Phantom Limb Pain

Person wrapped with clear plastic bag experiencing phantom limb pain

Invisible Sensations

A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated limb is still attached. Phantom limb occurs after leg amputation in 98% of patients! The experience may last for years and may even be painful. Sometimes the pain is worsened by anxiety or stress. There is no known cause or treatment; it usually stops spontaneously over time.

Phantom sensations may even occur after amputation of breasts, teeth or even eyes! For instance, some patients who undergo a mastectomy (surgical removal of a breast) report experiencing a phantom breast, or the sensation of still having the amputated breast present. For amputated limbs, the sensation may feel as if the missing limb is shorter or in a distorted position. Phantom sensations have also been reported in transexuals who experience phantom genitals after gender reassignment surgery.

Because the cause of phantom limb is not known, there is no treatment that cures the condition. Treatment approaches that have shown to be helpful include: antidepressants, acupuncture, hypnosis and biofeedback. It can be very debilitating for these patients to lead a depressive-free life while experiencing phantom sensations; imagine having a limb amputated and then feeling as if your limb is still there, but also accompanied by pain!

How would you feel? Imagine the depressing thoughts and suicidal ideations that patients experience while battling phantom limb pain! This is why we must come together and support each other through all our difficulties and struggles!

The DSM Ready Movement is about understanding and caring for each other!

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Creamy Yummy Peanut Butter

Peanut butter jar on brown cutting board

Ketogenic Diet: Peanut Butter

If you consider peanut butter to only be for children, you are missing out on many health benefits! Besides being good for you, it is an excellent source of energy prior to working out or playing sports; in particular tennis!

If you do not eat peanut butter, you should start this tasty treat immediately! (considering that you do not have any allergies)

Here are the following health benefits:

  • Protein (helps build muscle, repairs tissues and is a building block of bones, cartilage, skin and blood)
  • Magnesium (important for bone formation, assists with calcium absorption and even relieves anxiety)
  • Phosphorous (helps aid in the building of healthy cells and bones)
  • Zinc (important for the immune system which fights infections, protein synthesis and DNA formation)
  • Niacin (helps with digestion and nerve function and helps produce energy)
  • Vitamin B6 (necessary for the heart and immune system)
  • Weight loss (improves satiety or the feeling of fullness, which helps you avoid unnecessary snacks and oversized meals)
  • Improves hearth health (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as niacin, magnesium and vitamin E are good for your heart)
  • Helps with bodybuilding (provides a good amount of protein and gives you energy before your workouts)
  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer (eating peanut butter from a young age reduces the risk of developing benign breast disease, which results in a lowered risk of developing breast cancer)

To add even more flavor to it, spread it on two pieces of bread mixed with strawberry jam; the flavor will get you going for whatever activity you have in mind immediately after!

The DSM Ready Movement is about promoting a healthy lifestyle with the goal of improving mind, body and soul!

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Eating Is A Discipline

Blonde woman smiling and eating a burger and fries and drinking coke

Train Your Mind To Eat Properly

It is very easy to lose control of your eating habits; the taste of food can grab a hold onto your taste buds and turn you into an eating machine. As you start nibbling more, a pattern develops, resulting in consuming more food at the next meal, until your meals become consistently larger.

Eating properly is a discipline; you have to train your mind to eat less, even if you still feel hungry. On the first few meals that you cut short eating, you will remain hungry and this will either make or break you; you either will say “hell with this” and continue eating, or you will endure the pain.

If you choose to endure the pain of hunger, you will notice that on your next meal, you will not want to eat as much; this is because your brain is starting to adapt to the new quantity of food you are willing to consume. And now you have just developed a new pattern of eating less!

Becoming disciplined is not that difficult; this can be applied to cutting sweets, junk food and fatty food out of your life. Keep your portions small and healthy and make sure that you still enjoy eating! Eating should not be a chore; once your brain gets used to the smaller portions, you will feel better about yourself because you will start to lose weight (assuming that you are exercising as well). And do not go overboard and eat too little; everything in moderation!

The DSM Ready Movement is about staying fit, physically and mentally!

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The Health Benefits Of Cannabidiol

Cannabidiol from cannabis sativa plant

Will CBD Be The Next Wonder Drug?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in marijuana; meaning, that it does not get you high. As more research is being done on the chemical compounds found in marijuana, CBD is gaining a lot of attention from the medical community for its potential to treat many conditions.

