Essential Oils and Brain Injury | Podcast

Jodi Cohen, award winning journalist and founder of Vibrant Blue Oils, discusses the benefits of essential oils in functional neurology. By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, essential oils can shift the brain out of fight-or-flight mode and begin the healing process. Applying oils to trigger points on the body can benefit the entire system of the body, and aid in the recovery process in unexpected ways.

  • Points of Interest: 
    • (2:11) Jodi is a best-selling author, an award-winning journalist, functional practitioner, and founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. She has helped over 50,000 clients with brain injury related conditions.
    • (3:32) Youngest child was super sensitive to foods, started getting into nutrition. Husband became severely depressed to the point that he needed to be moved into a residential treatment facility. Jodi became burnt out, and one of her friends introduced her to essential oils to rejuvenate herself. Started a business: sold out of product at a nutrition conference, started making blog posts and filling out orders once her kids were asleep, and the business grew from there.
    • (7:44) Essential oils are concentrated essences of plants. Oils are derived by boiling plants, where the oil separates from the plant through steam. Pharmaceutical drugs have begun incorporating more chemical constituents that are found in plants.
    • (14:49) Activating the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system helps heal the brain. Often, people will get stuck in a paralyzing “fight-or-flight”, and they can shift out of this through the parasympathetic branch and the vagus nerve. The more you can help the vagus nerve shift into the parasympathetic state, the better you feel more quickly.
    • (16:48) Stimulating the Mastoid bone (right behind the ear lobe) helps the vagus nerve because it is most accessible there. Jodi started applying stimulating oils to increase blood flow to that area, and the best combination was clove and lime.
    • (22:07) Point of application is more important than the type of oil. Good places to start include the chest, heart center, inside of the arms, and on the soles of the feet. Oils have a systemic effect regardless of where you apply them.
    • (24:22) “There’s really no wrong way to use an oil.”
    • (27:30) Oxygenating oils help combat brain fatigue by increasing oxygen flow to the brain.
    • (28:56) Anxiety and overwhelm is the right frontal lobe of the brain, and the best way to balance this is to stimulate the left frontal lobe. The easiest way to do that is to smell something, usually through the left nostril.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or listen HERE.

Support the podcast on Patreon for just $5/month


What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is all about allowing ourselves to be in the present moment — not worrying about what happened yesterday, or stressing about something that we have to do tomorrow — it’s about being in the right here and now.

The easiest way to practice mindfulness in any situation, is to simply bring your awareness to your breath. Allowing yourself to feel your chest rise on the inhale, and fall on the exhale. Begin to look around you and notice the colors and shapes surrounding you. Remind yourself that everything is OK. You are safe. You are present for yourself. 

Practice this simple exercise whenever you feel stress and overwhelm begin to creep in.


Join me on Patreon for weekly yoga and meditation classes

Check out my video on Healthy Yoga Hips

What Does Accessible Yoga Mean to You?

by Amy Zellmer

Accessible yoga has become a buzz word in recent years, but what does it really mean?

In the United States, yoga has become more of an ”exercise class” in recent years — if you’ve ever attended a Core Power Yoga class, you know what I’m talking about. Don’t get me wrong, these classes serve a purpose for those seeking high-intensity cardio, but it’s unfair to call these classes ”yoga,“ as yoga should be accessible to everyone and every body, and high-intensity cardio isn’t necessarily accessible.

In order to be truly accessible, the teacher has to first and foremost know how to help students modify poses for a variety of reasons that could include mobility, balance, injury, dysautonomia, or trauma. Of course, no one teacher can be expected to know how to modify for every single issue that could arise; however, they should have a solid basic understanding of how to help their students.

I have been in classes where the teacher tells the student to just stay in child’s pose if they are not able to do whatever “big” pose they are working on in class. That’s simply not fair to the student who would like to learn how to do the pose in a safe, modified way. For some, it would mean remaining in child’s pose for almost the entire class. Some studios promote themselves as “accessible,” and meanwhile you have to walk up two flights of stairs to get to the studio … this is NOT accessible.

