Reflections: Peace

Peace is not something you wish for; it’s something you make, something you do, something you are. ~ Robwert Fulghum

It’s quite natural to crave a feeling of peace.  This is true whether you are experiencing a significant mental health issue, coping with a personal crisis such as a divorce or the death of loved one, or just trying to effectively manage the vicissitudes of every day life.  If you have Skin Picking Disorder or Trichotillomania, peace is likely something you have been “wishing” for throughout your struggle.  Of course, it would be wonderful if a feeling of peace would descend upon us just by wishing for it.  But in reality, peace requires action. If you are committed to finding peace, you must wholeheartedly agree to do the work involved in attaining it.

Sometimes, the urge to pick or pull can be so powerful that you might find it difficult to even have a few moments of peace.  In many ways, peace is a function of acceptance, in that it requires you to accept reality as it is, rather than as you would like it to be.  Some with Dermatillomania or Trichotillomania describe urges as being like a loud sound that can’t be ignored – as if someone has turned the volume of the urge up so high that it is the only thing you can pay attention to.  In order for you to move through and past this extremely distracting urge, the first thing you must do is to fully accept its existence.  If you spend your time attempting to control or avoid your picking and pulling urges, all you are doing is spending time engaging with something you simply cannot control.

Once you have accepted the presence of your loud and annoying urges to pick or pull, you can choose to engage in other activities.  When you do this, you will notice the volume of your urges decreases because they are no longer front and center.  They will still be there, but they will not be all consuming.  By choosing the action of doing something other than engaging with the urge, you take an enormous step forward in your recovery.

Choosing to act differently than you have in the past in response to your urges may at first feel quite difficult.  But keep in mind that peace is not just wishing or hoping – peace is “something you do”.  It is something that requires repeated practice.  And with effort and commitment, it eventually becomes “something you are”.

1. In what ways are you accepting, or not accepting, of your unwanted urges to pick or pull?

2. What actions might you take to further develop a peaceful, accepting relationship with your urges?

3. What are some activities that you find peaceful, and how can you implement them in your daily life?

Tip of the week: This week, try to be mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and actions at those times when you are able to accept and move through an urge without giving in to it.  Notice if there is a sense of peace after you accept an urge rather than trying to control it.  Practice this approach in order to develop a consistent, new pattern of responding to your urges with acceptance, action…and peace.

Written by
Kelley Franke, BA and Tom Corboy, MFT
© 2014 OCD Center of Los Angeles

One Month

This past month marks a change in the way I view myself.  For years, I thought trich had bested me and I was weak because I did not have the will to fight with the level of intensity needed.  Now I have renewed faith in myself.  I decided to give this my all after recently losing my teaching job in June.  I thought I could fight this as I finally had more time and energy to devote to my recovery process.  In addition, I assumed my life would be less stressful as I was not trying to juggle a demanding teaching position with all of my other responsibilities as a mother of 3.  I have been proud of my progress and hoped I would be able to sustain this level of devotion when I return to the stressful  rat race.

The funny thing about life is that you can’t outrun it.  Life happens.  There is never a dull moment.  You are never free from stress, it just changes forms.  There is always something you could ruminate on- if you allow yourself to go down that path.  This  week, my life took a definite turn for the unexpected, but I refuse to be paralyzed by stress.

If I could credit one thing with my success over trich this month, it is my mindset.  I will not be squelched. Instead, I choose to give my fears to God and ask for His continued strength to help me push on.  With Him, I can do anything.

It has been one month since I began this blog.  My goal was to have more good days than bad days in regards to my pulling.  I used Claudia Mile’s recommendation to rate my pulling from 0-10 each day.  The rubric I created to rate my pulling is below. I defined good days this month as 0-3.  I have been pull free on my scalp for the entire months and have accomplished my goal of more good days than bad.

