Welcome back to the Healing Pain Podcast with Aparna Natarajan, MS, CNS
In this episode, we are discussing how to use functional nutrition to treat and alleviate chronic musculoskeletal pain. My guest is Aparna Natarajan. She is a Certified Nutrition Specialist with a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Functional Medicine. She is a clinician, a researcher, and an educationist who has contributed to the Institute for Functional Medicine’s Meal Planning Program as a subject matter expert. She’s cultivated an understanding of the mind-body connection and combines both the science, as well as the art of nutrition, Reiki, and emotional freedom technique.
We will discuss the importance of nutrition and overcoming chronic pain, as well as the benefits of an elimination diet for those living with chronic pain. If you enjoy this episode, make sure to stay tuned because I have a perspective paper that is being published in PTJ, the Journal of Physical Therapy, on the topic of nutrition and chronic pain, specifically for the physical therapy professional, though it relates to other professions as well.
That’s moving through the peer-review process. For those of you that have published before, as you know, sometimes that can be a bit of a slow process but it will be out, rest assured, hopefully, sometime in early 2022. For now, let’s begin and meet Aparna and learn about the importance of nutrition for chronic pain.
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A Functional Nutrition Approach To Musculoskeletal Pain With Aparna Natarajan, MS, CNS
Aparna, thanks for joining me.
Thank you, Joe. It’s a pleasure to be here.
I’m excited to speak with you about functional nutrition and the impact it can have on people living with pain. You are a functional nutritionist and you have been practicing for a number of years. I know you have done some research in this area, as well as you have lots of clinical experience. Let’s talk about some of your research first. It’s a brilliant case study that you did on the impact of an elimination diet for someone with chronic pain. Tell us how that came about and tell us the overview of that case study?
I was part of the clinical program that a bunch of clinical nutritionists got together and we recruited people or worked with our own clients. We decided to implement the elimination and detox diet plans that are created by the Institute for Functional Medicine and I’m one of the subject matter experts and planners of those meal plans as well.
My client was from South Africa and she presented with several symptoms when she first came to me and some of them were all digestive issues like nausea, bloating, low appetite, chronic joint, and pain in her shoulders. She couldn’t lift her arm and pain in her knees caused her to not exercise. She was an athlete in her younger years. She had had two knee surgeries, fatigue and headache. These were the main symptoms.
We started with the elimination diet, which eliminates typical allergens like foods that have high immunogenicity. Those are wheat, corn, dairy, pork, beef, peanuts and shellfish. Instead of these, we substituted or introduced foods that are non-dairy products like nut milk and if possible, coconut. Sugars and coffees are also eliminated in this and Green Tea is used.
I implemented that but I looked at it in layers. The first thing I wanted to work with her was on her GI issues, bloating, appetite, and then we worked on the elimination piece. Within the first two weeks, all of her digestive issues resolved and her appetite increased because she was drinking a lot of coffee and as we reduced the coffee, we had to eliminate it in her case.
We incorporated digestive enzymes to improve upper digestion. She started eating better and her digestive issues went away partly because of the digestive enzymes. She increased the nutrient content and density of her foods. By week four, she started lifting her arm. By weeks 5 and 6, she started walking and exercising. By week nine, she could go all the way up and this was a chronic eight-year problem. She had not been able to have her joints or shoulder and knees without pain for eight years. Within nine weeks, we were able to see this change.
Walk us through again the elimination part because there are lots of different variations of elimination diets. It can be as simple as one food, can be upwards of ten foods or whole food groups. Tell us specifically what was eliminated in this case study?
I will tell you what an elimination diet is not. An elimination diet is not a diet that is low-calorie or removing foods that seem to be as fat, “Let’s remove wheat or dairy.” It’s not that. It’s a well-studied, well-evidenced program that says that there are certain foods that seem to increase oxidative stress in the body. There are certain foods that seem to increase immunogenicity in the body, especially in the digestive tract, which our immune system is largely in the digestive tract.
These proteins in these foods can escape through the intestine and affect other body parts because they are causing an immune activation. Our immune system says, “There is danger here. We see things that we don’t know. What they found in many studies is that there are six main food problems. You can approach it in different ways. You can take one food out at a time or you can take out a set of food, which has good evidence for increasing oxidative stress.
