How Neuroplasticity Healed My Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

How Neuroplasticity Healed My Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

Note from Jennifer: Libby Louer has graciously agreed to share with us how she healed her multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) using neuroplasticity. Though other healing modalities like nutrient supplementation are necessary for whole health healing, the brain is an integral part of overcoming chronic illness.

I love sharing new alternative healing therapies with you!

How Neuroplasticity Healed My MCS

If you’ve been sick with any type of vague, widespread symptoms for longer than a day, it’s probably been suggested that it’s all in your head. While there are many phenomenal doctors out there, they all have a limit to their knowledge. When they reach that limit, they often tell us that we’re making it up.

You may have gotten angry, resentful, despairing, or if you’re anything like me, you may have started to believe them. You might have joked with your friends about what a crazy hypochondriac you are.

Then you found sites like this, and you learned that you’re not making it up at all. You actually have real problems, and now you have the resources to start healing.

I don’t think you’re a hypochondriac at all…
…but I do think that it’s all in your head.

I contracted Lyme disease in 2005, and I’ve been through the roller coaster of treatments, from antibiotics to homeopathy to energy medicine. What I found most fascinating was the science of neuroplasticity, the idea that the brain is moldable and that we can change how it works.

Neuroplasticity is being implemented in treatments for everything from blindness to back pain to stroke. It works by rewiring the brain’s pathways to make new, healthy connections.

Stroke survivors are able to make new connections around the dead zone in order to retrieve some of the lost functioning. In conditions where stress plays a huge role, such as multiple chemical sensitivities, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, the dysfunctional part of the brain is the amygdala.

The Brain’s Fear Center

Human brain AMYGDALA - cross sectionYour amygdala is your brain’s fear center. It controls your fight or flight response in the face of danger and sends out signals when you experience a traumatic event.

It also activates a response when you encounter environmental toxins. When you experience both at the same time, your amygdala goes a bit wonky.

This could be something as simple as buying a new home (stressful) which has mold in it (toxic) or something more sinister such as contracting Lyme disease (stressful & toxic).

Your wires get crossed and you start to react to everything, even very benign substances, as if they’re that initial toxic substance.

Retraining Your Brain

You can heal by retraining your brain to make new, healthier connections.

Retraining your brain involves a series of steps that are designed to calm your fear sensors and heal your mind. They should be followed consistently for at least 6 months to effectively retrain your brain, though some may start seeing results immediately.

1. Stop yourself from thinking about your symptoms.

You might keep logs, obsessively research your symptoms or have a near panic-attack when you feel yourself getting worse. You need to stop that right now. Your success depends on it.

2. When you feel your mind drifting towards your symptoms, think about something else.

This is not easy, I know. Come up with a script, sing and dance, call a friend, try some EFT, do whatever you need to do to get out of your head and away from thinking about your issues.

3. Stop stressing.

If you’re trying to calm your amygdala you’ll need to stop watching the news. Don’t watch any crime shows and give up your addiction to horror movies. Your fear sensor is in overdrive, stop encouraging it.

4. Visualize success.

This is the most important step. Close your eyes and connect with an amazing memory from your past. Access it fully. What were you wearing? What did you smell? Who was with you? What were they saying?

Find as much detail in that memory as possible. Access the emotion.

What would you call it? Holding onto that feeling, create a new image of your future healthy life. What are you doing in it? Who is with you? How do you feel? Do this exercise at least once a day, or more often.

5. Start a gratitude journal.

At the end of each day write down at least 10 good things that happened. Keep your language positive and avoid using sick words like ‘pain’.

Think you don’t have anything to be thankful for? Start small.

When I started out I would write things like “my hands were flexible for 10 minutes” which is a positive way of saying “for 10 minutes my hands didn’t feel stiff”.

Focusing on those positive experiences will let your amygdala know that you are no longer in crisis mode.

6. Keep following your treatment plan.

Do everything helpful that you’ve been doing, but stop your brain from thinking about it.

If your doctor requires you to keep a log (mine did) do it at the end of the day and don’t spend any longer than a minute on it.

Minimize the time and effort you spend on your health in order to focus more of your energy on your life.

Change Your Perspective

I suspect that some of you are in disbelief, angry, or unsure what to make of this. You’ve finally figured out that your symptoms are legitimate, and now I’m telling you that they’re not?

Not true. Your experience is real and your symptoms are valid. If you’re dealing with an unhealthy gut, your gut is not going to change by you ignoring it. However, the manifestation of that unhealthy gut can improve dramatically.

