When Stored Trauma Is Driving Our Health & Life
It is nearly impossible to live a life without stress and trauma. Fortunately, there are ways we can climb our way out of the stress cycle in order to improve our symptoms and move forward in good health.
If you’ve been experiencing hormonal changes, inflammation, and digestive issues, it could be more than just being stressed out—these symptoms may have a root cause buried deeper than you realize.
Aimie Apigian is a leading expert on the biology of trauma, and in this conversation with JJ she shares how trauma is stored in the body and the physical ways that it can manifest. They discuss the difference between a normal stress response and a trauma response and how to know which one you’re experiencing, including paying attention to numbing behaviors like endless scrolling on your phone or even bingeing Netflix.
You’ll also learn how every chronic disease may be associated with nervous-system dysregulation in childhood trauma, the most effective therapy modalities to help release trauma from the body, and JJ shares her personal story of how daily meditation helped her heal from trauma surrounding her adoption as a child.
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ATHE_Transcript_Ep 466_Dr. Aimie Apigian
JJ Virgin: [00:00:00] Hey, this is JJ Virgin. Welcome. And thanks so much for joining me. This is ask the health expert here. I put the power of health in your hands and give you access to the top. People in health and wellness. In each episode, I share safe ways to get healthy, lose weight, heal your gut detox and lots more. So if you wanna get healthy and get off the dieting for life Merry go round, I'll give you strategies that will help you look and feel better.
So I have been doing meditation for the last year plus. And if you've been listening to the podcast or following me on social on Instagram or TikTok or YouTube or Facebook you've probably heard, heard about some of my journeys and how I was teasing with Dr. Joe Dispenza who is my meditation teacher that I started meditating and I would go to his retreats and [00:01:00] literally you're meditating for hours a day, you know, and not doing my usual exercise and all that.
And I lose five. And no, I didn't lose five pounds of muscle. I lost five pounds over the course of time, not by changing my diet or exercise, but purely by calming down my nervous system and letting go of trauma. And so I've really been interested in this topic and really how to have a healthy, nervous system.
And so I'm super excited about our guest today, Dr. Aimiea Apigian. Dr. Aimiea Apigian is really leading the leading expert. Bringing out this whole idea of the biology of trauma. I'm gonna tell you a little bit about her. She's a double board certified medical physician in both preventive and addiction medicine and holds double master's degrees in biochemistry and public.
She is the leading medical expert in addressing stored trauma in the body. And again, she has this methodology, she calls the biology of trauma and it's, it's really a new way of looking at trauma that. Up [00:02:00] levels. The old methods of trauma work in medicine by reverse engineering traumas effects on the nervous system and body on a cellular level.
So she specializes in trauma attachment and addictions. And this was all after having a personal experience in foster parenting adopting, and then having her own health issues that were a result of childhood and life experiences. And, you know, I think if you've known my story as an adopted child, I have an amazing.
Amazing parents that raised me, but there's just some trauma that was stored in there that as I've learned how to work through this has been incredible, the shifts. So that is why I'm like so excited to dig into this with with Dr. Aimie. Dr. Aimie also has a functional medicine certification and she has just been deep in trauma therapy training.
So she is my go-to for all things around the biology of trauma. And I will be right back with my special guest. Stay with me.[00:03:00]
Dr. Aimie Apigian. Welcome to the show. Ah, JJ, thank you. I'm excited. I've been waiting for this one. I've been waiting and waiting and waiting. I am. Just such a huge fan of everything you're doing and really bringing trauma to the forefront. And one of the first things that you talk about, and I remember us having this conversation a couple years ago, and you said it's the biology of trauma, not the psychology of trauma.
So what, what does that mean? Yeah,
Dr. Aimie Apigian: this is the biggest misconception from my standpoint. And granted, I have a different standpoint, I'm a medical physician. And so I've worked with the human body. I've worked with the nerves, I've dissected the nerves in anatomy lab. We don't need to talk about that trauma, but
yeah, like trauma is stored in the body and it not only as a result of your biology, but then it affects your biology. [00:04:00] And so understanding that it's actually the body that experiences an event or a situation as a trauma, the body decides that the mind doesn't decide that the mind just makes up a story about what that, what you just went through because the, the mind creates meaning about things.
And so we all get stuck in our heads and our thoughts we're analyzing, or, you know, you've seen the ladies. JJ who just go around and talk to their girlfriends about all the things that have happened to them. And, and they keep telling the same story, right? Like that's our brain, but that is not where the trauma is.
Our brain is just trying to make sense of what the body went through and what the body goes through is a direct result of our biology going into that event and coming
JJ Virgin: out. So how did you get interested in all.
Dr. Aimie Apigian: You know, I was one of the most conventional medicine doctors that you could find. JJ, I went into medical school also with a master's in biochemistry.
So I'm like one of those geeky, nerdy scientists that just love to be in their heads. in their heads, in a book. Right. I, if I didn't go into [00:05:00] medicine, I would've been a librarian. I love. To read. I love to study. So I was, you look,
JJ Virgin: you're, you're rocking the sexy librarian. Look right now. I must say I could,
Dr. Aimie Apigian: I, I, right.
Like think of what I could bring to the librarian field, bring some spice and life into it. The. So I was the farthest away from trauma. And I would even say that even as a physician, JJ, I was one of those who went into general surgery. I started in general surgery because I hated psychiatry. I even hated primary care because they wanted to talk about feelings.
And how do you feel about this? And I'm like, I don't care about how you feel about things. Let's just fix the problem. So I went into surgery, but then that's like the same approach that I've had with trauma. And the way I got into that was I started foster parenting during medical school. And you started foster
JJ Virgin: parenting during
Dr. Aimie Apigian: I was hoping that you wouldn't catch that.