Wheat, dairy, beef, pork, shellfish, nuts or peanuts. They are not the same but you can take out all nuts and peanuts or take out peanuts. Instead of trying to eliminate one at a time, you can elevate all of this for 2 to 3 weeks. That’s all we are looking at and look to see how much of the change you see in the symptom picture.
You can also use a food sensitivity test but food sensitivity tests don’t always show all kinds of reactions because it’s not the IgE and IgG tests. We have to look at compliments and activation of other immune factors that are not always captured. Some tests do like the MRT but that’s another approach. I use that approach when someone comes to me who’s already done elimination diets.
If you are starting fresh, this is a person who is not ever tried it. I tried eliminating 1 or 2 things, nothing worked. You can take this approach. In this case study, coffee, sugar, and dairy were the ones that needed the most attention. It wasn’t even wheat. For pain, you want to look at nightshades and oxalates.
There isn’t a lot of data on this. There are only a few case theories. Some of us knew that but it’s worth a try because we’ve got to introduce it back. We want to try it first. Oxalate, on the other hand, in some cases they are crystalline substances that can get deposited in cartilage and bone. It’s because they are crystalline, they tend to be pokey. A lot of people have pokey pain in the joints and it could be an indication of sensitivity to oxalates.
In this case, there were a few foods that were rich in oxalates that we did remove but there wasn’t a lot of food. The interesting part of my case study was in the elimination diet, I did a lot of adding because the person that I was working with wasn’t eating enough. We took all the foods that when introduced can reduce oxidative stress, provide the nutrients the body needs and help resolve the problems that are being presented.
In this particular case, the elimination period is also flexible. Probably gold standards are a minimum of 3 to 4 weeks. Other people with more chronic autoimmune conditions may have to be on the elimination part in as long as six months to a year. How long did the elimination period last in this case study?
We just did a three-week elimination.
All those foods you mentioned came out and they came out for three weeks.
We never reintroduced sugar and coffee.
You found that coffee was probably a GI irritant, is what I’m guessing in this case, is that correct?
It was not at 1 or 2 cups. The 6 to 8 cups of coffee are what we are talking about. It’s not just the caffeine. There are other nutrients that can increase and the data comes from rheumatoid arthritis more than from osteoarthritis, which this person was moving towards even though she didn’t have a diagnosis. Her mother had a diagnosis of osteoarthritis. The likelihood that she was going towards that is pretty high. According to research, if there’s a family history, there is a chance of you getting a similar pattern if you don’t take care of it, at least per research.
In fact, The BMJ said that people walking into a general practitioner with generalized pain, if they only use the standard of care, which is NSAIDs or physiotherapy but no nutrition or other programs as part of the CARE Program, they end up with osteoarthritis diagnosis an average of eight years later. This was one of the papers that I was reading as part of putting my case study together.
She was right at that eight-year mark where she couldn’t even raise her hand and she does have a family history of osteoarthritis as well. Coffee has other compounds that can affect joint mobility. This study comes out of a rat study where they give large amounts of coffee, not just caffeine. It happens even with decaffeinated coffee and it was specifically for female rats as well. They found that there were problems in articulation with coffee. That was a very rare study. I just found that.
As soon as the coffee came down, the appetite improved and the nutrition status improved, too. I did a quick estimate of how many calories she needed in a day. To be able to keep the resting metabolic rate at normal, she was eating 56% less than that. It was quite an interesting thing to see how nutrients when you start taking it, pain starts coming down.
There is a high level. There are meta-analyses now on the effectiveness of elimination diets for chronic pain. As you mentioned, certain people react to certain foods or other people don’t react to food. Nutrition is a key component and something we want to have our eye on keenly with people with chronic pain. RA and OA are two very different conditions and even OA itself is a different condition.
I want to comment on that the BMJ article. There are a lot of nuances in research studies. Typically, the group of patients who progressed to having OA without a nutrition intervention is typically those who are also obese. Obesity is a pro-inflammatory condition and nutrition has such an impact on inflammation but I want to go back and clarify that if you see a physical therapist but don’t have nutrition, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to develop osteoarthritis though.
We have to look at that based on someone’s phenotype. We could have someone thin that still has developed osteoarthritis and does very well with the PT program. If they are obese and they have an inflammatory condition, which obesity is inflammatory, if nutrition isn’t a component of it, they may be more likely to progress OA, not that they are 100% going to have it. I think that’s important because I want to be cautious that we don’t give a broad spectrum recommendation to what exactly is going to happen. Everyone’s biochemistry is unique and you know that from functional nutrition.
