Your gut brain (or “enteric nervous system” if you want to be all sciency about it) is a whole other brain that exists in and around your digestive system, in the walls of your intestines and the surrounding tissues. This “second brain” is incredibly powerful, with 100 times more neurons than your spinal cord. It regulates many functions including immune function, quality of digestion, hormones and mood. In fact, your gut brain is largely responsible for the production of 95% of the serotonin and other “feel good” chemicals in your body.
Maintaining a healthy gut brain is crucial! Here are five things you can do today to take care of it:
- Eat whole foods. The more you can make whole foods a part of your diet, the more you’re giving your gut brain the fuel it needs to function well. By whole foods I mean minimally processed and resemble their original form: vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, nuts, grains, and even some dairy. So, olive oil is closer to a whole food than an oreo, for example. Whole foods contain not only the nutrients that our gut brains need, but also other important chemicals like phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds. In addition, whole foods already contain these nutrients in the amounts and ratios that our bodies need to optimally process them.
- Avoid preservatives and food coloring. This is important for two reasons. The first is that foods with preservatives and/or food coloring are less likely to be whole foods. The second is that preservatives and food coloring are toxic to your gut brain and your microbiome. Think about it – if you’re eating something that contains a preservative that’s supposed to inhibit bacterial growth in your food, wouldn’t it also inhibit bacterial growth in your gut? And we NEED bacteria in our gut! That serotonin I talked about that’s produced in your gut? It’s made by gut microbiome bacteria that’s being directed to do so by your gut brain. Food coloring has been shown to be a neurotoxin in many studies, so it kills the cells of your gut brain.
- Keep your mucosa healthy. A significant portion of your gut brain resides within two layers of your intestines, called a “neural plexus.” These layers go all the way from your esophagus to your large intestine, the entire length of your digestive system. So, it’s important to keep these layers healthy! A good way to do that is to make sure your gut mucosa is vibrant and healthy. The gut mucosa is a layer of mucous (eww, I know!) that coats your intestinal tract and keeps the food from reaching those plexus layers. The good news is that eating mostly whole foods will provide you with what you need for a healthy gut mucosa. But if you want to supplement, some helpful things you can take include: L-Glutamine, zinc carnosine, immunoglobulins, polyphenols, and amino acids including L-proline, L-serine, L-threonine, & L-cysteine. Of course, always check with your doctor before adding any supplements. (Side note: Am I the only one that looks at the word immunoglobulins and reads it as immunogoblins? I always imagine these microscopic goblins running around in my immune system.)
- Promote the serotonin cycle. When we give our brain and nervous system certain input, it actually changes the structure and function of it to create more of that same thing. So, for example, if I live in war zone and am often anxious and afraid, the structure and function of my brain will change over time to one where anxiety and fear are the default state. However, the same is true of happiness as well. If you “feed” your nervous system with things that promote joy, the structure and function of your brain will change to a default state of joy. Since our gut brains produce most of the happy chemicals in our body, it’s important to give it happy chemicals to prime it to make more. So, spend some time doing things that make you happy! That could be dancing to your favorite music, spending time with happy memories or envisioning your dreams coming true in the future, or hanging out with friends doing fun activities. Try to spend at least an hour a day doing things that increase your happy chemicals and over time, you’ll see a change in your baseline emotional state.
- Gut massage. The movement of food and other substances through your gut (called “gut motility”) is an important part of the health of your gut brain, too. Since your gut brain produces neurotransmitters, hormones, immune cells and other substances that are vital to health, it’s important to keep things moving along. Here’s a link to a great handout from the NHS on how to do abdominal self-massage: https://www.wchc.nhs.uk/content/uploads/2019/12/Self-abdominal-massage.pdf
I hope you found this information helpful and as always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out and I’d be happy to chat more.
In the past 75 years, our world has witnessed an unprecedented rise in chronic illnesses and autoimmune diseases. Visionaries like Gabor Mate and Peter Levine have proposed that these ailments may be rooted in the accumulation of trauma and stress within our bodies and minds. The question remains, though, what is the precise connection? How do stress and trauma translate into long-term diseases?
Allow me to share my insights.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with countless individuals grappling with conditions such as Chronic Fatigue (ME), food intolerances, Lyme disease, MS, and, more recently, long COVID. A recurring theme has emerged from my energy healing sessions. When I establish an intuitive connection with my clients’ body-minds and inquire where the healing should commence, I consistently receive a message to harmonize the “Nervous-immune-digestive system.” Interestingly, this intuitive wisdom suggests that these are not three separate entities, as conventional medical science often assumes.