It’s not entirely the teacher’s fault; they just haven’t had the proper education in their teacher training (or perhaps didn’t even take a teacher training course). Another reason could be that they never considered themselves in the shoes of someone with a different body from their own (such as a bigger body).

I know that in my early college years when I was thin and bendy, I still had large boobs that got in the way during a low lunge. I would instinctively modify the pose by placing both hands on the inside of foot (instead of one on each side). The teacher came over and asked why I was doing that, and I told her because my boobs were in the way. She kind of giggled and said, “Oh, OK.” Clearly, she had never experienced squished boobs in low lunge pose.

The same holds true for a larger body, a body with thick thighs, a weak body, an older body, or a disabled body. Every single body can do yoga. You don’t have to live in that body in order to know how to help that body modify their yoga in order to receive the incredible benefits of yoga.

In 2014 I suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). I had a lot of physical injuries in addition to my brain injury symptoms, which include dizziness, balance issues, eye tracking problems, cognitive fatigue, and so much more. I turned to my yoga teacher to help me find yoga poses that I could do, even with all of my injuries. She gave me five poses — that’s it, just five —including tree pose holding onto a chair, eagle arms, seated twists, cat-cow with my neck neutral, and puppy dog pose. 

I did these five poses every single day for 10 minutes. During this time, I began to truly understand the healing benefits of yoga. My body became stronger and I started to gain back more mobility. My balance improved, and my dizziness lessened. If I had not had a teacher who understood how to make yoga accessible to me, I may have never experienced such a transformation in my own recovery.

My own experience is what has motivated me to help others experience the power of yoga in their own recovery, whether it’s from a TBI or a different injury or illness. Or maybe they are just looking for a way to de-stress in their busy lives. Whatever their reason for coming to yoga, I am passionate about helping them realize their full potential and helping them get better tuned-in to their bodies. Many will not need modifications, but for those who do, I am confident in my ability to help them get the most out of their yoga session.

I teach all of my classes how to do a full yoga practice seated in a chair without an inversion. Even a fully able-bodied individual may want to understand the benefits of chair yoga, because you can truly get a full workout by staying seated! 

So back to the question of what does accessible yoga mean?

For me, it means that every single person who walks through my door (or in today’s world, comes into my zoom room) is going to be able to experience a complete yoga practice whether they stay in a chair, don’t participate in inversions, or have to modify every single pose to their ability level. 

Of course, not every single pose can be modified for a disabled or weak body, but we can always find something similar so that they feel they are fully participating … and not just sitting in child’s pose for the entire class. 

Yoga is so much more than just exercise. It has so many amazing benefits including reducing anxiety and stress. A regular yoga practice can help us become stronger and more flexible, while getting in touch with what our body needs in any given moment. Our bodies are constantly telling us everything we need to know, and yoga is an incredible tool to help us listen.

When you begin to unlock the benefits and uncover the ”mystery” of yoga, you will be amazed at what your body is capable of, no matter what body you may be in at the moment. 

Join me for monthly accessible yoga classes via zoom for only $10/month … visit my Patreon site to register. 

Watch my 20 minute brain yoga practice HERE.

Therapeutic Strategies in Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so let’s explore a few therapeutic strategies.

There are many therapeutic strategies in mental health, and each depends on the patient and the diagnoses.

For example, therapist will often use what is known as eclectic technique therapy for group meetings. The focus of this therapeutic strategy is to get the patient to stay focused, voice their values and beliefs freely without feeling threatened, learn to pay attention, teaching the patient to accept responsibility and so forth. In most events, the groups consist of Interpersonal, Psycho educational, support, and psychotherapy groups. Many of the patients that attend each of the groups have difficulty socializing, staying focused, trusting others, and are often emotional immature or underdeveloped.

Most of the patients were subjects of harsh society and impractical parent/educational up bring. The patients were probably ridiculed, mocked, punished, and so forth. The point then is to bring the patient to a point of survival that does not include fear.