It wasn’t that all of them where they were seemed to be more likely when the inflammation was higher. That’s exactly what the point was.
Was there anything else that was personalized for her? I love the perspective of making sure that the healthy food went back in because when people look at elimination diets, it’s like, “I’m removing all this stuff but what am I eating? What can I have that’s nutritious and supportive?”
One of the things that we added was we found that phytonutrients or foods from the plant were very low. She was eating mostly tomatoes, lettuce, bell peppers and there were no spices in her foods either. She was quite interested. One of the things a nutritionist does is sit down with a client and say, “Tell me your story, what you like and don’t like.” We create our plan based on the whole story. It’s not just, “I’m going to take this sheet of paper and I’m going to give it to you.” In fact, we put everything aside and we listened to the person. I said, “What else do you want to eat?” All about the elimination was, what do you want to eat?
I’m telling you what not to eat but I want to tell you what you want to eat. That’s how we put it together. She started eating so many. She wanted to eat turmeric. She added oregano, cinnamon cardamom and cumin. I think that it was from 0 to 13 different spices. Fruits and vegetables were seasonal at that time in South Africa, which was summer for her and winter for us.
I walked her through the different foods that she could eat, how to make smoothies, how to make stews and things like that. She was quite happy to see that she was eating a lot of food and not missing out on the coffee and sugar. She put 2 or 3 teaspoons of sugar as well to keep her going because that was where she was getting her energy from. The fact that you couldn’t eat once the digestive enzymes started working again, her abdominal pain and bloating went away. She’s like, “I like eating these foods now.”
The elimination diet took out, in her case, a few things. I think we took out beef and during the reintroduction, we said, “Try it and see how you like it.” We did find during reintroduction that she didn’t do very well with full-fat yogurt. She was okay with a lower fat yogurt but she got diarrhea and things like that.
When she ate too many high histamine foods, she started getting allergies symptoms and histamine can also increase pain in the body. When she ate too much on the same day, her histamine bucket filled up quickly like cashews and mushrooms. She was like, “I’m sneezing.” We pulled back on that and she said, “Now, I feel better if I just eat either a little bit of cashews or mushroom.” You keep tweaking because you are listening to the story that they bring to the session.
Before you mentioned nightshades and oxalates, there is not a whole lot of great research on either one of them, more the nightshades than the oxalates. The oxalates, as a professional, I find a little concerning because people read things online about it. They feel like there is a glass floating around that is getting stuck in their joints and that’s not the way it works. Some people have a little bit of a sensitivity to oxalates.
In my personal experience, I find that, as you mentioned with histamine foods, when people decrease them a little bit, they don’t eat too much of it. They are okay. You come across people who are eating spinach and kale every day, twice a day. What you are saying is, “What I have identified here is someone who lacks variety in their diet. When you lack variety, that’s when intolerances can develop, and from that, there are symptoms.”
A lack of variety or lack of food in itself is a problem. That’s why we look at seasonal variations and if it was winter, we would have had a little different. In our case, we added sweet potatoes, which is a high oxalate food. I wasn’t concerned in her case. In fact, I’m not very concerned. I have seen a few people and there may be other reasons why oxalate. It is not just the food itself. There’s always an inflammatory component to that piece. I prefer adding foods to the morning foods.
That’s what it is because the microbiome itself produces enzymes that break down or detoxify the oxalates. If someone’s microbiome is not healthy when they come in but throughout this study, someone shifts their health, which means their microbiome is shifting from a dysbiotic state to a healthy state, oftentimes people can tolerate that food because their entire system is now able to digest, eliminate, assimilate or whatever it is that’s coming in.
That’s was one of the reasons for increasing the fiber content and polyphenols, which also act as a prebiotic-like food to increase bifidobacteria lactobacillus and those good bacteria that help. Also, eliminate some of these inflammatory signaling molecules as well.
I love the spice forward approach because so often, spices are left out, even though I recommend everyone should have a beautiful spice rack in their kitchen full of all the spices from different cultures. I think that makes nutrition, food, and cooking fun but people don’t realize that’s where the powerful anti-inflammatory and, in our case, anti-pain or antinociceptive ingredients are oftentimes.
