PTSD: Let’s reboot the system.

Lesley, my wife, has written amusingly about the time I crushed my thumb in a drawer (lesleyreynolds.com/no-munchies-required…since you ask), but I can say that my self-administration of CBD oil was really effective and it got me thinking about how CBD might help our Beneficiaries, particularly those affected by PTSD.

PTSD is characterised by poor adaptation to a traumatic experience and can affect approximately 10% of people at some point in their lives, with a significantly high proportion of soldiers, who have experienced combat trauma, suffering from this  chronic psychiatric condition.

 It is an insidious illness which manifests at different levels… symptoms of sleep disturbance, or change in memory and recall, lowering of mood, anxiety, emotional instability and reduced social skills, which can lead to isolation, depression and an increased risk of suicide.

The current medication treatment for PTSD includes the use of antidepressants and anxiolytics, which are generally ineffective and can carry significant side effects. Most sufferers find it difficult to engage with psycho-therapeutic treatments because of these symptoms, all of which are largely due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.

But interestingly, doctors are increasingly looking at alternative treatments, in particular Cannabidiol (CBD) which is one of many active compounds in the Hemp/Cannabis plant. There are over 100 different compounds, known as ‘cannabinoids’. The most well-known compound is THC. This cannabinoid is the “psychoactive” component of cannabis, the one that makes people feel “high”.     

CBD is another cannabinoid. It has an effect, but in a very different and potentially beneficial way…because Humans have an Endo Cannabinoid system too, and s ince that discovery,  we now know that there are several CBD receptors in the nervous system which can help to improve emotional memory processing, by stimulating the EndoCannabinoid system, which has the effect of creating balance within the central nervous system. This in turn results in the improvement of the symptoms, and better engagement with, and results from, psychotherapy. It’s a win:win all round.

The battlefield is an unforgiving place and doctors need all sorts of tools in their kit to help put the human spirit on the road to recovery, so I have begun offering CBD to veterans too, to see if it helps alleviate their PTSD symptoms. I use the MariPharm brand because their CBD is far and away the purest I have found. It actually tastes nice too which, as Mary Poppins would say ‘makes the medicine go down’.

If you are thinking about using CBD, but don’t know where to start…try MariDrops, which comes with a pipette for ease of use. My wife takes three drops under the tongue to help alleviate day-to-day stress…but ups that to five drops at night, just before bed, to help her sleep better. 

The MariPharm website has a lot of very useful, and interesting information about CBD including dosage. It’s worth a visit. http://maripharm.co.uk?aff=27


Depression and the micro biome

Can the bacteria in our gut affect our brain function?
PTSD is a complex problem, and diagnosis is not always easy as the effects manifest themselves in different ways…but it is fair to say that Depression is usually one of the symptoms and ‘curing’ it is not as simple as administering antidepressants as these do not necessarily solve the underlying cause. So doctors have begun to look at treating the patient holistically and that led to the link between the brain and the gut because there is a key, physical link that relays information between the two..and that link is the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve relays information using molecules called neurotransmitters and they found that approximately 80-90% of nerve fibres in the vagus nerve go from the gut to the brain.

Interestingly, this connection is part of our everyday language…having a gut-feeling. Or a gut-wrenching moment.  If we feel nervous we say we have ‘butterflies in our stomach’

So… to the gut, or more specifically, the micro biome.
What is a micro biome?
In layman’s terms, it is like having a compost heap inside you…if you love it and feed it with good stuff, it returns the love and helps to keep you well.  But if you feed it trash then it returns that favour too. 

There are over 1,000 species of micro-organisms in the gut, consisting of over 3 million genes which are important to our wellbeing. They perform many functions other than regulating our immune system. These include aiding in digestion and presentation of vitamins and minerals for absorption, regulation of metabolism and the prevention of obesity.  Once upset, these regulatory functions can be affected, resulting in autoimmune diseases, metabolic diseases, obesity and gut problems and even cancer (lymphoma) Other conditions linked to upset gut bacteria include mental and psychological conditions like anxiety disorder and depression.

