The Good Bad News about PMS and Women’s Brains

List of common symtpoms of PMS
List of common symtpoms of PMS

I am writing this blog about PMS and the brain as a response to psychologist, Robyn Stein Deluca’s TED Talk on PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome. And I do so in honor of Brain Awareness Week 2015.

TED Talk by Robyn Stein DeLuca: The good news about PMS

Let me share that I am shocked at Robyn’s unscientific approach to the syndrome of PMS, which is reported to be associated with a spectrum of physical and emotional health problems. In my 23 years of public health brain research, and in my drumming for the brain work with special populations, including, women’s health, I’ve seen countless examples of how physical disorders actually affect brain health, and how disorders of the brain affect physical health. It’s no longer a mystery. The real question is, what to do about it? So I left the comment below on Robyn’s TED talk page. I hope she and others read it.

Brain health and mental health is the biggest challenge of the 21st Century.
Brain health and mental health is the biggest challenge of the 21st Century.

Let’s use 2015 Brain Awareness Week to take a fresh look at PMS.

Migraine headache can get you out of your routine
Migraine headache can get you out of your routine

As a scientist, my gut sense is that PMS is rooted more in the brain’s sensitivity to changes in hormones. For instance, women are far more affected by thyroid, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. They are more likely to feel empathy and have higher levels of the hormone oxytocin. Women also are able to “entrain” their menstrual cycles readily to each other, which is a function of their sensitivity. So, it would seem with this increased sensitivity to emotions, hormonal changes, and activities going on around them, that women could also suffer problematic physical changes in the brain and body from this resulting sensativity. Interestingly, I suspect there are similarities with PMS to that of PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, where for one cause or another, an individual’s brain is less able to process sensory information, and the results are physical changes in the brain, and eventually, in their overall health. Where PMS is a women’s syndrome, PTSD more disproportionately affects men.

Excedrin is used to help manage pain associated with migraine headache.
Excedrin is used to help manage pain associated with migraine headache.

Migraines more disproportionately affect women likely due to their higher hormonal activity and lower hydrostatic pressure in the brain from lower blood volume, and brain pressures. I’ve written about how weather apps and web sites can help in managing weather induced migraine headache.

Weather Apps helpful in Managing Weather Related Migraine Headache

Barometric Pressure graph reveals steep drop and rise which can trigger micraine headache
Barometric Pressure graph reveals steep drop and rise which can trigger micraine headache

Weather related low barometric pressure then is also more likely to induce migraine and hypotensive states in women, than in men. And, the slight loss of blood associated with menstruation, can cause a slight drop in blood pressure and exacerbate migraine syndromes. Together with each woman’s unique psychological makeup, these factors lend itself to a problematic cause & effect of mechanisms that impact brain health in women. Conversely, PTSD seems to affect women far less than men. So it would seem there are some unique health advantages to women’s physiology and brain health.

In support of women’s health, I put on drum circles and drumming events for women’s groups, and for women and others in the workplace.

Drumming for Wellness

Women were ecstatic at this year's women's drum circle at an Orange County area temple.
Women were ecstatic at this year’s women’s drum circle at an Orange County area temple.

Drumming for Workplace Wellness

Drum circles aid productivity and stress reduction for employees at this area Orange County firm.
Drum circles aid productivity and stress reduction for employees at this area Orange County firm.

Women tend to suffer fewer problems with homelessness, and drug and alcohol addiction, than their male counterparts.

Homelessness Affects Men far more than Women
Homelessness Affects Men far more than Women

This appears to be rooted in differences in the male versus female brains. One difference is with the neurochemical, oxytocin, widely regarded as the “love hormone,” which is found in higher levels in women than in men. But men who are active in community outreach and charitable activities, tend to have higher oxytocin levels. There is now an oxytocin nasal spray which has been greeted with mixed results. More recently, when I consider the plight of area homeless people and their associated mental health challenges, I can’t help but wonder whether oxytocin spray might help them, or whether their helping at an area outreach project might boost oxytocin levels, and help normalize wider brain function. Change has to begin somewhere. Here’s a related study:

Outreach can raise Oxytocin Levels (The Guardian)

In September 2015, I gave an in-depth presentation on how methods of alternative medicine can be used in drug and alcohol addiction, and covered related sensory processing disorder and cognitive accessibility. I also own the domain for CognitiveAccessibility.org.

