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The Role of the Autonomic Nervous System In Health and Disease – Episode 85

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In this week's episode...

Did you know that the nervous system is intimately connected with our immune system and our endocrine system? Any stressor that we introduce into the system, the body doesn’t really tell the difference. It reacts the same way to whatever stressor we’re talking about. That obviously affects the nervous system immediately, but that will have a knock-off effect on the immune function and the gut, and also, the endocrine, the hormonal function. When you’re thinking about hormonal imbalances, this has the obvious potential to just throw everything off. Tune in today and let Dr. Eva Detko educate us on how we can manage our autonomic nervous system for better health.

Empowering You Organically – Season 10 – Episode 85

Title: The Role of the Autonomic Nervous System In Health and Disease

Hosts: Jonathan Hunsaker, TeriAnn Trevenen

Guest: Dr. Eva Detko

Description:  Did you know that the nervous system is intimately connected with our immune system and our endocrine system? Any stressor that we introduce into the system, the body doesn’t really tell the difference. It reacts the same way to whatever stressor we’re talking about. That obviously affects the nervous system immediately, but that will have a knock-off effect on the immune function and the gut, and also, the endocrine, the hormonal function. When you’re thinking about hormonal imbalances, this has the obvious potential to just throw everything off. Tune in today and let Dr. Eva Detko educate us on how we can manage our autonomic nervous system for better health.

 

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About Dr. Eva Detko

Dr Eva Detko is a natural healthcare practitioner, author, and speaker. She has studied natural medicine and the human mind for over 20 years.

Dr Eva successfully recovered from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, and reversed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. She now helps others recover their health.

Dr Eva has an extensive knowledge and experience in the field of human physiology, biochemistry, nutritional sciences, and bioenergetics. She also uses a wide range of mind-transforming modalities, including: Havening Techniques®, BrainWorking Recursive Therapy®, psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, mindfulness, NLP, and applied psychoneuroimmunology.

 

Working with Dr. Eva

  • “I just want to be able to work with a wide range of people, not just on the chronic illness side, from the physical point of view, because I do that also, but actually have that more rounded, complete approach and address the emotional factors as well. And the more tools I have, the more I’m able to tackle, and whatever people throw at me, I have some tool in my toolbox to be able to help them and direct them, and help them get through whatever they’re experiencing, get them through to the other side and teach them enough for them to be able to do their own work as well, because that’s how I like to work.”

 

Dr. Eva’s Journey

  • My trauma started already in-utero, because my mom, when she was three months pregnant with me, had a trauma herself, and what happened was her sister died, her younger sister died as a result of a vaccine injury.
  • This was obviously extremely traumatic for the entire family, but what that did to my mom, she wasn’t coping with that trauma particularly well. She just didn’t have the right tools. And she went into this complete state of shock. She was in such distress that her pregnancy became toxic.
  • And as a result of that, obviously, it had a knock-on effect on myself and on my sibling. And I was the one who survived, but my baby brother or sister, in fact, we will never know, because when she came to give birth, the baby was decomposed to the point where they were not even able to tell.
  • The birth was extremely traumatic, because she was so sick that she nearly died. In fact, there was a bit of a debate whether to focus on saving her or whether to focus on saving me. At some point, they were not sure whether they were able to save us both.
  • As a result of this, I was actually quite a weak child. I would get a lot of infections.
  • And I was also emotionally quite weak. So, I was bullied at school.
  • And I also suffered sexual abuse when I was young as well.
  • When I got sick, it was no longer an option. I knew there was just so much there that there was no way that I was going to recover, if I had any doubt with all of this, and I needed to dissect it.

 

Tools

  • Hypnotherapy
  • Neurolinguistic programming
  • Havening techniques
    • It’s literally a psychosensory technique, so it’s about stimulating receptors on the skin to, like I said before, remodel the neurology.
  • Brain working recursive therapy
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation

 

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

Autonomic nervous system is part of the nervous system that supplies our internal organs.

  • the blood vessels, stomach, in fact, the whole of the digestive system, kidneys, bladder, genital, and so on.
  • And we used to describe the autonomic nervous system as the system that is just the fight or flight, the sympathetic, and then there is this parasympathetic relaxation response.
  • As a result of the work of Stephen Porges and the polyvagal theory, we understand there are two branches of the ANS
    • the sympathetic branch, which is the fight and flight response, the stress response
    • the parasympathetic branch, which is basically synonymous with the vagus nerve However, the vagus nerve is not just one thing.
      • If you activate your vagus nerve, that means you obviously are more relaxed, and your gut works better, and everything works better.
      • But the vagus nerve has actually two branches as well.
        • We’ve got the ventral vagus complex, which we know and refer to as the vagus nerve.
        • We also have the other side of the vagus nerve, which is also the parasympathetic nervous system response, which is the freeze response.
      • The nervous system is intimately connected with our immune system and our endocrine system.
        • Any stressor that we introduce into the system, the body doesn’t really tell the difference. It reacts the same way to whatever stressor we’re talking about.
        • That obviously affects the nervous system immediately, but that will have a knock-on effect on the immune function and the gut, and also, the endocrine, the hormonal function.
        • When you’re thinking about the hormonal imbalances, that obviously just throws everything off.
      • As humans, we’re supposed to operate in a relaxed state 90 percent of our days. What actually tends to happen for a lot of people is the other way around, 90 percent of the time, they will operate in the stress response, in that sympathetic nervous system
        • Because most people live in this what we call a sympathetic dominant state, they burn this system out.
      • Back in the 90s, the ACEs study, when they looked at the relationship between early exposure to stress and chronic illness later in life, we have correlation with just about every illness that we can think of.

