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Brainy Emotions

Ayurveda lifestyle has known for thousands of years the direct connection between the brain and the body. Emotion has an instant effect on the function of our organs, bodily tissues and just about every process the body performs on a daily basis. Studies have monitored the link between the brain and the effect.

We see an instant contraction and contortion of the liver when exposed to stress. After a long period of time, the body would slowly begin to suffer the consequences of insufficient organ function.

The same happens in the gut. The gut is known as the second brain.

Stress can literally halt gut function and cause issues such as IBS constipation, diarrhoea and can go on to cause cumulative disorders, allergies, skin conditions.

Disease is very much triggered by the brain as a reaction to our emotional experiences. Mental health is a basic foundation for well-being.

Where the thoughts go the body follows.

“We have to harness the power of our thoughts and protect ourselves from forces that can bring us undone and manifest as disease.”

Chasca Summerville

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46 thoughts on “Brainy Emotions”

    1. The gut actually contains neurons and not just a few! It’s called the enteric nervous system with over a hundred million nerve cells in a couple of layers so there is a brain-gut connection.

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      1. Indeed, that is correct and surprisingly or perhaps not so surprisingly, neurotransmitters like dopamine and seratonin are secreted into the digestive tract.

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  1. You are right the Ayurveda lifestyle has known for thousands of years. The direct connection between brain and the body. But Ayurvedic treatment longtime effect. And our diet support the health. Avoid something.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I have noticed that over the past few years, doctors in general, at least the ones I know, have been a little more aware of these things. My last doctor, before she retired, would always start off my annual physical with “So what’s going on in your life right now?”

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    1. That’s encouraging to hear, Dorothy. I think mindfulness and meditation have begun to enter the medical mainstream system as a line of treatment. But in Australia at least, good mental health treatment is often lacking. The goverment tries with psychologists and cbt but I feel it has become a money spinner with little substance as twenty-somethings with little life experience try to advise people with complex problems. Ramping up counselling options could be more helpful. I don’t hear of good outcomes very often. Perhaps in time we will see that?

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      1. I think we had lots of setbacks in regard to mental health during Covid, still do. It was so challenging, and most help was online, often with a doctor you’ve never met who was ready to start prescribing pharmaceuticals. Hard to read body language on Zoom or FaceTime!

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        1. Absolutely. Teleheath is a bonus in remote areas, like we have in Australia, but it is not a complete substitute for in person observation. A Doctor often needs to palpate a patient’s stomach, leg, back etc to properly diagnose a complaint.

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  3. Ayurveda is pure pseudoscience right out of the Iron Age. We know better now. I cannot believe people still fall for this ‘traditional medicine’ trope except when there simply is no access to real medicine for whatever the reasons may be.

    Sure, all things in moderation. And of course diet is going to effect the body based on physical and chemical processes we actually understand and adjust and duplicate. But these common sense elements are not evidence for approaching health and wellness by balancing the imaginary humors that are believed incorrectly to operate our bodies (they don’t) or the claim that the brain controls bodily health (the brain is as much a part of the body as any other and not separate from it as believed incorrectly by dualists everywhere), and offers zero evidence of how rubbing oils often containing known poisons like arsenic, lead, and mercury to supposedly remove toxic elements from the body! We have something called ‘chemistry’ that can be used to explore and explain real interactions with something we call ‘biology’ and taught as ‘organic chemistry.’ This approach actually does produce affective therapies. Whodathunk?

    Ayurveda beliefs are not benign but in direct competition with accumulated scientific knowledge. We as a species moved past all this belief-based nonsense a millennia ago with, you know, the ongoing process of using evidence-based cause and effect medicine. The two are NOT compatible approaches and pretending they are is a disservice to respecting what’s true in reality.

    This alternative approach – like those based on hocus pocus and faith-based beliefs in magical ‘energy’ properties – is on the same level of knowledge as naturopathy and ‘ancient Chinese medicine’ whose foundational beliefs are not scientific but anti-scientific. And it all highly unregulated.