Ginger is a great example of that.
What other spices do you recommend to people that are very anti-inflammatory that can help people with pain?
It’s seasonal. In the winter, I like the warming spices like a bishop. It’s called Ajwain or bishop’s weed seeds. Fenugreek is an anti-inflammatory. Fennel and coriander, in the summer seasons they are cooling spices. This is coming from more of an Ayurvedic approach to the body type and it increases inflammation. If you feel balanced, then you are very strong and athletic. I love the Middle Eastern spices. Even red chilies, harissa peppers, and topical capsaicin systems are used for pain.
Peppermint is interesting. It eliminates mostly GI pain but it can also give you that calming effect directly to help with the inflammation and mostly improves the GI functions. Many of these spices are also antimicrobials. If you have pain because of an underlying infection or you feel you are susceptible to infections, I find that the spice is one of the best armors you can put around yourself. I have been eating spices ever since I was born. I have a huge spice area as well and I introduced all my clients who are not familiar with those to try them.
Since you mentioned peppers because peppers have capsaicin, which people know can be helpful for pain and pain management to some extent. There were some functional practitioners that looked at capsaicin and spicy foods as promoting leaky gut, so to speak. Do you have an opinion or any research you can lean into on that particular topic?
In excess, yes. Even peppers do that. You have to understand what kind of permeability this is. Is it transcellular? I think that’s where it is. It’s between the cells but it closes back. It’s not something that opens the flood gates like the Zonulin is all ripped off that gluten seems to do for a lot of people. It seems to bring it back. It could be there’s a threshold for people to after which, it can become an irritant. I may have to go back and re-look into the research but I do know that it affects a different kind of permeability than the leaky gut syndrome that people are talking about.
It could create what’s called a transitory permeability, which is temporary. Although if you are the person who’s eating lots of spicy foods multiple times a day, then it might lead to more of a long-term problem but you are right. It’s a different intestinal permeability than happens with gluten, where the zonulin molecule can unlock that connection between each intestinal cell and lead to a longer-term, more concerning intestinal permeability, which is an important factor for those with autoimmune conditions. That’s one of the triggers.
We always need a trigger, intestinal permeability, and the genetic component to create that autoimmune cascade. There are specific nutrients in the diet and in foods that can be helpful with pain. Was there a focus on the nutrients or is that something that you brought in with other patients and other work?
I will give you the functional medicine perspective on these nutrients. When you look at pain, it’s inflammation. This is something that I have created as a talking point with my clients. The pain sits at the crossroads of your energy and immune system. The energy system is what we call the redox system, which is closely related to the mitochondria, which are mighty organelle that sits inside the cell and tell the cell how to function. It gives the energy but if it’s not taken care of, it can produce a lot of oxidative stress.
One of my analogies is we pay taxes to build the roads but we use the roads and the roads break down, and then we pay taxes. It’s something like that. We have to keep our mitochondria happy. All the nutrients that keep the mitochondria plastic because the mitochondria go through efficient and fusion all the time, it’s caused mitophagy, which is eating itself up and creating new fresh mitochondria.
Mitochondria love nutrients like B vitamins, antioxidants like glutathione and CoQ10. If you have noticed, most people with pain have poor energy. For people who have migraines, I focused on the mitochondria a lot. Neuropathy is also mitochondria. B vitamins, magnesium, CoQ10, glutathione, selenium, and foods that are rich in glutathione by themselves.
There are several blueberries and whey. Many fruits and vegetables contain glutathione but if you give the precursors, which are all the proteins that are needed like selenium, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin B2, for the recycling, then you produce an adequate amount of glutathione. There’s no need to take any more glutathione.
It’s best for your endogenous system to create it. Just give the precursors because it has to be neatly balanced. We don’t want to overdo the antioxidants. Eating fruits and vegetables, whole foods, and whole vegetables give you all the carotenoids, which are good to suppress oxidative species but also luteolin, apigenin and quercetin. All of these are amazing because they can prevent the accumulation of white blood cells in cartilage tissue. In fact, they found that they protect the cartilage and they decrease things like Leukotriene B4, the ones which are pro-inflammatory.