 

Polyvagal Theory

  • The ventral vagus complex is the relaxation, it’s the relax, heal, detoxify response.
  • We don’t heal unless that is activated. We do not heal in sympathetic or freeze mode. We can only heal, the body can only heal if we activate the rest, digest, detoxify, and heal response, which is basically the vagus nerve.
  • What Stephen Porges actually talks about is he actually named the ventral vagus complex, so the vagus nerve as we know it, he called it the social nervous system.
    • If we have healthy vagus function, we can read other people’s expressions and we get it right.
    • When we have poor vagal function, we will completely misinterpret the cues from other people.
    • When that vagus nerve function is compromised, we just lose that ability to really tell what is what in our social connections. We actually also have difficulty self-regulating.

 

How can a parent understand if they’re giving their child enough nurturing without crossing the line of giving too much?

  • You will screw your kids up. You will. You cannot possibly, no matter how wonderful a parent you are, how self-aware, how aware of your kids’ needs and everything else you are, you cannot satisfy those needs 24/7, constantly, constantly, constantly.
  • There will be moments where the kid will just feel like they’re just not getting enough nurturing.
  • Look a little bit more into the different stages of child development. You have your infancy stage, you’ve got your toddler stage, you’ve got your preschooler and so on, and then school stage. And at all of those stages, the needs of the child are different, and they will be learning different things.
    • The first stage, the infancy stage, you cannot give them enough. You can’t give them too much in terms of cuddles and kisses.
  • One of the things that I would recommend, John Bradshaw wrote a number of books. The book Homecoming explains actually, in a very simple way, the different stages of child development.
  • Be aware of the personality type of your child. So, personality styles are really strategies, and a lot of it is as a result of what we experienced in childhood, but there will be certain tendencies already from the word “Go.”
  • Perhaps you can then help them with some of the things that maybe still need to be developed but don’t come so naturally to them.

 

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Jonathan Hunsaker: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Empowering You Organically.  I’m your host, Jonathan Hunsaker, joined by my cohost, TeriAnn Trevenen.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Hey, everyone.

 

Jonathan Hunsaker: We have a very special guest today, Dr. Eva Detko. Eva, thank you for joining us.

 

Eva Detko: Well, thank you guys. Thank you for having me. Excited to be here.

 

Jonathan Hunsaker: Absolutely. So, we’re going to cover a lot of exciting stuff. Before we do, do you want to go through and just give Eva’s bio, so everybody knows who we’re talking to today?

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Absolutely. Dr. Eva Detko is a natural healthcare practitioner, author, and speaker. She has studied natural medicine and the human mind for over 20 years. Dr. Eva successfully recovered from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and reversed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. She now helps others recover their health.

 

Dr. Eva has an extensive knowledge and experience in the field of human physiology, biochemistry, nutritional sciences, and bioenergetics. She also uses a wide range of mind-transforming modalities, including havening techniques, brain working recursive therapy, psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, mindfulness, NLP, and applied psychoneuroimmunology. So, a lot of amazing things that you’ve done and that you’ve studied and that you’ve worked on. Tell us, Dr. Eva, how you got into what you’re doing currently in your life.

 

Eva Detko: Yes, it’s been a while, actually, and I have had obviously challenges. It’s probably a very similar story to a lot of people who are in the field. I’m not really that dissimilar in the sense that it was actually my own life challenges that put me on the path that I am on today. And so, therefore, I actually now see my life challenges as absolute gifts because I definitely wouldn’t be where I am, I wouldn’t be here with you guys, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.

 

I started really with biochemistry and nutrition. That was the first thing that I got drawn to, but I very quickly realized that, without understanding the mind and how emotional stress, and particularly emotional trauma, early exposure to stress, and early trauma affect the body, without proper understanding and without addressing it fully, I was not able to have any meaningful impact on people I was working with.

 

But more importantly, what happened in the meantime is I was very much “Go, go, go,” I had, at some points, three jobs. I was doing two different diplomas and various things. I had a lot of stress in my life. And I picked up a viral infection, and that was basically that final trigger that pushed me over the edge, and I developed chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

 

And really, by that point, I had already been quite good in terms of my nutritional focus. I was eating pretty much organically. I was already gluten-free. So, it wasn’t so much the nutritional changes in my case that got me out of the chronic disease state that I found myself in. It was actually addressing my emotional traumas and the emotional turmoil I was in at the time, and basically, the roller-coaster, because it all kind of comes together.

 

There is the everyday stress, of course, but there is also the early trauma, and how that affects our belief systems, our perceptions. And I was just, in that respect, I was a ginormous mess at that time. So, I needed to dig much, much deeper than just biochemistry to be able to pull myself out of it. Because, unsurprisingly, the doctors didn’t really have answers for me.

 

So, the more I was digging in, the more I was learning, I was then able to recover. Of course, I worked with some brilliant practitioners and therapists at the time that helped me through it. Then, I went and then learned and learned and learned more. And this is why I’ve got such a range of different things going on, when it comes to particularly working with the mind, is that because everybody is different, and we all have different emotional layers.

 

We’ve all been through different emotional challenges. And I just want to be able to work with a wide range of people, not just on the chronic illness side, from the physical point of view, because I do that also, but actually have that more rounded, complete approach and address the emotional factors as well.

 

And the more tools I have, the more I’m able to tackle, and whatever people throw at me, I can pretty much—I have some tool in my toolbox to be able to help them and direct them, and help them get through whatever they’re experiencing, get them through to the other side and teach them enough to then to be able—for them to be able to do their own work as well, because that’s how I like to work.

 

I like to coach and pass the knowledge that I have on to people so that there is no long-lasting dependence on me as a therapist. I usually just work for people for a few sessions and then they—they know enough to be able to carry on. We will work through the bulk of that emotional traumas, for instance, and we can do that in a matter of five, maybe eight sessions.

 

And then, through that process, they will have learned enough to be able to carry that work forward and also build enough neurological resilience so that, if they come across something in their lives, maybe something else happens, because life happens all the time, right? So, if they have another emotional challenge, then they have a range of tools and they can usually successfully deal with it themselves. So, that is my objective. That’s what I want the people to be able to do that for themselves.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Absolutely. And I love that you take a rounded, a well-rounded approach to it, and you’ve done a lot of studying and research on what can help people, because just like our bodies are so unique, I think our minds are so different and individual, and we all need different things to cope and to understand our emotions and things like that related to our health.

