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Healing the Four P’s of Autoimmunity

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Keesha Ewers, PhD, ARNP-FNP-C, AAP, IFM-C

Hello, Dr. Keesha here. Welcome back to the reverse autoimmune disease summit series. This is the autoimmune detox, which is the fourth iteration of the reverse autoimmune disease summit series. And I’m really delighted to have brought you the summit series. And here on day five, we’re going to talk about those four Ps of autoimmune disease. So I’m gonna share my screen. We’ve been doing this as webinar because I actually have heard a lot from people that they enjoy learning through slides ’cause it’s activating different parts of the brain and so they can remember things better. So join the Reverse Autoimmune Disease Institute private Facebook group say yes you’ll adhere to the rules of the group so I can let you in. 

And then let me know in there what you love about the summit, if you like this style of presentation with slides and you know, I just wanna, I wanna, I want feedback to see how we can improve because I do a couple of these a year so that I can get information out for people and help them individualize it through the freedom framework. All right so today we’re gonna talk about reversing autoimmune disease through healing the four Ps of autoimmunity. For those of you that haven’t met me before, if you’re just dropping in today I reversed my own rheumatoid arthritis in six months without having to take any medications when I was in my early 30s, after being diagnosed all of a sudden, which is what a lot of my patients experience is that they are all of a sudden sick, which actually is not accurate. 

It takes anywhere from 10 to 30 years to develop a full blown autoimmune disease which was definitely true for me. I can look back and think about like, oh yeah, all the acne when I was an adolescent, that UTIs when I was a small child, the strep throat in my early 20s and all the antibiotics that came with that. Yeah, I can see where I wrecked my gut, my early sexual abuse, you know according to the ACEs study that has a huge portion, a piece of this. We’re gonna talk a little bit about those Ps and how trauma actually activates them. And so, yeah, I can totally look back now hindsight’s always 2020 and see how I progressed. And then finally flipped on the genetics of rheumatoid arthritis for myself which my grandfather had RA, was wheelchair-bound with it for a number of years and died at the age that I am now. 

So, you know, he didn’t know any of this stuff, amazing. So this is the person I was back then when I was diagnosed. Marathon running, driven four small children. And, you know I think it was probably the birth of my fourth child that activated everything. But I always say there’s critical mass which means I have a scale. And that’s the final feather that tips it is not, it’s not about the feather, right? It’s about everything else that was piled onto that scale first. I go into a lot more detail about all the things I’ve been talking about over the last five days in these webinars in solving the autoimmune puzzle book and “The Quick and Easy Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook.” And then for those of you that don’t know me, I’m a family practice advanced registered nurse practitioner with a specialty in integrative medicine. 

I’m board certified in functional and Ayurvedic medicine. I’m on the faculty at the Institute for functional medicine. My PhD is in sexology. I’m a certified psychotherapist and energy worker and yoga meditation teacher, conscious dying doula and a masters of divinity student and the founder of the Academy For Integrative Medicine health coach certification program. All right, what we see is what we have been looking for. This is something that I really wanted to cover in this fifth webinar, because what we’re looking for is determined by the early days of our upbringing when we were young ones, trying to figure out how to be big humans in a world that’s dominated by big humans, but we’re just little guys. 

And, you know, it creates these four Ps that are present for autoimmune disease. So I’m gonna go through the HURT model which is healing unresolved trauma which was part of my doctoral research back in 2013. How to confront and heal your hurt and how to really become more aware of the impact your mind has on your immune system. So the four Ps, just to review, if you haven’t joined me in the other webinars that I’ve been doing over the last few days are perfectionism, people pleasing, holding onto the poison of past pain. And then the Pitta dosha in Ayurveda. It’s just a lot of fire that can create inflammation. That combination is in everyone with autoimmune disease. And the way that that’s created in terms of the people pleasing and perfectionism, is based on the HURT model. 

