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Belief Changes Biology

by Dr. Karen Clickner, ND


When a patient sits down with me, they tell me all their physical symptoms, recent illnesses and detail the ways in which they just don't feel "right". But what they seem not to mention are the stressors, the emotions, the sleepless nights, the fear, anxiety, worry and anger that can dominate the mind and overwhelm the body. The truth is that belief really does change our biology.

We are adaptable creatures, so that once we have lived in a hot climate for years, our body will actually adapt to this, dispersing heat more effectively and finding ways to reduce the body temperature. Our environment really can select from our genetics what should express and what should be suppressed. The entire body relies on knowledge of the environment for our genetic expression. Knowledge of the outer environment is conveyed through our perception and our perception is colored by our belief. We see what we want to see and we create our environment to suit our belief.

An interesting discussion I recently had with some Indian friends was about conversation. In many traditional cultures, people are conversing, speaking and expressing themselves constantly throughout their day. People chat, have meals together, discuss the news and share life's milestones. They are rarely alone and they invest a large part of their day in conversation. Is this a major reason for the low incidence of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease in these cultures? The patients I have had that develop brain disorders are more inhibited, more subdued, perhaps live alone or spend much of their day alone. Who are they talking to? This is especially true as we age, so are brain issues not just a part of aging, but a part of how our life changes as we age?

We are the sum total of our experiences and our experiences shape and color our beliefs. Is it possible that if we experience mistreatment, even abuse, at the hands of someone, can that create consequences in our respiration, in our reproductive capability, in how we react to certain situations in the future? Does the loss of a loved one create heart distress, A-Fib, heart disease? Is our heart actually broken because we believe we are heartbroken?

I work frequently helping couples experiencing infertility to find natural options to support the reproductive capability of the body. After all these years, when a couple sit down it is very apparent how their beliefs are shaping their fertility. Perhaps the woman sits on the edge of her seat, very adamant about tracking her cycles and getting regular hormone tests. The role of parent may be the most important thing she believes in. Does the partner feel the same way? He sits back, he says very little, he mentions how hard he works, how busy he is, how they don't have much money. He also sighs sadly when she makes it clear that the role of partner is not the most important thing and he indicates that he feels more like a means to an end. Does this discord of beliefs create issues for fertility? Yes. Can it be addressed? Yes, but it means understanding how much their beliefs change their biology.

I have seen the same issues with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome because not only does the suffering patient feel as though they are worthless and can't meet their life obligations, but these feelings are reinforced by the people around them who believe that they aren't as sick as they seem and should be able to stand up and take on their responsibilities. A woman keeps getting leg cramps at night. She tells me that she is so busy at work she just doesn't have time to walk anymore and simply sits at her desk for hours at a time. She expects her legs to accept this when she herself doesn't want to accept this. So at night when her mind allows the subconscious to have a voice, it speaks through her legs.

A man, the head of his family, has worked hard all his life and the fruits of his labors are his successful children, his stately home and the pride he has in the work he does. But his family keep nagging him to sell the stately home because he and his wife don't need all that space. They tell him to retire and stop working because he doesn't need to work anymore. He begins to develop symptoms of heart trouble, but refuses to take his medication. Then he has a heart event. The beliefs of the family have changed his biology. They have demonstrated that the fruits of his labors are no longer valued, important nor necessary. So now he is grieving the loss of his life as he has known it. He is heartbroken and so the biology of the heart accommodates that belief.

In a society that gives very little value to the aging process and tends to express the belief that the elderly should be set aside, we have a population that is experiencing illnesses and conditions that used to strictly affect the elderly. This begs the question of how much of our population are we setting aside, shunning, negating? What are the beliefs that we hold and each individual holds about their value, their life, their purpose and their environment? How many people are being told their worth, are being judged, are experiencing symptoms of change in their biology from the beliefs that they are taking on? If we really want to address disease and illness as a population and as a society, we need to ask these questions and be open to hearing the answers.

Dr. Karen Clickner, ND is a Nationally Registered Naturopathic Physician with over 30 years of experience. She is the owner of Conscious Body Natural Medicine with offices in Holden, Brookline and Westboro, MA. Phone: 617-505-3585


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Article Archives  This Month's Articles  Click Here for more articles by Dr. Karen Clickner, ND
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