Conventional Western medicine divides our physiological systems into distinct categories, such as the immune system, the musculoskeletal system, the digestive system, and so forth. This compartmentalization is so deeply ingrained that we consult a different specialist for each system: a neurologist for the brain, a gastroenterologist for the digestive system, and a gynecologist for the reproductive system. Yet, our bodies do not perceive these as separate systems; rather, they are human constructs intended to simplify and classify biological information.
Our bodies comprehend that we are a single, interconnected living system, with every part dependent on the whole.
Thus, when I psychically received the term “nervousimmunedigestive system” from my clients’ bodies, I understood it as a call to view these three systems as one. This realization led me to delve into the intricate connections between the brain, immune system, and digestive system.
What I discovered was truly astounding.
Our brains, immune systems, and digestive systems are in constant dialogue, exchanging information through hormones, electrical signaling, and energetic pathways (such as meridians). They continuously monitor our health and relay any changes to the rest of the body.
Chronic illness arises from a disrupted communication system that remains stuck in a state of hypervigilance (fight/flight/freeze/appease). This dysfunction generates inaccurate messages that can alter hormone levels, immune system activity, emotional states, brain processing, inflammation, and more. For instance, in clients with chronic infections like long COVID or Lyme, I observed a hypervigilant body purposely clinging to low-grade infections to maintain surveillance, like a physiological version of “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Unfortunately, this vigilance comes at a cost: fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression, and a myriad of other symptoms. Only when we coaxed the “nervousimmunedigestive system” out of hypervigilance and into a state of calm safety did these symptoms subside.
The encouraging news is that by addressing the physiological changes within these three intertwined systems, we can heal the physical symptoms of chronic and autoimmune illnesses. I have discovered that once the “neuroimmunedigestive system” is healed, other symptoms dissipate naturally.
If this message resonates with you, I am developing a program in the coming months that unites energy healing, NLP principles, mental practice, somatic healing, and neuroplasticity to facilitate lasting healing for these conditions. If you are interested in joining the waitlist for this transformative program, please reach out, and I will ensure you are among the first to know.
Migraines wreak havoc in people’s lives and are much more than a headache. Migraines cause pain (headache, or stomach ache in the case of abdominal migraines) and can also include symptoms like light and temperature sensitivity, dizziness, distorted vision or “floaters”, numbness in face or extremities, nausea, vomiting, and racing thoughts. Scientists are still unclear about what causes migraines, but current research points to a connection between serotonin levels and sudden changes in blood pressure and there appears to be a genetic component, as well.
However, the real reason for migraines isn’t just biological – people who are HSPs (highly sensitive people) and who tend to internalize stress and blame themselves (rather than blame the situation or other people) are the ones who will eventually develop migraines.
First, let’s look at the HSP link. People who fit the “highly sensitive person” profile are more finely attuned to both sensory stimuli and emotions. HSPs make up about 15-20% of the population and have brains that process more information than the norm and reflect on that information more deeply than others. HSPs tend to be more sensitive to sensory stimuli in their environments like flashing or bright light and noisy environments. They will often need to recharge with some alone time, preferably in a cozy Hygge-like environment. They also tend to pick up on details that others may miss – a brain that processes more information and reflects on it more deeply is not a bad thing after all, and can be a superpower. HSPs are good at seeing both the big picture and the little details, simultaneously. HSPs also have heightened empathic abilities as they are more aware of their inner emotional environment as well as the emotions of others. HSPs have more “mirror neurons” which are a type of brain cell that allows deeper social connections and greater awareness of the emotional state of others, which allows knowing more quickly and deeply what others are feeling, often more deeply than those others may know themselves.
As you can imagine from this description, HSP brains also tend to get overloaded more easily, and that’s when migraines can occur. If HSPs are constantly trying to operate in an environment or in social situations with high levels of sensory and emotional stimuli, it will eventually be more than they can handle. This tipping point of overwhelm is what can cause the neurological and blood pressure changes that can trigger a migraine.
But the overwhelm itself is not really the issue, it’s what we do with the overwhelm that matters.
There are two basic options for a brain that feels overwhelmed or stressed – we can blame the situation and other people (“That meeting was too crazy! I feel exhausted just from being in that room.”) or we can blame ourselves (“I should have been more prepared for that meeting. Everyone got upset and that probably could have been avoided if I’d had the information they were looking for beforehand.”) For those of us that tend towards the “freeze” or “appease” type of stress response, we usually will blame ourselves or put undue pressure on ourselves at work or school to try to avoid any feelings of shame or guilt. The changes in hormones and neurotransmitters caused by this type of self-blame, self-abandonment or self-gaslighting are the real culprits when it comes to migraines. When I made an effort to stop being a perfectionist (which is really a fear of the shame from disappointing people) my migraines reduced significantly.
