Turning off the Flight or Flight Mechanism

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Understanding and managing the fight or flight response is key to tackling chronic diseases like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. This primal defense mechanism, governed by the brain, is crucial in handling stress. However, when overactive, it can exacerbate chronic conditions. Through tailored solutions focusing on neuron function and individual needs, we can calm this response for improved health.

Martin P. Rutherford, DC
1175 Harvard Way
Reno, NV 89502
775 329-4402

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Power Health Rehab & Wellness
1175 Harvard Way
Reno, NV 89502

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Reno, NV 89502


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Okay, so today we're going to talk about turning 
off the fight or flight response. No small task.   Having been in this for a long time, 
having practiced functional neurology   As well as functional medicine, when 
I have a patient who has chronic   Disease… I call my practice the mystery disease 
practice… chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic   Irritable bowel syndrome, these types of things, 
the stress response is almost always a big player.   And if you get into the fight/flight 
response where your brain is continually   On a low threshold where the slightest little 
negative thought is going to set you off,   That's a big part of your clinical picture.
And frankly, when I'm evaluating patients   It's one of the biggest red flags I look for is 
to how severe that fight/flight mechanism is,   As to whether to accept that patient or not. 
Because if you're trying to fix a person's gut,   If you're trying to fix their gallbladder, their 
stomach, if you're trying to get rid of SIBO,   If you're trying to get chronic fatigue 
under control, if you don't get that   Fight/flight under control, that fight/flight 
mechanism under control at the same time,   It's not happening. That person's not getting 
better, at least not for any length of time.  So how do you do it? So how do you do it? Well, 
it varies from person to person. There's so   Many things now that what I'm just saying is now 
being heavily understood. 20, 10, years ago, not   So much, not so much. People would make fun of you 
and people would say, "Oh, you've just got to pull   Up your bootstraps and go see a psychologist." 
And I'm not saying that seeing a psychologist   Isn't good or doing counseling isn't good, it's 
certainly one of the things you can do. But it   Is a fight/flight mechanism. It is hardwired into 
your brain. Basically, you have a fear center in   Your brain that at some point in time experienced 
emotional trauma. This is not to create somebody   Who's like weak or something like, "Oh, poor 
me," or anything like that. It's not like that.  You have a mechanism in your brain that 
is designed to go off to protect you from   Whatever's going around you because at some point, 
you had egregiousness that was so bad that your   Amygdala got programmed. So this is an automatic 
response, which makes it a lot more difficult.   Neurons are not as easy to get under control as 
stomach tissue or intestinal tissue or any of   Those types of tissue. It's not as easy to get 
in control as an autoimmune problem, frankly,   At least in the functional medicine world. So 
there's so many different ways you can do it.   I think the first thing that you have to know 
is, is that if your neuron function is not good   You're going to be close to threshold 
and it's going to make it much easier   For you to go off into fight/flight.
So what does that mean? It means that if your   Blood sugar is bad, and this goes for high or low 
blood sugar, and for all you people who have low   Blood sugar and people who aren't paying attention 
to it, is a big, big, big, big deal and you need   To learn how to control that. Okay? High blood 
sugar too, but I mention low blood sugar because  

