Before I talk about “what dreams tell me about my health,” I need to begin with a disclaimer: Dreams are not reliable diagnostic tools. Although dreams can carry essential information about my physical health, warn me of developing illnesses, and even offer healing guidance, they do so in unpredictable ways. Getting direct medical advice from dreams is a risky business, and I don’t recommend it.

Now let me (apparently) contradict myself by telling my own story. A while ago, I began to have spasms of pain in my upper left back. The pain was completely disabling, and frightening in its intensity. It went on for a couple of days, and I could barely eat or sleep. Because of my medical history, there were reasons to be concerned about the possibility of pancreatitis (which evoked the even more awful possibility of pancreatic cancer). So I went to the doctor. After medical consultation, tests, and a scan, both pancreatitis and kidney stones were ruled out. The pain was apparently a severely strained muscle. With pain medication and a lot of rest, I got back to normal pretty quickly.

Although it was probably a good thing to put my mind at ease by getting it checked out, I might have saved myself a lot of trouble if I’d relied on my dream-instinct.

In the past, when something has been seriously wrong with me, there have always been indications in my dreams. A few times, there were actual “prodromic” dreams that pointed at specific problems (for example, dreams of rodents biting me around the neck area in the exact places where I later developed lymphoma tumors)—but such dreams were only really significant for me in retrospect, since I didn’t recognize their warnings at the time. Jeremy Taylor describes a more useful dream of this kind in one of his books—a woman dreamed there was a piece of rotting meat in her purse, and this prompted her to seek medical help and get diagnosis and treatment for cancer. That signal seems pretty obvious, but many such indicators (like my own prodromic dreams) are more ambiguous. It takes real skill (or a good guess) to recognize when an image in a dream points to a physical health problem, and when it doesn’t. Continue reading