Our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), is the conductor of the inner orchestra in our body, responsible for the control of our bodily functions not consciously directed, such as breathing, the heartbeat, blood pressure, sweating and digestive processes. The ANS is always humming at a certain beat and how well it operates, determines our physical, mental and emotional health.
In previous blogs I have written about the ANS. Our ANS was previously seen as having only 2 main divisions: the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), fight or flight and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), relax and digest. Stephen Porges, Polyvagal Theory describes a new model of our nervous system. He describes how we respond to threats in 3 different biologically pre-programmed hierarchical ways. In this new model the PNS is divided into 2 branches, each with their own unique pathways and neural influences. Here, the PNS is divided into the Ventral Vagus Nerve (VNN) branch (also known as our Social Engagement System) and the Dorsal Vagus Nerve branch (DVN) which is characterised by immobilisation, freeze, shut down and withdrawal. This new model has great implications for the advancement of our health and well-being both practically and in therapy as each of these states, comes with their own set of physiological and emotional states, well-being and behaviours. (see also previous blog: Depression, Anxiety and Vagus Nerve).
In this blog we will delve into the VVN, our Social Engagement System, the implications on our health and well-being and how craniosacral therapy can successfully help.
The Social Engagement System.
The Ventral Vagus Nerve (VVN) is associated with increases in health and emotional wellbeing as it generates positive states of relaxation and social engagement. Our Social Engagement system is functioning optimally when we feel safe and connected to the world and other people. Throughout the day we constantly receive cues and triggers through our senses and fascia, which acts like a 2nd nervous system. We have an external environment -the outside world but we also have an internal environment-the physiology of our body, like diving into a deep sea, so much is happening underneath the surface, wave after wave. Our subconscious internal filtering system will immediately evaluate whether we are safe or need to take action. This happens without us even being aware of it or having to think about it. When we feel safe, we can relax, expand, go forward and step out into the world. When there is stress or a perceived threat in our minds, we rely on our social engagement system to establish a sense of safety and connection. This can be achieved through a conversation, a call for help, making eye contact, or hearing a calming voice. This will send signals down to our heart and lungs, slowing down our heart rate and deepening our breathing. It very much functions as a foot brake - a Vagal Brake - and has a calming and soothing effect on our nervous system.
Picture the opposite: For example, a person says something to you that causes you to feel upset. What happens? We tend to change our facial expression signalling our upset, the tone of our voice changes often to an angrier, louder or higher pitch, we seek validation, we pick up the phone and talk to someone. If the social engagement system fails to resolve the stress and it remains active in our body, then we will automatically resort to the older biological response, one step down the ladder into fight/flight, with the Sympathetic Nervous system kicking in.
What are the areas innervated by the VVN?
The VVN innervates the areas above the diaphragm: face, throat, voice box, larynx, middle ear, heart, lungs and serves the social engagement system. This system is regulated by 5 cranial nerves and when these nerves function well, we can enjoy optimal physical and emotional health including great friendship, support, bonding and loving relationships. When we are socially engaged, we can be creative, positive, productive and happy. Socially engaged means we are free from threats, danger, unnecessary worries and in good physical health. The Social Engagement System guides us in orientation, communication and facial expression and comprises the following cranial nerves, which all originate in the brainstem.
Behaviours we display when Socially Engaged:
When our ANS is in a state of stress or shutdown we often have problems with our physical health, emotional states and relationships. Therefore, it makes total sense to have an optimal working nervous system and Craniosacral Therapy is one of the best modalities to address the nervous system. Craniosacral therapy assists our clients to shift into their social nervous system, inhibiting the SNS, improving vagal tone, addressing the cranial nerves and has a great and positive effect on regulating the entire nervous system.
Clients typically report a significant reduction or disappearance of their physical symptoms but also an increased sense of happiness, connection, oneness and openness with the world and feeling safe. This is because clients have come out of Fight or Flight and gone into Ventral Vagus Healing, which is connected to increases in health and emotional well-being.
Here, the goal of Craniosacral treatments is:
On the flip side what I have also experienced is that clients who are in excessive overwhelm or in a depressed, dissociated dorsal vagus state, may experience a sudden increase in anxiety or sleepless nights. This causes them to question if they are on the right track and why this would happen. One thing to consider is that it can actually be a good sign as it means the body is coming out of shut down Dorsal State, up the hierarchical ladder and is shifting into Fight and Flight, Sympathetic State, which may mean perhaps a temporarily increase in anxiousness or other aroused states. Here as Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapists we can assist them in finding a sense a safety through resourcing, grounding, embodiment, breathing, so they can start feeling safe and shift into their social engagement system. In biodynamic craniosacral therapy we can also guide clients through their internal emotions and enhancing their capacity for self-regulation, which is important to maintain a good nervous system.
