Dr. David Rakel is very aware of the strong connection between our brains and our intestinal tracts. He recommends that we become aware of the things that cause stress, and recognize the areas of our bodies that will experience pain or dysfunction as a result. The good news is that when we are aware of this dynamic, we may be able to consciously deal with that stress and resolve the physical symptoms in the process.
(Transcribed from video interview)
Really it’s one, again we’ll talk about symbiosis. It’s you can’t influence one without the other. So when we are talking about things that make our gut uneasy, you know, listen to metaphor; what eats you up inside? My job is eating me up inside, you know, where do you feel that in your body? Right here, because when I think that chemicals go from my brain to my intestinal tract that causes it to cramp.
So there’s a tremendous connection here. So it not only can worsen symptoms but we can also use that connection to improve symptoms. There’s great research showing that hypnosis, which we create positive intention, really helps calm that GI distress or that intestinal dysfunction. Forgiving our neighbor, you know, simply releases a lot of stress that can cause us to be heavy and carry that in our intestinal tract.
You know, those simple things, choices we can make and really create a healthy balance that we can learn from our symptoms. So I like to ask my patients, where in your body do you carry stress? You know, I carry it my neck. So when my neck starts to hurt I might say, you know what, Dave you might have slept on it wrong but you know what, you know maybe one of my kids just give me a lot of trouble or I didn’t get that grant I was writing. If I recognize that, that stress comes from my subconscious into the conscious, my mind recognizes it and my body no longer has to sympathize.
One of my favorite quotes is by William Boyd, he was a pathologist at the turn of the century and he said, “The sorrow that hath no vent in tears may make other organs weep.”