Mind-Killer: The Psychology of Fear



Among the integral components of the collective human psyche, fear is perhaps the most universal, prevalent, and clearly defined. However, despite the fact that the bulk of psychology can inevitably be traced back to fear, people tend to refuse to acknowledge it or let themselves be ruled by it.

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mental health, fear and anxiety, relationship, side effect, depression, anxiety and phobias

Less than optimistic philosophers have often noted that the two greatest motivators in history are fear and greed. Now, while the definition of greed can sometimes border on being a philosophical concept affected by culture and environment, fear is much more tangible and universally defined. Yet, despite the nature of it, people have generally been apprehensive about studying the psychology behind fear and the effects it may have on a person’s mental health. Modern psychology, some analysts believe, all too often boils down to fear in some form or another. If this is to be believed, then fear might actually play a bigger role in shaping a person’s psychology than any other intrinsic factors.
Fear, of course, manifests itself in a number of forms. For example, the ancient Spartans were considered fearless because of their fighting abilities but the reality was far different. Raised in an environment where acceptance and embrace of the norm was paramount, the primary fear and anxiety that a Spartan felt was directed towards the idea of being ostracized. A man with a chronic inability to stay in a committed relationship might fear being loved, probably as a side effect of growing up unloved himself. Fear can also manifest as more solid mental health issues such as anxiety and phobias. Fear may also lead to someone developing a variety of psychological disorders as potential complications. The fact is, fear is more prevalent in our daily lives than anyone would care to admit.
In fact, people have a subconscious tendency to deny even the feeling of fear. Most people would prefer to shift their emotions to things like anger or depression, rather than accept their fears. This can be due to a number of factors, including environment, upbringing, and previous experiences. Most experts believe that the key to overcoming this problem is to recognize the fear as fear, rather than defining it as something that it appears similar to. People who have this problem often develop the fears they have during childhood, but rather than outgrow those fears, they have allowed them to remain rooted in their psyche. This may not necessarily damage mental health, but it can have some unwanted effects on how a a person interacts socially.
Of course, not everything about fear should be seen as a negative. It has been said that fear “is what separates heroes from the rest of us.” Fear also helps ensure the survival of the human race. Fear triggers many survival instincs that prevent us or cause us to avoidtaking too many unnecessary risks. Fear also triggers the body to enter survival mode when faced with extreme danger, pumping large amounts of adrenaline into the system to give ordinary humans the near-superhuman physical abilities needed to survive certain situations. Fear prevents people from taking unreasonable risks that could endanger their current status, whether the risk is social, physical, financial, or sexual.
It is only when people fail to acknowledge fear or acknowledge it too much that it becomes a problem. Of course, this is easier said than done. Despite being a natural and integral part of the human psyche and survival instinct, fear is often derided by modern society as something that is unwanted or should be faced down. Literature and culture are filled with references to larger-than-life figures that literally feared nothing and took insane risks, which are things that are well outside the grasp of the average Joe. While there are some fears that are unreasonable and people should make every effort possible to cast them out, it is a good idea to understand that being afraid is not always a negative thing.

