Childhood trauma is often stored in our bodies, starting in the first year of our lives. It doesn’t even have to be a hugely traumatic experience – it could even come from a child’s mother. Dr. Aimie Apigian joins us to talk about how childhood trauma affects our long-term health conditions and how we can accelerate the healing process to reclaim our health.
Listen to the Episode
Biochemical Imbalances Caused by Genetics or Epigenetics
- Methylation Imbalance
- Copper & Zinc
- Pyrrole Disorder
About Dr. Aimie Apigian
Dr. Aimie is a Board-Certified Physician in Preventive Medicine and Addiction Medicine who specializes in recognizing and addressing the chronic effects of trauma on one’s biology.
After helping her foster-adopted son as he struggled with severe emotional and behavioral issues, she started to see how much of trauma is biology, not psychology.
She earned her medical degree from Loma Linda University, has a Masters in Biochemistry, and a Masters in Public Health.
2 years into her general surgery residency, she went from running marathons and being an avid cyclist to severe fatigue, autoimmune issues, was overweight and depressed.
Through her personal experiences, she has found we all live compromised due to stored trauma in our bodies.
Talk therapy is not the answer. Dr. Amie’s mission is to share with others the ways to accelerate the healing journey to consistent high states of health, aliveness, and performance through leveraging our own very survival, and reward pathways.
Storing Childhood Trauma
Dr. Amie Apigian shares her own personal experience with her adopted son to help explore her approach to trauma-informed therapy that focuses on our biology as well. Stored trauma often embeds in us before a child is 12 months old, even if that child hasn’t had any traumatic experiences in life.
But Amie explains how trauma can pass onto a child through its mother through attachment and subconscious signals. Even if the mother is experiencing stress in her day-to-day life, a baby can pick up on these queues and hold onto this as stored trauma. Of course, there are other ways of experiencing trauma that have even more of an impact.
Childhood and stored trauma may not be something we notice as children or early adults, but as we age, we can develop chronic and long-term health conditions associated with this trauma.
Breaking Trauma Cycles
Amie talks about how our bodies can get stuck in a state of “freeze,” rather than fight or flight followed by relaxation. There’s a common misconception that pegs all these responses together, but Amie explains the difference between sympathetic responses (fight or flight) and parasympathetic responses (freeze) and why it’s essential to return to that state of calm instead of holding onto the stress.
Amie explains how we can start to break these trauma cycles that start in childhood. Referencing her son, it is possible to start alleviating symptoms really quickly when the approach, support, and breakthroughs are just right.
While there is a lot of benefit in talking therapy, yoga, and meditation, Amie explains why healing has to start at a biological level to address the root cause of the trauma. She says our bodies need that neuroplasticity to bounce back to our level state of stress.
Did you experience trauma as a child that impacts your adult life? Do you think your long-term health conditions could connect back to incidents from when you were a child? Call the Integrative Health and Hormone Clinic today and schedule your first appointment at 319-363-0033.
“Whatever our pattern in our nervous system, if we came out of our childhood with any insecurities in our nervous system, subconsciously, even after our best attempts not to let our past influence our parenting, it’s going to come out because trauma is not verbal.” [18:48]
“Many, many people are living in what I call a chronic, functional freeze state. They’ve given up. They’re just going through life living in a bit of a daze and have lost their fight and fire for life because it’s been hard. Their nervous system has gotten to the point where it’s running on fumes. This low energy state helps us survive, but not live.” [32:59]
“When we look at these points in our biology that are holding our nervous system back from being able to process things, heal, and rewire itself, those are leverage points that we get to use to accelerate the healing journey.” [47:17]
“There are clear leverage points in our biology that when you combine that then with the trauma therapies and somatic work working directly with your nervous system, you can feel that charge come up. You can feel the discharge. It shows up as heat or even trembling. Somatic trauma therapy is such powerful work. You can, in real-time, learn how to shift your own nervous system.” [48:11]
In This Episode
- How childhood/stored trauma can cause disease later in life [8:00]
- How trauma gets stored in the body [9:00]
- The difference between parasympathetic and sympathetic responses [11:00]
- How to break attachment trauma cycles [21:00]
- Why our bodies need neuroplasticity [29:00]
- How to accelerate the healing journey [46:45]
Links & Resources
Additional Resources Mentioned
Dr. Aimee Apigan 0:02
This is the trauma pattern that's getting established in their nervous system and because the nervous system is still developing, this becomes their foundation for life.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 0:12
Welcome to the your longevity blueprint podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Stephanie gray. My number one goal with the show is to help you discover your personalized plan to build your dream health and live a longer, happier, truly healthier life.
Today, you're going to hear from Dr. Amy Peggy and she's going to dive into how and where trauma gets stored in the body, the three states of the nervous system and you're going to be blessed by hearing the story of her adopted sons journey. This is going to be something you do not want to miss. Let's get started.
Thanks for joining me for another episode of The your longevity blueprint podcast. today. My guest is Dr. Amy app again. She is a Board Certified physician and preventative medicine and Addiction Medicine who specializes in recognizing and addressing the chronic effects of trauma on one's biology. After helping her foster adopted son as he struggled with severe emotional and behavioral issues, she started to see how much of trauma is biology, not psychology. She earned her medical degree from Loma Linda University. He has a master's in biochemistry and a Master's in Public Health. Two years into her general surgery residency, she went from running marathons and being an avid cyclist to severe fatigue, autoimmune issues was overweight and depressed. Through her personal experiences she has found we all live compromised due to stored trauma in our body. talk therapy is not the answer and permission is now to share with others the ways to accelerate the healing journey to consistent high states of health alive in us and performance through leveraging our own very survival and reward pathways. Sounds great. That's what I want to welcome to the show Dr. App again. Did I say your name right? Is that right?
