Canada’s Syrian Refugee Mental

Health Outreach

Part Two Add-On Technologies

Page 1 Syrian Refugees

Page 2 Add-on Techniques

Page 3 Nutritional Considerations

Page 4 Organizing Relief

An Introduction to AcuDestress as an Unique Answer to What to do About Refugee Mental Health

Part Two

By Brian C. Bailey M.D.

Program founder

While there has been lots of evidence that  Smith’s 5-point ear acupuncture (AcuDetox) works, some important elements of that evidence accumulated before PET scans and fMRI’s  were used to investigate neuroscience phenomena. In 1979, for instance, Smith offered the use of AcuDetox to a prison group of felons who were also substance addicted - a situation for which the justice system completely lacked answers. At the Miami Drug Court, there was little surprise at the degree to which substance addiction receded, but the finding that after their incarceration the recipients had a drop in recidivism one year later from 45 to 4% was completely unanticipated.

Now that neuroscientists like Kano and Fukodo have become interested in following the brain scans of patients with alexithymia (the inability to read the feelings of others or their own emotions, including anger) we are shown a possible explanation of how 5-point ear acupuncture acts on the axis between the limbic brain and the prefrontal cortex to release old patterns, particularly those related to committing crimes. 

It is even more interesting that the changes seen in the 1600 subject Miami Drug Court study cane about without any counselling or psychotherapy, as Smith had included in his protocol the complete absence of psychosocial attempts to change recipients’ mindset.  This will come in particularly
handy with the Syrian refugee group. Current biases suggest, of course, that he more verbal and interactive the intervention is, the more likely it is to work. But with the great majority of the subjects being Arabic speaking, verbal therapy will be next to impossible to deliver in Canada in any case. Here we can rely on non-verbal cueing, much like Smith did exclusively at the time of the World Trade Center disaster and expect to see it work. 

While we have, since the outset, twenty years ago, seen that the most severe, and the hardest to treat conditions, the personality disorders, were the most likely to resolve with AcuDetox (which would suggest why crime recidivism becomes lowered so dramatically) those with alexithymia  were still the most difficult to treat, as others have universally noted.

Alexithymia, acquired by dissociating from pain seen in subjects with PTSD has blocked therapeutic success as well. Typically, the subject experiences a release from the relationship tension which has built due to reacting to aggression in others which isn’t really present. To a subject’s surprise, phenomena occur by which one’s angry responses are replaced by compassion and gratitude.

But now, still bereft of a new way-of-being-in-the-world, the subject finds themselves overly vulnerable and often opts to return to their old  fight-or-flight state rather than this new and indefensible one.

Having introduced talk therapy to the process ten years ago, we now see (and are able to correct) this overtly in some patients who report it, but more often we have to pick it up ourselves, as they are not prone to talk about it, or even see it happening. They have moved but have regressed to their old selves. If you ask them, they can see this, but if you don’t they will usually exit from their session unchanged. This has made our method overly reliant on our assiduously watching the emotional responses to treatment, something that becomes more complicated as numbers of patients under care increase.

While this makes up a small segment of our treatment group, these are the most labour-intensive of patients, and so, when we
saw some of them responding positively to their own use of an emWave2 device after their treatment, we began to wonder what would happen if they used it during their treatment. We were pleasantly surprised. It was just what we read in the book and literature articles from HeartMath. Those with PTSD responded more quickly. Those with constitutional, lifelong alexithymia took longer, but responded as well.

When the subjects who test positive for alexithymia are treated during the session we can quantitatively measure their success of lack of success by further testing and can step up or step down the process. none of this requires verbal interaction, as the process is so simple and intuitive that the person is doing 90% of the work themselves. We will be able to use facilitators who don’t speak Arabic (to both insert pins and facilitate emWave 2 use as long as we have one Arabic speaker in the room. 

The Logistics of a Refugee AcuDestress Group

Our current estimate of doing a 5-point ear acupuncture group with a 50% added emWave2 segment, will require, in addition to the therapist (Dr. Bailey and others) three well-trained people, one of whom speaks Arabic for a group of 40 recipients.

But there is one final add-on we will use as well....

What is Neuromodulation, Really?