  • It can help reduce pain (The human body contains an endocannabinoid system which regulates pain, appetite, sleep and the immune system. Neurotransmitters bind to endocannabinoid receptors in the nervous system. It has been shown in research studies that CBD can reduce sciatic nerve pain and inflammation, pain secondary to multiple sclerosis as well as arthritic pain)
  • It can help reduce anxiety and depression (In one study involving patients with social anxiety disorder, CBD was shown to provide a reduction in anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in speech as compared to placebo. It has also been shown that CBD can treat insomnia and anxiety in children with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And as for depression, it is believed that CBD acts on the receptors that bind serotonin – the neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation)
  • It can alleviate cancer symptoms (CBD helps reduce nausea, vomiting and pain. In one study involving cancer patients with pain not relieved by conventional pain medications, CBD and THC given together demonstrated a significant reduction in pain. Another study involving cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, CBD and THC given together demonstrated a reduction in nausea and vomiting better than standard treatment)
  • It can help reduce acne (CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and an ability to control the overproduction of sebum from sebaceous glands. But humans studies will need to confirm this)
  • It may have neuroprotective effects (Sativex, an oral spray containing CBD and THC has been shown to reduce muscle spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis. One study demonstrated a reduction in seizures in patients with epilepsy after they were given CBD oil. Another study demonstrated that CBD reduced childhood seizures in Dravet syndrome – an epilepsy disorder in children. And other studies have demonstrated improved quality of sleep in patients with Parkinson’s disease)
  • It may benefit the heart (One study demonstrated a reduction in high blood pressure in men given CBD. It is also thought that CBD helps prevent heart damage through its antioxidant properties and stress-reducing properties)
  • It may help reduce psychosis (CBD may help counteract psychotic symptoms and cognitive impairment associated with cannabis use and may help reduce the risk for developing psychosis related to cannabis use, mediated by the opposite effects of CBD and THC on brain regions such as the striatum, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex)
  • It may help treat substance abuse (In rat studies, CBD has been shown to reduce morphine dependence and heroin-seeking behavior)
  • It may help fight cancer (In animal studies, CBD has been shown to prevent the spread of breast, colon, lung, prostate and brain cancer cells)
  • It may help reduce diabetes (In mice studies, CBD has demonstrated a reduction in the incidence of diabetes by over 50% as well as reduced inflammation)

Even though there are many promising effects from CBD, it is important to keep in mind that every treatment comes with side effects. In the case of CBD, some people may experience diarrhea, fatigue and changes in appetite. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new treatment.

In addition, because the research studies are very young, we must give time for more clinical trials to be completed before we can conclude with certainty the health benefits discussed above.

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Jogs For Days

Woman with headphones jogging in nature on forest trail near green trees

The Benefits Of Jogging

Many people find jogging to be boring and mundane, but it can be quite exciting if you keep in mind the physical and mental health benefits, as well as finding a fun and peaceful place to jog. Jogging on a treadmill is probably not the best place to start if you have a preconceived notion that jogging is boring. The best place to jog is in nature: parks, forest trails, boardwalks, around lakes and even on the street (preferably in a nice suburban area).

Physical health benefits of jogging:

  • Helps to build strong bones (considered a weight bearing exercise)
  • Strengthens muscles
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness (considered an aerobic activity)
  • Burns calories and helps with weight loss
  • Enhances lung capacity (increases the lung’s intake capacity over time)
  • Enhances fitness (improves body tone and shape)
  • Reduces fatigue (endurance is built over time)

Mental health benefits of jogging:

  • Relieves stress (helps you ignore stressful events or allows you to sweat it out)
  • Boosts confidence (you will feel more confident as you become more fit)
  • Boosts happiness (it is great at fighting against depression and anxiety because it distracts you against those issues and keeps you focused on the act of exercising and becoming more fit)
  • Keeps you in tune with yourself (jogging is a very personal act; it keeps you focused on your surroundings and yourself; it allows you to dive into your thoughts and feelings)

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and jog for days! Your mind, body and soul will reward you for it.

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Don’t Get Too Sunny

Forest with sunlight causing an addiction

Sunny Delight

Most of us love the sun. It makes us feel great, makes us happier, improves our tan and gives us a general good feeling about the day. But did you know that you can become addicted to the sun? UV exposure releases beta-endorphines (neurotransmitters that act like pain suppressors) in the body, which bind to opioid receptors, making you feel good, and reinforcing the pattern of sun-seeking. It is important that you control your urges and impulses to sunbath, because too much of it can promote a new addiction.

