The human body is a complex, interconnected system in which the mind and body cooperate to sustain overall health. If you’re dealing with chronic illnesses, you may have come across the term ‘neuro-immune connection’. But what does it mean, and how is it related to your health journey?
The Neuro-Immune Connection Simplified
The neuro-immune connection describes the relationship between your nervous system—the command center of your body—and your immune system, your body’s defense force. These two systems continually communicate to respond to threats and maintain balance in your body.
When everything is in balance, this connection operates seamlessly. However, disruptions in this communication can contribute to chronic illnesses, highlighting the critical role this connection plays in our health.
The Impact of Stress on the Neuro-Immune Connection
Our modern lifestyle often exposes us to prolonged stress, impacting the neuro-immune connection. Chronic stress disrupts this delicate balance, potentially triggering or exacerbating chronic illnesses. Furthermore, if you’ve experienced childhood trauma or emotional neglect, your body may be ‘primed’ to be more susceptible to everyday stressors disrupting this balance. In my work, I’ve found that this is particularly true for people with freeze or appease stress responses.
Harnessing the Neuro-Immune Connection for Health
Fortunately, the neuro-immune connection is not immutable. Employing strategies such as somatic therapy, vagal toning, intuitive movement to music, Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), energy healing, mental practice exercises, and mindfulness-based practices can help positively influence this connection.
The Role of Holistic Care: Maggie’s Story
Maggie, a client of mine, came to me with several ongoing issues. She’d been struggling with worsening gastrointestinal problems and was now breaking out in hives all over her body. Despite various allergy tests and medication for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), her condition didn’t improve.
Following a move to a new city with her husband, her symptoms had significantly worsened. Suspecting mold, she had her new house tested, found several strains, and spent thousands on remediation. Despite all this, her health continued to decline.
Once we began working together, it became clear that Maggie was holding onto old trauma stories within her body. The added stress from the recent move was the tipping point—her neuroimmune system was on high alert.
Over the course of about six months, Maggie and I worked together twice a month, employing a combination of energy healing, somatic work, and trauma release. By the end of that time, her health had completely transformed. She no longer experienced rashes, and her digestion normalized. In her own words, “My digestion is better than I can ever remember, even when I was young!”
I hope this exploration of the neuro-immune connection emphasizes the importance of considering the body as a connected system, especially when dealing with chronic illnesses. For those navigating these conditions, understanding this connection and taking steps to balance both the underlying immune and nervous system is key.
If you’re interested in learning more about the neuro-immune connection or need help managing a chronic illness, reach out on social media or send me an email. I’m always here to support your journey towards dynamic, vibrant health.
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.