Cognitive Accessibility accommodations er CognitiveAccessibility.org
Cognitive Accessibility accommodations er CognitiveAccessibility.org

Complimentary and Alternative Medicine in Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Illustration of the Meridian fields used in Acupuncture and Alternative Medicine
Illustration of the Meridian fields used in Acupuncture and Alternative Medicine

In my 23 years of being involved in brain care and public health as both a patient and researcher, I’ve seen countless examples of how the prevailing views can be wrong. And Robyn’s dismissal of PMS as a physical syndrome, would appear to be wrong. I also think an mHealth app, coupled with blood work, counseling as needed, exercise, and wellness strategies, could be very helpful in management of PMS.

mHealth Apps in Neurology
mHealth Apps in Neurology

I am concerned with how Robyn Deluca glosses over the obviousness of PMS as NOT having “measurable medical sequela.” Instead, she attempts to label it a mental health or psychiatric disorder.

Avoidable deaths from medical errors in the U.S.
Avoidable deaths from medical errors in the U.S.

I think PMS should be labeled an actual disorder, a bit like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), where both are a collection of physical complaints secondary to stress and sensitivities in physiology. The medical field seems intent on denying the existance of both of these, as it similarly has with SPD. I have found shooting baskets to be a wonderful mindfulness therapy for stress and SPD related complaints, and authored this blog.

Sports Science vs the Brain Science of Basketball

Basketball allows participants to feel and move rhythmically with a touch sensitive ball
Basketball allows participants to feel and move rhythmically with a touch sensitive ball

Over the longer term, untreated brain health issues can result in the development of sensory processing disorder, or SPD, which is a collection of real neurological complaints that the U.S. government continues to refute today. I’ve written a great deal on this topic.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Brain Diagram of the Cranial Nerves
Brain Diagram of the Cranial Nerves

Apparently, PMS is a heated topic. I was attached by a fellow reader after I initially posted my impressions on Robyn’s conclusions on PMS. I hope those of you with firsthand experience who work with PMS patients will continue to voice your views against the politics of medicine.

Stephen Dolle in Washington, D.C. for the FDA's Hydrocephalus STAMP Conference in 1999.
Stephen Dolle in Washington, D.C. for the FDA’s Hydrocephalus STAMP Conference in 1999.

To learn more about my work, contact me at Dolle Communications.

Stephen Dolle
Drum circle Facilitator & Neuroscientist
Public Health Advocate
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com
Web site: Dolle Communications
Telephone: (949) 642-4592

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Mobile Sound Level apps Helpful in Managing Sensory Processing Disorder

Android Apps Image
Android Apps

Decibel meter apps are helpful in managing the ill effects of sound exposure in brain injury, hydrocephalus, ADHD, PTSD, and related sensory processing disorders. Sound Meter is best app on Android. The Pro version is $.99. Though either is good. SPLnFFT is said to be best app on iPhone. Many are accurate enough for these purposes. Plus, what you really need, is comparative analysis of sound to medical sequela in the same app.

The science in support of monitoring sound level exposure comes amid findings that “sound” can trigger medical sequela, and result in a combative child or even adult out in public. The sequela typically ares headache, nausea, decreased cognition, irritability, and behavioral outbursts, and occurs in persons suffering from a variety of neurological injury & disorders. Light, motion, and scents are also triggers. The sensitivity, and type of trigger, does vary somewhat from person to person.

The medical condition for this is termed “sensory processing disorder” or SPD, and sometimes termed “sensory integration disorder,” and these tend to follow brain injury, neurological surgery (numerous ones including hydrocephalus and tumor), and many types of neurological disorders.

