Christmas! The most wonderful time  of the year – for some. Unfortunately for those that suffer from chronic and mysterious illnesses,  Christmastime can immeasurably increase feelings of isolation due to not being able to participate in seasonal events and activities. Dealing with the many losses and limitations that come with chronic pain and illness can be intensified at this time of year. The lack of general understanding and misinformation around chronic and mysterious  illnesses ultimately compounds the distress. Fortunately, there is hope. It is not wrapped in an easy package or pillbox – but in a self directed neuroplasticity based program that will empower you through the stages of healing your limbic system and into wellness.  According to the Centre for Disease Control and prevention, there are currently more than one million people in the U.S. with ME/CFS. https://ammes.org/how-many-people-have-mecfs/  Worldwide, there may be as many as 17 – 24 million people with ME/CFS,  fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivity  disorders that leave both doctors and scientists perplexed and unable to help.

Take for example, former Dynamic Neural Retraining client; Barb.  Barb was  54 years old and had been chronically ill with various “mystery illnesses” for almost 28 years.With endless prescriptions, along with visits to doctors and specialists, she had almost given up hope that someday she might recover. Barb had been given a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder, restless leg syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and depression.

But most of all, Barb suffered from lack of hope for recovery.

As it turns out, Barb had been exhibiting symptoms of illness for much longer than 28 years. They actually started when Barb was just a child. She always knew that she had sensitivities to certain smells like most fragrant products and diesel exhaust but didn’t realize that there was a name for this condition—multiple chemical sensitivity. Her health issues started to escalate in her early 20s when the antique oil stove that heated her home had broken. She awoke to a house filled with black smoke and soot and was lucky to get out alive. She also lived by fruit orchards for six years and was regularly exposed to pesticides. The tipping point was in 1982 after a car accident when chronic pain took over her life.

After a second car accident in 1986 life became almost unbearable. Once an enthusiastic and energetic business executive and single mom, Barb finally had to quit her job and go on disability as the pain was just too intolerable. She was given a prescription for pain right away and had to take medications every few hours just to manage. And even after rounds of physiotherapy and other recommended treatments, the pain continued long after the injuries should have healed. Taking care of her three children seemed like a Herculean task and she often felt guilty because of the all of the things that she could no longer do with them. The multitude of symptoms made sense when Barb realized that she had suffered from an acquired brain injury due to various physical traumas and  toxic exposures. From that point on, her brain was stuck in a trauma pattern and was sending alarm messages to the rest of her body that fueled the inflammatory response. The key to Barb’s healing was understanding that the flight or fight circuits in her brain had been altered through trauma and that her symptoms would dissipate with regulating brain function.

The connection between CFS/ME and limbic system is not new. As far back as the early 1990s, Dr. Jay Goldstein, a  former psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist developed a theory in which he proposed that CFS/ME was the result of an insult to the limbic system, which is composed of structures such as the hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, cingulate gyrus, and dentate gyrus. The limbic system is an area located deep in the brain just above the brainstem, and is involved with memory, emotion, and regulation of the autonomic nervous system. This last function is of critical importance to maintaining homeostasis (a relatively stable state of equilibrium or a tendency toward such a state between the different but interdependent elements or groups of elements of an organism) in the body, as the autonomic nervous system regulates appetite, body temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar, sleep, wakefulness, heart rate, digestion – in short, nearly every physiological function necessary for maintaining life.

Dr. Goldstein’s theory stated that CFS/ME is essentially a communication problem between the limbic system and the rest of the nervous system. His “limbic hypothesis” essentially states that no matter what the underlying cause of CFS/ME, the result is an injury (encephalopathy) to the limbic system, which subsequently causes widespread neuroimmune dysfunction. He identified CFS/ME as a “neurosomatic” illness, that is, a disorder of central nervous system processing. Dr. Goldstein based his theory on what he knew of the brain, which was substantial, as well as what he had observed of his patients’ reactions to various psychotropic medications. It has been said that  that Dr. Goldstein was far ahead of his time, if not prophetic.

In order to recover, Barb needed to address the underlying brain trauma cycle. Through consistently interrupting the brain trauma pattern, she was able to stop the alarm response and unconscious stress reaction. When the alarm reaction was halted, it also stopped perpetuating the chronic inflammatory response and her brain and body was able to get back to the business of growth and repair.  These chronic illnesses are no longer classified as a “mystery” when they are viewed from this new paradigm in health. You don’t have to suffer from these conditions, and most of all you don’t have to suffer from lack of hope for recovery.

“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

For more stories of hope and healing see more at https://youtu.be/v5GEQV9Xep4

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