Ancient astrologers, wise men, and oracles have long looked to the stars and moon for guidance and information about the times to come. Through these observations, they sought to find the impact astrological bodies might have on humanity, and how we can move with the stars and moon in a way that improves our lives. However, with modern science and medicine, we rarely consider what impact, if any, the celestial bodies have on our health. The moon lights up the night, and is strong enough to move all of the waters on the earth. Many animals have been found to have reproduction cycles, as well as other aspects of their behavior, connected to the moon. But what about humans? Have you ever wondered if there is a correlation between the lunar cycle and health?
Let's take a look at what the cycles of the moon have to do with your health and well-being, and what impacts, if any, these cycles may have on your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response. Perhaps learning these effects and working with the moon could lead to a healthier and more stress-free life. The ending of this article may surprise you, so be sure to read this one all the way through.
Turtles and horseshoe crabs reproduce based on the phases of the moon. Crayfish have been seen to demonstrate changes in activity levels based on lunar cycles, even when the sky is overcast and the moon cannot be seen.
But what about the lunar cycle and health in humans?
Ernest Naylor, a professor of marine biology and author of the book Moonstruck: How Lunar Cycles Affect Life, suggests that in “rigorously controlled” studies held in sleep laboratories, there is evidence that sleep patterns are affected by the moon. Though the participants in the study were unaware of which phase the moon was in, there were noticeable changes in their sleep patterns. Naylor further suggests that this could possibly be controlled by a gene that acts as a “circalunar” clock.
According to Naylor, “scientists fearing ridicule” are wary of studying moon-related phenomena. Though science widely accepts the sun's effect on our health through what are called circadian rhythms, there is a stigma attached to studying moon cycles. Perhaps continued research on our connections to the moon requires an attitude adjustment.
You may have often heard about the increase of accidents, hospitalizations, and emergency calls that surround the occurrence of the full moon, but is there really evidence to support these claims?
There are several studies that appear to show direct correlations between menstrual cycles and the moon. In particular, a study published in 2011 tracked the menstrual cycles of 826 women, ranging from 16 to 25 years old. Nearly 30% had their period around the full moon, while the next biggest group menstruating during a common phase of the moon was 12.5%, found to be menstruating around the new moon.
Despite studies like these, the majority of the scientific community believes that there is no connection between the lunar phases and the menstrual cycle.
On the other hand, birth rates have been seen to increase in connection to the lunar cycle. Researchers looked at the uninduced labor of 1000 women in Japan. This study indicated that the gravitational effect may increase the likelihood of birth. The moon phase in these instances is what is known as a supermoon, which is the lunar event that occurs when the moon is closest to the Earth. No apparent connection, however, was found between birth rates and full or new moon phases.
Perhaps one of the strangest sets of data on lunar cycles and health is one published in the journal Interactive CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery. The study looked at the time spent in the hospital as well as the rate of survival in patients who had had aortic dissection surgery . These data points were compared to various other criteria, including the time of year, age, and medical conditions. It was found that patients who had heart surgery during the full moon had significantly less chance of dying than those who had the same surgery during the new moon. The same data showed that the average time spent in the hospital was 10 days when surgery was performed near the full moon, as opposed to 14 days when surgery was held at any other time.
Other studies have suggested that the heart is at peak performance during both the new moon and full moon cycles. But this evidence, like most surrounding the moon's effects, is largely criticized.
Much like the tides, blood appears to be stimulated by the phases of the moon. This is seen in hospital records of increased gastrointestinal bleeding admissions during the day of the full moon. The study of 447 consecutive patients admitted during a two year period saw that 26 patients were admitted on full moon days, and the other 421 were admitted during the remaining 713 days without a full moon. Broken down, this set of data indicated that there was a 59% chance of an admission on a day without a full moon, and a 104% chance of admission during the full moon. This startling difference may be caused by the increased pull of the moon during the full moon period. Though the data appears shocking, it is as yet inconclusive, and more studies are required.
