trauma. It might have been unconscious before age two. Your body remembers. Time doesn’t heal; it conceals.
When we talk about an illness in adulthood, maybe it was a trigger. It could’ve been a job loss, could’ve been an emotional trigger, could’ve been a bug they caught. Actually, in truth, that was just the trigger, but the biology was changing 20 years ago. The biology had already expressed into actually getting stuck in you, just simplifying it into a fight/flight.
If you’re chronically pumping out stress hormones, the inflammatory cytokines that are coming out, you’ve got that fight/flight sympathetic nervous system process on constantly. It’s already on. It switched on from the inside.
This is what’s interesting in adulthood. Adult trauma is obviously important. It effects our wellbeing as well, but whether you’re resilient or not in adulthood and ultimately how you’re going to respond. Are you going to respond all the time every day like the house is on fire to minor stresses?
People who are like that are often in an anxiety attachment trauma state from all the way from childhood. I feel that we’ve been looking at stress very superficially, when some of the stuff that we say to address stress, and we’ll talk about that, does work, but I think it goes much deeper. It starts all the way back when it changes in biochemistry.
THE THREE WAYS CHILDHOOD TRAUMA BECOMES ADULT BIOLOGY
I actually have these three ways childhood trauma becomes adult biology. There’s actually three ways.
The risky type
One is that biochemistry process. We’re actually talking changing epigenetic expression that causes the fight/flight response. You will also, definitely, if you’ve had a rough childhood, you’ve had ACES in childhood, it’s going to impact your behavior.
We know, for example, that people with high level of ACES have much increased risk of doing things that are destructive for their health, like I think there’s a seven fold increase risk of being an alcoholic, 11 times more likely to use injection drugs if you have four ACES. You’re three times more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, so that was some of the overt behavior.
There’s also more subtle behavior, and it’s very linked with chronic fatigue group. It’s something we investigated when I was working at the clinic. It’s the more subtle behavior. If we have trauma in childhood, we’re in emotional pain. Why are we doing the drugs and alcohol? Because we’re trying to numb the emotional pain, because we’ve not dealt with it, right? We’re running away from it. We don’t just run away from our emotions with those behaviors. We can also do it with workaholism, with becoming a super achiever. By becoming a super over giver, which loads of practitioners do, by the way. Or, we become an obsessive anxious type. It’s the giver, perfectionist, anxious, and anxiety types, kind of those types of behaviors.
A lot of it goes straight back to attachment trauma, because if you didn’t get unconditional love and it’s an energetically experienced emotional thing, that’s experience abandonment.
Now, one way or the other, even though it’s unconscious to you, you feel ashamed and abandoned. You feel you have to earn love. You have to earn it somehow. If I work hard enough, if I prove myself and my status, I will earn it. I become a human doing rather than a human being.
The giver type
Or, the other one is the giver type. Givers, they didn’t get love unconditionally. They had the attachment trauma, so they learned when they give love and help out, cause they’re a loving person, they get love back. That’s how they learn to survive. When that’s driven, when those behaviors are driven by attachment trauma, that’s when it gets out of control.
We see this a lot with chronic fatigue people, where they just don’t turn the healer inwards. They don’t look after themselves well enough. They don’t prioritize their own needs. They don’t do the relaxation times. They don’t do daily reset rituals. They will be doing behaviors that sabotage the best recommendations, like you, Ari, are giving. They will be sabotaged, because actually, they can’t do it.
There’s a really important example here. ACES studies started, actually the original study started, in an obesity clinic. It was Doctor Felitti, but he was doing really well and people were losing weight. Then, they had a 55% dropout rate. He was like why is this happening? He interviewed the people and by mistake, he found out a lot of people reporting having been sexually abused in childhood. One woman summed it up when she said “Being overweight, being obese was a form of protection against unwanted attention”.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
Niki Gratrix: She had been sexually abused as a child. She was carrying the extra weight, because being healthy and thin was a threat to her identity. Many of the chronic fatigue patients, having this level of energy that comes from balancing relaxation time and things like this, they actually can’t relax, because it’s a threat to their very being.
It’s like ”Oh my god, I’m going to lose everything. I’m not going to get love. I’m going to be unlovable if I’m not the achiever, the giver, the whatever.”
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Niki Gratrix: This kind of behavior pattern is the deeper cause of behavior, which leads to fatigue. That was one type.
The unhealthy beliefs type
That was the other one. There’s three types. The last one I always mention is beliefs as well. ACES lead to unconscious belief systems. Beliefs like I don’t deserve health. I don’t deserve to have abundant energy and well being. I don’t deserve x, y, z.
You can be doing all the great things you’re doing. You can be compliant with the program and everything, but if you have an unconscious belief, the power of the mind, the placebo effect, we know that 33% of all drugs are effective because of placebo. Strong, optimistic belief that taking a sugar pill’s going to work means that it works.
We have the nocebo effect, which is just as powerful. If we believe that something’s not possible and we don’t deserve it, hey, you won’t get it, even the best diet in the world.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Niki Gratrix: That’s how it’s beliefs, behavior, and biochemistry. It’s multi-factored on how early life stress either directly on the biochemistry or indirectly by behavior or directly again by beliefs.
