by Manohar Croke
I recently attended a regional conference for the Association For Prenatal And Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH). There, I was reminded, once again, of the vital role that these earliest experiences can have upon our lives; and how any traumas we undergo during this fragile phase can affect us throughout our lives, at both physical, psychological and even, spiritual levels. Regulating the effects of traumas that occurred in the womb (prenatal) or during birth (perinatal) has always been a particular therapeutic priority in Esogetic Colorpuncture acu-light therapy. More than 40 years ago, colorpuncture originator and naturopathic physician, Peter Mandel, concluded that the imprints of pre- and perinatal trauma (we call this “conflict stress”), if left untreated, can have adverse effects on our physical health years later. What is more, the traumas we encounter during the rest of our lives are often “repetition conflicts,” set in motion by negative imprints stored in our cells and subconscious related to our perinatal experiences.
Having observed that many of his chronically-ill patients had histories of pre- and/or perinatal trauma, Mandel began incorporating prenatal treatments into his Esogetic therapeutic approach, whenever his diagnostic assessments indicated their relevance for that client’s situation. These treatments proved helpful in a wide variety of clinical circumstances. Since then, the growing field of neuroscience has contributed greatly to our understanding of exactly how and why prenatal stress can have long-term effects on both our physical and psychological well-being. We now know that when a pregnant mother experiences stress or trauma herself, her body reacts by producing increased levels of stress hormones like cortisol. These hormones are automatically passed to the developing fetus via the placenta. And there, they can influence the development of vital systems in the fetus’s tiny body. This includes the developing endocrine system, autonomic nervous system, limbic brain, central nervous system, and immune system.
For example, scientists have found that higher levels of blood cortisol can stimulate increased synaptic growth in the developing fetus’s amygdala. The amygdala is the mid-brain structure that enables us to recognize danger. When it perceives threats, the amygdala signals the brain, endocrine, and nervous systems to start responding to these threats (by fighting, running away or freezing). When the amygdala becomes more sensitized (i.e., develops more synapses), it can exert excessive influence on these body systems going forward. This and many other studies by neuroscientists have confirmed the Esogetic perspective that pre and perinatal trauma, if left untreated, can weaken vital systems of the body and may eventually open the door to disease. And since these same systems (brain, nervous and endocrine) actually form the physiological basis of our psychological experience, this same research helps explain how and why prenatal trauma may indirectly influence our subsequent psychological well-being, relational abilities and even our sense of identity.