What If We Can’t Permanently Cure Disease Without Addressing Trauma?

According to many sources in the mainstream medical literature, anywhere from 60-90% of  illnesses have stress-related emotional underpinnings, which can be translated into one word—trauma. Indigenous healers, shamans, energy healers, and gurus have known this for millennia, but in spite of statistics thrown around in medical journals, the medical community’s approach to disease treatment has been slow to catch up. The good news is that things are changing, and this idea that psycho-spiritual trauma needs to be part of most disease treatment is going full blown mainstream. California surgeon general and pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris, MD even did a TED talk five million people have seen about how childhood trauma affects health across your lifetime and often results in adult-onset disease.

Shout outs by mainstream medical leaders like Dr. Harris show that the needle is moving and the mainstream is catching up. The unmistakable link between unhealed trauma and disease is an inconvenient truth that people have hoped to steer clear of, indulging in the inaccurate but understandable wishful thinking that a pill, an injection, or a surgery can cure the problem without requiring people to delve into the pains of the past. Unfortunately, the science is starting to catch up to what the medicine men and women have known for millennia—that trauma predisposes you to disease, and if you wish to optimize health outcomes, you have to be willing to address the untreated traumas every single one of us has experienced.

You Are More Than Just A Machine of Biomechanical Parts

The medical community is now waking up to the errors of reductionism. More and more clinical data points to what we intuitively know, that our assumptions about what predisposes people to illness and what really cures disease are far more mysterious and the roots lie far deeper than what a reductionist’s view of a biomechanical breakdown of the body might imply. In other words, although conventional medical treatments or even energy healing treatments might appear to cure disease in the short run, blocks in the energy system caused by unhealed trauma make you vulnerable to recurrences of the original illness or the appearance of new, seemingly unrelated illnesses. Even the energy healers I have interviewed for my Sacred Medicine research admit that if you blast an illness with the “energy” that comes through a healer, for example, it often works temporarily, but diseases often recur or the patient gets a new, seemingly unrelated illness. Rarely do conventional or alternative medical treatments seem to work permanently if unhealed trauma creates blocks in what researchers call the “biofield.”

In other words, we don’t seem to be able to get away with permanently treating and curing disease without also treating the psycho-spiritual, environmental, generational, or even (dare I say it?) past life traumas that predispose us to getting sick in the first place.

Good news! Trauma Is Curable!

The good news is that we now have ways to treat, clear, and even cure trauma, and the great news is that people who dive into this deep healing psycho-spiritual work often have surprising side effects. It’s not a guaranteed outcome and it hasn’t been well studied by scientists so it’s hard to quote statistics, but at least anecdotally, a large percentage of those with chronic or life-threatening illnesses who undergo therapeutic trauma treatment report that their diseases often disappear or have significant clinical improvement. (Check out this scientific study on the impact of Internal Family Systems (IFS) trauma healing therapy on the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis).

This link between clearing trauma and disease improvement or even radical remission may seem miraculous, but it makes sense and can be explained by conventional physiological mechanisms, which I describe in great detail in my book Mind Over Medicine. The impact of trauma on the nervous system is well documented and well understood. Psycho-spiritual trauma leads to chronic repetitive stress responses in the nervous system as the nervous system is hijacked into sympathetic overdrive (“fight-or-flight”), which disables the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms, which only function when the nervous system is in the “rest-and-repair” parasympathetic state, or what Herbert Benson at Harvard called the “relaxation response.”

Love Heals

For example, we all make cancer cells every day, but only when the self-healing mechanisms that ward off cancer break down can cancer take hold and develop a tumor. We’re all exposed to infectious diseases every day, but only when the immune system fails (often as the result of unhealed trauma) do we can contract a cold, get infected with Lyme disease, or develop a urinary tract infection. We all have plaques that can block our coronary arteries, but Dean Ornish, MD has proven that even blocked coronary arteries can unbloack without stents or surgery when you put people with broken hearts in a healing circle and let them love one another through their traumas. (When I asked Dean Ornish why he thought his protocol for treating heart disease really worked, he said he included diet, exercise and meditation as part of the protocol to get it covered by Medicare. “But really,” he said, “It’s a conspiracy of love. Love heals.” Of course, because trauma healing requires love, and love can mend not just a broken heart, but all kinds of other illnesses as well.

Cross-Pollinating Medicine, Psychology, Spirituality, Energy Healing & Science

While it may be sensible to approach disease treatment from a multidisciplinary approach, with doctors, therapists, scientists, spiritual leaders, and energy healers all collaborating to optimize the chance for cure, it’s also helpful for all members of a treatment team to be cross-trained in other disciplines. In other words, what if doctors were also trained to energetically treat and clear trauma in patients? What if therapists understood more about how psycho-spiritual trauma could lead to physical disease and how trauma treatment might cure illness? What if spiritual leaders were trained with a trauma-informed approach to spirituality, meditation, and healing? What if doctors were trained to practice energy healing? What if medical scientists and biologists were talking to the spiritual leaders, energy healers, trauma therapists, and doctors? Imagine what might be possible then . . .