I was just trying, but I, maybe I paused long enough too long to let you get in there. And say [00:06:00] something. Yes. So that was part of my nervous system. And I've had my own work to do JJ. I've had my own work to do because that those decisions, those Yeah, that decision was certainly coming from, from a, not a healthy place that I would add that much onto my life and feel that that would even be helpful to me or helpful, helpful to the kiddos.
But that, that was my story. That was my experience. And so they actually placed two kids with me. And I adopted Miguel and he came to me at four years old and he came with a lot of pain, a lot of trauma, but I thought that my love would fix him, JJ. I like, I didn't even, I didn't even question it. I knew that I had so much love to give, to give him specifically that I knew that it would, that it would heal his broken places and it didn't.
And so I had to go on this journey. Trying to figure out how to fix trauma and learn, have learned a [00:07:00] lot to say the least, but that's what started me on this journey.
JJ Virgin: Wow. I, I, I am really fascinated by all this. As you know, like this last year and a half, and I think going to these Dr. Joe Dispenza events, and one of the big things that that happens is people are meditating is you'll see some people and they start to flop.
Yep. The Floppers and I'm like the Flopper I'm like what is going and, and, you know, it's such a, thing's a thing. It's a thing. So, so the first time, and for those of you who haven't been to, one of these, you go to this meditation workshop. Now I listen to all, I am good student and you're supposed to listen to all of the tapes before you all the tapes.
I just totally date myself. You're supposed to listen to the audio trainings before you go the audios down, and then you're supposed to do the meditations. Well, I figured. Not gonna do the meditations, I'm going to the meditation. Why would I do that? I'm going to the retreat. I'll just listen to the training, which I totally loved.
I it's fantastic, but I'd never gone through any these meditations. I had no idea what [00:08:00] they were. I'm like piece of cake, I'll go do that there. I get there. And as we start to go into these meditations, first of all, I have no clue what he's doing. So now I'm like everybody else does, but I don't. But you and you can't see anything cuz everyone's got their eye mask on, but.
After it. And while you're doing the walking meditations, you see people really shaking and you'll hear people yell and I'm like, what is going on? And the first couple times I'm really judgy and I'm like, what is that person doing? And by the end of the first week long, I'm like, I wanna do that. You know, did I get to do that?
Like I want some of that,
Dr. Aimie Apigian: whatever she's having, I'll have that
JJ Virgin: I wanna, I wanna flop, but you realize what they're doing is they're releasing all this stored trauma and he's explaining it to you. And I'm like, it took me, you know, I had to go through three of these meditation retreats before I even got to the point where my body was like, even willing to start
Dr. Aimie Apigian: there.
JJ Virgin: Mm-hmm right. mm-hmm so, you know, I mean, let's talk about this stored [00:09:00] trauma, cuz I didn't even know it was a. You know, and now I'm really obsessed with your nervous system and how this all happens. So, you know, what, what is this mechanism? How is trauma stored and what does it do to you?
Dr. Aimie Apigian: Yeah. So let me walk people through the neurobiological response to a trauma, and then we'll understand clearly like how it actually gets stored in the moment.
But then of course, there's all these downstream consequences, especially when it's been. Integrated into your biology for years and it becomes chronic. And then of course you're adding more stress and more trauma. The more life you experience without the right tools to process it as we go through a life experience.
So in a trauma response, there's always a first startle response of the nervous system. And the startle response is in response to your nervous system, thinking that something might be a threat or might be a danger, we don't know yet, but it might be. And so when there's that startle response, then there's this [00:10:00] hypervigilance, our nervous system goes into sympathetic state.
So there's the faster heartbeat you
start breathing faster. You may start sweating a little bit. And what is released is adrenaline. And that's the, the chemical, the messenger that's making all of this happen and you can literally feel the blood start to move in your body and, and, and you want to move like your move to action.
And you're looking around your eyes actually dilate so that you can take in more of your environment, your sensory. Input like the, the amount of information from your environment that your nervous system is taking in is incredible. Like, this is the most sensitive time of your nervous system to take in your environment.
So you hear everything because your brain, especially your amygdala, is having to decide in the moment. Usually within a few seconds, do I need to respond? And how do I best respond? What's my best strategy here for survival. And so say that this is [00:11:00] gonna be a trauma response. So yes, we're gonna say that this is a real threat, a real danger, and then your body goes into an even more activated or sympathetic state because now you have to either run or you have to fight.
The sympathetic state. This first stage of the trauma response is a very active state. And so I'm even thinking of a lot of the work that you've done, JJ, right. And people live with inflammation all over their body, right? Like inflammation galore. And so if they're going into this high metabolic state, they're not going to be able to sustain that as long as someone without inflammation.
And so at some point the body, again, this is all the body and the, and the peripheral nervous system, the autonomic nervous system, it decides when it can no longer use that active. Active high metabolic state as the best survival state. And at the moment that it decides that there's this switch that happens in the brain stem and [00:12:00] it switches to the breaks.
And this is the dorsal vagal system or the polyvagal theory for those who may know Dr. Stephen Porges, and it literally shuts everything down for the purpose of survival. And so a person will actually feel that collapse they'll feel that moment where it's like, Like what, what just hit me. And I can't even, like, I feel heavy.
There's not the, the, this is this high, like motivated motivation for action with the sympathetic. And so once that switch happens, that's actually the trauma response. If we stay in an active response to our life situation, it stays as a stress JJ. And so for a trauma response to happen, we have to have.
Collapse. We have to have that moment where our body decides this is too much for. The other reason for switching into that trauma response is gonna be, this has been going on for too long and I have two [00:13:00] little resources and those resources can be external in terms of support, family, friends, money sometimes, but sometimes they're internal resources like magnesium, like ATP, right?
