Ever get a funny tummy when you are nervous? Perhaps before an interview or going on a first date?
That is a very simple example of how emotions can affect your body and manifest itself as a physical response.
Whenever someone comes to see me for kinesiology, I always ask them to fill in a questionnaire. Firstly, to find out what they want help with, but also to find out some background information, including any emotional upsets or trauma. This is because emotions are extremely powerful and can be the underlying reason for some of their physical issues.
So let’s have a look at why this is and how this happens. As I mentioned in my previous blog, Kinesiology incorporates the best of East and West, looking at the health and well-being of the whole person.
Let’s begin by briefly looking at how emotions can affect the body from a western point of view.
Kinesiology is all about communicating with the central nervous system (CNS), through muscle testing to find out what the body needs at that time.
The CNS is made up of the brain and the spinal cord. It is responsible for our bodily functions, movement, speech, memories, sensations and it’s the core of our thoughts, perceptions and emotions.
Within the CNS we have nerve cells called ‘neurons’, they are a type of cell that receives and sends messages at 200mph from the body to the brain and back to the body. 1
The nerve cells use ‘neuropeptides’ to communicate with each other. Neuropeptides influence the activity of the brain and the body in specific ways. They are involved in a wide range of brain functions, including food intake, metabolism, reproduction, reward, learning, memory, social behaviours and all types of pain.2
Candace B. Pert, the Chief of Brain Biochemistry at the National Institute of Mental Health, believed that neuropeptides and their receptors are a key to understanding how mind and body are interconnected and how emotions can be manifested throughout the body.
Most people are aware that their glands secrete hormones, for example, the pancreas secretes insulin but Pert found that insulin can be a neuropeptide, made and stored in the brain. Interesting that hormones can be made and stored in the brain, the same place where it’s the core of our thoughts, perceptions and emotions.
Pert also explains that the immune system’s cells are the same as brain cells except they move around the body.3 The cells that carry emotions in the brain exist in our immune system.
So, what does this all mean? It means that if the neuropeptides are the information carriers for the nervous system, endocrine system and the immune system, the mind has a presence throughout the entire body. Emotions can induce illness and health, and the state of health can induce emotions. Your cells feel everything.
For example, the cells of the immune system are called white blood cells and they produce an antibody (Immunoglobin A) to fight bacteria and support the immune system; it’s the bodies most important antibody. Antibody levels are measured through the blood and have been shown to reduce when we are frightened or angry. They measure at their highest when we are happy and calm.4
A similar instance has been found with Natural Killer Cells (NK Cells), that destroy tumour cells, diseased tissue or invading viruses, bacteria etc. It has been found that NK Cells decrease under psychological stress and levels are affected by a lack of social bonding. 5
So back to that funny tummy when you’re nervous? Pert states ‘The entire lining of the intestine, from the oesophagus through the large intestine is lined with cells, nerve cells and other kinds of cells-that contain neuropeptides and neuropeptide receptors. It seems entirely possible to me that the richness and diversity of the receptors may be why a lot of people feel their emotions in their gut- why they have a “gut feeling.”’6
Persistent anxiety can cause some individuals terrible stomach pains or cramping. ‘Stomach pain caused by anxiety is difficult for doctors to diagnose, because the pain and indigestion is still a real physical response – the same type of response from your body that would occur if you had a health issue.’7
(Calmclinic.com have a free online test where you can find out if your stomach pain in caused by your anxiety).
In summary, the relationship between the mind and body shows us how important it is to be conscious of our thoughts, manage our stress and to enjoy life as much as possible to attain physical health.
Keep an eye out for my next blog where we look at how the East views the power of our emotions on our bodies.
If you feel your emotions may be having an affect on your body and would like to find out how kinesiology could help, please email Melinda Annear on firstname.lastname@example.org, or call on 01329 310341 to find out more or book a session.