HOW LIMBIC KINDING IS AFFECTED BY EMOTIONAL TRAUMA
Ari Whitten: Beautiful explanation. I want to go a little deeper in the biochemical and specifically, the neurological side of this.
Now, one of the things that I had stumbled across and through discussions with you, you had actually really helped me understand as being more important than I realized was limbic kindling.
It’s kind of related to what you’ve already talked about a little bit with the biochemistry stuff. But, can you just explain that concept a little bit more in depth?
Niki Gratrix: Yes. I mentioned epigenetics. The limbic kindling entirely, it works in tandem with it.
Limbic kindling is the idea that obviously, it’s the limbic system of the brain. We’re talking about a stressor, which can be microbial, chemical, electrical, or psychological. It’s a stressor, which by the way, includes that emotional trauma as well.
The research shows that if you have an intermittent stress from any of those four things, it’s intermittent but chronic, or a big one off shock of any of those four things, will cause the neural system to go into what they’re calling kindling, which is an excessive excitatory state.
It’s actually neuro inflammation. We’re talking about neuro inflammation. It’s actually the model for epilepsy, about this excessive brain activity and electrical activity that is triggered by any of those four things.
They’re now applying it to chronic fatigue. It was Dr. Jason, the world’s leading expert in a case definition of chronic fatigue and Head of Psychology at DePaul University who wrote the paper saying let’s look at this model of kindling and apply it to chronic fatigue.
It’s also multiple chemical sensitivity as well.
When we have those four types of stressors, it will build neural pathways. It will create the dendrites that are triggering this constant sympathetic nervous system stress. It’s both. It’s the HPA Axis, it’s the endocrine, and it’s the epinephrine and the sympathetic nervous system side as well. You’re actually wiring the brain for stress. You’re wired for stress, that’s what limbic kindling is.
It’s an unconscious process that’s gone on. It’s where the body’s in a chronic, vicious cycle of stress. In this paper that Doctor Leonard Jason wrote where he basically said ”look, this kindling can start from any of those four things.”
HOW LIMBIC KINDLING CAN CHANGE YOUR BODY
Then, he went through the cascade of changes that happen because of the kindling. The cascade being everything we see in chronic fatigue. Increased oxidative stress, changes in poor mitochondrial function.
Robert Naviaux wrote it would lead to the cell danger response direct connection, would change the immune system. Parts of the immune system not working hard enough. Other parts are working too much from having an inflammatory response.
Sensitivities to things and then we can’t fight off bugs, and that obviously then changes the biology. The biologies change because of the kindling. Once the biology’s then changed, now we have leaky guts, the direct link. We know that if you’re stuck in stress, you’re going to have less digestive enzyme output, because it’s a fight/flight response that digestion is not important. Rest, digest, detoxify is not important when you’re in the fight/flight response.
Everything rest, digest, detoxify, gets downgraded, which is everything you see in chronic fatigue. They’re not rejuvenating. They’re just part of the exhaustion. Then, the body’s producing endogenous sources of stress.
The reason is circular, because say, an emotional trauma can change the brain. The brain’s in kindling. The biology changes, but now we know that this biology in the gut causes anxiety, right?
We know that gut displaces another metabolic changes are the causes of anxiety and changes in the brain. The body changes the brain. The brain changes the body.
One’s just a mirror of the other, so that’s how we get the vicious circle of stress and how it perpetuates. Yeah, limbic kindling is bringing in how the brain works. When you talk about that, and then you can bring in all the psychology side, because the emotional trauma has no difference than a chemical or a microbial or an electrical stressor.
The body doesn’t differentiate, the brain doesn’t differentiate between those four different types of stress. It’s all the same. To the adrenal system, it’s all the same.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting stuff. Since you bring up the adrenals, one of the interesting parts of this equation, of this paradigm that you’re presenting, is the adrenals are not the primary place of dysfunction in this paradigm.
You mentioned it almost in passing, but you’re talking about how early life trauma can actually change the whole HPA, Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis to become dysfunctional at lower and lower thresholds.
Niki Gratrix: Yes.
Ari Whitten: I just want to point out that this is quite a different paradigm than someone saying the typical adrenal fatigue paradigm that ”oh, you’re stressed and that the chronic stress wears out your adrenals. They can’t produce enough cortisol, and that’s the fundamental problem.”
This is really a different paradigm and it’s saying there’s other stuff that’s upstream of the adrenals and even the HPA Axis. When you’re talking about limbic kindling, a lot of that research is specifically saying the limbic system is upstream of the HPA Axis.
Niki Gratrix: Yeah, it’s fascinating. That’s exactly it. The only time adrenals would be the organ that’s directly impacted is when we potentially have autoimmune adrenal, right, which is that we have autoimmune thyroid.