Like, so all of this is going into the factor, the equation for deciding when. Do we switch from it being a stress to a trauma, but what happens is that when the body goes into that trauma response and that collapse, we usually get stuck there. We don't give the body the time or the energy in order to come out of that and be able to complete the trauma cycle.
And so whenever we don't complete it all the way it gets stuck, it gets stored. And what happens is that all of that adrenaline that was released during the first stage of the trauma response, it has to go somewhere. And since we didn't. Completely run it off or punch it out. For example, that it's like a charge [00:14:00] that gets stored in our tissues.
And so it starts to, it starts to form this dysregulation of our nervous system, where now we chronically go just back and forth between stressed and overwhelm and that collapse stressed and overwhelming. You can see all of the coping mechanisms that people do when they go into overwhelm. There's emotional eating.
There's. You know, binge watching movies there's numbing any form of numbing out is this trauma response. And so it's fascinating to see how many people are actually living chronically with this trauma response, and don't even know how disconnected they are from their body.
JJ Virgin: Is there a way to know like, is there a way to test for this to know, like if your nervous system is dysregulated, is there, like, how would someone know?
I mean, they might be hearing this going, oh, you know, I binge watch movies, but I mean, that doesn't necessarily mean, you know, your Netflix issue is not necessarily. Indicative of that. Like what [00:15:00] else? Like, is there a way to know there
Dr. Aimie Apigian: are lots of ways to know you can look at things that are more, what you might call subjective, where you're looking at your, your behaviors.
You're looking at coping mechanisms, you're looking at your emotions when you wake up in the day. How do you feel? Are you excited to wake up? Are you like, oh man, bummer. It's another day. right. Like, oh boy, that's this regulation. because anything that is out of that parasympathetic state is dysregulation, unless it's an appropriate stress response.
And more often than not, it's a exaggerated stress response. But when we're in the freeze response, sometimes it's an under response, like things are happening and we're just kind of watching our life go by being like, oh, isn't that a bummer? Yeah, I should probably do something about that, but I'm not right.
And so when you see people not taking action for their life, that is nervous system dysregulation. When you see them [00:16:00] using things to manage emotions that is dysregulation. When you see people overreacting that is dysregulation. So anything that's not in parasympathetic when they're supposed to be in parasympathetic.
Is dysregulation. So one way that I have people who, especially those coming into my 21 day journey that are taking this journey into their nervous system. This is exactly where we start JJ. We have them map out their nervous system for an entire day. They see, like where did you even start the day?
Because most people aren't even starting the day in parasympathetic. They're starting the day already stressed, right? Like they're, they're like, oh my goodness. I'm waking up late. I have so much to do. Let me like there, there they go. Right. The hamster's already on the wheel. wow. Or they're waking up and overwhelmed, man.
Mm-hmm I didn't, I, I, I, I don't want it to be morning already. I I'm already overwhelmed by my day and I haven't even gotten outta bed yet. So then it's [00:17:00] fascinating. Cause then you see those people, right. And you see that they are waking up in a dysregulated overwhelm state rather than a dysregulated stress state.
And they are different because in order to get through their day, they have to give themselves adrenaline. Because that's the only way to bring in energy into their system from an external source that will allow them to come out of that freeze long enough to get stuff done. And then they're the ones at the end of the day that are going into a collapse.
They're the ones that are just, you know, kind of. They wish that they could curl up in a ball more often than not. They're just kind of mindlessly doing things. And that would be the form of dysregulation is, you know, when they're sitting down with that Netflix, right. We're not gonna judge their Netflix JJ.
Right, right. We're not gonna judge them. Right.
JJ Virgin: it's so funny. I never watch Netflix until the pandemic hit, now I'm like, uhoh did this turn into a, am I, what am I doing? right. And
Dr. Aimie Apigian: that's, and so the, the, the key. For everything, whether it's [00:18:00] Netflix or anything else, JJ, even if it's driving somewhere, the key is, are you doing it mindlessly?
Are you just on remote? Are you just going through the motions or are you actually doing it fully embodied, fully aware of your environment fully engaging and responding with your environment? Or are you doing it in a way that's like, you're all in your thoughts and, or you're kind of numbed out. You're escaping even I'm at Bo Eason's training right now and one of the ladies was talking about how, you know, when she doesn't like something, she notices that she just tunes.
And it's like, that's half of the world, at least. right. Wow. Like we, and that's, that is the trauma response. So this is where I look at people and I'm like, you know, one of the common threads that we all have, if we have a human body, most of us have these trauma responses stored and we don't even just recognize it as a trauma response.
JJ Virgin: it as, I don't even know how you wouldn't. Right. Like, right. So, [00:19:00] so backing it up cuz you said something and then I went, oh, I gotta ask about this. I'm just listening to this. I know. I'm like, okay, we're gonna unpack. But you were talking about, you know, completing the cycle so that you wouldn't store the trauma.
Yes. But we're never trained to do that. How would you know. And I'll tell you something interesting that happened when grant was in the hospital, you know, so grant gets hit by a car. He he's left for dad, my son and I, and my ex-husband are staring at my son on a stretcher with glass sticking out. And it was hurt.
Like, you know, the thing you, you can never unsee. And then I go to the hospital and all I can do is I'm the hospital with him. And then I'm running up and down the stairs. , you know, and I was like going, I had to. Go and. Do something do hit training? I was like, I just, it was like, I had to get it out of me.
Mm-hmm . And so now I'm thinking, well, I was just like shaking that I was like, [00:20:00] mm-hmm it was like, when you see the animals that will go into that whole like shake and then there, and then you trot off, you know, but is that how you would complete the cycle? Is that how you get the trauma out? Is that one of the ways?