Brain Diagram of the Cranial Nerves
Brain Diagram of the Cranial Nerves

At any given time, the effected person is vulnerable to a range and type of sound triggers. Yet, this sensitivity and vulnerability often may not be known until AFTER the exposure. Often all it takes is 30 secs of problematic sound exposure to set off a sequel of SPD complaints. Then, you’re dealing with a medical problem.

Certainly the big ones like loud machinery, music, and room noise are predictable. But it is the not so loud and obvious exposures that’ll get you. And NOT knowing at any given time what your sensitivity or threshold is. And this comes from trial & experience.

I recommend downloading one of these apps and using it regularly for a couple of weeks to learn of your LOWEST threshold decibel levels – for when you’re not feeling well, and for various venues. Then, you can do things with more confidence in that you know your thresholds and can take the necessary interventions SOONER to avoid an ill spell or “melt down” in public. Today I learned too late, after being near a store playing loud overhead music. It was registering over 80 db on my Sound Meter app. I had not checked the sound level when I arrived. Once your system is triggered, it is often too late for other interventions or measures, and you’re likely going to have to leave that venue.

Unfortunately, current apps do not measure frequency distribution or sharp spikes in sound. Sound between 5000 Hz – 10,000 Hz is often problematic for individuals suffering with SPDs. The other causative elements includes sharp spikes in decibel level, and disordered sound presenting as “white noise.” If you, or a family member, suffers from sensory processing disorder, you know what I mean.

I undertook a sound sensory study in 2002 using a metronome to evaluate SPD complaint responses to various rhythmic patterns, and I was able to show that the component in sound most responsible for SPD complaints was “lack of rhythmic pattern.” My findings explain why white noise, or room noise, is so problematic. Read my full study below:

Study on Sound, Cognition and Sensory Processing

Boss BR-8 includes a full 50 selection Metronome
Boss BR-8 includes a full 50 selection Metronome

There are many treatments today that have found varying degrees of success in raising a person’s threshold to SPDs. They include: EMDR therapy, music therapy, group drumming (in which I have conducted research), bio feedback, mindfulness, basketball, meditation, occupational therapy. A variety of mild barbiturate medicines find use as well. I can’t say enough about the importance of proper rest & diet, managing stress, and drinking plenty of water. Vestibular exercises, meditation, mindfulness, and biofeedback therapies seem to help raise an affected persons sound intolerance.

New Dolle Communications Web Page on Cognitive Neuroscience

The brain and sensory system during cognition.
The brain and sensory system during cognition.

Once an exposure and SPD medical sequel has begun, your options include:
1) have the individual stay focused & “engaged” in an activity
2) insert quality ear plugs (suggest musician’s ear plugs)
3) remove the affected person from the triggering noise source
4) administer barbituate, pain or calming medication
5) force hydration preferable with water

On June 4, 2015, I published an extensive blog on basketball – which includes methods in shooting baskets, mindfulness, biofeedback & relaxation, and including drumming with basketball – which helps the brain, movement disorders, intolerance to sound, post concussion syndrome, and relieves stress.

(Dolle Blog) Sports Science vs Brain Science of Basketball

Basketball allows participants to feel and move rhythmically with a touch sensitive ball
Basketball allows participants to feel and move rhythmically with a touch sensitive ball

Understanding Sound Sensory Processing & your Intolerance Level

If you suffer from sound sensory processing difficulties, I suggest you try one of the available decibel meter apps. I use the Smart Tools Pro Sound Meter pictured below. It also has a built in Vibrometer to evaluate motion say on a boat or car. You need to become familiar with your sound threshold range and intolerance, and screen typical levels at places you visit. You’ll need to add further consideration if there is machinery or other problematic noise that the individual would normally not process very well. All it takes is 30 secs of a problematic sound exposure to set off a sequel of SPD complaints. Develop good rules of practice.

