Is Stress Making You Sick?
Tina recently came to see me as a new patient in my clinic. Tina had always been a worrier and she had battled feeling anxious and having trouble sleeping through the night for years. These had been manageable problems for her. Then something happened that changed things for Tina in a big way. Tina’s young adult son was convicted of a serious crime and he was facing imprisonment at exactly the same time that her husband was laid off from his job of twenty five years.
Almost overnight, Tina began to experience a dramatic increase in anxiety, a sense of hopelessness and marked increase in her insomnia. She suddenly would experience a sense of panic. She began to notice a host of new gastrointestinal complaints including diarrhea, heartburn, loss of appetite and bloating after eating certain foods. She started noticing trouble remembering names and finding words. She could not stay focused and was always forgetting why she had come in to a room looking for something. She noticed that her muscles and joints ached almost all the time and she began to experience frequent headaches. She had an overwhelming sense of fatigue and felt like she could not get out of bed on some days. It seemed like she would cry over anything. Tina told me that she wanted her life back.
I see folks like Tina in my practice of chronic, complex illness due to environmental toxins almost every day. Often patients like Tina are told that there is nothing wrong with them other than they are under too much stress. This is not the case. Usually the basic blood tests and xrays don’t show much, if any, abnormality. Indeed life stress is often the straw that breaks the camel’s back when a person, like Tina, is struggling with disease due to progressive, on-going exposure to environmental toxins such as viruses, germs, molds, toxic chemicals like pesticides, toxic metals like mercury, and toxic electromagnetic energy from wifi’s and other electronic devices.
Reversing Chronic Fatigue Requires Addressing Three Areas
I have learned that to help someone like Tina return to her former state of wellness, I must help her address three things. First, we must try to identify ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS that she is suffering from in order to stop exposure and eliminate them from her body. Second, we must identify why she manifests an increased sensitivity to the toxins. This is called her BIOTERRAIN. An individual’s bioterrain is what makes that individual act like a canary in the coal mine. The third thing that has to happen to return an individual like Tina to a state of wellness involves correcting an impairment of the body’s stress center known as the LIMBIC SYSTEM.
Correcting the limbic system is the subject of this blog post.
The Limbic System is the Motherboard of Our Brain’s Computer
The limbic system is that part of the brain that controls our sympathetic nervous system (FIGHT, FLIGHT, FEAR, FREEZE) and our parasympathetic nervous system (REST, DIGEST, REGENERATE, REPAIR). It is made up in part by the hippocampus, hypothalamus and the paired amygdalas. The limbic system is interconnected with the smell brain or rhinencephalon and is wired to almost all of the other systems of the body including the immune system, endocrine/hormone system/digestive system, energy system and higher brain systems emotions and problem solving. It is like the motherboard of our brain’s computer. The limbic system is especially susceptible to injury or impairment by environmental toxins and infections. In Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or CIRS as described by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, injury to the limbic system accounts for much of the pathology that he describes in his protocol. Limbic system injury also explains much of the pathology described by Dr. Richard Horowitz in Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome or MSIDS.
In centuries past when the world was not a toxic place as it is today, the limbic system would respond to THREAT with fight, flight, fear and freeze such as a fire, an attack by a wild animal-something obvious. The sense of panic caused a response that helped the individual survive that threat. The limbic system would then return fairly quickly to a state of rest, digest, repair, regenerate. Unfortunately, the situation today is that the limbic system gets stuck in a setting of perpetual threat (fight, flight, fear, freeze). This is also called SYMPATHETIC OVERDRIVE. When this happens the limbic system generates false signals that cause real and measurable changes of the various systems under its control. The immune system is off, the hormones are off, digestion is off, mitochondrial energy production is off, and your higher brain functions are off. In short the whole body is in a state of disease.
Although I have known for years that stressful life events would trigger real disease, I used to think, naively, that elimination of the stress would allow the limbic system to return to a state of normalcy. I now understand that except in rare circumstances, this is not the case. I now understand that although it is important to 1. identify and remove the environmental toxins and 2. reverse the person’s increased sensitivity to toxins, it usually requires resetting or reprogramming the limbic system to completely clear the symptoms. This process is fairly easy to learn but requires much repitition to accomplish.
Limbic System Retraining is not Difficult but Requires Repitition
There are a number of ways to accomplish this. Some call it STRESS MANAGEMENT. The term I like to use is LIMBIC SYSTEM RETRAINING.
Some of the most successful programs that I have found to accomplish limbic system retraining are Lindsay Mitchell’s Vital-Side program ( https://vital-side.com ), Annie Hopper’s Dynamic Neural Retraining ( https://retrainingthebrain.com ) and Ashtok Gupta’s Amygdala Retraining ( https://www.guptaprogramme.com ). These are not the only systems or ways to reset an impaired limbic system but simply methods that have worked for my patients frequently in the past. Other systems that may be beneficial are HeartMath, Emotional Freedom Technique/tapping, NeuroBio Feedback and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing/ EMDR. There are a number of other techniques that may also help.
To learn more about how you can recover from chronic, complex illness, I welcome the opportunity to work with you and my team of healers at Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas.
Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas. After obtaining a degree in Zoology from the University of Texas in Austin and obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy. After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative where he now offers a functional/holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom. He has taken this integrative approach to chronic illness for the past 25 years. His special interests are chronic, complex illness due to environmental toxin exposures such as mold, germs and chemicals. He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach. He is board certified by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. His motto is “Health and Wellness from Head to Toe”. www.texasintegrative.com office phone-512-800-5309.