Brain retraining has gained popularity over the last decade, because researchers made a huge discovery in the 1960’s that the brain is not fixed once a person reaches adulthood. Through something called neuroplasticity researchers discovered that the brain is able to rewire itself and heal all throughout a person’s life. Therefore, you can retrain your brain!
The more advanced brain imaging technologies have become, the easier it has been to actually see the changes in the brain take place. After these imaging technologies gained popularity (about the last 20 years), so did the brain retraining movement.
My mission here at the Deep Healing Cafe is to help you find and fix the root cause of your health issues. I have been digging deeper and deeper to try to get to the bottom of my health issues for the past six and a half years.
Every time I think I’ve found the root, the ground gives way and I find that I need to dig even deeper. Without sounding too hopeful, I think this time I may have succeeded in finding the root.
I kept looking at my symptoms which are multi systemic and multi faceted and wondering what they all had in common. What I realized is that they are all controlled by my nervous system which is controlled by my brain. Of course! The brain controls everything in the body! Then, I started learning about sympathetic dominance and limbic hypersensitivity.
The Theory of Limbic System Hypersensitivity As The Root Cause Of Multi-System Illnesses
This may sound quite complicated and that is only because it IS quite complex, but I’m going to do my best to boil it down to make it clear and understandable. In order to understand the limbic system, I think it’s important to understand the autonomic nervous system.
The autonomic nervous system controls all of our involuntary functions, the things that our amazing bodies do to keep us alive without us having to think about it, like breathing, like keeping our heart beating, like all of the trillions of cellular processes that happen every second.
For some reason it helps me to think about it like gears on a car. You can only be in one gear at a time, and each gear affects how the car performs. The autonomic nervous system has two gears, sympathetic and parasympathetic.
When your brain perceives a threat, like you’re about to be hit by a bus, then it throws your nervous system into sympathetic gear which shocks you awake so that you’re thinking extremely clear (realize you need to get out of the way before you get hit), blood is diverted to your muscles so that you can have a quicker response time (get out of the way before you are hit by the bus), and can give you unnatural strength.
Maybe you’ve heard news reports of a man lifting a car off of the victim underneath. This is possible because the sympathetic nervous system kicked in and diverted resources where they were needed most.
When your brain recognizes that the threat is over, then your nervous system gradually switches over to parasympathetic mode where you start to feel calm again. You may want to sleep or feel extremely tired. The parasympathetic mode is where resources are redistributed back to all of the normal functions of the body like rest, digestion, immune function, hormone balance, reproductive function, etc.
We are meant to live in parasymathetic mode most of the time with the sympathetic mode kicking in only when we are under a clear threat. The problem is that many people with severe chronic illnesses are stuck in sympathetic mode because of a limbic system injury. The limbic system has become hypersensitive and perceives everything as a threat.
The limbic system consists of the hippocampus, hypothalamus, amygdala, and cingulate cortex. It is known as the “feeling and reactive brain”. It is thought to be responsible for the formation of memories and determining our level of safety.
When the limbic system is injured it overreacts to outside stimulii and can result in distorted unconscious reactions and sensory perceptions. This can manifest in symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivity where the person seems to be allergic to everything in which they come in contact, chronic fatigue, fybromyalgia, mold illness, lyme disease, you name it…
Over time, being stuck in sympathetic mode can weaken the immune system, and affect all body systems, including sleep, digestion, detoxification, energy level, mood stability, motor and cognitive function.
How Does The Limbic System Get Injured?
The limbic system can be injured in a number of ways. Usually, it is a perfect storm of several traumas that you encounter throughout your life. It could be a physical injury like a surgery, childbirth, a dental procedure, car accident or falling off of a ladder.
It could be a chemical injury like a vaccine or exposure to toxic chemicals on an ongoing basis. It could be biological like acquiring a virus or bacteria that is hard to kill or mold exposure. It could even be emotional like ongoing abuse whether it be physical, sexual, or emotional. Usually, it’s a combination of several of these traumas.
In my case, I was already living a highly stressful lifestyle with a demanding job and responsibilities as a mom. In the summer of 2011, I had a 10 hour surgery to remove a deadly skin cancer on my face and also had another surgery related to female issues that I was having. I was also hit with some highly stressful emotional situations.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was living in a moldy home and had high voltage power lines in my backyard. There was also a cell tower less than 100 yards from my house. This created the perfect storm for my limbic system to become hypersensitive and my body to completely shut down in the summer of 2012.
Here is a list of some ways that the limbic system can be injured:
Virus or Infection
Psychological and/or Emotional Trauma
What Are The Symptoms Of Limbic Hypersensitivity?
Usually, symptoms progress over many years as neural pathways become more ingrained over time. Mine started with headaches. My left eye has drooped and I’ve had headaches since I was a young girl, possibly from a vaccine injury. As I got older, it progressed into lack of energy and trouble thinking clearly. I had severe GI issues (gas, bloating, and constipation). I was so fatigued in college that I had to drop out for a year.
After childbirth, the fatigue got worse, and I struggled with managing all of my responsibilities. The headaches got worse, and I found myself feeling overwhelmed in big crowds. I also struggled with insomnia most nights. Then, I started feeling dizzy and my ears started ringing.
Fast forward to 2012, and I had a total collapse in health. I could not get out of bed. I could not think. I could not talk. I could not read. All I could do was stare at the ceiling and wonder what was happening to me. I stayed like that the better part of a year. I found myself mostly bed bound for the next several years.