Dr. Norman Doidge’s book The Brain’s Way of Healing (2015), is not the easy read its predecessor The Brain That Changes Itself (2007) was. Between the two books, Doidge dissects both the newest technologies of brain neuroscience, abnd some that have been around for some time but have been mysteries till now - neuroplastic ways to reprogram the brain - and what makes them work.  Jon Kabat-Zinn found a way to do it with meditation-induced mindfulness.  Our understanding of mindfulness and neuroplasticity parallels Doidge’s, suggesting that there are several ways in - all quite remarkable. Five=-point ear acupuncture is one. More are on the drawing board.

Even before Doidge found practical examples of the “technology” actually working on a large scale, theoretician Joseph Chilton Pearce had written convincingly in 2003 (The Biology of Transcendence) about what the development of  brain scanning was saying about Paul MacLean’s thirty year old, much ballyhooed Triune Brain Theory which suggests that decision-making and action initiated by the brain consists of a balancing act among three very different brains.

While we saw our own evidence of this 20 years ago with our patients  -i.e. that we all specialize, from birth, in use of two of their three brain layers, Pearce was also interested in a fourth, evolutionary area - the
prefrontal brain. This area of the brain develops slowly, not being completely grown until age 24 - and becomes ultimately responsible for intuition. In modern brain-imaging we see that the brain “lights” up or “darkens down” with different activity - as is seen here in brain scans of everyday activity compared with meditative activity. Brain scans also tell us today that acupuncture works in part by shrinking fight-or-flight areas of the brain and enlarging relaxation areas .

But what fascinated Pearce, as it did Lew Childre of HeartMath, was that the heart also has a triune functioning “brain” of its own. Childre found it can be reprogrammed by biofeedback - rather easily, to tune in to the brain’s sympathetic nervous system (and thus prepare for danger) or the brain’s parasympathetic system, and prepare us for peacefulness. Subjects using his technology learn, against-all-odds. to feel gratitude,
an almost impossibly difficult task when assigned to psychology. Smith’s ear acupuncture can do it too, but it is more hit-and-miss than we’d like, as it’s often resisted by the subject.   

So, Smith’s AcuDetox, while acting as the core potentiating aspect of this initiative, is best seen in the perspective of what other brain-making tools it potentiates, firstly - mindfulness (which can be learned easily without the necessity of using meditation) neuroplasticity which
can often be self-directed once it’s learned,  and most recently -  the potentiation of heart-lung coherence biofeedback with HeartMath’s emWave2 device.

The neuromodulation of ear acupuncture allows subjects to reprogram those areas in the limbic and reptilian brain to vibrate with alpha (creative) and theta (restful) waves while the surface brain reinvents its habitual pathways.  While we have known for some time that the emWave2 worked with our patients after they had received ear acupuncture, we are now finding that it works even better during ear acupuncture. Patients with PTSD are the greatest beneficiaries.

Neuromodulated Treatment of Alexithymia

Alexithymia is a state which renders triune brain areas incapable of naming the subject’s own emotions, understanding the emotions of others and being able to use their imagination to bring about change. In some people it is lifelong (primary) while in others, like those with PTSD, is is acquired at the time of trauma.  This  holds PTSD in place, and has proven resistant to treatment itself, and makes treatment of PTSD difficult. Medications do not dismantle it. But due to the thirty years of innovation of Lew Childre’s HeartMath, this small biofeedback device can be attached to a computer screen , from which the user visualizes the “coherence” between the lung breath rate and heart rate, thus leading to vagal nerve activation and a shift, at will, from the body’s sympathetic (fight or flight) capacity to activation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System’s calming effect. In our first pilot utilization when it was used simultaneously with (i.e. during) 5 point ear acupuncture, we saw (as did others) that 30% of our chronically stressed patients suffered from it. We also saw that the alleviation of PTSD with the emWave2 was consistent with literature already produced on the subject . We were encouraged by years of research success. But the combination of the two modalities had not been tried before. Now it has. We’ll include it here in perhaps as high as 50% of subjects. We can do  TAS-20 Alexithymic screening in Arabic, abd treat those who need it.

See the articles: Four decades of research on alexithymia: moving toward clinical applications (Frontiers of Psychology) HERE and...

Alexithymia Depot HERE.

Canada’s Syrian Refugee Mental         For Page 3
Health Outreach                                    Nutritional 
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Canada’s Syrian Refugee Mental         For Page 3
Health Outreach                                    Nutritional                                 
                                                              CLICK HERE