Why You Should Listen

In this episode, you will learn about a system called Primal Trust that is used to support the limbic system, vagus nerve, and autonomic nervous system.

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About My Guest

My guest for this episode is Dr. Cathleen King.  Cathleen King, DPT is a physical therapist who is passionate about teaching neuroscience-based practices targeting the brain and nervous system.  She is the founder and CEO of the Primal Trust™ Academy & Community.  She weaves together brain retraining, vagus nerve toning, somatic movement, and trauma-informed attachment repair techniques in her online, worldwide platform.  Her focus is to help people with self-healing from chronic illness and trauma patterns.  She personally found freedom from over a decade of debilitating health chronic Lyme disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, mold toxicity, PTSD and more and has been presenting as an expert on nervous system healing to both traditional medical providers and mind-body healing communities.

Key Takeaways

  • What is Primal Trust?
  • What factors lead to limbic impairment and nervous system dysregulation?
  • What conditions might Primal Trust be helpful for?
  • Is there a vagal component to Primal Trust?
  • How might Primal Trust impact the Cell Danger Response?
  • How might a dysregulated nervous system impair detoxification and immunity?
  • Can Primal Trust create a smoother transition from illness to wellness?
  • Why does the brain become addicted to worry?
  • What are the three levels of Primal Trust?
  • What is the Primal Trust process?
  • How does our response to the condition further drive the condition to persist?
  • What is the Polyvagal Ladder?
  • Can Primal Trust support those dealing with SIBO?
  • Can Primal Trust allow you to live in your moldy home and be well?
  • How might Primal Trust support these dealing with POTS and dysautonomia?
  • What are some of the tools that make up the Primal Trust process?
  • Why are both top down and bottom up approaches critical?
  • What factors get in the way of feeling safe in our bodies and in the world?

Connect With My Guest

http://PrimalTrust.org
Get 15% off your first month with discount code BETTERHEALTH

Related Resources

eBook: How Healing Happens

Interview Date

May 23, 2024

Transcript

Transcript Disclaimer: Transcripts are intended to provide optimized access to information contained in the podcast.  They are not a full replacement for the discussion.  Timestamps are provided to facilitate finding portions of the conversation.  Errors and omissions may be present as the transcript is not created by someone familiar with the topics being discussed.  Please Contact Me with any corrections.  

[INTRODUCTION]

[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts, empowering your better health. And now, here's Scott, your BetterHealthGuy.

The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.

[00:00:35] SCOTT: Hello, everyone. And welcome to episode 201 of the BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts Series. Today's guest is Dr. Cathleen King. And the topic of the show is Primal Trust.

Dr. Cathleen King is a physical therapist who is passionate about teaching neuroscience-based practices targeting the brain and nervous system. She is the founder and CEO of the Primal Trust Academy & Community. She weaves together brain retraining, vagus nerve toning, somatic movement, and trauma-informed attachment repair techniques in her online worldwide platform. Her focus is to help people with self-healing from chronic illness and trauma patterns.

She personally found freedom from over a decade of debilitating health challenges, including chronic Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, mold toxicity, PTSD, and more. And has been presenting as an expert on nervous system healing to both traditional medical providers and mind-body healing communities.

And now my interview with Dr. Cathleen King.

[INTERVIEW]

[00:01:40] SCOTT: Today we have Dr. Cathleen King, the creator of Primal Trust, a platform for nervous system regulation, brain retraining. She created this program to help those dealing with chronic illness, with pain, stress, and trauma. Thanks so much for being here today, Dr. Cat.

[00:01:57] DR. CAT: Thank you, Scott. It's really nice to be able to have this interview. I've been listening to you for a long time. It's an honor to be interviewed finally.

[00:02:05] SCOTT: Thanks. That means a lot.

Maybe before we dive in, would you like to lead us in a brief exercise to just kind of help regulate our nervous system and help to optimize our ability to really take in the information that we're going to talk about next?

[00:02:21] DR. CAT: Absolutely. Let's start off with the physiological sigh, which is we're going to take a breath in, another breath in, and a long exhale. Just a sigh. We're going to do one more of those. Breathe in. Breathe in again. And exhale. And at the bottom of your exhale, I want you to pump your belly button in and out. Squeeze that belly and imagine landing in your belly. Finding your body. This is how we find and arrive in our body. Now feel your feet on the floor, wiggle them. And just say, "I'm here. I am here. I am listening."

And then bring to mind some question that you have about your situation that you're hoping gets answered today. Because when we have an intention and we put that in the field, often, we receive. And I hope that you receive that answer.

[00:03:16] SCOTT: Love that. Love that.

Talk to us about your personal journey with Lyme disease, with mold toxicity, how chronic fatigue and all of these other issues you were dealing with really drove your passion for the work that you're doing today. And how much of a role did working with the nervous system play in your own healing process?

[00:03:37] DR. CAT: Yes. I was somebody who was sick and had the pile of diagnoses that went from doctor to doctor year after year. I was mostly bed-bound a lot of the time. Just taking a shower was hard. And I felt like my body had betrayed me. I didn't understand how it could be, first, viruses, parasites, Lyme, mold, autoimmune, all the things that happen. And it's just like what is happening. And I really wanted someone to fix me. I really wanted there to be a solution. But I was one of those people, Scott, who couldn't even tolerate the homeopathics. I was in such severe Cell Danger Response. I could not even handle Reiki and things. That was that person.

And it got to the point where we ran out of money. I couldn't tolerate anything anyways. I was seeing the best doctors in the world and it was this real gut-aching moment of like they're not going to be able to fix me. I don't know what to do and I kind of gave up. I was like, "Okay, I've got two little kids. They're missing out on their mother. I need to start learning how to live with this situation and make the best of it, because nothing is working."

At that point, I was living in a dark, quiet room. I couldn't handle light. I couldn't handle sound. Couldn't drive. I was just – and a lot of people I'm sure relate. And broke. And interestingly, in that moment, I just started to do very simple things. And I had this background as a physical therapist. And I worked with mind-body chronic pain, and I understood that the brain processed chronic pain.

Fortunately, I didn't have chronic pain in my journey, because I knew how to process pain. And I started thinking what if my brain has more to do with this infection, this mold toxicity than I've been told? And what if I could use some of my old tools that I used for my patients for me? And sure enough, I started to see things shift. And it was like, "Oh, my gosh."

And so, I started researching. How does the brain and the nervous system influence our immune system, our detoxification system? How my own self-regulation help me? And I found a lot of great information out there with other pioneers in the field like Annie Hopper, and the Gupta Program, and the Lightning Process. And I had some of my own training with PSYCH-K and other memory reconsolidation practices. And I was like, "Okay. This is it. I can do this." It was something that was affordable for me.

And I realized it was almost like the universe closed the doors on the medical system to force me inside with my own wisdom on a different path and to learn how to repattern my nervous system and then to teach it. And so, my passion was fueled because I had to find another solution. And, fortunately, for me, putting all my efforts into this, I actually did start to heal and get my function back to the point where I could work and start a full practice of helping others. And that wouldn't have happened had that doctor fixed me or that pill fixed me. I wouldn't be offering what I'm offering. And so, now in hindsight, I see a purpose in those 10 years of not getting anywhere with that old paradigm to allow me to do what I'm doing today.

[00:07:01] SCOTT: Don't you just love it when the universe sends us those messages?

[00:07:05] DR. CAT: Yes.

[00:07:06] SCOTT: Talk to us a bit about the term Primal Trust. Where did that come from? What does it mean to resonate with the frequency of safety and connection? And how that frequency then can, as you say, “ignite the body's innate healing ability”? What is Primal Trust?

[00:07:22] DR. CAT: Yeah. Great question. I was doing my nervous system work and my nervous system training. And I really started to get into more of trauma processing. Because I could feel that deep in my body, despite doing the brain retraining and vagus nerve toning and other things, that there was just this shakiness. This unease.

And I had a mentor. Her name is Dorothy. And she's a sound healer. And she said, "You know, I'm learning this new technique for trauma using sound bowls." And she played this sound bowl on my body. And my body was filled with this feeling that was like the most familiar safe feeling. And I was like, "What is that sound? That's the feeling that I need to recreate to heal." And she said, "The name of this bowl is called Primal Trust. It's also the Schumann's resonance or the earth's frequency." I'm like, "That frequency, that vibration, I want to learn to self-generate that." And so, all of my efforts after that came to me with the thought how can I create that feeling of innate safety?

Primal Trust or the Schumann's resonance is our connection to life itself. It's the frequency that runs life itself. And it's the frequency that, when we are in it, we literally feel trust even in uncertainty or even in things that aren't going well. There's still this trust that life is for us. And so, I think that this is a journey of remembering that we are supported by life. And so, to me, the antidote of what's happening is to carve what I call Primal Trust or innate safety and connection.

[00:09:02] SCOTT: Love that. I didn't know that story about the bowl.

[00:09:05] DR. CAT: Yeah.

[00:09:06] SCOTT: And I think that's 7.83 hertz, if I remember correctly. The Schumann resonance.

[00:09:10] DR. CAT: Yes.

[00:09:11] SCOTT: What are some of the more common factors that lead to limbic impairment, to nervous system dysregulation? Are we talking primarily about infections? Environmental toxicants? Maybe stress or trauma? ACEs or adverse childhood events? What are the primary triggers that you see of dysregulation in your clients?