Polyvagal Wrap up
The application of the polyvagal theory in craniosacral therapy makes total sense for physical symptoms and particularly for Trauma, Depression, Anxiety, Chronic and Complex Pain and illnesses. In past blogs I have written about my own personal trauma and the extensive Dr’s rounds which brought no luck in addressing or alleviating my symptoms, as the primary innate biological forces that controlled my symptoms seemed to be overlooked, disregarded and not addressed. I was at the bottom of the hierarchical ladder and totally not socially engaged. For months I was in shut down, collapse, disassociation and hibernation, with little recollection. I was in Dorsal Vagus State and off-line. As for Ventral State and the associated nerves: I could not bear any bright lights or flashes and my ears were high pitched ringing. To my embarrassment as I could not hide it, my voice had gone up a few notches higher due to my anxiety. As the physical part (but emotional part also played a role as brain stem implicated) of the trauma was to my neck and head, my SCM and Trigeminus were in hyper tonus and over firing on a neural level in my face.
I did heal my myriad of symptoms not by chemical pills for every symptom I had but by addressing the ANS: the Dorsal State, the Sympathetic Chain and finally coming back into Ventral Vagus through weekly & to start, twice-weekly Craniosacral Therapy sessions, which I combined with Homeopathy & Naturopathy. I did not get fixed, I did not get cured but I healed, from the inside, out.
It took time and dedication–it is not a magic bullet – addressing physical symptoms, pain, the nervous system, uncoupling and processing strong emotions takes time but when you overcome your own health problems by the innate power of the body to heal, which we all have, the gratitude is infinite and it is a gift you want to keep on giving.
Psychiatrist Dr. Bessel van der Kolk – explains the polyvagal theory and the use of oa yoga, meditation and Craniosacral therapy so well in his brilliant book: The Body keeps the Score. “The polyvagal helps us understand and explain why seemingly unconventional techniques work so well. It activates the social engagement system, calming the physical tension in the body. It helps people shift out of their fight/flight states, reorganising their perception of danger. If mind/brain/body is the royal road to emotion regulation this demands a radical shift in our therapeutic assumptions" and “Touch, is the most elementary tool we have to calm down. You can’t fully recover if you don’t feel safe in your skin. Therefore, I encourage all my patients to engage in some sort of body work like Craniosacral Therapy”.
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The base of all my blogs is: ‘would my mother understand it’? – I purposely leave out jargon and aim to simplify as best as I can. My aim is not to confuse with All there is to know about anatomy (eg enteric nervous system) and keep it relevant to the topic. Great detailed information and recommended reading for people who like to know more:
The title almost sounds like the start of a joke, right? Four people enter a pub – depression, anxiety, the Vagus nerve and craniosacral therapy. During my Craniosacral education we studied the Vagus Nerve, learning the theory and practicing the different vagal tones by doing hands on work, feeling for the dorsal and ventral branch of the Vagus Nerve. At the time for me, the theory was mostly words on paper about Stephen Porges Polyvagal theory. This is not a light subject matter to begin with and as my course and study materials were conducted in German…well let’s just say Stephen Porges “Die Polyvagal theorie: die phylogenetische entwicklung des Nervensystems” got filed away in the “one day – too hard” basket of my brain.
Many years later and firmly established in my own clinic, that one day came, when a Psychiatrist started to refer some of his clients with various diagnoses like: Insomnia, Anxiety, Depression and Fibromyalgia to me. This psychiatrist advocates non-medicinal treatment in finding alternative ways to help his clients through TMS, neurofeedback and stimulating the Vagus Nerve, in my case, through Craniosacral Therapy. As I treated his clients, I started to notice various similarities. All had an under-activated dorsal branch of the Vagus nerve, a compression at the Cranial base and different parts of the brains that would be overactive, i.e. over fire on a neural level. I knew I had to revisit Stephen Porges Polyvagal theory and as it turned out, it also confirmed a piece in my own personal journey.
The Vagus Nerve and the differences between the functions of the ventral and dorsal branch of the Vagus Nerve have great implications in the healing of our physical, mental and emotional health. In this blog I will mainly focus on the Dorsal Vagal Nerve, as a chronic activation of dorsal vagus circuit is accompanied by depressive feelings as in loss of interest in activities and surroundings, digestive problems, reduced energy, not being active, sad and/or being anxious. Working with the Dorsal Vagus Nerve through CST, has a great potential for treating people with Depression, Anxiety and Insomnia.