Decibel Meter by Smart Tools
Decibel Meter by Smart Tools

Call for a Sound Sensory Processing Scale & Algorithm of Measurement

The decibel sound scale is now more than 50 years old. Its time we create a Sound Processing Scale & Algorithm for Measurement
The decibel sound scale is now more than 50 years old. Its time we create a Sound Processing Scale & Algorithm for Measurement

The current challenge is that these apps only measure level of volume. What we need, is a sound distribution EQ scale to equate how the brain processes sound (along with volume), which would require a convening of neurologists to scientists study this relationship, and establish a new sound scale to include the difficulty of processing of sound distributions. Sound engineers already know a great deal about the distribution or EQ of sound. To establish a sound processing scale, we would only need to equate various EQ sound patterns with the level of difficulty of processing by the brain. There are already sound identification apps that can identify patterns in music and ID them by song name. Two very popular apps are Soundhound and Shazam. We could use these existing sensors and algorithms to ID sound as very unforavorable vs acceptable in terms of ability to be processed by the brain. Persons with brain injury, learning and neurological disorders, and SPD (sensory processing disorder) have a diminished capacity to process sound, which I believe pares the degree and location of deficits in the brain. So, I have proposed the development of a sound processing scale and algorithm.

This new sound processing scale would encompass:

1. decibel volume and rate of change between volume levels (i.e. spikes)
2. EQ frequency distribution of the sound
3. rhythmic distribution and synchronization of the sound (i.e. white noise)

I host a larger blog on sensory processing challenges with examples of problematic sounds of machinery, etc. Just follow the link below. I try and keep these blogs up to date as time permits. My biggest new discovery in SPD comes after a study I undertook almost two years ago with the MigraineX ear plugs used in the management of headache, but also in sound suppression. I found that insertion of the MigraineX ear plugs before, and even after a harmful sound exposure has occurred, can lessen the associated headache, irritability, cognitive, and SPD complaints by 50% or more. Yes, I said SPD. So I carry the MigraineX ear plugs with me all the time. They are particularly helpful amid noise from construction, machinery, malls, restaurants, theatre halls, and more. They sell for about $12 on Amazon and many drug stores.

Secondly, I have been undertaking new barometric pressure monitoring utilizing my Samsung phone’s built in barometric pressure sensor. The built in sensor can display sharp Short term changes in pressure that weather sites often do not display. Most newer high end smart phones have this sensor built in. But you need to download an app to get the display. For this, I use the uBarometer Pro.

(Blog) New Insights in Sound Sensory Processing Disorder

If any app developers are reading this, I’d love to collaborate with you on building an SPD intollerance sound EQ app for screening of problematic sound. I can advise scientifically and in the UI (user interface, I have a good tech bkg-see page below). I’d like to couple an app with a Melon or NeuroSky EEG headband to try and correlate changes on EEG waveform with reported SPD complaints. SEE my extensive work in hydrocephalus monitoring and DiaCeph Test app design.
ADA laws with respect to sound protection for persons with SPDs is termed “cognitive accessibility.” There is an interesting legal case between families of children with autism and Disney, regarding Disney’s cancellation of the handicap pass to circumvent affected visitors standing in long lines, thereby forcing affected children to stand in line amid commotion and noise, which is unhealthful and can trigger behavioral outburst and a number of medical sequela in SPDs.

Deadline.com: Disney sued by Families with Autism over Handicap Pass

Cognitive Accessibility in SPDs.Hulk Destroys Tree Shredder
Cognitive Accessibility in SPDs.Hulk Destroys Tree Shredder

I am advocating for a new sound processing standard to encapsulate the brain’s role in processing sound. Persons suffering neurological disorders and from SPDs have a diminshed capacity to process sensory information, sound being the most common issue.

I host a related web page on sensory processing and cognitive or intellectual disabilities at www.CognitiveAccessibility.org.

Please visit my web site and contact me accordingly. Best method of contact is email.
Stephen Dolle
Neuroscientist, mHealth Inventor & Drum Circle Facilitator
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com
Hydrocephalus Survivor w/ 12 Shunt Revisions
DolleCommunications.com

Update on Higher Incidence of Brain Diseases & CTE among Former NFL Players

A most recent study of former NFL football players reports that they are on average 3 times more likely to die from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Lou Gehrig’s disease than the general population. But, it shouldn’t surprise you based on what we know about health and longevity: take care of yourself when you are young, and you’ll likely appreciate better health in your later years.