So this HURT study the healing unresolved trauma study I did when I was in my doctoral program. And I was curious about why the ACEs study the adverse childhood experiences study that I went through and on day two in that a webinar on emotional detoxification. I was curious why ACEs affect us in the way that they do. And so what I found in my study is I mapped a whole bunch of brains through fMRI scan results, pet scan results, and MRIs, and what I found was, first when you’re a small child with a small brain that doesn’t have an adult brain yet it’s the prefrontal cortex or adult executive function brain is not fully developed until you’re 26. I have a slide in one of the other webinars and one of the other earlier days that shows that. And so we know we have a limbic system that’s very well developed because we’re trying to stay alive, right? 

That’s the biggest thing our amygdala, right? Are we safe? Are we safe? So we go through an initial hurt in the past. And that can be, I always use this example ’cause it was one for me trying to get to the top of the rope and the presidential challenge in front of all the other girls and boys and then really struggling. You know, that is going to create a meaning I’m not good enough, I’m not fast enough, I’m not strong enough, then that will get stored in the body, the mind, the heart and the story. And then in the future, it’s a button that can be triggered. So for a long time I never considered myself strong or athletic until I started running marathons in my early adulthood. And then I felt strong and then I felt like I had good endurance and I was actually athletic. But in my early years, because of that rope I never felt like I was. 

And so, you know, these, that was, that’s like a really innocuous one, but it does create a meaning. And it will have an emotion. For me it was dread every time I looked at that rope, every year when we had the presidential challenge I would just dread it. And that is stored in the body. And then it will take you into a freeze ’cause most children freeze, they don’t flee and they don’t fight because we’re not powerful in those ages. We have to just do what we’re told so we freeze. And then we’re gonna create a meaning. My meaning was, I’m not strong, I’m not athletic. I can’t believe how awful I feel in front of all these people that I can’t do this. And the belief that you put in place is for me was I wasn’t athletic. And the behavior that I adopted was become a bookworm. 

I can’t compete with all these people that can scramble up that thing, like a monkey, and so, and wow they’re amazing and I’m so envious so I’m gonna stick with the thing that I’m really good at which was my mind and really develop my intellect. That was the behavior. Now that one’s not a capital T trauma, can you see that? People often think like, oh, it has to be a big ACE. So then I can track a capital T trauma with you. The initial hurt in the past was sexual abuse at the age of 10. And then the emotion that I felt was terror. Panic whenever the intercom would go off in my fifth grade classroom calling me to the principal’s office. And then I would freeze and every time the intercom went off to say the pledge of allegiance or to have announcements by the secretary. 

Every day, the intercom went off multiple times a day and every time I went into a freeze. What if it’s gonna call me to the office, right? So I was like Pavlov’s dog. And so over time, remember for every five minutes you’re upset, it takes your body eight hours to recover. So I go all day in a free state. So the meaning that I created because the vice-principal that was sexually abusing me was telling me that it was my fault, I was a bad kid. I was white trash, I was one of two white girls in an all black school. It was that, uh-oh like, this must have something to do with me, I must be bad because I’m white. And so the belief that I put in place was that I needed to hide and I also needed to be perfect. The behavior I adopted was perfectionism. Because if he’s telling me it’s ’cause I’m bad that this bad thing is happening to me then I’m gonna make sure that I’m as perfect as possible. So there was the birth of my perfectionism and my people pleasing because if my teachers are at all upset they’re gonna send me to the principal’s office. 

So I’m gonna be as nice, kind, adaptable, amenable as possible to stay safe, to survive, okay? So that’s a capital T trauma tracking. Both of those right? Made an impact inside of this body with meanings and beliefs that then created behaviors that were adaptive for that time period but not really healthy for a whole lifetime and in fact impossible. So then you get into your adulthood and when you have a fully grown prefrontal cortex at the age of 24 to 26, and then you get confronted with somebody pushing your button that got created when you were a child. You know have them pushed over and over and over again right? Perfectionism especially like not good enough comes up all the time. You should have seen how much therapy I had to do before I could defend my dissertation. 

