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Balance Your Brain, Balance Your Life: 28 Days to Feeling Better Than You Ever Have

Balance Your Brain, Balance Your Life: 28 Days to Feeling Better Than You Ever Have

by Jay Lombard, Armin A. Brott, Armin Brott (With), Christian Renna
Acclaim for Balance Your Brain Balance Your Life

"Balance Your Brain, Balance Your Life breaks new ground in psychology and medicine and promises to change the way we think about health and disease."
—Mehmet Oz, M.D.
bestselling author of Healing from the Heart

"This innovative and interesting book will help you feel great and live


Acclaim for Balance Your Brain Balance Your Life

"Balance Your Brain, Balance Your Life breaks new ground in psychology and medicine and promises to change the way we think about health and disease."
—Mehmet Oz, M.D.
bestselling author of Healing from the Heart

"This innovative and interesting book will help you feel great and live life to its fullest."
—Carol Colman
New York Times bestselling coauthor of Curves

"Dr. Lombard is at the forefront of the emerging field of neuropsychiatry and this book explains it all in a way that is practical and easily understood."
—Aidan Quinn, actor

"Anyone seeking greater balance in life can find much useful practical information in this book."
—David Simon, M.D.
Medical Director of the Chopra Center for Well Being
author of the Nautilus Award—winning Vital Energy

"This step-by-step guide gives clear treatment strategies to help you successfully navigate the complex interplay between the brain and the body—a holistic approach that shows you how to use the best of Eastern and Western medicines."
—Elizabeth DuPont Spencer, M.S.W.
coauthor of The Anxiety Cure and The Anxiety Cure for Kids

"Bravo! Dr. Lombard demonstrates that when it comes to the understanding and rational integration of traditional and alternative medicine he has no peer."
—Joseph A. Deltito, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, New York Medical College

"You'll come away from reading Balance Your Brain, Balance Your Life with a new sense of awe and wonder at the exquisite relationship between mind and body. Whether you're seeking to improve your mood, control your weight, or just plain feel better, Drs. Lombard and Renna have answers for you that encompass the totality of your life, not just a part."
—Toni G. Grant, Ph.D.
clinical psychologist and author of Being a Woman

This is a revolutionary program that shows you how to boost your health, energy, and happiness by balancing your brain chemistry.

Do you suffer from symptoms of anxiety, depression, chronic pain, overweight, fatigue, inability to focus, addiction, or more? Now there is hope for you. In this groundbreaking guide to feeling your best all the time, two prominent physicians explain how slight imbalances in your brain chemistry can cause a wide variety of health problems—and how you can overcome these problems and regain your health in 28 days.

Drs. Jay Lombard and Christian Renna show how your health and mood are directly connected to the balance of five neurotransmitters in your brain and body, especially dopamine and serotonin. They include a simple questionnaire that you can use to determine whether you have an excess or deficiency of one or more of these neurotransmitters, and they show the effects your imbalance can have on your health. A deficit of dopamine, for instance, may lead to weight gain, diminished sex drive, inability to focus, and addictions, whereas a deficit of serotonin may cause anxiety, depression, and an increased risk of heart disease.

Using breakthrough research along with dramatic case studies of patients who now feel great after following the authors' program, Balance Your Brain, Balance Your Life provides easy-to-follow strategies for correcting most imbalances through customized 28-day programs of exercise, diet, supplements, and herbs.

In this groundbreaking guide to feeling terrific, you'll learn how to:

  • Identify whether you are a warm type, a cool type, or a dual type
  • Select the customized 28-day mind-body plan that's right for you
  • Conquer symptoms of anxiety, depression, chronic pain, fatigue, and more
  • Lose weight and improve your mood

By following the revolutionary new program in this book, you can make yourself healthier, more energetic, and happier in less than a month.