When we can shift from thinking that there’s something wrong with us and we’re not doing a good enough job to realizing that our HSP sensitivity is just another type of neurodiversity (that is also a superpower) and that we are most likely doing plenty at whatever job or task is at hand, then our bodies will no longer have to stop us in our tracks with a migraine.
You are a sensitive soul, with the ability to think more widely and deeply than most, and that is a superpower. You are enough, and in fact people admire you and want to have you around just because you are you.
If you can start believing these two things, your migraines will diminish and you’ll find yourself on the road to true healing.
PS: This post was by request! When I talked about digestive issues last week, someone asked if I could do one on migraines. So, if you have a medical issue that you’d like me to write about please let me know and I’ll make a future post about that topic.
I see a lot of clients that have digestive issues and so I want to address what I’ve seen as the common emotional correlations for issues with the stomach, small intestine and large intestine. What does it mean when you’re having issues with your digestive system?
Stomach: If you have issues with your stomach like gastric reflux, ulcers or stomach cramps it can be helpful to think of the saying, “I can’t stomach that.” Stomach issues often come up when we aren’t living in alignment with our ethics or values and we’re being asked, or are asking ourselves, to do something that we don’t feel good about. For example, maybe you have a job with a company whose corporate culture is toxic. Or maybe you’re in a relationship where you’re putting up with a lot of BS from your partner and you know you need to do something about it, but you haven’t. In Chinese medicine, stomach issues represent over-worry or stress, so what is it that you’re stressed about but haven’t done anything about yet?
Small intestine: The job of the small intestine is to figure out what parts of our food are nutrients to be absorbed and what parts are indigestible waste that needs to be passed on to the large intestine. Issues with the small intestine like leaky gut, food allergies, or issues with slow or fast digestion come from having difficulty with discernment around if things in your life are good for you (nutrients) or something you need to get rid of (indigestible waste). I see a ton of my people pleasers coming in with small intestine issues because they have trouble discerning what’s actually good for them and what they are doing so others stay happy. They take on (or absorb) everything for everyone. If you are someone who says, “I love making other people happy!” and you have digestive issues, then this may be an issue of discernment. The way to heal this issue is to practice having better boundaries around what is emotionally healthy and good for you, and get better at saying “no” to the things that are draining or consistently center others’ needs over your own. On the other end of the spectrum, I also see people coming in who do the opposite – instead of absorbing everything, they are too rigid and controlling and don’t take the chance of opening up to (absorbing) anything in case it might hurt them. The way to heal this is to work on feeling safe around other people.
Large intestine: Let’s talk about how you handle your $h!t. Are you someone who is able to let emotions come up in real time and process them? Or are you someone who is always on the ball, productive and damn near perfect but then needs a glass of wine at the end of the day to come down from the stress? The large intestine is all about how you handle being upset, disappointed or stressed and whether you hold on to these emotions or have healthy ways of addressing them. If you don’t have a healthy way of handling these as they come up, the energy in your large interesting can get backed up and that’s when trouble arises. The physiological function of the large intestine is intertwined with water balance – too much and you have loose stool, too little and you’re constipated. Emotions and water are BFFs, water is one of the main ways emotions move through our bodies. So if your water isn’t moving well, I can almost guarantee your bowels won’t be either.
If you’ve been working with digestive issues for a while and still aren’t seeing the progress you’d like, feel free to contact me and we can set up a call. Also, if you liked this article and you want to know more about the emotional connection with other body parts or systems, reply and let me know which ones! If there’s enough interest, I can make this into a series.
One of the most common questions I get from potential clients is “Can you help me with X condition?” and the answer is most often, “Yes, I can!” The medical intuitive healing system that I’ve created works with your body’s own healing systems on all three levels of body, mind and soul. I meet you at the healing edge of what you’re ready to balance, release or heal next on any of those three levels, and we move forward from there.
Over the next few months, I want to share some case studies with you so that you can understand the power of medical intuitive healing. I’ve changed the names and identifying details of these clients for privacy purposes, but the symptoms, treatment and results are all directly from my client notes.
Julia came to me with severe food and environmental allergies. For years, she’d become increasingly unable to eat any foods without breaking out in a rash or having shortness of breath. When we first started working together, she was down to only being able to eat 5 foods. She couldn’t eat out or to a friend’s house for dinner without bringing her own food. She also was suffering from environmental allergies and sensitivities that made it difficult to be in many public places without developing shortness of breath and headaches.
