Mental Health, the Brain, and PTSD


The most important things to keep in
mind when considering mental health,
the brain and PTSD is that in the brain:
1. Everything is connected to
everything else;
2. The system is designed to help
you survive trauma and threat in a
primitive world; and,
3. Nothing in the brain reacts well to
Remember item 3. Nothing in the
brain reacts well to inflammation. In
general, inflammation slows conduction
and interferes with neurotransmission.
If the stress response and vagal function
are not back to baseline in minutes,
if the injury and infection are not
repaired in eight weeks and the vagus
remains suppressed, then the vagus is
not suppressing the immune system
or controlling the motility, the pH, and
the microbiome in the gut; the gut leaks
small peptides from ingested food,
further activates the immune system,
and inflammation increases. When
inflammation increases, the nervous
system becomes more dysregulated
and slower. Corticotropin releasing
factor (CRF) causes the cortex to focus
on previous traumatic events to the
exclusion of recent events that may be
neutral or positive. If this goes on long
enough, the amygdala, hippocampus,
and prefrontal cortex eventually change
in activity and even in size.
What does that mean for mental
health? Remember that every mental
health definition includes some

reference to cognitive ability, social
integration, emotional balance, stress
coping skills and work productivity.
Inflammation, CRF and alterations
in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) impair
cognitive function, executive function,
and decision making. Social integration
and emotional balance depend on the
specific neurotransmitters serotonin,
dopamine, and oxytocin all of which
depend on branch chain amino acids
for their structure. When the gut wall
thins and branch chain amino acid
transport is inhibited, synthesis of
neurotransmitters that depend on
branch chain amino acids is delayed or
reduced. Without serotonin, dopamine,
and oxytocin, mental health is elusive or
Stress coping skills depend on
normal levels of stress hormones and
the proper function of the prefrontal
cortex and the limbic system (the
amygdala and the hippocampus). In
long-term stress, all of this delicate
balance is disrupted. And the ability
to do productive work will depend on
the type of work that is considered
productive for any specific individual.
A concert pianist, an astrophysicist and
a carpenter all have different demands
on PFC, cortical function, and long- and
short-term memory. The inevitable
conclusion is that severe chronic stress
is incompatible with mental health.
How does this lead to PTSD? A
complete detailed description is
beyond the scope of this article, and
includes genetics, perinatal influences
and nutrition as well as neurology
and endocrinology. A broad-brush
and incomplete answer takes us to
the prefrontal cortex, the relationship

between the cortex, the limbic system
and the vagus, and inflammation. There
are so many portions of the stress
response that increase inflammation.
Inflammation slows conductivity in
neurons and impaired conductivity
interferes with the delicate feedback
system that keeps the brain, limbic
system, vagus, and immune system
balanced and supportive of mental
When your prefrontal cortex has to
make the instantaneous discrimination
between threat and not threat, cat and
tiger, norepinephrine or serotonin, run
or cuddle and communicates that to the
limbic system on a moment to moment
basis and inflammation slows the
feedback, what can happen? Survival is
the prime directive.
In chronic stress, limbic input to the
cortex and PFC increases and biases the
prefrontal cortex towards perceiving
threat. The PFC in PTSD patients fails
to extinguish conditioned fear, fails to
inhibit neuroendocrine response to
threat-related stimuli, fails to re-assess
emotional responses and sees all stimuli
as threats to the self. The amygdala
in PTSD is more likely to perceive
the environment and any stimuli as
threatening. The hippocampus is more
likely to remember only traumatic
events and disregard context. The limbic
memories are so strong that they spill
over into the visual cortex and cause
flashbacks and nightmares. The limbic
system becomes sensitized to perceive
any stimuli as threatening and turns
down the vagus through its connections
to the vagal nuclei in the medulla. The
vagus stops suppressing the immune

system, inflammation increases and the
split-second communication that would
give the PFC time to discriminate cat
from tiger is disrupted. Stress hormones
go up and the brain becomes more
sensitive to them.
Mental health as demonstrated
by cognitive ability, social integration,
emotional balance, and work
productivity becomes secondary. Stress
coping skills are overwhelmed. Survival
is the prime directive.
PTSD is being treated as a mental

health disorder instead of a neuro-
endocrine-immune problem. It is a

huge problem worldwide and affects
8% of the general population, worse in
war zones and much worse for women
than for men. It is more prevalent than
cancer or schizophrenia. The statistic is
staggering. There are pharmaceutical
therapies aimed at raising serotonin by
slowing the degradation of serotonin
at the synapse and medications for
anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy is
a type of talk therapy aimed at teaching
the cortex that it’s really a cat not a
tiger and trusting the cortex to prevail
in communicating this to the PFC and
limbic system. Eye movement and head
tapping therapies attempt to recruit
more primitive parts of the brain and
distract them to reprogram the stress
loop. These therapies seem to be able