 

Before we really get into what you specifically focus on for people overall, including helping them with the health of their mind, if you will, tell us a little bit about your journey into healing your past trauma and your emotions, and not in the sense of getting super personal, but what sparked in your mind “I need to look at the emotional aspect of my health, the mental aspect of my  health?”

 

You talked about you had been doing all of these things on the nutrition and physical side, you were really being healthy in that aspect, but what really triggered in your mind “I need to be looking at the emotional/mental aspect of my life,” and what steps did you take personally to become more well-balanced in your health through not just physical but emotional and mental health as well?

 

Eva Detko: Absolutely, yes, I can share that. I, at the time, when I fell ill, as you said, I’d already been doing so many things on the nutritional front that I knew that that was not going to be enough for me to get better, and I also knew that I had a lot of trauma earlier in life. My trauma started already in-utero, because my mom, when she was three months pregnant with me, had a trauma herself, and what happened was her sister died, her younger sister died as a result of a vaccine injury, by the way.

 

And this was obviously extremely traumatic for the entire family, but what that did to my mom, she wasn’t coping with that trauma particularly well. She just didn’t have the right tools. And she went into this complete state of shock. She was in such distress that her pregnancy became toxic. She became toxic, the body became toxic.

 

And as a result of that, obviously, it had a knock-on effect on myself and on my sibling. And I was the one who survived, but my baby brother or sister, in fact, we will never know, because by the time my mother—when she came to give birth, the baby was decomposed to the point where they were not even able to tell.

 

And it was extremely—the birth was extremely traumatic, because she was so sick that she nearly died. In fact, there was a bit of a debate whether to focus on saving her or whether to focus on saving me. At some point, they were not sure whether they were able to save us both. They did save us both, but this is—I’m emphasizing this because actually, for a lot of people, trauma will go as far as the birth.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Sure.

 

Eva Detko: And so, it’s actually important to recognize, not brush that under the carpet. It could be an important part of somebody’s emotional healing, to heal that particular aspect of the trauma. And as a result of this, I was actually quite a weak child. So, I was physically weak. I got a lot of—my immunity was just shocking.

 

I would get a lot of infections. And I was also emotionally quite weak. And this was probably one of the reasons that, when I went to school, I started attracting people who would take advantage of the fact that I was sort of soft and sensitive, and a little bit delicate. And people will take advantage of that. So, I was bullied at school.

 

And I also suffered sexual abuse when I was young as well. So, I had quite a lot of different things going on, and in my teenage years, I actually felt suicidal. I felt that I had so many crappy thoughts, and just self-destructive thought patterns at that point, as a result of the earlier trauma, that I even questioned whether there was any point in living that way.

 

Because it was just horrible to be in my head. It was just quite a horrendous place to be. So, when I fell ill, I already knew that my emotional state was completely shambolic really, but I never, up to that point, spent the time to look at it, to resolve it, to look into it. It’s just something that I never sort of “had time for.”

 

And then, when I got sick, it was no longer an option. I knew there was just so much there that there was no way that I was going to recover, if I had any doubt with all of this, and I needed to dissect it. And over time, obviously, it—absolutely, I resolved it. It’s absolutely fine. And like I say, now I look at this journey as a positive thing.

 

And you asked what I used in terms of the tools. At that time, that was a long, long time ago. I, for some reason, I migrated towards hypnotherapy to begin with, and also, neurolinguistic programming. They were the two main modalities for me to use, which obviously, I asked for help. I wasn’t able to use them myself at the time.

 

But they were the main two modalities that, at the time, I utilized to help me get through the traumas. Now, obviously, since then, I’ve acquired quite a lot more. So, now I’ve got something called havening techniques, which is an excellent, excellent tool in terms of working even with the most complex trauma.

 

You can have incredible impact quickly and with permanent results. And another good tool I have, also as you mentioned in the introduction, is the brain working recursive therapy. So, those two tools, I didn’t have then at the time, but even with the hypnotherapy and neurolinguistic programming, mindfulness as well, and meditation, I was actually able to get to a really good place.

 

Good enough place to actually recover from my physical symptoms, so both from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. I did have a lot of body pain, and I was able to shift that. I was able to go back to dancing competitively, which is something I did at the time, and just training and just having enough energy to do all of that afterwards.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Yeah, I think your story’s so important and I appreciate you being vulnerable enough to share, because a lot of people don’t realize that many of the issues that they face with their health are directly tied to our mental and emotional health, including trauma. And I don’t think we address all the way back to birth, being a child, being a teenager, being a young adult, the things that have really impacted us.

 

I think we are such a busy world now that we just sweep things under the rug and we keep going. There’s also a lot of stigmas around mental health and emotional health. There is still a stigma around seeking counseling and therapy for your mental and emotional health. And while people are starting to talk about it more, it’s still something that a lot of people look down and frown upon.

 

And in fact, it’s something that is so critical to our overall health, a holistic approach to our health. And I think your story is going to be very powerful for our listeners, because I think a lot of people don’t connect those dots of “I’m doing everything I can with my health, but I’m still sick, and I’m still not as happy as I could be.” And sometimes, that takes peeling back the layers of our life and really addressing those issues. So, I appreciate you sharing.

 

Jonathan Hunsaker: Well, and I’m going to butt in here for a second, because there’s something, I think also when people think about therapy, they remember old-school therapy, right? You go see a therapist every single week, and we’ve got to relive all of these traumas and talk about these traumas over and over for weeks and years.

 

And it’s like is that really healing? I mean to a certain extent, it probably is healing, but what’s really interesting is therapy’s come a long way. Like you talk about, you can have two and three sessions and truly heal somebody from where they are. So, it’s not a matter of going back and having to relive these traumas week after week, you know what I mean, and going through all of that.