This month’s totals:

Score 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# of Days 14 2 4 5 3 1 1 0 0 0 0
Good = 25 Bad = 5
Score #Pulled Rules Broken Time Spent Pulling Areas pulled From
0 0 0 0 0
1 1-3 1
2 4-10 1 <5min
3 <20 2
4 20-30 2 <15min
5 30-40
6 40-60 3 <30min 3
7 60-80
8 80-100 4 ~1 Hour
9 100+
10 Way too many to count 5 Hours

Refections: Willingness

The goal of willingness is to feel all of the feelings that come up for you more completely, even – or especially – the bad feelings, so that you can live your life more completely.   ~ Steven Hayes

Quite often, those struggling with Dermatillomania or Trichotillomania have developed picking and pulling in an effort to control or avoid uncomfortable emotions.  Engaging in these impulsive behaviors provides a way to “check out” emotionally, and gives the sufferer temporary relief.  But the more unwilling you are to feel your uncomfortable emotions, the more suffering you will actually experience.  For example, if you pick your skin after a stressful day at work, you may briefly escape reality, but you will likely be more distressed because your skin will be bleeding, and your feelings of self-loathing will be in overdrive.  When you are “unwilling” to experience your uncomfortable feelings, you are making the decision that certain feelings are intolerable.  Conversely, when you are “willing” to accept all feelings, even – or especially – the “bad” feelings, you make the decision that your feelings are, in fact, bearable.

One helpful way of viewing willingness is as a stance, or a point of view, that a person chooses.  Willingness means you are choosing to make room for, and agree to let your self have, all of the unwanted inner experiences that are a part of Skin Picking Disorder and Trichotillomania – all of the uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges. You will experience many of these uncomfortable inner experiences throughout your recovery, which is why it is so important that you be “willing” to accept all of them as a normal and expected part of the journey.

Willingness is also an action that you take.  Willingness means you are willing to take any necessary or appropriate action, even (or especially) if that means not picking or pulling when you have strong urges, or when you are experiencing very uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and sensations.  Willingness also means that you are willing to take proactive steps to respond more effectively to all of these unwanted inner experiences. That may mean using logs, habit blockers, or other behavioral techniques that have been found to be so helpful in the treatment of these conditions, even if doing so is irritating, time-consuming, or just plain uncomfortable.

Ultimately, willingness is a vital skill for real recovery from Skin Picking Disorder and Trichotillomania.  It is a skill that helps you to choose to experience all of life – the bitter and the sweet – and to take healthy actions, even when doing so isn’t the easiest way to respond to the curve balls that life throws you.

1. In what ways do you currently practice willingness?

2. What thoughts, emotions, sensations, and urges are you truly willing to experience in order to recover?

3. Once you have decided on what you are willing to experience, what actions are you willing to take to ensure that you reach your goal?

Tip of the week: Notice throughout the week when you are, and are not, truly willing to experience all of your uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges related to picking or pulling.  Keep a log of these times, and ask yourself what actions you are willing to take to more effectively respond to these uncomfortable inner experiences.

Written by Kelley Franke, BA and Tom Corboy, MFT
© 2014 OCD Center of Los Angeles


A Novel Way to Improve Trichotillomania

A Novel Way to Improve Trichotillomania

We talk a lot about using amino acid therapy to help correct underlying neurotransmitter imbalances to help people overcome trichotillomania and other disorders related to neurotransmitter imbalance, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, ADD/ADHD, migraines, obesity, fibromyalgia and insomnia. However, recent research has shown that you may be able to fine-tune your neurotransmitter levels by using the right combination of probiotics.

Probiotics – good for your (brain) health

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that normally reside in your gut. It is known that if these bacteria become imbalanced in some way (due to illness, improper diet or toxin exposure), a condition called “dysbiosis” results, which can have many dire consequences including decreased immunity, improper immune function, food allergies, inflammation, indigestion and numerous other physical disorders. However, until recently it was not known that these bacteria can also generate neurotransmitters that can also affect your brain, impacting your mental and emotional states.

Researchers at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center found that the following bacteria can produce neurotransmitters in the gut:

Bacteria Neurotransmitter
Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium GABA
Escherichia, Bacillus, Saccharomyces Norepinephrine
Candida, Streptococcus, Escherichia, Enterococcus Serotonin
Bacillus, Serratia Dopamine
Lactobacillus Acetylcholine

This could mean that the microbial balance in your gut could be a key player in improving and maintaining your neurotransmitter levels, and therefore alleviating the urge to pull. It also provides more scientific evidence for something that we routinely see in the clinic. Many people with gastrointestinal disorders develop or have one or more disorders related to neurotransmitter imbalance and that correcting the underlying gastrointestinal disorder is imperative to long-term recovery. Think of it like this, the gastrointestinal disorder (like IBS, Crohn’s disease, food allergies or Celiac’s disease) is like a hole in a bucket, causing neurotransmitter levels to decline (or become imbalanced). In order to fill the bucket back up (using amino acid therapy) over time, you have to first fix the whole.