Another strategy used in therapy is the life-picture map which is a method used to bring a person back to the current times. Often the patient will draw pictures that link to their past finally focusing on their status in life, and then onto their goals in life. For example, what do you see in the picture? I see myself standing on a bridge and a car is nearby but I cannot see the man’s face. It is evident that this bridge, car and man is outdated and may have brought forth fear in the individual. Therefore, we can ask the patient did this man hurt you. I am not sure, I feel uncomfortable, but I do not know why?

Ok, let us move on and look at the picture drawn that illustrates you status in life. What do you see in the picture? I see a person confused and hurt. We can see that the person was hurt from this experience, so our next step is to bring the patient to the point of acceptance after opening up the doors to the past. Next, we move onto the goal intended, which is the patient’s future. What do you see in the picture? I see a person striving to obtain his goals. I see that the person has obstacles that he must overcome to reach those goals. Great, now we are on the road to recovery. The patient sees hope. We must achieve this goal. 

Schema-Focused Cognitive Therapy is a strategy utilized in therapy to bring the patient (s) to a level of feeling and understanding his or her inner being and what caused the areas of trouble. For example if a person has a pattern of self-destructive behaviors, such as outrageous outbursts. This means the patient was taught to shout, scream, kick, fight or what-have you and the therapist needs to reconstruct the patient bringing him or her out of the habit and helping them to relate to a new way of dealing with the problem. It is obvious the patient was taught incorrectly and he or she may have endured pain and suffering related to abuse, neglect, and/or violence.

Systematic Desensitization is geared to help patients that are diagnosed with anxiety disorders and/or symptoms. The technique is a trigger-anxiety strategy that helps the patient sees where the triggers are in his or her attacks. For example if the patient has difficulty when the phone rings, since he or she is behind on the bills, it may cause an attack for the patient. The patient obviously does not know how to deal with the problem and is threatened by the sources on the other end of the phone.

The patient will need to learn management skills that will help him or her find a method that works best for him or her to relieve the problem area. The patient also has an issue with avoidance, so therefore we need the patient to take responsibility and face up to his or her problem. We can also see that the patient has suffered a degree of abuse, neglect, and/or underdeveloped growth. Therapy is proving far more achieving than medications and today more strategies and techniques are in development, helping the mentally ill to the road of recovery.   

Support our podcast on Patreon for just $5 a month and receive exclusive content.


10 Common Concussion Misconceptions and Myths

In celebration of the 200th episode of the “Faces of TBI” podcast, host Amy Zellmer discusses the 10 most common misconceptions about concussions. She offers explanations about each misconception and provides feedback on how to utilize the proper information. Amy also discusses her own experience with TBIs and where her journey has taken her over the years.

  • Points of Interest:
    • (00:18) Celebrating the 200th episode with 10 common concussion misconceptions
    • (2:52) First: biggest misconception is that concussion and brain injury are two different things. According to the CDC, a concussion is a form of TBI.
    • (4:00) Second: you need to hit your head and lose consciousness to get a concussion, less than 20% report loss of consciousness.
    • (5:26) Third: that you need to have multiple symptoms. Symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, and mood changes. You only need to have ONE symptom to classify a concussion.
    • (6:49) Fourth: a helmet or mouth guard will prevent a concussion. They can prevent serious injury, but they can’t protect you from a concussion. If your brain moves around in your skull, that can lead to a concussion.
    • (8:30) Fifth: Concussions resolve themselves in four to six weeks. While 80% might resolve in that timeframe, 20% will have lingering symptoms.
    • (9:36) Sixth: an MRI can show if you’ve been concussed or not. MRIs show brain bleeding and shearing, but not concussions.
    • (11:04) Seventh: Concussions are “mild” TBIs. The mild/moderate/severe scale only diagnoses the symptoms at onset, usually dealing with memory and consciousness. Mild TBIs have a loss of consciousness for less than 30 minutes. This doesn’t mean there won’t be lingering effects or that symptoms are ‘mild.’
    • (14:34) Eighth: all concussions and recoveries are the same. No two recoveries (or initial incidents) will be the same, people are all very different.
    • (17:21) Ninth: you have to stay in a quiet, dark room for weeks after the concussion. The CDC revised their statement on treating concussions, stating that you can resume everyday activities as soon as possible, usually after 48 hours. If things start to become too much, back off. Too much rest can make you backslide.
    • (21:49) Tenth: if you have a concussion, take Ibuprofen or Aspirin. On the off chance you have brain bleeding, these medications will actually make it worse. Tylenol is the better option. Or take nothing.
    • (29:06) Everything connects to the brain and connected, and that’s why functional neurology is so important to recovery: it takes everything into account.