 

There’s actually healing techniques that have been developed along the way. And I’m imagining that’s what you’re talking about with your havening techniques and your brain working recursive therapy. These are things that people can go do a few sessions of, right, and actually get the healing.

 

Eva Detko: Absolutely, because don’t forget, we may not know everything about the brain as yet, but the advances in neuroscience, even in the last 10 years, has been immense. And those techniques that I’m describing are neuroscience-based techniques. So, we can be a lot more targeted with our approach, and we know exactly what we’re trying to achieve, how to get to that part of the brain, and how to essentially change the neurology.

 

Because we actually remodeling the neurology with those techniques. So, my word of advice for anybody listening, if you embark on therapy and you’ve done 5-10 sessions, and you’re not feeling a major shift, move on. Move on. Because you can do a lot better.

 

I know a lot of people, a lot of practitioners will hate me for saying that, but honestly, this is the times where people would go to a psychoanalyst or whatever they were called back in the 80s, three times a week for however many years on end. That’s just no, we don’t do that anymore. And if anybody out there still does, then please keep away from that because you don’t need to. You just don’t need to. There’s no need for that anymore.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Good advice, yeah, and I agree. I think with the advances we have, there’s so many options out there. So, you talk a lot about the fact that you cannot have optimal health without a good autonomic nervous system. Talk about the autonomic nervous system, first of all, and then what its relation is to our health.

 

Eva Detko: Sure, of course. Very important. Autonomic nervous system is part of the nervous system that supplies our internal organs. So, we’re really talking about anything and everything here, the blood vessels, stomach, in fact, the whole of the digestive system, kidneys, bladder, genital, and so on. And we used to describe the autonomic nervous system as the system that is just the fight or flight, the sympathetic, and then there is this parasympathetic relaxation response.

 

Well, that’s still true to a degree, but as a result of the work of Stephen Porges and the polyvagal theory, we have a little bit of a sort of more advanced way we’re looking at it now. So, basically, we do have those two branches, which is the sympathetic branch, which is the fight and flight response, the stress response, and then, we’ve got the parasympathetic branch, which is basically synonymous with the vagus nerve.

 

However, the vagus nerve is not just one thing. The vagus nerve, people may have heard, but if you want to—if you activate your vagus nerve, that means you obviously are more—then you’re more relaxed and your gut works better and everything works better, and that’s still the case, of course. But the vagus nerve has actually two branches as well.

 

So, we’ve got the ventral vagus complex, which we know and refer to as the vagus nerve. So, when we do vagus nerve stimulation, that’s what we’re talking about. But we also have the other side of the vagus nerve, which is also the parasympathetic nervous system response, which is the freeze response. [0:21:02] It’s the shutdown response.

 

And so, what actually happens is that a lot of people end up with a completely imbalanced autonomic nervous system. And why is that important? This is important because the nervous system is intimately connected with our immune system and our endocrine system. So, the hormonal system.

 

And any stressor that we introduce into the system, and oftentimes, of course, it will be emotional stressors, not always, we often—obviously, we can have mechanical stressors and we can have chemical stressors that also stress us, and the body doesn’t really tell the difference. It reacts the same way to whatever stressor we’re talking about.

 

But actually, most of the time, those stressors are emotional, and people don’t even recognize that they have a lot of those emotional stressors. And then, what happens when we introduce that into the equation, that will have a knock-on—so that obviously affects the nervous system immediately, but that will have a knock-on effect on the immune function and the gut, and also, the endocrine, the hormonal function.

 

And then, when you’re thinking about the hormonal imbalances, that obviously just throws everything off, right? And the way I want people to look at it is that it’s like a triangle, the nervous system, the immune system, the endocrine system, and everything affects everything else. So, that relationship goes back and forth.

 

And so, what actually—what we’re supposed to, as humans, we’re supposed to operate, 90 percent of our days, we’re supposed to operate in a relaxed state. So, we’re supposed to be operating in the parasympathetic nervous system mode, but actually, who does that? I mean in the Western world, just look around.

 

That just doesn’t happen. What actually tends to happen for a lot of people is the other way around, 90 percent of the time, they will operate in the stress response, in that sympathetic nervous system mode. And this is a problem because that’s not how we’ve evolved. So, really, when our ancestors didn’t live the way we do today, they obviously occasionally got stressed when they had to hunt, or run away from a wild animal, and that would be when the stress response would save their lives, because you do need that, you do need that to activate.

 

And then, you need to fight, or you need to run away, whichever obviously you choose to do at the time. And then of course, there’s the freeze response, but that’s actually part of sympathetic system response. And the problem with that is that because most people live in this what we call a sympathetic dominant state, they burn this system out.

 

They just burn it out, right? And we see that everywhere, right? People with fatigue, brain fog, that burnout, that has lots of different faces. People who can’t get through the day without drinking 10 cups of coffee. But they think it’s normal, but that’s the thing, it’s not normal. It’s not normal. If you can’t wake up in the morning, or you wake up in the morning and you’re still fatigued, or you just sort of sleep and sleep and you’re still fatigued, or you wake up in the morning and you immediately need caffeine to get you going, because otherwise you’re not functioning, that’s actually not normal.

 

That obviously is already indicating that there is level of burnout in the system. And in the end, like I said, if we—if we sort of almost destroy that part of our nervous system, then we can get to a point where it’s going to be complete shutdown. And a lot of people with chronic fatigue, they’re not necessarily in fight or flight.

 

A lot of them will relate more to being in that complete—it’s just a complete shutdown mode, yeah? Which will be the more the freeze response. So, the balance within that system is absolutely critical, because it affects everything else. It affects the immunity; it affects the gut. And in fact, when we’re talking about the vagus nerve, of course, the vagus nerve is the main part of the gut-brain access.

 

So, of course, we know, and a lot of people in the space talk about the importance of microbiome and how that is such a big factor in many chronic disease, in fact, in pretty much all chronic illness. But I argue that that’s not necessarily the root cause because, behind that, there’s something else or something messed up the gut, right?