I remember I asked Dr. Aristovich Dodial in my summit, I said how prevalent is that in your lab testing? Are you seeing it? He said they are seeing it, so it is there. I don’t know the full prevalence yet. They haven’t done enough testing. I’ve asked around other practitioners are you testing for autoimmune adrenal? Generally, not yet, people aren’t, but the most extreme form of that would be Addison’s, obviously which is an autoimmune where it’s that essentially no cortisol output.
But, apart from autoimmune adrenal, the rest of it, it’s exactly as you say. It’s upstream.
Actually, it’s limbic disorder. That’s what adrenal fatigue is. Most of it will be limbic disorder and the rest follows from that. Let’s treat adrenals. Let’s treat the whole person.
If you’re treating adrenals, think about the brain and what’s the subjective state of the patient and what’s their psychology as well. We don’t just want to use nutritional stuff to modulate what’s happening with the HPA Axis. Let’s also consider what’s happening psychologically.
That’s my point. Let’s be holistic. I’m not saying throw out the biochemistry.
THE FIRST STEPS TO HEAL TRAUMA
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. Now that we’ve talked a little about the links here between childhood traumas, between psychological and emotional trauma and fatigue and lots of other diseases as well, what are some practical things that people can do to actually address these issues?
If, let’s say, someone does have one or four or six childhood ACEs, Adverse Childhood Events, what should they be doing now? Obviously, they can’t go back in time, so how should they use this knowledge to positively impact their life?
Niki Gratrix: The good news is it’s reversible. The impact, the changes that happened in childhood, epigenetic expression can be changed. That’s the good news. We also have neuroplasticity, the brain can be changed for the good or for the bad.
The good news is it’s placid, so we can move and change it. I have my five steps that I always still come back to. The first step is people should start by just exploring it. They may have fatigue right now and other ailments going on and have never considered the psychology side. It’s the psychology to do with how they’re dealing with the illness they have right now with the ailment. I’m not having enough energy right now.
STEP 1 TO HEAL TRAUMA – TAKE AN ACE QUESTIONNAIRE
But, there’s also tracking back into childhood and thinking maybe start by doing an ACE questionnaire.
I have an ACE scoring questionnaire on my website, no opt-in required, completely free. NikiGratrix.com/ACEscore. It’s right there. It’s an extended ACE score as well, so it includes what the research has forgot and missed and so on. You could start with that.
It’s a little superficial as we mentioned. It misses things like attachment trauma, so I also have a link where you just follow the questionnaire through. There are ways of assessing attachment trauma as well. You have to go a little deeper.
But, you can do an adult close relationship questionnaire for that. You can actually quiz yourself on how your romantic relationships are. You can work out if you actually had attachment trauma by what your style of romantic relationships is as well.
That’s a free questionnaire that you can do online.
I also mentioned this before, but we use the enneagram a lot in our clinic. It’s a great tool for people with fatigue, because there are four types of the enneagram. The enneagram is a typing system of nine personalities. It’s used a lot in business, psychology circles, and spiritual circles. It’s come through perennial wisdom, but enneagraminstitute.com. That’s E, double N, E-A-G-R-A-M Institute.com.
HEAL TRAUMA BY FINDING OUR WHAT PERSONALITY TYPE YOU ARE
They are doing the research and they’ve started to sort of back the data to show. Their research backed questionnaire is on their website. It is actually 12 bucks to do it on their website. It’s not completely free, but you can get their book, The Wisdom of the Enneagram as well and assess yourself and see what personality type you are.
You’ll pick up the achiever, perfectionist, giver type, and anxiety type. There’s more types, but obviously those are the four that we found that were prone to fatigue. I think Alex, my business partner, used to call it energy depleting psychologies.
It’s a bit judgmental, but it’s psychologies that mean that we’re never ending doing this or giving this or whatever it is. But, we don’t stop and relax enough.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. I guess it’s probably only judgmental, depending on whether it’s depleting your own energy or other people’s energy who deal with you.
Niki Gratrix: Yes. It’s not to meant to obviously be a judgment tool. It’s meant to be a way of knowing yourself, to transcend it. We’re not talking about categorizing people either.
Obviously, it’s a know thy self so you can transcend yourself. If you don’t know who you are and what’s going on, then you can’t see the patterns. You can’t transcend them.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Niki Gratrix: Also, it’s an awakening because not only do you find out your own type, you’ll suddenly, the whole world looks different from everyone around you that you know. You’ll stop taking their behavior personally, cause you’re like that’s an achievement type. It is nothing to do with me when they don’t answer my calls because they’re working til midnight every night.
That’s a useful thing and it will take you straight into the attachment trauma as well, cause most of these behavioral patterns will come from the attachment. If we’re a giver, achiever, I have to say the upshot here with emotional trauma is there’s hardly anyone who doesn’t have a degree of it.
HEAL TRAUMA BY IDENTIFYING YOUR SELF LOVE DEFICIT
We’re actually very, it’s a bit negative to say, a very emotionally sick society. We think diet’s bad. Oh my god, wait til you get to the emotional side. There’s a brilliant clinician who called it self-love deficit disorder. It was Ross Rosenberg, brilliant clinician, and it’s really prevalent.
