Birthings, Grassroots Healing, Musings, Reflections, Spirituality

The Mother Within

For Mum. Love you xo

 

“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love  her; rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; That you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her breast, that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance of her glory”…”behold I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On her sides shall you be carried and be dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

This is one of my favourite passages out of all the writings of the Prophets. It’s hard to imagine now of this troubled city, but it speaks of a time to come when a true, everlasting peace shall flow out of Jerusalem to bring comfort and healing to the whole world. The poetry evoking the maternal archetype is sublime. It touches that deepest part of ourselves, to that tiny baby that still exists deep in our core, who still craves the tenderness and comfort and nourishment that only a mother can give. The archetype is universal in its application, whether we experienced it with our own mothers or not, it gives us hope.

carnations
Carnations. My mums favourite. image source: Wikimedia commons.

The purpose of introducing this post with this quote is not to discuss or expound the belief system that it comes from, instead this central concept of drinking deeply of this outflowing comforting peace reminded me of an interesting parallel to that other, and equally archetypal mother we continue to carry within ourselves – the Extra-Cellular Matrix.

Today it is Mother’s Day here in Australia, so I thought it fitting to drop a post about a thought process that I recently shared on Facebook, that as Matthew Wood noted, makes the Extra-Cellular Matrix exceptionally human, and in my pattern-attuned mind, Divinely inspired. It came to me whilst listening to Matthew talk about the mucopolysaccharides in Marshmallow Root (which gives a cold infusion of the root a slimy, gel like consistency) and how in practice we might use it in ‘leaky gut syndrome’ because it is similar to the Matrix material which acts as something like a mortar in between the cells in the gut lining. I’ll explain what this means and revise what the ECM is as I share my thought process here in the fulness of its progression.

Which came first, the protein or the Matrix? For a long time, alternative health practitioners have said that dairy/milk is mucous forming^, it’s acidic (when pasteurised and homogenised), and it’s one of the top food allergens. Mainstream medicine and mainstream dieticians have always refuted these concepts, possibly dependant on where their funding came from. This post/thought process isn’t about the inherent good or badness of dairy in the diet, nor is it an invitation to debate whether breast really is best (it is), rather I am drawing correlations in regard to the role of the Extra-Cellular Matrix in the effects of milk on the human body – particularly the infant human body.

Many years ago, during a semester of Nutritional Biochemistry, I learned that babies are born with purposefully designed ‘leaky guts’. That is, their gut membrane is full of tiny little holes^^. These tiny perforations don’t seal up until the appearance of the first teeth. There’s an ingenious reason for this. Mother’s breast milk, especially the Colostrum of the first 2-3 days post-birth, is full of proteins such as antibodies and other immunity-founding components, as well as the macronutrients – fat, carbs, and protein. The ‘leaky gut’ of the baby allows these large proteins to move through and start establishing a good foundation for the immune system. Different microflora species, as well the food they need are also found in breast milk, and this – along with the flora received during the normal birth process – helps to establish the baby’s own gut microbiome. We now know that a healthy microbiome has far-reaching health affects – from our immunity to our mental health.

My understanding is that the emergence of the teeth signals that along with this sealing of the gut membrane, the baby is now ready for solids and other foreign proteins – found in other animal products and grains in particular. Introduction of these prior to this milestone confuses the fledgling immune system and sets up an immune response, which if coupled with other foreign intrusions (such as formaldehyde, aluminium, mercury, and recombinant DNA from bovine, porcine, and simian tissue, and aborted human foetal tissue – also known as Human diploid cells MRC-5), results in the development of allergies and food intolerances. But in learning about the ECM (extra-cellular matrix), I’ve now come to a slightly more developed understanding.

The ECM is the gel-like fluid that exists between the capillaries, the lymphatic vessels and the cells themselves. It consists of single-molecule width polymers such as glucosamine and hyaluronic acid. This ‘matrix’ receives nutrient and metabolic waste product like some central transport station which then organises where everything needs to go. Whereas once the cell theory (that is, the cell was an autonomous unit that regulated itself) dominated medical thought (and still does), researchers have since found that it is actually this Matrix that regulates all cell function, and acts as a unified whole throughout the body as an organ in its own right. Most recently it has been rediscovered by mainstream science and is now known as the Interstitium. By and large this is the organ that the treatment of alternative practitioners targets the most. And we were doing this intuitively long before the mainstream got wind of it.