Dr. Aimee Apigan 1:48
It's Dr. piggin. But that's why I go by Dr. Amy. There's so many different ways that you can say that and it's like you know what we need to simplify. This is Dr. Amy.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 1:59
Thank you I interview so many people and sometimes I forget how to pronounce their names. Well, Dr. Amy, I first heard you in a speak off at a mindshare conference. And you really had me you had my attention with your first words. Those first words gave me the chills that give me the chills really thinking about them today. You were a very captivating, memorable speakers, our speaker and I want my listeners to hear the content that you presented there. So do you remember what your first line was? on that talk? Do you want to share with us what that was?
Dr. Aimee Apigan 2:27
My first line was, Mommy, I'm going to kill you. Please share, please tell you today, Mommy, I'm going to kill you tomorrow. And then my son proceeded to tell me exactly how he planned to kill me the next day, all while he was snuggling in my arms and cuddling with me, it still just blows my mind, like how much kids can go through. And we can think that they're resilient. And we don't understand what's going on underneath the surface that really is changing their biology, kind of adapting to their environment, right, like, just like any other biological species, we adapt to our environment. And those are the adaptations that happen, right, it actually changes our nervous system. And we start seeing the world different seeing ourselves different. And depending to the degree that we've had to adapt will depend on on the adaptations that we start having in our life.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 3:28
We got to dive into this. But first I want to ask because of course now that elicits more questions, like I'm thinking, well, what's going through your mind as he's saying this to you? And how old is he? And obviously, through your bio, the listeners know he was adopted? So we got to know more. So So how did you become so proficient about really stored trauma and the impacts of that on our health? Did this spur your, your research to? Yes, absolutely. So
Dr. Aimee Apigan 3:55
I was on a very conventional medicine path. In fact, I was so science nerdy. In the textbooks, I had no idea really, that I had a body. I was just always in my head. Right? Like, give me something to think about, give me something to understand. And that's where I was the happiest. And so I was even doing a master's in biochemistry during medical school. When I decided to become a foster parent. He was the first child that they gave me I ended up having to over the course of the next few years, and he arrives in my home. I think that I know what to do. I've had this, you know, great background upbringing. I was a very conservative Christian at the time, like I knew that I had all the answers. And I knew that all he needed was you know, the structure the love and literature. Exactly. And, you know, good food and church, of course and God and that would just fix him. Didn't. And so I got him when he was four, I adopted him when he was five. And it was while he, when he was five, that he actually did start trying to kill me. So he not only would talk about it, he would actually do it. And what I found was that it was my love, that feared him the most. So the more that I loved him,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 5:27
makes me cry. Right, the
Dr. Aimee Apigan 5:29
more that I loved him, the more scared he would get. And the more he would try to push me away. And so that's when I really started diving into what is going on what is going on in his brain, what is going on in his body, because he would just have these severe emotional reactions to what I thought were very simple and small things. And we would be in a five hour rage, where he would finally just fall asleep, exhausted, and sweating and tired, because he'd been fighting for so long. I mean, that's what prompted me to learn any of this because up until then, I had no idea anything about from I would never would have thought that I had trauma patterns in my own biology. And I first started with learning attachment. And that was where I was like, Oh, wait a second, there's this attachment thing. And it's not just your attachment style, you know, whether you're avoidant or insecure your relationship style, no, like attachment is actually your biology. And I know we're going to talk about this later on and go into more depth.
But that attachment is actually established in your nervous system by age 12 months of life. So there's something going on in really early life before you even have words, before you're even communicating in a verbal way. There's other forms of communication and dynamics in your environment that you're already making huge adaptations to. And I mean, away out of the first year of life with either a secure nervous system, where you're feeling safe, where you're feeling like, Hey, I'm taken care of, I can communicate my needs, they respond to my needs, which allows me then to explore and play and be creative, because I'm not worried about what's going on. Are they in a bad mood? You know, what kind of response Am I going to get? Should I ask now, or is now not a good time that I should tell them that I'm hungry, or that I'm cold, or that I need my diaper changed? There's so much of this subconscious pre verbal dynamics that actually creates our nervous system for life.
That's where then this whole field opened up to me. And it's like, wow, wait a second cause then our nervous system causes changes in our immune system, and causes changes in our stress response, and that HPA axis and the adrenal glands. And that is why when we look at something, as you could say, as severe or extreme as the adverse childhood experiences study, where people have gone through and survived some really, really hard things early in their childhood. That's why decades later, they're having cardiovascular disease, they're having autoimmune disease, it's not immediate. It's these adaptations in childhood that start the process, start these adaptations in our biology, from the effects of our nervous system and the stored trauma that then cause all these downstream changes consequences adaptations in our biology that we call disease.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 8:33
Again, I have so many other questions. So I'm assuming based on your son's behavior, that he had some I don't know how to call it attachment. Challenges or? Yeah, yeah. So. So that led to him having stored trauma in his body? Yeah, correct. Am I I don't know if I'm saying this correctly. So how does trauma gets stored in the body? So or maybe you kind of already just shared that. But you want to expand a little bit on that this can be a difficult concept.
Dr. Aimee Apigan 9:01
Yes. And this is a really important question. And it's really simple to understand when you look at the nervous system, because the nervous system is our survival system. And so the very short answer is that trauma gets stored in our nervous system, because that's the initial imbalance that happens when we have this type of life that we're constantly having to survive. That's not normal. We shouldn't have to be surviving every day, you know, maybe once a year, you know, once a month, we have some big event that we're like, oh, my goodness, right, like, need to survive this. But then we come back into this all is good, I'm fine. You're fine. We're all okay. But we never do that. Right. Like when we're living in these family dynamics, especially as kids. We don't recognize it as trauma. Like we don't even know those words yet. But what we're having to do is we're Having to adapt to someone else's emotional reactions to life, we're having to adapt to their moods to their decisions to their actions.
