Following Your Health Intuition

By Sally Wadyka. Medically reviewed by Tom Iarocci, MD. May 7th 2016

Ever get the feeling that something is not right with your body? Well, that’s your intuition talking.

Whether that sixth sense is telling you that the food you just ate is not sitting well or that the nagging headache you’ve been suffering might be a sign of something more serious, there may be good reasons to pay attention.

“Our body gives us signals about the current condition of our health, and how we can improve it by making the right choices,” says Asavari Manvikar, MD, a registered Ayurvedic practitioner at the Faculty Center for Spirituality and Healing, University of Minnesota. “It is the body’s own intelligence that guides us through those intuitive messages.”

Sometimes, intuition is quite literally a gut feeling — one that, for instance, might be influenced by microbes living in your intestines, according to a recent line of research. Not only are you experiencing an inner sensation, but researchers have also identified neurotransmitters in the gut that play a role in sensing these signals and sending corresponding signals to the brain.

Tapping into Your Health Intuition

“Intuition plays a major role in improving health,” says Manvikar. And even if you don’t feel naturally in tune with your intuition, there are ways you can nurture it. Manvikar suggests these practices to help improve your intuition and be better equipped to pay attention to the messages it is trying to send you.

  • Trust your instincts and your subconscious mind instead of ignoring them.
  • Increase awareness by listening to your heart and paying attention to those intuitive feelings.
  • Keep asking yourself questions to generate intuitive thoughts.
  • Meditation can help to activate the subconscious mind and concentrate the messages the body and mind are trying to convey.
  • Exercise the right side of your brain by dancing, painting and other creative pursuits — that will stimulate the brain’s areas of intuition.

Do Doctors Use Their Intuition?

While there is limited research on doctors’ use of intuition, several studies on intuition’s role in nursing have been done in recent years. Research on nurses’ use of intuition has shown that the more clinical experience and expertise a nurse has, the more likely she is to also factor in her intuition when making healthcare decisions for her patients. “Rather than looking at intuition as lucky guessing or sixth sense, they use their formal knowledge along with their intuition to help the overall well-being of their patients,” explains Manvikar.

Next Steps

Once you start paying more attention to your own intuition, you’ll want to tap into it. For instance, if your intuition is telling you that your headaches are part of a pattern, perhaps related to your hormones, start looking for more evidence. For example, try keeping a headache diary, along with performing research online about hormonal connections to headaches.

That way, when you talk to your doctor, you have some evidence to back up why you feel your intuition may be correct — likewise, your doctor will be armed with more than just a hunch when justifying the cost of tests; in making a formal diagnosis; or in working with you to develop a treatment plan. 

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