I’ll let Matthew, referencing Alfred Pischinger, the doctor who brought the Interstitium to the fore, describe the Extra-cellular Matrix with his usual eloquence;

“It was Dr Alfred Pischinger (2007) who demonstrated that the pathology and biology based on the cell as the basic “unit of life” was a delusion resulting from superficial observation and disregard for the complexities of natural systems. His research on the extracellular matrix is still to be appreciated in conventional medicine, but Pischinger has shown that the basic functional unit of life is the capillary/matrix/cell. The cell in a multicellular organism does not control itself, like a person or an animal, but is controlled by the matrix, which determines when and what it east, when it releases waste products, whether it reproduces or migrates, ad how actively it contributes to the life of the organism as a whole. The matrix is fed and drained by the capillary bed (including the lymphatic capillaries), and therefore this triad is the basic unit of life. Changes in the cell are related to changes in its environment, and changes in this environment are related to changes in the circulation.“(Wood, et al. 2015. Traditional Western herbalism and Pulse Evaluation: A conversation.)

klimt 1905 mother and child
Gustav Klimt.1905. Mother and Child.

Now I have to wonder, as I examine breast milk more closely – yes, it seems to be the same consistency as ECM fluid – indeed most secretions in and from the body are composed of this fluid. With this in mind, I contemplate whether the importance of breast milk lies not so much in the immune proteins etc that it provides (although the love, comfort, and nutritional nourishment is paramount), does it – as an extension of the mother’s matrix – actually entrain the baby’s matrix? We might compare this with how the mother’s heart entrains the baby’s heart to beat at a regular rhythm, or the mothers breathing patterns entrain, or teaches the baby to breathe more slowly and evenly. This speaks to the instinct to carry our newborns around, or sleep next to them, keeping them close to our hearts, now sadly often over-ridden.

When we introduce milk from another animal before the appropriate time, does the baby’s body instead recognise that this matrix material simply does not carry the same ‘vibe’ as the mother’s matrix? After all, as I write this I have to conclude that amniotic fluid also has its origins in the matrix fluid, and given that the baby has spent some 40 weeks being bathed in this very personal imprint of his or her mother, I suspect that the similarities would be instantly recognised – at least on a sub-conscious or instinctive level.

This is important, because if we understand the incredible significance of this Interstitium, this Matrix (interestingly, from the Latin – also meaning ‘mother’), on the regulation of our bodies and our overall health, then surely we should come to a greater appreciation of how important this innately human liquid gold is to our children.

I think another fascinating tangent off this is that for women who, for whatever reason, can’t breastfeed, the historical record going back to the most ancient of annals tells us that until we felt the need to sterilise our experience of life, finding a wet-nurse seemed instinctive. The wet nurse was a surrogate nursing mother, and often this was another mother, relative, or a hired servant. Occasionally, in the most dire of circumstances or in the mythological realm, the wet-nurse was an animal. But even the thinking that the intelligence of the wet-nurse would be inherited by the nursling is telling. And to complete the continuum, I was recently discussing this thought process with my own Mum, and she mentioned that when I was a baby her doctor told her that the baby’s saliva is exactly the same as the Mother’s. Instinctively, during the introduction of solid foods and foreign proteins, many mothers throughout history in all cultures would chew the food first before giving it to the infant. This instinct began the process of digestion, reducing the food to a mush and therefore making it easier for the baby’s young digestive tract to recognize and accept. I’m not one to think that the ancients were clumsily fumbling around in a darkness filled with the cobwebs of superstition. I think that they knew and experienced life in its full expression, something that most of us might only dream abou

It is beyond the scope of this platform, as well as your attention to go as deep as the subject will allow here, so if you would like to know and understand more about the Extra-cellular Matrix, particularly in regard to how we work with it through herbal medicine, keep an eye out for Matthew Wood’s new book on the subject, publishing sometime in the next year. A preview of his work on it can be found at www.matthewwoodinstituteofherbalism.com

I find that the physical manifestations of the untainted creation are an expression of the spiritual, and so some of you may continue to run with this concept of a unifying Matrix and consider what upholds and sustains the universe and keeps the planets and the stars in their orbits, or Who binds the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion?

I will leave you to ponder.