That means, brush your teeth 1-2 times per day, eat your fruits and vegetables, don’t smoke, watch what you eat, get some exercise, don’t drink too much, limit your high risk behavior, and don’t bust yourself up.

I would have to argue that repeated blows to the head, as is common in football, goes against everything our parents and doctors told us from our youth. Though most of the attention of brain problems in football players until now focused on the condition CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is traced to repeated head blows. This new study looked at the three leading cause of disabilty and death among seniors.

As a youth, I suffered at least one known concussion when I was knocked unconscious during a football game. Over the years, I probably had one or more other concussions due to all the sports I participated in, including, boxing. But, it was a 1992 auto accident at the age of 37 that turned an initially viewed mild head injury and concussion, one month later into post traumatic hydrocephalus and 10 brain shunt surgeries since.

Since my 1992 injury from an auto accident, and with a health care and scientific background, I poured a great deal of my efforts into music therapy, balance & cognitive therapies, neurological testing & patenting of an AI type monitoring system, assistive cognitive technologies, hydrocephalus advocacy, FDA regulatory affairs, and now over the last seven years, drumming for your brain and health.

I believe I can say with absolute certainty that these mindful preparations and preventions will make a significant difference in your health and longevity. I feel bad for the athletes who have sustained multiple concussions and now are having long term neurological complaints. It is never too late to take on stricter controls over activities that affect your brain and health.

Exercise and challenge your brain today thru reading, art, music, and social activities! I have found termendous brain & health benefits from drumming, or drum circles, and today am a drum circle facilitator and speaker on drumming and the brain. I have undertaken research with drumming and sensory processing disorders, common in CTE, parkinson’s, post TBI, PTSD, autism, hydrocephalus, migraine, and many other neurological disorders. Check out my web site and Facebook page at http://www.dollecommunications.com

Remember also to eat right. Drink lots of water. Get proper rest.  And watch what you put in your body, including, alcohol and/or drugs. If something seems like it might be bad for you, it probably is!

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8341317/study-finds-former-nfl-players-unusually-prone-dying-degenerative-brain-disease

Drumming workshop May 11th 7pm on Rhythm, Fitness, and Aging at the TOL center in Lake Forest, CA.

There will be a Drumming Workshop Friday evening May 11th from 7pm-8:30pm on Rhythm, Fitness, and Aging at the TOL center in Lake Forest, CA. Cost is $10.

These drumming workshops are held on the 2nd Friday of each month at this metaphysical center in Lake Forest (Orange County, CA).

This is based on some of my own research, and attendees will learn tips & exercises to improve aging, fitness and youthfullness, and manage weight and body kinesthetics. Please also give thought to the question, “Why do I drum?” The more you understand this, the more attuned you will be to your inner voice and what you want from drumming.

Drum circles have been in use for thousands of years and today are used in team-building, health programs (cancer outcomes, stress relief, neuro disorders, fitness, wellness), spiritual practices, community outreach, and in personal and social development. By featuring a selected topic each month, you have the opportunity to dig deeper into your experiences thru drumming. I announce the topic ahead of time in the event information on the Meetup & Facebook calendars.

I provide instruments. But if you have your own, please bring it. No kit, Taiko, or large drums please. Also, no alcohol. Space is limited to about 75 people. So watch the RSVP’s for when the event fills up.

This event will provide a great opportunity to drum to bring positive intention into your life and manifest the kind of change and growth that many of you may be seeking.

Cost: $10.00 RSVP’s are encouraged. I have activated PayPal on the event panel for those interested in paying via this secure method.

Directions to the Temple: Take Lake Forest exit off 5 Fwy. Head East and go right on Rockfield, Take 2nd Rt. at Lake Center Drive, 1st Rt. into Driveway. Park in back lot. Enter thru double doors.

Stephen Dolle
Drum Circle Facilitator & Neuroscientist
Dolle Communications

RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/323343091071219/