Transforming Trauma: It Is Good For Your Health

Auto Immune Paleo, Blog

healingTrauma Is Good For your Health

Why Trauma Matters in Your Disease Timeline and How We Can Turn It Into Opportunity

We cannot change our past or the childhood we had. We can however, create a different relationship to our past. And that has the ability to change our biology right now. Then what is our burden becomes a blessing.  I have found this perspective helpful. Then everything in my life holds equal weight to building wisdom. Bottom line: what we think about our life matters to our health. Now lets talk about how science has proven that.

Here is a personal example. I was born two months premature. I spend the first month of my life in an incubator, separated from my twin sister. My parents were an hour drive away. I was not breastfed or touched in relative standards to a ‘normal’ baby. It was a traumatic experience that has colored safety and security for me since. Recently, I was able to resolve that trauma by working with a practitioner who assisted me in going back to that place and bringing loving to it which instantly healed it. The very issue of abandonment, fear and trauma was an opportunity to come into more wholeness in my life and get the life I want. I go through the experience of what it feels like to feel unsafe and insecure to feel safe and secure. That is a key here. Trauma does not have to be something we just suffer with (although we do suffer from it). Traumatic experiences can be a part of awakening to our own deep loving. In my case, it was about Me now, Loving Me then. When that happens, and I take care of my own loving and my own care, I get the beauty of the experience of having gone through a difficult experience that actually added to my life. When I am constantly in a stage of “This isn’t safe” my nervous system reacts. When our nervous system is on standby for years of our life, it can have major physiological impact. Gut issues, vagal issues, immune issues, chronic disease issues. I found transforming trauma (every time I do it!) feels unsettling however. It is always hard. I always complain. But now I just go into transformation knowing this. It is difficult, awkward and scary. I go anyway.

Most of you know that if you don’t start with “WHY” of your entire health problem, and solve the physiological, emotional and spiritual  issues associated with illness, diet won’t really matter. And there may be those who take issue with me saying nutrient density does not trump how you feel about your life, and that is fine. And while I am glad there is a diet out there that is specific for Autoimmunity that is Paleo based, and many of you resonate with it, I am here to tell you that there is a springboard available to you that will deliver you into the deep waters of healing. It is called the “Quickest Way to Change Your Life is to Change What You Think About Your Life.” That kind of thinking involves resolving the traumas we are carrying around from experiences in life. I don’t know a more powerful medicine available to humans than that. This kind of thinking cannot be done through diet. In fact I have seen people change what they think about their life and within a matter of hours, they react different to food. Suddenly food behaves differently in their body. Why? Because they created a different relationship with their life and then life comes to meet them in that place. When we change the relationship to our life and heal the things that hurt, then food stops hurting us as well. Or the food may bother us, but how we feel about the food bothering us changes. And the very thing that caused disruption becomes a teacher to us. We learn that ultimately our own worth and view of life comes about from us. Disease helps us to learn this.

Less reactive on the inside = less reactive on the outside

And that includes food my friends. When you change how you engage your life, you present your body with a different way to ‘metabolize’ everything. That includes how you absorb nutrients and digest food. Every person who come to see me as a client has something deeper, bigger and more awesome happening in their life than changing their diet. Now I have a host of nutritionists I send clients to speak about AIP with when changing their diet is the goal. But I find these days, I often do not talk about food or AIP with my autoimmune clients. We talk about the events, thoughts, feelings and beliefs that lead them to their disease. We talk about strategies to come into cooperation with their autoimmunity. We talk about co-infections and immune system regulation. We talk about the brain and anxiety. We talk about how to form a team of healers. We talk about releasing attachments to outcomes. I will tell you that one of the biggest pieces of work around the work I do is teaching my clients to build skills that dissolve expectations about outcomes around what life may like when you cooperate with it more.

Healing  Your Life May or May Not Equal Your Body Getting Better

When you change how you feel about your life, there is a deeper consideration to accept, use and lifting from the experiences in your life.  That can include your autoimmune disease doesn’t get better. But YOU get better. Life becomes a less hostile place. So your relationship to whether or not your Autoimmune Disease heals, resides in a more neutral place.  When we base our health on the state of cooperation with our circumstances,  ability to love all of you, and invest in the idea that nothing is out of place in your divine timeline then often some kind of healing happens. Often I find that position is the most advantageous the body to heal. But often in order to find that place of cooperation, we must look at the contributing factors affecting our physical health, namely: Trauma.

Childhood Stress Matters, But There is Where Your Opportunity Is!