Gut health is a pet topic of mine and I covered it in my book Turn Back Time, written with Carole Malone a couple of years ago. Carole was diagnosed with depression and we worked to solve her problems by addressing her gut health. Here’s what she had to say: Depression. It’s such a small word for such a gargantuan thing, such a life changer.  Yet for most of my life it was a word that didn’t touch me personally – it didn’t enter my experience. Of course I’d read about it.  I knew people (only vaguely) who suffered from it.  But the truth was, I didn’t want to get close to it, because I thought it was an excuse for not dealing with life, with problems. I am ashamed to admit I thought people who were depressed were weak – people who couldn’t or wouldn’t cope.  And by calling it ‘depression’ that was an excuse for them not doing what had to be done, i.e.  pulling themselves together. I believed the minute someone said they were depressed it was categorised as an illness and it stopped them from having to take responsibility for dealing with it. If you’re ill it’s not your fault, is it?  Of course, I look back now and know how terribly wrong I was, but for decades I was impatient with it.  If I even got close to feeling ‘depressed’ i.e. ‘fed up with the world’ I’d give myself a good talking to. And I’d snap out of it. But then being fed up with the world isn’t depression – it took me getting it myself to realise that.I used to wonder what was wrong with all this other people who either couldn’t be bothered or didn’t have have the will to do what I’d done – to snap out of it and just get on. Little did I know they literally couldn’t. Then I hit the wall…the big black wall that threatened to fall down and engulf me. In my case it was when the News of the World,  the biggest selling paper in the UK, closed and I, like all the journalists, lost my job and in my mind a career of 35 years was gone. I was finished. Untouchable. Unemployable. I started to drink more. And I ate more than I should – all the wrong things, obviously.  I’d sleep for hours at a time for the simple reason I didn’t want to be awake and face the horrible reality of my life. I did zero exercise (what was the point?  I had nothing and I was going nowhere). Every morning I woke up in a fug of anxiety and panic. And every night I woke at some ungodly hour, obsessing about a future that looked empty and bleak. I was angry and resentful and picked arguments with everyone because I thought that if I fought with them enough, they would abandon me, which would make it easier to sink into the abyss into which I wanted to hide. One brave friend suggested that I might be suffering from depression.  I bit her head off! Then realised that she may be right so I went to the doctor who told me to try antidepressants, but I knew that this was not the right route for me. It was during a consultation with Dr. Aamer Khan (for botox and fillers since you ask!) and I told him how I was feeling. He suggested I have some tests, specifically DNA and adrenal stress tests, and referred me to a nutritionist who talked me through what I ate, my lifestyle and my feelings. My test results came back and apparently my cortisol levels were off the scale so we began working together to solve my problems.

Carole is now back on track with her life and her depression is under control primarily because we rebalanced her micro biome so it is functioning normally, but if her comments and symptoms resonate with you, I would urge you to get yourself tested.  Contact me, I am happy to help.

I try to keep my own micro biome in good shape, so I use a probiotic called Gut Support. This contains Acidophilus, a friendly bacteria which is a member of the Lactobacillus family of probiotics. Probiotics are micro-organisms which have proven health benefits on the body to naturally balance intestinal flora and promote good digestion. Acidophilus helps maintain a healthy digestive system and can help with bloating and stomach disorders because when a person takes antibiotics, both the harmful bacteria and the beneficial bacteria are killed, so the micro biome is out of kilter.  

Available from the Clinic on 020 7436 4441


Supporting our veterans

When we first started to work with soldiers, we were looking at their physical needs and challenges and we thought we could really help in providing medical treatment and support at home in getting back on track in life. 

What we found was that most, if not all, the soldiers coming out after any sort of trauma had huge psychological issues as well. They were suffering from a particular type of PTSD called Combat Disorder, which is not really catered for within the NHS very well.  The problem was that once these soldiers got into therapy with the NHS, they found that their therapists were finding it difficult to deal with the depth of the psychological turmoil and stresses that they were talking about.  

This got me thinking…so what I have started to do now is to look at the overall situation and to try put in place a system to support the veterans by introducing them to people who have experience with this specific trauma, as well as people who have worked with veterans before, who have worked in war zones, and who themselves may be soldiers already. 

It’s early days, but we have been able to put together a small group of workers who can offer support for PTSD.  

We are looking for more assistance though, so if anyone knows of anyone who is keen to help get our veterans’ lives back on track, please do get in touch.  

To find out more please call 07803 573221

or email info@backontrack.london


A Note From The Doctor

Back On Track started not as a charity, but as an event; by bringing celebrities and the public together with injured veterans to kart race against each other through the use of hand controls.

For the first two years that my wife and I arranged this event, It made no money, in fact, it made us a loss. However, it brought many of our veterans together for a day of enjoyment and fun and gave me an insight into their lives post Headley Court.

By meeting these veterans and speaking to them, I soon realised how much help they needed in order to get their lives ‘Back On Track’ in every sense: medically, emotionally and socially.

I learnt that DMRC Headley Court was a fantastic facility, with the best treatment any serving soldier could need. But I also learnt that this was a facility for serving soldiers only, and not for veterans. I felt that there was a gap that needed filling and that private medical treatment should not stop once a soldier becomes a civilian: Particularly because the most recent treatments, technology and healthcare are not available on the NHS.

I offered to treat some of the soldiers that I met at the race event via the Harley Street Skin Clinic that I run with my wife Lesley. It was from here that the Back On Track charity was born.

The medical industry has been generous by offering their services at little or no cost and I am proud to facilitate the treatment of all of our veterans who come through our doors.