They allow it to come up but they don’t let it proceed forever and ever. They improve T regulatory cells, which are vitamin D and selenium. When you are looking at the immune system, everything that supports the immune system and the mitochondria brings them together. You can start looking at a set of nutrients that will also help with the pain. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the top studied essential fatty acids for pain because they have such a great influence on the inflammatory process with the eicosanoids and leukotrienes.
All of those can modulate pain because they allow inflammation but they also disallow inflammation. They know how to let it peak and how to let it fall. It’s a natural process. We need an Omega-6, especially the GLA, GLE that our body’s supposed to produce but it doesn’t produce enough and it goes down the actinoid pathway, which is good because you need some inflammation to start the repair work but you also need to say, “That’s enough. Now, we need to rebuild and clear the debris.” Omega-6 is very good for that.
To summarize, think of the mitochondria detox system and the immune system, your nutrients are right there. The other thing to consider is the detoxification system. Detoxification is one of the larger organ systems like the liver, kidney and intestine. Several phases of detoxification take place there. Also, the lungs and skin. If these are working, then the immune system and the redox system are able to function easily. Otherwise, they have to keep fighting against toxicants from the outside world or even our own endogenous, we produced steroids that need to be reduced. Too much or too less of testosterone, estrogen or progesterone increases pain.
That’s why fiber is important because fiber helps detoxify and you move through your gut. If you have extra estrogen, fiber absorbs that extra estrogen and facilitates the removal of it. Always with detoxification, exercise and sweating are so important.
In a functional medicine model, we always look at movement exercises. In the case of this client, she was not able to exercise. One of the first things you would want to do is start with sweating. It gives you that similar idea of allowing the pores to open, normally toxic metals, mercury, and some PFAS, which are Teflon-like chemicals. They can come out through the sweat. Those are important.
I like qigong. If it’s possible, I do qigong every day. I also like something called the classical stretch. It was on PBS for years. You may or may not know this or maybe some of your readers do. It’s called essentrics as well. It’s simple and dynamic stretches, which helped and I’ve used it for my own hip pain when I was finding problems with that. Regular exercise, even lifting, and knowing how to do that correctly with a physiotherapist or a personal trainer can reduce pain in the joints.
My favorite is the kettlebell. It’s like a deadlift but it’s not a full deadlift. I did that for my back and the traction with the kettlebell. To see that stress is hermetic. It helps to remold the cartilage, running and walking. All of that gives the cartilage an opportunity. Gravity helps our bone structure as well as the articulation between the bones to improve. These are all tools we have to look and we are always trying to move the client towards those important pieces of health.
I know you wanted to mention some data, some outcomes that you saw from a clinical program, and about those outcomes on a broader level. What happens when you effectively change someone’s nutrition or what can be expected beyond pain relief?
In the nutrition program, we had about seventeen different clients and 6 to 8 different nutritionists because that’s what the time was allocated for us. We started by looking at the medical symptoms questionnaire. We took a score, which breaks down the scoring system by the head, nose, and different body parts because it’s easy for the client to mark. We found that everyone came in with GI issues like bloating. Fatigue was a huge and different type of pain. Some musculoskeletal, joint pain and headaches.
There were people who had menstrual issues, couldn’t gain weight and lose weight. We took it down and we said, for all these people, “Inflammation is one of the root causes.” Whatever it is, we are going to try and remove immunogenic foods and replace them with phytonutrients, proper amounts of protein, carbs and fats. We did not reduce. We took into account as I said, I increased the nutrition of total calories. There were some who reduced it but within the same framework.
What we found was all these chief complaints, including fatty liver as assessed by evidenced by lab reports, fatty liver, GERD, a lot of upper GI issues, a person who could hadn’t been able to gain weight for years. She also did not have proper menstrual cycles and that recovered completely. A person who had long-term candida infections went away. Almost everyone and this is true. One hundred percent of participants said that their emotional state was so much better. It was as if a cloud had been lifted.
It started very much in the beginning. The question is, “Is it because they have the comfort to be able to talk to a nutritionist? Are they able to work things out with them?” It could be that. It could also be that the anti-inflammatory foods and almost everybody had to take out alcohol. More than 80% of the clients, all the women were drinking some amount of alcohol every day and sometimes every week.
It is more than the recommended daily allowance. One serving of alcohol four times a week for a woman and people don’t realize a serving of alcohol is about 4 ounces versus when you go to a bar or a restaurant, a glass of wine that they typically serve you is between 8 to 12 ounces.