Listen the podcast HERE or subscribe on iTunes

Episode brought to you by Integrated Brain Centers … schedule your FREE consultation online at

Find a Functional Neurologist near you HERE.

Support the podcast for just $5/month on Patreon and receive exclusive content: 

Curious about CBD Oil and Sleep??

Have you wanted to try CBD oil, but didn’t know where to start, or what brand to trust??

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I have been using Entangled Biome’s line of CBD products for the past 3 or 4 years. They are the only brand I trust as I know the owners and how ethical they are in creating their product. They oversee the entire process from seed to shelf.

I use their 900mg tincture every evening before bed for a great nights sleep. I also use their CBD Relief Salve for any minor aches and pains I have, or to put topically on a twisted ankle, burn, or cut. And I also love their bath fizzies for an incredibly relaxing nights sleep after bathing with one.

Entangled Biome is offering my followers 20% of their entire order with code:

Read the full magazine article here:

Read my blog post about CBD oil and sleep here:

I hope you enjoy!
Let me know if you have tried their products and what you think of them!

Full Moon {Releasing} Yoga Practice

I created this full moon practice for a grounding and releasing yoga practice, incorporating yoga with some of the full moon rituals of releasing. Use this practice anytime you need more grounding in your life, or need to release whatever is no longer serving you.
As a yoga teacher, I am most concerned about keeping my students safe, and ensuring that they are doing poses properly, rather than how bendy they can make themselves.


If you’re curious about my accessible yoga classes, I encourage you to watch my “20 Minute Yoga Practice” video HERE. 


Please consider supporting my accessible yoga program for just $10 a month on Patreon … to help keep this affordable and financially accessible to the TBI community


Even if you personally aren’t interested in yoga, you can help others continue to learn from me at an accessible price-point!


Additionally, you can learn more about how yoga helped me in my recovery from a traumatic brain injury HERE.

Mindfulness, Movement, and Making Space with Dr. Mallory Fox

Mallory Fox, a doctor and business owner, received her TBI following a motor vehicle incident in 2018. She walked away from the scene feeling fine, but soon developed a headache that lasted over 10 months. While on vacation in San Diego, she took the time to actively rest, and discovered that her headache went away. Fox started using mindfulness to ease her symptoms, taking the time to get back in touch with herself whenever she felt her symptoms arising. Since then, she created a messaging platform to encourage mindfulness in everyday life.