As the fatigue and cognitive function gradually got a little better, I started developing muscle pain especially in my neck and shoulders and down my spinal cord. The ringing in my ears got much louder and there was a constant buzzing in my head.
My head and right ear would feel like it was full of mucus or something, and I would have trouble thinking clearly. I also developed joint pain in my knees, shoulder and elbow. I developed deep ridges on my finger nails and little white spots appeared all over my body.
I had severe sensitivity to light and sound. I jump at normal noises like the door opening or the phone buzzing. I couldn’t watch TV or listen to music. I had a lot of dizziness and vision changes. Sometimes, I get very dry mouth. My short-term memory is also impaired to the point that I can’t remember if I brushed my teeth or not while standing at the sink with the toothbrush in my hand.
Within the last year and a half, I have developed sensitivities to electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs), chemical smells like cleaning products, perfumes, and air fresheners. If I come in contact with any of these substances they can trigger a migraine or make me nauseous for days.
Several months ago, I had a severe reaction where I had severe internal vibrations, my eyeballs were sore, my internal organs felt like they were being squeezed. I had to flee my house in the middle of the night. It was one of the scariest experiences I’ve had to date. I found out later that many of these symptoms are reactions to electromagnetic frequencies.
I had a transformer in my backyard and a cell phone tower about 100 yards away. I also had mold growing in the basement. If you’ve heard Dr. Klinghart speak then you probably know that EMFs cause mold to grow 600% faster. I ended up moving out of that house.
At the time of this article, I am functioning at about 20% energy level on my best days, but I’m still about 90% housebound, because I have trouble with the chemicals smells and EMFs in which I come into contact as well as profound exhaustion.
Needless to say, the simple act of living has become an incomprehensible chore. It’s hard to put into words the mental and emotional toll having this type of illness creates. The isolation of being confined to your home and losing your independence makes it hard not to feel that you are a burden to your loved ones and on society.
But, I’m not alone. I’ve read hundreds of stories over the years of people suffering with ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Mold Illness, Histamine Intolerance, Lyme Disease, and the list goes on and on. And, unfortunately, our numbers are growing.
The conventional medical system has offered no help. Alternative practitioners have offered little help. I’ve even suffered a severe anxiety attack from an alternative practitioner in my town that proclaimed that she didn’t believe that I could be that sick.
I’m thinking that there are probably easier ways to get attention rather than faking all of these crazy symptoms (I’m not that creative), isolating myself, completely changing my personality, confining myself to bed, stop mothering, stop driving, stop working, spending all of my money on doctors, wearing masks in public, etc.
It’s so incredibly damaging when our suffering is invalidated by an ignorant and arrogant medical practitioner. I don’t care if they’ve never seen anything like it before. No one should EVER invalidate the suffering of anyone else.
My family has spent well over $100,000 for my care, supplements, doctors, therapies, clean foods, hired help that still have not provided relief. I knew I had to keep digging further.
That’s why I was so excited to discover the theory of limbic system hypersensitivity as a possible root cause for multi-system chronic illnesses. It makes sense to me. It resonates with me. There are hundreds of testimonials online of success with these brain retraining programs. I’m hesitant to get my hopes up; but, I am eager to try a brain retraining program.
How Does Brain Retraining Reverse Chronic Illness?
After the original injury to the limbic system, a neuronal pathway is created that signals the limbic system every time there is a similar threat. Over time, these neuronal pathways become deeply entrenched into the subconscious and keep the brain in a constant state of emergency.
For example, if someone is living in a water damaged building and has the genetic mutation that inhibits them from recognizing mold as a toxin, then it will cause an initial injury to the limbic system. Over time, not only will they react to mold, but they may start reacting to sights, sounds, and smells that shouldn’t be perceived as a threat.
Once the downward spiral has begun, one finds that they become reactive to more and more substances which severely limit what they can do and where they can go. It may throw many brave souls into a place of hopelessness, because even the best interventions that work for others are not working for them.
They may eat the cleanest diet, do daily detoxification therapies, take handfuls of supplements, do daily meditation, drink plenty of water, and it just doesn’t seem to be making a huge difference. If this is you, then you are not alone. I fall into this category as well. I wrote an article on 5 Things To Consider When Diet And Lifestyle Changes Aren’t Enough.
Brain retraining programs are usually a set of brain exercises that one does on a consistent basis over time to re-wire the neuronal connections and create new pathways in the brain. Learning to send the limbic system new messages about a perceived threat and how to be at rest is a big part of these programs.
The two programs that I am most familiar with are the Gupta Amygdala Retraining Program by Ashok Gupta and the Dynamic Neural Retraining Program by Annie Hopper. I actually attempted the Gupta Program about a year into my illness, but I was still too weak to do the exercises.
I used the guided meditation CD very regularly, and I believe it helped me start to focus on recovery instead of my illness. However, it is packed away in a storage unit at the moment, so I decided to order Annie Hopper’s DNRS program to see if it might be a little easier to implement for me. I must note that I am much stronger now than I was when I attempted the Gupta Program.
I got notification today that the program has shipped, so I will keep you up-to-date on my experience with it. I’ve been watching a lot of youtube videos on people using the program and seeing results. I know that it’s not going to happen over night, but I’m hopeful that I will see some real change at the root of my illness.
I don’t think that this is the total answer as I still need to detoxify the mold out of my system and heal my gut, but I do think it’s an integral part of my healing and will make healing attainable for me.
Have you ever used a brain retraining program? Which one and what were your results? Let me know in the comments!
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