HEAL TRAUMA BY IDENTIFYING HOW MANY ACES YOU HAVE
Step one is explore. Know thy self. You can start journaling, by the way. Journaling has proven to be therapeutic. You can write about your experience.
How many ACES do you have?
Was there anyone around at the time when things happened? Cause if you got support at the time, the ACE will have less impacts on you. That’s been shown.
Go back in childhood and notice, did you get any destructive health patterns that started at the time of certain things changing? Maybe after parents divorced or some incident happening, so if you start to track back and kind of monitor what happened, do a timeline if you like. Ask your parents.
I’ve had patients who would ask their parents things and they would have no idea that certain things happened if they’d not asked, at their own childhood as well and when they were in the hospital, things like this. Explore is a step one. By the way, awareness alone can actually change. It can release trauma and can also, change patterns. You’re more likely to be able to change a pattern if you’re aware of it, right?
Awareness is actually part of the resolution. Journaling will help resolve things as well.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Actually, on that point of awareness, do you mind if I interject something here real quick?
Niki Gratrix: Yeah.
THE DODO BIRD EFFECT, AND HOW YOU CAN USE IT TO HEAL TRAUMA
Ari Whitten: There’s something called the dodo bird effect in psychological studies. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that at all. I’ll try and keep this relatively brief. I could talk about it for an hour. Basically, there were certain studies. The first one came out, I believe, in the late 60’s.
The general idea was that they compared all these radically different approaches to psychotherapy to see which one was basically the most effective. The reason they’re called the dodo bird is actually, it’s a reference to Alice in Wonderland, where in the dodo bird scene, there’s a race and the dodo bird says everyone wins a prize. Everyone’s a winner.
That’s basically what they found, in the original study, and the ones that have been done since then is they found that these different approaches to psychotherapy are often equally effective or there aren’t big differences between them. We’re talking about radically different approaches to psychotherapy.
For example, more like a psychoanalytic approach, which might involve just years of exploration of childhood stuff, or versus a CBT approach, which is whenever you have a negative thought interrupted and you think positive thoughts, or even something like rogerian therapy, where it’s more just the therapist mirrors back to whatever you’re expressing. If you say “I’m feeling not loved right now, the therapist” says “I’m hearing you express that you’re not feeling loved right now”.
Niki Gratrix: Yep.
Ari Whitten: Literally, that simple. They’re comparing all these radically different approaches and they’re finding that there aren’t big differences in the effectiveness. What they found, ultimately, was the biggest predictors of benefits were the degree to which the patient and therapist were aligned on conceptualizing what was actually the cause of their problem, essentially the diagnosis. The second one is the extent to which patient and therapist are aligned on how to actually fix it.
Niki Gratrix: Is that in a way empathy?
Ari Whitten: It can be related to that. Yes. Obviously, empathy will help you attune to the person and create some of that alignment. But, it’s just interesting to see that a lot of the power of a lot of these different psychotherapeutic methods is actually just showing up and being on board with your therapist and saying “I agree. You’ve identified the cause of my problem and I believe that your solution is going to work for me”.
Then, actually showing up and with that awareness and that attention to it and that intention to actually get better, so speaking to your point around journaling of just that first step of awareness of having the intention and putting a little time into doing that, I think is profoundly healing in and of itself, almost regardless of what you’re actually writing about or the content of the interaction. Do you know what I mean?
Niki Gratrix: Yeah. I think that you just said, it’s absolutely fascinating. I’m hardly ever interviewed by somebody who can actually add to what I’m saying all of the time. You totally added something really valuable for people.
It’s the first time it’s absolutely fascinating, because there’s this [inaudible] and we’ll talk about this. What do people do if they want to get professional help? I can list 10 different types of therapies and everybody goes into overwhelm about my god, what should I do?
I try and give some guidance, but this guidance you’ve just given there is like find the thing you feel that you’re aligned and you get along with a practitioner and they’re aligned with the problem and the solution. If it feels good to you, do that one, so you’re not missing out on anything.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, yeah.
Niki Gratrix: It’s actually critical. It’s really very interesting.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Actually, just one more quick point I want to mention here. Of course, I just want to clarify it’s possible to get results with basically any method if you’re doing the work, essentially. But, I also think that it’s certainly very possible and extremely likely that there genuinely are better methods and worse methods, all things being equal as far as patient and therapist alignment as far as their thinking on the issue.
Niki Gratrix: Okay.
Ari Whitten: Do you know what I mean?
HOW TO HEAL TRAUMA BY DOING RESET RITUALS
Niki Gratrix: Yes. Okay. Yeah. We’ll talk, because there’s certain types of trauma that are appropriate for certain types of interventions as well.
We’ll talk about that, because in terms of what people can do and it’s more about what people can do just at home, not seeing professionals. I’ve got what I call them daily reset rituals, but you call them daily recharge rituals. I got that from you really.
Ari Whitten: It’s not plagiarism, because you changed the word. But, I like it.
Niki Gratrix: I don’t mind. I kind of say yeah, I’ve got these daily recharge rituals and that came from Ari.
Ari Whitten: I probably stole them from somebody else, too.