It's those responses that we're doing that form this karmic pattern in our nervous system, you can call it attachment trauma, that would be one word for it. You can call it adaptation, right? So attachment, adaptation, adaptive Sim giome, all of those would be consistent with the same thing that's happening in the nervous system. For just one step further, for those people who already have that basic understanding the nervous system, you have three states of your nervous system, that's it, which really helps to understand it, you have three states, two of which are the survival states, most people just think of the survival state as one state fight, flight or freeze. And that is wrong. That that that concept has misled so many people, and I'm here to try to change that. So those are actually two very different, very different survival states, you have the sympathetic, which is your fight or flight, that is where your nervous system goes, it's programmed in, you're not going to be able to change that.
That's where your nervous system goes, every single time, there is a threat that shows up in your day. Now, it goes into sympathetic. And if you're able to figure out if your brain is able to figure out in that fight or flight state, right, the hyperfocus thoughts, your thoughts are racing, what do I need to do, then if you're able to figure out what to do, and you get through that safely, you're supposed to come back into parasympathetic state, which is your, ah, all is good. Glad I survived that one. But what happens especially in early childhood, where we don't even have the words to say this stuff, yet, what happens is that we go into sympathetic, but it overwhelms our biology, it overwhelms our ability to know how to respond, we don't know what to do. And when that situation happens, we go into the freeze state, which is I call it like a dorsal dive, because this is the polyvagal theory. And there's actually a communication that happens into that dorsal nucleus of the Vegas, in the brainstem, some people can even kind of feel that washing down where they just experienced this, this sensation of Route down their body, and they feel the collapse.
And they go from this high anxiety state in the sympathetic, very high energy to collapse, shut down and overwhelm. And this is a pattern that gets very strong when this type of family dynamics are going on. And a young child is having to constantly be in survival mode, because there's constant threat, they just don't know. They're always feeling insecure, insecure in their relationship to their parent, to their siblings, to their teacher, whatever it is, if they're constantly feeling, uncertain, insecure, this is the trauma pattern that's getting established in their nervous system. And because the nervous system is still developing, this becomes their foundation for life. And so this is how the trauma gets stored in our pattern in our nervous system, then is that we develop a strong pull towards the freeze response, and that overwhelm where something has gone from a stress, which is sympathetic to I'm overwhelmed. And this is a biological thing, we experience it as emotional, right?
We experience it is I'm giving up, I don't know what to do, I'm giving up I'm giving in. And so there can be the fatigue, there can be the depression, this is where chronic conditions like chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, all of the autoimmune conditions, they're all part of the having had this strong pull towards the freeze response, rather than actually staying in sympathetic and being able to feel like I can meet this threat and survive
Dr. Stephanie Gray 14:16
and bounce back to the Paris and bounce back
Dr. Aimee Apigan 14:18
to here. sympathetic, exactly. It's when a person's system keeps going down into the freeze response, that we see so many more consequences to their health downstream, decades later, even because of how much that Vegas nerve affects everything. Because when a person goes into the freeze response, the body really is saying, Look, I don't have the energy to meet this threat. I have to go into energy conservation in order to survive this. So we're not going to fight we're not going to actively try to figure out what we need to do to get out of this. We're just going to Stay right here, we're just going to shut down and not care anymore. Because we don't even have the energy to care. We only have enough energy to breathe.
And even that we're going to shut down, we're going to go into really shallow breathing, very slow breathing, we're going to slow down the heart rate, we're going to do all of these low energy things, we're going to shut down the digestive system. So there's all these consequences to the health that happened as a result of this pattern, this trauma pattern of going into the freeze response being stored in a person's nervous system. So I know this is a lot of information that I'm throwing at you, Dr. Gray.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 15:40
Being that I'm trained in functional medicine, I'm you know, I'm immediately thinking, well, we need to prevent the attachment trauma. Exactly right. Yeah. So I know, we need to still work to treat the patient. So maybe let's digress a little bit, too. I have a two year old so of course, I'm thinking oh, my gosh, did he have trauma? How? Right? I don't think he he had much of that. But how do we prevent the attachment trauma? What can parents do? I mean, you were clearly I mean, I'm sure you're a wonderful mother. And clearly you've you know, donated your entire career now with these issues, but you were in med school full time getting a Master's as well. And we're super busy,
Dr. Aimee Apigan 16:14
during your studies with Dr. Dre prevent that are going to feel I mean, Lee,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 16:20
putting ourselves in urgent parent, Hey, can we do to prevent this for children? Let me just
Dr. Aimee Apigan 16:25
let me just put that out there that that I'm going to move to the hope and solutions. But first, I want to paint the full picture of attachment. So attachment is this nonverbal communication, the dynamic that happens between mom and her child, and it happens within that first 12 months of life, though, when we look at what is actually happening in that nonverbal communication. We call it regulation, specifically regulation of the child's nervous system. It's very interesting that when a child is born, their nervous system does not have the capacity for much flexibility. They they are very dysregulated they're all over the place, right? Like scream feed me. Yeah.
You remember that. And what happens is that when we respond to those needs in a way that communicates to them in a nonverbal way, of course, that I'm here, I hear you, I see you and I'm providing for your needs, then they shift into that, ah, and they get all cuddly, and they snuggle and they're building those muscles of the parasympathetic system where they do feel safe, they feel completely 100% secure, so that you as a parent can literally hold them up over, you know, a pool in your arms, and they feel no fear, because they trust you that much. So the regulation then is what attachment is and responding to those times when in their nervous system. They go into high sympathetic, and they're screaming, being able to in that moment regulate their nervous system. And we do that through our nervous system. So this is the part that gets really discouraging.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 18:19
So since we're stressed out when
Dr. Aimee Apigan 18:22
exactly whatever is our nervous system, we share that and it's going to be subconscious. It's not something that we actually have logical control over our state of our nervous system. It's not something where it's like, Oh, Mom, just breathe deep. And you'll be fine. No, just go do some meditation, you'll be Oh, do some yoga, even yoga with your baby. And that'll be awesome. No, that's not enough. Because whatever our pattern is, in our nervous system, if we came out of our childhood, with any insecurities in our nervous system, unconsciously, even after our best attempts to not let our past still influence our parenting, it's gonna come out because it's not verbal, it's done, done. How much pressure we put on them, when we touch them, it comes down to how often we make eye contact with them. It comes down to the tone in our muscles and our cheeks like that stuff that we cannot logically control.