In previous blogs I have written about the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and its 2 key branches the Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS - rest and digest) and Sympathetic nervous system (SNS - fight and flight). They should ideally go up and down during the day in a balanced rhythmic way. The Vagus Nerve is part of our PNS and is one of the 12 Cranial Nerves (Cranial Nerve X) that regulates most of our bodily functions for our health, relaxation and emotional well-being (75%), i.e. stabilising our heart rate, breathing & digestion.
The Vagus is the largest ANS nerve, starting in the brainstem at the base of the skull and going through the neck into the chest and abdomen regulating many of our organs, from the heart, to the lungs, to the gut. In below picture you can see its pathway into our organs, where the fibers of the Vagus Nerve act as a surveillance team of our internal organs sending the information up to our brainstem for processing and actioning.
New Model - Polyvagal
Polyvagal as a relative new model (1994) states we have the SNS – fight and flight but that the relax and digest Vagus Nerve has 2 branches (in the classic ANS model the assumption is one vagus nerve). Polyvagal states that there are 2 separate distinct vagal nerves that originate in 2 different locations and have 2 different neural pathways. They are:
Ventral Vagus Nerve
When there is a threat or stress in our environment, we rely on our VVN to establish a sense of safety and connection, this can be through conversation, a call for help, making eye contact, a calming voice etc. This will send signals down to our heart and lungs, slowing down our heart rate and deepening our breathing. It is also referred to as the Social Nervous System and in essence functions as brake – Vagal Brake – having a calming and soothing effect on our nervous system. If the social nervous system fails to resolve the stress and it remains active in our body, then we will automatically resort to the older biological response of fight/flight.
Dorsal Vagus Nerve
When the fight/flight mode fails to resolve the stressor, we then subsequently resort to our oldest biological primitive ultimate emergency response through the Dorsal Vagus Nerve. A sudden extreme surge in dorsal vagal activity can for instance happen when we are faced with great danger. It is a defensive strategy that helps us cope in a traumatic event, or with prolonged extreme stress or danger, real or imagined and can bring our body in a state of “immobilisation with fear”. Much like a cockroach playing dead when he knows his time is up and senses a human being with a spray in their hand (Very much a Sydney thing:).
“A chronic activation of dorsal vagus circuit and its physiology is characterised by depressive feelings. For example, loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable, loss of appetite, overeating, digestive problems, reduced energy, sad, anxious, problems remembering, making decision and also fibromyalgia. Diagnosis of depression are usually accompanied by a state of activation of the dorsal branch of the Vagus nerve. If the transition into a dorsal state has involved a sudden surge in dorsal branch activation, via a shock, a shutdown results. In a dangerous situation, it is a natural reaction to dissociate from one’s own body from the here and now, and to shut down physically, emotionally and mentally”. (Stephan Rosenberg, 2017).
It is exactly in these words that I found the missing piece of my own personal puzzle. In a previous blog I have written about my own physical and emotional trauma. I was certainly displaying symptoms of depression after the trauma and had many other symptoms including insomnia, anxiety and digestive problems. I was given the label of Depression and heaps of chemical pills. I felt I was not depressed in the classic sense of Serotonin deficiency and I did not want a different pill for every one of my symptoms. I intuitively knew but did not have the knowledge at the time that my answers did not lie in the medical chemical world. It seemed like a valued but incomplete model, as the primary innate biological forces that controlled all of my symptoms seemed to be overlooked, disregarded and not worked with. I now understand that there was a huge activation of my Dorsal Vagus Nerve – partly due to the physical head trauma and partly due to the shock and trauma that accompanied it and therefore pills and classic talk therapy did not work for me, as it did not address nor rebalance my Vagus Nerve, its pathway into my organs and digestive system or my Trauma.
Symptoms of Dorsal Vagal State – Shock/ shutdown
The body is truly amazing and in my humble opinion quite undervalued in the western medical conditioned ‘machine-like’ approach. We don’t always have to take out parts, replace parts or fill it up with chemicals to suppress symptoms. We can work with the body, feel the body, regulate the body, regulate the nervous system, reset its physiology, get nerves to fire under their threshold in many ways, and here through the Vagus Nerve. I witness this every day in my practice and am always humbled by the body’s innate power, it’s infinite wisdom and the body's capacity to heal. The below symptoms are designed to keep the basic functions going as it can override less important functions in the body, in times of stress or emergency. The problem lies, when we stay in that very state that was initially only designed to save us and when chronic, will turn against us.
