Ahh November…For many of us the transformation into fall and winter means all things cozy and warm. We get ready to cocoon ourselves in the safety and warmth of our homes. Every culture and family have their own way of doing this from the ever popular Swedish Hygge or just plain old cozy socks , warm apple and cinnamon spiced teas and essential oil diffusers. To some, the home may be a place that gives you unconditional love, happiness, and peace. Home represents our personal sanctuary, the place where we relax and find comfort. Any place can be home as long as you are comfortable and secure there. But what if, your home has unknowingly morphed into a toxic nightmare? The very place that was designed to bring you comfort, could actually be making you sick. From new furniture, textiles, paint, scented candles, scented plug-ins, deodorizers or sprays, or maybe even toxic mold exposure. As one’s health drastically deteriorates, we slowly begin to uncover the truth about the connection between health and the indoor environment. What happens of it this very sacred place that you have lovingly created with time and money is making you sick?
Susan was a 42-year-old woman who was perfectly healthy, had a wonderful career and a full and rewarding life. She developed a condition known as environmental illness—a.k.a. multiple chemical sensitivities—soon after she moved into a newly renovated apartment. Everything was new —paint, flooring, carpets, kitchen cabinets, etc. The toxins that were being released from these products were unknowingly making her sick. Susan’s health was deteriorating with every passing day she spent in her new home. Even though she consulted a number of physicians to help her, none were able to effectively diagnose or reduce her symptoms. However, not one doctor or alternative health care practitioner asked her about her home environment. Meanwhile, the effects of toxicity were affecting Susan’s pets. After seven months of living in this chemical cocktail, she put the pieces of evidence together and decided to move to a healthier home. But the damage was already done. She had already suffered from toxic overload that resulted in a chemical brain trauma that was causing a cycle of inflammation and illness. The chemical injury activated protective mechanisms within the deep circuits of the limbic system, thereby changing the structure and function of her brain. Resulting over-activation of the threat mechanisms in her brain had also altered her sense of smell—a stress response and warning sign of toxic danger. As the illness progressed, exposure to even small amounts of chemicals found in shampoo or detergents would leave her cognitively impaired with a host of life threatening and disabling symptoms that could last for days. While Susan’s story is extreme, it is a very horrific reality for many people. Although her degree of suffering may seem uncommon, toxins in our environment are affecting millions.
Our understanding of the relationship between human health and the indoor environment continues to evolve. People with environmental sensitivities are affected by extremely low levels of irritants that don’t seem to bother others. But notice them or not, chemicals found in everyday products are causing real damage to our brain and body. https://www.ewg.org/healthyhomeguide/glossary/#.W9djghNKjVo
Ms. Marilyn Brachman Hoffman (1930-2013) was a longtime resident of Boston and a graduate of the Wellesley College. For more than half a century of her lifetime, she had suffered from multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), a little understood condition also known as “toxicant-induced loss of tolerance” (TILT). Because of her condition, she was unable to find a residential space free of the chemicals that triggered myriad health symptoms. Therefore, she was forced to live in different hotels in Boston’s downtown area. As a victim of MCS/TILT, every minuscule element of her daily life required a great amount of attention: the paint on walls, the type of wood in furniture, scents in the air, etc. For five decades, she had battled to prove there was something making her sick. However, she said, “What the eye doesn’t see, the mind often doesn’t believe.” “https://sites.sph.harvard.edu/hoffman-program/about-us/about-marilyn-b-hoffman/
Annie Hopper recognized early what Ms. Hauffman describes and developed a ground breaking system based on neuroplasticity that guides your brain and body back to safety after a chemical brain injury. With limbic system Impairment, while the initial exposure was surely a real threat ,the brain perceives that the threat is still present, even when it is not. An initial alarm state may have been appropriate with the original injury, but the on-going 5 alarm stress response is not. Yes, in order to turn off the alarm, the brain must be addressed. When in this chronic maladapted stress response, we often develop heightened sensory awareness as the result of a protective threat mechanism gone rogue. When the limbic system is regulated, sensory perception returns to healthy and normal levels. However, armed with this understanding, we always want to ensure that we live and work in a healthy environment. Rewiring limbic system function does not replace common sense. This represents a new paradigm for healing in understanding brain function as it relates to optimal health. There is renewed hope for those who are suffering from this set of illnesses.
As a result of rewiring the deep limbic circuits of her brain, Susan is now living a normal healthy life once again. Understanding the brain impairment caused by toxic injury and actively rewiring the circuits involved is changing people’s lives. For more information and a list of healthy home products, check out:
“You are not alone, your suffering has not been in vain, and you can live the life that you dreamed of, even if you stopped dreaming a long time ago.” – Annie Hopper – Wired for Healing