Niki Gratrix: Yeah, that’s the way it goes, isn’t it? Yeah, but I can’t emphasize enough and I know, Ari, that you talk about these as well. But, especially given everything we said about the brain and the way the body gets stuck in fight/flights, we’re really just saying that on a daily basis, we need to get shall I call it reset ritual, brain reset rituals, is to get into the relaxation state.
I say at least 20 minutes twice a day as a minimum, because it’s not just everything around us, society around us, but also this internal shift that kind of happens with trauma from the past and early childhood where we’re wired into the stress.
We’ve got to condition the brain back, and we know that things like meditation, yoga will do it, Tai Chi and Qigong are some of the big ones that have research and research behind them that they would actually change the neural pathways and also anti-inflammatory and they directly will change biology and change that stress response.
Just as we conditioned it with the intermittent stressor when we talked about limbic kindling, where you have an intermittent or a one off stress that creates the kindling, this is the antidote is these daily relaxation rituals and it doesn’t have to be those used in practices. It’s anything that will get somebody into a calm, relaxed state.
It could be sunbathing. It could be forest bathing, could be some art that they do or something that’s joyful. It just has to be something where you’re not competing with yourself or others. You can’t fail at it. It’s a completely freeing thing to do that will bring you into the present moment.
It needs to be done daily, because that’s the conditioning. It’s the reconditioning of the body, brain. I can’t emphasize that. It’s so important. We have to stop to rejuvenate. Actually, this is the way to rejuvenate is to go into the parasympathetic rest, digest, detoxify, right?
HOW LONG IT CAN TAKE TO HEAL TRAUMA
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Yeah. If you think about how often we’re going into stressors and negative experiences, I’d say yeah, it needs to be done more than daily. It needs to be done multiple times daily, and I think in balance and proportion to the amount of stressors that are being pumped into the system.
Niki Gratrix: Exactly. Exactly. Also, sometimes people who are very sick will say how long is it going to take to recover? I’m like how long have you been ill and how long’s your body been in a state of stress? Maybe you need at least a month for every year, at least, of reconditioning.
That side of things can be done at home is very important. Sometimes that doesn’t work for people. That’s when you’ll need to get some professional help, and we’ll talk about professional stuff in a second.
The other really big one is a step, right now, if you want to resolve trauma and do a kind of emotional detox so that you have abundant energy, you have to end up one time or another dealing with your current social relationships.
HOW RELATIONAL TRAUMA CAN INFLUENCE FUTURE RELATIONSHIPS
When we’ve had trauma and so on in our childhood, usually it’s relational trauma, which means that we tend to retract. If you had a narcissistic parent, it might mean that your romantic partner is a narcissist. It’s increased risk.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
HOW YOU CAN HEAL TRAUMA BY SURROUNDING YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Niki Gratrix: Basically, narcissists are just people who tend to downplay our needs, they’re kind of selfish, and they don’t look after us or give us space to look after ourselves. Or, it’s the opposite, that we become like it’s the energy drainers. I provocatively call them the energy vampires and they’re real. They are real people and they will shorten your lifespan, because that’s even proven with things like [inaudible], I was like they’re energy vampires. He was like they’re real.
They’re actually real, you can measure if somebody’s in a low emotional state all the time, they’re in a low emotional state, our bodies tend to synchronize with people we hang out with. It was Tony Robbins who said who you hang out with is who you become.
There’s loads of data, BMJ data showing that, that you tend to be more obese if you hang out with obese people. You tend to be happier if you hang out with happier people.
If you’re around people who are destructive, that is going to directly impact your ability to resolve emotional trauma. One of the things that happens is when we resolve trauma and we sort of raise our energy, if you like, you become a happier person. Boy, do you start noticing the people around you who aren’t resonating at that level.
Ari Whitten: Oh, they find reasons to get mad at you.
Niki Gratrix: Especially if you start putting boundaries that you never put up before because you didn’t realize. Oh my goodness, you start seeing what’s happening. You’re seeing you’re being drained and then, you put a boundary. Of course the other person doesn’t like it, because essentially, they are feeding on life energy off you. You suddenly block that off, that’s the whole thing in itself. There’s a whole process that you’ll need to be aware about when you actually start resolving trauma.
At the beginning stage, just be aware that if strange things start to happen, like suddenly, your friend doesn’t want to speak to you anymore, it’s actually because you can’t deal with them on the phone constantly talking about all the negative things going on in their life all the time, and they bring nothing to the table. You just suddenly realize, I don’t have time for that anymore. I don’t have people like that in my life anymore.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Niki Gratrix: You do have to look at sometimes it’s our closest relationships, our big relationships, cause we replicated what our parents did with us. I always quote this study. There was a massive study of 300,000 people in 2004. It was a landmark study, showing that social relations, the quality of your social relationships was a stronger predictor of survival than physical activity, body mass index, hypertension, pollution, alcohol consumption, or even smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
It’s one of the most robust findings in psychoneuroimmunology that if you have conflict in your relations or you feel isolated and alone and you have attachment trauma, so you don’t snug away of dealing with attachment trauma is don’t have any relationship, that will actually shorten your lifespan and, it will change your emotion… it’s inflammatory. You have higher inflammatory markers if you have social stress. The social relationships side, we could have a whole podcast just on that.
