Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I have had patients who were told their problems are all in their head…sometimes not very…ummm…tactfully.  Well, let’s go ahead and dispel the myth of what is a head game and what is not.
First…think about it…I mean literally think about it.  What symptoms, conditions, or diseases would you consider to be “all in the head?”
Many people would say anxiety and depression…some would say fibromyalgia and other forms of non-pathological chronic pain.  How about phantom limb pain…has to be in the head right…since there’s no limb there to hurt. 

What about thyroid problems?  Cancer?  As we move into conditions we can “see” or “see” evidence of…like tumors or abnormal labs…most people would agree that now it’s NOT in the head.
In thyroid problems you can see abnormal lab values…but really, if you look at the thyroid gland itself…under a microscope…well, there’s not a darn thing wrong with that gland.
In cancer, there is something clearly wrong, that you can see with your own two eyes, sometimes feel with your own fingers…
I contend, in each and every example above…that it’s always in your head…and beyond!
In depression, there is nothing to see, and clearly that is a head game…but the number one cause of depression is low thyroid…and that is below your head.  But the number one cause of low thyroid is stress, and that is clearly in your head…unless you have an infection or anemia…those are below your head.

Unless you have a sinus infection, which is in your head…but not in your brain…so, does that still count?
Cancer is clearly evidenced in the body, but if you spend some time researching natural cures for cancer, the people who have accomplished success (remission), all changed their minds.  I have read many stories of natural cures, and the only thing in common was a big change in mindset.
Gosh, that brings up more confusion!  Are we talking about the mind (and what the heck is that), the brain, or emotions when we say it is all in your head?!?
My head is starting to hurt…I wonder if that is from my adrenal hormones (in my body), or if it’s “just in my head?”
Ok, Ok…I really don’t think it’s all that confusing…but that’s because I have been researching whole system medicine for pretty many years.  And here’s the short story…when your body changes your brain changes…when your mind changes, your brain changes, and when your emotions change, your brain changes. 

And…when your brain changes, everything else changes…because, it’s trying to keep you alive!
Your brain is taking in all this information, from your thoughts, feelings, internal and external environment…and attempting to REGULATE you towards survival.  And it doesn’t stop there…when survival is considered certain…it regulates toward thriving (growing, contributing, energy, pleasure), and reproducing.  (Did you think those urges were just naughty thoughts?)
Now, back to depression.  When you are depressed (and we ALL get depressed)…we can see physical changes…just look at the posture of someone who is depressed.  We can also, if we happen to have brain scans in our living room, see lowered activation and blood flow to the frontal cortex, and increased activation and blood flow to the limbic (emotional) centers.
What changes blood flow and activation?  Blood flow is regulated through hormones from the BODY. 

Activation is regulated through chemicals called neurotransmitters in the BRAIN.  Do you suppose the two might be connected?
Changes in hormones and neurotransmitters result from thoughts, feelings, and our internal and external environment.  And they always shift to improve survival probability.  So…if you are depressed…what is the improved survival associated with depression??? 

Think about that one for a minute or two! 

I would say that your mind-body-brain is telling you to slow down and notice something!  Your job is to figure out if it is a feeling, thought, something in your external environment or something in your internal environment.  (Which is where I come in…to help solve that mystery!)
And on to cancer…clearly a “real” problem that we can see.  But where does it begin, and how does it progress to a tumor?  We know that there are 3 built in mechanisms to remove cell mutation.  The first two lines of defense are within the cell…coded in the DNA to self destruct.  The failure of survival DNA is the result of one process…called oxidation. 

The biggest cause of accelerated DNA and failure of survival genes within our lifetime is stress.  So, it really is in our head!
The third line of defense is our immune system, in particular our “Natural Killer Cells.”  These little destroyers implode mutated cells on sight.  If they are weak or few in number, these mutated cells with broken survival DNA become the survivors and thrive in this altered internal environment…making a tumor.

One huge reason for low populations of Natural Killer Cells is stress.

Back to the head.
When someone tells you it’s in your head…they probably just don’t know how to explain what you are experiencing or what they are seeing.  If someone tells you it is always in your head…now, let’s fix your head…they probably “get” this whole system form of medicine.  And…probably…will be able to help you.
When I am feeling depressed because I am not the mainstream, and I have to work harder and smarter for a small percentage of patients and much less money…I remind myself of my quality of life.  I work with people busting their butts to get well…I rarely look at what I see dumbfounded…and I never run people out of my office saying it’s in your head.  My quality of life is low stress…that will save my survival DNA, my hormones, my brain, my body.
I just remember that… and I can smile…

1 comment:

  1. Well, you have managed to make me giggle and learn something in the process. I really believe what you say is true, stress has a link to most physical problems. Just a theory here, but I think animals are able to avoid stress induced illness because of their clean DIETS. Keep writing Dr. Stone, I really enjoy the info... and your sense of humor.