Body Signals 
By Walter Sorochan Emeritus Professor San Diego State University

Posted August 14, 2021; updated October 17, 2021.

We were born using our major senses to interact with the world. We have grown up unaware doing so and have grown up using these senses to see, hear, smell. taste and touch. These five body senses are automatically programmed to protect us and keep us well.

Medical doctors use vital signs to measurement the body's most basic functions: body temperature, pulse rate, rate of breathing and blood pressure. John Hopkins Medicine: Vital signs These vital signs are not intended to be diagnostic, but merely a scan for possible more serious disorders.

But the truth is that there are millions of sensors in the human body. Each organ and somatic cell has a sensor. Your body has been designed to provide feedback about the status of every joint, organ, muscle and cell in the body; monitoring water, blood flow, nutrients, toxins, oxygen, and so on.

The human body is programmed to keep you well although you may not be aware of it. This article attempts to explain all this "listen to your body".

I was searching online for information about body signals. This should have been an easy search on the internet for more information about body sensors. My search found many articles about sensors selling equipment or supplements but no one is sharing information about how the human body has evolved a simple, yet complicated monitoring feedback system about how the body is doing.

There are many examples of how your body uses sensors to keep your body working. Here are just a few of them:

You get the urge to urinate or have a bowl movement. Society refers to these natural body functions as "going to the toilet." The urge to go is a normal body maintenance function that is programmed by sensors in the body.

Another example is your body using symptoms of upper respiratory infection [dry cough, stuffy nose. soar throat, fever,  headache, muscle soreness, inflammation of vocal cords, feeling sick, wanting to sleep] to signal that you have been attacked by microorganisms or environmental chemicals. And that the body is trying to heal itself.  Hanes: Signs respiratory infection 2021

Eating contaminated food or drink can cause you to vomit and have diarrhea to instantly get rid of the contaminated food-bacteria.

The skin has many different kinds of sensors. Some skin sensors monitor toxic chemicals, poisonous plants like poison ivy, oleander plant and lantana that can cause severe painful irritation while other sensors signal itchiness when an injured body area is healing.

Pain warns us when something isn't quite right, that we should stop or slow down whatever we are doing. Taking a pain killer like an aspirin numbs the sensitivity to pain and actually predisposes us to more possible harm. A pain killer usually gives you a false sense of temporary relief! But pain is only one of the sensory symptoms that tell us that something is wrong with our body. The first real reaction of the body to injury or infection is inflammation or "swelling" that takes place instantly. Inflammation begins by increased blood flow to the injured tissue causing increased temperature, redness, continuing blood flow causing more swelling, and increasing tenderness and pain.

Ever feel slightly sick, have itchy skin, an itchy nose, a running nose, sore eyes, feeling sick and just generally not feeling good? Perhaps also feel like vomiting and even a slight touch of diarrhea. But not sick enough to go to a doctor or lie down? A day or two later these symptoms disappear and you feel good again!

We seldom perceive these symptoms as body signals from the physical body to the mind-brain where you feel the sensation of feeling uncomfortable, sick or well.  Your body monitors how it is doing all the time. It sends signals that include pain, swelling, skin redness, skin itchiness, itchy nose, reflux or gurd, allergies, indigestion, vomiting, sneezing, watery eyes and tears, fever, diarrhea, headache, earache, depression, constipation, hunger, thirst and fatigue; as well as feeling good, full of energy and feeling happy as feeling good after exercise.

Symptoms as messengers: Leander Steinkopf, in her published article 2015  Steinkopf: Signaling thory 2015, explained how the body uses symptoms as messengers to the mind-brain. "Providing support for sick or injured group members requires others to detect them. Therefore, the seemingly trivial question arises of how sickness and injury are detected. Some injuries can be perceived directly either visually (e.g., blood loss) or haptically (e.g., the unusual mobility of broken bones). Infections, however, can only be directly perceived through modern means: Microscopes make bacteria visible, and antibody tests provide evidence for the presence of certain viruses. Without these modern means, humans have had to rely and still rely on symptoms to detect sickness in people. Accordingly, what we perceive as a sickness in everyday life is not the presence of an infection itself but the easily discernible symptoms, such as pain, fever, cough, sneezing, shivering, loss of appetite, and so on. Notably, these symptoms are not caused by the infection itself but are part of the body’s response to the infection. This immune reaction obviously functions as a defense against the infection, as in the example of fever, which creates an uncomfortable situation for pathogens, or coughing and sneezing, which expels them."