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    1. You’ve wasted a lot of energy denigrating something which works for others, and has for thousands of years. Ayurveda cured me of a condition western medicine was unable to address successfully.

      Why don’t you put all that vituperative energy toward getting on up your own path, and stop with the childish, ignorant, divisive and useless throwing of stones at others?

      The question was rhetorical, since I won’t be bothering to read your doubtless verbose and exceedingly unpleasant reply.

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      1. I’m glad you were able to find a treatment that worked for your condition. That’s great. But aren’t you curious why and how it worked? Treating the symptom successfully is, of course, very important but addressing the cause that brought into being the effect you suffered even more so. When the cause is attributed or assigned or assumed to be something beyond the realm of chemistry and physics and biology, we’ve stopped knowledge in its tracks and covered up real ignorance (the honest ‘I don’t know’) with a Just So story we would prefer to believe as if an explanation when it probably isn’t. Criticizing the Just So story as a Just So story – like Ayurveda beliefs – is not vitriolic. It’s a reminder about something really important: knowledge about the world to be knowledge must be consistent, reliable, and demonstrable by the world regardless of our individual beliefs in Just So stories about it. (In this matter, alternative ‘medicine’ fails spectacularly because if it were able to do so, it would not longer be ‘alternative’! It would become ‘medicine’.

        In this way, by remaining critical of Just So stories as explanations about the world we share, all of us benefit from this emphasis on accumulating real knowledge rather than spending time, effort, and gobs of money purchasing, defending, protecting, and enshrining the Just So beliefs some of us choose to hold that permits special exemption to the claims of the ‘alternative’ from reality’s arbitration of it. That’s where ignorance lives. That’s why symptomatic treatment that sometimes works is not evidence for the Just So story’s causal effect.

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        1. I like that you said, all things in moderation, Tildeb, and I believe we can apply this here to listening to opposing viewpoints and not be completely dismissive of any one modality because of personal belief.
          Whilst I absolutely agree that certain therapies need more regulation and are not always, I also believe there is room for things like Ayurvedic practices especially with things like self-care rituals. Notwithstanding I would not use oils with heavy metals on my body! Definitely not. Meditation, is non-invasive and is now used by the medical/psychological fraternity to treat mental disorders, some of which do not respond well to medication based treatments. If Ana took up a treatment that worked for her, it doesn’t matter if it was proven or placebo. It worked for her.
          Science can not explain everything – yet – but may do in the future. Meditation would have seemed like pseudoscience years ago, but now we have studies showing increase in the length of telemeres, after following regimes of meditation. Many of our medications are based or the concepts for them come from herbal tinctures used in the past. eg Digoxin. I think we should be wary of those peddling snake oils, yet be open-minded about the possibilities of new and old treatments, taking from each what works for each one of us.
          Having a science/medical background, I do not subscribe to all alternate therapies, but Ayurvedic appears to me to be more about lifestyle than so-called snake oils and non-invasive. If I remember correctly, modern medicine began historically, by responding to symptoms in isolation after they/as they occurred, as opposed to a holistic view of bodies in something like Ayurveda, which emphasises preventative care. Something medicine is grasping as just as important.

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          1. My critical comment is aimed at the products and therapies that are being sold and not the various aims to better health. Mental and emotional health are all affected by physical health but let’s not pretend for one second that the brain by thought – especially using special purchased products – can order the body to healthy functioning (no amount of corrective thought, for example, will dispel juvenile diabetes). This approach that thoughts-drive-results is the ‘blame-the-victim’ tactic used for a reason by snake oil salesmen: to ‘explain’ ill health and offer the quack remedy that medicine has somehow missed… usually by conspiracy explanations. Yet this tactic is absolutely typical of the con job being used against suffering customers for buying all kinds of ‘alternative’ medicine. The problem with this form of ‘medicine’ is that the products used in its name – the products people buy – are exempt from the kind of evidence-based regulation that pharmaceuticals are subject to be considered ‘medicine’. And this matters when ‘naturopathic’ products can and do contain everything from arsenic and lead to rat droppings – stuff that people say they would never purchase on purpose, never apply on purpose, never imbibe on purpose – but have no requirement to study to the same degree, never be on the label so that customers can use informed consent before purchasing, no requirement like pharmaceuticals to state unhealthy side effects or adverse reactions… especially over time. (In addition, very few people seem to realize that ‘big pharma’ is actually much smaller in scale than the large ‘naturopathic’ companies that dwarf the bulk of them and have blossomed by selling ‘wholistic’ products with absolutely no equivalent requirement or process to match pharmacological efficacy or safety.) The playing field is entirely tilted to ‘good’ and ‘natural’ products versus the ‘bad’ and ‘unnatural’ chemistry of drugs. This whole description of the difference between ‘alternative’ and ‘scientific’ medicine is a billion dollar advertising con job.