Certain gastrointestinal disorders create neurotransmitter imbalances through inflammatory, immune or genetic influences. This research provides another potential way to explain, and address, the resulting neurotransmitter dysfunction. Obviously, more research needs to be done to define just how this can be useful in real life, but for now, it seems logical that anyone that suffers from trich or other disorders associated with neurotransmitter imbalance must heal any underlying gut issues while restoring proper neurotransmitter balance using amino acid therapy to achieve long term success.

Amino Acid Therapy and Trichotillomania

Amino Acid Therapy and Trichotillomania

Amino acid therapy can be very effective at restoring proper neurotransmitter function and alleviating the insatiable urge to pull that some many people with trichotillomania experience. There are really two ways in which amino acids are used for people with trichotillomania. The first is to use n-acetyl cysteine, or NAC, which has been shown in clinical trials to reduce the urge to pull in about 56% of people that use NAC (see our post entitled N-acetylcysteine and Treatment of Trichotillomania for more information). NAC is thought to work by increasing the concentration of glutamate (an excitatory neurotransmitter) in a part of the brain that reduces compulsive behavior and hair pulling. Glutamate works in conjunction with GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter) to control many functions in the body. Thus, NAC provides a safe and moderately effective strategy to use amino acid therapy to decrease the urge to pull associated with trichotillomania.

However, we have found that a more effective way to implement amino acid therapy in regards to trichotillomania is to address the serotonin/dopamine system. By providing the brain the proper proportion of the necessary amino acid precursors and cofactors necessary to achieve optimal serotonin and dopamine function we have had an 86% success rate with eliminating the urge to pull, as opposed to just reducing the urge to pull.

This increased success rate is attributed to the fact that dopamine exhibits control over the release of glutamate and GABA in certain parts of the brain. Therefore, the imbalance between glutamate and GABA that leads to trichotillomania in most people is likely to be caused by an imbalance with dopamine and serotonin (as they are farther upstream). By optimizing serotonin and dopamine function, all the systems downstream, including glutamate and GABA normalize as well. When this happens, the urge to pull disappears.

Another key distinction between using NAC or this balanced amino acid approach is the ability to remain symptom free once the amino acid(s) have been discontinued. With NAC, the urge to pull often returns once the supplement is discontinued (this provides further evidence that NAC may not be addressing the root cause of the imbalance). However, with balanced amino acid therapy we have found that once optimized neurotransmitter function is established and maintained for a period of time, most people can reduce or eliminate the amino acids and remain symptom free utilizing dietary and lifestyle factors to maintain optimal neurotransmitter status. This means that it is very likely you won’t have to take these supplements forever and you can remain trichotillomania-free. This occurs because we are addressing the underlying root imbalance that seems to lead to the urge to pull for most people with trichotillomania. By correctly the underlying neurotransmitter imbalance with balanced amino acid therapy you effectively eliminate the problem, which allows you to stop pulling your hair out.


5-HTP vs Tryptophan

5-HTP vs Tryptophan

Both tryptophan and 5 HTP are amino acids and precursors of serotonin. They are also both available as over-the-counter dietary supplements for treating depression, obesity, sleep disorders etc. Find out which of the 2 is the better supplement for increasing serotonin levels in the brain.

What is Tryptophan?

Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids commonly found in human diet. It is available in 2 forms: D- and L- isomers.

The L- isomer is more common and it is the form of tryptophan found in proteins in the body.

Tryptophan is found in most dietary proteins but it is especially abundantly found in meat, poultry, milk, yogurt, egg, fish, banana and peanut.

While some believe that turkey is the richest source of tryptophan and plants are poor in the amino acid, both beliefs are untrue: turkey contains no more tryptophan than other poultry and meat, and excellent plant sources of tryptophan are abundant.

Even though there are several dietary sources of L-tryptophan, different studies have found that these food sources cannot dramatically increase the blood levels of the amino acid. Therefore, tryptophan is widely sold as a dietary supplement and even drug.

As a drug/supplement, L-tryptophan is used because it is a precursor of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter in the brain. L-tryptophan is first converted to 5-hydroxytryptophan or 5 HTP (another dietary supplement) which is then converted to serotonin or 5 HT in the brain.