[00:09:33] DR. CAT: Yeah. All of the above that you just stated. But I would say there's one personality type that tends to dominate this field. And it is the type A, perfectionist, workaholic, me too, overachiever. It's a type that already is in sympathetic dominance. And it might look very functional. And the world gives you lots of praise for being that type. It's reinforced to be in this functionally dysregulated state where we have actually lost contact with our body and the queuing in our body, our insula. Communication with the prefrontal cortex is a little bit offline. Meaning, we're not paying attention to our body signals and hearing when we need to rest. Hearing when we need to talk slower. Hearing when we need to not be researching, but instead just looking at the clouds. We've lost that. And so, that is a classic setup combined with a perfect storm of a pathogen, or toxin, or massive life change that sets us up to trigger off that Cell Danger Response. And then we can get stuck in chronic symptoms.

[00:10:42] SCOTT: Yeah. It's funny. I just had this conversation with Dr. Neil Nathan in episode 200 about the type A personality. And he completely agreed. And I used to joke with people that I had never seen a surfer dude that was on the beach that got bit by a tick and developed chronic Lyme disease. And then it did actually happen. And so, my story was kind of ruined at that point. But for the most part, it's all type A, perfectionist, overachievers that I end up talking with. That's interesting. You see the same thing.

What are some of the conditions where Primal Trust has been helpful? Are we talking about chronic Lyme, mold? Maybe Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, POTS, other dysautonomias, EMF sensitivity, long-COVID? What are the kinds of conditions that people are reaching out to you and your program for? And are there some conditions that you see respond better to Primal Trust than others?

[00:11:35] DR. CAT: Yeah. First of all, all of those that you just named are definitely the top conditions that we see. But I've been surprised. I mean, various autoimmune conditions and other types of weird diagnoses I haven't heard about seem to be helped. And when you think about it, it makes sense. Our autonomic nervous system runs the show for our health in general and targeting the autonomic nervous system regardless of what's going on.

It seems that most people do have a significant improvement when they come into balance with the autonomic nervous system despite their diagnoses. I usually tell people, like, "Look, regardless of what you've been diagnosed with, most likely, your nervous system has some influence on that organ cell situation. And you can improve that."

Now, the people that I see have a difficult time with this. Twofold. One is somebody who feels like this kind of work would invalidate their medical diagnosis. They have a hard time getting on board with this, which is why, in the very first module, I teach everything through the lens of Cell Danger Response.

When I first learned that theory back in 2019, that was like this is what validates doing nervous system work and is not invalidating in any way. Any of you listening, looking up Robert Naviaux's research will validate why targeting the autonomic nervous system doesn't mean that this is all in your head. It's a very physiological process that's happening.

The second person where I see that these kind of tools are hard for them is if they are still in an environment in some way that's incredibly toxic for them, whether they're truly living in massive black mold. Or their relationships are so toxic that they can't get an ounce of regulation in them.

And so, getting into an environment where there is some type of safety, whether it means you're having to clean up the mold because you can't move or you're having to work on those relationships in some way so that you aren't being constantly triggered. I see those are the two things that might limit somebody's progress.

[00:13:44] SCOTT: Yeah. No. I think that's great. And we'll talk more about the environment in just a bit. Maybe one of the other questions I would have just briefly for you is sometimes people are just resistant to doing these kinds of programs. They don't believe that it's going to work. And so, usually, I feel like the likelihood is that it's not going to work as well as it could if they come into it with that mindset. I'm wondering if that's true. Or if you feel like, "No. It absolutely still will have the same effect?"

[00:14:13] DR. CAT: I think the majority of time, you're right. We know the science behind the placebo and nocebo effect. It is proven that our beliefs are actually one of the strongest indicators on our outcomes. And so, having a belief that this won't work, we like to prove our beliefs true.

Now, every now and then I get somebody who said, "My doctor sent me. And I just think this is a load of crap. But I'm going to do it anyway." There was one recently I've got an interview with her. They were going to remove 80% of her colon. And they said, "This is the last thing I want you to try before surgery." And she's like, "What? That sounds ridiculous."

I'll show you. In four months, her colon completely healed. No medication. Completely recovered. Something triggered in her though. In the process of starting to do this, she started to notice a shift for the first time in year. She's like, "Oh, my gosh. This is working." And then her belief did shift. And it was a recovery road from there. The belief did end up shifting because she did see symptom change.

[00:15:11] SCOTT: I saw the testimonial of the naked lady in the wilderness who, ultimately, her doctor was impressed that she could wear clothes to their appointment. That was an interesting one.

[00:15:21] DR. CAT: Yeah. That was Dr. Vosloo, who I think you interviewed recently.

[00:15:26] SCOTT: I love him. He's great.

[00:15:27] DR. CAT: Yeah. Me too.

[00:15:29] SCOTT: Mentors such as Dr. Neil Nathan suggest that we need to work on both the limbic system and the vagal nerve, the vagal system, vagal toning simultaneously in order to really optimize our healing. I think there's been a lot of tools that maybe focus on the limbic system. There's lots of emerging tools in the vagal support realm as well. But there aren't very many that actually overlap into both. Does Primal Trust support both the limbic system and tonification of the vagal system?

[00:15:57] DR. CAT: Yeah. When I first started researching all of these ideas behind working on the brain to target immune and detoxification, I saw right away holes. Because I do have a background as a somatic physical therapist. And I understand the way that the vagus nerve is constantly communicating to the brain. The vagus nerve might be sensing cytokines in the body and sending messages back up to the brain saying, "Hey, we need to get an immune response going." And vice versa, the brain is constantly sending messages down into the body.

I know from working with chronic pain that you've got to do this brain-body communication reset. And so, it just made sense to me that, of course, with chronic illness, this brain-body communication both needed to be on board, especially if somebody's been dealing with trauma, which most of us are.

And so, for me, it was a no-brainer. And I immediately – I never did just brain retraining. I started actually, first of all, with vagus nerve toning, functional neurology exercises, because that was my background. I had learned those to help people stabilize their upper cervical. I knew how important those were to help stimulate the vagus nerve and get blood flow going to the brain. And then I did the brain retraining. And then I added a lot more somatic vagus nerve toning right away. And I think that was part of my success.

And what's interesting is getting both the brain and the body communicating together. That's how we can actually start dealing with the trauma that's stuck in the body that might be driving that underlying alarm bell to the limbic system in the first place. I find that brain retraining alone – I started off coaching a lot of people that were just doing brain retraining. And they were doing self-regulation, but it was almost a form of escapism, because they could not handle feeling their body.

They would feel symptom and immediately go and do the brain retraining and think about rainbows and unicorns. And I'm like, "This can't keep triggering you like this or it's going to be hard to live. You're going to be brain-retraining all day long. And that's just not functional." Or they couldn't handle their partner, or their relationship, or their job because they couldn't handle the feelings in their body. And so, to me, I saw that this was needed. And this combined approach was necessary.

[00:18:11] SCOTT: Let's talk a little about how Primal Trust could be helpful for people in a Cell Danger Response where the body has essentially shifted into this protective hypometabolic state. I kind of think of this as being in Florida, hurricane's coming. You pull down the hurricane shutters. And then you never become brave enough to open them again, right? You just constantly leave them down in that overly-protective state. Can Primal Trust support the body in moving out of this protective state and into a state of feeling safer either in our internal world, or milieu, or in our body, as well as in our external world? Talk to us a little about how Primal Trust can help move someone through the stages of the Cell Danger Response and back to the health cycle.

[00:18:58] DR. CAT: I think that popular phrase, "As within, so without. As above, so below," makes sense here. In that if our nervous system, our emotional system is in this hunkered down, protective response because we have been either hurt by family, or whatever, or we're so scared about our diagnosis that we are in a protective danger response, it makes sense to me that our cells are literally doing the same thing.

And so, it also makes sense that if we're wanting ourselves to open up the shutters, and breathe, and allow nutrient exchange, that we, our consciousness, our nervous system needs to do the same thing and communicate all the way down to the cellular level. I'm willing to open up to life again even though it's imperfect. I'm willing to be a little vulnerable. And that vulnerability is the same as the cells opening up and being vulnerable, but also allowing nutrients to go in and out.

And Cell Danger Response has different stages to it. And the same thing is with our nervous system. I see different stages that need to happen to carefully and sequentially learn to trust life again. And so, we walk people through different stages in the process.

[00:20:13] SCOTT: I like the way you said kind of walking them sequentially through the process. Because one of the things that Neil Nathan said recently, which I really liked, is he said, "The goal isn't necessarily to feel safe. But the goal is to feel safer." And that we live in a world where there's all kinds of things that are happening. We don't necessarily need this huge, unattainable goal of feeling completely safe. But to support healing, we need to feel safer.

I've actually had some opportunities to listen to Bob Naviaux's speak about Cell Danger Response. And my understanding is that he's pretty open to the idea that these kinds of programs can actually influence Cell Danger Response. And so, I think that's exciting.