 

So, it’s not—it is sort of the root cause, but you can look further behind it. So, okay, if we’ve got microbiome issues, could it be, again, due to early trauma? Because we know that early exposure to stress, epigenetically changes the gut, and we see this in animal models, and there’s some research in humans as well.

 

And when they did, back in the 90s, the ACEs study, when they looked at the relationship between early exposure to stress and chronic illness later in life, we have correlation with just about every illness that we can think of.

 

So, the crux of it all is that many people are actually imbalanced, their autonomic system, the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic is completely messed up, and obviously, there are ways of correcting it, but until we do, we’re always going to have a knock-on affect on the gut, on the immune system, on the hormonal function, and through that, pretty much on everything in the body. Does that make sense?

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Absolutely. You know? It’s so interesting, as you were talking and sharing that, Jonathan and I have been in the natural health space for quite a few years now, and I’ve heard some very interesting stories, and I’m not saying that this is research-based stories, but there is research like you’re talking about, to lead us to believe that this is true, but we’ve heard stories of people who have had something like cancer.

 

I heard a story of a woman once who had breast cancer, and one of the things that the practitioner she was working with was to address emotional trauma. And as he worked with her and started talking with her and kind of evaluating her life, she shared with him something she’d never shared with anyone before.

 

And he had seen, in previous cases, in previous patients, what she shared with him, the trauma she shared, and I believe it was actually a sexual abuse trauma, was also tied to that very same cancer that she had experienced. Now again, I don’t have any research to back this particular story, but I think it’s extremely powerful what you’re talking about with epigenetics literally changing our gene expression through trauma and how that impacts our overall health.

 

You’re talking about the gut and the microbiome. I think it’s so important that people understand our trauma can impact our long-term health. And I think that we don’t even realize at times, when we have certain stress in our life, when we’re sick, when we have things going on like you talked about, where it’s just we get to that point where we’re in total shutdown, that we haven’t addressed the things from our past that are actually impacting everything in our body.

 

And so, I think it’s very powerful and I think what you’ve shared with people today is going to wake a lot of people up to the fact that they may have past traumas that they really need to work through and heal from and move forward from. So, I want to ask you about the polyvagal theory, because I’m really interested in this, and will you tell our listeners what this is?

 

Eva Detko: So, I’ve already actually started talking about it when I said that previously, before Stephen Porges came up with this, we looked at the autonomic nervous system as, this is the sympathetic bit, and that’s the fight or flight, and this is the parasympathetic, that’s the relaxation response. But when he developed this theory really, he named the ventral part of the vagus nerve, so the ventral vagus complex, not the freeze response, the ventral vagus complex is the relaxation, it’s the relax, heal, detoxify response.

 

And by the way, we don’t heal unless that is activated. We do not heal in sympathetic or freeze mode. We do not heal at that point. We can only heal, the body can only heal if we activate the rest, digest, detoxify, and heal response, which is basically the vagus nerve, right? So, that’s really, really key. There’s one thing that people take away from this, is remember this, so if you are constantly activated, you have no chance to heal, because your body is running away from wild animals, or it’s fighting something, it’s that sort of thing, so there are other priorities when you’re in the sympathetic nervous system response.

 

From the point of view of your survival, healing is really far, far, far down the list, right? No time for that. We’re trying to survive here. This is the reason why. So, what Stephen Porges actually talks about is he actually named the ventral vagus complex, so the vagus nerve as we know it, he called it the social nervous system.

 

And it’s a very important—interesting concept, because a healthy vagus nerve, a healthy social nervous system, allows us to connect with ourselves, allows us to connect with the world, and empathize and bond with other people, right? So, if we have healthy vagus function, we can read other people’s expressions and we get it right.

 

When we have poor vagal function, we will completely misinterpret the cues from other people. So, sometimes, people can come across—people can be fearful, and we will interpret it as an attack, we will interpret it as maybe they’re angry, but actually, it could be that they’re fearful, and actually, that’s very, very often the case.

 

So, when that vagus nerve function is compromised, we just lose that ability to really tell what-is-what in our social connections. We actually also have difficulty self-regulating. So, people will be more prone to addictions, for instance. And when you think about it, this is really important, because this is—we activate that, that part of our nervous system when we feel safe.

 

And of course, in our social connections, we want to be able to tell who’s safe to approach, who’s not safe to approach. We want to be able to read that correctly. But like I said, if that vagus function is a bit “Ummm,” because the sympathetic is dominating, then we just lose the plot a little bit, and lost the ability not to just self-regulate, but to also read other people, and that actually potentially can have a massive impact, of course, on our relationships and our social connections, right?

 

Jonathan Hunsaker: Absolutely.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Yeah.

 

Jonathan Hunsaker: I think what’s really interesting here, and we touch on it, I don’t know that we touch on it enough, is how much everything is interconnected, right? It’s so often we go see a doctor here in the West, and they give you a prescription, but they don’t talk anything about your nutrition, they don’t talk anything about your emotional health, right?

 

We decide “Hey, it’s time to get healthy,” so we go, and we go to Whole Foods and we buy a bunch of organic food and we start eating organic. And yeah, I mean that gets us to a certain level, but we’re still not addressing the emotional trauma. Maybe it’s that emotional stuff that got us overweight to begin with, right, or that brought on those addictions that cause us to have bad habits, that led to other things.

 

And so, I think it’s really important for us to realize that you need that holistic approach, you need to be covering all angles, and if you don’t address emotional, current emotional state, previous traumas, all of that, you’re leaving a third of it out, right? If you’re not addressing the mind, if you’re not keeping things healthy with meditation, if you’re not managing the stress levels.

 

It’s interesting, when you talk about just kind of how we’re constantly in that alert state. I lived down in Panama, Central America, for a few years, and people down there were way happier than we are up here. And you’d see them sitting on their hammocks for hours a day, and you’re like “How could you do that?”

