As many of you already know, I suffered from a severe case of limbic system dysfunction. I discovered this through the back door of mold toxicity. Let me explain what that looked like.
I ate an organic, pristine diet, I exercised faithfully and took the best supplements on the planet. Why in the world did I face plant? I suddenly became a shadow of my former self when I bottomed out at ninety-three pounds. My limbic system was impaired, probably since birth.
I am not a neuroscientist or a doctor, however, I have come through a firestorm that launched me into a deeper understanding of how this system works. I received an education on how trauma can affect the survival centers of the brain in the limbic system, and how it relates to illness in the body. Something in my brain had changed and was cross-wired, my body followed. Suddenly, mold, chemicals, EMF’s, and a host of other things became a threat to my body.
My introduction to neuroplasticity and how the brain can be changed was with Annie Hopper’s book Wired for Healing, along with her DNRS program, Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book, Switch On Your Brain, and Dr. Timothy Jennings book, The God Shaped Brain. I was a bit of a skeptic at first, but the science, along with God’s word convinced me of the power of our mind, and the impact it has on our health. Remapping the brain to recover from chronic illness is exactly the path I used to recover from mold toxicity. I have introduced countless clients to this amazing tool and have only seen incredible results.
I was actually relieved to learn from my mold doctor that my physical crash was a result of limbic system cross-wiring. The root of my condition was located physically in the brain and is a form of acquired brain injury that affects many systems in the body. In short, the limbic system is a part of the brain that is responsible for interpreting data, categorizing, and sorting sensory input. It filters billions of pieces of information that we experience at any given moment and then determines how we code, remember, and respond to them. It does everything from storing memories to regulating hormones and is even involved in motor function.
The limbic system also regulates the function of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which regulate things like blood pressure, pulse, breathing, and arousal to emotional circumstances. It plays a key role in friendships, bonding, love, affection, and even our mood expressions. It is the “first responder” in all of life’s circumstances to both perceived and real threats, sending a cascading of messages to the rest of the body on how to act accordingly. Our limbic system seeks to protect us by analyzing and filtering incoming stimuli and assigns a level of importance to each potential threat. Under normal, everyday circumstances, the protective mechanism of the limbic system would only become activated in times of danger or threat.
However, when this system is impaired like mine was, it will adapt itself in response to the injury and can cause cross-wiring or disorganization of “normal” circuits in the brain. This can be the cause of distorted unconscious reactions, sensory perceptions, and protective responses. When limbic impairment is present it can alter the way your brain and body interprets, encodes, and responds to any sensory stimuli. Over time this distorted pattern of perception and reaction becomes habitual and can produce a range of neurological, immunological, and endocrine system abnormalities.
Physical, mental, and emotional traumas do have the ability to alter limbic system function and damage neurons along the cascading system. Damage to this system can severely alter the interpretation of the incoming sensory information. This, in turn, can alter our ability to inhibit our physiological and behavioral reactions. This was certainly true for me. It is true for thousands of others as well, who suffer from chronic illnesses or mystery illnesses.
Most would agree that when a soldier goes to war and sees tragedy of every sort, he can suffer from PTSD. This too is a manifestation of limbic system dysfunction. It is a trauma that causes the brain and body to stay in fight or flight. When the soldier returns home there are numerous sensory triggers that can cause his brain to react as if the initial trauma were actually still happening.
For example, he is having lunch out with his family, and a balloon pops in the restaurant. His brain hears that as enemy fire and he begins tackling people to protect them from enemy fire. However, there isn’t really enemy fire. His limbic system is cross-wired and needs to be retrained so that it does not respond to something harmless as if it were a threat. He truly has no control over that reflex response in the brain. The good news is that he can rewire that and become in control with the proper training. It is not just as simple as the power of positive thinking.
For many who have suffered from emotional, physical, sexual, or relational trauma there seems to be a lack of understanding and compassion towards the real suffering these dear people have endured. Sadly, these people believe themselves to be weak or a failure because they are not functioning well. When the brain is wired for fear and fight or flight, that becomes the normal reflex.
When given the proper training tools these traumas are no longer holding people’s lives and health hostage. This trauma storage has a monumental impact on people’s overall health. Where the brain goes, the body will follow. Abuse and trauma leave a toxic imprint in our memory storage. Most people override the traumas and carry them for many years. Just like I did. Think about it for a minute. A happy, healthy childhood is much more likely to build a happy, healthy body and life. A stressed, difficult, or even abusive childhood will generally build a stressed, difficult, unhealthy life and body.
We are very special creatures created in the image of God. What is best for maintaining our body, mind, emotions, and spirit is far from ideal these days. We have been designed for relationship with God, to love and be loved, affection, tenderness, understanding, relationship, community, physical exertion, nutrient-dense food, sunshine, and rest. When the majority of these things are not present, or present in toxic forms the body is quite susceptible to sickness and limbic system dysfunction.
There is good news! The brain can change! So can the body! It has been believed that we are under the fate of our genes, and what we get, we get. Scientists are now discovering very specific pathways by which changes in human thinking are operating as signals that activate gene expressions. Gene expressions are now believed to be turned on or off by our thinking. The bottom line is that what we are thinking can have a huge impact on our overall limbic health and body health. Of course, God has known this all along. His word is not just a blessing of His love towards us, but it is also life to our body.
Out of His love for us, He kindly reminds us that the way to a peaceful heart is to think about what is true, pure, right, honorable, lovely, of good repute, and worthy of praise (Phil 4:8). The thoughts of worry and fear are never a recipe for a peaceful mind and body. Where the brain goes the body will follow! We can have control over our minds and our thinking. God has graciously given us this ability. For those with limbic system cross-wiring due to trauma, He has given us additional tools to help rewire our system back to a calm, healthy state. It truly is remarkable that the brain can be cross-wired in a way that makes us sick and rewired in a way that restores health.
I have personally used the above-mentioned methods as well as worked with Dr. David Lendemann via Zoom, for limbic retraining. If you have been chronically ill and have not made any progress in your healing, I would urge you to consider this piece of the health puzzle as a powerful tool in your healing journey. It radically changed my recovery and has for countless others I have worked with. If you would like more information on these resources please feel free to contact me!