Talk to us a little bit about something that you alluded to earlier. When we're in this Cell Danger Response or this heightened stress state, how that might block detoxification? How that might reduce our assimilation of nutrients, our ability to manage or address chronic infections? Do you think that people are better able to detoxify to respond to chronic infections when they're doing a program like Primal Trust? And if we think of the chronic illness as an overflowing bucket, can Primal Trust be another drain in the bucket, so to speak, so that we can open that drain to create more margin in the bucket and thus reduce our symptoms?

[00:21:36] DR. CAT: Yeah. I'm not an expert in cellular biology, but I like to explain it simply. When we're in that Cell Danger Response, our cell walls literally harden. Like I said, you're kind of hunkering down. You described it well. Well, if the cell wall is hardened, it would make sense that we're not able to absorb a lot of the supplements we're taking, right? It would make sense that if they're hardened, we're not also excreting the toxins that are inside the cell, the molds, the metals, et cetera. In order to get that nutrient exchange, again, we've got to get that hardened response to open up.

And so, Primal Trust and the tools of toning the vagus nerve, addressing the limbic system is literally doing that. We're trying to get space in the nervous system. We're trying to get our nervous system to open up to life. And we're trying to establish the sense of purpose and desire to live. And I think that there's something that translates all the way down to the mitochondria level of, instead of the purpose of the ATP to signal protection, what if the purpose becomes to thrive and live even with a little bit of substance in the system that might not be ideal? Meaning, a little bit of pathogen, and toxin, et cetera. It's almost like we have to convince ourself that despite having substances in our body that may have triggered Cell Danger Response, we're still willing to open up and live. Same thing in our relationships. Despite being in imperfect relationships, we're willing to open up in love. Again, I see this "as above, so below." That idea that how we live is mimicked in our cellular biology.

And, yes. The bucket. You asked about the bucket. Absolutely. You start feeling more open to life. You start improving your heart rate variability. You start improving your heart-brain coherence. There is literally a signal change in your field. An electromagnetic shift in the field when you are open. And they also describe that Cell Danger Response is triggered when the mitochondria notice a voltage shift.

And I have a theory that when our heart-brain is incoherence, we are creating a voltage shift in our system. Maybe that voltage shift is translating all the way down into the mitochondria level. Again, this is a theory that, as our frequency changes, the mitochondria maybe picking up on that shift and saying, "Oh, it's time to thrive, instead of protect."

[00:24:07] SCOTT: Another concept that Dr. Nathan talks about that I believe also came from the Cell Danger Response work is this idea that if we've lived with chronic illness for a long period of time, that we kind of habituate to the illness. And then any attempt to move us towards healing is in it of itself perceived as threatening and resisted by the body.

Wondering if Primal Trust can create that sense of safety in becoming healthy again so the body is better able to more smoothly switch gears from an illness to a healing type vibration without grinding the clutch so to speak?

[00:24:42] DR. CAT: One of the biggest tenants of our educational model is to expect a bumpy ride in healing. And I repeat the science and the understanding behind this a lot. Because as we start healing, there is often a bumpy ride. The system is addicted to the stress chemistry. Our cells, our receptor sites are set up for a ton of cortisol and other sorts of neurotransmitters and hormones that are there because of stress and illness.

And as we start to shift away from that, there's a withdrawal. There's a sense of this is not safe. And then on a deep level of our psyche, there might be things that are triggering about getting healthy again and going back into the world. Like, "What if I have to do it all again? What if I have to work so hard? What if they expect more of me?"

And so, there is often a lot of resistance both cellularly and psychologically to our healing that I like to bring into the awareness so that those on this journey know what to expect. They know why the bumps are happening. And they're better suited to handle them from there. Rather than just saying, "Oh, yeah. Do these tools and you're going to get better." It's going to be up and down is what's going to happen. And to expect that and that's normal.

[00:25:52] SCOTT: I remember when I was still working in the corporate world and eventually started working more from home to support my recovery. And even then, I had this question in my mind of, "Well, if I start getting comfortable to working at home, is my body then going to keep the illness so I don't have to go back to work?" Right? And those kinds of things obviously really do happen.

If we think of the body as a supercomputer and illness as a computer that's full of viruses and malware, can something like Primal Trust essentially remove these factors that are preventing the computer from running optimally and then also essentially reboot? As Dr. Nathan likes to say, reboot the system so that we have a fresh start towards optimal health?

[00:26:37] DR. CAT: Good question. This was a question that was a real hang-up for me in keeping me from doing this work initially. And that nervous system work isn't directly grabbing those viruses, and pathogens, and toxins and taking them out. Nervous system work is giving the body space to do that process. It's an indirect addressing of the toxins, and viruses, and pathogens, et cetera.

And for me, at first, I couldn't get on board with doing this if it wasn't going to directly kill or directly grab a hold of things. But that indirect pathway of teaching the nervous system that it is safe to come back into detoxification, regulating the immune response, calming down the signals of distress. Yes, you can absolutely address infection and toxin indirectly with nervous system work.

As we get more space in the nervous system, as we get our vagus nerve communicating with our brain, as we get our software functioning differently by dialing down the stress of the limbic system, that is the reboot of the nervous system that I think Dr. Nathan is talking about. A different signaling from the autonomic nervous system getting sent to those cells that says, "This is different now. Danger is passing or has passed. And we can start doing things differently."

[00:28:00] SCOTT: You have in the past talked about your own initial resistance to brain retraining in your own healing process. Talk to us about why you were resistant to it. And then what happened that led you to shift your perspective to being more in resonance with work in this realm?

[00:28:14] DR. CAT: Yeah. Such a good question. Boy, was I mad when people would tell me to do nervous system work for years. I remember my therapist saying, "I think the majority of your Lyme symptoms would decrease if you would work through your trauma and your triggers." I mean, I swore at him. I was like, "This is real. I've got lab tests to prove this. This is a real infection."

And so, what that means is I really wanted validation for my suffering. And I think that there's a lot of us who grew up in a lot of trauma that was completely invalidated and somehow on a deep psychological level. Sometimes when we are in this process of we don't know what's wrong and we are being invalidated by the medical system, it can almost retraumatize our earlier experiences of not being seen, heard, and understood.

And until we are seen, heard, and understood, it is very difficult for somebody to do this nervous system work. I find that over and over, they need validation, they need understanding. And so, that's part of what we're doing in our program is to help validate what is happening. So that then, that part of your psyche can get on board to allow you to take the responsibility that you can to self-heal.

And so, for me, the reason why, like I said at the beginning, all the doors to having somebody else fix me were shut. And I really couldn't get anywhere. I was just left with me. And I had these two kids. And I was like, "Okay, I have to face this discomfort inside of me of working on my nervous system and maybe having my family say, "See? It was all in your head." Because my kids are missing out on their mother." It was sort of like I was backed in a corner and then I started to see shifts. And when I started to see shifts, I was like, "I don't care if this is in my head. They're getting their mother back." And so, that's why I changed course.

[00:30:07] SCOTT: I think there is a lot of resistance to these programs because it brings people back to that invalidation. 20-plus years ago when I was going from doctor to doctor, and the number of doctors that referred me to psychologists, or psychiatrists, or whatever had no real answers. Was many. I could have started a referral service, I think. And so, when we then say, "Well, go do some limbic system or brain retraining," I think people kind of jump back to that, "Oh, you're telling me that it's all in my head again."

And the way that I look at it now is it might all be in your head, but it's in your brain. It's not in your mind. Right? And that's a different thing. It can be biochemical. If someone had a brain tumor, we wouldn't necessarily say, "Oh, well, I feel invalidated, because you're telling me it's all in your head." Right? It is a physical thing. And, yet, a lot of times, it seems that people jump to the conclusion that you're telling them that it's a mental, emotional issue, which is not always the case.

[00:31:03] DR. CAT: Right. Yeah.

[00:31:06] SCOTT: Yeah. What is psychoneuroimmunology? And how does the mind affect the physical body? And then what do you mean when you say that the brain becomes addicted to your worry as a way to establish some level of control? Is surrendering to the unknown better than fighting the known? I feel like that's a deep question.

[00:31:26] DR. CAT: It is a deep question. That's the existential question. But psychoneuroimmunology, it's a newer neuroscience model that studies the relationship between the immune system, the endocrine system, the central and peripheral nervous system, and how they're always in communication with each other.

Like I said earlier, for example, the vagus nerve is going to pick up signals that cytokines are being released in the body from an immune response and send messages back up to the brain. And the brain will also create some cytokines. But stress can affect the brain and literally cause the brain to release cytokines, which then can trigger the vagus nerve to release cytokines. So we know that emotions and stress can trigger this immune response just like a pathogen. And that's what is just so fascinating.

And I teach this a lot, that some of your symptoms could be that brain-body signaling of stress that's signaling the immune response on replay. And that understanding was huge for me. And that's why sometimes people will do this brain retraining and nervous system practices and their fever, flu-like symptoms will all of a sudden decrease. And they're like, "Oh, wow. That's fascinating." And so, I think this is why we have really good results with people with chronic infection in Primal Trust. We are not directly targeting these bacteria or whatever. We are targeting that brain-body immune response.

The second question, the existential question. Yes, our brain can get addicted to worry. Why? When we worry and we think about what might happen, we create a scenario in our head that is a form of certainty. Meaning, this is a potential reality that I can think about and even be certain about.

