I’ll just say it straight: dreams can sometimes provide health warnings. We don’t understand how, but those who listen are rewarded. Health warning dreams are a well documented phenomena that has been known since the early days of Western medicine, but has been sadly swept under the rug in modern times.
I’ve seen the reliability of these warnings myself when caffeine-fueled anxiety dreams start cropping up. The caffeine increases my anxiety and then I start grinding my teeth in my sleep. This jaw-tension is then expressed real-time in my dreams as my teeth falling out.
In my case, the solution is simple: when I have dreams about my teeth falling out, stop drinking so much damn coffee. But other accounts I have collected (some of which can be found in my ebook Dream Like a Boss) include serious health warnings.
This topic is often overlooked by many dream experts who tend to downplay the role of the body in dreams (and consciousness in general) in favor for psychological theories. But dreams happen in our bodies, not just brains in jars.
It’s wonderful to see that this important topic is becoming more mainstream in medicine, and we have to thank Larry Burk, MD, for his recent work in this arena, as well as the international dream research community and pioneering dream authors such as Wanda Burch, who also discovered cancer early due to a warning dream.
Burk is a radiologist who has been collecting accounts of women who had warning dreams about breast cancer. In 2015, Burk published a scientific pilot study on the topic, collecting information from women who had warning dreams before the diagnosis of breast cancer.
Here’s what the many of the dreams had in common:
- The dream felt more urgent than other dreams
- The dream imagery is more vivid
- There is a threat or a nemesis
- Cancer as a direct theme — this last theme occurred less than half the time, however.
Burk’s aim is to wake people up to these easy-to-recognize dreams, so more women can get screened in time. His work brings evidence-based dream studies to a field that is itself waking up to the value of consciousness studies.
Check out Larry Burk’s entire TedX talk here:
First image: Shadow on a blue door by Abhisek Sarda, CC 2010.
I can relate as I at one point in my life when I was younger had a lot of vision dreams, and in many cases back then avoided certain death, by simply changing something as simple as a walking route.
Ryan Hurd says
that sounds like a great story JC — would love to hear more.
Janet Wahl says
Glad you are bringing this point to the attention of your readers. Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos, Surviving Cancerland: Intuitive Aspects of Healing, also details using dreams to diagnose her illness. Tallulah Lyons and Wendy Pannier conduct dream groups to help cancer patients to use their dreams to heal. Tallulah’s book is Dreams and Guided Imagery: Gifts for Transforming Illness and Crisis. I remember Monte Ullman telling us about a member in one of his dream groups who dreamed she was carrying rotten meat in her handbag, a warning that she had cancer. Dreams are a rich resource to help heal our lives.
Ryan Hurd says
thanks Janet for adding this resources!
Kevin Bohacz says
I’ve read about people who have experienced health advisories or warnings months or even years in advance. This makes me wonder about the nature of these kinds of dream warnings. Are they the manifestation of subtle messages from the body or something more mysterious? I experienced a health warning dream the other day and wrote about it on my blog. This warning was something of a hybrid dream… it was both a health warning as well as some kind of precognitive warning (kevinbohacz.com)… For me dreams are an ever deepening mystery.
Ryan Hurd says
hi Kevin! right we really don’t know the mechanisms or spirit behind prodromal dreams. Jung discussed how archetypal energies may be energies coming from specific organs at times — fascinating idea. Is it a message — or just an autonomous expression of the body that does what it does, whether or not we listen? more questions than answer right — and while we should continue to question and research, we should also keep listening and acting!