And you know, I'm just thinking about all the stuff. Bullies on the playground to now the bullies on, you know, social media, to all the things that happen on a daily basis that we are never taught to deal with. And then you go to talk therapy you know, which has its place. But if you're, if it's not addressing the stored trauma, exactly
Dr. Aimie Apigian: like the, the, the talk therapy is going to just be kind of reliving the trauma, if anything, right.
Like our bodies are meant to move. We have to move through life. We have to move through these experiences or else they do get stuck and stored in anything that we are going through does not mean that we are [00:21:00] moving through. Hmm. And I even think of grief. Grief is another one of those things. That's very uncomfortable for people, especially people who've had these trauma responses as part of their life because grief, sadness, loss.
Can bring up a lot of things that we have not moved through yet. And so many times people going through grief are just like, they're kind of putting it in boxes, right. And like stuffing it in closets, metaphorically in their body. Mm-hmm cause it's just, it's just too uncomfortable. It is so uncomfortable.
So one of the things with completing that trauma cycle is actually being able to. With the emotion, right? Dr. Joan Rosenberg talks that about that. Yeah. I was just
JJ Virgin: thinking about Joan .
Dr. Aimie Apigian: So actually being able to sit and allow yourself to feel that emotion as it is presenting in your body in the moment, it's not at the thoughts.
It's oh, like my stomach feels in knots. I feel like I wanna just curl up [00:22:00] into a ball and feeling how that's presenting in your body and then your body will move through something. In the moment and many times like you you'll then afterwards want to move to action because we've got all of that adrenaline that we need to then discharge mm-hmm one of the, one of the interesting things that people can practice is when they're driving and if they have anything that it's, that they have that startle response of, oh my goodness, this is a near accident, right?
Like I almost got yeah. Or almost got into an accident. What do we do though, JJ? Right? Like we don't pull over. We just keep going. Like, this is how we somehow think that we're, we're supposed to live our lives. Like, oh, we're supposed to pretend that that doesn't bother me. That I'm not hurt by that, that I'm not.
Yeah. Having fear about that or, or scared about that. And so we, we have all of these pretenses that we have to. Look like we've got everything together. So we don't even allow ourselves to feel these things, [00:23:00] but if somebody who's having that near accident on the highway or on the road, if they were to pull over and just let themselves feel what's going on, they would start to shake.
And so I encourage people to do that because many people like you are like, what's this shaking thing, and that's a perfect opportunity. The adrenaline is fresh and you know, your foot had to slam on the brakes or your hands had to, you know, yank on the steering wheel. So you have that motor memory that's pretty fresh.
And if you stop and let yourself feel that in the moment, it will shake, it will discharge. And then you're gonna be like, Whew. Glad I survived. That the cool thing is, is that you're not gonna still be thinking about it for the rest of the day, right? Because you were able to process it in the moment or
JJ Virgin: every time
Dr. Aimie Apigian: a car comes up on you again, or every time a car approaches in that same way.
JJ Virgin: Yep. I, I was just thinking about when grant got hit, first of all, I was like vigilant on highway watching every car was like, ridiculous. [00:24:00] I was in the hospital and someone did something really crappy to me business wise. And I remember calling him on the phone. And, and the entire nursing.
I mean, it was the, it was top of my lungs. I'm in the little like waiting room area. Now this is the pediatric ICU, you know? And, and I am like calling him every name, blah. And at the end of all of it, he's like, all right, do you feel better? And I go, yes. He goes totally good. I, he goes, you know, sorry that happened.
But if I, you know, I go, gosh, you know, Sorry. I yelled at you that way. He goes, I really, I think you just needed it. I go, I really did. so, you know, I mean, and I'm just thinking that was just like that discharge, you know, this discharge that, gosh, why aren't we taught this?
Dr. Aimie Apigian: I don't know, but that is honestly, one of my goals, JJ is to bring this into elementary school because this, this is life, right?
This is the manual for how to go through life and not accumulate. [00:25:00]
JJ Virgin: Yeah. Just like the little, I think of like when I was a little kid and grant did this too, we'd have these little temper tantrums and it was like, stop that. I was like, well, maybe you're supposed to just let it on out. So now we have this stored trauma in us and what do we do?
How do we get it out? Because I'm assuming it's like a toxin it's better out than in, right? Oh, it's definitely a toxin. And what is, and what is it doing to you let's before we talk about how we're gonna get it out, what does it do to you hanging out in.
Dr. Aimie Apigian: Yeah, and this is where it's so fascinating. Cuz we have all the research, like we know this stuff and yet it's not yet really incorporated into mainstream medicine and it's
JJ Virgin: not well, cuz there's not a lab test and there's not a pill.
There's not a pill yet. That's the pills that they use it. Right?
Dr. Aimie Apigian: This is our new business idea.
JJ Virgin: We need to create a pill together. Cause we need another
Dr. Aimie Apigian: think of how, think of what it could do though, JJ, right? Like [00:26:00] just take this one pill and all of your trauma will go
JJ Virgin: away. I, I think of our, I don't know if you know, Robbie Richmond, he's part of mindshare and he created the X pill. It was sort of like the red pill blue pill. And you would like do all these intentions around the pill and people would have these amazing transformations.
Because of the law of attraction and intentioning so we'll just, yeah, we'll do the blue pill. Yeah. Yeah. Anyway. Yeah.
Dr. Aimie Apigian: If only it were that easy and I think that this is really where we need to understand the seriousness of it, because if we did, we would be treating our children very differently. We would be creating different social constructs, even in order to really prevent.
Trauma, not just try to address it, manage it, treat it later on because I think of the ACE studies, right. And Dr. Vincent Felitti and I have been working on a project together where we're bringing, trying to bring ACEs into mainstream medicine. We're gonna do okay. Let's explain
JJ Virgin: what ACEs are for people who don't know what they are.