to interrupt the neuro-endocrine-
immune cycle in enough parts of the

loop to produce limited success. But the
prime directive fights change, and PTSD

that is two-years chronic is considered
But what if there was a single
therapy that could reduce inflammation
and quiet overactivity in specific parts
of the brain, quiet inflammation in
general, repair the intestinal wall to
stop thinning and leaking and allow
proper absorption of bulky branch
chain amino acids to restore healthy

neurotransmitter levels. If this therapy
could also directly quiet the limbic
system and increase secretions and
function of the vagus, it would be ideal
to restore mental health and repair
PTSD. It appears as if frequency specific
microcurrent (FSM) might have been
doing exactly that since 2005.
FSM uses frequencies from a list
found in an osteopathic office in 1946
that came with a machine manufactured
in 1922. There is no evidence about
how the frequencies were developed
or verified that survived the medical
purges of the 1930s.
In 1995, the list was discovered, and
the frequencies were first applied with
a two-channel microcurrent device
approved for regulatory convenience by
the FDA as a TENS device even though
it delivers 1000 times less current than

a TENS unit. The list has frequencies
for tissues and for the conditions or
pathologies that make those tissues
dysfunctional. At first the frequencies
were used only to treat muscle and
nerve pain, but the list included
frequencies for the immune system,
the spinal cord, and specific parts of the
brain. Clinical success was followed by
limited neurochemical research.

In 2000, it was discovered that the
frequencies from the list “to reduce
inflammation” (40 hertz) in the “spinal
cord” (10 hertz) could not only reduce
pain in fibromyalgia associated with
spine trauma but also reduce all of the
inflammatory cytokines and substance
P and increase endorphins (See
Table 1). The neuroimmune data was
produced by an NIH immunochemist
and show rapid logarithmic changes
in neuro-inflammation never seen
with any medical therapy. The same
data showed that serotonin decreased
while endorphins skyrocketed but
immediately reversed course and
rapidly increased when a frequency
protocol for the medulla, called “the
concussion protocol” was applied. This
finding suggests that microcurrent
electrical signaling can rapidly change

the electro-neurochemical functions of
the brain to change neurotransmitter
levels based on specific frequencies.
Blinded animal research followed in
2003 showing that the frequencies to
“reduce inflammation in the immune
system” reduced lipoxygenase (LOX)
mediated inflammation by 62% in four
minutes and cyclooxygenase (COX)
mediated inflammation by 30% in
four minutes which was equivalent to
injectable Toradol when it was tested
in the same animal model by the same
researcher. Clinical research followed
demonstrating effectiveness in thalamic
pain syndrome and phantom limb pain,


both of which involve the thalamus and
central sensitization.
In 2005, Barbara Harris, MD,
combined her post-doctoral education
in neuropsychology and her knowledge
of FSM and began treating PTSD with
FSM. When there were consistent
successes and no adverse reactions, her
protocol was taught at FSM advanced
courses; and positive case reports were
followed for the next fifteen years.
Starting in 2015, the frequencies for the
vagus were applied in atrial fibrillation,
gastroparesis, vocal cord dysfunction,
and small intestine bacterial overgrowth
(SIBO) and appeared successful at

restoring normal vagal stimulation and
PTSD is as hard to document as
mental health and so FSM clinicians
have limited data and no published case
reports. Funding for non-pharmacologic
treatment is hard to acquire in general
and virtually impossible for unaffiliated
clinicians, but the case report data is
worth considering.
FSM in separate studies and case
reports appears to address over activity
and inflammation in the specific parts of
the brain, raise serotonin levels, quiet
central sensitization, quiet inflammation
generally and specifically increases

vagal tone. Reducing inflammation
specifically in the small bowel could
reasonably help repair a thin leaky gut.
All of these effects would explain the
success of the FSM protocol for treating
It may not be possible to change
the stress and threat in the world,
but it appears possible to improve
neurotransmitter levels, reduce
inflammation, and improve mental
health by restoring the healthy
connection of everything to everything
else in the brain. It’s worth a try.

This case report is a compilation of similar cases to preserve
patient confidentiality.
She was a 43-year-old woman with a precarious
professional career in real estate sales. She could have been
very successful, she said, but her stress levels were so high
that she had trouble focusing on work and finishing the calls
and the projects she needed to finish in order to close more
“I sell condos in the most desirable area of Portland. This
should be easy! My digestion is so weird. I bloat up and my
stomach hurts after eating certain foods and lately it seems
as if there are more of them that I react to. I don’t sleep well.
Maybe 4-5 hours a night I wake up more tired than when I
went to bed. My body gets stiff and sore with any exercise and
I used to love exercise. I’m achy most of the time – not pain
exactly just achy. My boyfriend is helping to pay the bills, but
he is so controlling and crabby, I find myself doing things, or
not doing things, to keep from making him mad. He gets mad
when I spend time doing work instead of sitting with him.”
A hint to start: The answer is always in the history. Start
with what the patient complains about but remember that this
is hardly ever the real problem or the only problem.
• How long have you been with him?
“We’ve been together for 9 years, about one year after my
divorce. I was a successful real estate agent in my twenties.
And then we moved in together into this condo and I started
getting tired all the time, stopped sleeping well, and my income
fell off; and he started getting more controlling and seemed
to enjoy the fact that he now made more money than I did.
And he just loves to start arguments. It makes me so jumpy but
now I need him to help financially.”
• Does he ever hit you?
“No, just yells all the time about the most random things. I
never know what to expect.”
Mental Health, the Brain, and PTSD