This work that I’m talking about right now, so much therapy because my belief was that people in authority aren’t safe. So to have to go in front of people in authority after having teachers not protect me, it was like I was in a full out flea place. Like I just need to get out of here. And I could feel that like, oh I need to do some therapy again and again and again, before I published my book solving the autoimmune puzzle, so much therapy required. Because the public can like attack it. You know, give me bad reviews, tell me I’m terrible, I’m not good enough, and my perfectionistic self will just, can’t, like if I’m not perfect I won’t survive. So obviously that’s a maladaptive process that can’t happen. 

Like you can’t have the public I’ll be happy with you. You have to be able to go in front of people in authority and know you’re safe. And so I had to do a lot of trauma therapy to get to this place. Now that what that did was that was the right side of this model. You see over there, the able to confront and set boundaries, I had to self confront, I had to say, “okay, this is me having this issue. I can track it, I can see why I’m having it. And I need to go in and do some more trauma work. I’ve already worked on this a lot but now here’s a new layer. Like I can’t defend my dissertation until I get a new layer taken care of. I can’t publish a book until I get a new layer taken care of.” Luckily trauma therapy works if you’re with the right therapist. And that also is in and of itself is a process. You know, just because one therapist isn’t good for you it doesn’t mean they all aren’t. So you have to keep shopping for the right therapist, that will hold your feet to the fire. 

That will make you self-confront. That will not just listen to your story and say poor you. Or try and work with you on an adult level and not address your attachment issues. Because when you’re in a therapy office usually you’re just working from an adult space, but it’s the child one that’s having the problem. So you have to be with the right kind of therapist that can do that work. It’s not just somatic body experiencing, it’s not you know like you have to be able to get to those meanings and beliefs. All right so then if you don’t you keep doing the same looping that you’ve always done and it creates disease. 

So, all of those early beliefs of I’m ugly, I’m unsuccessful, I’m lazy, I’m unlovable, I’m stupid, I’m invisible, I’m unworthy. These are the ants, do you see these ants on the horses? Automatic negative thoughts. Those automatic negative thoughts right here, that cause rumination, they keep your adrenal sticking cortisol into your system. They re-loop your judgments and they create disease because then it splits apart your gut wall and you have dysbiosis and you wind up being the bull in the middle of the Spanish arena that’s attacking all food. So it’s really important to do this work, because if you’re a zebra being chased by a lion if that’s your perception, then that’s how your body’s gonna respond to it. And your body is not designed to do that in perpetuity. Only in short periods of time when there really is someone on your tail chasing you. Because over time that cortisol will break you all the way down and cause an immune response that’s autoimmune disease and create your hormone imbalances that you have. All right so here’s how it works. Remember how I keep saying it’s all about your perceptions. 

It’s not about your microbes, it’s not about Lyme, it’s not about mole, it’s not about Epstein-Barr. It is about all those things, all of them. But they’re part of the scale. They’re part of the things that are piling up. And it’s about your perceptions that actually tell your body what to do with that. So if you’re pretty happy camper, like I’m one of the happiest people I know at the age of 56, I’m so happy. I was not happy when I was 30. I am so happy now. My daughter wrote a paper, she’s in college and she was supposed to write about the happiest person she knows. And she wrote about me and I thought about that and I thought gosh, when I was diagnosed with RA I was one of the unhappiest people. And yet I was really successful, but I was really unhappy. I was looping on automatic thoughts all the time, automatic negative thoughts. And I was judgmental, I was so judgmental and I was constantly looking for offense and I was constantly defensive. 

Like I was really unhappy, not depressed but just really reactive, really reactive mind. And now I have, I’m really happy because I’m not reactive. So now my mind that’s not reactive allows my adrenals to stay happy, which allows my buckets of hormones to stay intact. Which then means my thyroid and my pancreas, my hypothalamus, you know, my cells they’re all happy because they have everything they need. Every five minutes of upset creates eight hours of disruption as everything tries to scramble and get back into alignment. I can really feel the difference inside of myself with this. So remember that these perceptions are everything okay? So if you perceive something as scary, I used a spider. 