            There are many claims and explanations made by various naturopathic believers, protected under the guise of, “science doesn’t know everything,” which is true… or it would stop! But notice that only scientific claims – especially those that have proven using more science to be wrong or unsupported – are subject to corrective review (which is why we still have homeopathy and belief in ‘vital energy’). So sure, many scientific claims have proved to be wrong. That’s a good indication that should increase confidence in the approach (but which is singularly lacking from every nook and cranny of ‘alternative’ medicine, one might notice). But we sure didn’t figure out these incorrect claims by using ‘naturopathic’ methodology… the kind that allows extraordinary claims to go unchallenged by any discomfort from reality’s arbitration of them; instead, like religious belief, we must trust testimonials alone and assume negative or even harmful results are because the sufferer didn’t submit enough to align with the belief. It’s never the homeopathy, in other words.

            I’m all for any and all of nature to provide substances that have medicinal property and all for people finding their body’s unique balance between input and output including mental stability and emotional health. But creating the false dichotomy that ‘alternative’ medicine is just another kind of benign medicine does not serve what’s true. It can be just as malignant as it might be benign. And if it’s benign, then what need is there to purchase it?

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            1. Great discussion and I like your final point, Tildeb: if it is benign then what need is there to purchase it, but to categorize everything as either benign versus malignant is black and white thinking. I feel there is a middle of the road approach. Can we have naturopathic remedies that have been regulated and screened scientifically that do no harm and offer some benefit? Doctors do prescribe Vit b12, iron and B5, calcium regularly for medicinal purposes. (And I do know the risks of overdosing on vitamins). That applies to any drug. We must be careful not to lump certain treatments as bad or benign “holistic” treatments. Otherwise, if we ban all alternative therapies we dismiss the possibility of exploring more options, some of which may in time be eventually incorporated into modern medicine. For example, I don’t see mindfulness being “malignant” in any way, nor is it benign.
              I generally don’t trust testimonials or reviews as they can usually not be substantiated. So of course we need evidence-based reviews. Not all drugs are bad, but there are very few without any side-effects, and the side-effects of anything we use in or on our bodies need to be known. We need information on all modalities.

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  4. Yes, it’s well known about the mind, emotion, body link. It’s also very easy to speak about what we could be doing to prevent stress, but quite another to do it. Some people find it difficult to channel their thoughts, others need talking therapies, others suffer alone. We need to ensure ‘stress’ doesn’t become ‘distress’ which again is much easier said than done. It’s a lifelong, wellbeing process isn’t it. In the end we’re all human and don’t act like machines, making us unpredictable. Perhaps one of the most important things is to be there for others and to be aware of our differences.
    I get tired of reading endless blogs and messages on social media stating ‘how’ people ‘should’ behave and ‘what’ people ‘ought’ to be doing – many from holier than thou, self-righteous individuals who are quite hypocritical.
    Interesting post Amanda 🙏🏼