However, these biochemical reactions happen in the brain, therefore, tryptophan has to cross the blood-brain barrier.

L-tryptophan only represent about 1% of the amino acids available in dietary proteins. Since the other amino acids also want to get into the brain, there is a competition for the transport mechanisms that carry them across this blood-brain barrier.

For example, L-tryptophan shares the same transport mechanism with valine, leucine and isoleucine.

Therefore, the extent of absorption of this amino acid is much reduced especially from protein-rich foods. To improve the uptake of tryptophan into the brain, carbohydrates are required.

After the ingestion of carbohydrates, the body releases insulin in response. Fortunately, insulin drives valine, leucine and isoleucine (but not tryptophan) into the cells of the body. Therefore, the proportion of tryptophan among the amino acids left in the blood is increased and this increases the chances of tryptophan crossing into the brain.

The use of tryptophan as a dietary supplement was banned for most of the 1990s. This is because of cases of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) associated with the amino acid.

This syndrome was blamed on bacterial contaminants left in the final product by one major supplier of the amino acid. This was never conclusively proven and some other experts believe that the large doses of tryptophan taken are responsible (tryptophan metabolites block the breakdown of histamine and the symptoms of EMS resembles the effect of prolonged action of histamine).

However, tryptophan is now commonly sold as dietary supplement and drug. It is obtained from high-quality sources and regarded as safe.

What is 5 HTP?

5 HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid produced from L-tryptophan. There are no dietary sources of 5 HTP although the 5 HTP used in supplements is obtained from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, a plant native to Africa.

5 HTP is a direct precursor of serotonin and an intermediate in the synthesis of melatonin, a neurohormone.

The conversion of 5 HTP to serotonin is catalyzed by 5 HTP decarboxylase, an enzyme whose cofactor is vitamin B6. All the effects of 5 HTP are solely due to its ability to increase serotonin levels in the brain.

However, 5 HTP is also converted to serotonin in the liver. In fact, more serotonin is produced outside the brain than inside. But since serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, only the amount of 5 HTP crossing into the brain can increase the level of serotonin in the central nervous system and also the psychoactive effect of the neurotransmitter.

The serotonin produced outside the brain is released from the enterochromaffin cells found in the gastrointestinal tract. In the gut, serotonin promotes intestinal motility.

The excess serotonin released from these cells are removed by the veins draining the gut. While in the blood, serotonin is carried through the circulatory system and stored in platelets. Therefore, the serotonin produced from 5 HTP can reach the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.

5 HTP is commonly sold as a dietary supplement and marketed as a sleeping aid, antidepressant and appetite suppressant. It is usually prepared in 50 mg and 100 mg capsules.

Besides the uses listed above, 5 HTP is also taken to treat fibromyalgia and anxiety disorders.

Although 5 HTP supplementation has not been extensively studied in large clinical trials but in the 60 years that it has been used, there are only very few reports of serious side effects.

Moderate doses of 5 HTP is safe and well tolerated but it may cause vomiting and diarrhea. These gastrointestinal side effects are due to the increased production of serotonin outside the body. When released from the enterochromaffin cells, the increased serotonin levels increase gastrointestinal movement.

5 HTP supplements were also believed to cause EMS due to contamination during production. However, such cases have not been reported since FDA’s GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) regulations came into place.

The Differences Between 5 HTP and Tryptophan

Although tryptophan and 5 HTP are both amino acids and used as dietary supplements for the same indications, they do differ. The major differences between these 2 precursors of serotonin are discussed in the table below.

5 HTP vs Tryptophan

Precursor: 5 HTP is the direct precursor of serotonin and an intermediate in the synthesis of melatonin while tryptophan is the direct precursor of 5 HTP. In addition, tryptophan is also used in the syntheses of other biochemicals including niacin, proteins and enzymes.

Source: The L-tryptophan used in dietary supplements is obtained from the bacterial fermentation of serine and indole. 5 HTP is extracted from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, a wild plant native to Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Uses: Both 5 HTP and tryptophan are used to treat diseases arising from serotonin deficiency including depression, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders and obesity. However, L-tryptophan is also used to treat tryptophan deficiency since it is the one among other essential amino acids that is most commonly deficient in diet.