That's what regulation is. And we call that co regulation where we're using our nervous system to shift their nervous system. And so whatever our nervous system is, we're shifting theirs to ours. This is where I'm going to share a study with you. You know, the big father of attachment theory was john Bowlby. And he did a lot of his work, actually, during World War Two times and even looked at orphanages and how babies were dying if they did not get enough touch. That's how much this regulation is east. essential for the development of our nervous system where the nervous system of these babies would get so overwhelmed so much into that free state. so overwhelmed without that regulation from an adult that they would die much is a huge form of regulation. Right? What he looked at then was this, you know, attachment and this attachment style, but then his graduate student, Mary Ainsworth, she did a study that was called the strange situation study. And that's where we know that it's at 12 months of life, that it an a child already has their attachment style in place wired into their nervous system, the follow up studies of that was bringing those children back when they had their children. Wow,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 20:47
Dr. Aimee Apigan 20:48
Well, right, yeah, guess what? Those children like their children had the exact same attachment style as they had when they were 12 months of age? How do
Dr. Stephanie Gray 21:01
we stop the cycle? Then? How do we change it? If that attachment style is not a good one, then?
Dr. Aimee Apigan 21:07
Exactly. And that's where we really have to look at all this stuff, attachment, trauma gets stored in our nervous system. And we need to be able to find those leverage points be able to rewire that be able to help the body readapt to a life to a parasympathetic state. So that that's what we are now sharing with our children. So for the last 10 years now, I have been on a quest to figure out how do we actually change this even as adults, right? Because first I helped my son. And as awful and hard as that experience was children are easier to change their nervous system than adults.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 21:47
I don't want to cut you off. Even before we change it, how do we know if we have attachment trauma? Yes. And this is very true. So I'll let you finish but maybe go back there to answer that. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Dr. Aimee Apigan 21:58
So and maybe this will be a perfect segue to that is that after I helped my son, and he was in a great place, then I had my health crash,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 22:10
of course, well, thank God, you didn't have it before you were able to help him. But
Dr. Aimee Apigan 22:15
you can look at it as Hey, you know, these were years of exhausting work. Of course, you crash? It's like, Well, yes, but no, right? Like, I actually had to look at why would I have made those decisions? Why would I have adopted a son while I was in medical school and doing a Masters? Right? Like, those are the types of patterns that we can start looking at our life and being like, Oh, I see patterns of me acting out out of fear, out of insecurities, so we can look at our health. And for me, I developed all of those, right? Like I developed the chronic fatigue, I went to my conventional doctor, we ran all the tests, there wasn't much that was not wrong. And so then I had to start looking at, well, what is wrong, because I can't even get out of bed. And I have been in a general surgery residency, working more than 80 hours a week, and then running and still biking. So not being able to get out of bed is a huge change. For me, something is wrong. Your labs didn't pick it up. But let me go figure it out. That's how I found functional medicine. But it was also that process that I found that I had my autoimmune markers high, I started seeing a specialized type of ophthalmologist.
And after a few months of working with their program, this designer of the whole program came and met with me and he says, These are the types of patterns that we see in people who have multiple sclerosis. Do you have multiple sclerosis, and that scared me so much Dr. Gray, because I, having been in in the health field, I knew what that life was like, and I did not want to go down that path of multiple sclerosis, or other conditions. And so it was a huge wake up call for me that Wait a second, we're on this path. I don't want to go down this path. I need to get off of this path. And that's how I figured out like, Okay, I need to figure out how to change my own patterns, because I now recognize that these health conditions are part of childhood attachment trauma, and I did not recognize I never would have said Oh yeah, I had childhood trauma. I never, never would have recognized that right. Like my parents were married all throughout my childhood. They didn't use any substances. They never went to jail. Like there's there's nothing in my childhood that I would look back and say, ah, clearly, clearly I had trauma.
But now that I understood attachment, it was like looking back and I could see the relationship with my mother in a very different way. And part of this it takes the judgment away from the parent takes the blame out of it because it really comes down to your biology, your history. My mom, you know, she had her history, she had her childhood that was influencing her, her dad died, you know, when she was very young. So she had to do a lot on her own. And so she comes into this, she's married to somebody that was very stressful. She's trying to do a job, she's trying to also change careers. And I'm looking at this, realizing that I probably was a more needy baby, based on my health issues. I think I had more more need for touch and regulation, then other children. And my mom got overwhelmed with that she couldn't do that. She was busy. She had two other children. She didn't have the time, or the emotional energy to be able to dedicate the amount of regulation and time and touch that I seem to need to be in that regulated state most of the time. So looking back, it's like, Oh, okay. Yeah, exactly. And what can I do about it now? And so that's where I've developed my whole program now of looking at, hey, this is the most common imbalances in a person's biology that even makes their system be more dysregulated. Let's start there. let's identify the most common biological imbalances.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 26:25
In us some of those for our listeners.
Dr. Aimee Apigan 26:27
Absolutely. Yeah. So some of them are going to be actual biochemical imbalances caused by genetics, or epigenetics. methylation is one of the most common ones that I see people coming to me with. And they have like methylation or methylation imbalances. And the way that I break down methylation is you're either under methylated, or over methylated. Either one of those are going to be problems, we need to identify which one because they're going to change your neurotransmitters. So with under methylation, for example, it causes low activity of serotonin and low activity of dopamine, which is really interesting, because most people coming out of having these patterns, the strong freeze response from childhood, any of the insecure attachment, most of them have low dopamine and low serotonin activity. Is that because they were already under methylated? Or did they develop the under methylation more with time because of other epigenetic factors.