So any of you that loves spiders, I’m sorry. I don’t hate them it’s just that usually if I see a great big spider when I’m in my bathtub on the wall, you know if I look over and there’s a big spider sitting there, I jolt, you know. So spider for me is like alarm. So then my mind that goes into an alarm state, okay? Whatever it is, the alarm system causes my adrenals to react and respond. Uh-oh, lion on the tail, cortisol is released. If this happens for a long time chronically over and over and over and over again, pretty soon your stress hormones bucket gets empty. So it starts borrowing from your sex hormones okay? 

Because remember survival wins over reproduction. And then you age faster because your ovaries are aging, your thyroid’s aging, your pancreas is aging, everybody’s depleted, they’re exhausted, they’re trying to rob Peter to pay Paul until nobody has anything left. So I used a beach scene as a, as sort of like the yummy place that doesn’t activate your adrenals and the spider as well but you can put in whatever you want here. And you want it to look like, is my mind feeling like thumbs are up? Or is it feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, like it can’t ever get ahead? I don’t have any patients that don’t feel overwhelmed. And it turns out that according to fMRI studies when I was doing brain mapping in my study, just feeling overwhelmed was the same as having sexual abuse in your childhood.

Lowercase T traumas had the same impact on the brain architecture and your hormone system as uppercase T traumas. The same thing that happened in someone with PTSD was happening to someone that was saying they were stressed out all the time. It didn’t matter that it was a capital T or a smaller case T. Overwhelm meant it was gonna do the same thing. Shrink your prefrontal cortex and increase the volume of the right side of your amygdala which is the one that says, am I okay? Am I safe? That causes adrenal fatigue. And there are some doctors out there that you’ll see that say, “there’s no such thing as adrenal fatigue, it’s mitochondria.” And I always laugh about that because I’m like, well yeah, it’s the same thing. 

If your adrenals are tired, so are your mitochondria. It’s not one or the other. The mitochondria are the engines inside the cell, the adrenals of the engines inside the endocrine system, they’re doing the same thing. And so if one’s tired, the other is too. And if your body is getting the signal that you’re not going to survive then it’s going to drain your sex hormone bucket because it’s not necessary to reproduce. It is necessary to survive. So then you’re not gonna have anything left if you’re a man in your testes and if you’re a woman in your ovaries. Then your thyroid which is the flip side of your adrenals is going to become exhausted, it’s gonna shrink, it’s gonna have a harder time, your pituitary is going to be banging on it to create more thyroid stimulating hormone T3 and T4. Because the adrenals are so tired, your mitochondria are so tired, the thyroid’s trying to take over and make up for it. 

And it will do it for a while and then at two will get tired and exhausted and then you’ll become insulin resistant. Your cells won’t let insulin in. And all of this is because you’re angry and judgmental at something. Well, it doesn’t matter it can be the president, it can be the EPA, it can be the pharmaceutical industry, it can be your neighbor, it can be your husband, your children, your mother, your father, you’re angry. Remember Ayurvedic medicine says, “autoimmunity is undigested anger.” And our child selves create meanings and beliefs that are defensive structures to keep us safe. So this judge, every one of us has a judge inside of us and it’s one of our protectors. And so if it’s out all the time in its judginess then it’s gonna make you very tired. All of your systems are going to become exhausted. But if you’re willing to self-confront take your judge robe off, really look in the mirror and start finding the places that you too are the perpetrator in this life. And then you can move into a place where you’re equal with everybody else. You’re not up on your self-righteous pulpit, you’re equal. 

Then you can actually start working with this on a level that says I’m not better than and I’m not less than, I’m in the human race and I’m flawed and so is everybody else. So let’s try to figure out how to do this really well where we can love each other. So we are the ones that create the cages that our minds are in. We, they’re trapped in these early belief patterns from childhood events and it doesn’t necessarily have to be capital T trauma. And it’s only when we drop into our hearts and we start to really see, oh, I too am a perpetrator. Oh, I too right? I also hurt people and I am hurt. How can I fix this? How can I make this right? Then we come from a place of compassion for the entire human condition. 