Thank you. You
Dr. Aimie Apigian: mean there's people that still don't know what ACEs right? Yes. Like [00:27:00] what, how is this possible? Because this is over 20 years old, right? Like this is for, for me as a medical physician, one of the big gaps in medicine, one of. I wanna, I wanna say the hurtful things that medicine is still doing for people that this is not just as ordinary as something like diabetes,
JJ Virgin: like no, it's not.
I mean, you know, and I'm assuming just a lot of consumer audience, not medical audience has no, has not heard of adverse childhood events. It's just not again, like, there's, don't know how
Dr. Aimie Apigian: physicians should be talking to them about that. Right? Like that's the role of their physician in their
JJ Virgin: life? Well, here's the thing..
We should go to school and learn how to be great humans. Rather than study English. I mean, those are important, but like number one, you should learn to be a kind purposeful, generous human first and live with integrity and know how to take care of yourself any correctly and move and meditate and all that.
Then, you know, learn one plus one equals two, you know, but. None of that stuff is really taught and especially not taught just even [00:28:00] relationships or how to stand up for yourself or what's, what's appropriate and inappropriate. So, you know, we got a lot of work to do.
So adverse childhood events,
Dr. Aimie Apigian: adverse childhood events. ACE is what
JJ Virgin: ACEs . Yeah.
Dr. Aimie Apigian: And so Dr. Vincent Felitti with Dr. Robert anda, they were the first to study this, and it was as a result of a weight loss clinic that they were running and they found that their most successful patients were the ones dropping.
And it irritated them. It made them angry, right? Cuz it's messing up their numbers. They need the people who are losing the most amount of weight to stay in the program so that they can really boast about their results. So they went and started investigating and that's when they uncovered that the ones that were losing the most amount of weight and dropping out had some common things in their life experiences.
And a lot of those. From childhood, everything from sexual, physical, [00:29:00] emotional stress, right? Like adverse childhood experiences, very stressful experiences for children. And so then they started looking at, well, what else is this related to? And they have now basically uncovered that every chronic disease is associated with adverse childhood experiences.
And so for us to understand that this, every
JJ Virgin: chronic disease, every,
Dr. Aimie Apigian: every, every,
JJ Virgin: every, every 100%. Yeah, yeah,
Dr. Aimie Apigian: yeah. I know. Right? Like,
JJ Virgin: Yeah, like,
Dr. Aimie Apigian: let that sink in. And again, like, why aren't we talking about this? But the, the important thing for us to take away from that is understanding that this dysregulation and the nervous system that we've mentioned happens years before one may have actual symptoms, [00:30:00] let alone a full blown disease.
And yes, you can have symptoms of anxiety and depression and more of our kids now have those than ever before. It is scary. The number of kids that are being put on medication for ADHD, anxiety there's like a quarter of a kid of kids on antidepressants already. By the time they reach adolescence, like it's, it's.
It's scary how much this has just become a normal part of our life that we're not seeing that trauma is really at the root of this. And by trauma again, I don't mean big events. What I mean by trauma is dysregulation of your nervous system, cuz that's how we measure it in the body.
JJ Virgin: Well, I mean, here's the thing.
How can anyone have gone through life and not have trauma?
I'm still looking for that
Dr. Aimie Apigian: person, JJ.
JJ Virgin: It's just like when they do the, when they do the studies and they go, we looked at this group of women without stress. I'm like, where were they? Why were they right? Who is [00:31:00] that? You know, what are you talking about? I mean, so when you look at and go it's it's, I don't know how that'd be possible.
Like, I don't know how it would be possible. And yet we have no tool. Like it's the first tool that a, that a kid should have, you know, so, wow. This makes me so sad to hear. Okay. So
Dr. Aimie Apigian: gonna take a deep breath. It is. And one of, one of the things and shake it off and take it off, take a deep breath and shake it off.
okay. Think one thing that would be really helpful to mention here is the attachment and. For many people, they think that childhood trauma and having dysregulation of their nervous system coming out of a childhood means that you had to have been abused or neglected or in foster care or adopted, or, you know, some something big.
And yet what we're finding is that no, most people are coming outta their childhood with a degree of dysregulation. And that degree of dysregulation is the degree of [00:32:00] insecure attachment that they. and so they'll throw around numbers like, oh, 60% of the population has an insecure attachment. That is so wrong.
JJ Virgin: wait. Insecure attachment means what? Yeah.
Dr. Aimie Apigian: So you have, there are, there's been four different. Attachment styles. But at the very end of the day, you can break it into two categories secure, which is what you want. You want to have a secure attachment style, which means that you have a certain belief system about yourself in the world, that you generally experience and see the world and other people as.
Safe. Whereas those coming outta their childhood with an insecure attachment, they have a different belief system and view of themselves in the world. And they are generally going to see the world as not safe and themselves as not good enough or not lovable. Where they've gotta prove it now, or they've gotta yeah, prove, prove their worth, prove their that they are [00:33:00] lovable and that relationships can be scary.
And so then they go into all kinds of bracing patterns and tension patterns and relationship patterns based on their attachment style and whether they feel safe. Intimacy and authenticity and integrity, and even know who they are in the world. And you know, are able to, to communicate well and all of these things that you need for a good, healthy relationship.
Those with a secure attachment coming outta their childhood, do that naturally. They actually don't need to be. Taught that, but as I say that, I'm like, well, no, they were taught that it's just not in the, not in the school sense. They right. They experience that. And that's how they were taught that. So coming out of childhood then with this dysregulation is most everybody.
And then you go through life and, and so you're [00:34:00] already seeing yourself as, as. In constant danger. Right. And whether it's because your friends might not like you, or you don't, you don't know, they may be talking behind your back. You don't, you don't know, there's just all this insecurity. And that actually is what unfortunately brings it almost attracts more trauma.