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    1. “Easy to speak about stress than prevent it.” I quite agree, Margaret and thanks for your comment. The extent to which stress affects each person is individual and very much connected to how they perceive and interpret circumstances and the world. You may have heard the adage we cannot control external events, but we can control our reaction to them, (to some extent) And we can try to learn how to deal better with stress, so it does not become distress. Be that meditation, ayurvedic care practices or medication. The trouble with medication is that it is chemical, usually and that means a nasty side effect in some cases. Your words, a lifelong well-being process is true. We have to care for our bodies and mental health and work out what is right for us, without being lectured by social media on each new fad that comes along. Don’t eat eggs because of cholesterol and then, years later, oh you can eat them now, they are okay. Immunisation cause autism, and years later, oh actually the scientist lied and that theory has been debunked. Theories and suggestions on social media come and go like the wind and should be viewed as such, unpredictable and likely to change at any moment.
      Our bodies are an incredible piece of machinery but they do need maintenance. Each one individual and different from the next. I do like how you emphasize that we “be there for others and to be aware of our differences.”
      Definitely something that has few if any side effects.

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    1. In many ways, it is starting to look that are what you think, Ally. The brain does control the body and governs all its processes. If the brain is not functioning correctly, how can the body work at its best? We expect our bodies to serve us reliably every single day, don’t we?

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  5. Whether stress directly causes disease I don’t know but I do believe that a poor mental state produces a physical state of unwellness. I certainly believe the reverse is true. When I am fit and strong in body my mind tends to follow suit.

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    1. I think it is well documented that eating a rounded diet combined with sensible exercise is the best for one’s mental state – at least in terms of minor psychological disturbances like depression and anxiety. A lack of motivation to exercise, cook or do anything, combined with disturbances in appetite is characteristic of depression. It can become a self-perpetuating cycle of despair.
      Poor nutrition and a low iron/B12 intake is sometimes linked with fatigue and vulnerability to infection (impaired immunity). Stress results in a release of cortisol in our bodies- the substance excreted when we sense danger. The flight or fight mode. If that state continues for long enough or too often, the body suffers with inflammation and minor damage to systems. I think we all know someone who has to run to the toilet when nervous or before stressful events. If that is frequent the villi in the small intestine become flattened and it cannot absorb as man nutrients from food and over time, impacts on the health, with food intolerances, allergic reactions and skin issues. I am not sure if you classify that as disease.

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  6. The whole body definitely has to work in harmony, brain, gut, liver and everything else. Funny thing is that when the brain is troubled it becomes much harder to do what is required to keep the rest of the body functioning well. I know when my mind is troubled, my diet suffers, as does my exercise. If I can force the later two mentioned into normality, then my mind seems to be able to get things back into a good rhythm.

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    1. I like how you highlight how everything synchronises and works reciprocally, Chris. Exercise and a good diet helps us to keeps our minds well nourished. When we feel depressed, diet gets out of kilter and we have no time to exercise and seek comfort through fast foods that are not filled with nutrition but a quick sugar or fat/salt hit. All engines must fire for the motor to run smoothly.

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  7. We have been having a lunch conversation about some of this topic here. You are correct. The body believes every word you say and the gut reinforces it. What you eat makes a huge difference but what you think and feel when you eat it also affects overall health. I’m a fan of incorporating ancient traditions with a tiny bit of modern medicine. If I get run over or break something, I’m happy to have a doctor that can help repair me but if all they want to do is give me meds, well, they know where they can put them. I work very hard on managing my thinking. It’s a priority. Stress can kill.

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    1. Hey Marlene, I am so happy to be the catalyst for good lunchtime conversation. What was the consensus of opinion? Did they agree with your view? It seems more amongst the older generations are questioning the “just take this pill” modality of treatment, including me. You are right, certain things like broken limbs and ‘structural issues,’ you cannot get over, yourself. At the moment I am waiting on the results of investigating the consequences of a high cholesterol test and do not want to start taking medication. My diet is pretty sound, but I can not help bad genetics. I am struggling to control my stress even though I don’t feel actively stressed. Thinking along certain lines can be so detrimental and once that spiral loop is activated, it’s more difficult to stop a negative line of thought. Meditation and mindfulness does help, so I’ll aim to be more like you: working hard on my thoughts, so my body has the best chance to heal. Ancient traditions have in some cases been usurped by scientific knowledge. But when science can not provide a cure or an answer, why not look to the ancients for a hint – if it worked for them. Thousands of years of experience and knowledge do count – at least for me.