We don't have that data yet. But it's likely that they were already under methylated years already have low serotonin and low dopamine activity, which means that they needed more regulation, they needed more of this stuff that their parents just were not able to provide for them. And so these types of imbalances it is it's a risk factor, it predisposes you then, to having this type of stored trauma in your biology. So that's methylation. The other ones include copper and zinc. So high copper excess, and even the copper to zinc ratio is another one of the very common imbalances that I see in people who have mood and trauma stuff, maybe they're already in therapy and just can't move through therapy because they just they're they're stuck. They're stuck in their in their thoughts. They're stuck in their moods, they're, they're stuck in the copper will even be something that contributes to the chronic fatigue, and the other physical health symptoms, which is a big part of trauma, right? Because if your body is under so much oxidative stress and inflammation, that's where the energy is being shunted towards, it's not going to have the energy for going to counseling and going to therapy and actually changing.
The other factor is that these types of imbalances, especially the copper to zinc ratio, if that's off, it creates enough of the oxidative stress and inflammation around your nerve cells, neuro inflammation, which will keep your nerve cells back and how they've always operated. If we're going to change things about ourselves, we need to have neuroplasticity, the ability of the nervous system to change itself. But if it's bathed in inflammation, it's not going to change. That's not where it's gonna need to focus the energy it needs to focus the energy on just trying to combat the inflammation and survive as a cell. It's not going to be able to feel that thriving state and I call it cellular resilience where Yeah, and now we have all this energy for neuroplasticity and bring on you know, the meditation and the therapies and all this kind of stuff. So copper to zinc and then pyrole disorder.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 29:48
So do you check your sis a serum level of copper and zinc or or where are you checking?
Dr. Aimee Apigan 29:53
So I use DHT labs a lot for these kinds of labs because it does matter whether it Pull blood or just serum, I have worked with DJ labs and they have done these specific labs for so long like this is part of their protocol from working so closely with Dr. William Walsh out of the Walsh Research Institute. The third most common one is something that we call pyrole disorder, just something that very, very few people have ever heard about. And what that is, is it's both a genetic and an epi genetic condition. And pyrole disorder refers to inside of your red blood cells, you have this iron ring that carries oxygen. And if your body has a hard time, your enzymes have a hard time breaking down that ring, when it's time to recycle that red blood cell, then you have this ring that then passes through your kidney, it's able to pass through your kidney, but it pulls out zinc and B six with it. So it causes a functional deficiency and zinc and B six, two of the nutrients that are some of the most important ones for the nervous system. And again, regulation, stability of the nervous system.
And so this is a condition that will make a person very sensitive. So when I think of sensitivity to lights, sensitivity to sounds, I'm thinking, ooh, we may have a payroll disorder here. And we need to do a very simple urine test. And in fact, I can give you the link for exactly which tests to order through DHT labs for testing all three of these the methylation, copper and zinc in the payroll and be able to look at you know, do you have one of these very common imbalances that I see in people who have stored trauma and are having a harder time shifting their nervous system and getting to a place of consistent parasympathetic state where they're feeling calm, and yet alive, creative, playful, connecting, and I think that's most of our world right now. Like, we have not been embarrassing, pathetic, much as a as a society, which is interesting, because, you know, the epi genetic portion of the pyrole disorder is that in times of stress, that will get worse. And so a person may not have much of an issue with payrolls during a time where they're not stressed. But you know, bring on a pandemic, bring on financial insecurity, bring on your may lose your job.
And all of a sudden, you also now have this low zinc and B six, and your nervous system is struggling. And it's going to make that situation even more stressful, it's going to push your nervous system again, like what we talked about towards that line now of overwhelm. Biologically, it's going to be overwhelmed, because it doesn't have the nutrients it needs to face that threat. And you're going to be closer to that line, then I'm going into the freeze response. And many, many people, Dr. Grey are living in what I call a chronic functional freeze state. They've given up, they're just going through life kind of in a bit of a daze. They've lost their fight for life, they've lost their, their fire for life, because it's been hard. And their nervous system has gotten to the point where it's like, Hey, we're running on fumes. We don't have what it takes. So we're going to keep you small, we're going to hold you back, we're going to keep you in this low energy state in order to just help us survive.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 33:35
So interesting. Have you this is a personal question. So I feel bad asking this on the podcast. But have you tested yourself for all of these ratios and things that of course, you're? Yeah,
Dr. Aimee Apigan 33:45
yeah. In your first test myself, three years ago, when I first know is more than three years ago now about five years ago, when I first discovered Dr. Walsh's work. And I was like, Oh, I need to test myself. And have you found then
Dr. Stephanie Gray 33:59
through your clinical experiences as well that you've been able to improve these ratios with the recommended nutrients and whatnot. So these are things for the listeners, don't be discouraged or depressed. These are things if found to be unfavorable, that we can change.
Dr. Aimee Apigan 34:15
Well, exactly. And that's where the hope comes in. And that's where we can really start to gain ground in changing your nervous system, whether it's because you want to be a better parent, or whether you want to be able to show up at work better. You want to be able to show up in life, the way that you really want to show up in life of being present and engaged rather than you know, kind of shut down and collapsed. And when we can identify these imbalances now we have something to work with. And honestly Dr. Gray like this is just the starting point. I find these imbalances are so common that I do it on everybody who comes to work with me.