Physical and emotional symptoms of Dorsal Vagal activation:
Craniosacral Treatment for Chronic Dorsal Vagal Activation
The basic goal of CST treatment is to lift the client from a chronic Dorsal Vagal state into activation of Ventral Vagus Nerve. During a CST treatment and with our subtle movements and it’s subtle as we listen, feel, touch and work with the most delicate structures of the body, we aim to:
The positive effects of craniosacral therapy are cumulative. Over time our ANS becomes more resilient each time we can restore a state of our social nervous system following activation of the dorsal vagus branch. The long-term goal is to encourage the ANS to return naturally, on its own from a state of dorsal stress to a state of social engagement, were we feel physically and emotionally safe. Healing the Nervous system does take time, but with time and for me personally with skilled hands-on craniosacral work for all my physical and emotional symptoms, I was able to shift back into the Ventral Vagal state, into a state of social engagement - my Social Nervous System where I was able to reconnect, relax and feel immense joy and happiness again.
As Stephen Rosenberg writes in his book – Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve: “prior to Polyvagal, depression and depressive behaviours issues lacked a physiological model in terms of the nervous system. Perhaps why it is difficult to find effective treatments for conditions like depression. With Stephen Porges Polyvagal theory we have a clear focus on relationships of the ANS, the emotions and the behaviours”.
The Vagus Nerve is responsible for our health and essentially controls our entire rest and digest and all the associated organs. So, depression, anxiety, the Vagus nerve and insomnia walk into a bar, ordering craniosacral. All having a healthy drink together around a communal table, working together in harmony, in a balanced rhythmic way, with no side effects or hangover. What are you ordering?
My next blog will focus on the VVN – Social Nervous System and the implications for our physical, mental and emotional health through Craniosacral Therapy.
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The base of all my blogs is: ‘would my mother understand it’? – I purposely leave out jargon and aim to simplify as best as I can. My aim is not to confuse with All there is to know about anatomy like the enteric nervous system. Great detailed information and recommended reading for people who like to know more:
Whiplash is often referred to as a pure soft tissue (ligaments and muscles) injury in the neck. It is caused by a sudden very strong bending and/or hyperextension of the head, causing a painful cervical spine, tension in the neck and shoulders and can also impact the ligaments of the joints in the jaw. In a worst-case scenario, there can also be damage to the intervertebral discs and/or compression of cervical nerve roots.
Whiplash is most often caused by a car accident but also can happen through a sporting accident, like boxing, karate, diving and rugby or as a result of a physical trauma. In all cases, the head is violently thrown forward, backward or sideways in two different directions. Pain could be immediate but pain can also happen after a delay of several hours or even days.
The diagnosis of Whiplash varies from person to person. Whiplash sufferers often have numerous complaints and can have long periods of pain that may not seem in proportion to the sustained physical injury. It may also not heal in the standard 6-8 weeks that is usually given for soft tissue injuries. However, if we look at the components of whiplash and not only view it as a soft tissue injury, it makes perfect sense why this can be the case. This calls for a treatment model that not only incorporates the soft tissue of the physical body but also the craniosacral system of the physical body plus the mental and emotional body and this is exactly the strength of Craniosacral Therapy.
Let me break it down:
Whiplash not only comprises soft tissue injuries that result in headaches, neck pain and stiffness but the lack of control of the head with all the sensory organs and messages to the brain during the impact can also generate neurological complaints that can range from dizziness or vertigo, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, balance difficulties to concentration and memory problems. It can even trigger emotional symptoms like depression, irritability or anxiety as the shock to the nervous system can linger for months. A disturbance in the entire craniosacral system is often possible due to increased tension of the dura matter (the outermost toughest membrane/fascia which envelopes the brain and spinal cord). Disturbances in the Central Nervous System (CNS) – brain and spinal cord – can relay many different symptoms like a chain reaction that cannot be explained by soft tissue injury alone. Pains that occur can also be of a psychosomatic nature and can fluctuate and worsen with life and emotional stress. The force of the injury can also cause minor traumatic brain injury with post-concussion syndrome, which leads to cognitive symptoms as well as balance and often visual complaints.
