Ask Dr. Steve

Dear Dr. Steve –

I am wondering if you think there is a metaphysical cause or counterpart for every gastroenterological condition? Are some conditions simply random, or caused by hereditary?

— Curious

Dear Curious –

Is there a metaphysical cause for every gastrointestinal symptom? Again this addresses the fascinating mind/body nature of all of us. When we come to realize that our thoughts and emotions directly impact on every organ of our bodies via circulating protein peptides, we cannot help but understand this connection.

This does not mean that conventional treatments for ulcers, cancer, gastric bacteria, colitis, diverticulitis, bleeding, Crohn’s disease and other conditions should be deferred. However it is important to realize that the GI tract contains as many neurons [nerve cells] as the entire spinal cord. I tell my patient that their ‘brain in the gut’ may respond to stresses that do not even reach their conscious minds.

Although stress may not be the ’cause’ of all these conditions, they are clearly made worse and healing is delayed by our emotional mind. The longer I stay in clinical practice, the more attuned I become to my patient’s emotional issues. I cannot adequately treat them without their own awareness of these truths.

© Steven E. Hodes, MD., 2006

Steven E. Hodes, M.D. is a board certified gastroenterologist with over 25 years private practice based in Edison and Old Bridge New Jersey. He also has a degree in Religious Studies and teaches Contemporary Metaphysics at Brookdale College as well as lecturing and writing on Kabbalah and Healing, the Jewish View of Afterlife and on Near-Death Experience. Visit him at his blog, Physician to Meta-Physician at www.meta-md.com.

Ask Dr. Steve

Dear Dr. Steve —


I find that my stomach hurts when I am around certain people and sometimes I feel nauseous when I enter certain places, like a mall or certain homes. I wonder, is it really a physical reaction or is it psychosomatic. How can I tell the difference and how can I stop it from happening?


– Aching

Deat Aching –

Your question about abdominal discomfort and even nausea which seems centered around certain individuals and places is quite common. I always recommend considering a predominantly ‘physical’ cause for symptoms before delving into the ‘metaphysical’ simply because they can be dealt with more directly.

Consider there may be some chemical cleaner, disinfectant or allergen present in the air that might affect you in this way. More likely, however, there is a mind/body issue that needs to be addressed.

Regarding any particular individual: Ambivalent feelings, past hurts, perhaps even feelings of guilt can affect us physically and the gastrointestinal tract is uniquely sensitive to these issues. Consider your relationship with this individual and perhaps take these physical manifestations as a sign that you need to deal with them in some other manner.

I do believe we perceive ‘energy’ in subconscious ways. A physical location may affect us by virtue of sounds, lights, arrangement of open spaces versus buildings, crowds of people etc. I believe many mall are designed with the intention of fostering a relaxing energetic atmosphere which, of course, will encourage you to buy more product. It is something of Feng Shui for malls that encourages the “chi” (energy) to work in their favor. However, we are all unique beings who respond as such. Perhaps it is time to find a different mall?

© Steven E. Hodes, MD., 2006


Steven E. Hodes, M.D. is a board certified gastroenterologist with over 25 years private practice based in Edison and Old Bridge New Jersey. He also has a degree in Religious Studies and teaches Contemporary Metaphysics at Brookdale College as well as lecturing and writing on Kabbalah and Healing, the Jewish View of Afterlife and on Near-Death Experience. Visit him at his Blog, Physician to Meta-Physician at www.meta-md.com.

Ask Dr. Steve

Dear Dr. Steve —


When I have a massage or a healing treatment, I find myself burping afterwards — sometimes a lot. Can’t seem to control the little noises that rise from my gut like bubbles. My massage therapist says it is “a release.” Any ideas of why this is happening?


– Michael

Dear Michael-

Your question regarding gastrointestinal ‘noises’ is extremely common. Usually, there is no cause for alarm when this occurs. It may be embarrassing but often reflects the admixture of intestinal fluids and gases which are normal.

It is true that certain individuals are more ‘sensitive’ to these normal conditions. Clearly, certain foods, however, do produce more gas and this would add to the situation. Burping after a massage may, indeed, be a sign that you have become more relaxed. Continuous burping, or eructation as it is known, however, is usually an opposite sign. Anxiety can cause some to swallow air, known as ‘aerophagia’ and the belching is a release of this air.

It can become a vicious cycle when the belching causes the patient to become concerned over some physical illness. There are cases, however, when ulcers can be the cause of belching and, if persistent, a gastroenterologist should be consulted.

Sincerely, Dr. Steve

© Steven E. Hodes, MD., 2006


Steven E. Hodes, M.D. is a board certified gastroenterologist with over 25 years private practice based in Edison and Old Bridge New Jersey. He also has a degree in Religious Studies and teaches Contemporary Metaphysics at Brookdale College as well as lecturing and writing on Kabbalah and Healing, the Jewish View of Afterlife and on Near-Death Experience. Visit him at his blog, Physician to Meta-Physician at www.meta-md.com.