I’ve been saying things like this for years, but this year, I’m proactively spearheading a lot of these cross-pollinations. Let me update those of you who are tracking these cross-pollinations and want to be part of this exciting and revolutionary paradigm shift to healing and whole health. This year, I’ll be engaging in many interdisciplinary approaches to health, healing, trauma, and spirituality, teaming up with people like:

Psychotherapist, energy healer & Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT) founder Asha Clinton, PhD

Psychiatrist and When The Body Says No author Gabor Mate, MD

Family therapist, Internal Family Systems (IFS) founder and You Are The One You’ve Been Waiting For author Richard Schwartz, PhD

Cancer researcher, The Energy Cure author & Bengston Energy Method founder William Bengston, PhD

Spiritual teacher and author Adyashanti

Scientific researcher of biofield medicine Shamani Jain, PhD

Biologist and author of The Biology Of Belief Bruce Lipton, PhD


First, Asha Clinton, PhD and I are co-teaching an AIT Basics seminar in August in Mill Valley, CA for all helping professionals who are interested in a trauma-informed energy healing approach to disease treatment. This seminar is ideal for doctors, therapists, health coaches, alternative medicine practitioners, energy healers, and anyone interested in optimizing health through energy healing and trauma treatment. Being at the cutting edge of this paradigm shift requires helping professionals to cross-pollinate and learn new skills. We have too much data to avoid facing what we now know—that trauma and disease go hand in hand, and that we can’t fully optimize the chance for cure without clearing trauma (which requires methods that are far more effective, efficient, and permanently healing than just talking about trauma in psychotherapy).

We now know enough to conclude that it’s no longer appropriate to keep the realms of medicine, psychology, and spirituality separated into their own domains. If we really want to help patients heal, we need to source our treatment plans from all the tools in our medicine bags. Asha and I are joining forces to teach all helping professionals with a desire to learn how to clear trauma with their clients. (You do not need to have a professional license to attend—just a desire to help others clear trauma.) Learn more & register here.

Sacred Medicine Updates, Cross-Pollinations & Collaborations On The Cutting Edge

Gabor Mate, MD, Adyashanti, and I will be teaching together at a 1440 Multiversity workshop hosted by the Science & Non-Duality crew next week on trauma-informed spirituality. The workshop is full, but I hope some of you have already signed up!

I just met up with scientist, energy healer William Bengston, PhD last week. I’ve spent five years studying his research and interviewing him as part of the research for my upcoming book Sacred Medicine, which I may get around to publishing one of these days. I’ve been hounding Bill to start studying his hands-on healing technique in humans, instead of focusing only on mice, and he’s finally coming around to considering doing so. Bengston method is curing breast cancer in mice over 90% of the time when treated by skeptical grad students who don’t even believe in energy healing. And anecdotally, this technique is curing pancreatic cancer in humans (!!!!), which if it proves to be scientifically validated, will revolutionize the treatment of at least aggressive, hard to treat with conventional medicine cancers like pancreatic cancer. I’m annoying the crap out of Bill by insisting to him that hands on healing may not be enough, that if people don’t also treat and clear the traumas that predisposed them to the cancer in the first place, diseases are likely to recur. If the root causes are not addressed, is it not just another allopathic approach? Is it possible to blast the traumatic blocks with hands on healing without getting into the trauma clearing therapies? The answer is “We don’t know,” but I’m talking about it with all these people I’m cross-pollinating with. I’m going out to the East Coast to do more mind-melding with Bill right after I teach The Fear Cure workshop at Kripalu in May. (Register here.) So stay tuned on the energy healing science front.

Speaking of energy healing and science, I’ll be participating in the Consciousness & Healing Initiative’s preconference workshop before the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) conference. The daylong event “I Don’t End Here: Biofield Science & Healing” is hosted by scientist Shamani Jain, PhD and includes me, biologist and author of The Biology of Belief Bruce Lipton, PhD, and energy healer Rosalyn Bruyere. Register here.

Richard Schwartz, PhD, the founder of Internal Family Systems (IFS) and I will be co-teaching a preconference workshop about the implications of IFS and trauma healing in medicine before the IFS conference in Denver in September. We’re still working out the details, but save the dates of the conference if you’re interested.

I’ll also be cross-pollinating with the ministers and spiritual healers at Mile Hi Church, talking about my new book The Daily Flame: 365 Love Letters From Your Inner Pilot Light, as well as healing, trauma, and your Inner Pilot Light on September 29. Stay tuned for details on this too.

After ten years studying what really predisposes you to illness and what really optimizes the chance for cure, this is the year it’s all coming together. If you’re interested in this topic and you haven’t read Mind Over Medicine, you’ll want to start there. Then stay tuned as I start preparing to actually write the book that will compile what I’ve learned in my Sacred Medicine research. The pieces are coming together, and it’s wildly exciting for those of us who are passionate about hacking healing so we can help those who are really committed to optimizing their health.

With love and hope,

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