Our Body & Emotions
Have you ever had a ‘gut’ feeling about something? You know; that thought or feeling that just seems to be there but not something you conjured up. Well, you were probably right! There’s more to it than what you might think.
Most people look at the human body as being totally separate from the human mind when actually there is a unique connection they share that might help explain some of those ‘gut’ feelings. It’s called the enteric nervous system and it’s a division of the central nervous system. Typically, we think of the central nervous system as being comprised of the sympathetic nervous system which is our (fight or flight) side of things and the parasympathetic nervous system which is the (rest and digest) side. Although the enteric nervous system is a part of the central nervous system it has the ability to function on it’s own within the GI tract(from the throat to the anus) and it definitely communicates with the central nervous system. This enteric nervous system uses about 30 different neurotransmitters which are some of the same ones found in the central nervous system. For example, approximately 90% of the body’s serotonin can be found in our gut where it is used primarily for intestinal movement. In the central nervous system, however, serotonin is used for mood, appetite, sleep, memory, learning and come cognitive functions; so I think this might help to explain some of those ‘gut’ feelings we get. As well, roughly 50% of the body’s dopamine can be found in the gut. There the dopamine serves to protect the mucus membrane of the GI tract and reduces intestinal mobility, plus it offers support to the pancreas and kidneys and serves as a vasodilator to the blood vessels. In the central nervous system, however, dopamine has an impact on our mood, our motivation and helps us deal with stress. Basically, what’s happening here is that your thoughts or emotions are sending out neurotransmitter signals that can stimulate an organ or something elsewhere in the body. For me, this just serves to prove that we come by those ‘gut’ feelings honestly.
A quick check on the internet can provide you with a multitude of different interpretations from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurvedic Medicine (which is more than 3,000 years old and comes to us from East Indian culture) or Greek Medicine (who drew most of their knowledge from the Egyptians). Below I have condensed some information for you to consider on how your thoughts, feelings and beliefs may be reflected in our organs and potentially impacting your health:
Heart – the heart shares some of the same emotion affecting the spleen as well but it’s generally thought that the heart is connected to love, joy and the emotional will to live. Actually people can die from a broken heart due to the emotional stress from losing a loved one and then losing their will to live. Strategies to support the heart include opening up to love of yourself and others, be less critical of yourself and others, plus practice forgiveness.
Lungs – according to kentsmithrmt.com anxiety and sorrow can restrict your breathing by narrowing your bronchial tubes and can actually bring on asthma attacks. Another common thought is that breathing represents independence or individuality. When someone has trouble expressing their own individuality or feels dependent on someone else (spouse, parent or other individual) this can activate problems in the respiratory system. Grief, shame and despair are other emotion that can have an affect on the lungs as well. Exploring repressed feelings or emotions may be an avenue to improving problems in the lungs.
Throat – according to greekmedicine.net the throat is the centre of communication. If someone is stifled from expressing their feelings or emotions they can actually end up feeling like they have a lump in their throat all the time. This is a psychosomatic problem which is really a mind or emotional issue that expresses itself as a physical symptom.In cases like this it’s necessary to find ways to release your negative feelings or emotions in order to alleviate the perceived physical issue.
Liver/Gallbladder – bile is made in the liver but stored in the gallbladder, so it makes sense that negative emotions that impact the liver will impact the gallbladder as well. The liver has long been known as the site of anger but along with that come irritability, resentment, jealousy and envy. All or any of these unresolved emotions that are held in the liver/gallbladder can cause physical dysfunction in one of the most important organs in the body, the liver. Dysfunction here can cascade into migraines, muscular tension, bloodshot eyes, digestive issues, gallstones and much more. Resolving your issues here can go a long way toward improving your physical health.
Stomach – the stomach is impacted by a multitude of negative emotions; hate, anger, rage, frustration, stress, anxiety and worry. Harboring these negative emotions can cause the stomach to malfunction and result in physical discomforts such as nausea, indigestion, gas stomachache, gastritis and ulcers. Clearing your negative emotions from here is essential because if your digestion is not working properly you will be affecting every other system in the body.
Spleen – the spleen seems to be affected by pensiveness(excessive or chronic worrying), anxiety, depression, melancholy, suspicion and just simply feeling sorry for yourself. Emotions like these can result in higher blood pressure, lowered immunity and digestive issues like gas and bloating. Replacing the negative feelings with more positive feelings like acceptance, faith and honesty can help bring the spleen to a healthier state.
Colon – according to greekmedicine.net the colon is quite susceptible to the melancholic type of emotions such as worry, anxiety, emotional stress, insecurity and tensions; especially if they are deeply held. As a result of these negative emotions or feelings the body can express itself with symptoms like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis. Unresolved, these symptoms can lead to more serious health concerns. Finding coping mechanisms or help to resolve these issues will lead to a healthier you, both physically and emotionally.
Kidneys – the kidneys are know as the seat of fear. As a matter of fact, it is not uncommon for some people to spontaneously urinate when confronted with a fearful situation. Probably just as challenging would be a constant state of feeling fearful whether your fear is rational or imagined. This type of fear can end up putting stress on the kidneys and possibly resulting in symptoms like poor appetite. lower back pain and incontinence. Other negative emotions could be feeling insecure or isolated or even the lack of willpower. Replacing these irrational fears or other negative emotions with clear perceptions and self understanding can help alleviate some of your uncomfortable symptoms.
Adrenal glands – these walnut sized glands sit on top of the kidneys and are impacted by stress whether it is physical, emotional or psychological. According to greekmedicine.net when we keep our emotions in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’ or even fly off the handle with those outbursts of anger we continually tax the adrenal glands which in turn can lead to weakened urinary function, lowered libido, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, weight gain and more. Methods to help alleviate some of these symptoms can include stress management techniques, meditation, deep breathing, moderate exercise, counselling, wholesome diet choices and supplementation.
For more helpful hints on taking care of your emotional stress please click here.