Right? Like we, we talk about, we talk about vibration. We talk about the law of attraction and we know. Trauma in this dysregulation of the nervous system actually attracts more trauma, more stress rather than the opposite. And so how important it is to kind of have this teaching and this manual for, Hey, as early as possible let's process, this let's learn how to move through life experiences so that we can be discharging this stuff.
Not have it. Stored, because then it has all of these downstream effects on our biology resulting in disease, physical, mental, emotional health symptoms. [00:35:00] And, and why like we can, we, we have the knowledge and the tools to get off of that pathway now.
JJ Virgin: So the knowledge and tools get off the pathway. How do you get off the pathway?
That's the, the ultimate thing here, because. I think that the majority of people, unless they've actively done something probably are suffering.
Dr. Aimie Apigian: Mm-hmm yeah. So I'm gonna speak to adults because by the, I mean, most of us are right. Yeah. Adults and we're here trying to help ourselves. I I've, I
JJ Virgin: haven't heard any kids listening to this podcast.
So I , I think we're safe, pretty safe to say, yeah, so I,
Dr. Aimie Apigian: and yet, right. Like JJ, you being a mom, like, and, and have, you know, having the experiences that you've had, you know, how moms fight for their kids. So I have just as many moms going through my 21 day journey program for the sake of their kids and even becoming a better mom for their kids, which I think is, is very beautiful.
I think that really shows the heart of a mom, [00:36:00] the, the fierce, the fierce warrior moms. Right. So as adults, the problem with, you know, the problem by now is that it's been so ingrained into the nervous system, that it's not a simple fix. And by now it has affected your biology. By now, it has brought on inflammation by now.
It has brought on hormonal changes. Digestive system changes. You do have much more. Intestinal permeability problems. When you have stored trauma in your body, your vagus nerve is not working as well. And sometimes it's working well. And then sometimes it's in that freeze response and has shut down. And so now your, your absorption is affected and now you've got gut inflammation.
That gut inflammation is traveling back up the vagus nerve to your brain causing brain inflammation. Let's also add brain inflammation to the equation now. So you've, you've got all of this stuff. Now that's part of your biology. and until you also address that, you're not gonna be able to [00:37:00] successfully reach the potential that you could using the different therapy modalities, some of the most effective therapy modalities, though.
Let's just talk about those are gonna be the movement based. The somatic based somatic just is kind of the Latin term for tissues. And since the tissues are where the trauma is, we gotta work with the tissues. So movement based, embodiment based. Rather than cognitive thoughts and talking about it. Now, I will say that for many people, depending on what type of trauma, depending on the degree of dysregulation, they may not even be ready to go there, JJ.
Right? Like there there's this capacity. That we need to, what we call it, titration in the trauma space where you're, you're titrating, how much you're able to be in your body and it not be too much. And so we start with just very little bits in my 21 day journey program. People are usually just starting out and we're doing 10 minutes a day.
And even with [00:38:00] that, like they're noticing, okay, I'm at my max. And it's like, yeah, for, for right now. Wow.
JJ Virgin: But, and what are you doing in that 10 minutes?
Dr. Aimie Apigian: We are doing somatic exercises where we, there are things like supporting your stomach, supporting your heart, supporting your back. So they, these are exercises.
I wanna call them exercises cuz they're movement based exercises that I've pulled from my trainings and somatic experiencing for those people who are aware of Peter Levine's work with somatic experiencing. Been one of my trainings as a medical physician. Imagine, imagine that right. Talk about a trauma, a medical physician sitting in a room of therapists for, for all of these days of training and then neuro effective touch.
And so neuro effective touch is one of these somatic based modalities that really is able to address a lot of their early neurodevelopment and attachment stuff and how that resulted in different bracing patterns. So even bracing with your thoracic inlet, your clavicles, people can walk around with shutting off their body [00:39:00] sensations just by bringing their shoulders up because they're cutting off their vegas nerve.
They're cutting off that mid mid-brain part of their brain stem, that processes, sensations. And we do that unconsciously. People who have kind of a sense of feeling lost in life. We've got a, usually a lot of work to do with their hips and with their legs, because that is where their source of strength should be coming from their, their, their sense of groundedness.
And so some many people didn't get the amount of movement, even in neurodevelopment, as a baby on their tummy, for example, and that has resulted in a disorganization of their nervous system. Predisposes them to trauma. And so that's another piece that I look that I look at. I just finished my attachment and neurodevelopment module for my certification course.
And, and it was fascinating because I actually have my practitioners send in a video of them getting on the floor on their tummy and, and figuring out how to scoot themselves. Across the floor, keeping their belly button on the floor. This is actually a, a [00:40:00] sign of how I can measure how their early life was.
Zero to six months of life. And it's fascinating, JJ. I know, I, I, I, I would love to show you videos of, of some of these tummy time crawls, because it's so obvious the dysregulation of the nervous system, just based on that, I can tell you so much about. Not only your childhood, but your life as a result of your childhood, based on what I see in your tummy time crawl, even as an adult.
So we wanna bring in all of these pieces once we are an adult, because otherwise we can, we can address one piece. Even if we go to say somatic experiencing we can address that, but then what. What about the biology? What about that inflammation? What about that brain inflammation? If you have neuro inflammation which I include gut inflammation in that and all the food sensitivities, because with the enteric nervous system, which is all of your nervous system in your gut, that is your second brain.
There are, there are, [00:41:00] I mean, almost if you look at imaging, just as many neurons in clusters, in your gut, as in your brain, it's fascinating. And so you have. Inflammation surrounding your nervous system, your nervous system is bathed in inflammation. And how do you expect to shift to parasympathetic? How do you expect to get your nervous system out of survival mode?