You need to recognize healing in your body: To understand healing as a body process, you need to be aware that we have many body sensors that can detect the status of your health. You need to listen to your body and understand that what your body is really trying to tell you is that the symptoms like pain and swelling or inflammation are trying to heal you. Pain is an intelligent messenger of your injury. It can direct you to avoid further injury. But pain killers dull the pain and artificially block the pain messages. Lets face healing honestly: When you are injured, your body reacts with immediate pain and swelling in the injured body area. You may want to get medications to relieve suffering from pain and discomfort from a doctor if you are injured; or you have an infection and need antibiotics. However, getting such medication help does not necessarily speed up healing. Dr. Prodromos succinctly explains all of this: "Our bodies are amazingly good at telling us what is ok to do with an injury and what is not. All we have to do is be good listeners to what our bodies are telling us. Avoiding pain allows healing. Persisting in painful activities causes more damage and slows healing. What could be simpler?"  Prodromos: No pills healing

So why is it important for you to understand this event; sometimes referred to as a healing crisis? Answer: Because if you misinterpret these signals from your body, you may really get sick. Most persons assume that it is a reaction as side-effects to medication. This may be an incorrect perception. Another reason to learn to interpret symptoms is that these may be healing signals. For example, a part f the body that was injured, may suddenly feel itchy. Although there are may causes of itchiness, we need to recognize such temporary itchiness as a signal that healing is taking place.

Most doctors may not recognize feeling sick symptoms as messengers, much less explain it to their patients! But curiosity seekers may have an explanation for all this "not feeling good but not sick" mystery. Its probably not the flu' or some disease.

So is there a plausible explanation for feeling slightly sick from time to time but not sick enough to be bedridden?  Video: Body Pollution, Chemical Toxicity

Scientists explain these off/on feelings as your body reacting to an excess of toxic substances in your body. You can have illness symptoms when you are getting sick, or when you are changing the body environment as when you are taking antibiotics, or when you are exposed to toxic chemicals in the air, water, soil or food and drink. It is your body's instant defense system protecting you from dangerous substances.

You are exposed each day to chemical substances in the air, ground, water, plants and food.  Video: Body Pollution, Chemical Toxicity Many toxic waste substances accumulate in your body over time and would eventually kill you were it not for your body being programmed to continuously get rid of wastes and poisonous toxins by removing them from your blood stream.

Your body gets rid of wastes by exhaling carbon dioxide, by the liver converting fat soluble wastes into water soluble by-products that the kidney can filter out of the blood stream, by the skin excreting toxic chemicals and metals, and by defecation. Most times your body defense system gets rid of wastes and you feel good thereafter.

However, there are times when the toxic wastes accumulate faster in the blood stream than the body can get rid of them. This is when these toxic wastes can make you feel uncomfortable and slightly sick. This is referred to as the Herxheimer’s reaction [ Herxing ] Admin: Herx reaction 2010 .

Herxing, or feeling sick, occurs when there are too many toxins in the blood stream or when dead or dying bacteria release large amounts of toxins into blood and tissues at an alarming rate.  Phillips: bacteria scavenger 2009

"This provokes a sudden and exaggerated inflammatory response," referred to as "Herxheimer reaction." Essentially, the body is attempting to eliminate the released toxins much faster than it is able to get rid of them. The immune system releases a massive inflammatory response, and this will "cause a rise in symptoms [ swelling, warmth, redness, pain ] in the area in which the bacteria are being killed." What this means is that if the bacteria in your knee are being killed off, your herx is likely to include swelling in your knee, or an itchy skin rash on your forearm if reacting to poison ivy, or sneezing when you inhale toxic chemical fumes from your computer or kitchen area.

Body senses and interpreting and recognizing symptoms as intelligent messengers need to be taught in public schools, hospitals, medical schools and medical offices.


Adams Mike, "Heal yourself in 15 days by listening to your body's informative symptoms," Natural News, April 19, 2010.  Heal listen to your body

Admin, "The Herxheimer Reaction – Feeling Worse Before Feeling Better," BioVida, February 10, 2010.  Admin: Herx reaction 2010

Hanes Elizabeth, "8 Signs You Have an Upper Respiratory Infection," HealthGrades, May 11, 2021.  Hanes: Signs respiratory infection 2021

John Hopkins Medicine, "Vital signs(body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, blood pressure),"  John Hopkins Medicine: Vital signs

Lemon and Lime, "The Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction," Lemon & Lyme, 2012.  Article no longer active.

Phillips Theresa, "Bacterial Scavenging System Does Double-Duty," Biotech / Biomedical, Berkeley, California, September 9, 2008.  Phillips: bacteria scavenger 2009

Prodromos Chadwick, "The no pills, no pain program," Illinois Sports medicine and Orthopeaedic Centers.  Prodromos: No pills healing

Steinkopf Leander, "The Signaling Theory of Symptoms: An Evolutionary Explanation of the Placebo Effect," Evolutionary Psychology, 2015: 1–12.  Steinkopf: Signaling thory 2015

"The Obesogen Hypothesis," Health and environment, March 25, 2011.  Obesogen Hypothesis

U-Tube, "Body Pollution, Chemical Toxicity."  Video: Body Pollution, Chemical Toxicity

Wikipedia,  Wiki: Herxkeimer effect