Mindfulness and Pain: Just Say Ouch

This article was originally written by Maya Talisman Frost

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What’s the best way to manage pain?
Just say ouch.
That’s a simplified description of the role of mindfulness in reducing the experience of pain. The secret isn’t in focusing on the painful sensation itself. No, the power is in recognizing our tendency to say way more than ouch.
Here’s the basic math: Suffering = Pain + Resistance. Can mindfulness reduce the sensation of pain? Not exactly, but it can markedly reduce the total suffering we experience by illuminating–and even eliminating–our resistance.
Pain is a warning. It informs and motivates us. If you’re resting your hand on a hot stovetop, it’s important to feel that pain in order to remove your hand quickly and avoid burns. We need the sensation of pain to protect our bodies from further injury.
Pain also teaches us new ways to move. If you are consistently hurting your back on the weekend, your pain is letting you know that 1) you need to rest and 2) you need to learn a healthier way to work or play.
Chronic pain is more difficult. It is hard to find any redeeming value in long-term pain. We’ve learned our lessons already, but it persists, and there’s not much that can be done about it.
Mindfulness is extremely valuable in alleviating the experience of all kinds of pain but it is especially effective for those likely to hurt on a daily basis.
We feel pain. We say ouch–mentally or verbally. Then what happens? We get wrapped up in ways to resist the pain. We start a mental dialogue about how we’re going to deal with it (medication, ice, heat, rest, acupuncture, massage, magnetic therapy, etc.). Then, we get caught in thoughts and emotions:
Disappointment (“Now I can’t go hiking.”)
Worry (“I hope it’s nothing serious.”)
Fear (“What if it gets worse?”)
Anger (“Why is it hurting now? I already had surgery!”)
Depression (“What if I have to stop playing tennis?”)
Excitement (“I’m going into labor!”)
Our resistance stirs up a lot more tension, resulting in a much more pronounced experience of the pain. Worrying about pain really does make it worse.
This is where mindfulness comes in. By paying attention to the thoughts and emotions that accompany pain, you can learn to separate these from the sensation. Once you’ve done that, you can actually eliminate the tension and see the pain for what it is–and no more.
By seeing the internal dialogue that comes with pain, you can learn to handle it skillfully and reduce your suffering.
The next time you feel pain, take a moment to focus on it. Watch your thoughts and emotions as they come up. Breathe. And go back to ouch.
Simple pain never felt so good.

Mindfulness And Mental Health Improvement



Are mindfulness and mental health related? Can basic mindfulness exercises help improve your mental health? Yes.

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mindfulness and mental health, mindfulness, mental health

What’s going on in your head? Until you know, there can be all sorts of problems. Uncorrectable problems. You can’t fix a problem that you don’t see, right? That is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness and mental health are intimately connected.

Your mind is busy in there right now, talking about all sorts of things. It may be telling you that you are tired of your job, or that you are a victim of circumstance. It may be running through a list of all the things you need to be doing. It may be saying all the wrong things, and yet you may hear none of it. You may just feel a slight anxiety building as your day goes on.

When I first learned how to do basic mindfulness exercises, I was amazed. I found that whole conversations were going on just below consciousness. Not only was it interesting to see, but the most amazing part was that I could now often end feelings of worry or anxiety. All I had to do was stop and watch my mind until I found the cause.

Yes, it actually is often that simple. If you forgot to write down an appointment, for example, it may be bothering you for hours. As soon as you see that, you write it down and you feel relaxed again. If an argument is playing and replaying subconsciously in your mind and stressing you out, often just bringing it to consciousness will make you laugh and dismiss it.

Mindfulness And Long Term Mental Health

Don’t underestimate the power of short term happiness and good thoughts to influence the course of your mental health over the longer term. Resolve anxieties and stresses now, and regularly, and you’ll be healthier, and you’ll be developing good habits. Good feelings now lead to good feelings in the future, and habits are what we need for any long term results.

As for the big problems, mindfulness is a way to see them more clearly for what they are. As you get better at tuning into your own subconscious mind, you will start to see patterns. I found, for example, that my mind was mulling over and worrying about all the possible choices in decisions that weren’t made. It caused me endless stress.

Seeing this clearly, finally recognizing how destructive this habit of indecisiveness was, lead me to change. I started making decisions more quickly, just to try a new way. I immediately experienced how stress diminishes once a decision is made. My habits began to change, and I was getting more done with less anxiety.

The most basic mindfulness exercise is to just sit quietly and start paying attention to everything going on in your body and mind. Of course this can be difficult if you’ve never done it, and this article isn’t a how-to. This is just to make the case that it’s worth learning. There is definitely a connection between mindfulness and mental health.

