News of Hate Crimes and How It Impacts the Body

CBSN Bay talks to Dr. Ken Vuu talks about how the news of hate crimes can impact the body, and how we can protect ourselves mentally and physically.

Video Transcript

MICHELLE GRIEGO: Some doctors say news of hate crimes may take a toll on our bodies. And joining us now to talk about that is Dr. Ken Vuu. He is a performance and longevity M.D. and author. Thank you so much for talking with us today. So you say hate crimes can be like a poison to your body. Talk more about that.

KIEN VUU: Yeah. Poisons aren't just something you eat or drink. It could be a thought, an idea and an emotion. And as I talk about in my book, "Thrive State," thoughts and emotion actually causes biochemical changes that affect our physical bodies. And the emotions of anger, of fear, of hate, of resentment, those emotions actually increases inflammation. It decreases our immune system and puts us prone to getting chronic disease, both mental and physical.

MICHELLE GRIEGO: You-- you've talked about being bullied in your childhood. What impact did that have on you?

KIEN VUU: Yeah, I've been called chink growing up throughout my childhood. I've been told to go back to my home country and that not-- I've got no place in America. And for me, it really left me growing up feeling less than, feeling like I'm not worthy. Left me feeling like I was not enough.

And that inability to express yourself as who you really are, that causes stress in our body, and for me it causes-- it caused me to, you know, go through bouts of anxiety and some bouts of depression. For others, I know that it has caused a lot of mental health disturbances in-- including major depression, suicidal ideation and-- and actually a-- death for some people.

MICHELLE GRIEGO: Yeah. You know, it has those terrible effects on people, and like you said, their mental health. And it's not just the victims of hate crimes. It's also the ones who are committing the acts.

KIEN VUU: Indeed. People actually experience the stress a little bit differently, but the committers of hate crimes, that anger, that fear, that resentment they feel inside their body, as I mentioned earlier, it increases inflammation in their body. It lowers their immune system. They also get mental and physical chronic disease. In fact, there are numerous studies that demonstrate people that are really indulging in those feelings of hate and anger live shorter lives.

MICHELLE GRIEGO: You know it's so interesting, because I was just having this conversation the other day about saying forgiveness is not about the other person. It's about you, and releasing that out of you. And that's sort of what you're touching on here.

KIEN VUU: 100%. You know I always say that we need to be the change that we need-- we want to see in the world, and that's a quote from Gandhi. And forgiveness is something-- if we could let go of those emotions within ourselves, we free ourselves from those poisons in-- in our body.

MICHELLE GRIEGO: Sure. So how can we protect ourselves both mentally and physically?

KIEN VUU: Well, first thing we need to do is be aware that there is a problem. There is a problem in the idea of hate that separates us, and that that separation of us does cause-- does have physical effects, and it's also dividing us as a nation. What we also need to do is advocate for resources to protect people. And that's, you know, really banding together as a community, reporting hate crimes and protecting people that are most vulnerable.

The last thing is understanding, again, that it's this thought, it's this idea that's causing these physical manifestations in our body. And because there's that thought, there is also the other thought, that we are love. We-- just because we are alive right now, we are worthy. We are enough. And if we could start to em-- embody that and know that no matter what within ourselves, we start that process of healing and we reverse all those negative detrimental effect that hate has on our bodies from before.

MICHELLE GRIEGO: Right. It almost acts as a shield.

KIEN VUU: Yeah.

MICHELLE GRIEGO: All right, Dr. Kien Vuu. Thank you so much.

KIEN VUU: It's a--