Sun bathing can also be psychologically addictive. The warm feeling of the sun on your body and the nice tan that comes along with it, reinforces your behavior of going back out there and seeking that nice feeling. Like anything that feels good in life, our brain rewards us with releasing dopamine in the nucleus accumbens – the reward center of our brain; the sun is no exception.

What are the health benefits of sun exposure?

  • It promotes the production of vitamin D (vitamin D protects against inflammation, lowers high blood pressure, improves brain function and strengthens bones)
  • It decreases your risk of developing colon cancer, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer
  • It may help treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, jaundice and acne
  • It helps improve depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and sleep quality
  • It helps make you happier by promoting socialization with friends and family

What are the harmful effects of sun exposure?

  • Sunburn
  • Premature skin aging and wrinkles
  • Skin damage
  • Skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma)
  • Damage to the retina of the eye (is also a factor in the development of cataracts)
  • Heat exhaustion (headache, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature)
  • Heat stroke (confusion, slurred speech, seizures and loss of consciousness)
  • And last but not least, it can turn you into a BURNED OUT BEACH BUM

As you can see, the sun can be quite awesome but too much of it can cause a burnout (no pun intended). Always wear sunscreen and sunbath in moderation.

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Serotonin Syndrome

Dilated pupil secondary to serotonin syndrome

When Serotonin Attacks

Serotonin syndrome can be deadly if not treated in a timely manner. This is a syndrome that occurs when two serotonergic (promoting the release of serotonin in the brain) drugs or medications are combined. Onset is usually within a day of when the extra serotonin is made available in the brain. Common drugs and medications include:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs – antidepressant)
  • Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs – antidepressant)
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs – antidepressant)
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants
  • Amphetamines (stimulants)
  • Tramadol (opioid pain medication)
  • Dextromethorphan (cough suppressant)
  • Buspirone (antidepressant)
  • St. John’s Wort (herb with antidepressant properties)
  • Ecstasy or MDMA
  • Cocaine

The symptoms include:

  • High body temperature
  • Agitation
  • Myoclonus
  • Increased reflexes
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Diarrhea

Complications include:

  • Seizures
  • Muscle breakdown
  • Death

Treatment involves stopping the medications, benzodiazepines for agitation or a serotonin antagonist such as Cyproheptadine. When body temperature is extremely elevated, active cooling measures are needed. With appropriate treatment, the risk of death is < 1%. It is important that everyone is educated on medical conditions that can be caused by psychiatric medications.

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The Benefits Of Sleep

The sleep hygiene of a cat sleeping under a white comforter

A Proper Sleepy Head

It is unimaginable how important sleep is to your wellbeing. To properly function and maximize your potential in life, you need a proper sleep hygiene. A sleep hygiene is a set of routines that you consistently stick to that allows you to maintain a good sleep over the long run:

  • Do not exercise the immediate hours prior to sleep (this will keep you awake since you are already energized from the workout)
  • No not consume a large meal before sleep (your body will be focused on the digestion process rather than resting)
  • Do not drink a lot of alcohol before sleep (alcohol may make you fall asleep easier, but it actually interrupts your REM sleep, causing you to wake up more frequently, resulting in morning tiredness)
  • Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning (your internal clock which is located in a region of your brain called the hypothalamus becomes used to a set schedule – mess up this schedule and you will start having problems with sleep)
  • Stay away from caffeine before sleep
  • If you find yourself not being able to fall asleep after laying down for 30 minutes in bed, get out of bed and go do something else, and return back to bed in 30 minutes (laying in bed while not being able to fall asleep actually trains your mind to relate the bed with poor sleep)
  • Do not read, watch TV or utilize electronics while in bed (the bed should be associated only with sleep and sex; the rest can be done during the day outside of bed)

Did you know that sleep keeps your heart healthy? Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Sleep may prevent cancer! Light suppresses the sleep hormone called melatonin; hence, why it is not produced during the day by your pineal gland. If you use electronics while going to sleep, you are telling your brain “I’m not ready to go to sleep” and your brain interprets this as a signal to shutdown melatonin production. Melatonin is thought to suppress the growth of tumors.

Sleep reduces stress! When you do not sleep properly, your body experiences stress. This results in stress hormones being released as well as an elevation of blood pressure. Stress hormones make it harder for you to fall asleep, promote inflammation and elevated blood pressure, increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Sleep increases your energy level! After a good night’s sleep, you feel energized and mentally refreshed, allowing you to tackle the day’s work with a positive mindset, promoting happiness. This is why sleep hygiene is important!