  • Points of Interest 
    • (2:27) Owns Foxy Fit, a business designed to help busy people take care of themselves through mindful movement. Educational background as a doctor of health science. Experienced TBI in 2018.
    • (3:09) Free texting service delivering to help incorporate mindfulness into their days to reduce stress and increase resilience.
    • (4:08) A few undiagnosed concussions from youth sports; hit bottom of the pool as a competitive swimmer, then got the “go-ahead” to keep practicing.
    • (5:04) August 2018: motor vehicle accident. Walked away from the scene, but 6 hours later got a headache that lasted over 10 months.
    • (6:30) Had to take 4 months off from her business, returned to do work part-time, work seems very different now.
    • (8:21) Despite being a movement specialist and helping people figure out how to recover, she couldn’t do the same for herself.
    • (8:49) “I teach yoga, but I can’t do a Down Dog anymore because of the dizziness and tremors and everything that comes on me inverting”.
    • (9:21) Symptoms continued to worsen, reached a breaking point after 4 months from forcing herself to get better. Experienced lots of denial and bargaining
    • (10:08) Doctors said “here’s a usual timeframe” so when she failed to meet those expectations, it was really hard.
    • (10:31) Eye had moved in the accident, so the brain shut off the other eye to try and help (movement survival). Legally blind in the left eye, restricted from driving.
    • (10:56) Went to vision therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychotherapy, and treatment for EMDR.
    • (11:42) “I made a promise to myself… that I would do whatever I had to do to embrace the person that I was becoming”. No longer basing identity off of accomplishments.
    • (13:17) Master’s Program was in human movement, studied TBI, concussion, sports related injuries, and wrote a paper about CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
    • (14:44) Was familiar with concussions, so following the accident she gave herself a concussion test and expected to just take it easy for a couple weeks.
    • (16:04) If she was a professional who studied these things and she still didn’t fully understand it, how could she expect others to?
    • (18:06) Tried everything: acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, massage, etc. 
    • (18:43) “What made the difference for me was when I started allowing myself to rest, and it’s not like, lie down in a dark room”.
    • (20:42) While on trip to San Diego, husband got sick, and she got to fully rest up without having to worry about work or anything, and it was the first time she didn’t have a headache in 10 months.
    • (22:31) There’s a difference between sleep and active rest.
    • (25:09) Created a life where everyone depended on her, and everyone expected her to deliver at full performance right away.
    • (26:38) What sucks about brain injury is that you have all these tools, but you’re the one implementing them each day. You’re the one communicating your own needs, and Fox struggled with that.
    • (27:46) Getting rest taught Fox that there were indicators for when something was coming.
    • (30:16) Vision issues were so bad that it hindered her very active lifestyle. Needed to transform how she thought of movement.
    • (30:56) Needed something she could do anytime, anywhere. First turned to meditation, mindfulness work, and breath work.
    • (31:18) Used to hate meditation, always found her mind wandering.
    • (32:01) Brain makes tens of thousands of decisions a day, we can’t just shut it off.
    • (32:45) Encourages doing mindfulness minutes instead of 20-60 minute intervals
    • (34:02) Would start taking the time to get back in touch with the present moment. This has helped with anxiety, PTSD, and depression.
    • (35:04) When she got overwhelmed, brain symptoms would come out (jaw tremor, vision problems, unsteadiness), and the act of coming out of the brain and into the present became a valuable tool.
    • (35:58) Wanted to make mindfulness accessible. Healthcare is EXPENSIVE in the U.S.
    • (36:33) Realized that everyone has a phone, so a text service could help people find peace. It’s very simple messages.
    • (36:51) Examples of different messages (look at five things around you)
    • (37:16) In the U.S. and Canada, sign up by texting “mindful” to 480-531-9810.

Listen to the full episode on iTunes  Or click HERE

Episode brought to you by Integrated Brain Centers … schedule your FREE consultation online at

Warrior Mom: The Power of Persistence with JJ Virgin

Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin’s life changed when her 16-year-old son Grant got hit by a car. Suffering a coma and severe injuries, the doctors believed Grant wouldn’t survive, but JJ refused to give up hope. She vowed to help him improve, and against all odds, Grant not only survived, but began to recover. JJ shares her insight on their journey towards improving her son’s health, and what life is like now.

Find her book, Warrior Mom, on Amazon HERE.