 

 

Until next time,

Blessings be on the Mothers xo

 

 

 

 

Addendums and continuing thoughts:

 

^ A 2013 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that bioactive peptides in cow’s milk do indeed induce mucous production in the neonatal rat jejunum (small intestine). The response appears to be a protective mechanism. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/133/11/3499/4817930

 

^^ It is now recognised that mouth-like openings known as ‘tight junctions’ exist in the gut membrane. Opiate-like proteins (bioactive peptides) such as those found in Gluten stimulate the release of a hormone called Zonulin which controls the opening and closing of these tight junctions, and this stimulation can give rise to gluten-sensitivity as the continual consumption of gluten-containing products keep these tight junctions open via the constant release of Zonulin, which then leads to an inflammatory response due to the entrance of the large foreign proteins in Gluten products that bypass normal digestion. Mammalian milk, whether from a cow, dolphin, or human also contains similar bioactive peptides that act like opiates in the body. This opiate like effect is evidenced by the ‘punch-drunk’ expression of a baby satisfied after a full feed from her mother’s breast, and why babies have a tendency to fall asleep whilst feeding. Further research is perhaps needed to determine whether these tight junctions in the newborn gut are permanently open and kept open by the continual supply of Mothers milk, or the perforations exist between the cells themselves and the tight junctions are not yet in operation until the teeth erupt.

Musings, Reflections, Spirituality

Slaying the Succubus – A Case Study in Faith, healing, & the link between gut integrity and Sleep Paralysis.

In 1781, the swiss artist Henry Fuseli created an oil painting entitled The Nightmare (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nightmare) which, depicting a demonic creature sitting on a sleeping woman’s chest, illustrated a phenomenon that both he and many people before and after him know only too well. The demonic creature here is known as the incubus (male), other paintings of a similar theme depict the succubus – or the female version of the demonic influence. The subject of the paintings are depicted in sleep, utterly powerless, often in a state of paralysis. And this parasomnia, this terrifying yet fascinating branch of insomnia is now known as Sleep Paralysis.

330px-John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_Nightmare

image credit: Wikipedia ‘The Nightmare‘ by Henry Fuseli 1781

A quick Google search reveals that it is estimated that less than 8 per cent of the general population suffers from Sleep Paralysis on a regular basis, or has experienced episodes at some point in their life (although this seems to fluctuate and can be as high as 34% particularly among people with a history of psychiatric disorders). Hence, it’s not something you’re going to hear a lot about in everyday conversation with your average person. I will note, however, that artists seem to experience it more, or at least may be able to articulate their experience more eloquently than others. The 2014 Doctor Who Christmas Special entitled ‘Last Christmas’ is a perfect example of the feeling one has deep inside an episode of Sleep Paralysis – particularly the ‘dream within a dream’ form that it often takes. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Christmas_(Doctor_Who))  For this reason, as much of a Whovian that I am, this episode hit a little too close to home, but acts as perfect teaching aid when it comes to explaining this experience. Do watch it if you would like to learn how this feels.

So what is Sleep Paralysis exactly? The excellent website The Sleep Paralysis Project gives the following list of what an episode of sleep paralysis looks like; (http://www.thesleepparalysisproject.org/about-sleep-paralysis/symptoms/)

The term ‘Sleep Paralysis’ can describe a range of experiences. These can be varied, though the core symptoms are consistent across cultures. In her excellent book Sleep Paralysis: Night-Mares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection, Shelley Adler provides comprehensive coverage of the associated symptoms. These are summerised below. For an episode to be considered sleep paralysis only symptoms 1-3 may be present. Symptoms 4-9 may or may not be present, in varying degrees of severity.

1. Being ‘Awake’

Those affected report feeling consciously awake during sleep paralysis experiences. It is experienced as part of waking consciousness, not as a dream.

2. Realistic Perception of Environment

The immediate environment surrounding the bed is clearly perceived.  Distinctive elements in the room are observed (e.g. a sleeping partner or a clock).

3. Inability to move

The sense of paralysis is one of the first elements of the experience noticed by the individual. Sometimes this paralysis is attributed to an outside force.

4. Overwhelming fear and dread

A sense of overwhelming fear can accompany the experience. This can be felt so strongly that those who experience it may later struggle to articulate its intensity. Sometimes feelings progress from a sense of foreboding to complete terror and may include feelings linked to death or dying.

5. Sensed presence

Individuals may sense an ‘evil’ or malevolent ‘presence’ in the room with them. This presence may be seen or merely ‘felt’.

6. Chest pressure

The sense of a physical weight being pressed down onto the chest. This can be purely sensual or can seem to be the result of an external presence or force literally pushing down on the chest.

