Your Immune System and You
– Larry McMahon
Originally published in “Decision” magazine.
For many people, the Immune System is some kind of abstract concept, peppered with medical jargon. As a hypnotherapist however, I find it more useful to think of it in terms of symbols. Your unconscious mind is very good at processing symbols, after all. Just think of what happens when you dream.
So think of your Immune System as an army – with millions of little soldier cells, all protecting you. Then whenever an alien infection enters your body – it goes on red alert – then immediately these soldier cells seek out and destroy the alien invaders! A fanciful idea perhaps? But it is at least, easy to visualise. Your Immune System is a really benevolent part of the Mind / Body System.
The Stress Connection
Have you ever noticed how more vulnerable you are to picking up a cold or flu, when you’re under pressure? Your Immune System wants you to take a rest perhaps?
Or the opposite scenario – say you’re at work? And the heat is on! You really have to deliver on this one. Your colleagues might be dropping like flies all around you. But you can’t afford to fall sick. But “Thank God” the week-end is coming up soon – when you can relax at last. So the week-end arrives at last ….. and then YOU fall sick! So your Immune System also knows how vital your work is. It keeps you going through the week. But then it knocks you out for the week-end – giving you your well-earned rest!
Yes – your Immune System does seem to be very sensitive to Stress, both mental and physical.
But sometimes it overreacts!
Take something like Hay Fever. What’s happening here? Harmless microscopic elements are floating around in the air (e.g. pollen, dust-mites, mould). You breathe them in naturally.
But then your own Immune System mistakenly identifies these micro-critters as “hostile aliens”. It goes on red alert, to defend you. It launches a counter attack – releasing chemicals, such as Histamine, into your blood stream. This attack is so violent – it triggers inflammation and swellings in the delicate sensitive tissues in your nose, eyes and throat!
So now you have Hay Fever with all its awful symptoms! And yet, you’re not really ill at all! Your Immune System actually thinks it’s doing you a favour – by defending you. But you just feel dreadful … and it’s the same story every Summer …
So how does Hypnotherapy help? When used with skill, we can literally talk to your Immune System. It resides deep in your subconscious mind. Then we simply and gently “re-educate” it. We persuade it to cool down – and stop over-reacting to these harmless airborne substances.
Something similar happens with Celiac Disease. Thanks to Genetics, your system is just Gluten intolerant. So when you eat some bread – your Immune System goes on red alert – and mistakenly starts attacking your small intestine!
Using Hypnotherapy, we can access your immune system – and gently redirect it – so that it stops attacking your intestine – and continues doing what it was always meant to do … protecting you from infections and cancer. That way, you can actually lose your gluten sensitivity – and enjoy a normal diet at last!
The very first serious Autoimmune Disease I encountered as a therapist, was called Lupus Erythematosus. It was many years ago, with a young lady in London. And I was in the early years of my Hypnotherapy practice. I had never heard of this condition before. In fact it took me quite a while to actually pronounce and spell it properly! But a very nasty disease indeed. This lady had been suffering with it for years. Her Rheumatologist was really unable to help her.
So, in desperation, she came to me. She told me, that if Hypnotherapy worked for her – she would tell all her fellow-patients from her hospital Lupus ward …. And there would be a queue outside my door! I thought “M-m-m…. I won’t hold my breath”.
Anyway it worked! She got completely better. So she went back and told her Rheumatologist. She thought he’d be interested, as he actually specialised in Lupus. So I asked her how he responded? His response was – “Good for you, then”. This was my very first experience of the indifference of some highly paid medical specialists to the success of any kind of “alternative” medicine!
Since then of course, I have been privileged to help clients with many different forms of Autoimmune Disease. Fairly common ones are Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. You also have Ulcerative Colitis as well as Crohn’s Disease. But there are really so many! They mainly have long exotic names – but they are all horrible! For a fairly complete list, just click here. The Immune System can attack any part of the anatomy, it seems.
However, there is a common thread with all of them. I have to say, that every Autoimmune Disease client I have been privileged to help, has also experienced an extreme form of Stress in their life. For example, my Lupus lady in London, had a horrific childhood – sexually abused by her brothers, and subsequently brutalised in an orphanage.
Under extreme stress, the Immune System really can go berserk. It starts attacking you! It’s almost as if it is trying to slow you down … in order to stop you in your tracks … and make you so ill … so you can’t function properly … and ultimately perhaps escape from the stress?
That is why I find the best approach in Hypnotherapy, is to heal the client from Stress … and gently inform the Unconscious Mind that the “aggro” is really finished …. then gently persuade the Immune System to continue doing what it was always meant to do …. But from now on, with no more “friendly fire”!
So many people who have suffered from, and survived Covid-19, continue over a year later to suffer from what’s called “Long Covid”. Doctors and researchers are still baffled. This condition is so new and the symptoms are so numerous and varied – from Breathlessness to Fatigue to Muscle Pains to Brain Fog.
Having recovered from the horrors of Covid-19 – it’s as if those little “soldier cells” are continuing to blast away – even though the Covid infection is now gone? So treating it like an autoimmune disease, makes a lot of sense to me.
Most of us produce a number of overactive cancer cells every year. And the Immune System soldier cells automatically zap them. I call these cells the “Elite Guard” or the “Anti-Cancer Brigade”. But sometimes (again triggered by extreme stress) these little soldier cells go on the blink. So again, (with Hypnotherapy) we can heal the Stress and retrain the “Anti-Cancer Brigade” to get back to work. Yes – even Cancer can respond to Hypnotherapy.