Victims of major accidents and/or trauma that result in whiplash may also experience disassociation or freezing at the time of the incident. This is used as an intelligent defensive self-protective mechanism where the sensory and motor overload in the body and the brain was too great to handle all at once. If these physiological states do not come to a natural end with a successful resolution or discharge, it can lead to PTSD or PTSI where the unconscious survival brain – the brain stem – see my blog our 3 brains – may be tricked into thinking that the threat is still present with all its physiological consequences and storage of the autonomic motor and sensory experiences.
My own Whiplash was caused by a direct physical Trauma where my head was forcibly thrown sideways at a high and quick speed. I experienced all of above symptoms, from the physical to the neurological to the anxiety and the dissociation with a time delay from the original incident. Initially I was put in a neck brace, had all the medical tests but my symptoms did not heal nor could be explained or addressed in the current model alone. When the Neurologist suggested Occipital Nerve block injections, I thought: "hmm let's not".
Whiplash is not always straight forward and the road to recovery can be slow and unpredictable, with periods of worsening, particularly if there is Trauma involved. This is because (traumatic) memories can be stored in our body and these memories are linked to the arousal circuitry within the amygdala (Limbic System -pls see my blog on the brain). Any head movement can perpetuate symptoms that is similar to the trauma. I found this out the hard way when on my road to recovery I sledged hard and fast down a long snowy Mountain with the usual bumps only to find that all my symptoms had worsened the next day. Not only did those movements perpetuate my symptoms but my sacrum had transmitted the forces up to my neck and head that was only just recovering. I continued addressing my physical, mental and traumatic part with CST and eventually saw all my complaints completely disappear.
The reason why CST works well for Whiplash is because it has a great effect on the autonomics and linked spinal cord segments. After a whiplash the sutures between bones can be compressed, which creates restrictions that impede the motion of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CST will free these cranial immobility’s and enhance fluid exchange throughout the body and brain. CST also addresses myofascial pain and any emotional effects that may serve as contributing factors to chronic neck pain or shoulder pain and CST has a great ability to reduce stress and anxiety.
CST provides a holistic approach, bringing together all elements, reducing physical discomfort as well as emotional shock and trauma, as it truly integrates Mind, Body and Spirit.
In my own practice I treated a 56 years old lady who had a Quad bike accident and was diagnosed with whiplash. She also suffered from inexplicably fatigue. She has been referred by her doctor for a course of 9 sessions of CST (NB: this was overseas where Craniosacral Therapy is very much part of the medical model). Case history revealed she had another Whiplash injury 4 years ago due to another accident. First examination reveals a weakening in the cranial system rhythm around neck and shoulder area and an increased tension in the whole craniosacral system and attached fascia. Particularly her right shoulder and neck area reveal inertial patterns with big swirling movements around the place of impact where the incoming force of the collision is retained. In the first few sessions the focus is on bringing the central nervous system to rest, working on the general tension around the craniosacral system and the hyper tonus around the cranial base in particular, so fascia can gently unwind, trapped nerves freed and the self-healing capacity of the body stimulated. The client experienced a sharp increase in pain during the session that immediately disappeared when the session was finished. This increase in pain seemed to be related to the old whiplash injury she had sustained and was re-triggered by the new impact. As her system is clearing up the old and new debris she feels very tired, experiences intermittent pain and not capable of doing much but just relaxing. When the immediate fragility of her system has disappeared and she is starting to experience improvement of her symptoms, the focus of the later part of the sessions are more on myofascial release particularly in the muscles of the neck region and the trapezius muscle in the right shoulder.
During one of our sessions the clients literally experiences a structural and emotional release at the same time by sensing and hearing a “plop” inside her body – she can’t really describe it but says “it just felt like something disappeared from my neck, like taking the plug out of the bath”. When she gets off the table she feels no pain, no restrictions in head and neck movements and says she actually feels radiant and full of energy. When she comes back for the last couple of prescribed sessions, she indicates she is actually already better but would like to finish her prescribed treatments as she has seen improvements in many “unrelated” areas as well like her digestion, sleep patterns and overall mood.
This case study and many more conditions and case studies will be more detailed in my upcoming book: Integrative Healing through Craniosacral Therapy.
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Myofascial Release - SchleuderTrauma - Roland Kastner at Future Health Cranial Institute Zurich Switzerland
Life Lesson number 9: have a Craniosacral treatment.
A translated extract from an article featured in a prominent Dutch newspaper with Hollands leading neurologist.