Mindfulness and Mammaries: Grinning With Gratitude

This article was originally written by Maya Talisman Frost

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I am truly inspired by a most mindful group of breast cancer survivors. Referring to themselves as “The Golden Mammaries”, these women gather weekly to support each other, share stories, and mostly, to laugh. In their fifties and sixties, they’ve lived through cancer–some more than once–and they never miss their cue to grin.
Picture this: white hair, no hair, carefully-coiffed hair, wigs. Pale faces, robust and beaming faces, tense and drawn faces, I’m-at-peace faces. Pink ribbons, Race For The Cure sweatshirts, designer blouses, colorful tunics. Sensible Birkenstocks, knee-high suede boots, running shoes, clogs.
These women come from all walks of life, but this is one walk they share, holding hands along the way and skipping whenever they get a chance.
Despite scalp-scalding radiation, gut-churning chemo, hold-your-breath biopsies, painful surgeries, and unspeakable fear, the “Golden Mammaries” are riding high. They know what really matters, and they laugh their heads off at everything else.
There’s a trick they use to keep things light. Whenever they hear the word “memory”, they mentally replace it with “mammary”. So, if they hear someone say, “I have many happy memories” they would simply change that to “I have many happy mammaries.”
It has a way of making you grin. Happy mammaries? Now, there’s a perky mental image! Think of a pair of smiley faces. How uplifting!
Sad memories? Sad mammaries. Droopy. Down-turned. Moping.
Losing your memory? Losing your mammary. Heck, many of these women have lost their mammaries–and all have lost good friends. If they can laugh about this, it should be a piece of cake for the rest of us!
By using this simple mindfulness technique, these women have given themselves a cue that will prompt them to be grateful for all the good things they have to celebrate. Using a key word–and in this case, a particularly charged one–empowers them to attach a positive concept to one that has become associated with fear and pain.
We don’t have to wait to find our own key word. If you have a body part, a place, a holiday, or anything else that prompts a negative gut reaction, take charge of it. Intentionally choose a new positive word or concept and attach the two in your mind. Use your custom association whenever you hear, see or say that word.
Look for humor. Search for silliness. Grab hold of every opportunity to replace fear or anger with something far more healing–laughter.
Cancer survivors are often described as courageous, but every one I’ve talked to has said the same thing: you simply rise to the occasion. Every one of us has that potential to be bold, brave, wise and lighthearted in the face of uncertainty. We have the power to gain perspective, the will to ignore petty differences and the open heart capable of ceasing judgment of others.
Why not start now?
Don’t wait for a diagnosis. Seize your own destiny and start being courageous today. Use mindfulness to help you move forward with gratitude and start perfecting that lusty laugh of yours.
Thanks for the mammaries.

Mind Twisting: Stress, Depression, And Intelligence



The physical and mental consequences of stress and depression are rather well-documented, but recent studies show that the problem might also have effects on a person’s intelligence. Research shows that stress and depression are capable of killing brain cells if left untreated, but can also prevent new cells from being generated to replace the old ones.

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Stress and depression are two of the things in modern life that you have to deal with at one point or another. The former is an everyday thing, one that can stem from something as difficult as social anxiety to something as mundane as tripping over your own shoelaces. The latter, depression, is not quite as easy to develop in the clinical sense, but most people will end up experiencing a point in their lives that comes dangerously close to being depressed. For the most part, these two problems are considered to be threats to one’s physical and mental health. However, recent studies show that these two conditions also have nasty side effects on one’s intelligence.
According to recent findings, it is untrue that the human brain ceases production of neurons and other critical brain cells later on in life. In fact, there are some things that imply that the brain regenerates the aforementioned cells on an as-needed basis, generating more to suit the needs of the individual. This is in direct opposition to long-held medical doctrine that human brain cells do not regenerate after a certain point and instead begin to enter a state of slow decay. However, as recent studies have shown, the more primitive areas of the brain are capable of regenerating lost cells. This has subsequent effects on a wide range of mental functions, including memory, reaction time, and comprehension. Now, what does this have to do with stress and depression, you ask?
A whole lot, apparently. The two conditions states above put the more primitive parts of the brain into “survival mode.” Upon entering that state, the brain naturally attempts to minimize anything that could be seen as frivolous or unnecessary, instead focusing all energies on the basics. This not only accounts for the apparent reduction of brain activity during periods where an individual experiences the aforementioned problems, but it also starts to kill the currently existing cells. Basically, the brain cells are slowly dying when subjected to excessive stress and depression, burning out neurons at a faster rate than normal. This would explain why some normally intelligent people seem to be mentally slower and less adept when put under emotional and psychological pressure.
Another consequence would be the fact that the two aforementioned disorders can actually prevent the brain from regenerating new cells to replace the old ones. Trophic factors, chemicals that are known to stimulate the brain, are not produced properly when a person undergoes prolonged periods of the above conditions. Studies show that trophic factors are actually the chemicals responsible for telling the brain to regenerate new cells. If the chemicals are cut off or if the flow is disrupted, it can result in a rapid decline in the human brain’s ability to repair itself over time.
While these findings are still controversial and questionable, it does provide an interesting look into just how the brain works on a physical level. The long-held belief that the brain is incapable of fixing itself once a person reaches adulthood may just be put into question. These findings are still subject to further research, but there are already several avenues being opened by the concept. For example, there are studies now being conducted devoted to finding out whether or not serotonin, a chemical used to combat a variety of mental disorders, has an effect on neuron regeneration.

