Saturday, 30 March 2013

Blog: Gut feeling and universe

Lately I've been thinking more and more about how our feelings influence our bodies, especially the gastrointestinal tract, which seems to be in close coloration to our emotions. A lot of traditional sayings connect the gut and feelings, and even before we could understand why we made a certain decision, we felt it in our guts. Sometimes the decision you know that is wrong makes your stomach hurt. And of love and butterflies in the stomach... And it is true, that gut feeling is mostly correct. But is the gut the most talkative out of all the organs? They have compared the gut with the brain for having so many neurons.

»A gut feeling is a visceral emotional reaction to something; it may be negative or positive. Gut feelings are generally regarded as not modulated by conscious thought, and as a reflection of intuition, rather than rationality. The phrase may also be used as a shorthand term for an individual's »common sense«, perception of what is considered »the right thing to do«.

Body always tells us what is good for us and what isn't. And if you ignore it for too long, it will bite you in the ass, so to speak. It seems to me such a long time ago, when they diagnosed me with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. It makes me giggle now, that I have a very cranky bowel, but back then I was frustrated. And that frustration and anxiety further improved the symptoms. Come to think of it I've had problems since I was a kid, but when I was in a situation in my life, that I knew wasn't right for me and made me very uncomfortable, the problems got much worse. And now, when I've changed that, it's much easier to live. But now the stomach is complaining.

I've made a few photographs and drawings to try to bring awareness about IBS/IBD and I get to hear from other fellow-sufferers here and there. I'm surprised how young these people usually are and what kind of problems they are dealing with and also, how much it affects their lives... And the hard part is, I want to help, I can give advice, but what will actually help them IS themselves. They.. We have to find out what works for our bodies. After all, every body is unique. But the important part is not to personify oneself with the diagnosis. You are not your health problems.

Body works every day and how we treat it will have an effect on it. And some things start off small and grow into bigger things before we stop ourselves. And are we sometimes spoiled, for treating it badly and then complaining when it feels bad, when we get sick and when it hurts?! As if it’s a machine.

There was a study done in 1942, but I think it's still relevant today, about emotions and gastro duodenal function, in particular on patients with gastritis, duodenitis and peptic ulcer. They found that emotions such as anger, anxiety, guilt and frustration increase acidity in the stomach.

»Tension, anxiety, resentment, anger, guilt, obsequiousness and desperation, already present, accentuated or induced, were almost always accompanied by an increase in hydrochloric acid, mucous and pepsin secretions. Peristaltic activity became continuous, and contractions increased in magnitude. Respiration became more rapid and shallow, with frequent sighs. There was usually a drop in finger temperature. Often in patients with ulcer, pain of a burning and gnawing quality was precipitated and unusual amounts of bile and moderate amounts of fresh, unclotted blood appeared in the extractions. Similar changes occurred in a few instances during sleep following a period of affective stress. During and after interviews which engendered emotional security, functional over-activity decreased and approached the normal. A comparison of the individual physiological and emotional changes in normal subjects with those of patients with ulcer, gastritis and duodenitis, revealed similar patterns, but the changes in the pathological group were greater in magnitude and duration.«

»Behind the facade of independence and self-sufficiency was a background of long standing and severe anxiety, of feelings of helplessness or of being caught, frustration and desperation. Resentment and manifestations of aggression and hostility stood out. Such resentment sometimes was associated with an attempt at resolution through action but more commonly it was not overtly expressed, nor was there a plan for its resolution. The subject was not necessarily aware of its existence. In brief, despite the seeming heterogeneity of characteristics, these persons commonly showed assertive independence and self-sufficiency, covering underlying anxiety and insecurity, and accompanied by feelings of resentment and hostility. Indeed, remorse, guilt and self-denunciation were almost universally associated with anxiety and resentment, and were the basis of much conflict and personal stress.«
PS: I've been reading about health benefits of colostrum on GI system, here is the link. Might be another thing to try.

The reasons behind this post are my recent abdominal pains. Having gastrointestinal problems you'll be faced with plenty different sensations in the abdomen. And if you worry about it, don't they seem to get worse? I don't always do this, but I've found it to be helpful: I try to tell myself why it hurts, why I feel that certain ache. Neurons inform the brain that they've encountered a problem. Essentially the pain is just information in the brain. And if you have a »sensitive gut« even normal function may be interpreted as an ache.

Years of anxiety are probably the main reasons behind my problems today. And it seems that I’m not alone in this. And behind that anxiety is a conviction that I don’t belong here. As if, I never felt rooted anywhere. But lately I’ve come to realize something...which made me feel better. Some have religion, I have science:

And I as I lay down to sleep after a long day, with abdominal aches and a burning throat I thought... how long it took, how vast my/our history is... billions of years ago something happened...

»We started off on this planet – this fragment of dust spinning around the sun – and in 4 billion years we gradually changed from bacteria into us. This is a spellbinding story.« - Richard Dawkins

And then through thousand of generations our genes were transferred. Two cells met and grew into me. Into this body that I'm aware off. And out of thousand possible versions it could develop into, it chose to be this one. Our atoms, the parts that make up our human body, came from the stars. And that thought doesn't make me feel small, but relevant, because we are all connected. Universe is in us. It's the ingredient of life. And you belong here. And don't our daily worries seem silly and unimportant all of a sudden? And how with the help of scientific discoveries we get to live longer lives? If it weren't for vaccines and antibiotics (things we have for granted now), many of us wouldn't be here now. I know I wouldn't.

»From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.« - Carl Sagan

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