How Emotions Affect the Stomach and Gastrointestinal System
DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE OR INJURY.
In the United States, the practice of medicine is disjointed. Dermatologists deal with the skin, gastroenterologists deal with the stomach, and psychiatrists deal with the mind. Through specialization, doctors have been able to become educated on the details of their chosen field. But the reality of health is that it is holistic; everything is related to everything else. What goes on inside our bodies profoundly affects our mental and emotional state. And unfortunately, though doctors know the details about research being done in their field, they often (though not always) lack intuition about what might be going on within the body as a whole.
A stomach problem can bring on some strange emotions. The digestive system is nothing but a long tube that extends from the mouth to the anus. Swelling in the digestive system can impact the rest of the organs in the body in a negative way. An infection or other issues with the intestines of the stomach can cause a person to feel “uneasy” and anxious. Indeed, this feeling of anxiety can be chronic and may be caused by stomach problems, believe it or not.
Many of the headaches that people experience are actually caused by stomach problems. Sometimes the headache may come on because blood vessels in the body are being compressed by the excess gas or feces in the digestive system. The compression of blood vessels in one area of the body can cause high blood pressure in the brain which can lead to headaches. Referred pain from the stomach or the liver can manifest in the shoulders as well (read more about this here). Everything within the body is connected to everything else. Diseases and disorders are rarely isolated to a particular “system” of the body the way we’ve been lead to believe. Consider the role of nutrition and digestion on the heart and cardiovascular system for example. Not eating right can lead to a variety of cardiac and vascular issues over time.
It isn’t unusual for people with stomach problems to have anxiety. In fact, stomach problems and anxiety go together very well. It may take some introspection and careful journaling to discover which came first, the anxiety or the digestive problems, but once you figure that out, you can start to develop a treatment plan using natural remedies. Changing your diet may be the easiest and best course of action for someone who is experiencing either anxiety or digestive problems that seem to be related. In this case, dietary changes or even just general dietary awareness, depending on your current diet, is one of the most important steps to take. Certain herbs, such as chamomile, peppermint, and ginger, can also help relieve stomach upsets as well as helping to ease anxiety (and, best of all, you can drink as much tea made of any of these herbs as you’d like).
Be aware that stomach problems in adults can often be obscured by other health issues. And doctors can only offer patients drugs to cover up the problem. There are no drugs available to fix digestive disorders. Indeed, many of the foods we consume every day are designed to create stomach upsets that will lead people to doctors who will then prescribe expensive medications. Those expensive medications will then cause side effects that will necessitate yet another prescription medication and suddenly, the patient is on the drug treadmill, feeling low and totally dependent on their doctor for help. Seeking out acupuncturists, herbalists, hypnotherapists, or other alternative practitioners is your best bet if things don’t seem right with your tummy.
Lots of ill-defined stomach problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Celiac Disease are actually not diseases at all, but merely a reflection of how unhealthy the American diet really is. According to one source, for example, 1 in 105 people could be diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Having studied medicine my whole life, I had never heard of this disorder until a medical intuitive told me that I had it. The revelation changed my life (after I changed my diet). Once my body felt better, my mind did as well. It’s amazing how humans can get used to feeling terrible if it comes on very slowly.
If you’ve already made the connection between anxiety and stomach problems, you’re probably on the right track, but every person is unique. There are a variety of different healing diets that can be used to treat gastrointestinal issues (and anxiety), including the Budwig Diet, the Gerson Diet, and the No-Nightshade Diet, just to name a few. No matter which type of diet you choose, there are some important principles that you can use to form your own dietary system. We discuss some of these principles in this article. Take responsibility for finding the answers to your health problems, and don’t rely on your doctor or other professionals to find the answers for you. You have to pursue health if you really want it!
UPDATE 2022: After moving to Mexico in 2017, our views on the American/Western diet and the problems with this way of eating have evolved considerably. While in the US it’s impossible for us to eat wheat in any form without getting a stomach upset, here in Mexico, wheat doesn’t cause us any problems. But, the culture around bread products is different here, as is the process that’s used to produce wheat and wheat products. Here, we can go pick up some simple bolillos from our neighborhood bakery, and we know that they were made fresh that day and by hand from simple ingredients: wheat flour, salt, yeast, and water. In the US and other countries, wheat flour and bread products are often brominated, and therefore seriously worsen the epidemic of bromine toxicity and iodine deficiency. In the US and other western countries, it also tends to be difficult to access grass-fed animal products, which means that these animal products not only contain antibiotics, hormones, and organophosphates, but they’re also lacking in vital nutrients like vitamin K2 and iodine. In the US, we have no choice but to eat a limited range of animal products (which mainly includes only chicken, chicken eggs, and goat’s milk products), since any others make us feel sick. Here in Mexico, we have been able to easily source grass-fed meats, and now incorporate a range of animal products into our diet, in moderation, with no issue.
Scientific studies do show an intimate link between the gastrointestinal system and the brain; the Vagus nerve directly connects these to each other, and in addition, studies have shown that the dynamic of intestinal probiotic bacteria can heavily impact mood and one’s experience of the world. Incorporating probiotic foods into the diet and avoiding antibiotic drugs can help improve gastrointestinal health. Other treatments, such as coffee enemas, certain herbal remedies, and nutritional supplements like Lugol’s iodine, vitamin B17, vitamin K2, and magnesium (among others) can also make a significant difference in improving gastrointestinal health and overall mood.
The AlivenHealthy Living Database is what we use to save and organize the cures for disease that we find every day. As we research different health issues, we often find anecdotal or scientific evidence for other disease cures, and in order to remember these, we input them into our database along with a link to the information we located. It has become more and more difficult to find this information through a search engine, so we decided to make our personal research databases available to the public. This way, regular people can locate proven, documented treatments and cures for diseases and health problems easily, quickly, and without hassle. We consider The Living Database to be “alive” because it’s constantly changing as we update it with new and improved information. If you’re struggling with anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, or another disease or health problem of any kind, this tool can help guide you directly to legitimate cures.