Mind Over Muscle



Embarking on a physical training program brings rewards that can be achieved by little else. Whether exercising to stay fit, feel good, or just to look terrific, you can add power to your efforts by employing the insights and techniques used by high-achievers to obtain that ‘look’ you’ve always dreamed of!

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fitness, health, personal development, training, gym, aerobics

Embarking on a physical training program brings rewards that can be achieved by little else. Whether exercising to stay fit, feel good, or just to look terrific, you can add power to your efforts by employing the insights and techniques used by high-achievers to obtain that ‘look’ you’ve always dreamed of!
Before beginning your journey on the road to fitness you must realise that you are in total control and therefore should have a real desire to be fit. A wishy-washy approach to fitness, or anything else for that matter, usually ends in failure. It is therefore wise to keep yourself motivated.
By realising that the power of your decision adds much weight to the acquirement of any objective, you should fire yourself with enthusiasm for the task ahead.
The first and most important factor to employ is to release any past failures from your mind. Dwelling on past failures will only have an adverse affect on your current training.
If such thoughts occur ask yourself the question “why did I fail?” Perhaps you set your goals too high and they thus became unrealistic. Or your time frame for achieving your goals was too short or too long. Or perhaps you were just plain lazy! Whatever the reason look at it in an objective manner and learn from your mistakes. Do it differently this time.
A major problem that is constantly rearing its ugly head is lack of enthusiasm. Almost every keep-fit enthusiast suffers from this dreaded state at one time or another, from championship bodybuilders to first-time aerobics students. There is only one simple rule to follow when confronted with this negative state of mind – re-motivate yourself!
They key to this is being specific in your goals. Have a clear vision of what way you want to look and feel when you have achieved your objective. Cut and tape a picture of your head over a picture of your ideal body type if you must, but be clear in your own head where you are going and what you will achieve.
Also set smaller goals that easily show you have been making progress. Make note of your goal achievements. Write them down. Once you are feeling a lack of enthusiasm then look back at how far you have come.
Visualise your objective often or at least twice a day. Tell yourself that you are doing well and reward yourself when you reach a goal. This will increase your self-esteem and keep your motivation high.
If some negative situation arises don’t look at it as a problem but view it as a challenge. As you overcome your own inner and outer obstacles you will have proved that you are a success. Success breeds success so review your progress and modify your goals to be more challenging.
The potential to achieve anything is within you. Whether the end result of your training efforts is success or failure it is your choice. Give 100% and you will receive 100%.

Mind And Body: Are They As Distinct As Initially Believed?



It was initially believed that the mind and the body were separate from one another, and that what affected one did not affect the other. However, recent studies and anecdotal evidence appears to indicate that this is incorrect, and that there is a deeper link between the mind and body than initially believed by Western medicine.