HOW TO GET RID OF ENERGY VAMPIRES
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Real quick. What do you do for energy vampires? Do you break out the garlic or what?
Niki Gratrix: I think we have to learn how to communicate boundaries and learn to be assertive. First of all, you’ll soon see when you start clearing your own emotional stuff, you’ll sort of realize oh my god, everybody’s been an energy vampire at one stage. You would’ve been that. Then, you stop doing that to other people. Then, you don’t want other people to do it to you.
There’s a certain group of people that are pathological narcissists. This is an area that’s exploding on the internet right now. It’s a massive topic. It’s being under supported, but if you’re with a pathological narcissist and you’ve got a boundary in place, be careful cause they can do really bad things. If you’re splitting up with somebody like that, they’ll do things like shut you out of the house, stop you from seeing the kids, take all your money, and that can happen. But, that’s only the severe side.
The rest of it you’ll just have people who don’t like you very much. What you have to do is stick to your guns and realize you have to let some people go. You might need to let people go. Just having that awareness is one of the biggest things that happens when you resolve trauma and you become a happier person, your friends are going to change.
Potentially your relationships could change. Your job might even change, so just be prepared and don’t be shocked by that. Be ready for it and be okay.
It doesn’t mean anything’s not working. It doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly become the most unpopular person ever, but you’ll need to get your self-esteem strong enough to deal with the fact. Can you deal with the fact that people aren’t going to like you? Some of them are going to throw stuff at you, and you’ll have total insight that it’s nothing to do with you. It’s that other person.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, beautiful. We’ve talked about knowing thy self. We’ve talked about reset rituals. We’ve talked about addressing current social relationships and getting rid of the energy vampires, whether you have to drive a stake into them or use garlic or whatever. Whatever it takes, silver bullets.
What’s step four?
HOW TO HEAL TRAUMA BY GETTING PROFESSIONAL HELP
Niki Gratrix: Step four is when is professional help needed?
Professional help, like going and seeking, going to see a therapist. If you’re doing all your rituals and doing your daily reset rituals and you’re finding like for example, if you do meditation, you’re just getting more anxious or it’s just not working or you’re still reacting with a stress response to certain circumstances. It’s just not going away and you’re doing all this other stuff and you’ve kind of resolved other things and it’s still happening, then you might want to look at getting some additional help with a professional.
The other time, obviously, is if you know you’ve had a lot of trauma. Some people know they’ve had a lot of trauma. It’s early and it was intense. I also recommend people work with a professional with that, too, because all trauma therapists will tell you at some stage, you will need to go through a connection to the feelings that were happening at the time.
That’s how it releases. That’s how the trauma releases. It needs to be felt in order to be released. Some of that stuff that can come up, it can cause repressed memories to arise and you’ll want to be with a professional who knows how to support you through that and have a support network around you.
That kind of criteria, definitely seek professional help. Like you’ve mentioned, there’s a lot of really good help out there. I would say you need to be picky about your practitioner, to get your free 15 minute chat with a practitioner, whatever methods that they’re using, and connecting with them and see if you’re aligned with that person.
Always remember it’s your prerogative as a client to not have to work with practitioner if you don’t feel like it’s working out and you don’t like them. You can switch. You don’t have to stick with somebody.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, for sure. On that point, I just want to mention to people that really is so important. As I mentioned with those dodo birds studies, you have to be aligned with the person that you’re working with and you have to trust and know that they really understand your condition and understand the path to getting better.
Niki Gratrix: Yes. It might almost be more important than the modality you’re using. Some things work great for one person and didn’t work for another. It’s just like with biochemistry, biochemical individuality. What works, what’s the poison for one person is medicine for the other. It’s exploring the different types of modalities and exploring the practitioner.
For example, there’s CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, talk therapy that can work really well with some people. Other people are like no, I want to work more on the energy side. Perhaps they don’t want to do so much talk therapy, but if you want to work more energetically, things like eye movement and sensitization and reprocessing, EMDR or EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, even neurofeedback.
They’re energetic interventions. It’s not talking. It’s actually changing you. EFT, you’re actually tapping on acupressure points. With EMDR, you’re just doing an eye movement with a professional who is changing the way that your brainwaves are actually functioning.
The same with neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is essentially looking at a screen. Your brain is connected up to a computer screen and you’re watching your brainwaves, and then you’re getting feedback about whether your brainwaves are showing them to be in a stress state or a healing state. Stress state or yeah, I call it healing state. Then, you intentionally modulate it back into healing, and that’s like meditation on steroids. Neurofeedback is very… Doctor Bessel van der Kolk that I mentioned, it’s his top favorite therapy at the moment, which is neurofeedback. They’ve had amazing results with very traumatized children using neurofeedback. Those kinds of therapies are energetic.