Administration: Because nausea is a common symptom of 5 HTP supplementation, it should be taken with food. Tryptophan, on the other hand, can be taken with or without food. However, since tryptophan competes with other aromatic and branched chain amino acids such as itself, it is best to take the supplement with low or no protein diet but with carbohydrates to help reduce the competition.

5 HTP is a better supplement than L-tryptophan for increasing serotonin levels in the central nervous system because of the following reasons.

Why 5 HTP is better than L-tryptophan5
  • It does not compete with other amino acids to cross the blood-brain barrier
  • The conversion of tryptophan to 5 HTP is the rate-limiting step in the synthesis of serotonin; this means that this conversion is the weakest link in the production of serotonin. Therefore, 5 HTP supplementation represents a bypass of this step in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter
  • Tryptophan is an amino acid that is also utilized in the production of other biochemicals while 5 HTP is solely committed to the synthesis of serotonin
  • Tryptophan is more likely to be converted to serotonin in the liver than 5 HTP. This happens because 5 HTP faces no competition to cross into the brain, therefore, it is easily taken up. Tryptophan, on the hand, is easily converted to serotonin in the liver while it waits to cross the blood-brain barrier
  • 5 HTP is obtained from plant sources while L-tryptophan is produced from bacterial fermentation; therefore, there is a lower chance of contamination in 5 HTP supplements (and thus, lower risk of EMS) than tryptophan supplement

“L-tryptophan works better with people who suffer from insomnia and depression. “Julia Ross author of The Mood Cure

Combining 5 HTP and Tryptophan

Because 5 HTP and tryptophan increase the level of serotonin in the body, some people may be tempted to use both supplements at the same time. This practice should be discouraged especially since it can dramatically increase the side effects of both drugs and cause serotonin toxicity.

Mild gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are immediately triggered.

Taking 5 HTP and tryptophan concurrently will increase the synthesis of serotonin in the liver and in the central nervous system. This may cause serotonin syndrome in the nervous system and cardiac fibrosis in the cardiovascular system

Of the two, serotonin syndrome appears first. It is characterized by the mild and serious symptoms. Mild symptoms include shivering, sweating, tremor, restless limbs and headache while serious symptoms include hypertension, hyperthermia, mania, hallucination and ataxia.

These symptoms will subside 24 hours after stopping both supplements but the more serious symptoms may need urgent medical attention.

Cardiac fibrosis is caused by high doses and prolonged use of drug combinations that increase serotonin levels.

In the circulatory and cardiovascular systems, serotonin acts as a vasoconstrictor and healing factor. It repairs damaged tissue by promoting the production of fibrins to cover the site of damage.

However, the kind of connective tissue caused by serotonin action is thicker and less flexible than normal connective tissue. This causes cardiac fibrosis and heart failure from thickened right heart valve.

Although these serious side effects of 5 HTP and tryptophan combination are rarely in medical literature that is mainly due to lack of large-scale and thorough clinical studies on the use of this dietary supplements.

Therefore, the potential for these side effects should be considered when 5 HTP is combined with tryptophan.

How NAC Works

NAC is an Amino Acid supplement, (AKA: N-Acetylcysteine). Supplementation boosts Glutathione levels and Glutathione is an extremely important antioxidant! Cellular glutathione is the backbone of our antioxidant system and plays a crucial role in DNA Methylation. NAC works by increasing your cellular ability to detoxify. You can help this process along by decreasing your exposure to toxic foods and chemicals. Also, keep in mind that NAC is only one amino acid used in Amino Acid Protocols. It can be used more effectively if combined with other amino acids and nutrients. (NAC is not the only way to boost Glutathione. There are alternative methods for those who are pregnant/breast feeding or children that are too young for AA Protocols/NAC. You can boost Glutathione levels and regulate Methylation most effectively through diet change. Read Action Steps: and Contact Be Well, if you have questions).