The next webinar that I do to be part of our bonuses is on really befriending perfections. And they’re from the Buddhist perspective they’re really beautiful. And they’re how to drop into this heart center and unlock the cage that your mind is in. These mind traps are only opened by dropping into the heart center and having compassionate curiosity. Then instead of being on a train of thought that just is automatic, right? Which goes down into despair and judgment and re-looping and automatic negative thoughts, we can actually move it into a different direction. That’s fixing the hole in the bottom of the boat. That, changing the way you perceive. And part of doing that is really getting in touch with your expectations. I’ve alluded to expectations throughout each of these webinars, and there’s a whole practice that I help people do around this that’s really, really liberating. So you move out of, I can’t to, oh, I can do this, I can reverse my autoimmune disease. I can feel safe, I can trust. 

And yes I will be hurt, and yes, people are crappy sometimes and they’re going to hurt me sometimes, but also, they I can also be loved and I can also be the one that has broken promises but I can be forgiven and then I can turn and I can forgive. I can let the resentment toxin in my body drain through the bathtub. I can get rid of it. So my cells aren’t having to bathe in it. And then I can look at all of the different versions of myself, which are kind of like babushka, Russian nesting dolls, where I have the little one that didn’t really know much, created those beliefs in childhood and has carried them into adulthood. And then each time that I have been willing to self-confront and learn how I am responsible for my own perceptions, I’ve moved into a new developmental state. And then the next time I’m challenged I move into a new one. 

If I’m willing to do this work and take full responsibility until you find that, oh I’m getting wiser and wiser, I’m growing. So step one in this process is first being willing to self-confront and release the need to judge. Judgment prevents healing. So every time you say something like I can’t believe that person did this or that person doesn’t, you know what I mean? Like just judging anything, they shouldn’t wear those pants. They’re a little extra, you know like that color is really bad. Oh, Dr. Keesha in these webinars had spinach between their teeth in every one of them. Maybe so, you know, just really, really looking at the place that needs to judge and having compassion for her or him. Like, oh, I see how you have helped me before tell right from wrong but now I don’t need that anymore. My value system’s in place, I have a system of ethics now and I don’t need the judge to keep coming out. Because the ego, whenever we have that wire stuff around us of protection, all those protections keep us from seeing the luminescent, luminous mind and essence of all the others around us, including ourselves. 

We lose sight of our own light. And we just suffer from it. And the judge is in place, right? when you get this little thing of the devil and the angel on each shoulder you know that’s what’s happening. And this graphic that I did in solving the autoimmune puzzle, it’s my very favorite graphic that I’ve done. And it’s like a dog chasing its tail. T-A-I-L is similar to the way that our minds chase its tail T-A-L-E or story. That we just lock into our story and we keep telling it how it is and we chase it. But if you can stop and really see that oh those beliefs and meanings were created by a small child part of me, I can let that story go, right? Then you can stop judgment. It’s creating a connection between your heart and your mind and your body and your spirit. And you do that through a process of reflection really being able to like it’s called mind witnessing mind. Like, oh, every time, the first time I realized this is that every time I realized I was upset, I was present, every time there was an upset I was there. So maybe I had something to do with it. 

You know so it’s the mind witnessing the mind. Being able to really, really do that self-reflection piece okay? The Cherokee have a nice tail, you know that says, okay, so a little boy goes to the grandfather who is the chief of the tribe and says, “grandfather, how do I become a good man?” And the grandfather says, “grandson within each one of us is a dark wolf and a white wolf, and whichever one we feed the most to is the strongest.” So judgment actually feeds the dark wolf okay? It’s the one that will keep us in that space. So really learning how to reflect the mirror exercise is in solving the autoimmune puzzle. Who are you projecting onto others that you dislike about yourself? Okay? It’s a really important practice because you can’t do forgiveness until you get through these processes. 