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE BEST THERAPY TO HEAL YOUR TRAUMA
They’re not talk therapies. What I encourage people to do is actually go online. Do your research. Have a look at how the therapy works. Look at patient stories, client stories, and see if you relate to it. Does it resonate with you? Does the stories and the way that the therapy works and the practitioner, if appropriate, does it resonate? If it does, then go down that route.
Another really important point I’d make about this as well is it’s never a waste if you did one type of therapy and it didn’t seem to fix everything, because you just learned something.
For example, EFT and EMDR tend to be good for the discreet traumas where you’ve got a specific memory, a one thing that happened, and it will work very good with that type of thing. What if it’s more ambient? What if it’s not one specific thing, it was just kind of an ambient thing?
That’s where sometimes attachment trauma therapy where there’s a talk therapist, it’s like a talk therapist who’s an attachment trauma therapist, neurofeedback can be good for this ambient type trauma. Body work, it can be really powerful, like massage and also some therapies that are specific, that work on the body.
Something called rosen therapy is a very gentle breathing therapy. You’re working with somebody who will just gently help you breathe into your body and feel and connect, because trauma’s actually stored in the muscles of the body and people get disconnected.
They get into their head here and then, they don’t feel into their body. This is actually a lot of trauma is learning to feel into your body again and yoga is extremely great. It’s very good for that, too. It’s grounding your awareness back into your body. Most of us have gone out into our heads, because it’s too painful down here.
That’s a range of different types of therapy. You can look online and do this research and go and experience it and go and you’ll find out it’s never a waste. You’ll clear some stuff. You might have some other stuff still to work on it, but you’ll learn about yourself in the process as well.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. If I can add just one thing on that subject. I just want to point out that what Niki just expressed, this is very uncommon for a practitioner to have such an expansive understanding of this entire landscape.
What you’ll find if you actually go out and speak to other practitioners who are working one on one with people is usually they have one preferred method and it’s all they do and it’s all they know, and they don’t really know about any of the other research, about any of the other methods.
If you’re talking to most psychologists, psychologists don’t receive training for example in nutrition and the biological biochemical factors that are also related to it, which I might add there’s a whole bunch of science on, as you know.
My point here is Niki is expressing a very sophisticated understanding of this very broad landscape. I would say this is actually a mark of what you want to look for in a practitioner.
You want them to not just have one method that is their only tool in their tool belt, and there’s the saying “If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”. There’s a lot of practitioners, both psychologists as well as functional medicine practitioners, conventional medical doctors, who have basically one tool in their tool belt and everybody they work with, they try to hammer that nail in. I just love what you’re expressing here.
WHY THE INTEGRAL APPROACH IS GREAT TO HEAL TRAUMA
Niki Gratrix: Thank you, Ari. I’d forgotten that. It’s something I’ve been living that kind of principle. I call it an integral approach. It actually comes from Ken Wilbur, who I collaborated on the summit with. Integral approach means a lot of different practitioners rule out there, whether it’s biochemical or psychology side, they’re all a partial truth.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Niki Gratrix: If we assume they’ve all got something to offer, that means we don’t have to keep doing the fight of you’re wrong and I’m right and this is the only way. My way’s the only and everyone else can take a running jump.
By the way, that’s happened a lot in the chronic fatigue community, where somebody finds one piece of the truth and finds that works with a subgroup. Then, you’ll find that there’s all these other. This is why with chronic fatigue in the clinic, we founded it on integral theory, which is Ken Wilbur’s integral theory, which he’s into integral psychology and he’s really into let’s start all just talking about our own school of thought. Let’s have an appreciation.
It’s not that as practitioners, we don’t need to train in all these different modalities. It’s just the awareness of oh, that could be something outside of my scope, which as long as I know I’m aware of it, I can also refer.
That also really helps clients. It helps patients to navigate the landscape as well. I kind of forget, cause I live in that world now, but yeah, most people are just still touting one thing and yeah, when you’ve got a hammer, everything’s a nail.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Yeah. We’ve talked about steps one through four.
Niki Gratrix: Yes.
Ari Whitten: Tell me about the last step, step five.
HOW TO HEAL TRAUMA BY ADDRESSING YOUR BIOCHEMICAL ISSUES
Niki Gratrix: The last step is just reiterating not to throw the biochemistry out, because it is important. We know, for example, there are people who can express they go gluten-free and all the anxiety disappeared.
The brain and your emotional state, it’s very interesting. We talk about emotions. Isn’t an emotion a packet of information? Is it electromagnetic? Is it a neurotransmitter? Is it your gut? What is an emotion?
It’s probably all of that and it can be modulated by those different ways, psychologically, energetically, and we can change the way we feel with neurotransmitters and the state of your gut. That’s just to say what you’re doing when you clean up your diet, if you do think that you have a diagnosis if something like leaky gut or you might be gluten intolerant, those things can be important to change the way that you feel as well and to calm the body down.
There’s tons of data coming through on that as well. I guess I’m saying take a multi-factored approach, because that’s the other thing that’s happened to the fatigue community. Somebody who’s a psychology practitioner in fatigue gets great results when they say all you need to do is psychology and they have this stop process and thing called the lightning process, which is an NLP technique for chronic fatigue. It’s huge in the UK. It’s coming bigger into the US as well.