Recent research from the Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota School of Medicine regarding NAC and Glutathione click here:
Conclusion: “This study, the first to our knowledge that examines the efficacy of a glutamatergic agent (production of glutathione) in the treatment of trichotillomania, found that N-acetylcysteine demonstrated statistically significant reductions in trichotillomania symptoms. No adverse events occurred in the N-acetylcysteine group, and N-acetylcysteine was well tolerated. Pharmacologic modulation of the glutamate system may prove to be useful in the control of a range of compulsive behaviors.” Go to and type in N acetyl cysteine in the search box… other good articles available. Related research:

If you have tried NAC before and did not experience any relief, the most common reasons for this are the following: (You should minimize this problem by using NAC or equivalent protocol under the supervision of a professional.) 1.) Remember that NAC is most effective when combined with other Amino Acids and Nutrients. 2.) Remember that it can take up to one month of consistent use for you to notice relief. (Could take up to two months if you are working against yourself and dosage may need to be increased.) 3.) Effective dose is usually between 500 – 1500 mg three times per day.
[FYI: I didn’t use NAC to stop Trich; I was already pull free when NAC came to my attention. As explained in the Action Steps post, I used personalized dietary controls including whey protein and physical exercise to achieve the same but better and Lasting Methylation Balance. I also included Cognitive Behavioral Therapy exercises in order to address every aspect of the problem. (Free CBT Program Here: ) We now know that it is best to combine AA protocol/NAC with Lifestyle Changes and CBT. That is why I like the Designs for Health Detoxification Protocol. A modified version of their Protocol, (link here ), is used at Be Well. It combines the speed of relief NAC and other AA’s/Nutrients can provide with the lifestyle education needed to make the relief you experience permanent. Make the most of Amino Acid Supplementation! That is why NAC should be discussed with your Doctor or natural health expert. More info here on Methylation/Production of Glutathione. Links to additional Amino Acid Research at the bottom of this page. (ie: Carnitine, 5-HTP)Over methylation vs Undermethylation here:]

I talk at length about Amino Acid Therapy Protocols in my Support Group and I do believe NAC and other Amino Acids to be very effective but I do not write much about AA Therapy protocols because I do not believe you should prescribe one to yourself. That said, most sources suggest that the effective dose for Amino Acids, like NAC, should start at 100mg three times per day and should be increased from there. Most people respond to daily doses of 500mg-1500mg three times per day. When taking NAC alone, it could take up to a month (two max depending on your “cellular state”) to notice the full effects. Amino acids are most effective when taken with water on an empty stomach, especially the larger amino acids. More info here about AA Therapy protocols, Chapter 4 of this book (free read).

Recent studies indicate that higher amounts of whey protein offers major benefits to health! Research supports whey protein as a complete way to boost Glutathione levels “long term”. I drink a whey protein based shake every morning that contains a mix of Amino Acids (including cysteine, the C in NAC) and whole food nutrients that is designed to maximize Glutathione levels.
More Info here:

More research on the importance of Increasing Glutathione Levels from the Journal of Biological Chemistry:

If possible, you should find a Functional Medicine Doctor

(watch video and click here for more info

If this is not possible find a Counselor/Therapist that specilizes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and combines therapy with an Amino Acid based detoxification program. (I like this protocol and it is widely available ask the expert about possibly adding a product from the same company called CraveArrest, Inositol, and possibly additional NAC if needed.) Knowing what I know now, this is exactly where I would have started. This approach will bring you significant relief and if you make what you learn during the program a permanent part of your life, you could experience complete resolution.
[You might say, “I pull because of the stress in my life… How could an antioxidant supplement like NAC help in my case?
Effects of Chronic Stress on the Immune System include:
– Increased sympathetic (fight or flight) activity decreases cellular immunity
– Immune cells migrate to different parts of the body and can worsen autoimmune and allergic conditions
-Over time, the positive acute mobilization of immune cells in response to challenge is suppressed.
(Reference: McEwan BS. Protective and Damaging effects of stress mediators. New England Journal of Medicine. 1983;338(3):171-179)]

It’s all connected!! Treat the whole body not just one aspect!!
Read Action Steps and Be Empowered!

Watch the video below to learn the science behind why your cellular environment matters.

Watch PBS’s, “Science Nova” on Epigenetics!

Join the support group on Facebook!!!/groups/kickthetrich/

Support Group Information and FAQ’s:

FAQ’s and Other Info:

Why is Trich (and other Impulse Control Problems) so Enjoyable?