When I asked what she most wanted from our sessions, Julia said that she wanted to be able to go to her daughter’s house and babysit her young granddaughter. In the past, Julia had been her granddaughter’s regular afternoon babysitter, picking her up from daycare and spending the afternoons with her while her daughter and son-in-law were still at work. In the last 12 months or so, Julia’s environmental and food allergies had become so severe that she hadn’t been able to be in her daughter’s house or prepare the foods her granddaughter liked to eat for afternoon snacks.
Julia and I worked together for about 4 months, slowly bringing her digestive and immune systems back into balance and addressing trauma held in her body from both her own experience of childhood emotional neglect and her contentious divorce 10 years earlier. We worked on everything from her gut microbiome to past life karma, and even epigenetic changes that were causing her allergies.
Slowly, she began to eat more foods. Slowly, she began to be able to go to shops and restaurants without allergic reactions to the chemicals in the environment.
By the end of four months she was ecstatic — she could order food off of a menu and eat without fear! And she was able to prepare snacks for her granddaughter without getting a rash.
And best of all, Julia was back to babysitting again several times per week. I could hear the absolute joy in her voice when she told me about the games she and her granddaughter had played together that week. Julia was finally able once again to do the thing she loved the most, those things that brought so much meaning and satisfaction to her life.
I’ve had so many clients like this, who have suffered for years with unexplained allergies or sensitivities, which really can keep you from doing the things that bring you meaning and joy. If this sounds like you or someone you know, don’t give up hope! Energy healing can bring about healing that sounds miraculous, but is really just your body tapping into its own natural desire to be balanced and joyfully whole.
If you have an autoimmune illness, there’s an important emotional connection you need to know about. In my years of work as a medical intuitive healer, I’ve seen hundreds of cases of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, leaky gut, endometriosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, MS and more. Over time, I’ve seen the same emotional pattern playing out in all of these diseases.
Most of my clients that come in with autoimmune issues are women, and the one thing they have in common is their stress response type. The way they respond to stress almost always includes the fawn/appease reaction. (If you want to know more about the different types, head over here.) The fawn/appease stress response type develops from growing up in a family where the emotional needs of the parents were centered over those of the child. This could be a result of parents with emotional immaturity or numbness (aka never went to therapy to deal with their s&*t), narcissism, BPD, or autism. In addition to family dynamics, women also tend towards this response type because we live in a patriarchal society that centers on the emotional needs of men, so women learn to fawn/appease in both family and in the culture at large.
You might have an appease response if any of these sound familiar: If your boss/child/partner/friend isn’t happy, is it because you didn’t do enough? Do you feel like you need to show up as your best self all the time or you’ll disappoint people? Do you feel extra good when everyone around you is having a good time but you’re not even aware if you’re having fun?
In other words, people pleasing and unclear boundaries.
Appeasing, fawning, and people-pleasing are chronic conditions of self-blame and self-abandonment. Like any other trauma or stress response, what starts out as a very clever adaptation to stay emotionally or physically safe ends up being an unhealthy emotional pattern over time. At its core, the appease response is about trying to manipulate the situation so that other people are happy and see you in a good light, so that you can stay safe and remain valuable in their eyes.
So, how does autoimmune illness arise from the appease response? Our immune system is all about what is “self” (our own human cells) what is “not-self” (like bacteria, viruses, etc) and what we should do about it. This determination of self and not-self and how to approach it is the essence of boundaries. And if you have unclear emotional boundaries, you very well might have unclear immune system boundaries, as well.
For example, let’s say your immune system encounters a bacterial colony. It first identifies it as “not-self” but what kind of colony is this? Is it a helpful bacteria that is part of a healthy microbiome? Is it a harmful bacteria from eating that cheese that was just past its expiration date? Our bodies need clear ideas of not only what is self and not-self, but what to do about it.
If our default fawn/appease reaction is to blame ourselves, then that’s exactly what our immune system does, as well. Autoimmune illnesses are errors in identifying which cells are self vs not-self. Our body attacks itself, “blaming” the self cells, labelling them as harmful, and sending other cells out to attack them.
Over time, our fawn response and our autoimmune response become one and the same, and that’s when physical illness emerges.
If you want to break this cycle, especially if you’ve been working on your people-pleasing tendencies but still have autoimmune symptoms, then I’d love to chat with you. This is exactly what I do as a medical intuitive healer, I find where your body is storing emotions, belief systems or other blocks and help work with your whole system to bring you back to health in body, mind and spirit.