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mental health, depression, insomnia, anxiety disorders, performance anxiety

The mind and the body, French philosopher Rene Descartes once said, are two fundamentally separate concepts. Descartes believed that the mind and the body were separate from one another, with no correlation or connection between the two. For many centuries, people accepted the theory that a person’s state of mind is distinct and separate from the condition of the body.
The above idea has become one of the core doctrines of Western medical science, prompting doctors to focus more on physical symptoms and refer patients to separate experts for psychological issues. This stands in contrast with other medical systems, which put as much focus on a patient’s feelings and state of mind as they do on physical signs and symptoms. However, recent studies have shown that there may be more of a connection between physical and mental health than initially thought. A person’s mental health does have an impact on their physical well-being, contrary to what Descartes believed.
The main proof of the connection between mental health and physical factors comes in the form of psychopharmacology. Since the brain functions through the use of neural receptors and biochemical signals, anything that affects the regular influx of that “mix” can have an effect on a person’s mental health. The obvious example of this would be endorphins, which the body generates in large amounts during exercise and have the effect of “lifting” the mood. There are other chemicals that play a role in the delicate balance of the mind, such as serotonin and dopamine. Altered levels of these can have a variety of effects, including anxiety disorders, depression, and in some cases, insomnia. However, these are not the only factors that indicate a closer connection between mental health and physical health, albeit these are the most prominent.
The performance of athletes in a variety of sports are also taken as a sign that the mind and body are more connected than initially believed. This is exemplified by how much mental discipline is needed to keep the body at peak performance, particularly in the middle of a tight game. The existence of performance anxiety, which can effectively cripple an athlete psychologically at inopportune times, has also been taken as evidence of the connection between mental health and physical well-being. It is often noted that a person’s state of mind can have an effect on how effectively they perform physical activities, with an athlete’s perception of his own abilities often imposing limits on ability that aren’t physically present. In correlation with this, there are also studies being conducted that show how a positive physical self-image helps promote a better state of mental health.
How physical performance aids in promoting mental health, however, is not clear. While a positive outlook and the absence of problems such as performance anxiety and depression play an important role in achieving peak athletic performance, the opposite has not necessarily been observed. Most experts believe there are too many variables and factors to be considered, such as the social prestige of athletic achievement. However, chemical changes occurring in the body, particularly the central nervous system, during exercise have been observed and verified by studies.
For the time being, most experts of both physical and mental health believe that there is still a need to conduct more in-depth studies before a definitive picture of the connections between the body and mind can be drawn. The effects of chemicals on the brain, whether occurring naturally or introduced through psychoactive drugs, have been documented, but there is more room for study. For example, there is a general lack of knowledge on how psychoactive chemicals have an effect on psychology, as well as whether or not synthetic variations of chemicals in the body have the same effects as the naturally-produced ones.

Mind, Body, and Soul

This article was originally written by Kristine Peterson

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Being in tune with your mind, body, and soul and how they work is the one most important thing you can do for yourself. We know now that, the three work together. If the body is ill, the mind and soul are affected as well. If the mind becomes ill the body and soul show the stress of that. But, I think the strongest combination showing the most illness is when the soul becomes stressed. That seems to make the body and mind crumble the quickest. I, myself, have learned that first hand! But, it also works in the reverse! When the body is healthy, the mind is sound and the soul is happy. Keeping these three in balance is a life long task. So, learning how to do it and then maintain- ing it with little effort is very important. We do have other things in life to accomplish! However, the other things we are accomplishing will be enhanced and go much easier if we take the time to be in tune with ourselves.
The first thing one must learn about being in tune with yourself, is to be in tune with YOURSELF. When a person finds something that works for them, they are so enthused that they want everyone else to do the same thing. Someone loses weight using a specific diet, someone joins a new religion, or someone tries a new vitamin. We also want to lose weight, or find the happiness in joining a group, or want the benefits that other person is enjoying from the vitamin, so we try it fully expect- ing the same results. My Dad used to say that if a person took mega doses of Vitamin C they would never have a cold or the flu again. Thats because that is the way it worked for him. What happens is sometimes we get the same results and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes nothing happens or we get bad results. The reality of this situation is that each of us is unique. Yes, our bodies are alike in structure and the method they operate, but there the sameness ends. Each of us have a different balance. Because of that you can take one diet and try it out on ten different people and some will lose weight, for some it won’t make any difference, some may gain and some may lose too much weight. Take ten different people, expose them to the same religion or group and get ten different interpretations of what that group is all about about. Some will embrace it entirely and find joy, others may be left cold or violently disagree. Give ten people the same diet regimen and there may be ten different results. Some it will affect dramatically and others it may not. So, the key to getting in tune with your body, mind and soul will include finding what works for you, useing those things, and not being discouraged when something doesn’t work for you that work for your spouse, best friend or neighbor. Remember, you are unique!

