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2019 OANP MedTalk ND - Childhood Stress Can Influence Adult Disease
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When: Tuesday, October 22, 2019
6 - 8:30 pm
Where: National University of Natural Medicine, Ken Harmon Community Room
049 SW Porter St.
Portland, Oregon  97201
United States
Contact: Beth Martin

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Childhood Stress Can Influence Adult Disease
Lylen Ferris, ND


Tuesday, October 22, 2019 | 6-8:30 PM
FREE to members | $40 for non-members
2 General CEUs

According to a new Harvard study that followed 6,700 Britons from age 7 to 45, lifelong distress takes a greater health toll than being stressed in either childhood or adulthood. In the unlikely event that one would endure distress during just one period, childhood is the most vulnerable time.

Biomedical scientists and brain researchers have shown how “fight or flight” stress chemicals, like epinephrine and cortisol, which flood the body when someone encounters danger, can cause lasting damage in the brain and body when a child is under prolonged or repeated and unmitigated stress, now commonly known as “toxic stress”. Toxic stress weakens the architecture of the developing brain, which can lead to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health.

There are essentially three responses to stress. The positive stress response is a normal and essential part of healthy development, characterized by brief increases in heart rate and mild elevations in hormone levels. Physiology returns to normal when the stressful situation resolves.

A tolerable stress response activates the body’s alert systems to a greater degree as a result of more severe, longer-lasting difficulties, such as the loss of a loved one, a natural disaster, or a frightening injury. If the activation is time-limited and buffered by relationships with adults who help the child adapt, the brain and other organs recover from what might otherwise be damaging effects.

A toxic stress response can occur when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity—such as physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship—without adequate adult support. This kind of prolonged activation of the stress response systems can disrupt the development of brain architecture and other organ systems, and increase the risk for stress-related disease and cognitive impairment, well into the adult years.
Events significant enough to cause toxic stress are known as Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs). ACEs include physical/sexual abuse, neglect, violence or substance abuse in the home, parental separation or divorce, death of a loved one, etc.

Questionnaires are available to screen children for ACEs. As the number increases, so does the risk for health problems. Compared to people with no childhood trauma, adults who scored a four or more (each instance of toxic stress is given a score of 1) were twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer or heart disease; seven times more likely to be alcoholic; six times more likely to have depression; and 12 times more likely to have attempted suicide. Adults exposed to six or more ACEs in childhood died 20 years sooner than those who had none.
One prospective study found that poor emotional functioning assessed at age 7 years was associated with higher C-reactive protein at age 42 years. Emotional distress during childhood — even in the absence of high stress during adult years — can increase the risk of developing heart disease and metabolic disorders such as diabetes in adulthood.
Teaching children and families coping mechanisms can help to constructively deal with whatever stressors come their way. Additionally, supporting the body’s HPA axis can help children become more physiologically resilient to the effects of stress.

In adult patients, when testing reveals suboptimal or low cortisol levels and the patient denies any stress, it is pertinent to ask them about childhood stressors which can have long reaching implications.

Learning Objectives:
• Review the body’s stress response and the involvement of the HPA axis and pertinent neurotransmitters
• Examine different types of stress (positive, tolerable and toxic) and the ways in which the body responds to them
• Examine how toxic stress in childhood can affect adult health
• Explore screening questionnaires and laboratory testing that may reflect toxic stress
• Examine therapeutic protocols which address stress, and childhood trauma, in a holistic way

• Center on the Developing Child. Harvard University. Accessibility verified 9/11/19.
• Kaiser Adverse Childhood Events Study, accessed via the CDC. Accessibility verified 9/11/19.
• Logan-Greene Patricia, et al. Distinct Contributions of Adverse Childhood Experiences and Resilience Resources: A Cohort Analysis of Adult Physical and Mental Health. Soc Work Health Care. 2014; 53(8): 776-797.
• Winning A, et al. Psychological Distress Across the Life Course and Cardiometabolic Risk: Findings From the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study. J Amer College Card. Vol 66, Issue 14, October 2015. DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2015.08.021

Speaker Information

Lylen Ferris, ND is a naturopathic physician with a degree from the National College of Natural Medicine (now NUNM). Her love of women’s health led her to a residency in advanced women’s health and gynecology at the NCNM clinic. She has been a staff physician with Labrix since 2007, and currently holds the position of lead staff physician. Dr. Ferris has developed curriculum and presented at numerous integrative and alternative health conferences. She currently sits on the advisory board of Functional Medicine University.


Attend 1 (or more!) of our 2019 MedTalks in person and be entered to win free registration to the OANP Annual conference! Live attendees are entered for each MedTalk attended - up to 5 chances to win in 2019.

* Contest Rules: Must be registered for the MedTalk and attend in-person, OANP Members and Non-Members are eligible, Only NDs eligible to win, Must be attending the conference both days

Presentation Partners:


Doctor's Data, Inc. has provided innovative specialty testing to healthcare practitioners around the world from our advanced CLIA-licensed clinical laboratory since 1972. In June of 2016, Labrix joined Doctor’s Data to expand our testing options to practitioners. Labrix is a recognized leader in salivary hormone and urinary neurotransmitter testing. Founded in 2004 by practicing clinicians, Labrix is New York approved for hormone testing and offers a guaranteed 5-day turnaround, complimentary consultations with our staff physicians, patient-friendly kits and small test tubes for easy saliva collection. Trust the endocrine experts at Labrix, a division of Doctor’s Data.

  US BioTek Laboratories strives to be a leader and innovator in cutting edge laboratory medicine. Our goal is to provide our clients with reliable, quality service through state-of-the-art technology and continuous research. The commitment, dedication, and integrity of our exceptional team of employees ensure not only the success of our company, but that we will make a qualitative difference in the healthcare industry. We also place a high priority on our participation with community and worldwide hospital or university-based research teams, peer laboratories and clinicians.
  Ayush Herbs® joins the ancient principles of Ayurvedic medicine with the latest scientific technology to provide the highest quality herbal supplements available. Ayurveda literally means "the science of life," and Ayush Herbs® was founded by Ayurvedic and naturopathic physicians who believe in healthy living in body, mind, and spirit and who also believe in maintaining the highest quality-control standards in the herbal supplement industry. Ayush Herbs® has maintained these standards since it was founded and is committed to continuing that tradition as it meets the needs of our customers in the years to come.

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Course Approval
2 general CEUs approved by the Oregon Board of Naturopathic Medicine (OBNM).

Course Expiration
Please note that you must complete each OANP recorded continuing education course and pass the survey/exam within one year from the date of purchase. If you do not complete the course and pass the exam within one year, you will be required to re-purchase the course.

Online courses are non-refundable. OANP will not cover fees incurred from duplicate payments, insufficient funds, stopped payments or credit/debit cards over credit limits.

This course contains information that is proprietary. None of the material contained within this course may be used without the express written permission of the OANP unless otherwise indicated in the course. As a reminder, before practicing any new modalities or techniques, check with your state’s regulatory authority to ensure they are within the state’s defined scope of practice.

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