Author Biography: DR. JAY LOMBARD is Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology at Cornell Medical School and the Director of the Brain Behavior Center in Rockland County, New York. He has appeared on Larry King Live and NBC News and is a nationally recognized speaker on brain-behavioral-related topics.
DR. CHRISTIAN RENNA is a nationally recognized expert on preventive medicine and the founder of LifeSpan Medicine clinics. He has appeared on 48 Hours, Extra!, and nationwide radio. With offices in Dallas and Beverly Hills, he has many celebrity patients.
ARMIN A. BROTT is a freelance writer. His books include The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-to-Be and Father for Life: A Journey of Joy, Challenge, and Change.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Neurologist Lombard and preventive medicine speaker Renna argue that we are all in a state of chemical imbalance. The authors' premise is that people who are too warm need more of the cooling neurotransmitter serotonin, while people who are too cool need more dopamine. Deficiencies of either chemical lead to certain personality characteristics and are even affiliated with medical conditions such as heart disease. People who are too warm are often restless and angry, while those who are too cool are often fatigued and anxious. As the authors explain, "When we say mind-body balance what we really mean is brain-body balance." Lombard and Renna provide a test so readers can determine whether they have a warming or cooling tendency, and then they offer tailored 28-day programs that include diet, dietary supplements, exercise, sleep and possible medical treatment. Although the authors say that people can have a dual deficiency, trying to fit into the categories may remind readers of trying to match up with an astrological sign. Interesting points are made, but still it will be hard for many to accept that so much of our mental and physical health is due to a neurotransmitter deficit. Additionally, while many of the authors' recommendations appear sound, they don't provide much evidence for their dietary or supplement advice. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.45(w) x 9.59(h) x 0.99(d)

Read an Excerpt

Balance Your Brain, Balance Your Life

28 Days to Feeling Better Than You Ever Have
By Jay Lombard Christian Renna Armin A. Brott

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-471-37422-9

Chapter One

The Yin and Yang of Balance, Health, and Disease

Jay had a patient, Lisa, who was a single parent trying to raise two children on her salary as a checker in a grocery store. She'd grown up in an abusive household. Just out of high school she married a policeman and moved as far away from her family as possible.

For the first few years, Lisa's marriage was good. But not long after their second son was born, her husband started coming home drunk and getting violent with her and the kids. Lisa wanted to go to counseling, but her husband refused. Instead he moved out and filed for divorce. That's when Lisa started drinking.

Her older son, who was five, developed serious emotional problems because of the divorce. And since her ex-husband refused to pay child support, Lisa and the kids were evicted from their apartment and the three of them had to move into a small studio. Lisa became horribly depressed. She stopped paying attention to her appearance, stopped exercising, put on twenty pounds, and spent most of her time drinking, watching television, and eating Pringles.

At one point, a well-meaning neighbor reported her to the Department of Social Services, who sent a caseworker to her house and threatened to place her children in foster care. Faced with theprospect of losing her children, Lisa snapped into action. On the advice of a friend she made an appointment with Jay, who determined that she had a significant cooling deficiency.

Jay prescribed Zoloft, a serotonin-increasing antidepressant, which had an immediate positive effect. But he felt that Lisa's problems would be much better dealt with in the long term by changing her lifestyle and behavior. He immediately put her on a diet like the one in the 28-day program in chapter 7, and suggested that she begin each day with some yoga or stretching, both of which increase serotonin levels. He also insisted that she get into a 12-step program, which she did.

After several months of following Jay's advice and attending regular AA meetings, Lisa had lost most of the weight she put on during her depression and had started dating. Best of all, she was feeling good enough about herself that she and Jay had begun weaning her off of the medications. Six weeks later she was completely drug-free and still feeling great.

People have been speculating for thousands of years about a connection between the mind and the body. The idea that the two are completely separate is deeply ingrained in Western culture and influences the way most contemporary physicians practice medicine and treat disease. In our system of healing, we have one group of specialists (psychologists or psychiatrists) who deal with matters of the mind, while another group (internists of all kinds) treats the body. The problem with that approach is that by treating mental and physical symptoms separately, we neglect a whole category of diseases that involve both.

There's no question that mind and body are inextricably intertwined. When our lives are in conflict or out of balance, we can literally feel it in our belly. People who are angry or depressed over a long period of time have an increased chance of suffering from heart disease. And fear can make you sweat, breathe hard, lose control of your bladder, or even die.

Most people think of "mind-body balance" as a kind of emotional-physical thing, and many of the examples we've given above-of how the body and emotions affect each other-certainly support that. But when we say mind-body balance what we really mean is brain-body balance, which is where the mind and the body interface. Think of it as a symphony concert. How the music sounds will depend on how well the conductor and the orchestra work together and respond to each other.