Some people had allergies to pork, which was interesting. Several people had allergies and were sensitivities to wheat but not all. The reintroduction phase allows us to distinguish between this. We don’t want to remove food for the heck of it as I said. We want to make it evidence-based and we want to make it personalized. There was a person who couldn’t lose weight and gained weight. We could see opposite spectrums on the same diet.
That’s the beauty of how the body works. It knows how to bring it back to homeostasis or back to the hemodynamic state if you want to look at it that way. Nutrition affects every single node of our body and the matrix that we are. It affects assimilation, energy production, detoxification, hormones, transportation, all the lymphatic system, endothelial system, structure and we know that.
Was it function follows form? If the form is all deformed, the cellular structure if you have too much lipid peroxidation and could be even based on the way you are cooking your food, not the foods you are eating. If it’s fried, overbaked or overbarbecued and all of those things, you add more phytonutrients to quell the oxidative stress produced by these compounds that can come out from cooking.
When the cell structure starts becoming clean and fresh in our intestine, every 3 to 5 days, we have new cells forming. If you do it well, and provide the nutrients for cell growth, like glutamine, for example, and to nourish the microbiome, then we get new cells. New cells mean new functions. The basis of everything is the food and nutrients you are providing. That’s why we saw all the changes.
You can see changes within two weeks, as you mentioned before. Within two weeks of optimizing someone’s diet and nutrition, they will start to say, “I feel better. I’m sleeping better. I have less brain fog. My joints don’t hurt as much, etc.” As we start to wrap up, I want to make sure we touch on EFT or the Emotional Freedom Technique. I know that EFT is something that you use in practice. People also know it as tapping. Can you talk to us about that and the impact you have seen with it?
I was an EFT practitioner before I became a nutritionist. I have a background in Computer Science Engineering, and when I was at home taking care of my children, I wanted to learn something about health and expand my repertoire. I wanted something that was a self-help tool, something I could do at home and teach my children because we were all having some health problems or the other. I found Dr. Gary Craig, who’s the Founder of Emotional Freedom Techniques, and now it’s called tapping. That’s the popular term. I learned it and I almost instantly got it. Tapping is a form of acupressure but it’s a form of emotional acupressure.
The idea is to tap on the endpoints of the traditional Chinese meridian system that acupuncturists use and what they found is when you have emotional trauma, there’s a disruption in the flow of energy in the meridian system. If it’s unresolved and the trauma is not resolved, it continues to put pressure on these energy systems. We are trying to come back online but other incidents that are similar to, at the instance, that of trauma can cause the meridian system to go out of alignment. If it’s constantly repeated, it turns into a physical problem. It could be any problem, anxiety, insomnia and pain. Pain is the most common and the first thing people see like migraines, TMJ, back pain and so on.
As a part of the integrative philosophy, I don’t have any dogmatic approach that everyone has to do nutrition. I have worked with people who cannot implement nutrition as part of their protocol. I’m open. I would like them to feel well, and I want to give them the tools. Nutrition is a tool you can use at home. You learn to cook and read labels, whatever you need to do.
I worked with a child who had ulcer colitis. He was in deep pain. I could not talk to him about nutrition. His parents were not able to follow all of these things. With the tapping and visualization, I was able to bring quite a bit of relief. I worked with war veterans who had a lot of joints and musculoskeletal pain. In fact, one of the veterans was the one who introduced me to different people in my neighborhood. He would walk and sit with me in all the sessions.
He keep up permission and we would tap. He would tap. I said, “Why are you coming with me?” I thought he was a chaperone but he said, “No, I feel great every time I tap. I don’t even care for the words you are using or how you are working with the person. When I sit in that room, I feel better and my pain has drastically come down since I started working with you. I don’t want to miss a single session.” For him, it was a lot of fun to walk around with me and I loved it too, because I felt very happy to have him in the rooms. The people felt happy.
It’s to tap on the endpoints of these meridian systems and I personalized it to the extent that I could. In fact, we go deep. I zoom out and zoom in. With simple things like visualizing, does it have a color texture, feeling, person and story? Within three rounds, people are telling me stories. It’s typically a shame. Somebody scolded you and you felt badly hurt and that shame becomes angry because you cannot go back and tell her. Maybe it’s a person of authority that you can’t go and say, “I don’t like it. I was right. You were wrong. You can never say that to a person of authority.”