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      1. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Dr. Joe Dispenza but he is the ultimate in managing health with alternative ways. I know of at least 3 women in our crafting that survive off pain pumps and added pain meds that keep them in an almost catatonic state. They drive too. Can I change their thinking. Absolutely not. Like my sister, they love their drugs. Makes them feel special or something. It’s what they talk about. I feel bad for them.

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        1. Your friends in a catatonic state love their drugs sounds a little like addiction to that blissful artificial state. Mind you, someone who has been in chronic pain for a long time would be attracted to meds and fearful of coming off them. Pain can very much feared and our tolerance to it sometimes seems to decrease. But it is all about quality of life too, not just artificial euphoria.

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          1. You did hit the nail on the head with your comment. One of the ladies said she was afraid of the pain. I have a very high tolerance but I think it was built up over years. Maybe that makes me more fortunate in so many ways.

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            1. You have found a positive side to experiencing chronic pain. It raises the pain tolerance. Although I suspect that mindset has a lot to do with mastering this! Well done! I think I would be a wimp when faced with severe chronic pain. I hope I wouldn’t be….

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            2. I think my German heritage has something to do with it. I’m also one that will go towards natural healing vs prescription meds. Not sure where that came from but I’ve always been that way. It also depends on the length and intensity of the pain. Theirs may be at a whole other level from what I’ve experienced so I might feel differently in their experience. I think you come from hardy stock too.

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            3. I certainly hope dementia won’t raise its ugly head but there is a bit of it floating around in my family. I will do my dardest physically and mentally to keep active. It is a scary thought that we won’t be aware that dementia is a problem if it occurs. My mother was like this, believing everyone else was demented, except for she.

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  8. Hi Amanda – you wrote about a very layered topic with such a seamless and easy post! I enjoyed it and when I first heard about gut health – I did not fully understand- and I still learn more and more as we go – but gut health directly correlates with cognitive health and it seems like we are not told this enough.

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      1. I bet I would like it !
        I have a few (used) books on this topic – like a fe from Deepak Chopra- and one tip he gave to sometimes take a thermos of hot water with you on a work day
        And sip it during the day / the energy of the water can transfer and also the hydration etc
        Hmmmm
        But I drink tea in and off during my days and I maybe that is part of why I found it so comforting

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        1. Tea can be a comforting drink. My Fil used to work on building sites and when a nail gun sent a 3 inch nail into a workmates eye and he was panicking. The nail penetrated the eyeball so it was one of those situations where the eye could not be saved no matter what so Fil sat him down and gave the poor man a cup of tea. There was no need to rush as the Doctor wasn’t around for another hour so he felt the best thing to do was to calm the colleague with a nice cup of tea. He maintains that it helped the colleague calm his nerves. (Although he lost his sight, anyway)

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          1. Amanda, I have one more tip to share

            your eye story reminded me of the way “bitters” can help calm the body

            I buy a liquid tincture that actually is “ginger and bitters” – and the 2 oz bottle lasts forever.
            I heard that a few drops under the tongue can calm the meridians and help overall fluids in the body – so around 2014ish I have kept it on hand –
            oh ad before that – I knew bitters (from the bar) could help with a hangover
            anyhow, some folks argue that pure bitters can stop a seizure – because it has such a great calming effect on the body –
            and so I travel with it – and as I had to work hard to adjust my body PH – bitters was one ore thing I tried –
            I had a few times it rescued me – but the story I had to share was a time I took a short trip to help a student (get an internship) – and leaving to pick her up – I got something in my eye – ugh
            it was so annoying and when we finally arrived and settled in the hotel – everyone was asleep and I decided to use activated charcoal on my eye to “draw out” whatever was in there –
            so I put the charcoal on my eye – it was too dry and it was HORRIBLE – blah – I was a little shaky and even nauseous and within a minute of that horror – I see the bitters in my travel back and took a full dropper of them – within seconds my entire body release and calmed – whew – I then flushed my eye with water – and the good news is that my eye was better after that – the bad news is that I woke everyone – lol

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