 

But that’s our ingrained idea that we’ve got to go, go, go, and accomplish, and accomplish, and do, where they’re just happy sitting there watching the waves, watching the trees, and living the way that we’ve always lived, in that calm, relaxed state. And I think they’re a lot healthier, a lot of times, because of that.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Absolutely. I think another interesting thing that you touched on is that our emotional/mental wellbeing can impact our relationships, and especially talking about the polyvagal theory and how it impacts us with stress and beyond and being able to truly heal. I also think it’s interesting, I thought about as you were talking about that, how hard it is for us to have a good relationship with ourselves as well, when we haven’t healed.

 

And I think it goes both ways, that we can struggle not only in external relationships, but in that relationship with ourselves. So, I think it’s—what you’re talking about here today is so important for people to understand, not only from the mental/emotional perspective, but how it’s tied to our health. I think you’ve given some fantastic, fantastic teaching moments here for people to really internalize some of the things that are going on in their body that they may not have understood before and really be able to learn and educate themselves and move forward in a powerful way.

 

Having said that, what are some of the best modalities, in your opinion, to deal with trauma? As just a starting point for people who are listening, who may be hearing some of this information for the first time. I know I’ve learned a lot today. What would you recommend as some of those best modalities to start out with and look at?

 

Eva Detko: I will share all of this in just a moment, but I wanted to just make a comment about trauma before I move on to that, because I think it’s important, a couple of things actually. So, what I want people to understand is that early trauma, early exposure to stress, as much as it obviously messes up your gut and your epigenetic expression, as we discussed, but what it also does, it actually ramps up the nervous system and it makes you more susceptible to stress, and it makes you less-equipped to handle stress, and it makes you more susceptible to subsequent trauma.

 

So, what does that mean? That means that, for instance, they looked at this with—at soldiers with PTSD, and why is it that not all of them get it? Yes. The difference between people who were in exact same circumstances, and some of them came away from the situation with PTSD and some of them didn’t actually, was early trauma.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Interesting.

 

Eva Detko: It is very interesting. And actually, when we’re talking about trauma, this is another really important point, because people would be thinking, “Well, I didn’t have any major traumas.” So, when I’m talking about trauma and early exposure to stress, I’m not actually necessarily talking about PTSD.

 

PTSD is important to address, it can be addressed, but more often than not, and this is particularly true for people with chronic health issues, what’s going to happen is that there may not have been necessarily a one big event, that one kind of terrible thing that happened, but rather, number one, there could have been smaller things happening over a period of time, or there could be—it could be that, in the early years of that person, their emotional needs were not being met, and what they end up with later in life is attachment trauma, or developmental trauma.

 

And developmental trauma is not just about emotional neglect, because actually, it happens a lot to people who had loving parents, caring parents, not just necessarily narcissistic parents, because obviously, if somebody had narcissistic parents and they’re a sensitive soul, definitely they’re going to end up with attachment trauma, lots of self-worth issues, lot of self-identity issues, and behavioral issues as well.

 

But we also talking about people who seemingly had an okay childhood, there wasn’t really any major problems, but what could have happened was that they needed more emotional nurturing than they actually got, and that bonding wasn’t necessarily at the level that was satisfying their emotional requirements at the time.

 

So, emotional trauma is an interesting one. The attachment trauma rather is an interesting one, because it’s oftentimes about what was missing rather than what actually did happen. And when I’m working with people with chronic illness, because that’s really the clientele that I attract, it’s going to be people who have autoimmunity in particular, I work a lot with that, lots of complex physical complaints, lots of complex chronic symptoms that they’ve had for a long time, and of course, what comes with that is obviously complex emotional stuff.

 

But it’s not necessarily PTSD. Most of the time, it will be something like attachment traumas. So, it’s important for people to realize that just because you didn’t have a major event and you’re not really recalling anything necessarily bad that may have happened to you, what may have happened is the first 0-4 in particular, which is of course the time that we—

 

It’s even before we start even forming proper memories, there may have been insufficient emotional nurturing and insufficient bonding with the primary caregivers, and that, in a lot of cases, is enough to create this developmental attachment-type traumas. So, I just wanted to stress that, because people think of trauma as PTSD, and it’s not necessarily that that I’m talking about.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: I have to ask these questions, and I—we could do three more podcasts on the things we’ve talked about today and how far I want to go with some of these questions, but I’ll try to keep my two questions very concise. So, my first question for you is based on what you just said. How can a parent understand if they’re giving their child enough nurturing without crossing the line of giving too much?

 

So, as you said, sometimes it’s not that you don’t have—you don’t have bad parents, they love you, they raise you in a good home, you’re safe there, but how does a parent know if they’re giving their child the right kind of love? And I know that’s probably not just a clear-cut black and white answer, but what would be your recommendation there for people raising children?

 

Eva Detko: Right. So, prepare for this, people. You will screw your kids up. You will. You will. It’s just—it’s impossible, when you think about this, TeriAnn, when you think about this, you cannot possibly, no matter how wonderful a parent you are, how self-aware, how aware of your kids’ needs and everything else you are, you cannot satisfy those needs 24/7, constantly, constantly, constantly.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Sure.

 

Eva Detko: It’s just not possible. So, there will be moments where the kid will just feel like they’re just not getting enough nurturing, right? But, having said that, right, this situation could be made worse by parents being completely unaware of their child’s needs. So, what I—if somebody is listening, and maybe the child is small and they still have a chance to do a pretty good job, and they really, really want to do that, then I would say look a little bit more into the different stages of child development.

 

Because you have your infancy stage, you’ve got your toddler stage, you’ve got your preschooler and so on, and then school stage. And at all of those stages, the needs of the child are different, and they will be learning different things, they’ll be—at some point, they need to learn about sexuality. At some point, they need to learn how to express anger properly, and so on and so on.

