By Dr. Nicole Sundene
Holistic Hormone Doctor
PTSD Symptoms can be greatly improved by addressing the patient from a holistic hormone Naturopathic approach in addition to proper counseling therapy and EMDR. As someone that specializes in Holistic Psychiatry, I highly recommend hormone testing for all patients suffering with PTSD symptoms.
I never fully understood how SEVERE PTSD symptoms were until I volunteered to help Veterans with PTSD in 2007. An elderly Veteran patient of mine asked me if I would consider helping some of the young vets returning from war with their anxiety and PTSD. At first I was very intimidated and thought, “What could I possibly know as a Naturopathic Doctor that can help this severely scary and traumatic condition?” Many of the veterans experienced such horrific scenarios they did not even want to trouble me with the details. I told them I needed to hear what they experienced and what was haunting them in order to help them.
Once I actually listened to the horrors of what they were battling... their nightmares, the panic attacks, depression, constant feeling of being on edge I realized that our war heroes are still battling a war in their minds even long after they return from war. It was so horrific to listen to that I began to have nightmares myself as I also worked to get the visions of what they described out of my own head.
As we worked on their nutrition and herbal medicine plans I began to realize how truly important Naturopathy was for their healing process. Many were adverse to taking psychiatric medications or had already tried them to no avail. Many appreciated the option to try something natural to help calm them down rather than rely on drugs as drug addiction is a common consequence of PTSD so prescribing anxiolytic medications such as valium is a double edged sword that may be more harmful than helpful. Never before had any doctor at the VA talked to them about their adrenal glands and how to work to reset them from the constant episodes of panic and stress.
Healing the adrenal glands requires herbal medicine and nutrition as there is not much in MD prescription land that helps to heal the adrenal glands. In PTSD, panic, and anxiety disorder the adrenal glands primarily get taxed from constant stress and can play a huge role in the cluster of symptoms related to PTSD causing a vicious PTSD Loop:
PTSD Trigger---> Panic Attack--->Paranoia ---> Hypervigilance --->Agitation-->Rage--->Self Harm or Violent Behavior---Overwhelming Guilt--->Depression---> Anxiety--->Insomnia----> Constantly Feeling on Edge---->Never Feeling Safe--->Hypervigialnce----> REPEAT
PTSD Symptoms Include:
Sadly many of our Veterans never receive proper help, and while many of them were super grateful for the Naturopathic service I provided them I realized it was all actually quite simple and makes sense from a biochemistry standpoint that we MUST address and tonify our Veterans adrenal glands with Naturopathy along with providing them with Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Counseling, EMDR, Yoga, Meditation, and Psychiatry.
Just like my female victims of domestic violence that have experienced rape and physical violence, often they complain that the psychiatric drugs used for treating anxiety symptoms in PTSD cause them to feel out of control which then makes them feel more unsafe when they are not in control. When the patient with PTSD symptoms is not in control of their body or situation that can ironically actually trigger their PTSD symptoms!
This is why Naturopathic Medicine is SO IMPORTANT FOR PTSD! As a Naturopathic Hormone Doctor I have tools in my toolbox to help tonify the adrenal glands that are completely out of whack with PTSD and overtaxed, fried and burnt out. I have B-vitamin shots to help “bathe” the adrenal glands and nervous system in the very cofactors needed to heal and repair these fried systems. And I have gentle “Herbal Sedatives” to offer that can ease anxiety and provide a calming effect while still allowing the patient to remain in control of the situation. Because NOTHING scares my PTSD patient more than being checked out on heavy drugs and not feeling like they are in control. When we fail to offer helpful treatments for PTSD symptoms we risk PTSD patients self medicating with drugs and alcohol. Which is why so many Vets struggle with substance abuse issues and even worse end up committing suicide because nobody can properly help them with their PTSD.
Today I am writing about Naturopathy, Hormones and PTSD to encourage anyone with PTSD to consider Naturopathic Medicine. Our country that has the FINEST health care system in the world has COMPLETELY FAILED its Veterans and every Vet battling PTSD deserves to have a Naturopathic Doctor in their VA Hospital to help them heal from a mind/body/spirit standpoint. If you have any ability to change how PTSD is addressed for our vets or you know someone that can get my information to the proper channels it is critical to the men and women that have bravely served our country that they get proper Naturopathic support!