We do it first and then we also do other testing, but both For I want to do other testing, I need to know like, do you have these because once we shift these ones we replace, you know, your zinc and your B six, and we address the methylation, things just start to fall in place and you naturally feel better. You naturally have more resilience for your day, things naturally will just kind of roll off your back easier, you won't be as reactive you're not as sensitive. And that's where it's like, Yeah, exactly. Like that's your nervous system. And that's what it can do for you, when we know how to support it in the right way. So I personally had all three of those imbalances. But not anymore, right. And it was such a game changer for me, because at the time I even had a copper IUD. And here I get my test results back and my copper is through the roof. And I'm like, oh, okay, now I know how to make these decisions for other areas of my life. Because I now have this data, this information on how much my my nervous system is, is being affected and being worn down by these biochemical imbalances that I had no idea that I had no idea.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 36:13
Wow, we could go down a whole nother tangent and talk about IUDs and whatnot. But we'll, I'll bring it back in for a second. So. So for the listeners, what do they do if they feel like after listening to this podcast, can identify with what you're saying? Like if they feel like they have seen trauma patterns in their body? Like, where can they start?
Dr. Aimee Apigan 36:32
Great question. And again, the trauma patterns can be not only your health, but your thoughts and your moods, looking at all of the different ways in which trauma can show up in your life. And we know that it's trauma when you're stuck. So if you're trying to change something, if you're trying to change how you think about something, if you're trying to change how you feel about something, and you're not able to consistently change that, then that's where we realize, ah, this is a trauma, then that has been stored in your nervous system, because otherwise the body should be able to bounce back and heal. So where do people start, I help people that we really have to integrate the biology piece, and the actual Nervous System exercises that will touch on this stored trauma and how it has been stored in the body. So when you Right, right, which means right? So we actually need to start looking at your sympathetic response and your freeze response, and do it in a very gentle way.
Because if we try to change the nervous system too fast, rewire the pathways too fast, it's almost like trying to change the way a tree is growing overnight. And if you go out to a tree, and you're like, No, no, I want you to grow this way instead, and you just bend it, you're gonna break it. So it's actually more of this gentle shifting of the nervous system to Hey, we're gonna now be spending more time in parasympathetic, we need to spend less time in sympathetic, and that needs to be gentle, because there's so many other chemicals, your neurobiology that's involved, we have become addicted to adrenaline, we have become addicted to dopamine and to cortisol, that's how we feel alive, right? We, we put ourselves under a deadline in order to get that energy to do something. And so if we're going to change that, we have to do that slowly, because the body has to have time to start making those chemicals in different ways, in different times, so that we're not feeling all of a sudden, like, Oh, I'm dopamine deficient. I'm adrenaline deficient, and I need to go create some chaos in my life to feel alive again.
Right. So we have to do this gently. So what I have found is that we've got to address the biology, the first place that I usually start usually is with these most common biochemical imbalances. And then we need to start with actually working with the nervous system, and the stress response and the trauma patterns. So I have become trained in somatic experiencing, and instinctual trauma response. And those were huge for me, especially sitting in those trainings as a medical doctor. And, you know, everybody else is a therapist, or you know, body worker. And here I'm coming in with a very different lens. And I'm absolutely loving what is happening because finally, I have tools to actually work directly with a person's nervous system, know how to regulate them, whether it's through teaching them, you know, a certain exercise in the moment or providing some touch at certain places in their body with a certain amount of pressure. There's a lot that can go into it, but that would be the thing, right?
It's like if you're really interested in this, come look at my work and see how I integrate the biology piece and this trauma therapy piece, most of which would fall under this category of you know somatic practice. somatic bodywork where we're actually working directly with your nervous system, and how it has these instinctual responses to threats and then to the freeze response, because those are the leverage points that we need to change in order to get your system being able to stay in parasympathetic. And building that window of tolerance so that you can experience more stress in life and still stay in parasympathetic and not go full blown into anxiety and stress and fear and then even down that dorsal dive into the freeze response, and I don't care anymore, I'm just gonna collapse and shut down.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 40:40
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If you're interested in learning more about adaptogenic herbs, read chapter six of my book, Your longevity blueprint, and check out our product guide info sheet at your longevity blueprint.com forward slash product, Ord slash adrenal hyphen calm to get 10% off adrenal calm or l theanine us code calm at your longevity blueprint calm. Now, let's get back to the show. So I have to ask her to because I do think talk therapy is valuable. So if you're, you know, you're if you're a therapist, and you're listening, I don't think that Amy's saying, therapy is not valuable. I think you're saying it's more valuable when you can do some of these other things first, based on some other practitioners that I've interviewed on this podcast, I would think that part of one's journey also may be I don't know how to describe it releasing the trauma or forgiving the person or like, there can be more to the story. Right? That would you say a therapist or would help with? Do you know, like that that third piece? Maybe that I'm saying? I don't know, I would think that that would also be another?
Dr. Aimee Apigan 42:15
Yes. And I also feel like we're like, who like we could we could talk about this just this for hours.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 42:21
Right? Right. It's hard to hear, I just don't want to lose any therapists that you'd want them to. Yeah, exactly.
Dr. Aimee Apigan 42:27
So here's, here's my experience. And here's my specific word of encouragement for therapists, there are many people who their body would not be ready to just talk about something, because they have so much going on in their biology, that you bring something up, and they're not able to resolve it, their nervous system does not have the energy, the capacity, the neuroplasticity, to deal with it in any different way than how they've always dealt with it, which is just kind of going into the freeze response. For some people, they may be able to benefit right away from talking things through with people. The problem with that is that that puts us in that logic frontal cortex of our brain, and it doesn't touch any of the pre verbal stuff that is there.