 

The first stage, the infancy stage, you cannot give them enough. You can’t give them too much in terms of cuddles and kisses. The first—particularly the first stage, which is all about physical safety. Yeah? So, one of the things that I would recommend, John Bradshaw wrote a number of books actually. Unfortunately, he’s one of my heroes, and he passed away a few years ago, but the book Homecoming explains actually, in a very simple way, the different stages of child development.

 

And if you’re a parent and you understand that better, then definitely, you’ll be able to do a better job of parenting. I mean there’s obviously parenting books, but I specially am talking about understand how your child is developing. Also, understand the brain development, the different stages of that, because then, that will help you avoid some of these mistakes that could potentially become a really big problem later for that person.

 

Another thing that I would say is also be aware of the personality type of your child. So, personality styles are really strategies, and a lot of it is as a result of what we experienced in childhood, but there will be certain tendencies already from the word “Go.” And if your child is, for instance, very sensitive, be mindful of that, because if you push a sensitive child to be a leader, to achieve, to do things that maybe it’s not natural for them to necessarily be that way, then that may have a really bad impact on them.

 

Likewise, if you have a child who is a natural leader and is slightly sort of dominating maybe other kids, slightly sort of has that kind of way of bossing kids around, don’t pull them back from that. Let them express that. So, you do need to be very in tune with some of the characteristics that you children are already presenting at whatever age they are, because that way, you can help them develop the things that are natural to them and the view that they want to express.

 

And then, perhaps you can then help them with some of the things that maybe still need to be developed but don’t come so naturally to them. So, I would say awareness is—awareness and education about what kids need in the different stages of development and what that means in terms of needs and what we need to satisfy as parents, that’s going to be really, really key.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Interesting. And I appreciate you sharing that, and I have one other question around that. So, we talk about—we’re talking to adults here on this podcast, and we’ve talked about healing trauma from our childhood. What would you say to parents who have children, if they recognize now that their child has experienced trauma, what would you recommend to them?

 

Is this something that’s best addressed now while they’re aware of it? And how would you—what would you say to parents when it comes to children who have experienced trauma and parents who are in tune enough to realize there’s different levels of trauma, different types of trauma, but their child’s probably experienced trauma, what would be steps you would recommend they take?

 

Eva Detko: So, that actually potentially ties this question nicely to the question that you previously asked me, but I never answered about the modalities, right, because we kind of digressed a little bit. So, if you’ve got the right tools and you’re comfortable using those tools, which there is no really reason why you wouldn’t be, because something like havening techniques or EFT is so, so easy for people to use on themselves and on their families.

 

And then, I would say if you’re identifying that your child may have gone—maybe they were born in difficult circumstances and you know that obviously they were hospitalized or something like that, that’s never a good thing, and they could potentially develop a really—a lot of fears around, for instance, health, around hospitals and procedures and stuff like that.

 

So, for example, let’s say take that as an example. So, if that was already present in this young child’s life, then if we have the right tools, we can, we can just get on top of it and heal this straightaway. And I would say what would—so if you, for instance, if you used havening techniques, which is a really, really, really simple method, and if anybody wants to look that up for self-help, then havening.org is the resource for that.

 

But it’s literally a psychosensory technique, so it’s about stimulating receptors on the skin to, like I said before, remodel the neurology. And what then happens is, say your child had some sort of trauma around hospitals, around health, around procedures, the next time they’re maybe in that situation, and they’re triggered by that, because that’s how you know most of the time that they have a problem, because they’re being triggered by being in a similar situation, then the moment that they’re triggered, you can actually haven on that, or tap on that.

 

That’s another great method, EFT. And then, you could be taking that trauma apart already for that child, and then when they’re grown up enough to be able to do this for themselves, then you basically teach them the tool and you encourage them to use that if they ever experience anxiety, if they experience fear around a particular aspect of their lives, whatever it is.

 

Maybe social issues or whatever it may be. Just teach them those simple tools, and that’s going to be—that would be my best thing, because if you can address it quickly, why not, you know? Why not? And it could be very quick and very effective.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Sure. And I’m assuming that it’s—the same thing you just recommended pertaining to my question around children, would also be the recommendation for adults as well. So, this has been amazing. I have to say, this has got to be one of my top three podcasts to date, because we talk all about health and food and our internal systems and our body, I just don’t think we could stress enough how important our mental and emotional health is. And so, I’ve loved everything we’ve covered today and everything you’ve shared. It’s just been so insightful and so informative. I know I’ve learned a lot.

 

Jonathan Hunsaker: One of my biggest takeaways is that I’m screwing up my kids no matter what I do. So, that was very insightful. No, I’m in 100 percent agreement. I mean I’m familiar with EFT, emotional freedom techniques, and tapping and things like that, and I haven’t practiced it enough, but quite frankly, there’s a lot that we’re talking about that really applies to me when it talks about our kids.

 

I have three and five-year-old girls, and it’s something I am very self-aware, but I know that there’s things there, right, just that naturally happen, that’s going to have me even more conscious of what are ways to address it so it’s not lingering at 16, 18, 20, 22, they’re trying to figure all this out and “Why do I feel this way?” and what things happened. Why not address it now?

 

And quite frankly, I mean whenever we do podcasts like this, I reflect on myself and my life, and I’m thinking of all these past traumas I have that would be better to work through in better ways. And so, I think I like doing these podcasts because I think I get the most value just by being able to hear first-hand from you, and I just love that you’re sharing this with our audience. Now I know you also have a summit coming up that’s going to teach everybody about this absolutely free, correct?

 

Eva Detko: Absolutely, yes, yes. So, I have done events like this in the past, and this is sort of like a following up from what I’ve done before, but basically, we’re going to have a summit that is called Mind, Body, And the Vagus Nerve Connection. So, the focus is very much obviously on the vagus nerve that we described, the relax, the digest, heal, detoxify heal response that is so, so important.