And in that certainty, we release dopamine. And the brain wants certainty. It doesn't like not knowing. It needs to make an association. It needs to know where it's going. The brain automatically worries to help kind of like calm the system in a way, even though it's not calming. It's an addictive calming. But our consciousness, which is different than the brain replaying these things, this awareness part of us, can get the practice of, "I'm okay with uncertainty. I don't need to worry and figure out all of the potential scenarios." And it's a little bit of a withdrawal game. Because, again, you're not getting the dopamine of worry. The dopamine of certainty. You're literally sitting in that existential unknown and Primal Trust that life has – whatever life brings you, you can and will be able to respond to in some way. And that's the cycle that we need to break.

The last part you asked is surrendering to the unknown better than fighting to the known. I would say that every deep spiritual, philosophical practice of all time is trying to get us to that surrender of the unknown. It's a way to decrease suffering. They say that suffering is literally the resistance to what is. The resistance to what is. And if we can get to that point of being non-resistant to not only what is, but what will be, our suffering decreases. And when suffering decreases, we make space for love. We make space for the present moment. And we make space for having a human experience that, even though there might be difficulty, has more peace to it.

[00:35:04] SCOTT: I love that. That statement about the brain becoming addicted to your own worry. I mean, historically, I'm a huge ruminator. And it's taken a lot of work over the years to become less of a ruminator. And, yet, I think sometimes if that's just how we're wired, we're going to kind of want to default back into that and then have to recognize that that's not necessarily the healthy response.

How does a fix it mentality lead to continuous running of these programs that are aligned with or creating stress chemistry? And why is it more important to focus on transformation rather than fixing?

[00:35:43] DR. CAT: Such a good question. When I first started coaching, I realized that everyone coming to me was doing their practices with a “fix it” mentality, which is really the same consciousness of taking the pill, the protocol. It's like Albert Einstein said. Like, "You can't solve a problem with the same consciousness that created the problem."

And so I started to highlight in the brain retraining community, "Stop doing this from a fix it mentality." When we are trying to get our symptoms to go away or fix our symptoms versus improving our life, improving our reaction, improving the self. In other words, when we are trying to fix our symptoms, that is something that we do not have direct control of. We cannot directly control our symptoms. But when we are seeking to grow, to expand beyond that old version of our self that was maybe stuck in trauma patterning, and we're trying to grow to experience more love, to experience more trust, we're using these tools to affect things that we can control, which is our consciousness.

I see using these tools as an attempt to return to our true nature versus fix a problem that we cannot directly solve. I think it's super nuanced. But it's our attempt to expand and experience life differently and grow versus to get away from what we don't like.

[00:37:08] SCOTT: Love that. It's interesting, the Einstein quote that you used. I was just listening to a lecture with Jill Crista, who's another big mentor of mine. And she commented, "What got you here is not what is going to get you there." Right? Basically the same idea. It's interesting that's come up twice for me this week. Better me paying attention, right?

Let's talk more specifically about Primal Trust, the nervous system regulation, neural retraining system that you developed. What are the three levels of Primal Trust? And then there's also five steps in the Primal trust process as well. Maybe just give us an overview of what's incorporated in those three levels. The five steps. Do they overlay on top of each other? And then what's the time frame for how people move through the three levels and the five steps?

[00:37:58] DR. CAT: When I read Robert Naviaux’s work on the three-step of Cell Danger Response, I wanted to put together a pattern that is mimicking that through the lens of the nervous system. Step one, level one, is all about really educating people what's going on and the beginning of let's see if it's safe to begin feeling safe. That beginning stage of like, "Okay, this was the danger. We understand what happened. And now, how do we understand tools and practices to begin convincing our body that it's safe to start feeling safe?" Okay?

And so, level one, it's usually about seven weeks long. But a lot of people like to take their time through it. 7 weeks to 14 weeks on average. And you're going to learn a lot of tools. Over 40 different tools. No, you don't do all 40 every day. I want you to have a toolkit to pick what resonates for you.

Level one is building your nervous system toolkit to practice feeling safe. Level two, this is where we start getting into the inner work where we start digging deep into what's been there in the first place. In Cell Danger Response, we're doing deeper detox work. In our work, we are pulling up trauma patterns that were driving the stress response in the first place. We call it the inner work or the mentorship, where you're learning to recognize the deep triggers that have probably been there your whole life. That perfectionism, overachieving, people-pleasing. That literally is the underlying alarm bell of your symptoms.

And then discovering the antidote. What way of living or what perspective of life would unravel a lot of these patterns within you? Who is it that is the highest version of you? In other words, the first level is about calming the nervous system. Level two is about becoming a better version of you. And by better, I mean not good or bad, but a more aligned, a more true version of who you are repatterning your trauma responses.

Level three, Cell Danger Response, that's about mentoring where older cells mentor younger cells. And it's about communication and community coming back online. Same thing in our level three, it's about community where I have a lot of people mentoring others. It's about getting back into work, in our relationships, and supporting each other in that process.

I also outlined five different stages or steps in the process. First of all, we are building a foundation. That means we're building a foundation for understanding what's happened. We build the foundation through the Cell Danger Response lens, the polyvagal lens, the limbic system impairment lens, and the somatic experiencing lens. We're using all of those education pieces for a full comprehensive understanding of what got you sick in the first place. Also, with the perfect storm.

We're giving you tools, that's the second step here. You're going to get tools to handle these things. You're going to learn the tools. You're going to self-master these tools and learn how to apply them. That's the third stage. The practice of applying them, of knowing which tool to use when? In what sequence? In what order? You're not going to go right into processing your trauma before you even know how to tone your vagus nerve, or you'll kind of blow your circuits. And a lot of people do that. I did that for years. And I see that as a huge issue in the nervous system healing world. People who are not educated out there teaching nervous system regulation that have no clinical practice, no understanding, and literally blowing the circuits of people by having them process trauma before they have any resourcing within their nervous system.

And so, after applying the tools and learning how to do that, that's when we're doing that deeper healing work. That's when we can explore the trauma. When we can feel the attachment wounding, because we have enough space and resilience in the system to feel the feels without putting our self back into a limbic vigilant response, which is what happens when you do trauma work too early.

And then the last stage is reemerging into the world transformed. That's embodying that version of you that has a different pattern than the version of you that was sick. The version of you that's more balanced. That's less of an over-worker, perfectionist. The version of you that knows how to live that polyvagal wave through the day of activity, rest, activity, rest. That knows how to respond differently to your trauma patterns.

[00:42:35] SCOTT: Give us a little more insight into some of the tools you mentioned. There's 40 or more that people use in the program to regulate their nervous system. I would have said to retrain their brain. But I think now we've learned it's also about the body. What is the user doing each day? How much time each day do we need to commit to working the program to make it successful? And maybe I'll rephrase that, because working sounds like a type A personality. How much time do we need to enjoy the program each day to be successful? How long do most people actually stay in the program? And is there kind of a point where they graduate and they're done? Or are we ideally using these tools now as part of our daily routine in our lives long-term?

[00:43:23] DR. CAT: I like to help people think of these tools as lifestyle, self-care, body attunement practices that we all should have been taught in kindergarten. Every day, some type of elevation practice, whether that's brain retraining, meditation, mindfulness, some way of working on your conscious perception. Every day, some type of work – focusing on your breath. Breath is one of the number one ways to target the vagus nerve. And it could be very simple practices. Or it can be more complex. It could be part of the elevation practice. And every day, moving your body in some way and getting in touch with the somatic system. Those three tenants to me are important as a daily lifestyle practice.

And how you do that, there's a lot of ways of doing that. And you can switch it around. You can keep the same thing. How long each day? Again, it depends on the person. I really like to give myself an hour in the morning to really attend to me. And I don't see it as something I have to do. It is me time. It's how I love myself. It's how I get to know myself. It's how I get to expand my awareness. It's how I get to work through my triggers.

And so, I really encourage people to take an hour a day. Now maybe that's 15 minutes in the morning. 15 minutes at lunch. You're spreading it through the day. Some people, when they're first starting, this is a lot for them. And I have them start literally like 5 or 10 minutes a day. Just because targeting the nervous system itself can be triggering. It's not safe to feel safe. We start them off very slowly. We have a simplified daily practice, and we have a comprehensive daily practice. And you can exchange those sorts of things as you go through the program. You could start simplified and then move into the list that's more comprehensive.

But I really try to give you education to make it your own. I try to teach you the principles behind what we're doing, so you're not following Cathleen's program. You're learning principles and you're making it your own. Maybe you go off and learn these principles and you do another program or read another book. And you're doing those practices. But you understand the principles of elevate, breathe, move your body every day.

The length of time, level one, like I said, 7 weeks to 14 weeks on average. Level two, I would say two, sometimes up to five months, people work on those trauma patterns. Level three, it's really as long as you want to be there or you don't have to be there. A lot of people stay for six weeks or so and watch the videos. And some people stay literally for years, because they have community. And it just depends.

You can get in and out, like I told you, in under two months. You can take level one, and download the workbook, and work on that for a while, and then come back for level two. It doesn't need to be an expensive journey. You can make this efficient for you. And so, we do allow all of the workbooks to be downloaded. And we're actually just about to come out with a whole new quick start guide for level one and level two, which is going to be even more simplified. Very visual. You can download those and get examples of daily practices. We're trying to make the program more and more user-friendly and more and more affordable and efficient.