It's ignored and it shouldn't be. Blood sugar, 
your brain needs proper blood sugar and it needs   Proper oxygen. So if you got COPD it's going to be 
a little harder. If you're a big smoker it messes   Up the oxygen in your brain, it's going to be a 
little bit harder. If you have sleep apnea and   You're not doing the CPAP, it's going to be a 
little bit harder. If you have anemia, it makes   It very difficult, you're not getting oxygen.
So you need proper blood sugar and you need proper   Oxygen. You need proper essential fatty acids. 
You need to be eating peanuts and fish and stuff   Like that instead of fried fish and french fries 
and roasted peanuts that have roasted all the oils   Out. You need to get fatty acids into your brain. 
Maybe take fish oils and stuff, because your brain   Neurons need proper blood sugar, proper oxygen, 
proper essential fatty acids. Proper thyroid   Function for those of you who know you have 
a thyroid problem and it is or is not being   Managed as well as it could be. And a lack 
of inflammation, and that's the big one.   They're all big, but the lack of inflammation 
is like, okay, what's causing the inflammation?  Is it blood sugar going up and down? Is it stress 
hormones that are in kind of a vicious cycle? Is   It food sensitivities? Is it leaky gut? Is it 
SIBO? Is it inflammatory, what is it that's   Causing the inflammation? If you can get those 
down in a biochemical like nutritional… let me   Use the term nutritional… let's say nutrition 
and diet, lifestyle changes… if you can get   Those under control, your fight/flight response 
will be better. I'm not saying it'll be gone,   But it'll be more available to counseling. It'll 
be more available to you using any of the many   Things out there that people are trying now. Who's 
trying ashwagandha, who's trying Adaptocrine,   Who's trying GABA? I literally just talked 
to somebody, literally within the hour, that   Took some psychedelic mushrooms and it got 
rid of his suicide ideation. There's just so   Much research going into this right now, and 
let me tell you, nothing works for everybody.  I've had other people who have come in and told 
me me they did that for a couple weeks and it   Made them worse. So it's a new frontier. There are 
people online who talk about this emotional trauma   That are pretty good. I'm not going to get into 
their websites at this point in time, but there's   A lot of things out there. The point is, neuron 
function is hard to change versus gut function,   And it's hard to change gut function if your brain 
is going a hundred million miles an hour and it's   Flooding your system with stress hormones. So 
it's a challenge. It's not easy. There are brain   Rehab exercises that functional neurologists, 
that if you find a board certified diplomate in   Functional neurology, they can probably give 
you brain rehab exercises. Some of you have   Probably heard of NMDR. These are brain rehab 
exercises that a lot of counselors are using.  There's so many things, obviously there's 
medications, right? If all else fails and I   Have somebody who's coming in here who's massively 
depressed or they have anxiety and panic attacks   And it's really, really bad, I might say, 
"Listen, maybe you need to go to your medical  

Doctor and get some sort of a GABA derivative 
or some sort of a benzodiazepine or some sort   Of a Xanax or something like that. And they're 
always shocked when they come back and their   Gut feels a little bit better because the stress 
response has helped them. Why would I do that?   Because if I try to use herbs and botanicals 
on the person whose fight/flight response   Is a 10, it's not going to work. Especially when 
people are coming into me and they're already sick   And they already got these other things. But 
the medication's going to work unless it gives   You side effects, and if it gives you side 
effects you're kind of out of luck on that.  But the point is, is to get 
everything else under control   You have to use whatever's going to work for you. 
Preferably not a medication, but for the long run   Definitely preferably not a medication for the 
long run, but you need to do whatever it takes to   Get that under control. It's kind of a tough 
subject because it's an evolving subject.   The people who are in neurology, people 
who do this type of work are heavily now   Embracing this mechanism and you just have 
to find out what's right for you. For me,   People coming to me, usually they have 
just a constellation of issues and so I   Generally go after the physiology first. I'll go 
after the blood sugar, I'll go after the adrenals,   I'll go after the food sensitivity, the SIBO, 
all the things that are there in that patient   That I know is screwing up brain chemistry.
At the same time, usually when I go into the   Proper diet for that person, which differs from 
person to person, and we start getting rid of   Those things, their stress response starts to 
go down a little bit. But at the same time,   I'm usually using herbs or botanicals 
or nutraceuticals or neurotransmitters   Based on what they're finding is at the same 
time. So while we're getting their chemistry   Under control, we are giving them neurotransmitter 
support or pre-serotonin support or pre-dopamine   Support or whatever it is. These are natural 
supplements that cause that person to make the   Proper chemicals to decrease their depression 
or their anxiety or their panic attacks or   Stuff like that. And that works for me most of the 
time. But if it's really, really, really, really   Significant coming in, and who is that person?
That's the person who has hyperhidrosis,   Their hands are clammy, their eyes are constantly 
dilated, their eyes are having what's called   [inaudible 00:09:56] flutter. These people are in 
a massive fight/flight response. Then I may say,   "Listen, maybe you want to go to counseling. Maybe 
you want to talk to somebody about getting that   Medicated first," I'm not a medical doctor, 
"Get that Medicaid first then let's do this   What I'm talking about, and then let's go back to 
maybe using some supplements," and these types of   Things. So it's complex. I think it's really 
the takeaway. I just want you to know kind of   The lay of the land. Who's going to take this 
supplement, who's going to take ashwagandha,   And their anxiety's going to go away. 
Who's going to take it and it gives  

Them more anxiety? And there's reasons for that.
So with the herbs and botanicals, if you're not   Going to do a whole protocol, it's kind of trial 
and error. Magnesium, oh my God, magnesium, I've   Had people have magnesium bring down their chronic 
anxiety. I've had other people take magnesium   And go, "Eh." So there's so many different 
mechanisms that create neuro-inflammation that   Perpetuate this fight/flight response. It 
really is something that you have to take   A comprehensive view of it and try to figure out 
what's right for that person. That's what I know   About bringing the fight/flight 
mechanism under control.