And then if you can start assuming that everybody has your best interests at heart, and it doesn’t matter what they think about you, you really start to become free. Remember that it’s these epigenetic factors that pull the trigger. Your genetics load it but these are the things that I’m talking about that pull the trigger. So, I did a couple of graphics for solving the autoimmune puzzle that I really liked and they come from a teaching from one of my teachers in Peru his name is Puma Kierspe and he lives up in the Andes in the Chinchero, in Chinchero and I used to take groups into prayer before COVID and he is this amazing ray of light on the planet. 

And one of the things that he used to say is that you’re like the tree of life and your head, your mind has the branches that have the fruits on that tree. And the roots of the tree are in your heart. And so if you have a thought that’s bitter, like you feel like you’re being abused, or you’re being abusive, or you feel fear, or you feel bitter and resentful, or you’re sad, or you feel unsafe, or victimized, or alone, or angry, or closed off, these are fruits that are bitter and unripe. So he would say, “put the fruit back on the tree and think again.” Okay? the fruit of the mind that is bitter and unripe, think again, and then he would say, “drop your roots into your heart center, feel compassion and love for that one that’s feeling those things and then see the fruit as it ripens, you’ll feel safe and powerful. 

And like you’re blessed with grace and worthwhile and connected and open and healthy and satisfied and loving. These are the fruits of the mind that are nourishing. The others are not nourishing.” And so it’s by having the roots of that tree of that mind connected deeply into the heart center, that are feeding it compassion and love and curiosity. Then and only then can you do a forgiveness practice that I teach, and that sets you free. So forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. And this was part of my doctoral research. And people are often afraid of forgiving because they’re afraid to take somebody off the hook that they’ll do it again, that they’re not going to get their punishment the way they should. That actually that’s not up to you. 

So forgiveness can happen no matter what but reconciliation cannot. You only reconcile in a relationship if that relationship is valuable, if it’s safe and it has been repaired. In other words, if the person that hurt you has then shown contrition and has tried to repair with you and has shown themselves to be safe, then you reconcile. Otherwise you don’t, when a relationship is not valuable, it’s not safe and it’s not repaired you can forgive, but you have a good boundary. You don’t reconcile. You can forgive without ever having the other person know. It’s taking you know the resentment that you’re bathing yourselves in and draining it out of your bathtub. Your mitochondria do not like bathing in resentment. So boundaries are going to be personal boundaries emotional boundaries, mental boundaries material boundaries, physical boundaries and spiritual boundaries. You wanna make sure that you’re keeping good boundaries with yourself and the others in your life. And part of this work that you’re doing is you’re healing attachment disorders through connecting to your inner child and to your older, wiser self. And I take you through that whole process and healing trauma through the chakra system. 

So you, as an older, wiser, amazingly gifted person of this planet holds your heart, right? Holds your little child self and can continue to keep reconnecting and healing her. That is up to you not anyone else. No one else has responsibility. And that helps you rewrite your story which is what we’re up to. All right so again, if you wanna learn how to do this as part of Dr. Keesha’s autoimmune protocol which doesn’t exist, it’s all of these things that we’ve been talking about over the last five days. And if you wanna again, join the Academy for Integrative Medicine health coach certification program, this week we’re giving you $3,000 off of that. We, I made this program for summit junkies. 

So if you’re joining me during a summit, that’s when, that’s why I’m offering. This is because this is the people that I made this for. And so when you go to this URL, Dr. keesha.com/A-I-M-H-C, then it’s already built-in and there’s also a payment plan available. All right so, hopefully you’ve enjoyed the summit series. You can join the Reverse Autoimmune Disease Institute private Facebook group. I’m gonna do one more webinar for you as a bonus. That is some of the stuff that I’ve been learning in my Tibetan Buddhist masters of divinity program on the perfections. And so I will see you in the next webinar, have a great summit until next time, be well.


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