[00:46:36] SCOTT: How much does our response to our condition further drive the condition to persist? Meaning, if our response to our situation is fear, does that fear itself then contribute to the persistence of the chronic illness and does becoming less fear-based and feeling safer than become a prerequisite for healing?

[00:47:00] DR. CAT: This is such a good question. I like to explain this in terms of a first reaction and a second reaction. Let's say the first reaction is the toxin, the pathogen, et cetera, triggering the brain in the nervous system. Causing a symptom. The second reaction is our response to that symptom, to that experience. And that second reaction is often the fear and the stress. And that second reaction is going to tell the brain, "This is super dangerous. This is not okay." And that puts you back down into even more Cell Danger Response. Meaning, the autonomic nervous system is like now sending even more signals to the cells to hunker down.

What I see is if you can really focus your consciousness, these tools, on that second reaction, what you can control. You can't control that first reaction of how these toxins, pathogens, et cetera, might be targeting your system. But response to it, you can bio hack that response, and I see this with thousands of people, through addressing the limbic system, the vagus nerve, et cetera, and send a message of safety despite the cells getting that message of threat. And there's something in that second response that dials down that Cell Danger Response allowing people to heal. Absolutely, this way of retraining our fear response is what helps to contribute to the healing process.

[00:48:26] SCOTT: I love this. This is one of the things that I just enjoy about the podcast as I learn so much from these conversations. And so, this is just amazing. Most of our listeners will have heard of the fight or flight and sympathetic dominance, which works against rest, digest, detoxify, and heal. I think listeners may be a little less familiar with the freeze response and the shutdown response. Where do freeze and shutdown come into the chronic illness landscape? How do these fight, flight, freeze, and shutdown responses overlay onto the polyvagal ladder? And once we realize that we're in more of a dorsal vagal shutdown overwhelm response or in a sympathetic dominant state, how do we then climb the ladder and move towards a ventral vagal response a safe and okay nervous system state?

[00:49:15] DR. CAT: Yes. Good question. If you think of a ladder with several rungs, the top of the ladder is our safety and connection. A little bit down is our fight and our flight response that you were describing. A little bit down further is our freeze response, which is in between this sympathetic fight, flight and our dorsal vagal shutdown. It's actually a mixture of your one foot on the gas, one foot on the brake. The freeze response.

And then below that is your shutdown. Meaning, the vagal break is fully on. The nervous system says, "I can't even handle the sympathetic energy anymore. We need to just shut down our systems." And so, that's a really hard place to be in. That's when you don't have energy. You feel hopeless. You're just lost.

When we realize that we are in more of that dorsal vagal shutdown, and it doesn't feel good, it's like everything is a threat. You're super overwhelmed. You have no energy. How do you climb back up the ladder? Well, Scott, unfortunately, the only way through is through. You have to climb back up through sympathetic before we get to the ventral vagal. And that can be uncomfortable. Again, this is the bumpy ride that I teach them.

As you start to move out of dorsal, when we usually do this through very slow movements, careful orienting to your space to see that your current space is safe. Noticing the resources that you have. I have food. I have water. Those are the things that start to pull us out of shutdown. We have to really show the nervous system in that stage that it is safe to allow our self to begin to feel safe.

Then we start to mobilize. And as we mobilize energy, we work up the ladder a little bit and we start getting into that sympathetic. And that's going to feel maybe like anxiety. It might feel like insomnia. And it might not feel good. It might feel like anger. And now, a lot of people don't like those feelings. And they'll actually get that second reaction, which is, "Oh, no. This isn't good." And it'll slam them back down the ladder into dorsal vagal.

And so, a lot of education on the polyvagal theory is so important here, Scott. Because if they do not understand that they have to feel those feels and find safety in the insomnia, in the anxiety, in the anger, they need to find that safety to climb up the ladder. And that's where learning your nervous system tools really comes into play, so that you can fully move out of that dorsal vagal.

[00:51:45] SCOTT: So many people these days are dealing with various gastrointestinal issues. We hear a lot about SIBO and SIFO. And it's been my opinion that SIBO is not about killing a bug. That the bug is really the result. Or the overgrowth is the result and not the cause. We need to look more upstream to the nervous system, to bile flow, to migrating motor complex, all of those things, to really bring longer-term resolution to many of these GI issues. We know the vagus nerve plays a role as well. How might Primal Trust and regulating the nervous system support the either resolution or improvement of various gastrointestinal issues?

[00:52:27] DR. CAT: Yeah. Great question. I was one of those people that tried everything for years to heal my gut being extremely stressed out. And it didn't work. And I now have seen literally hundreds of testimonials of people with SIBO where it went away after targeting their nervous system. And, specifically, their vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is what's regulating all of that motility. You get your vagus nerve online. You get that brain-body communication back online. The body's intelligent. It gets the motility more regulated and the body comes into balance. Yeah, 100%, these nervous system tools, I feel very confident, can help with SIBO. It's one of the things that I see clear up, the easiest actually, as people get regulated.

[00:53:09] SCOTT: One of the criticisms or maybe resistances to some of these types of healing approaches has been the perception that people have that the creators of these systems are saying, "If you just do my system, you can live in your moldy house and you will be well." And I don't think – and you alluded to this earlier. I don't think that's what anyone is really saying. That may be what people are hearing. But the question is, is it still important to consider the external environment around us and to optimize and improve that in support of the work that we're doing with Primal Trust? Or does our kryptonite now have no influence over us when we're doing this program?

[00:53:51] DR. CAT: Yeah. Such a good question. Well, my own personal experience is this, I was living in mold. I couldn't afford to move. But what I did was I got a great air filter and cleaned up what I could. And my function did improve even though I still had symptoms. And in other words, I had no function hardly and I had symptoms.

And, initially, with doing the brain retraining and the other nervous system work, my function did start to improve. In other words, that second reaction I was describing, Scott, I was able to start calming down the feedback loop and moving me out of at least some level of Cell Danger Response.

As that happened, I was able to tolerate binders and saunas and able to handle what I was doing. We moved into another house that was little less moldy, but still moldy, because I was in the Pacific Northwest. And, again, more function came back as I continued with the brain retraining. What I say to people is I do see – now I will say there are some cases where I see people heal in their environment. They couldn't move, and they give this everything they've got. I don't know exactly what's happening. Maybe their function, that Cell Danger Response gets so good that their function is high. Their symptom levels are super low and they're not registering them.

Does that mean they're not building up mold in the system? I have no idea. I just know that they become functional and they claim that they feel like they have their life back. I've seen that. I've heard lots of testimonials of that. Even myself, I did get a good amount of function by doing this work religiously because I had to.

However, when I moved out of mold I could feel a difference. Meaning, I had my function really high. I'm running Primal Trust. I move to the desert. And I'm like, "Oh, I feel more clear." I didn't know that there was – you get so used to feeling this way that it becomes normal to have some lack of clarity. But I had my function, so I was okay. I do think that, ideally, we do move out of mold.

Now here's another thing I'll say. Some people cannot even afford to do these remediations, etc. By getting your function better living in mold, maybe you can get some more work eventually. And as you get more work, you'll have more income so that you can address the mold. You might be able to afford the treatments, or the sauna, or whatever that you might need.

And so, it's not like all hope is lost, because you're there. I do see that second reaction response cause significant increase in function even if some symptoms remain. And with that function, you have more resourcing to help clean up the situation.

[00:56:32] SCOTT: That makes total sense to me. And the way that I've heard Neil Nathan, who obviously is one of my biggest mentors, the way that I've heard him talk about this is that if you're living in mold, obviously there are some things that we can do. Air filters and so on. But he would say you can get better, but you will not get well. Right?

[00:56:51] DR. CAT: Yeah.

[00:56:52] SCOTT: POTS and dysautonomia are common issues these days. I used to think of it more as a Bartonella or a Babesia-type issue. But now we see it a lot in people with COVID and long-COVID. How has supporting the nervous system regulation side of things improved or even resolve dysautonomia or POTS in the clients that you're working with?

[00:57:13] DR. CAT: Yeah. It's definitely one of the more common symptoms that we see. And I do see people absolutely resolve it with nervous system work. I think that POTS is complex. There's a lot happening in the brain. But there's also a lot happening with our somatic coordination of our vascular pumping mechanisms.

And what I mean by that is that I think that nervous system work, toning the vagus nerve, things like that, help with these vascular pumping mechanisms be coming back online, as well as the somatic work and the other things that we're teaching. I think it's a multifaceted thing. I don't know exactly what mechanism is triggering the healing, but I do see it happen. I see it happen even better when people are doing somatic work. And we teach a lot of these like various squeeze and contract relaxation exercises to improve the coordination of the system. Yeah, 100%, I do see that situation resolve with people doing this work.

[00:58:09] SCOTT: I want to come back a little bit to the Cell Danger Response. And we know that in that model, that mitochondria release extracellular ATP or ATP that then goes outside the cells. And that then is the danger signal. And that perpetuates this stuck, or protective, or survival response. We know now that Primal Trust can shift us out of that survival response, out of a Cell Danger Response, and move us back to a healing response. What is it that you see in your clients that signals to you that the war is over and that they moved out of a Cell Danger Response? And if we could measure it, do you suspect that Primal Trust leads to a reduction in the creation of extracellular ATP?