I’m like do you really have to do that one thing? Maybe the person would be even more beneficial if they just discovered they had leaky gut and actually took gluten away and things like this.
Ari Whitten: Right.
Niki Gratrix: Maybe it’d be even a more sustainable recovery as well.
Ari Whitten: If they addressed, yeah, some of those other biochemical factors that are actually known and we have good science to show they’re liked with fatigue.
HOW ADDRESSING BIOCHEMICAL FACTORS CAN HELP RESOLVE YOUR EMOTIONAL STATE
Niki Gratrix: Yes. There’s even metabolic differences. Working with a good, functional medicine, naturopathic trained, licensed nutritionist, a natural medicines doctor, a systems volume based person, they can address all that for you.
It’s useful and it will help you resolve ultimately, your emotional state and change the way that you feel. You can change the way you feel with biochemistry as well. If you have got leaky gut or you have got food intolerances, all things like pyloria, which is a metabolic imbalance that actually changes the balance of your neurotransmitters and causes social anxiety.
It’s sort of the orthomolecular psychiatry we’re getting to on that subject there. That’s a part of the picture as well. I guess I’m drawing a map of reality and we stick a person in the middle and say you’ve got psychology. You’ve got your social environment around you. You’ve got your own psychology and people around you. You’ve got your own biochemistry, and you’ve got your physical environment to consider.
Those four dimensions is actual integral theory. The four dimensions, they impact each other. Everything effects everything else and we exist in a constant four dimensional world, which is as subjective, singular, and plural and the object if measurable biochemistry and the environment that we live in.
That’s kind of a map of reality. The bigger your map, I think the greater success you’ll have. The wider your map, the more likely you’re going to have success in getting what you want, which is abundant energy for life.
WHAT NIKI GRATIX DOES TO HELP HER CLIENTS HEAL TRAUMA
Ari Whitten: Absolutely. On one final note, I know that you work one on one with people.
Niki Gratrix: Yes.
Ari Whitten: Can you talk a bit about what you actually do? I know you just outlined these five steps. I assume this is a big part of what you do, but can you talk a bit about what you do with the one on one work with people, and where somebody might want to consider working one on one with a practitioner?
Niki Gratrix: Yeah. I take a very multi-factored approach with my one on one work at the moment. I will have a course coming out later, but if people want access to the work I’m doing now, I do some limited one to one sessions with people.
The warning to people is it’s in depth work and we cover both the biochemical side and we do psychology side as well. On the psychology side, we’re assessing. I do help people do all of the assessment of the questionnaires and exploring that. I have all the questionnaires they can use.
I also use bioenergetic testing, which covers actually what’s going on physically and it also picks up on emotional trauma, unresolved trauma, that helps start peeling the layers off the onion. I help guide people through that process.
On the other side, I also can work on the physical side, where we’ll do some of the standard testing for things like mitochondrial function, signs of displacement from the gut. We’ll discuss diets.
I use essential oils and it’s a whole range of different interventions, so it’s very multi-factored and integrated. I can do a lot of stuff. The stuff I do, by the way, on the psychology side, on the bioenergetic side, a lot of that will help actually remove and resolve trauma.
It’s energy work, so it’s less talking, but by taking certain things, what we call inforceuticals, which is information imprinted on water. We actually move the whole energy field. It starts shifting, so if people start going through an emotional detox like they’re suddenly feeling anxious for no reason and they get sad for no reason, and it’s just emotional detoxing.
It’s very powerful, but for some patients, I will refer off on the psychology if I feel like okay, I’ve gone as far as I can with somebody as well.
Yeah, it’s a very multi-factored approach. Yeah, you can work with me one to one at the moment.
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. For anyone listening who has a history of childhood traumas or suspects they might, I really cannot recommend working with Niki high enough.
Like I’ve mentioned at the beginning, I’ve had the pleasure with speaking with her in person and on the phone a number of times. She’s in my program, The Energy Blueprint, and people absolutely love her talks in that program.
She just really is the real deal. There are a lot of people out there. I’ve met a lot of people in the health industry who, I’m going to try and put this in a nice way, are not really scientific authorities. They are more just parroting things that are trendy in the health community at any given time and what they’ve heard from some other practitioner somewhere.
But, it’s actually quite rare that someone is really out there actively reading the science and really understanding the science and really putting all the pieces together instead of just parroting the trends and having one tool in their tool belt.
Really cannot recommend working with her strong enough, and I hope that you guys will reach out to her. Thank you so much, Niki. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on and thank you so much for sharing your brilliance with my audience.
Niki Gratrix: Thank you so much, Ari. Back at you as well. It was a really enjoyable interview. It was really interactive and fantastic. Thank you so much.
Ari Whitten: Awesome. Thanks. Bye.
Niki Gratrix: Bye.
Niki’s coaching services: www.abundantenergyportal.com/program
If you want to know more about how to relieve stress, go check out my podcast on stress management with Dr. Heidi Hanna Here!
* the information has been taken from https://www.nikigratrix.com/about/