It’s enjoyable because, (for whatever reason), our brains have hooked the release of “feel good” neurotransmitters to the action of both pulling the hair and performing the post pull sensory activity… (All impulse control issues stem from the same type of neurotransmitter imbalance, I’m not sure why our physiology chooses different forms of expression.) We have basically adapted a way to mentally “Check Out” of our environment, but the result of this adaptation is devastating to the lives of almost all who suffer. Where Trauma is involved, therapy and CBT can really help us find the event or chain of events that we are escaping. (Maybe you already know or maybe it doesn’t feel like Trauma at all from your current perspective.) Maybe Your Cause is not trauma related at all; Maybe your body is trying to escape a Physiological State of Being (ie: state of health) or maybe you are trying to escape a combination of both “micro traumas” and the physiological state you’ve set for yourself over time. Find YOUR reason (or reasons) your mind/body has a need for this escape and you will be able to address it and overcome it. Physical Trauma, Emotional Trauma, Cellular Toxicity and/or Deficiency; all of these reduce immune system function; they suppress mitochondrial activity which depresses the cell’s ability to produce energy efficiently. All of these stressors hinder our ability to adapt to our environment. Some of us will experience relief with therapy alone but most of us need a much deeper evaluation. CBT and Therapy alone does not hold an answer for all those who suffer and medication on its best day functions as a band-aid and at worst screws up everything…

If I were to start all over again, I would ask my doctor to look into metabolic
testing, something like this
and if I were female I might have the need to ask the doctor to follow up with an expanded female hormone panel, something like this
It’s all connected; we have to stop treating the parts and start addressing the whole. 😉
Join our “colsed” facebook group here:!/groups/kickthetrich/


Research regarding Inositol for treatment of Trichotillomania and Skin Picking specifically: more here:

Inositol is a B-vit. and works by supporting all neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Effective dose of Inositol by itself has shown to be between 3 and 6 grams three times per day, (9 grams – 18 grams total in divided doses), which is a lot of inositol… Keep in mind when reading research that the point of research is to isolate the nutrient in question to see if it really has an effect on a particular condition. Unfortunately, this can result in extremely high doses; this is shown to be true in looking at both NAC and Inositol. In clinical settings, clinicians know that Nutrient Synergy is very important. When you combine nutrients like NAC and Inositol with other synergistic nutrients you can use less of any one particular substance.

Other Amino Acid Research:

5-HTP and Serotonin

Immune Response to Dietary Protein

L-Carnitine Reduces Fatigue

Carnitine for ADHD Symptoms

These are all helpful when used in protocol but you do not want to take all or any of this stuff on a long-term basis! Eat, Move and Think in ways that are genetically congruent!

More on NAC from WebMD:

More Research here:
What is Lifestyle Based Chiropractic and how can it Help?
“Glutathione is an important antioxidant. As a natural antioxidant produced by cells in the body, it provides protection from toxin damage and supports many essential biological functions. It is important to keep glutathione from becoming low, because low levels are associated with a variety of diseases. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is derivative of the amino acid cysteine. NAC can be used to boost levels of glutathione, and this article will show how to boost glutathione with NAC supplementation”
Read more: How to Boost Glutathione With NAC |

Read Original Article: How N-Acetylcysteine Works

Kick The Trich

Kick The Trich: Overcoming Trichotillomania: Action Steps to Overcoming Trichotillomania & Impulse Control / Sensory Processing Disorders Naturally!

The video discussed in the article above explains “Reward Defiency Syndrome” which is a general diagnosis term that includes Impulse Control Disorders such as Trichotillomania. Impulse Control is a “Primary Problem”; it’s a real genetic dysfunction in the brains reward system which results in difficulty balancing neurotransmitter levels especially Dopamine and Serotonin. This dysfunction can be initially activated or exacerbated by Environmental Stressors AKA “Epigenetic Triggers”. These Triggers can be chemical, physical, emotional or a combination of the three. Conversely, this dysfunction can be CONTROLLED by understanding how these stressors impact your health and by taking conscious control of your cellular environment!

more here:

If you can find and afford to see a Doctor specializing in Functional Medicine or AT LEAST a Counselor/Therapist specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy who combines therapy with an Amino Acid based detoxification program (including essential lifestyle changes), you will experience significant relief.

    This is the best Amino Acid based detoxification protocol I know of, a modified version is used at Be Well

    If you make what you learn during the program a permanent part of your life, you could experience complete resolution. To learn more about Amino Acid Therapy and how it can help listen to Dr. Eric Braverman, author of The Edge Effect:

    Comprehensive Metabolic Profile-Here is an example of metabolic testing that would be very useful when following  a Functional Medicine approach including CBT and Amino Acid based Detoxification.