[00:58:52] DR. CAT: Yeah. Again, when I read this whole theory, it's sort of why I saw almost like a download of a sequencing of nervous system work to mimic that stage Cell Danger Response. And that if you carefully show the system that it's safer, it can slowly move out of the Cell Danger Response.

And I think that there's two things that are happening here. One of them is a theory. The first one is targeting that vagus nerve like we're doing. Robert Naviaux says that the vagus nerve is affecting the autonomic nervous system, that crucial piece in the CDR game. We are directly affecting the vagus nerve with our programs.

The second piece, and then, again, this is more of like my theory, is that we're also directly affecting our bioelectric field. That heart-brain coherence that comes online as we resolve trauma and shift our emotions. And if we know that mitochondria are being signaled by a voltage change that might cause them to move in and out of CDR, I wonder if it's also that voltage change of our heart-brain coherence coming online.

We've seen Heart Math Institute, Dr. Joe Dispenza's work measuring this. I see people who – and it's so crazy, Scott. They will get this deep trauma release. They'll have a moment of like, "Oh," and this huge release of emotion. And, all of a sudden, they have energy that they haven't had in years. And it just happens sometimes almost overnight. What happened? I think they've had a massive change in their field, in their signaling. And, somehow, the mitochondria, instead of squeezing that ATP outside of the cell, it stays inside and it says, "All right, we can now get back to work. We can get back to business." I don't know. Again, it's a theory. But I see it. And it just makes sense to me.

[01:00:35] SCOTT: One of the tools that you have in the program is a journaling exercise where you ultimately rip up and throw everything away that you've written down. I've kind of done that for years on New Year's Eve, writing everything down. I used to put it in the fireplace. But these days, they're all covered in glass. Now I just put it in the paper shredder after I write down the things that I kind of want to let go of. How does journaling help us to identify illness triggers and become more aware of unconscious messaging that may be reaffirming or fortifying nervous system dysregulation?

[01:01:07] DR. CAT: Great question. And I love this practice. And anyone listening, this is one of the best ways to get started with releasing stress in the system is this journaling. What happens, like I said, we have this alarm bell of symptoms that typically we're fixated on. We're fixated on the symptoms, the diagnosis, et cetera. But these symptoms, underneath there is another deeper alarm. It's the stuff that's happening in our life. The stuff that's happened in our past. Our reactions to people. Things about our self.

And when we start journaling, we're literally bringing this stuff up from our unconscious to our consciousness to see the alarm. The true alarm. This is where we start to validate ourselves in what's going on. And we start to understand ourselves. And there's something about bringing what's unconscious in us into our awareness where then we rip it up and let It go. That is a symbol, I think, to ourselves, to our psyche that says, "We see this and we're willing to let it go again and again." It's like a purge to me. It's a detoxification method for our emotions and our triggers. It's like its own sauna, its own enema, the way that we write it and release.

[01:02:22] SCOTT: I love that. That's such a good connection there. Let's talk a little bit about practitioners that maybe feel like their functional medicine approaches don't have a place in the healing process when someone's doing a program like Primal Trust. And I know that there are practitioners that say that their protocols are working better when their patient is also doing primal trust or other work in this realm. Are these functional medicine protocols and Primal Trust really synergistic in how they're supporting our ability to heal? And then in your own personal journey with Lyme, and parasites, and mold, and all of those kinds of things, did you combine your Primal Trust work with a functional medicine approach? And it sounds like you already commented that, as you did more of the nervous system regulation work, that you then were able to tolerate bringing some of those other tools in to support the physical body as well.

[01:03:17] DR. CAT: Yeah. One of the things I noticed right away when I got into the brain retraining world, it was like an us versus them attitude, which didn't resonate for me, especially being a practitioner and having a lot of respect for the training that these clinicians have went through. And I immediately was like, "I'm going to take a collaborative approach here. You either choose your nervous system work or your integrative functional protocol." That doesn't make sense.

What does make sense is sometimes taking a break from a protocol, because you're so vigilant for maybe just a few weeks, and focusing on the nervous system piece to retrain your focus out of fix it to self-regulation. And with that focus, allow the practitioner to do the practitioner's job. You do your job. You focus on your job.

And when the patients focus on what they are empowered to do and the practitioners who are nervous system informed are focused on what they are empowered to do, that collaboration is beautiful. It really is. And I see people have a true win-win. Now some people can't afford the practitioners anymore. And so, they're just doing the nervous system work.

And I want you to know, I see those people heal too. I do see both happen. I do see an expedited process. As your nervous system gets regulated, you can take the binders, you can do the saunas, you can do some of the protocols. For me, yes. I couldn't do a drop of homeopathic. But several months in, I was able to tolerate binders. And then I was able to tolerate saunas.

I didn't have a lot of money. I did eight ozone treatment treatments, because that's all I could afford. But I did do – and I tolerated them. And I was like, "Oh, my gosh." There are things over the years that I was able to take more vitamins, and supplements, and things like that, and foods, and other things like VibePlates, other things that I couldn't do before. For me, the nervous system work allowed me to combine with detoxification tools to move things out of my system.

I never did directly treat Lyme disease. And they could be there. But, again, my function is what it is. It's doing well. And I'm not against it. Maybe someday I'll look and see what's there. But I do see that the most important thing to me is that you start being able to assist the body in letting go. And some people just want to like, "No. I'm just going to do nervous system work." And if you can tolerate some of these other things that are helpful that not just for chronic illness. We've been doing throughout time saunas, and breath work, and hot-cold therapy, and binders. These are all things that I think are healthy.

Because we do live in a toxic world, again, there can be this dogmatic approach, like a badge of honor of, "I only use nervous system work to heal." And that to me is imbalanced. And it's not healthy. It's just not healthy.

[01:06:11] SCOTT: Yeah. It's interesting. Because the timing of when to introduce a program like this. I used to think that if your tiger, your real significant threat, maybe your mold, or your Lyme, or whatever had not been addressed, that it's ideal to address that, to remediate, to move, to whatever. And then to use these kinds of tools to reboot or re-calibrate the system. Now your original tiger is a kitten. And you want the limbic system, you want the nervous system to see it as a kitten and no longer see something that really is much less threatening as the same tiger that it saw before.

And, yet, Neil Nathan over time has really kind of shifted my thought process here. Because his observation has been – and the way he uses a lot of these kinds of tools is people can't tolerate taking one capsule of charcoal or one tablet of chlorella. And so, by bringing the nervous system regulation piece in, then people can also bring in other adjunct kinds of tools and actually tolerate them much better.

It's maybe been a little bit of a slow getting there. But now it makes sense to me that these tools should and can happen very early. And it's not that if you're still living in mold, it's not that you're then training your body to kind of be okay with it in the way that it then maybe is going to be detrimental to you. Because your body then is no longer going to do what it needs to do to respond to that environmental issue. Does that make sense?

[01:07:46] DR. CAT: Yeah. 100%. And I think I think that there's a shift in general in the collective practitioners where they're seeing that, "Oh, if you can help get them out of that CDR1 with just the nervous system work right away, they're going to tell the treatments are going to work better." You get the nervous system on board. The immune system is going to recognize the mold better and things like that as well.

[01:08:07] SCOTT: You have a number of tools that you separate into top-down and bottom-up. You say that both are needed to regulate the nervous system. Are these both ways to send the body safety signals? And then talk to us about the difference between top-down or brain-body, versus bottom-up or body-brain therapies, and maybe some examples of each. Why is it not all about retraining or focusing on just the brain?

[01:08:31] DR. CAT: Like I said, it's that typical type A person that gets themself into this mess. And so, that person really does need to learn how to get that insular feedback back online, which happens through body-based practices. Absolutely, if you've had trauma, if you've had a lot of emotional issues, I really see people need both.

Now there are certain people that I've seen that have done just brain retraining and have claimed that they are doing well. And I also see a lot of those people who end up in my program saying they had recovered from brain retraining and then they got into a relationship dysfunction. Or something emotional that really triggered their body and they needed to learn how to be with the feelings. And they end up doing some of this bottom-up work.

For the most part, the majority of people, I would say both top-down and bottom-up are needed. Top-down simply means the brain communicating with the body. We do that through mindfulness practices, mental rehearsals practices, creative visualization. Using your brain, using your mind to signal safety to the limbic system and dial down that alarm of that amygdala to access your memory structures, to access your creative mind, to teach the brain to have new associations with life. That in the past, life wasn't all terrible. And in the future, I don't expect life to be terrible. And that's going to calm down the limbic system and start to repattern the signals that the brain is sending down into the body.

Bottom-up practices are just that body to brain. Body to brain signaling. The vagus nerve sending signals back up to the brain that it's sensing safety down here. Signals all the way down into our felt sense, our sensation, our conscious interpretation of the body. Feeling the body. Feeling its feels and deciding that it is safe to feel these feels helps the vagus nerve to send this signaling back up. It puts us into heart-brain coherence. And then you've got a nice two-way street of it's safer to feel safe starting to go on. And then as we know, that will travel all the way down into the cells and hopefully affect the CDR.

[01:10:40] SCOTT: When we talk about the vagus nerve, what are efferent and afferent fibers? And what are some of the tools that you incorporate into Primal Trust that are directly supporting the vagus nerve?

