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
Your 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.