Your symptoms can and will subside through changing the way your brain works. Don’t ever give up eating real food, good quality bone broths and probiotic-rich foods. Do stop your suffering in the meantime.

Your brain is a powerful weapon. Use it to your advantage.

Libby Louer is social worker, holistic health coach, wife and mom of 2. Libby is a lover of essential oils, real food, and natural healthcare. With the help of mega-doses of vitamins and an obsession with research, Libby was able to heal from chronic Lyme disease and autoimmune issues. She writes about natural healing at libbylouer.com.

Jennifer Nervo is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Reiki Master Practitioner & teacher, and Aromatherapist. Her focus is on digestive, nervous, and immune system dysfunction and the fields of functional nutrition & psychoneuroimmunology. She works with all conditions and diseases including environmental and food allergies, autoimmune diseases, multiple chemical sensitivity, diabetes, eczema, anxiety, weight loss as a symptom of dis-ease, and gut-brain disorders like autism.

When she’s not herding her small troupe of monkeys or seeing clients, her free time is packed with researching and perfecting new wellness techniques (her not-so-secret passion). Jennifer is currently a group leader for the newest class of Nutritional Therapy Practitioners out of Ann Arbor, MI, studying for the national board exam in holistic nutrition, and running a combined distance and brick and mortar practice in metro Detroit. She’s also a homeschooling suburbanite, foodie, and mama to two littles and a schnoodle.



21 thoughts on “How Neuroplasticity Healed My Multiple Chemical Sensitivities”

  • I have a question for Libby: I have MCS and I generally adhere to the above guidelines. One of the main anxieties I currently have is I dread my weekly treatments (I alternate between lymphatic drainage and chiropractic care/energy work each week) because I have an unusually difficult day following the treatment. The treatments are obviously helping, but I don’t want to encourage anxiety if it is hindering me from getting better. I wonder how you would approach the problem. Would you discontinue treatment or would you continue and try to focus on the positive aspects of the treatment?

    • I’m going to poke my nose in Miss Melissa. 🙂 Look into flower essences. They work on the concept of vibrational healing and are great for clearing emotions. The essences themselves cause no allergic reactions, so the only possible component that would bother you is the alcohol they are steeped in. You can avoid any reactions by using it transdermally (on your skin).

  • Could this piece of writing just be what I needed ? I’m thinking that it may be so ! You got my attention when you used the example of having stress in one’s life and then moving to a moldy house, well that was me 25 years ago, when all of my sensitivities and food problems started. I have spent spent a lot of money chasing after one thing or another, and trying this diet and that, and seeing this practitioner or reading that person’s blog, or buying so and so’s book, and I have yet to heal my food sensitivities. I spend hours and hours at the computer researching every week on a daily basis. I’m now 59, but when I turned 50, I felt that everything has gotten worse, and since I live in Maine, November through February kicks it up a few more notches, too. Lately, I have been feeling like saying that there is no way out of this restrictive diet and lifestyle that I am on. Despair follows that thought. I’m a creative and artistic person, and I need to replace all the fear about food with my art. I’m going to follow your steps and see what happens. I’m still going to eat healthy foods that work for MY body and not follow any one diet and feel deprived and hungry anymore, because It just adds to the feeling of helplessness when they don’t work. Your article was timely for me, and thanks so much for posting it. If you can think of anything else to help me get started in supporting my effort I’d love to hear from you. Thanks a million, I’m very excited to start my day today with this new way of thinking ! xo jackie

    • Hello there to Jackie and all. The frontiers of neuroplasticity are really making inroads dealing with these challenging syndromes. I have used the GuptaProgramme.com to deal with CFDS and MCS and did improve and am still using it. You can go to the website for more information. I encourage all to read the book, “The Brain’s Way of Healing,” by Norman Doidge MD. It helps to support why amygdala retraining works.

      For more you can research Annie Hopper’s approach at http://www.wiredforhealing.com and read her book. Norman Doidge’s first book, “The Brain That Changes Itself,” inspired her to help overcome severe MCS and emf sensitivity and to proceed to develop her program.

  • I overcame 15yrs of ME using this method, it is truly astounding how effective it can be. However, it was much harder for me than these simple guidelines suggest (this is not a criticism of the article, just saying..). I don’t think I would have stayed with it or been consistent enough without a very experienced practitioner. We can put up enormous resistence to changing ingrained habits, so it was really gruelling at times to stick with it and push through all the inner resistance that came up to making the shifts. I’d done all kinds of diets and therapies before trying this and the results were always superficial or non-existent. Doing this was transforming.