When you were young, you hold it in your stomach. We tapped this and typically, there’s a bit of forgiving, and then we do a round of gratitude. I asked them to do affirmations on their own or with me. To get to the point when you can make affirmations to seal in the goodness, you have to first accept that something went wrong, you are okay with it and you let it go. It’s a process of letting go and that releases the pain. I have seen this work over and over again, even when people have tried all kinds of things, including nutrition and there’s chronicity over there.
I like to step back and pull the barrel little bit further back into the emotional and spiritual state of the person to say, “Would you like to work with me on some other issues that may be bothering you?” Almost immediately, the answer is yes because they know and it’s a relief. It’s another tool and I have used it since 2009. It’s much longer than I have been a nutritionist. For a while, I was not doing it, and as I told you, there are positions when I feel that a person needs extra help. I introduce them to EFT and they are able to do it at home.
You use that as a vehicle to start to tap into the psychological and the emotional aspects of someone’s care. It’s a pretty easy intervention, as far as, you don’t need any equipment. You can do it either in person or virtually. It becomes easy and approachable for people.
It’s the art of delivery that I learned through Gary Craig. You make it humorous, easy and effortless. I like to draw analogies and people start laughing. They are like, “It’s a little funny now.” Ultimately, we are all healing machines. We automatically should come back to normal. We go through a problem and that’s fine but we should come back to a level basis homeostasis. If it’s not, we have to fine-tune a few aspects. I always try to make it effortless and to drop every sense of judgment that the person has because sometimes, with nutrition, feel that sometimes it’s like, “I want to do this but I cannot.”
The moment they tell me that, we stop and we tap, “It’s okay. It’s fine. Let’s not make this point of pain for you this change.” We tap on that and the person comes back to me with five different recipes. She said, “I felt it was easy now.” EFT helps you make things effortless. It removes those hindrances because we all have great gifts and creativity. We know intuitively inside how we can heal ourselves and your creative aspects start coming. The gifts that you have started coming out. I feel this EFT is one more tool in the toolbox to bring you into that healing space.
Overcoming some barriers are important as you start to heal on what might seem obvious like, “You need to change your nutrition but sometimes it’s a little bit of work that has to be done before you are willing to get to that point and make the changes.” Sometimes it has to be a little bit more to support. Aparna, it has been great speaking with you, learning about functional nutrition and the importance of functional nutrition for people with chronic pain and other chronic illnesses. Let our readers know how they can learn more about you.
I do have a website. I have different ideas coming out of my mind and because I also work full-time at the University of Western States. I do part-time nutrition consultants and EFT. What I’m doing now is I’m connecting with practitioners like you. They are sending me their clients if they feel that they need nutrition support or EFT.
For the next few months, as I transitioned between two different working with the school, which I love as well as taking clients, the reason I’m doing this is I want to make sure that the client is supported and it takes a village. I found that when they know that they are coming in and have other support, they are very open.
We are able to go further and do a lot more work. For the time being, it is only a referral. On my website, there’s still a contact form if I know somebody referring me to someone or it could also be from a friend, or a client refers a friend. That does happen but practitioners are referring them and that’s worked out well for me now.
What’s the URL so we can point people to it.
It’s a RasaLifeNutrition.com. Rasa in Sanskrit means the lymphatic system. It’s the first layer of the tissue systems in Ayurveda. Rasa means emotion, taste and flow. I love the word because it combines everything I do and everything I feel brings true healing. Emotions need to be tapped in. Your life essence, tastes, and hobbies need to be tapped in. Nutrition and the lymphatic system, which to me represents the physical nature of healing.
I want to thank Aparna for being here. Make sure you share this episode with your friends and family on social media and anywhere people are talking about the impact of nutrition on chronic pain. Thank you for joining me. We will see you in the next episode.
Thank you so much.
About Aparna Natarajan
I am a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) with a Master of Science in Nutrition and Functional Medicine. I’m also a course facilitator/ teaching assistant in the online graduate-level Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine program at the University of Western States.
In my private practice, I help people with
Metabolic syndrome, cholesterol, and blood sugar balancing
Skin disorders (acne, eczema, rosacea)
Meal planning for optimal wellness
Lifestyle tips for mindful living, and guidelines for using EFT as a self-help tool.