[01:10:50] DR. CAT: The vagus nerve is 80% afferent fibers. Meaning, they're fibers that are moving away from the periphery of the body back up into the brain. In other words, it's signaling from the body to the brain 80%. There's 20% efferent fibers, which is fibers running from the brain back down to the body. It makes sense that we would target the body, wouldn't it? If we're trying to target the vagus nerve, this is where it made sense that brain retraining alone is not the end-all, be-all. And that vagus nerve, if 80% is coming from the body back up to the brain, we want to be targeting that.

What are different ways? My favorite way is a combination of breath work and functional neurology-based eye exercises. The eyes, the extraocular nerve, have direct connections to the vagus nerve. Eye movements increase blood flow to the vertebral artery and stimulate that vagus nerve as it passes through the neck. It also helps to stabilize C1, 2, which is a huge issue in our community. As you know, having upper cervical instability. Can't tell you how many people have that and they don't realize it.

And, thankfully, my background as a physical therapist, we were one of the first clinics to really develop an upper cervical stabilization program using eye exercises 20 years ago. I understood this. I understood how help people recover from chronic pain and all sorts of things. And so, I started to add them in to help with chronic Lyme symptoms and it worked. I got driving. My brain processing came back online. And I think it was one of the things that set Primal Trust apart. We're one of the first to really bring in targeting the vagus nerve using eye exercises along with breath work to really get a two-packed punch into toning that vagal complex.

[01:12:39] SCOTT: A question that just came to mind that I wasn't planning to ask, but you're talking about how you can use some of those eye movements. I tend to think of Stanley Rosenberg's work a bit with some of the eye movements.

And you were talking about how you're using those to help with some of the C1, C2. We see so much Ehlers-Danlos these days, these hyper mobilities more than I have ever seen. And so, are there people with Ehlers-Danos or hypermobility that are seeing improvements in those symptoms that are doing Primal Trust?

[01:13:08] DR. CAT: Yeah. It hits home. My daughter was just diagnosed with that as well last summer. And I will say it's like the new epidemic. I mean, CCI, EDS. Now, is it true EDS? Or is it secondary as a response to, I think, COVID mixed with past infection that was sort of dormant, creating mass cell – even like a lot of screen time, affecting our collagen. I think it's multifactorial. The fact that I've seen it rise so dramatically literally in the last two years even of people getting this diagnosis. And I also say that I think it's a – it true EDS? Or is it a functional EDS presentation? I'm curious about that. Because I have seen many people in my community heal and reverse that EDS diagnosis.

There's really a friend of mine who didn't take my program. She's taking it now. Her name is – she's goes by “ribeyerach” on Instagram. She's got an incredible story of healing from EDS with nervous system work, and diet, and reducing that mass cell overload. And so, she did several things.

And so, yes, I do see this reverse. I'm watching my own daughter experimenting with her. Getting more stability by both regulating the nervous system input, electrolyte balance, diet, calming down the inflammatory response. It hit her like this post-COVID. And so, I just watched her literally like fall apart overnight.

And so, I know that there is something going on here. And I also do see, like I said, people heal, which is exciting. These eye exercises are huge for that. And I want to just give a disclaimer. You've got to be very careful. When you're unstable, you do these things slowly. And you do small range of motion. And you don't just go for it. Yeah. You want to be careful with them.

[01:14:59] SCOTT: Just briefly extending on your daughter and incorporating some of these tools, is there a minimum age that you think is appropriate for doing this program?

[01:15:09] DR. CAT: I think that we should be taught this in kindergarten. And I also say this, parents, they learn regulation from you. Don't make your kid feel like they need to be fixed. Model this for them. Doing this with them as a lifestyle practice. I just really want to make that clear, because I have a lot of parents like, "I got to fix my kid." Do not be sending him that message. And so, as you do these practices, you can do that with them. And so, 100%, I think these things are lifetime practices for all humans in some way.

[01:15:43] SCOTT: You say that rewiring or rebooting the brain is a conscious retraining to change the brain's memorized responses to stress, trauma, and pain, which can help to alleviate symptoms and promote healing. What does your system of brain retraining look like? How do we turn down our symptomatic response to a number of triggers that maybe made us ill in the past? And then talk to us about your brain retraining sequence or what you also call your ABC Dimensional Shift method?

[01:16:12] DR. CAT: First of all, I want to say that, again, I had this background of mind-body medicine. I had a lot of training with memory reconsolidation. I started learning different brain retraining programs, Lightning Process, DNRS, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. All great. But I saw a common algorithm. And all of them. They all had the same algorithm. Different phrases. Different movements. And I was like, "Okay." And that's one of my gifts is I'm a pattern recognizer. I recognize patterns. I recognize this pattern. It's like, "Okay. First of all, there's an awareness process, A. There's some type of pattern interrupt with that awareness. And that pattern interrupt tends to drop us into the present moment. B, be in the body. Be in the present moment."

For me, I take the body piece a little bit further than other programs, because I think the somatic piece is important. And then there's a third piece, which is changing your thoughts, perception, and creating a different thought, emotion, behavior states. Awareness, pattern interrupt, present moment, change. I just named it ABC. I teach people the principles, the whole algorithm. I say, "Come up with your own brain retraining practice."

I mean, we've got like 400 programs out there. And it's the exact same thing. Different words. And so, it's important to self-empower yourself to understand the principle behind it. If you become aware of what you're triggered by, you pause. You stop the brain from ruminating on that. Come into the present moment. Take a breath so you get your prefrontal cortex online. Not your habitual limbic system. Your prefrontal cortex online. Now you've got choice back.

And, Scott, this is the key. We lose our choice to unconscious repetitive habits and reactions. And we need to reclaim choice. We do that through this rehearsed algorithm of coming to the present moment and then carving a new pathway, which is hard. It's hard to think differently, and feel differently, and self-generate a positive feeling when we have a discomfort in our body. But what happens is the brain is a meaning-making machine. It's a game of association.

As you create new associations with old triggers, the brain starts to realize that trigger is not as dangerous as I thought. Might be uncomfortable, but not as dangerous as I thought. And with that sense of safety, we're signaling to the body all the way down to the cell, we can relax even though I feel this feeling, even though they're saying what they're saying, even though this is happening. We're literally expanding our consciousness into a realm of more generalized safety despite still living with different triggers. I hope that answered all of those questions you just asked me.

[01:18:59] SCOTT: You mentioned the word somatic. For those that are not familiar with the term somatic, or somatic practices, or somatic therapies, tell us a little more about that. And how might somatic practices help us to feel safer in our bodies and also support turning off of the Cell Danger Response?

[01:19:16] DR. CAT: Somatic comes from the word soma, which is the body. And it's the body as perceived from within. Somatic practices are how do we perceive our felt sense? How do we perceive the feelings, the emotions that's happening?

A lot of times, we have our thinking mind of how we react to the world. But our body has a reaction as well. And so, the somatic therapy's part is learning how to attune to what is your body doing. For example, are you holding your breath when you are talking to the person? Meaning, "Oh, I go into kind of a freeze." Is my body feeling sick as I'm about to do X, Y, and Z? Okay. I'm resisting that. How can I regulate my body's response in this uncomfortable situation that normally I don't notice? I don't notice, because I get too mental.

As we attend to the body, we also start to feel needs that maybe got stuffed a long time ago. Oh, I actually do have a need to sit down, and eat lunch, and not work, and breathe a little bit. I didn't know I had that need because I've been a workaholic for 40 years. Oh, I didn't know that I needed a little bit – I need to take a bath at the end of this day. I need – you'll start to feel a need to you. Even like take clay bath or Epsom. You'll feel your needs for detoxification. You'll feel your needs for sunshine. You'll feel your needs for walking.

And so, somatic practices attune you to your body's needs. And the cool thing is, Scott, when we start to meet our needs, our limbic system dials down its stress response. It hits us all the way down from when we were an infant. Needs get met, baby stops crying. Needs get met, alarm bells dial down.

[01:21:10] SCOTT: Feeling safe in our bodies, in the world is so important for healing. What are some of the factors that you see that get in the way of feeling safe or feeling safer in our world and in our bodies?

[01:21:23] DR. CAT: Well, the media does a great job of keeping us from feeling safe. I could go on and on. Please stop watching the news. It's a program. It's a program to keep us in vigilance. It's so easy to program people if you hit their stress response, if you hit the limbic system. And usually literally use the words unsafe. That is going to target your limbic system to listen. And then anything they say right after that, you're going to believe more likely. It's an ancient NLP trick that is used everywhere. I could go on and on about how we are getting brain retrained by our media to be in threat, and vigilance, and distrust, and out of primal trust. We're being brain retrained to get our immune response all dysregulated.

The other thing I'll say is I wish that the medical system could move into more of Naviaux's Salugenesis model versus the pathogenic model, because it's so much more empowering. Versus getting this result from your doctor saying you've got X, Y, and Z diagnosis. And this are the problem with all these bugs in your body. Instead of how can my body unlock its healing cycle? Which is more empowering. It triggers that unsafety, because these are things that feel out of your control.

I know. That's how it was for me. It was out of control to attend to these diagnoses. If they would have said, "Okay, your immune system is a little offline. You can't detox well. We got to unlock how your body self-heals. And these are things that you can do while I focus on these things," wow, I would have felt so much safer in my healing process. Those are a couple things that come to mind.

