What if the pain we experience is related to some kind of ischemia (lack of oxygen) to the abdominal organs? What if they are starved of oxygen and this explains their expression of pain?
I have been exploring this concept over the last week with an interest in uncovering why some women have endometriosis or adenomyosis and don’t experience pain. I also wanted to explore the ideas further on why some of us experience high levels of pain with minimal levels of endometriosis lesions, while others of us, which have extreme endometriosis have minimal pain. I do think there is a mind/body connection with all of this for sure – see last weeks blog and interview for more on that – but I think there may be more too it than just our emotional side of things.
Typically when medical experts speak of ischemia, they are referring to a lack of oxygen to the heart and this is of key concern when it comes to heart attacks as it essentially means cells within the heart don’t receive oxygen and then die. What if, we don’t have such an extreme case of ischemia but perhaps a mild case of ischemia, where we are simply not getting enough oxygen to our organs and this explains the expression of poor function and pain?
All of this came about after listening to last weeks interview and how the body essentially becomes starved of oxygen when we are in a permanent “hyper state” or stress state. Having our sympathetic nervous system working on a constant basis, puts the body into a highly vigilant state. It is in this vigilant state that certain things become a focus – getting enough blood to the heart and limbs, so we can essentially “run away from the tiger”. What also happens, is that we don’t get enough oxygen and blood to other areas of the body, that are considered “unimportant” during that hyper state – our digestive system and our abdominal area. If you are in this kind of “hyper state”, it is quite common to experience loose stools, poor digestion and an unnerving sense of anxiety or breathlessness. You might struggle to stay grounded, make decisions and feel a sense of “everything is happening too quickly” and struggle to be present. Don’t feel bad if this is the case as I have seen this trait quite often with women with endometriosis ;). I explored some uncommon reasons you may be feeling this way, last week too – read this one on anxiety to get the solutions.
Today however, I want to talk about the physical aspects of ischemia. I have been reading the book by Dr. Andrew Weil, Spontaneous Healing and within the first 40 pages, he explores this idea about lack of oxygen and how it relates to the overall well-being of the body. Within the book, he talks about cranial osteopath techniques discovered by William G. Sutherland and how the adjustment of the sacrum (tailbone) and brain would free up or give “better flow” from the brain to the rest of the body. He describes it as “primary respiration”, which he believed occurs in the brain and that this would filter down throughout the body, ultimately affecting the bodies ability to receive sufficient oxygen. He describes this as the key reason for disease or imbalances in the body and there are a few wonderful stories within the book of people completely healing from giving back the normal “flow” from the brain to the rest of the body.
Essentially, the lack of oxygen can be caused by different types of trauma. It can be birth trauma, physical trauma and of course, emotional trauma. Think of anything that has literally taken your breath away – a fall, an accident or anything that made you stop breathing. It is this lack of oxygen, which essentially starves the organs or cells of what they need – similar to the concepts of lack of nutrients or water. Oxygen is vital for life and vital for our well-being and if we don’t get enough of it, it most certainly could explain the expression of pain within the body. (research paper about pain & bowel connection.)
Here are some interesting connections I am drawing from all of this:
- When we are in a hyper stress state, we don’t get enough oxygen to our organs. This explains much of the poor digestion, poor thyroid function and poor uterine function aspects of what comes with endo. This also explains why when women explore yoga, breathing techniques and relaxing massages that much of their symptoms improve. They are forcing themselves to be more present and of course breathe deeper, which will alleviate some of the limited oxygen situation, I am talking about.
- Our brain and our body are connected in terms of nerves, which make a whole bunch of things function. If we aren’t getting enough oxygen to our brain, then perhaps this is why we might struggle with digestion, have low energy and of course have poor response towards our body.
- That injuries to our brain, neck and head will have an effect on our overall body and of course pain within the body.
So what are some of things we can explore:
- Cranial osteopathic treatment may be something we can look into. I found this great website which explains it really well. I am going to be exploring this further for myself too.
- Looking at how we cope with stress and how to ensure we maintain a good breathing pattern. It may also be an idea to actually “learn to breathe” properly. I see many endometriosis ladies who also have asthma – so there may be a connection with the breath and endo here too. Check out clinics (Buteyko Breathing Clinic) which teach you how to breathe normally.
- Look at your posture and how this relates to your endometriosis. When our posture is restricted and we are getting a lack of blood flow to our stomach, abdominal area and those vital areas, then we will naturally not get enough blood flow to the area – which ultimately means a lack of oxygen to the area.
Of course I am still exploring these ideas and the concepts around lack of oxygen and pain. It does however make perfect sense to me that whenever the body is not getting enough of something that it will act out 😉