Preface for my new book – Transforming Trauma

Transforming Trauma
by Dr. Heather L. Herington, ND

David J. Schleich, PhD
President, National University of Natural Medicine

Dr. Herington begins at the beginning in this book; that is, she does not assume that ours is the best of all possible worlds, given the perceived progress of biomedicine in the decades since Abraham Flexner’s Report was published; she does not accept holus- bolus the assumptions of the APA’s DSM, with is propensity for “pathologizing any human experience”. Rather, grounding us in the history and early professional insights into PTS/D (or, as it is also know, complex trauma disorder), and anchoring her unfolding conversation in a robust review of current neuroscience and epigenetics (such as challenging the static inheritability of DNA or demystifying, for example, the process of inflammatory mediators and the neuro-inflammatory process), she weaves the best of didactic, narrative and clinical information into a very impressive whole.

In this rigorous discussion, Dr. Herington takes into account the intricate old and new literatures about medicine and health. She elucidates the emerging conversations among health care professionals about gut-brain axis, nutritional deficiency, the HPA axis, the neurobiology of chronic stress and more. She asserts, “We in North America have generated one big mess in treating mental health and we have a lot of work to get it right.” Dr. Herington tells us a great deal about treatment paths other than conventional drug treatments, such as alternatives to the favored serotonin or chlorpromazine regimens so common in allopathic care for PTS/D.

This remarkable book is about what has been missing; actually about what, all this time, has been in hiding in plain sight: natural medicine solutions in a world where, as Ivan Illich has contended, conventional medicine has severe limitations. This book is a touchstone for those healers wanting to help patients using drugless healing with PTS/D, ACE and other conditions with psychological trauma at the core. Dr. Herington’s
work is as comprehensive as it is precise and functional. Her insights about contemporary sanctioned treatment of PTSD are disciplined and valuable. Dr. Herington stares down toxic psychiatry square on with outstanding didactic information, clinical pearls, and proven protocols.
In these pages clinicians will find substantial data and abundant information on such topics as the complex and surprising history of medicine in North America, the role of inflammation in the trajectory of chronicity, epigenetics, neuroscience, conventional treatment by psychiatry and psychology, naturopathic medicine, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, and unconventional psychotherapies, to name some of the key topics among a significant taxonomy of material essential to this conversation about behavioral health.

Dr. Herington demonstrates successfully that PTS/D is hardly a new phenomenon, tracing its roots and presentation from The Epic of Gilgamesh (the poetic tale of the King Uruk of Mesopotamia) to Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Emily Dickinson, and on to the prescient and powerful work of Harold Napoleon of the Alaskan Yuu’pik First Nation people. She takes care to clarify with considerable thoroughness how PTS/D is expressed. She shares gracefully a remarkable continuum of sources to do this, including significant contributions by eminent scholars such as Dr. Judith Herman (Harvard) to the theoretical constructs of Chris Brewin Freeman, among many, many others.

As well, she moves the discourse carefully through an historical perspective on DSM and a careful consideration of the science behind this massive field. In Part Three, for example, Dr. Herington provides a succinct, immediately useful overview of nutrient- drug interactions, the extraordinary utility of lifestyle, food, and detoxification options from so-called “drugless therapies” including naturopathic medicine, homeopathic medicine, and botanical medicine.

Part Four of this book is a gold mine of drugless treatments, skillfully framed in discussion about nutrition, lifestyle and detoxification. An especially valuable component of this comprehensive work is Dr. Herington’s chapter on Body-Mind Connection. With equal gusto, she delivers exceptional insight into the potential of the expressive arts, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, Chinese medicine, chiropractic, Ayurveda, still point therapies, and Mind-Body, to name some of the key sections.

Valuable to consider and understand is the cumulative, full import of a work of this magnitude. Dr. Herington is among a small, but growing number of Naturopathic Doctors with decades of clinical experience, research, teaching and learning among them, who are enthusiastically and meticulously writing about critical health topics. This community of scholarly naturopathic clinicians is well represented here by Dr. Herington. Her book, written in elegant, clear, often witty prose, is a strong statement of commitment to healing and teaching. Increasingly unmoored from inherently healthy roots in our culture, health care professionals and patients alike will experience Dr. Herington’s work here as reassuring and prescient. She writes with such alacrity.