The same goes for the brain and the body. Properly balanced, they work in harmony and what happens to one has a direct impact on the other. Together, brain and body control hunger and cravings, motivate actions, temper reactions, fight infection and disease, and keep us feeling and looking our best.

What exactly are the brain and the body trying to balance? They're trying to balance two equally powerful yet opposing forces: chaos and order, excitement and inhibition, on and off, hot and cold. Some version of these two forces exists in every atom and cell in our bodies, in every muscle and nerve and organ. These forces govern our every thought and control our every action. Our lives exist in a dynamic equilibrium. Our health, our hobbies, our successes or failures in life, the relationships we have, the jobs we do, where and what we worship, and even the survival or death of single cells within our body-all depend on how well we maintain brain-body balance.

Past, Present, and Future

About 5,000 years ago the Vedic Indians were among the first to articulate the ideas that what affects the mind also affects the body and vice versa, that our emotional lives cannot be separated from our physical ones, and that health and well-being are the result of balance of mind and body. They called the two opposite forces that control us Shiva and Shakti, and they divided disease and treatment into dualities-hot and cold, strong and weak, dry and wet. Vedic physicians broke down the duality of Shiva and Shakti into three doshas, or life forces: Vata (air or wind), Pitta (fire or heat), and Kapha (water or liquid). Patients with too little Vata or Pitta were often described as sluggish, depressed, and having poor circulation, while patients with too much Vata or Pitta were overly ambitious, angry, and fast moving. Both sets of symptoms parallel perfectly those of dopamine deficiency or excess. Too much Kapha, on the other hand, could be responsible for a patient's apathy, lethargy, nausea, or obesity, while too little might produce chronic aches and pains, insomnia, or a constant thirst-the very complaints we'd expect to hear from patients in our offices who suffer from an excess or deficiency of serotonin.

In Chinese medicine, treatments, therapies, and methods for diagnosing illness are essentially the same today as they were 3,000 years ago. The two equal and opposite forces that are the basic principle of the universe and make up our dual nature are called yang and yin. Although the two poles are opposites, they are also mutually inseparable, each dependent on the other for growth and development. In the human mind and body, when yang and yin are not balanced, sickness occurs.

To a Chinese physician, a patient who is hot-headed, angry, flushed, an excessive risk taker, or overbearing and obnoxious would be diagnosed as having an overabundance of fire. On the other hand, a patient who was sluggish, pale, scattered, and depressed would be diagnosed as having a deficit of fire. Today, we know that both these symptoms are the result of an excess or a deficit of the warming neurotransmitters dopamine, which has a direct connection with the heart and is responsible for its rate and rhythm, and norepinephrine, which is involved in our fight-or-flight response, enabling our heart to double the volume of blood it is able to pump. During times of stress norepinephrine increases our heart rate, raises blood pressure, empties our bowels, and mobilizes stored sugar from the liver to fuel our defense, attack, or escape. If the stress goes on for too long, elevated dopamine levels can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke by making blood thicker and stickier, greatly increasing the risk of clotting in an artery.

Later the Greeks suggested that perfect mental and physical health was dependent on achieving balance among four substances called humors, which gave each individual his or her unique temperament, character, and strength. They called the four humors blood, phlegm, choler, and melancholy, and each matches almost perfectly with a specific neurotransmitter (NT) condition. The Greeks understood that balance would result in optimal physical and mental health. An imbalance of any one of the humors would result in disease.

Interestingly, we still use the names of all four to describe certain personality types: sanguine (sang is the Latin for blood) people are cheerful and have a ruddy complexion (high dopamine). Too much blood, though, and you end up manic and overaggressive. Too little and you end up apathetic and withdrawn: phlegmatic people are calm and unemotional (low dopamine). Choleric people are bad-tempered or irritable (not enough serotonin), and melancholic people are depressed, slow moving, and slow thinking (too much serotonin).

Western medicine has only recently been able to prove what the ancients intuited thousands of years ago. It wasn't until the 1980s that a researcher named David Felten discovered that a vast network of nerves connects the brain to blood vessels and to the major components of our immune system: bone marrow, lymph nodes, and the spleen. This discovery gave birth to a new field of medicine known as psychoneuroimmunology. The name itself reflects the connection between the psychological, neurological, and immune systems.