Millions of People with Arthritis Unnecessarily Suffer from Pain



To improve the quality of life and decrease the incidence of debilitating pain, the most effective treatments focus on arthritis pain relief.

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arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis treatment, arthritis pain, arthritis pain relief, joint pain

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 46 million adults suffer from arthritis, and almost 19 million adults have to curtail their activities due to arthritis. The CDC projects that, by the year 2030, 67 million adults will have arthritis and 25 million will limit their activities because of the condition.
Conditions and Causes
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease characterized by joint pain, and comes about as the result of and injury to or infection in the joint, or the aging process. Essentially, joint pain is caused by inflammation that arises when the cartilage that cushions the joints lessens.
In contrast to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to attack and inflame the joints. Whereas osteoarthritis can be limited to a single, injured joint, or to a pair of joints (such as the knees or hips) in instances where the cartilage is worn out, rheumatoid arthritis usually affects multiple joints and can generally affects people at a much younger age.
Arthritis Pain and Symptoms
For people with osteoarthritis, arthritis pain typically increases over the course of the day, as the affected joints are used or overused. On the other hand, people with rheumatoid arthritis typically experience the most arthritis pain in the morning (or after waking), with the pain lessening throughout the day.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, rheumatoid arthritis can be characterized by three stages, and over time progresses from one to the other: swelling, growth of cells, and the production of enzymes that can digest cartilage and bone.
Arthritis pain typically worsens over time for both those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and those with osteoarthritis. According to the CDC, 40 percent of adults with arthritis report that at least one out of nine daily functional activities is difficult or impossible to do. These activities include bending, standing, walking, carrying, and grasping. Studies have repeatedly proven that those with arthritis have a poorer quality of life and suffer both a physical and emotional toll from the condition.
Arthritis Treatment
Arthritis treatment can range from using topical creams to over-the-counter analgesics to prescription drugs to joint replacement surgery. To improve the quality of life and decrease the incidence of debilitating pain, the most effective treatments focus on arthritis pain relief. Many peer-reviewed medical journals have documented the efficacy of a topical treatment that works by penetrating the sub-epidermal level of the skin, thereby blocking out pain transmitters and starting localized healing.
This topical lotion for arthritis pain relief is especially effective in reducing joint pain in the knees, hands, and lower back. It is also effective as a preventative measure for muscle pain and cramping before and after physical workouts, and can reduce the pain of tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, and menstrual cramps.