When it is literally bathed in this inflammation bath? So we have to address these aspects of the biology that will keep people stuck. So I see people going to therapy for years. And years and years, and years and years. Right. And it's like, you know, we can, we can actually do a lot more. We can accelerate that healing journey when we are able to bring in these biology pieces that are very predictable, that are a downstream consequence of trauma.
JJ Virgin: Wow.
Dr. Aimie Apigian: I know, I feel like I've thrown a lot at you,
JJ Virgin: but it's so it's, you know, this is, I'm just gonna share this fun story. I think I told you this. But [00:42:00] for everybody to hear, you know, so I start going to Dr. Joe and I am the classic person you would've described that. I was like, I want nothing to do, like, oh no, I'm not gonna do this.
Right. And. I don't even know what finally got me over the edge, but one of the things I did was I just brought a group with me. That's how I always do it. I'm like, I'm gonna bring, I'm not going alone, buddy. And chippy, I've got like, we're all going. We're all going in. So summer you know, there's a whole crew, we're going.
and again, they're having these amazing experiences and I'm like looking at this going, huh? You know, , I'm, I'm, I'm watching, it's like Harry met Sally and you're watching Harry or Sally having breakfast, having orgasms. I'm like, what is going on? So I knew what was possible and I knew none of it was happening for me.
And I just thought, you know, I think this is like going to the gym. You. Expect, if you were totally outta shape to go to the gym in the first time out, you're like, wow, look at my muscles. So I decided to give it time. And fortunately, the next time I went, I got to have [00:43:00] breakfast with Dr. Joe and I'm like saying, so these type a people who like never address their stuff, , he's like, yeah, it might take you a while.
So, you know, that's the second time, the third time. Kind of scratch the surface , you know, at the end, but the third time in at these week long events, I dropped five pounds. And I go, that is the wildest thing. What the heck happened? Like what happened? Nothing happened. I didn't change anything. And I'm sitting at dinner with Dr.
Joe and he goes, yeah, it's the nothing, no thing, diet. I'm like, yeah, that's cute. You know? Cause he tells you to go be no one, nowhere, no thing. But you know, I'm just starting to feel the buzz. Like I'll sit down to start to meditate. My whole body starts to vibrate and I go, that is weird. You know and then the, the last time I went, I was a coherent Healy where they have groups healing you.
And at first, when they, they picked me, I'm like, no, no, there are people wheelchairs. They can't, you know, people have stress like, like I'm fine. Like I'm totally good. They go, no, no, no. We picked you for [00:44:00] a reason. I'm like, oh gosh, you know, I'm trying to get out of that. But I had the craziest experience going through this where, and.
You know, I like to think of myself as critically openminded so like, you know, I'm not suggestible. I wanna look at it. See, so I've watched enough of this, but all of a sudden, I am starting to like, what happened was my, my stomach and heart were where everything was happening. I was having all these contractions and weird stuff going on.
And I realized afterwards that the trauma that I went through was. Was at the time I was adopted, you know, having a broken heart, my birth mom, having a broken heart, me having a broken heart. I could feel my womb. I could feel my, my heart. Right. And then, you know, never really, really connecting with my mom.
My, my adopted mom, who is my real mom, that is who raises you, it wins that title by far and just, it was like, it was, it was crazy. What what happened? [00:45:00] And gosh, this is, this is such key critical work. And, you know, it's always challenging to do something where you can't step on a scale and go, oh, I, you know, lost this body fat or put on this muscle mass or put a blood pressure cuff on or a continuous glucose monitor.
I'm like, where's the nervous system testing unit, you know, it's like, what can we do here? We can point to all of these things, you know, we can point to, but, but it's the, the challenge is. That you can't do the thing. And, and then you go and do something like the commitment to daily meditation. And I know I feel better, but there's not like where's the nervous system tester scale, so I can go look, I got a nine instead of a six, you know?
So I think that's, that's part of the challenge with all this is it's it's, there's not a, there's not. Scale for it. You know, there's not a thing for it and you start to feel better, but it's not like overnight. All of a sudden your blood pressure dropped 20 points. You're like, [00:46:00] whoa, you know, so, you know, for me, it was I said, I'm gonna give this six months and I'm just gonna do it.
And if nothing happens in six months, then I'm out, but I'll do it for six months. And you know, it, it took six months. Took just under. So, you know, and now I'm like, okay, got it. I get why this is. And to, you know, and then you have the thing where with a lot of these different, different elements you've got, you're adding 20, 40, 60, 90 minutes into your day.
When we're already overwhelmed and overscheduled and too much to do . Yeah, absolutely. Right. But but when you start to really break it down and especially when you say this statement of, you know, every illness, like every person you go, how does this not be. Core thing that you address? I mean, how can you, you know, I look at food sensitivities and it's been my big [00:47:00] work.
And when people say, how did these happen? I go, the number one thing is stress. Well, now I realize it's the stress from the stored trauma. And so what do we have to do? Well, we have to pull out those foods that are hurting you and probably keep 'em out until you resolve this, you know,
Dr. Aimie Apigian: Mm. No, that's exactly right.
Like, they've been able to measure that stress. Right. And, and for me, that's where I, I can tend to disagree with some of the research, cuz I think that what they call stress is actually trauma, but that's fine. Let's let's use their terminology. Stress increases the intestinal permeability. And especially to certain types of things like the dairy products or to gluten, like it actually makes it even more susceptible if it wasn't already susceptible.
Yeah. And so yeah, you have to pull those foods out because otherwise you're just feeding, feeding the cycle of inflammation. Yeah. It's a, and trauma and dysregulation
JJ Virgin: more so here's, what's interesting because, and I remember, I remember early on in my career, I was. [00:48:00] Working with a gal. And she lived in this beautiful house and she had one child who was a perfect child.