[01:23:06] SCOTT: And I'm assuming by media, you also mean social.

[01:23:11] DR. CAT: Yes. All of our influences.

[01:23:12] SCOTT: Yeah. Talk to us for a moment about movement. You talked a little bit about this earlier. But why is movement such an important part of your program? Why does simple movement? I like to walk about four miles a day. And I just find so many benefits from that. Why does even simple movement help to address stagnation and allow us to have better fluid flows in our body and within our lymphatic system? Why do you feel like it's so important to move?

[01:23:41] DR. CAT: When I was going through physical therapy school, they taught us that the number one indicator of our health and our longevity was our exercise and our movement. Maybe I'm biased, because I'm a PT. But I believe that. And I believe that all of our systems need flow to heal. Blood flow is essential.

Also, good structural alignment, which we briefly talked about earlier. But the body needs to flow. It needs its nutrient exchange and vascular pumping mechanisms to be moving. And if we've been sick and immobile, we are creating a stagnant cesspond. And our vascular and lymphatic coordination can go offline. The movement is what's going to teach the body how to remember to pump and exchange. And, again, it's just the major indicator of longevity. And it's essential.

And I teach people. A lot of people are bed-bound when they see me. I'm like, "You can move in your bed. You can squeeze and relax. You can move your arms slowly." I mean, of course, if you're not paralyzed, you can do these things. And this is important. And it actually really does start to move, shift the needle. Just squeezing and relaxing different body parts. Moving slow. Yin Yoga movements. Just arm movements. All of these things can really assist. And even if you can only walk down your driveway and back, that was me, down the driveway and back, that was my big deal of the day. It was better than nothing.

[01:25:01] SCOTT: Talk to us about the Primal Trust Community. Some of the tools that you offer to support people's healing journey. And then how are people interacting with the Primal Trust program? With the community? With your platform? Is it web-based? Is it mobile app-based? What are some of the tools they use to interact with the Primal Trust program?

[01:25:22] DR. CAT: I want to just say that one of the things I most proud of is the community aspect. Because I think this is what sets our program apart. We have live classes pretty much every day. And sometimes multiple times a day. And this is all included. It's not extra. And these live classes, they range. Yesterday, we had somatic experiencing inquiry. We have laughter classes. We have them in Spanish. We have coaching on live topics. We have sound therapy. We have journaling. We have daily dropping classes that are 20 minutes long of just different movement practices or whatever.

The community is there for that instant reboot every day. That instant reminder of how to do this work? It's there for that co-regulation piece that is essential in the healing process. We are not meant to heal in isolation. We've been in isolation long enough with these chronic illnesses. In connection, in community is where I see a lot more healing. We also have study groups that are free. We help put you into cohorts to move through the process together that you can do. And I find people that participate in the study groups have even greater outcomes than those that don't.

The Primal Trust program has the academy, all the courses. Many, many hours of training. And the community piece. And I think that's just one of the really wonderful things about it. It is web-based. And we also have an app. You can use the app. You can use the web.

[01:26:50] SCOTT: And then how long has the program been available? How many people have gone through it? And is there a way for you to give listeners a sense of the success rate of those that have done the program thus far?

[01:27:02] DR. CAT: Sure. The Primal Trust Academy and Community started just over two and a half years ago. And just over a year and a half ago, we launched our new level-one regulate program, which is really what's exploded in the world. It's fairly new. But in that time, we've taken 10,000 people through the process in over 60 countries. I'm blown away.

This whole thing started, Scott, I taught a group of 15 women my level two mentorship and it just – I never knew that this was going to be my path. Yes, it's exploded. And, honestly, it's because I think the community – it's co-led. I have lots of people beside me. I'm not the guru. And I don't want to be the guru. I want everybody sharing their wisdom. And because of that, there's a place for everybody. There's a place for everybody to share what they know. And I really love that.

The success rate, I'm also very proud of. We're about to do another round of data analysis. But last year, a year ago, we did our first round with several hundred people. And we found that after just under three months, the people that came in with function, under 33%, they had an improvement rate of 87% in three months on average. That's average. And that's the low-function group. That was one of my favorite stats.

Another one is that Lyme – out of all of our diagnoses, Lyme disease had about a 51% increase in function in three months, which shows you that infection has that second and first reaction thing going on. Now we were addressing the second reaction. Your function can improve you, guys.

And, also, those that did the process over six months, they had a higher rate of success than those that just kind of came in and out. Dedicating your time and really moving through the whole process over time. I expect that – now here we are a year later. We've had a lot even more support and training. I think that the outcomes are even higher. I'm looking forward to that.

I don't know if you know. But it took me about three years to put together my new level-one program. I studied from an old beta program. What worked? What didn't? What sequencing works? Et cetera. I've redone my level-two program four times. I'm constantly learning. I'm about to redo it a fifth time based on what I'm learning. Same thing with level-one. I'm creating a quick start guide with new main points. Because, to me, this is an ongoing learning. Our consciousness is shifting daily about how to treat this whole chronic condition. And so, I think that's what's helping our results to be what they are. It's not just a program I created and I let it be. It's always evolving.

[01:29:50] SCOTT: You kept the beneficial aspects of your perfectionism and let go of the negative ones.

[01:29:55] DR. CAT: Yeah. I'm trying. On a good day, I do that.

[01:29:59] SCOTT: And I'm guessing, at this point in history, that you're also getting a lot of people with long-COVID that are doing the program as well. What's their experience been?

[01:30:08] DR. CAT: Yeah. They're the second-best stat. They get 41% rate of improvement in under three months. And right there with chronic fatigue as well. Lyme disease, long-COVID, and mold was right behind them. I think at like 39% improvement within three months on that study a year ago. We're doing good.

[01:30:25] SCOTT: Yeah. That's absolutely amazing. You've created a How Healing Happens eBook, which I'll put in the show notes for people as well. That's great. I have taken a look at that. And I know you wanted to also offer a discount to our community. Maybe you can tell us about that.

[01:30:40] DR. CAT: Sure. Yes. I created a book that's 127 pages that's like a mini-free level-one program. It's got several tools to get you started. The science behind everything we just talked about to help you understand. I really creative it to get that consciousness out there. The conscious awareness out there of what's possible. Please download that. It's beautiful. It's full of wonderful infographics. It's a program in and of itself. And it is free.

I'm also offering a 15% discount for Scott's community as a thank you to him for how much he supported me in my healing journey. And I'd love to give back. That link will be down below as well.

[01:31:18] SCOTT: Thank you so much. My last question is the same for every guest, and that is what are some of the key things that you do on a daily basis in support of your own health?

[01:31:28] DR. CAT: Great question. I have to have that morning time. I have to have that morning time. I have to get up early and do whatever I need to do. Sometimes I do my own ABC. Sometimes I do Joe Dispenza's work. Sometimes I do another meditation. Something for my own mind. I do movement. I love doing qigong. I love doing other somatic exercises. I also like to focus on my breath.

The other thing I love is – right before this interview, I told you I was very nervous. Because I'm a bit of a fan girl of, Scott. I turned on music and I just danced. And I let myself that true self come forward. That is how I find me. I love to turn on music and dance every day.

And then maybe most importantly, the quest of transformation is always on my mind. How can I love more? How can I resist less? What am I holding on to with my partner? My child? What am I holding on to that I need to see, and inquire, and let go so that I can open up more and more?

[01:32:32] SCOTT: I love the dancing part too. I'm not sure it's visually appealing to other people. But I enjoy it. This was such a great conversation. This is the first opportunity that you and I have had to connect one-on-one. And I'm certainly hoping that it's not the last. But I just want to thank you for being generous with your information. Being generous with your time. But, really, honor you for what I really view as minimizing the suffering of so many.

And there is so much struggle and suffering in the world. And for you to be able to put together a program like this that is so significantly improving the quality of life for so many, that is a job well done. Thank you so much, Dr. Cat.

[01:33:18] DR. CAT: Thank you. Thank you so much.

[OUTRO]

[01:33:19] SCOTT: To learn more about today's guest, visit PrimalTrust.org. That's PrimalTrust.org. PrimalTrust.org. And don't forget to use discount code BETTERHEALTH for 15% off your first month of Primal Trust.

Thanks so much for listening to today's episode. If you're enjoying the podcast, please leave a positive rating or review, as doing so will help the show reach a broader audience. To support the show, visit BetterHealthGuy.com/donate. To get my newsletter, visit BetterHealthGuy.com/newsletters. To follow me on Facebook, Instagram, X, or TikTok, you can find me there as BetterHealthGuy. This and other episodes can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube, and Odyssey.

[01:34:09] ANNOUNCER: Thanks for listening to this BetterHealthGuy Blogcast with Scott, your BetterHealthGuy. To check out additional shows and learn more about Scott's personal journey to better health, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com.

[END]

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  BetterHealthGuy.com is intended to share my personal experience in recovering from my own chronic illness.  Information presented is based on my journey working with my doctors and other practitioners as well as things I have learned from conferences and other helpful resources.  As always, any medical decisions should be made only with the guidance of your own personal medical authority.  Everyone is unique and what may be right for me may not be right for others.