7. Difficulty breathing

This can occur alongside pressure to the chest.

8. Supine position

Most sleep paralysis attacks occur whilst the individual is lying on their back, although studies have shown that generally people tend not to fall asleep in this position.

9. Additional Unusual Sensations

As well as visual hallucinations, sleep paralysis episodes may be accompanied by hallucinations of an auditory, olfactory and/or physical nature. Commonly reported hallucinations include doors opening, animals growling, approaching footsteps, scratching, internal buzzing/beeping, malevolent whispering as well as smells of rotting flesh, ‘death’, decay, damp, mould and feelings of being moved, drifting, rolling, floating, cold or heat. Out-of-body experiences are also sometimes reported.”

Sounds pretty terrifying right? There is a known neurobiological reason for this phenomenon, where the conscious brain wakes up before the hormones that are responsible for allowing your body to sleep (so you don’t literally act out your dreams) dissipate. Please explore the sleep paralysis project site for more information. In the meantime, let me describe my experience. Warning – it’s going to get heavy.

I’ve lived with Sleep Paralysis for 20 years. It roughly occurred around twice/week, sometimes more, sometimes less, often randomly. It began when I was 17, during my HSC (Higher School Certificate exams) at the end of year 12. In full disclosure and some background context, I did have a history of anxiety, panic attacks, and depression that developed in my teenage years. At the time I lived with someone who was into the occult, who appealed to the all and sundry energies of the universe, and who maintained that we had a ‘strong spiritual bond’ and this is why I experienced what I did. Until a year or two before this I had walked in the way of the Word of God (YHWH) since my infancy, but had left this, as teenagers are want to do, when my family home broke down.

My first episode was as annoying as it was terrifying. I lay in bed, having just fallen to sleep, when I was awoken by a sense that there was someone else in my bedroom. I opened my eyes (or so I thought) and my room was filled with people, random odd-looking ghostly people. I screamed at them, but at the moment I screamed I realised that i was paralysed. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even open my mouth, or turn my head. I mumbled the scream through a tightly clenched jaw. I was terrified, my chest hurt, it felt like I was being crushed. I was breathing hard, my mind racing, ‘what the hell was happening to me?!’. I screamed again – a few profanities. Suddenly I woke. I really woke up. I sat up in bed, breathing hard, my head hurt and felt like it was on fire. My eyes were still adjusting to the darkness, I could still see things – on the edge of the darkness.

Confused, annoyed, scared, i got up and put the light on, and left it on for the rest of the night, as I lay there daring not to go back to sleep, trying to figure out what had just happened.

This then became a regular occurrence. Only the ‘dream’, the demonic hallucination, and the experience would subtly change, from being a whole body experience to eventually jut being localised to my head. Over time, I began to recognise when I would slip from a normal mundane everyday dream into the hallucination that the creature was creating. I became an insomniac out of fear of not wanting to experience the panic of not being able to move, the fear of dying while trapped in one’s own body, in one’s own mind. It reminded me of the voodoo use of Datura, the plant that induces ‘zombie-ism’, the plant once used as an experimental  precursor to general anaesthetic, where people were literally paralysed, trapped in their own body whilst someone operated on them, and they could still feel the response of every exquisitely sensitive nerve-ending. I soon learned that I could wake myself up by crying out to Jesus/Yeshua, and then later banishing the creature, the hallucination, in His name. Around this time, I realised that I needed to remember the Walk of my youth.  And so I turned my heart back to YHWH and Yeshua, and was baptised, but still the episodes continued….only now they became wilder, more intense.

I marvelled that while my husband slept next to me, I was battling against a monster intent on ripping my face off to get inside my skull, or hurling me across the room, such was the intensity of the paralysis. I feared that I would act out my hallucination, and hurt my husband, or worse, when I was pregnant, kill my unborn child. Yet he slept peacefully beside me, waking only when I would emerge from the episode, like someone who had just been saved from drowning and was gasping to catch their precious breath. My children all survived the experience, seemingly blissfully unaware, while I grew more exhausted and battle-weary from endless nights of clenched jaw and hot head and the uncertainty of not knowing when another episode would occur, as random as they were.