Although there are many studies that indicate a correlation between the lunar cycle and health, there are seemingly just as many that show no connections. It can be hard to separate opinion from fact at this time, because there are so many conflicting data points and opinions on how the data should be read.
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) is a health condition that is largely caused by chronic stress and an overworked adrenal gland. The adrenal glands are responsible for the production of several hormones, primarily adrenaline and cortisol, that occur in response to stress. The adrenal glands also trigger the “fight or flight” response, intended to keep you out of dangerous situations.
NEM is the way that your body connects and responds to stress factors, including stress-induced inflammation in response to stressors. Understanding how this works and taking a holistic approach can help you to see the connections between each function of the body that are otherwise difficult to perceive.
Though research must still be conducted to fully understand the direct connections between the lunar cycle and health, there is certainly no doubt that the moon has some impact on our lives. Similarly to the holistic approach illustrated by NEM, we can see the possible connections between the body’s functions and the cycles of the moon.
Scientific studies may be lacking and inconclusive, but perhaps we haven’t been asking the right questions. The moon not only moves the oceans, it stabilizes the spin of our planet, which in turn maintains the temperatures we need to survive. Research indicates that the lunar cycle and health are connected, though in ways which are not yet entirely known. When you see a full moon, an eclipse, a rising crescent, or even a super moon, you are again and again reminded that there is much more out there to be learned, both about what we see in the skies, and about ourselves here on earth.
Some things are hard to see through the lens of science. A different approach is required to see things as they are in the larger scheme of things. Through a more holistic lens, you can take a look at the impact the moon has on the adrenal glands. Though there is no widely accepted conclusive proof that the moon impacts your hormones, research indicates that, in the bigger picture, there may well be a connection between our adrenal glands and lunar phases. Though we cannot say what direct effects the moon has on our health, we can certainly see several indirect ways in which it does.
Eclipses, super moons, blue moons, full moons, blood moons, and even the modest crescent moon are all excellent reasons to get outside and look up into the skies. In our fast-paced, nonstop world, we all too often forget to just go outside. Getting out in nature, for no other reason than the enjoyment of doing so, can alleviate stress and improve your well-being. Stress is one of the key causes of adrenal fatigue, as it leads to an overproduction of hormones.
Let’s take a step back and look at some of the indirect ways that the moon can impact your health. Shockingly, there is stronger scientific evidence regarding meditation and your health thant there is about lunar phases and health. One of the least discussed, yet most commonly practiced, forms of meditation is lunar meditation. Lunar meditation is simply the act of being mindful of the phase of the moon. This mindfulness keeps a stronger connection with the world around us and the beauty of the cosmos. This connection is often overshadowed by the normal distractions of daily life.
Practicing lunar meditation is simple. This is perhaps the easiest form of meditation to commit to. Make a calendar of the phases of the moon, and decide how to observe each phase or lunar event. You don't even have to go outside to practice lunar meditation; simply being mindful of each phase may bring your life into a closer alignment with nature, and this can improve your well-being. Be watchful for the beneficial effects that this type of meditation can have for you.
Lunar meditation, like all other forms of meditation, can help to relieve the stress of daily life and remind you of the bigger picture each time you practice it. This monthly, weekly or perhaps even daily reminder of the universal system you are a part of can really melt the stress that can build up in your everyday life. This constant practice of stress relief can be included in your AFS relief/prevention tool box, and implemented as often as you can.
The moon, as well as being a beautiful sight, is one of the many planetary systems we need to survive. Even from a simple layman’s approach, we can see that without the moon, life as we know it wouldn’t exist. Without the rotation of the moon, the Earth could easily become too hot or cold for life. Knowing this, we can see the inarguable truth about what the lunar cycle and health have in common.
© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
The moon has been long been considered to be a strong driving force in our daily lives. There may be more connections between lunar cycle and health than you had previously imagined, and some of them just may surprise you.