I highly suggest all of you taking this quiz:

The Ace Quiz

According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, the rougher your childhood, the higher your score is likely to be and the higher your risk for various health problems later. Wow. Lets just take that to heart for a moment. In fact, this video is a MUST. The lovely Dr. Nadine Burke Harris a pediatrician from San Francisco talks about the the long term affect trauma in childhood has on health. She says:”Trauma can affect how our DNA is read and transcribed.” Wait, what? Trauma can affect DNA? Yes. Isn’t autoimmune disease related to gene expression? Yes. And of course we know that the proper micronutrients can affect how DNA is transcribed as well. But if we know that trauma affects DNA, then we are being asked to take a closer look at the unfolding of our lives as the both the CULPRIT and CURE to what ails us. Abuse, neglect, social problems, beliefs..all are wound tightly into the manifestation of your illness. So here we have a profound opportunity to reconsider where we place our focus. Do we change our diet? Well, yes. Is it important? Of course. But what are we being really called to do when we have disease and trauma? We are being asked to reach our arms out around ourselves and touch into the place inside ourselves that is saying: “there is something here to deepen the loving in your heart and I know you can do this” and then go find it. Find a person that works on that levels and get to work. Go find it.

From NPR: Can Family Secrets Make You Sick:

Today Redding lives in a tidy, peaceful house outside San Diego. The walls of her home office are lined with degrees and certificates — at age 58, she’s working on a Ph.D. From the outside, she’s a success.

But inside — in her body as well as her mind, Redding says — she has been battling all her life.

She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result of those childhood experiences. “I had the flashbacks,” she says, “the depression, the anxiety — Oh, my lord! Anxiety, like … if it were a tangible thing living in the house with me, I’d need another room just to house that.”

In childhood, she was diagnosed with high blood pressure. In adulthood, she had a thyroid condition and has survived three different types of cancer: leukemia, breast cancer and lymphoma.

Learning about the ACE study and her own results made Redding wonder if all of that — maybe even the cancer — might be partly connected to her troubled childhood. After so many years, all of a sudden, “all those very confused, very scattered puzzle pieces of my life just locked together in one big, amazingly clear picture,” she says.

This revelation meant so much to Redding that she started a newsletter about the ACE study and later worked for the CDC, publicizing the study’s results. And she did all that because one big question kept nagging at her:

Why didn’t more people know about this research?

The NPR article sort of nailed it with that question: Why aren’t physicians and therapists creating ways to solve this big problem we have on our hands?  Well, my theory is that so few people understand or have developed skills to bridge this powerful information into practical skills to help those who are getting sick from traumatic events. In fact, Dr. Rob Anda, epidemiologist and co-developer of the ACE study said:


  1. Kaitlyn Oliver

    Thank you – my story too except I was adopted once out of incubator!
    I was fortunate enough to grow up outside of America with wise farmers and a lineage of growing ones’own food and the connection between food and emotional/spiritual health☺️ The crop animals were loved, appreciated..that they had levels of conscious heart was honored. Our physical selves interface with our higher has to be that way! The disconnect of what people will eat and the consequence of deterioration and mental physcosis is massive. Mental imbalance and physcosis are contagious -look around! We humans are fragile.
    Many Blessings.

    • Jessica

      Hi Kaitlyn! Loved your comment. Thank you so so much. After reading your comment, we have more in common than just an incubator! The bright place in my childhood was my grandparents dairy farm. Farmers (one from Denmark, one from Ireland) who taught me about home grown food, magic, making food from scratch, all in their warm, calm, loving farm house. I treasure every memory I had with them! One year they bought us each our own calf and we got to spend the summer with it, loving it and learning how to care and respect it. How lovely to have this connection with you! xx-jessica

  2. Maggie Kabbeko

    Thank you. This is so helpful and timely.

    • Jessica

      Maggie! You are welcome. xx-jessica

  3. Rachel DuBois

    What a world you’re opening up to me and I so appreciate your courage in sharing vulnerable places with all of us reading. My husband and I often joke about how everything seems to lead back to Childhood Issues. Feeling grumpy? Childhood Issues. Bickering over dinner? Childhood Issues. Farting too much? Childhood Issues.

    Seriously though, I’ve been doing AIP for 7 months, I meditate, go for walks in the Scottish wilderness where we live, cultivate friendships and have an awesome husband and little boy and I’m STILL having trouble. So it’s clear to me there’s more to do and I appreciate your delving more into what that might be.

    • Jessica

      Hi Rachel! Yes, I sometimes get even a bit grumpy about this. I have some things I have been working on for 30 years that I am annoyed are not yet totally worked out. The great part about the piece I speak of about AIP is that most don’t go to the deep, vulnerable places first. It is just not the tendency of humans (me included). It is not until I am forced to because things got worse or are not getting better and I am motivated to. Looking at our relationship to our life or what is sitting in the unconscious is not normally addressed by many modalities. So the good news/bad news is that you are still having trouble. AIP only takes folks so far. Congratulations for moving into the deeper work! xxxx-jessica

  4. Mandy Wood

    I thank all working on healing autoimmine. I was reacently diegnost with vkh. This causes the pigment in my body to be attacted. I nearly lost my vision seven months ago and devejloped hearing problems. Right away I have taken on a can do additude and what ever it takes to see my two little children grow I Will do. I have adopted the aip deit for 6 months I got off the immmune suppressants.
    I know this deit alone is not going to do it and i thanx you for the reminder. I have been afisherman in Alaska forAlmost 15 years. I haved worked hard and seen stress owning my kwn boats and fishing in terible weather. I am strong and very tolerant to pain. No matter how strick I hold myself to my diet nothing feels better than ice skating or visiting with friends that is truly the only time my sympoms go away. It is hard to find medical help on this remote island in Alaska. We have spent thousands and thousands already with not much luck. I know we all have to heal our gut and eating good food is the foundation of healing. Finding self confidence and love are key. The power of our minds is great.