So for the therapists who are listening, I'm actually starting the certification program on the biology of trauma for therapists so that they can learn what are these biological issues that will keep their clients stuck in therapy, or even just slow down their progress, that if they can see, like, hey, you're also experiencing this and this and this, or if you are experiencing this in your life, you've got, you know, sensitivities to light, you've got sleep problems, you've got digestive issues, you've got these other things that suggest that you have a biology of trauma that's playing out. talk therapy, what we do here will never be enough. You also need to be doing this so that our work together can be so much more more successful. Exactly.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 44:06
Yeah, exactly. You said that. Well, yeah. Thank you. That's beautiful. And if you're listening here today, and you still don't think that you may be someone who has had insecure attachment. I think at one point, I heard Dr. Amy say that I like 40 to 70% of the population or how much more than
Dr. Aimee Apigan 44:23
a degree. It's more than that. Yeah, yeah. Because there's different categories actually of insecure attachment. To me, it's all the same because it's all causing imbalances in your nervous system. But each one does present a little different. But still, if you're looking at just in general, who all in our society has an insecure attachment. So has these attachment trauma patterns in their nervous system, you're looking at over 80% I think the last number that I saw was 87%. So Holy smokes exactly like this has become normal. This has become there shouldn't be any judgment or shame or Oh my Goodness like I have an insecure attachment. Yes, I have, you know, I have had those patterns, right like that that was my life up until I learned all this and learned how to rewire that. And those tendencies will still be there because those roads were built in my nervous system.
Now what I get to do with the work is I actually get to choose, I now have a choice. Do I want to go down that old way of thinking and behaving right now? Or do I want to utilize the new pathways that I've used, it's brought in this moment of pause, and choice, whereas before, I didn't even know that there was an issue to even be able to choose. And then once I knew that there was an issue, and that I was responding to life out of a place of insecurity, I still couldn't stop it. I couldn't stop myself from using all of my coping mechanisms, right, which overwork over exercise over eating, those have been my favorite. Over the years, I couldn't, I was so aware of the issue and aware of what I was doing that I was using those to help regulate my nervous system. But I didn't know how to stop it yet. And I couldn't control it. So then I would go on this like yo yo diets where I would eat a lot and then feel so bad that I would not eat for, you know, or eat a lot less for a few days. And then of course, that's not sustainable. So it just created a lot of this chaos in my biology in my life. And tell I, I brought in all of these pieces, the biology piece, the somatic therapy pieces, and then that's where the huge shift has happened. It's like, Ah, now I have control over my reactions and my responses. And that's really cool.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 46:37
Yes, yes. Yes. So just a few more questions. So what are some other ways that one can accelerate the healing journey? Like, what else can we be doing?
Dr. Aimee Apigan 46:47
I think that's a really important question. Because especially when I was working with my son, that was the first question that I asked was, not only how can I help them get better? How can I help them get to a place where he's actually happy? So he can have the rest of his childhood is happy, but how can we get there as soon as possible? Right? And then when I started going to my own stuff, it was like, Okay, I see that I have my own stuff, and how can I get to a healthy place as quickly as possible? Because obviously, my life has been affected long enough, when we look at these points in our biology that are holding our nervous system back from being able to process things and, and heal itself and rewire those are the leverage points that we get to use to accelerate the healing journey,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 47:35
like those? Is that what you mean by the,
Dr. Aimee Apigan 47:37
it would start with the last ratios, and after that, it would be looking at other things, and even being able to be very strategic about how we're supporting our brain chemistry? And what is your brain chemistry? You know, the serotonin, the GABA, the dopamine, are those at the levels that you need to actually optimize your process to healing? What about your your gut? Do you have any signs of leaky gut and food sensitivities, because that is going to travel up the vagus nerve up to your brain and cause inflammation in your brain? Everybody's different based on their specific history and their specific health issues.
But there are clear leverage points in our biology that when you combine that then with actually the trauma therapies and the somatic work, working directly with your nervous system, and you can feel that charge come up, and you can feel the discharge like it shows up as heat, it can show up as trembling, I get so powerful work to do the the somatic trauma releasing, if you want to call it that, or the somatic trauma therapies, because you can in real time, learn how to shift your own nervous system. It's so powerful to be able to do that for yourself, and not have to, you know, wait for your therapy session, you know, next week, it's like, No, no, like, you can actually learn a lot of this stuff. And that's what I teach in my programs like you can, these are the exercises that you can do to know which state you're in at any given moment. And be able to shift shift. Yes, exactly.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 49:08
Yep. So I don't know which question as NES next, but most importantly, is your son happy? How is your son? Yeah, there are happy ending here.
Dr. Aimee Apigan 49:17
Yes, yes. So my son has did a lot of work. And it was six, long, long years. Dr. Gray loves years. And not only for me, right? Like for him to conceive? Yeah, he was having to go through this. He's not happy. He's off the handle. It got really, really bad. And I kept trying different things. Because again, I wish that I had known all of this. Yes. But I didn't, I didn't. And so I made a lot of mistakes along the way. And finally, we got to the point where it's like, Okay, we've got all the pieces in place, and once we did, it was dramatic over a one week period of time. Here. His Nervous System changed completely to now being able to feel my love for Him be open to that feel safe with that one that and that the change was dramatic.