Lesson 1: You can’t keep burying your emotions
“I was working as an intern in a hospital when I noticed that for months I had become angrier, more anxious and depressed. I had actually deeply buried those emotions since the death of my father when I was 12. It had become my survival strategy but now the panic, sadness and anger kept resurfacing. My rock bottom came when I recognized the face of my father in one of my Senior Doctors, I wanted to kiss him. I was so happy to see him. At that moment I realised that I could not continue anymore”.
Lesson 2: When a child loses a parent, it determines the rest of your life.
“The death of my father shattered the unity in our household. Everything collapsed. The only way I could deal with this immense sadness was by studying. Knowledge became my safety net. I had wanted to become a Vet but just before the death of my father he had said – “would it not be great if you become a neurologist as well". Had life been different I may have taken a different road but in his absence, I fulfilled his last wish”.
Lesson 3: Remember your dreams
At 15, my mother wanted to send me to a psychiatrist, presumably because she saw how I struggled with my feelings and emotions. I did not want to go, I was FINE. Finally at the age of 28, I did go into therapy, twice a week for 4 years. My psychiatrist made me relive the trauma of my father’s death, she taught me how to cry, she taught me how to laugh and – very importantly – she taught me to remember my dreams. Dreams are the window into your subconscious and they help you to recognise and name your emotions so you can get to know yourself a bit better.
Lesson 4: Mind and body are one
Bizarrely and ironically, half the countries population does some form of Mindfulness. Yet at the same time most people do not want to deal with the fact that physical symptoms have a mental and emotional component. Many patients and Doctors still think that chronic pain or for example fatigue is a just mechanical problem. To me, this is really a redundant approach. We are not just our body or just our mind: it is One. It is my mission as a Doctor to make this clear, in particular to people that have complaints that don’t fit into our current medical way of thinking. Their symptoms are real but they are just misunderstood. I see how unhappy they are, whilst their body could be working fine. These cases fascinate me as a Doctor, as they are unsolved puzzles and I won’t rest until somebody is satisfied.
Lesson 5: A misunderstood symptom is also a real symptom
Just because you can’t find a plausible cause for a symptom doesn’t make the complaint less real. With 20% of new patients a GP will not find a clear cause for a physical complaint. The majority recovers within a couple of week by themselves. But with some patients, even after extensive medical tests, research and treatment, the problems keep persisting. In the medical field this is known as “Idiopathic Somatic Complaints”.
Like for instance a 55 year old smoking working women – recently divorced and has been suffering for a few months from fatigue and headaches. One day she wakes up and finds that she can’t lift her right arm at all. Doctors can’t find a medical reason. You don’t have to be an Einstein to understand that her personal situation probably plays an important role. However that does not make the complaint less real. She really can no longer lift her arm. The connection between body and mind allows to your experience your symptom. Sometimes there is a medical reason and sometimes there is not. Many people find that hard to accept. Only when you approach body, mind, emotions and individual life circumstances as One, then you can really do something about unexplained medical symptoms.
Lesson 6: Name and claim happiness, before its too late
I had been having headaches for 6 months and I noticed that I started to talk more nasally. If a patient had come to me with those complaints, I would have sent him or her straight for an MRI, but I ignored it. I knew like no one else how awful the outcome could be and buried my head in the sand. When I finally did have it checked out I was diagnosed with cancer, a tumor above the hard palate in my mouth. I was 39 with a wife and young children. The tears kept coming. I did not work for a year and the treatment did leave me with quite a few residual effects and symptoms. I did not become a different person but it taught me how important it is to treasure the happy times and moments.
Lesson 7: Go under Hypnoses
Once a week a hypnotherapist comes to the hospital for our patients who have medically unexplained physical symptoms. Around 500.000 Dutch people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome: tummy aches, bloated, constipated or diarrhea without a clear medical cause. The brain and intestines are in constant communication with one another, without you being aware of it. One can’t instantly regulate the inner works of the intestines, nor the heart or blood pressure for that matter but under hypnoses you can. Whilst you are completely relaxed, imagine your tummy is soft and healthy. You can positively influence the intestines this way. I am convinced that many people with medically unexplained symptoms but also with understood symptoms could benefit from it immensely.
Lesson 8: Exercise!
There is nothing better for body and mind than to exercise. If I don’t exercise every day I get aches and pain, I don’t sleep as well and become grumpy. So I cycle to work every day and on my days off I run. Top athletes know, like no other people, how mind and body are one.
Online:https://www.trouw.nl/samenleving/de-levenslessen-van-neuroloog-emile-keuter-een-onbegrepen-klacht-is-ook-echt - 11 June 2017