Milk Soy Protein Intolerance: A Mother’s Perspective

This article was originally written by Tamara Field

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I first learned of Milk Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI) in the office of a pediatric gastroenterologist’s office with my seven-week-old son, Max. After the first week of his life Max lost weight and was labeled “failure to thrive.” As an educated mother and nurse I was devastated that this could happen. That day in the GI specialist’s office, he performed a proctosigmoidoscopy and biopsy on Max. He sat me where I could see him perform the test and told me what I would see. He said that the lining of the bowel would be red, swollen and bleeding, and it was. I just sat there and cried. After the test was over and I could hold Max, Dr. Mack told me that MSPI was indeed what Max had and that I should stop breastfeeding right away and put him on a special formula. He told me that there was a diet I could follow if I wanted to continue breastfeeding, but that it was very stringent and difficult. Wanting to make the best choice for my son, I stopped breastfeeding that day and started him on Alimentum. The results were dramatic. After one bottle of Alimentum he slept for 2 and 1/2 hours straight; the longest he had ever slept.
After learning all about MSPI with my first son, I was more determined that ever that I would ‘master’ the MSPI diet and breastfeed my second child. So, I set out to the grocery store with a list of forbidden ingredients in my hand. Gradually, after many hours spent standing in the aisles of the grocery store reading labels, I began to find dairy-free, soy-free substitutes for the foods I might normally eat. All the information I collected and recipes I tried, with my husband’s encouragement, were compiled into a book: The Milk Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI) Guidebook /Cookbook which was published in the fall of 2001. We also have an informational website for MSPI: https://petinstead.com/MSPIGuide.org.
Milk Soy Protein Intolerance is diagnosed by pediatricians, family physicians and specialists in pediatric gastroenterology. It seems to be more highly prevalent in the midwest, but throughout the country it is given different names, such as: protein intolerance, food protein-induced colitis or eosinophilic gastroenteritis. MSPI is diagnosed through the history of an irritable infant, or colic-like behavior, poor growth and abnormal (blood streaked) stools. Some infants will exhibit frank blood in their stools. Confirmation of the diagnosis is often made with a biopsy of the intestinal lining which would show an increased amount of eosinophilic cells, eroded intestinal villi and the presence of hemorrhagic tissue. It is thought that the intestinal lining cannot properly digest the proteins (milk and soy) therefore they are taken up into the blood stream where the body treats them like an antigen and produces antibodies mimicking an allergic response. The intestinal tract then recognizes the ingested proteins as it would an allergen and the intestinal lining reacts by becoming inflamed, often shedding blood into the stool. Some blood may be visible in stools and other blood detected by occult blood testing. The lining of the intestine, then, becomes further damaged as it is continuously exposed to these proteins.
No one really knows why the occurrence of MSPI is prevalent in the United States and especially more prevalent in the midwest region, but one of the theories has to do with our more ‘sterile environment.’ We, in the United States are so preoccupied with keeping our environment clean and free of germs. In other countries, especially those of the third world, infants and children are exposed to so many other more serious bacteria, toxins and allergens that their tolerance may become greater due to increased exposure. It also seems that the occurrence of MSPI is congenital; if one child has it, the chances are very high that the subsequent children will have MSPI and that it may be more severe.
Infants diagnosed with MSPI can still be breastfed if the mother adheres to a milk and soy protein-free diet. Many mothers, as I did the first time, choose to stop breastfeeding and place the infant on a specialized formula right away to help them heal faster. Then, if there are subsequent children the mother can start a milk and soy protein-free diet the third trimester of her pregnancy and continue it for as long as she wishes to breastfeed. Though there are many benefits of breastfeeding, with MSPI the avoidance of high formula cost can be the greatest benefit. The formulas you can buy at most supermarkets or pharmacies are: Alimentum, Progestamil and Nutramigen. These formulas cost $7 to $8 per can which is a 1-2 day supply. Other more specialized formulas, such as Neocate, can be obtained from the pharmacy, or from the doctor prescribing the formula, or at a hospital. These formulas cost anywhere from $31 – $40 per day and up. Of primary issue is cost;can the parents can afford to feed their infant?
I met Chuck Stepanek in Lincoln at a legislative hearing which brought forth the issue of insurance coverage of specialized formulas in the treatment of MSPI. After I testified, he tapped me on the shoulder and handed me his card asking me if I would be willing to write an article for NNA. In the legislative hearing for LB 1047, other families testified that they were finacially devastated by the high cost of formula for their infants. Insurance would pay for the formula only if the infant was hospitalized and fed through a nasogastric tube. Unfortunately, many of these families had to experience this before their infants started thriving. The bill is still alive, but we will probably need to reintroduce it several more times, and get even more support for our cause.
Our sons are now fine; they are happy, healthy little boys. Within one year they outgrew the intolerance and could be started on whole milk. Normally that is the case, but there are a small percentage of infants that continue the intolerance into childhood. I am grateful to the care of our pediatrician who refused to call my sons screaming ‘colic’ and preferred to look for a cause to his pain. I feel so deeply for other parents that go through this. We were very fortunate, in retrospect, fortunate that we could afford the formula that our infant needed, that we could get him the best medical care, that he case was not more severe, that we found our what was wrong early in his life. Others are not that fortunate; it is for those that we will keep working to get information on MSPI to the public and insurance benefits to cover the cost of formula for these infants.