  5. Lezlie

    Oh my graciousness! Thank You!!!! You spoke my heart mind and soul completely. I have been intuiting and practicing self love to heal myself for a few yrs. Sometimes when I try to explain this to people, most ppl dont get it because they think linearly which is normal consider the things we were taught. I really really believe 100% in what you are saying here. This is the frontier of healing. This is the cutting edge of “medicine”. You are the beacon of light to usher this into the world. Thank you so much from my heart to yours for doing such amazing profound deep searching work. I know from experience this take tremendous amount of courage and self belief to stay on the this path. There are many times I was closed to giving in to seeing a doctor or thinking just dieting can heal me but there is always this small little voice at the back of my mind telling me… no look deeper into your emotions and your childhood traumas, what is suppress? What is unexpressed? Find it, express it and send healing love to it. I’ve recently landed on self hypnosis regression / source energy healing. I feel I might be onto something. I notice I felt better after my first couple of sessions. Check out Dolores Cannon’s QHHT. Thank you again for being you and speaking your truth! Much love <3

  6. Julie Katz

    Jessica, you seem like a genuinely nice person and it’s obvious you’re trying to help people, and I have no doubt that you do help some people, but articles like these, and your general stance towards “healing” and trauma, reflect an unhelpful (and sometimes very hurtful) attitude that many trauma survivors encounter when dealing with health practioners. Your takeaway from the ACEs study seems to willfully ignore what the study is actually saying: that trauma, especially serious, pervasive, long term childhood trauma can PERMANENTLY alter the body’s functioning in critical areas that lead to disease. Along with many alternative practioners, you want to overlook this scientific fact and claim, without scientific support, that your treatment can, where no other practioner or scientist has been able, reverse this permanent damage to our bodies that was cause by trauma. But there’s a trick–you have to really “heal” your trauma, and if you’re not well then obviously you haven’t properly healed some ineffable facet of your emotional reaction to the trauma. This is a tautology that you will always win. If your therapy doesn’t work, then the patient didn’t try hard enough, wasn’t honest enough, and with you now–the patient DOESN’T LOVE THEMSELVES ENOUGH! I would really like you to think about that for a while, the message you send through your unsupported assertion that you’ve discovered the secret to healing autoimmune. Think about it this way: If the childhood trauma included being shot by a parent, and as a result the adult lives with pain and paralysis, would you insist that emotionally healing from the trauma of being abused by a parent this way will cause this person to walk again? Obviously you can be a person with a disability who copes well and maintains a good attitude or you can be a miserable person with a disability who carries around resentment and anger, and everything in-between, moment to moment, situation to situation. And certainly, to an extent, being an angry disabled person will be a more difficult existence for many reasons than being a person who accepts their disability and tries to find ways to have a better quality of life, but the fact of disability remains either way, and the difficulties of living with that disability will be largely the same whether the person is happy, sad, or angry. You seem to believe that autoimmune conditions that arise because of major dis-regulation of various homeostatic systems during long term traumatic exposure are some how different or special in that they carry some kind of spiritual implication rather than viewing them rationally and scientifically as equivalent to a spinal cord injury, or other permanent disability. When you do that, when you set the expectation that everyone can heal their autoimmune, you are dismissing the possibility of maximizing the quality of life for people with disabilities because you blame the failure of these folks not being able to “walk again” on their lack of spiritual grit or love or honesty. You are likely suffering from confirmation bias because you’re only noticing when your treatment works and you’re not tracking when it doesn’t, nor what happens to the people who don’t come back to see you, plus you have this great excuse you can trot out to explain away the failures. It would be far more compassionate to be honest about not having the answers, and simply try to help people with unhealable injury and illness from exposure to toxic trauma live the best lives they can. As long as you and other practioners remain stuck in this idea that there’s a magic therapy that will heal the trauma and then the health will be healed, you are denying people living with trauma dignified, honest care that might actually improve our quality of life.

    • Jessica

      Hi Julie. I think you probably know more about this subject than me and for that I am grateful that you gave such great feedback. I do think that the body can heal from trauma but I don’t always think it will, nor do I assume it will. That kind of thinking is a house of cards. I meet each person where they are, and honor how it unfolds within each person. I do not believe in magic therapy, and I do not believe that lack of illness is a marker of “successful” trauma work. Although it can be. The basis of my practice is the ‘relationship to the illness is the cure’ and I do not believe I mislead anyone in the article or in my own practice. I leave trauma therapy to trauma therapists.


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