• What attracted you in the beginning? Why do you stay with
“He was cute and funny; we laughed a lot. He made good
money, dressed well and drove a nice car. We were in the same
business. He does property management.
Once we moved in together things changed as soon as
I started to get tired and stopped sleeping. He got more
controlling, and we fought more often. It’s been really bad for
the last three years. I can’t focus well enough to do the kinds
of complex deals I used to do so easily.”
• Would you mind if I asked you what your childhood was
like? Did your parents fight all the time?
“Yeah, towards the end when I was a teenager, they fought a
• Did he ever hit your mom or you?
“No, but once they got divorced when I was 10, her next
boyfriend yelled a lot at both of us. He hit her once I think but
mostly, we had to be careful around him.”
• Did you ever have any accidents, serious illnesses, or
“When I was little, I had some problem with my intestines
– maybe I had to have surgery when I was 4 or 5 – see I have
this little scar on my abdomen. But I got better fast. I got rear
ended when I was 25 and I rear-ended someone when I was
19. No serious injuries though just sore for a few days, I get
headaches now and then, but I see a chiropractor and get a
massage and they go away.”
• Have you ever been molested, assaulted, or raped?
She squirmed a little at this matter-of-fact question,
but since it was just in the same line as the other trauma

questions, she avoided eye contact and answered it matter-of-
factly: “The boyfriend used to come in my room at night when

I was 11 or 12 and sit on my bed and talk to me like he was just

being friendly, but then there was touching and some other
stuff that was not right. But when I told my mom she said he
was just being nice and we couldn’t afford to live without the
money he brought in and I should figure out how to deal with
it. So, I did. I started pretending I was already asleep and then
I got a lock on my door.”
The physical exam was pretty basic and close to normal.
Sensation, reflexes are all normal (+2 and brisk bilaterally).
Abdominal palpation showed no signs of acute abdomen, but
her belly was tender over the small bowel and cecum.
The only test ordered was salivary hormone testing for
estrogen, progesterone, and salivary cortisol levels at four
times during the day.
I don’t do relationship counseling, but it was clear that she
had wandered into a relationship with a borderline personality,
but the stress that causes wasn’t the only problem. Many
women would have had no trouble leaving him. Why did she
stay? Why was she tired? Why didn’t she sleep?
The diagnosis and treatment were determined by the
history. Keys:
1. The vagus nerve is turned off by infection, stress and trauma.
2. Perimenopause is characterized by reductions in progesterone
first. Estrogen falls 5 to 10 years later with menopause. Estrogen
dominance results in fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
3. Diurnal adrenal secretion of cortisol keeps inflammation down,
gets you up in the morning, and goes down at night so you can
Treatment with frequency specific microcurrent (FSM)
involved quieting the limbic system, increasing vagal tone by
increasing secretions in the vagus. The frequency to reduce the
activity of the thalamus reduced her pain better than anything
else although the frequencies for allergy reaction (to reduce
histamine) also helped. Histamine stimulates class C pain
fibers, which are slow unmyelinated fibers that create diffuse

aching. We used FSM to treat the small intestine to reduce IBS
symptoms and quiet the macrophage mediated IgG reactions.
Macrophages consume the IgG complexes and then basically
explode releasing histamine. To stop the histamine, you have
to heal the small intestine and repair the leaky gut that creates
the IgG complexes.
The FSM protocol for “brain fog” seemed to help with
concentration and mood. She purchased a FSM home unit so
she could run the PTSD and sleep protocols at home.
Salivary hormone testing was done to determine whether
she needed hormone replacement or adrenal quieting or
adrenal support. Genetic testing was done to determine if she
had a methylation problem for B-12 or folate and to determine
if she could phosphorylate B6. She had problems with folate
methylation and supplementation with 5 mg of methyl folate
a day helped with that. I usually give patients 5-HTP and P-5-P
and that seemed to help with her mood and digestion.
Urine mold testing was done to determine if she had a
mold infection from mold exposure in the condo she moved
into with her boyfriend. That test was negative, so we didn’t
have to deal with mold recovery.
Her homework involved seeing her ND for stool testing and
treatment for parasites if necessary. There were no parasites
but there was a need for butyrate for a month and probiotics.
Our clinic appointments were twice a week for four weeks.
FSM produces rapid noticeable results which gave her hope
after so many years of illness and anxiety. The hope was in
itself helpful. Her symptoms changed within two weeks. As
she recovered energy and was able to work more effectively,
her income increased, and she moved out of the condo and
separated from the difficult boyfriend. She had one follow
up appointment at eight weeks and considered herself fully
recovered. I don’t have any experience with treating this kind
of case without the use of FSM.

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