And, you know, I, I had, I was like, my husband wasn't working and I was killing myself and I had two, two children and it was clear. One had some, some real challenges. And she had like perfect life. Right. you know, wealthy husband was a doctor. She didn't work. And she was so stressed out. About an upcoming bar mitzvah for her daughter.
And I'm thinking to myself, oh my gosh. You know, but you realize. That wasn't what was stressing her out. She probably had so much stored in her that that was just, she just couldn't take it. You know, it just was the thing. So I, I think it's what we call stress because we don't know what else to call it, but your body.
You know, I always like say your body's not a bank account, but it is a history book.
Dr. Aimie Apigian: It is. And, and specifically your nervous system, your [00:49:00] nervous system is the history book. The, the purpose of your nervous system is to both experience and record. Your experiences. And so everything, every experience is stored in your nervous system in one way or the other, both positive, right?
Fill up your tank, fill up. I call that cellular resilience, fill it up, fill it up. And you want it full before you go through a trauma. Because that's gonna set the point for whether, again, you can stay present to something and, and move through it, or if you're gonna get overwhelmed and find yourself going into that, I can't take this and I'm gonna, I'm gonna go have a drink.
I'm gonna go have a smoke. I'm gonna go watch movies. I'm gonna, you know, go do something in order to not feel.
JJ Virgin: So it really feels like to me that there's. Two things that you have to do that the first thing you have to do is kind of go back and almost detox the trauma. with these, with this movement therapy.
And [00:50:00] like, it's like what I see happening at these Dr. Joe things where people literally are wheeling in, in a wheelchair and then they're flopping. And then all of a sudden they're walking and I'm like, what? How? You know, this stuff, you would never believe, but now I've seen it so many times. I'm like, all right.
You know? Okay. I, you can't not believe it. It's it's. You know, something's going on. And so, you know, the, the detox or release of these stored traumas and then the ability to have that resilience so that you don't store more. Yes.
Dr. Aimie Apigian: And, and even, I would say that, you know, your biology of your nervous system dictates the capacity for your healing.
And so mm-hmm, .
JJ Virgin: Which is another huge statement.
Dr. Aimie Apigian: right. And that, and that's for me where it comes down to like, look, we gotta see trauma as biology, because without that [00:51:00] you're gonna be doing the work and you're gonna be hitting up against the ceiling effect. And if you wanna push that ceiling effect and have more potential for your healing journey, we gotta address these issues that are keeping your nervous system stuck in either overwhelm.
or in that stress mode. And so your capacity, your capacity to be present is based on the biology of your nervous system, the capacity for you to be alive. And is all based on the biology of your nervous system. It's not based on your psychology, it's based on your biology, your nervous system. And then that's what, that's what, from, from there, like you can have, you know, the outflow of your body and your mind acting together in what you want to do in life.
Cuz otherwise your mind may come up with things, but your body's like, Nope. Not gonna do that, not gonna go there. And so for me, right, like you were talking about how do you measure, you know, success and, and [00:52:00] progress on this healing journey. And for me, that's what it is, is being able to see when different life circumstances happen, that you can't always know that they're coming.
Right. But when they come, you are almost like looking at yourself, like, is this me? That's going through this because I've never been able to stay present. For this, to this degree, I've always, you know, gone and gotten the ice cream. I've always gone and, you know, gotten the chocolate. I've never, I've never been able to go through this and, and respond like this.
I've always just reacted. And so you see, you see yourself doing differently in ways that you've never been able to do before. And that's when you know, like, all right, what I'm doing. We're on the
JJ Virgin: right track. So good. All right. I know people are gonna want more, like, I don't know how you listen to this and, and not say whatever you're doing, [00:53:00] sign me up.
I'm like, this is, you know, this, this underlies everything. It's why I've been so big fan of, of everything that I've learned over with Dr. Joe, et cetera. Cuz you, once you see it, you're like, oh wow. Like, like there is no feeling, there's no health, there's no wellness without this. Right. So. We always have something cool and awesome for our listeners.
So what are you going to be providing?
Dr. Aimie Apigian: Well, I can share with them my guide to understanding the three states of their nervous system so that they can help know and learn what state are they in? Are they in that parasympathetic state where they wanna be, or are they in the sympathetic state or are they in that freeze and trauma response.
And then they can even use that as, as their guide to map out their own day. Like I talked about, I have my people do in the 21 day journey and they can get a sense of how healthy is their nervous system. How, how regulated or dysregulated is their nervous system and have that baseline for knowing [00:54:00] how much, how much work do I maybe need to do.
JJ Virgin: Perfect. That is fantastic. I'm gonna put that at JJvirgin.com/biology. At first I was going, I'll put it at trauma. I'm like, no, I'm not putting it at trauma. you know, no trauma. No, we're not only trauma we're owning. No, no, no releasing. So so, all right. So JJvirgin.com/biology for that guide, it has been amazing.
Having you here, like everything you're doing, I it's, it's like Nobel prize worthy stuff. Ah,
Dr. Aimie Apigian: thank you. JJ. Think that Just seeing, seeing the amount of people walking around with burdens that they don't even know that they're caring. Right? Yeah. But it's what motivates me. And then when I see people doing the work and I see just those layers falling off and the, the energy and the smile, like they, they look alive, they're looking forward to life now.
It's like, yeah, this is why I do what I do.
JJ Virgin: And thank [00:55:00] you for doing it. Thank you.
Okay. So I was so excited for that podcast and for good reason, boy did Dr. Aimie over deliver and I am super excited about her guide that she's giving you. So be sure to grab that at JJvirgin.com/biology. And share this one with your friends. This is such an important message. And if you've not yet subscribed to the podcast, come on.
It's easy. All you do is go to subscribetojj.com. There you go. I'll see you next time.