    Reflections: Goals

    When it is obvious that goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.  -Confucius

    If you struggle with Dermatillomania or Trichotillomania, it is crucial that you establish concrete goals for changing your picking or pulling.  Equally important is that you have realistic expectations about achieving those goals. If you set a goal that you do not immediately reach, you may feel discouraged, ashamed and hopeless. These self-defeating feelings are likely a function of having unnecessarily high expectations about your ability to quickly achieve your goals. The disappointment you experience when you fail to meet an unrealistically high standard might leave you feeling like your goal is unachievable, and may ultimately contribute to a relapse.

    But short-term outcomes do not define who you are as a person, and what you are capable of accomplishing. While it is important to create specific, concrete, achievable goals, it is just as important to examine the action steps you have or have not taken in situations in which you have fallen short of reaching your goal. If you examine the action steps that have contributed to not reaching your goals, and make corresponding adjustments in order to continue towards those goals, you will make steady progress in your recovery.

    The more you understand what is and is not helpful, the more awareness you build. When you begin to build this awareness, you might discover some interventions work better than others in specific situations. Every person and every situation is different, and you will likely need to try different interventions and make adjustments. Furthermore, what worked for you last week may not work for you this week.

    Ultimately, having flexibility and patience with yourself will be extremely helpful in reaching your goals.  If you do not reach a goal this week, adjust your steps accordingly and keep moving forward. Over time, changing your picking and pulling behaviors will help you to reach your goals, and to live a life that you find fulfilling and valuable.

    1. What specific goals related to picking or pulling have you set that you have not yet achieved?

    2. What action steps have you taken that you think may have contributed to not achieving those goals?

    3. How can you adjust your action steps in order to achieve a new goal?

    Tip of the week: Keep a log of specific, realistic, achievable goals for this week and how you plan on implementing them.  If you are unable to reach those goals, examine what factors may have contributed to the outcome. How can you readjust the action steps you take for the following week in order to increase the likelihood that you will achieve these goals?

    Written by Kelley Franke, BA and Tom Corboy, MFT
    © 2014 OCD Center of Los Angeles

    What Defines You?

    It is heartbreaking to see the frustration, anger, and depression that comes when someone gets done pulling their hair out, and they feel hopeless. It can destroy them emotionally because they see it as a reflection on who they are. Everything comes down to whether or not they had control over trich today. If they didn’t, they decide that they are worthless. This upsets me. We have gotten so far away from where our identity comes from, that this is where we end up.

     The bible is super specific. Our identity comes from the Lord. He directs our path. He breathes life into our lungs. He is the one that decides our destiny, gives us our spiritual gifts, and blesses us with good things. If our identity lies there, bald spots take a back seat. People’s opinions lose their power. Relapse is a temporary setback. Beauty comes from something Real. Relationship is no longer built on how much someone can feed my ego. Truth is set in stone. Intimacy is deep and satisfying. Fear is replaced by Unconditional Love.

    When we hear “Love your neighbor as yourself”, we usually concentrate on the concept of loving our neighbor. We put that in the front, and brush away the “as yourself” part. According to this scripture, loving our neighbor reflects how much we are able to love ourselves. If we hate ourselves, how much are we going to love our neighbor? Obviously, there is a strong importance in loving ourselves and how we were created.

    The enemy is continuously working to kill us off. If he can’t kill us, he will try to cripple us by stealing our very identity. By consuming us with what we are NOT, so that we forget who God created us to be. His goal is to make us so afraid of stepping into our position as Heir to the Throne, with all of the authority and power that comes with that. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. Bill Johnson from Bethel Church in Redding, CA says that the good thing is, the enemy tips his hand ALL THE TIME. He gets too big for his britches and reveals his plan.

    I have to put all of my time, energy, and focus into letting God define me. I need to soak up His words, change the things in me that aren’t from Him, and removing the things that grieve Him. Trichotillomania doesn’t grieve the heart of God. I’m not in the wrong here. I’m not dealing with a lack of faith. I’m not hiding a secret sin that is keeping me from healing. What grieves the heart of the Father is when His children place more importance and “truth” in men than in Him. It’s idolatry, plain and simple. I idolize man when I seek their opinion over God. THAT is what grieves the heart of God. I refuse to be accused of that. It is through God’s strength that I continue to fight trich.