  • Charlotte, how did you go about finding a practitioner ? Do you need to see them face to face, or can you work with them on the phone or by Skyping them ? Sorry to ask, but what is ME ?

    • I was actually told about my practitioner by my aunt who had heard about her from a friend – so word of mouth. I saw her face to face over 3 days then all follow up was over the phone. The exact training i did would have to be done face to face but other practitioners may work differently. Mine was an NLP practitioner with a specialism in ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue syndrome)

  • Check into tapping or EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique. There are websites, books, youtube videos….Gary Craig, Dawson Church, Nick Ortner, Brad Yates are some names to look for.

  • NeurOptimal Neurofeedback is an effortless way of accomplishing the same results. It is a means of providing the brain with feedback about its own activities, like showing your brain a mirror, once the brain becomes aware off its own quirks, it sorts itself out automatically releasing stuck ineffective patterns.

  • I so desperately need to try this! My question is…..
    Situation: I had my carpets cleaned, they were supposed to use only the natural treatment but pretreated it with chemicals….ugh!
    I was feeling dizzy when I went downstairs and felt alarmed. When I found out they had pretreated the carpet, I went into a complete panic….which often happens when I am exposed and know that I am going to have a MCS “episode”.
    My 4 year son and I were terribly sick that day and night and the following day. Since then, I have been dealing with a racing heart, light headed, digestion issues, etc…
    I am doing everything I can to get the chemicals out of my home, but it is taking time.

    Is this the type of situation, where you are recommending to try to not think about the symptoms? I am trying so hard to not thinking about them, but my heart is pounding so hard I can hear it in my ears.

    Would you be able to offer any of your experiences of how you worked through a body crash from MCS?
    I would be so truly grateful. I know neuroplasticity is what I need to heal….. After reading about it, I know the Limbic system is where my damage is. I just need to understand how to do this during the scary MCS “episodes” or “crashes”.

    Thank you for your time!
    Warmly,
    Michele

  • I too have MCS/reactive airways. I’m a therapist and I provide Neurofeedback. I also do other alternative treatments. I’m currently treating with Dr. Bradford who has me on the Ziem protocol and I’ve had excellent results.

  • If you’d like to get a jumpstart on your healing I can wholeheartedly recommend attending a training session at Dynamic Neural Retraining Systems. Their method is based on the principles of neuroplasticity and their results have been so good that their method is now going through clinical trials at two universities in Alberta, Canada. When I attended one of their courses I was almost completely light blind and had to wear 2 pairs of sunglasses when I went out, and my immune system was so off-kilter that any small breeze running over my head could make me sick for days. I had also been suffering from extreme fatigue brought on by Epstein-Barr virus for over five years. It’s not a quick fix – you have to practice at least an hour a day for six months – but the results have been remarkable. Just this fall I completed a 1200 kilometer walking pilgrimage on the island of Shikoku in Japan, something I never could have imagined! Check them out at https://retrainingthebrain.com and make sure to watch the video testimonials. All of the instructors have themselves recovered from “mystery” illnesses. One of the assistants had been confined to a reclining wheelchair for years and now is a regular runner and roller skater. The method might appear “miraculous” but it’s all based on science. Good luck!

  • Hello there to all. The frontiers of neuroplasticity are really making inroads dealing with these challenging syndromes. I have used the GuptaProgramme.com to deal with CFDS and MCS and did improve and am still using it. You can go to the website for more information. I encourage all to read the book, “The Brain’s Way of Healing,” by Norman Doidge MD. It helps to support why amygdala retraining works.

    For more you can research Annie Hopper’s approach at http://www.wiredforhealing.com and read her book. Norman Doidge’s first book, “The Brain That Changes Itself,” inspired her to help overcome severe MCS and emf sensitivity and to proceed to develop her program.

  • I have MCS largely caused by a metabolic defect. My sympathetic activation symptoms became unbearable. Knowing I also suffer from complex PTSD, I went to a PhD trauma therapist who uses neurofeedback. The neurofeedback helped all my symptoms, and I am now a firm believer that there is a link between childhood trauma and MCS. In short, the brain is so on edge that it can’t turn off any stimuli. Now, I still become ill after exposure to things, due to the defect, but I don’t get headaches, nausea, or rashes anymore. In fact, sometimes I don’t smell things that other people do. It’s such a relief.

    • That’s wonderful! I work with trauma on the physical, spiritual, and mental levels, so I absolutely agree. The nervous system is a critical key to healing.

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