Regardless of what the initial cause of the PTSD symptoms are, many men and women are left in a chronic vicious loop of PTSD Symptoms---> Trigger---> Panic Attack----> Generalized Anxiety Disorder--> REPEAT.... loop that can be broken with a proper holistic treatment plan to address the PTSD. We must use multiple modalities to heal patients from PTSD and sadly many of our young men and women are sent back to America after going to war with inadequate care because to truly break this pattern of PTSD we need multiple modalities. In 2007 I volunteered and helped many vets with their PTSD and quickly learned the importance of Naturopathic Medicine and the role it can play in helping our country’s heroes heal and repair from the trauma of war. At first I thought, “PTSD symptoms are SO SERIOUS….what can I possibly do as a Naturopathic Doctor to help someone with this severe of symptoms?”
But guess what?
My Vets with PTSD symptoms THRIVED with Naturopathy. They all improved within a few months. Symptoms they struggled with for years began to resolve within a few months of Naturopathic care! I hate to brag but sometimes Naturopathic Medicine even amazes me with its capacity to heal and repair the body. We just need to offer the PTSD patient the correct treatment plan to heal their body from the PTSD symptoms.
Without proper treatment many vets lack the coping skills needed to recover and can fall victim to drugs and alcohol as a suboptimal treatment course for their PTSD. Naturopathy truly excels at treating PTSD because there is not much in regular allopathic prescription medicine that addresses the adrenal glands aside from beta blocker medications commonly used for high blood pressure and anxiety such as propranolol.
While the beta blocker can stop the heart from pounding and block the adrenaline reaction that happens when the PTSD patient is triggered the medication is not nourishing or healing to this pathway as many of our “Adrenal Adaptogen” herbs have the capacity to heal. Ashwaghanda is one of my favorite adapogen herbs because it is mild enough that patients can take it during the day yet it helps stop the vicious adrenaline/PTSD pattern
Optimizing B vitamins is also important for the PTSD patient’s nervous system and adrenal glands. B vitamins are the food for the adrenal glands and are necessary cofactors for making neurotransmitters and thus can easily become depleted with each panic attack.
Anxiety, Depression and PTSD can all be improved generally with Naturopathic Medicine. When I first started volunteering for vets with PTSD in 2007, I learned the powerful importance of adrenal support for PTSD. Every time we have a stress response we tax our adrenal glands that then think we are actually “Running from a bear." Measuring the hormone levels to determine if they are deficient or running in excess or both.
Optimizing hormones and nutrition almost always helps my mental health patients feel stronger physically and emotionally. Its almost shocking to me as a doctor how MUCH Naturopathic Medicine can benefit my mental health patients.
Especially for women with mood swings. There is almost always a hormone imbalance piece I find as an underlying cause with PTSD
Thank you to our heroes for serving our country and working to keep us safe. There is nobody out there that appreciates you more than I do so I hope you enjoyed the information I have put together on PTSD and the adrenals today as my way of showing my appreciation for our vets. I hope this information can be shared and more awareness of the importance of Naturopathy for our vets can become common knowledge so that we can have a solid program to address the mental, physical and spiritual health of our vets when they return from war. We could save lives, prevent suicide, and prevent substance abuse with proper treatment and awareness of the need for adrenal support and mental health nutrition. Someday I hope we have Naturopathic Doctors at every VA to work in concert with counselors and therapists and that it is common knowledge that PTSD survivors need.
Happy Veterans Day to all of the amazing men and women who have served our country! Thank you for what you have done for all of us!
We love you and support you always!!!
If you or someone you know needs help with their PTSD simply pop over to my SCHEDULE page to treat yourself to a Naturopathic Consult. For those not in Arizona I am available via Telemedicine and would be delighted to help you with your PTSD.
Dr. Nicole Sundene
Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones she presents to women the best integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones and Naturopathy!