I mean, I remember that moment, walking down this country road in West Virginia, of all places where, you know, I had pagan us for our, you know, the the new therapy that I was going to try for us. And not to say that it was that therapy, because it was everything else that had led up to that as well, right. And that's why I do have an intentional parenting for attachment program that I run now for parents wanting to help make sure that their child has that secure attachment, and we're walking down and for the first time, like, I feel his hand he reaches for my hand. He had never done that before. He had never done that before. And I was so shocked, right? That I love.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 50:56
I look down
Dr. Aimee Apigan 50:56
he was walking on my right side, I looked down and he's actually looking right back up at me in my eyes. And he was one who would never look in my eyes. He would look everywhere but my eyes, right? He did not, did not feel safe with me actually seen inside of him. He was so afraid of the amount of anger that he had inside himself that he didn't want me to see that anger. And here he was actually looking in my eyes. And he said, Mom, I really love you. I was like I can. I can like I'm hearing the words. But more than that Dr. Gray, like I can feel it. Because for the first time, he actually is holding my hand. And up until then when whenever I needed to hold his hand, it was me holding his hand was just kind of limp, right? Like, you don't really want to I don't want to be holding hands with you. I don't want to be connected with you. I don't want to I don't want any of you. And for the first time, like I know that I heard the words. But I felt it. Like he was now holding my hand and I knew Okay, we're there like Yeah, yes.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 52:09
This is what we worked. Yeah. Props to you both. Yeah. And your for doing the work. And now for for you sharing it with others, which is what my next question is, I'm but I just want to say your son's one lucky lucky boy. Cuz I mean, his life could have gone a lot different, but I believe
Dr. Aimee Apigan 52:27
it would have he was headed for a really hard disaster.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 52:31
Dr. Aimee Apigan 52:32
yes. Yeah, in a very short amount of time, given his behaviors at that young of age.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 52:37
One blessed. Yeah, blessed boy. Well, I say consider myself the Blessed One. Yeah, so tell listener. So what do you do as far as do you train parents, then you have courses for parents, but also for providers that kind of tell us where listeners can find you, and connect with you? And kind of the programs that exist all of what you do in two minutes?
Dr. Aimee Apigan 52:59
Yes. So what what I do is I help people address their biology of trauma. And so people come to me and they say, Hey, I'm struggling with this. I'm stuck in this point. Can you help me and it's hands down? Yes. And here's what we're going to do, we're going to start with both the biology and the somatic work, we're going to be meeting every week, we're going to stay consistent about this, we're going to start tracking this. So it's a whole program of containment and guiding a person through the process of actually rewiring their nervous system by integrating both pieces and doing it in such a way that allows the body to make that shift. Many people have come to me both on the on the health coach side of things providers, nurses, as well as like mental health providers being like, Hey, we're working with people with trauma, and we don't know how best to help them.
So I've created the certification course for those people so they can learn how to see trauma, how to see the biology of trauma, and how to be able to bring those topics up with their patients so that if they are not ones who can order this stuff, they're at least being able to have the conversation of Let's review this. These are the symptoms. These are the traits of these types of imbalances of these types of deficiencies that are common after having had trauma. And let's see if this is high enough yield that we want to find somebody who can order these tests, if it's not a person who can order tests. And then yes, I still do work with families. So that's actually how I started I started with running weekend intensives for families.
And I now have moved mostly online a less intensive program than the actual camps that we'll be coming back to later. But for right now, I have the intentional parenting for attachment program. So that parents who are recognizing like, Oh, I think my child does have some insecurities. For whatever reason for some people. It's because of their child was born premature or had to go to the NIC queue, or they don't know why they just know that, hey, my child seems to have more need for regulation than what I seem to be able to provide help me is I guess, here are some very strategic tools and exercises that you can do with your child to provide that dynamic that regulation so they can be walking out of their childhood, feeling secure, safe, well adjusted, and not having these patterns. Amazing, amazing.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 55:30
If you had to give us a top longevity tip, what would your top tip be?
Dr. Aimee Apigan 55:34
This would be a Dr. Gray would be like, everybody has had stored experiences and trauma in their life by this time. And when we don't address it, it becomes more cemented into our biology, tolerating the aging process, accelerating the stress that's on our body. So if you're really interested in programming your body for health and longevity, we need to be addressing these types of patterns and imbalances in the nervous system that will with more time just accumulate more stress and more imbalances in your biology that will accelerate the aging process.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 56:16
Awesome. And I know your free gift is parallel to what you just said. So what's the free gift that you have for? For our listeners today?
Dr. Aimee Apigan 56:22
Yeah, so I have kind of like a cheat sheet a guide to? How do you start to address these biology of trauma? How do you address these patterns? So it goes through kind of recognizing what are the patterns? How would you know if you have stored trauma, and then the roadmap for Okay, if you have it, here is what you do. But first, we do need to start with making sure that we recognize how it has affected our life or biology, recognizing that we have stored trauma. So I have that roadmap for people.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 56:53
And we will post the link to that in the show notes. So thank you for thank you for that generosity with that. I think, really even for me a lot of this just starts with one interviewing you. But like, if I was a listener, just hearing this for the first time, just being like open minded and thinking Holy smokes this, this could be me or this could be why my child like with you this, you'd figured out why your child was behaving the way that he was. So I just really appreciate your interest and passion to this topic. And I just want to thank you for sharing your story and for coming on the show and most importantly, sharing your message of hope that attachment trauma can be rewired. So thank you so much. Dr. Amy. Thank you. Thank you. Moving moving episode right there. Wow. What a blessing to have heard her story and how she has used her trauma literally to now help 1000s with theirs. Seeing her son feel loved changed her life. Again.
I want to thank Dr. Amy for changing the lives of others providing this hope today. If you want to connect with Dr. Amy visit Dr. Amy calm that's Dr. Ai m i e comm billing summit recordings, you can also still access at the link of which I will post in the show notes. If you liked this short interview, just imagine how much more you'll love her incredible summit. And if you're a practitioner who is interested in taking her new certification course, join her course interest list link of which I will post in the show notes with the links to her summit and her free download. Be sure to check out my book your longevity blueprint. And if you aren't much of a reader, you're in luck. You can now take my course online where I walk you through each chapter in the book plus for a limited time and of course is 50% off.
Check this offer out at your longevity blueprint comm and click the course tab. One of the biggest things you can do to support the show and help us reach more listeners is to subscribe to the show. Leave us a rating and review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. I do read all the reviews and would truly love to hear your suggestions for show topics guests and for how you're applying what you learn on the show to create your own longevity blueprint. The podcast is produced by the team at counterweight creative As always, thank you so much for listening and remember, wellness is waiting.
The information provided in this podcast is educational no information provided should be considered to be or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your personal medical authority.
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