Creating chronic disease and pain with your mind
There’s no doubt that your mind and feelings are interconnected with your physical body. That’s why it’s important to identify the five major signs you’re worrying yourself sick.
And as you might guess, this takes a toll on your body over time in a number of ways, many of which can result in a lifetime of chronic diseases — if you aren’t able to stop the trajectory — including…
The emotions that quadruple cardiovascular disease risk
Did you know that stress, anger and depression are independent risk factors for a heart attack?
Hostility is known as the “Achilles’ heel” of the heart. That’s because emotional stress can precipitate severe left heart dysfunction. This was described by the results of a study published in the Feb.10, 2004 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine in which the stress chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine were actually measured and found to bring on severe impairment of left ventricular function during high stress moments — despite there being no fixed plaque to explain the event (in 18 out of 19 subjects).
Your mind and emotional energies have very real and profound effect on your body’s health. High blood pressure — a major component of heart disease — is dramatically controlled by your stress level.
In fact, hostility can have a profound effect in your heart attack risk. A 2001 study reported in Circulation of 150 men with comparable underlying heart disease severity. The men who underwent emotional rehabilitation and worked at warding off distress were four times less likely to die after nine years compared to matched controls (4% versus 17%). And this treatment group also enjoyed a better mood and quality of life during these nine years.
Similarly, a January 2006 Netherlands study reported that 875 patients who had recently undergone minor procedures to open their coronary arteries were followed for heart attack rate. Those who scored highest for type D personality traits on the distress questionnaire were found to have four times the rate of heart attack or death compared to others. The Type D personality is typical of one who is often distressed; who exhibits anxiety, irritability, hopelessness and self-doubt. This type D personality has been correlated with other poor health outcomes.
A University of Utah study showed that thinking positive thoughts and quieting the mind lowered heart rate and blood pressure in college students. Another study indicated that laughter and optimism lowered carotid artery blockages.
A small study performed at the Maryland School of Medicine demonstrated that laughter is linked to healthier blood vessel function. They found that laughter caused heart artery endothelium of subjects to relax and increase blood flow. They also found that stress did the opposite: arteries constricted and decreased blood flow.
It’s interesting how much emphasis is placed on the lifestyle changes needed to lower your heart attack risk: stop smoking; lower your cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure; and exercise. Yet keeping your mind and emotions elevated can have more effect than all these!
4 emotions that promote cancer
I’ll just tell it to you straight: anxiety, fear, anger and depression are known cancer promoters. There are many studies linking this type of mental and emotional stress to much higher cancer rates, suggesting a direct and causal relationship to cancer. The studies suggest that these distressing emotions weaken the immune system.
Anger is a predictor of cancer. In fact, a number of studies reveal that experiencing higher levels of anger, suppressing it, or pretending it is not there increases cancer risk significantly.
Depression is yet another toxic emotion that is definitely linked to inflammation, one of the causes of cancer. Various studies show us that depression promotes cancer growth. Other studies indicate that negative emotions even initiate cancer. A study reported in the November 2006 issue if Cancer Research demonstrated how the known stress hormone norepinephrine stimulates cancer to more easily metastasize throughout the body in addition to feeding cancer cells with nutrients.
Bad thoughts lead to abdominal pain
Your thoughts can easily affect your gut function. Scientists have proven that this bi-directional communication between your brain and your gut is behind the generation and expression of stressful thoughts, feelings, and intestinal symptoms.
That’s because your intestinal mucosa (lining) is infiltrated by a network of nerve fibers known as the myenteric plexus. This nerve plexus is influenced by signaling from your brain, thus making your gut an integral part of your nervous system. You’ll notice that in just seconds you may feel the intestinal pain effect from a distressing thought.
There has also been evidence to suggest that gut microbiota (bacteria) may respond directly to stress-related host signals. I have my own personal experience with this, as I had severe ulcerative colitis at age 12 which resulted from deep worry I had at the time. Over the years, this resulted in the complete surgical removal of my large intestine and rectum at age 33.
Feelings that make you feel the pain of neuropathy or tendonitis
What do you think is the cause of chronic nerve or tendon pain? Sometimes a person continues to over-use or strain that part of the body. But in far more cases, I discover ongoing stressful events or ongoing life situation that the patient suffers from. This is clearly a manifestation of the toxic feelings they are holding in. Therefore, the treatment must involve much more than just pain relievers. This phenomenon is described in detail by the surgeon, Bernie S. Siegel, M.D. in his book, Love, Medicine and Miracles.
There is no question that feeling the mental or emotional effects of chronic stress—or giving in to worry — takes a toll. It causes real disease!
In my next article, I’d like to share some secrets on how to master stress to better begin regenerating healthy body tissues.
To healing and feeling good,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
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