  • Points of interest: 
    • (2:32) Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert got a call that her 16 year old son Grant was a victim of a hit-and-run. Severe injuries and low survival rate led the doctors to encourage the family to let Grant die, but JJ refused. Memoir “Warrior Mom” talks about road to recovery.
    • (4:40) Grant was in a deep coma. He had diffused axonal injuries (bleeding on the brain), and a torn aorta. The surgery needed to fix the torn aorta and prevent a rupture required blood thinners, otherwise his brain would bleed out. He wouldn’t survive an airlift, and the hospital was not fit for the operation.
    • (5:20) Despite the doctors basically saying “he’ll die, so let him”, they decided to hold onto the fraction of hope. Survived airlift and surgery.
    • (6:00) Neurosurgeons said they weren’t sure if Grant would ever wake up. Made the decision to do whatever was in her power to help Grant get to 110% (despite the 13 fractures, both legs in casts, and the coma)
    • (8:12) In one hospital for two and a half months, then in a rehab hospital for another two months. Had to start from square one and reteach Grant everything: his name, brushing teeth, etc. They were supposed to be at the rehab hospital for 8 months, but JJ thought the familiarity of home would be beneficial. 
    • (11:40) Brain was unstable, suicidal thoughts weren’t survivor’s guilt, but depression and frustration. Suicidal ideation goes up 10 times after a TBI, 30% are more likely to go through with it. 
    • (16:09) Grant was supposed to be a junior in high school, but he couldn’t fit in anywhere. PE was to physically demanding and he had injuries, and the special education classes were too overstimulating.
    • (16:41) What saved Grant’s life was a speech therapist, Marcy Etre, and a place called Kinetics that worked on improving his physicality and motor skills.
    • (17:21) Reads and memorizes books, taught himself hydroponics, but would not be able to handle school because of time restraints. Had to make their own therapy, since there’s not really a place for Grant’s situation. JJ’s husband is incredibly patient.
    • (18:40) Sent him to Utah to a group that specializes in cases like this. Grant could live on his own, the biggest issue would be loneliness. 
    • (19:09) Has memory back, has awareness back, but missed a lot of key socialization that was key and critical, and didn’t graduate high school.
    • (21:07) You can find everything from ketogenic diets to stem cells to exosomes to peptides to neurofeedback MDR to cryo to hyperbaric.
    • (21:37) “That person that you love is still in there, and you can’t let that go.” You’re surrounded by people who are patient and supportive, but who won’t let you off the hook. It’s not always pleasant, but absolutely necessary.
    • (24:42) Loss of a filter, any thoughts or emotions are coming out raw. One moment could be hysterical laughter, the next could be seething hatred. When in the hospital, they gave him drug cocktails to calm him down. He would be strapped down with a guard outside his door because he could become incredibly violent.
    • (26:01) You need to look for the triggers in order to handle the situation before it arises. Different treatments would get him ramped up again, and JJ took that as a sign that his brain was healing. 
    • (26:25) Part of it is also getting clear on what the new normal is.
    • (27:34) Frustrated with the lack of resources available. Dr. Michael Lewis (When Brains Collide) and Dr. Dan Engel (The Concussion Repair Manual) were cited as helpful resources.
    • (28:13) “If you’re a caretaker, make sure you’re taking care of yourself because this is a challenging thing.” Gotta keep seeing your loved one.

Listen to the full podcast HERE or on iTunes

This podcast is brought to you by Integrated Brain Centers … fill out this google form for a free 15 minute consult with Drs. Steadman or Maynard.

Healthy Yoga Hips | Accessible Yoga

Namaste, my beautiful friends!


Today I am sharing with you a short video on keeping your hips (and low back) safe and healthy in yoga. In this video, I specifically cover Tree Pose and Warrior I Pose, as these are the two poses I see a lot of problems with students doing them incorrectly.


Over time, doing these poses improperly can lead hip pain and injury … and nobody wants that!


Additionally I share with you why it’s important to sit on a blanket or bolster in Easy Cross-Legged Pose … especially for an extended period of time (such as during meditation).


Even the most experienced yogis can make these mistakes, and it takes work to relearn how to do them properly, but it’s critical to your hip health!!


As a yoga teacher, I am most concerned about keeping my students safe, and ensuring that they are doing poses properly, rather than how bendy they can make themselves.


If you’re curious about my accessible yoga classes, I encourage you to watch my “20 Minute Yoga Practice” video HERE. 


Please consider supporting my accessible yoga program for just $10 a month on Patreon … to help keep this affordable and financially accessible to the TBI community


Even if you personally aren’t interested in yoga, you can help others continue to learn from me at an accessible price-point!


Additionally, you can learn more about how yoga helped me in my recovery from a traumatic brain injury HERE.