Is dreaming good health possible? I recently had my annual physical and my doctor didn’t ask a thing about my dream life! Does your annual health check-up include questions about your dream life?

It should! Health practitioners—whether western allopathic doctors or holistic naturopaths—will hand out a questionnaire to be filled out by the patient before they meet in the examination room. They may ask about your sleep, but rarely do they ask about your dreams. When we skip over our dreams, we are missing a wonderful opportunity to get a direct message from our body that might very well be the health information you need.

Did you ever wake up with a full bladder only to find that situation had worked itself into the dream’s story line? If that sensitivity can happen with something as benign as a full bladder, then it certainly can reflect the subtle process of disease or illness.

“Prodromal dreams”, meaning dreams that signal the onset of illness, have been reported by doctors since ancient times. Hippocrates, who was considered the father of medicine, reported on these very dreams—over two thousand years ago. Hippocrates argued that if a dream was correctly understood, it could be useful for a diagnosis. This grew out of his thought and belief that mind and body are interdependent, not a collection of separate parts. A very forward-thinking notion that we should revisit!

Here is an example of using dreams for both diagnosis and healing that illustrates my point. Wanda Burch wrote about this experience in her book, “She Who Dreams”, and I highly recommend it for anyone going through a challenging illness, as well as anyone curious about working with dreams. She had dreams that she would die young and then she had several dreams that indicated that she had breast cancer. In one of the dreams the tumour appeared as a constellation of stars. Honouring her dreams and taking them seriously, she insisted that her physician examine her. Four months later, and many medical appointments later, not only did they find cancer exactly where she had described it, the radiologist, not knowing her dream, described the tumour exactly as a constellation of stars! In her book, she takes us on a journey that includes her own mix of exercises and meditations using dream imagery in conjunction with traditional medical treatment to create a very personal plan for health and recovery. She is alive and well today.

So what does this mean for us? How can we use our dreams to give us information about our body and our health? Start by paying attention to your dreams and your intuition. Look for warning signs in the images in your dreams in the form of any excess or extreme situations. For example, excessive amounts of water can suggest fluid retention in the body, a condition that is common for heart patients. Watch for extreme heat or cold, water, dryness, itchiness, pain, focus on a particular body part, breathlessness, drowning, a blocked flow, damaged or destroyed buildings or objects, impaired people or things, machines malfunctioning or broken. Patricia Garfield wrote a wonderful treatment of this topic called “ The Healing Power of Dreams”. In it she relates one study done in the former Soviet Union tracking the changes in dream content shortly before an illness occurred. In the case of a heart attack, the repeated dreams of a chest wound were said to indicate a possible heart attack.

If you have noticed some extreme dream symbols or situations, try to determine if it is a symbolic, psychological or physical warning. That is often difficult to tell when we are so close to the topic. A good dream worker or teacher, a weekly dream group or even intuitive friends and loved ones can help us see past our natural resistance to unpleasant images or feelings. And of course, if a dream symbol comes to you in combination with any physical symptoms, see your physician.

Paracelsus, a Renaissance physician wrote, “The power of the imagination is incomparable. It can both cause disease and cure disease.” So the power to notice what our dreams are saying about our health, combined with a little patience, imagination, and good health care team, can turn our health around for the better. So, yes, you can dream good health. You might say it’s a dream come true!