I sought a trigger, and discovered that I had multiple sensitivities, not only food-related, but also including EMF’s and electrical smog. As I reduced my exposure, the episodes became less frequent, but still they came. I went to the elders of my church and was anointed for healing. I fasted and I prayed, but still I was plagued with this ‘thorn in the flesh’. I wanted to give up and die, but then I decided to change my perspective. I saw it as an opportunity to stand as the warrior, to fight against the fiery darts of The Adversary. I imagined that God was training me, testing my mettle as each time I would stand by the authority of the Messiah and banish this evil. On a number of occasions I was also able to cast out other people’s demons.

Then one day, our everyday life changed. We were forced to embark on a sojourn, wandering in the wilderness, and the stress of it all became too much. After about 4 years of this, there came a turning point in my personal battle with the demon of Sleep Paralysis. I faced it head on. I looked at it and saw what it really was, and I laughed at it, such as the world will look on, unbelievingly at the  insignificance of the defeated adversary in the time to come. I laughed and told it that it was nothing, that it had no power over me. I awoke from that episode feeling confidant, and thankful.

The next time it happened, I was staying at a friends’ place, sleeping in their family room surrounded by wi-fi and their home theatre system. I fell asleep and slipped straight into an episode, but I was too tired to battle this one. I had been living in a tent and my heart was mourning with the uncertainty of our situation. I cried out to the Abba Father and the hallucination changed, I stood in a barren wasteland, just me facing the creature. I opened my mouth and the voice of God Himself spoke through me. He rebuked the demon, and that was the last I ever saw of it. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the night praying in the Spirit in praise and gratitude.

Interestingly, the episodes continued. The creature was gone, but that old familiar feeling of sinking into the paralysis, the dream within a dream, continued, very occasionally. I didn’t have to fight now, but it still happened.

It was the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a time when we put all leavened goods out of our lives, as a symbol of our part in the covenant we make with the Messiah as we endeavour to remove pride and sin from our hearts. The stress of the last few years had taken it’s toll and my body was not happy. Peri-menopause became obvious, my food allergies were going berserk, my gums were receding at a rate of knots, and I’ve written of the adrenal fatigue before. I just didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I went to the elders and asked for anointing. I had been praying and i knew that God was healing me. He had removed the demon once and for all. He had healed my teeth (when they should have been decayed from the years of grinding and clenching), and he was healing my stress response. One night while I was pondering why the sleep paralysis continued, a still, small thought came to me; ‘candida’.  It sounds a bit naff, I know. Once upon a time in the kingdom of Naturopathica everything that ailed us was a result of Candida, but we are smarter than that now…or are we?

I decided to listen to the still, small voice. When I looked at the evidence, it was obvious. I was born by c-section, had numerous courses of antibiotics over my life, had been on the Pill (at one very naiive point), had been vaccinated to the hilt, and was stressed out to the max. My gut integrity was shot to pieces, my gut flora was in chaos. All of my accompanying symptoms were congruent with systemic candida. I praised YAH, & immediately put myself on a protocol of herbs and nutrients, and eliminated all refined sugar along with my allergens, which I knew, with God’s blessing, would work and which i’ve used successfully in my previous clinical experience.

The approach is both systematic – working on not only reducing the candida load, but restoring the microbiome, and healing the gut wall, as well as working on the adrenal response; and timely, given the synchronicity of my previous posts on gut health. I love that.

So as YHWH lives I will praise Him and give Him the glory for His compassion and healing. He heals in ways that aren’t always spontaneous. I am no longer having any episodes of sleep paralysis, my overall health has improved, I no longer feel anxious, and if I’m depressed it is mild and something I overcome very quickly, my hormones are balancing, I’m no longer exhausted, I have energy again. I sleep!!  He has slain the succubus.

And so the scientist in me is curious. We know that dysbiosis influences brain function and mental health. We know that dysbiosis leads to multiple allergies and sensitivities, and over the long term it can lead to auto-immune conditions. We know that an alteration of the mind occurs in dysbiosis, particularly with a sensitivity to opiate-like (narcotic) foreign proteins (such as gluten and casein). Can this then act as a portal?

Is there a a direct correlation between the parasomnias such as Sleep Paralysis and gut dysbiosis? Is sugar a trigger in and of itself? Do those who experience Sleep Paralysis more commonly have a background experience in religion or spirituality? I know not everyone faces spiritual attack or experiences the hallucination of one during episodes, but I’m curious nonetheless. It does seem to be quite a common occurrence.

But I’m very interested in doing research around the connection between gut integrity and sleep paralysis, and to see what patterns emerge.

In the meantime, I would love to hear other’s experiences. Demons or not.

Many Blessings,

Michelle x