 

We cannot heal without this. So, we’re going to be looking at different things that screw up the vagal tone and the things that can actually help it and repair it and we can actually thrive as a result of it. So, that’s going to be coming up in June, and obviously, it’s going to be great.

 

Jonathan Hunsaker: People can attend this right from their home, right? They’re not—they don’t have to go fly somewhere and pay for hotels and all that? This is something they can attend right from home, correct?

 

Eva Detko: They can attend that absolutely from the comfort of their own living room, office, or whatever it is, and yes, it’s just an on—it’s an online event, loads of absolutely incredible content. I’ve got over 40 sessions on this event, all going over a period of a week. So, there’s going to be definitely a lot of information to absorb, and it is going to make, even if you apply a tiny percentage of what you learn from that, it’s going to make a difference.

 

So, but I wanted to actually—you know, you did say that obviously we need to recognize that emotional trauma is such a huge part of healing, and if I may, I just wanted to say that, like I said, I work with chronic illness, and I have a lot of case studies, but I just wanted to quote one person who I work with, and this is basically something that I’ve seen so many times.

 

But in this particular case, this lady had had—she had gut problems for over 10 years, okay? Over 10 years of—what didn’t she try? Different nutritional protocols and you name it, supplements, blah-blah-blah, right? But at some point, it somehow came into her consciousness that she needed to work on her early trauma, and she had a massive issue with attachment trauma, actually. She was one of those people.

 

And we literally, within a few sessions, she was able to go out, and this is somebody who had such bad reactions to food, she basically went to a point where she could—she had very limited range of foods that she could eat. So, within a few sessions, not only did she start to expand the range of foods that she was eating, she was able to go out on her birthday and had—she had something like key lime pie or some sort of pie, which she normally would be sick for a week as a result of that treat, and she had no ill affects and had gut function just continue to improve after we completed that work.

 

So, this is—just goes to show, this is somebody who, obviously for many, many years, just focused on the biochemistry, but it’s when she focused on the emotional side, that’s really what shifted things for her. And I’ve got many, many stories like that. So, yeah, just I think that just speaks for itself.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Well, that’s a great way to close.

 

Jonathan Hunsaker: Yeah, love this story. And I agree 100 percent. There’s people in my personal life, and relatives and all of that, that I know they’ve struggled with weight loss, they’ve struggled with all sorts of things. Until they started actually addressing some emotional things did things actually change, or did they actually stick long-term.

 

And so, I think for anybody listening, I mean if you’re on a health journey, which I think most of us try to be on most of the time, if you have not addressed the emotional side, now could be a great time to do it, right? And I say this anytime we’re trying to make change in our lives, let’s not try to change everything all at once, try to change your diet and go to the gym and the emotional stuff and all of that all at once.

 

But if you’ve tried other things, or you’re not sure, I think it’s worthwhile. [0:56:01] And I think this is one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the podcast is because you’re doing this summit that’s 100 percent free, right? We don’t make any money, there’s no commissions here, there’s nothing like that. Like we just want people to get healthy.

 

And I think that you’re addressing something that gets swept under the rugs, because most of us don’t want to address it. We all have emotional traumas and pains, and how we dealt with it, we swept it under the rug. And so, how do we do it as a society? We sweep it under the rug, right? Because we don’t want to deal with it, and I think it’s such a vital part of getting healthy that we have to address it.

 

And so, I love this story. I think that our listeners, if they go to your summit, if they go to your website and start addressing this, we’re going to have tons more stories come in like this, like we do when people change their nutrition, when people start exercising, when they start doing all of these other things. So, tell me, tell everybody actually, what is your website where they can find out more about you, they can sign up for this summit?

 

Eva Detko: So yeah, the best way to connect with me, I’m not really big on social media, I have to admit, but the website is the best resource really, and it’s Dr-Eva.com. And what I actually have, again, as another free resource on the website, I do have a 45-question, I think it’s 45-question questionnaire, and I call it Emotional Toxicity Questionnaire.

 

So, if you’re thinking, if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking “I’m not really still not quite sure whether this is me,” then go and look at those questions and take that questionnaire. It’s just completely—it’s just there on the website, where you can just work through the questions and just see how many you score.

 

Because I have to say that most people who take it get a little bit shocked by it, because they just don’t expect to score as high as they usually do on that questionnaire. So, that would be, if you’re not sure where you’re at, that would be a good way of assessing, and then from there, you can decide when you want to take action to fix it.

 

Jonathan Hunsaker: Love it. Before I wrap up, I know you have one final question that you ask everybody, so I’ll let you go ahead and ask that question.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Yeah, if you could leave one statement with the world regarding anything, it’s totally up to you, what would you say to people?

 

Eva Detko: Wow, okay. Right. So, I would say if you take the time to heal yourself, you will also be contributing to healing the global community, because obviously, we are all energetically-connected, and we didn’t really go into that so much, but a lot of that trauma sits in your biofield, in your energy field. And so, when we correct that, we do have an impact on ourselves energetically, but we also have impact on other people’s, our relationships improve. So, if you do this for yourself, you’re also doing it for—you’re going to have a global impact. You’re going to have a wider impact with this work.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Love it.

 

Jonathan Hunsaker: One of my favorite responses, too. Love that. So, if you’re looking for more, if you’re looking for links, resources, links to Dr. Eva’s site, just go to EmpoweringYouOrganically.com. We’ll have the transcripts, the replay, all of the show notes, all of the links. If you’re enjoying this podcast, if you learned a lot, make sure you like us on iTunes, subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode. And Dr. Eva, thank you so much for just taking time out today and sharing so much amazing knowledge and life experiences with our audience.

 

Eva Detko: Thank you, too. Thanks to you guys, because obviously, you’re providing this platform for people to share important information that can have a really, obviously, massive impact on people’s lives and people’s health. So, I thank you for inviting me.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Thank you.

 

Jonathan Hunsaker: Thanks, everybody, for listening, and we’ll see you on the next show.

 

TeriAnn Trevenen: Have a great day, everyone.

 

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