The similarities between ancient healing systems and our own knowledge of NTs go far beyond the metaphorical. Dopamine really is about heat. It acts directly on the hypothalamus, the body's thermostat located in the brain, and helps us maintain our body temperature. Dopamine also regulates heat indirectly, stimulating our metabolism at a hormonal and cellular level. It turns on our immune system and regulates our sexual inclinations, firing up our passions. It activates receptors in the heart that elevate blood pressure and make it beat faster. Without dopamine, our heart cells wouldn't contract, our muscles wouldn't move, and our immune cells would refuse to battle invaders.

Conversely, serotonin really is about cooling and slowing things down. In Chinese medicine, water counterbalances the force of fire. That's exactly what serotonin does, keeping the dopamine-fired immune system from overheating and attacking itself. It also slows the release of adrenalin, which moderates the amount of blood that flows to the heart during the fight-or-flight response. Like water, serotonin is necessary for survival, and like water, it flows through us, nurturing and cooling the brain and body. It regulates our moods and emotions, heightens our senses, and helps us adapt to new surroundings and experiences. Serotonin's influence goes far beyond the psychological. It influences brain growth and development, cardiovascular and reproductive function, sleep, dietary choices, body temperature, and the perception of pain.

Every branch of modern Western medicine is designed around the twin concepts of equal and opposite forces and of imbalance being the cause of disease and illness. In this book we'll be referring to these two forces as warming and cooling or hot and cold.

Cardiologists, for example, treat abnormalities of the heart. The heart that beats too fast (too hot) is slowed with medication. The heart that beats too slowly (too cold) is sped up with a different medication. Blood pressure that's too high must be lowered and pressure that's too low must be raised. Oncologists treat cancer, which is the result of cells that grow too fast (heat), and at the same time try to stimulate an immune system that isn't working fast enough (cool). An endocrinologist might treat diabetes caused by too little insulin (too cold) or metabolic syndrome caused by too much insulin (too hot). And the emergency room physician lowers the body temperature of a feverish patient (one whose temperature is too high) and warms the hypothermic patient (one whose temperature is too low). Each of these medical specialists dedicates himself or herself to recognizing the symptoms of imbalance based on the organizing principle of dual reciprocal forces.

Not all imbalances are severe enough to be life-threatening or even to be called a disease. Minor imbalances are responsible for most of the conditions that affect us every day-the aches and pains, headaches, back and neck stiffness, infections, rashes, fatigue, excessive weight gain or loss, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, and mood problems such as irritability, anxiety, depression, hostility, and aggression.

Unfortunately, there is a disconnect in the Western medical community between doctors who take care of minds and those who take care of bodies. A psychiatrist who prescribes a serotonin-enhancing drug for a patient's depression and underlying feelings of hostility and anger and the cardiologist who treats the same patient's angina may never speak to each other-even though both symptoms are undoubtedly related to the same NT imbalance and should be treated together. A recent study, for example, showed that heart patients who were treated with serotonin-enhancing drugs were 40 percent less likely to die of heart-related illness than those who weren't.

If the patient were seeing a Chinese or Ayurvedic medical practitioner, he or she would probably make the connection between all the symptoms. But we in the West need to learn about these connections and incorporate the knowledge into our medical treatments and daily lives.

What Is Balance?

Let's take a minute to consider what balance actually is. Until now we've talked about balance as if our objective is a perfect, exactly equal, fifty-fifty blend. As wonderful as that idea sounds, true balance is far more subtle than that.

Each of us has a unique ideal balance. What it takes to make you feel and look your best may have little in common with what it takes to get the same results for someone else. The balance that's right for you depends on your individual genes, your body chemistry, what your mother was eating when she was pregnant with you, your personality, temperament, lifestyle, living situation, and so on. It also depends on your own personal definition of feeling your best.

There's really no such thing as perfect balance. The two forces of warm and cool are constantly evolving. Neither can exist without the other. They work together, influencing and being influenced by each other, creating and being created by each other. It's a never-ending flow. Wherever you find one, you'll find the other as well.

The bottom line is that the struggle to get close to a state of balance that is perfect and unique for each one of us is what keeps us alive and well. The closer we get, the better we feel, which is why we keep chasing after it. But we're not always perfect in our attempts. If we overshoot in one direction or don't respond to something in the other, the balance shifts and we feel sick or we develop symptoms of disease.


Excerpted from Balance Your Brain, Balance Your Life by Jay Lombard Christian Renna Armin A. Brott Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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