Sleeps improves memory! During sleep, a process called memory consolidation occurs. Your brain is busy integrating everything that happened during the day, including new information that you have learned. Improved memory helps you become a better communicator, score higher on tests and feel better about yourself.

Sleep may help you lose weight! People who sleep less become hungrier during the day; the appetite hormones Leptin and Ghrelin become disrupted, resulting in hunger. Therefore, maintain a proper 7-8 hours of sleep every night to keep your hormones functioning in the normal range.

Overall, sleep is good for your mental and physical wellbeing. It is important that you maintain a good sleep hygiene; especially in this day and age, where we are living in an ultra-competitive and cut-throat society.

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The Benefits Of Bananas

Woman's hand holding healthy bananas

Donkey Kong Power

How can anyone go wrong with eating a banana? They are quick and easy to finish, taste great and provide a ton of health benefits! They are fat-free and a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber and manganese. Bananas provide energy in the form of sucrose, fructose and glucose; they are ideal for giving you a boost of energy throughout the day.

Vitamin B6 Benefits

  • Helps produce red blood cells (RBCs deliver oxygen to our tissues)
  • Helps metabolize amino acids, carbs and fats (say hello to improved weight loss)
  • Remove unwanted chemicals from our liver and kidneys (helps detoxify the body)
  • Helps maintain a healthy nervous system
  • Helps the body make serotonin which regulates our mood (low serotonin is linked to depression)
  • Helps the body make norepinephrine which helps our body cope with stress
  • Helps the body make melatonin which regulates our “internal clock” and sleep (proper sleep is crucial for a healthy mind and body)

Vitamin C Benefits

  • Helps the body better absorb iron (iron helps treat anemia, boosts hemoglobin, reduces fatigue, boosts immunity, improves concentration and restores sleep)
  • Helps the body produce collagen (collagen may ease joint point, reverse skin aging, help build muscle and may reduce cellulite!)
  • Helps the body produce serotonin (serotonin helps regulate social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire)

Manganese Benefits

  • Helps the body make collagen
  • Protects our cells against free radical damage (free radicals are a toxic byproduct of oxygen metabolism resulting in cell and tissue damage)

Potassium Benefits

  • Helps maintain a healthy heart and blood pressure
  • Decreases the risk of stroke
  • Protects against loss of muscle mass

Fiber Benefits

  • Helps prevent constipation, stomach ulcers and heartburn (fiber can lower the amount of acid in our stomach, helping prevent the formation of ulcers)

So what are you waiting for? Head to your local grocery store or fruit vendor and pick up a hand of bananas!

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The Benefits Of Strawberries

Basket full of strawberries

Strawberry Dreams

I recently rediscovered the sweet taste of strawberries! After washing them with water, their sweet taste made my taste buds high on life! Apparently, strawberries originated in Europe in the 18th century! They are an excellent source of vitamin C, manganese, folate, potassium, antioxidants and fiber.

Vitamin C Benefits

  • May reduce the risk of chronic diseases
  • May help battle high blood pressure
  • Potentially lowers heart disease risk
  • Could reduce blood uric acid levels and help prevent gout

Manganese Benefits

  • May improve bone health
  • Has strong antioxidant properties
  • Helps reduce inflammation
  • Plays a role in blood sugar regulation

Folate (Vitamin B9) Benefits

  • Makes red and white blood cells in the bone marrow
  • Converts carbs into energy
  • Produces DNA and RNA

Potassium Benefits

  • Decreases the risk of stroke
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Protects against loss of muscle mass
  • Preserves bone mineral density
  • Reduces the formation of kidney stones

Antioxidant Benefits

  • Help stop the damage caused by free radicals (free radicals contribute to aging and play a role in cancer, diabetes and heart disease)

Fiber Benefits

  • Improves digestive health
  • Useful for weight loss

Anthocyanins Benefits

  • Good for heart health

Ellagitannins and Ellagic Acid Benefits

  • Fight bacteria
  • Reduce the risk of cancer (by fighting oxidative stress and inflammation)

Overall, eating strawberries may improve heart health and help prevent cancer! They may also reduce inflammation, improve vascular function, and reduce LDL (bad cholesterol).

DSM Ready is about maintaining a healthy mind and body.

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