Thursday, June 30, 2016

Progress!: An Update on Limbic System Retraining

For DNRS training tips, livestream Q&A sessions, and Health Warrior encouragement, follow me on Instagram @SarahJacksonPanther
My friends!

Thank you for praying with me as I embark on this journey of healing my limbic system. Many of you have asked for specifics about the program I'm using, so I'll share a bit about it, as well as a bit about my progress since starting the program.

The Program:

This program is based on scientific research on neuroplasticity (the brain's ability to change itself) and was born out of the suffering of a therapist, Annie Hopper, who battled extreme chemical sensitivities, EMF sensitivities, and fibromyalgia for many years. Annie had to wear a respirator while in public, and eventually, she had to live in a tent and then a houseboat to avoid chemicals and EMFs. Several years into her illness she intuited that her symptoms were not merely the result of toxins flooding her body, but were instead caused by her brain's abnormal response to these toxins and other stimuli. She threw herself into studying the brain.

After pouring through study after study, Annie discovered that many people with chronic health challenges point to a "perfect storm" marking the onset of their challenges.* The perfect storm is usually a combination of physical trauma — like intense viral or bacterial infection, mold exposure etc. — emotional trauma, prolonged mental stress, and genetic factors. Annie's theory was that these perfect storms can overwhelm the limbic system and push it into a constant state of fight-flight-or-freeze. This resonated with her experience of sickness and has a number of implications:

First, a limbic system that's in constant fight-flight-or-freeze mode is sapping the body of the energy it should allocate to the immune, digestive, and endocrine systems as they fight infection, regulate stress hormones, repair adrenal glands, and digest food.

Second, a hyper-vigilant limbic system interprets innocuous stimuli as life-threatening. Food, light, smells, and sounds all signal DANGER to the brain, so the limbic system overreacts to the stimuli, causing some pretty wild symptoms.

Annie thought that if she could get her limbic system out of fight-flight-or-freeze mode, then her limbic system would no longer respond to the smell of detergent, for example, as if it was life-threatening; and her body would finally be able to channel energy to fighting infection, eliminating toxins, healing her gut etc. She discovered a study, described by Dr. Norman Doidge, author of The Brain that Changes Itself, in which stroke patients regained the use of their affected limbs through a program that rewired their brains, and she was inspired to create a similar program tailored to her health challenges.

She did, and she healed completely. It was nothing short of miraculous. She's taken the system she used to heal her brain and has packaged it in a weekend workshop (or video footage of the workshop for those who can't attend — I used the DVD series), in which she explains the role of the limbic system in our health, explores the science undergirding her system, and teaches participants the system.

After the first four days of the program — called Brain Boot Camp — participants who want to continue with the program must commit to doing it for at least an hour everyday for at least six months in order to experience long-term healing.

There are scores of testimonies from people whose lives have been drastically changed by this program, called The Dynamic Neural Retraining System (or DNRS). Here are a few if you're interested:

"From Wheelchair to Rollerblades"

"Mariah's Health Journey": Post #1) A description of her health challenges — similar to mine in a lot of ways; Post #2) A post describing her recent healing through DNRS.

Overcoming Food Sensitivities (and chronic pain, chronic fatigue, migraines, and MCS)

One of the almost fantastical discoveries of neuroscientists is that our conscious mind can rewire our brain — even a brain that's been injured by pathogens or stroke. DNRS is based on this discovery and aims to help the brain create new associations with innocuous stimuli through focused, repetitive attempts to change behavior, feeling, and emotion.

For example, if someone smells perfume and observes his symptoms ratchet up as his body goes into fight or flight, he must immediately interrupt the brain's cascade of messages to his body by simultaneously changing his behavior, thinking, and feeling, and thus signaling to his brain that the perfume is not life-threatening. If he does this each time he smells or even thinks about perfume, his brain begins to associate perfume with the new pattern of thinking, feeling, and behavior. DNRS provides a series of steps that facilitate this change in thinking, feeling, and behavior anytime the limbic system is triggered.

My Progress: 

I had expected my neurological symptoms would be the first symptoms to disappear, so I was surprised when, within days of starting the program, my energy levels improved quickly and dramatically instead. Now that I have a better understanding of the program, I realize this progress is ideal: my body will use this new energy to heal itself, which will ultimately eliminate all other symptoms. In the meantime, I'm thankful for every little change I see, and I'm enjoying adding new activities to my life.

Last week I enjoyed going on regular walks, running my own errands, and even going on a fun outing! The highlight was a trip to Portland's Rose Garden with my sister and Abi, the dog she was babysitting.

If you're ever in Portland in June, you must visit the Rose Garden. It boasts acres of fragrant roses situated atop a hill with stunning views of the city and Mt. Hood.

Before touring the gardens, we enjoyed a leisurely picnic on the grounds. My sister was curious about DNRS, so we laid in the sun for hours while I explained as much of the science as I could to her.

It's so nice having someone who wants to listen to hours of talk about neuroscience! And oh! the weather was absolutely glorious, and the breeze carried the fragrance of thousands of roses.

I didn't want the day to end!

This week, I've continued to see improvement: I got a cold! I haven't had a cold in 1.5 years, and getting a cold, as many of my friends with lyme, EBV, CMV, and CIRS know, is a wonderfully encouraging sign of healing, as it indicates the more normal function of an immune system that's been in autoimmune mode for a long time. Woo hoo, and HOORAY for colds!

If you or someone you love has fibromyalgia, ME, CIRS, POTS, chemical sensitivities, food sensitivities, PTSD, chronic pain, EMF sensitivities, light and sound sensitivities, chronic lyme and more (click here to see a list of the conditions from which DNRS has helped people recover), then I highly recommend trying this program, and I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about it.

Here's the DNRS website, should you want to check out the program for yourself:

Dynamic Neural Retraining System

And finally, would you continue to pray for me as I devote the next six months to doing this program? I will need stamina and resolve to remain committed, especially through the bumps in the road. Here is my vision for 2017, after finishing the program in December:
  • I will be healthy and strong
  • I will be able to eat and drink whatever I want
  • I will exercise regularly and look forward to investing more in my career
  • I will travel easily and regularly
Would you pray that God uses this program to help me realize these goals? And would you also pray for discernment as I continue to try new supplements this summer to, well, "supplement" my limbic system retraining?!

Thank you, my friends!

As always, I'm cheering for ya, Home Skillets,


P.S. Minutes after posting this, I smelled a fragrant deodorant and thought "That smells good!" You guys. In the past I was overcome by a headache, nausea,  and perhaps vertigo when I smelled deodorant. It's so nice to smell something synthetic (and lovely) and enjoy it! Moooore progress!

*Not everyone experiences a "perfect storm" trigger

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  1. This is fascinating! I've read quite a bit about fight, flight or freeze mode. I've read the book, The Whole Brain Child and it talks about neurons that fire together wire together. That sounds like what you are doing, creating new neuropathways. Oh, happy, happy joy, joy! I'm so happy to hear you feeling so encouraged. Woot! ~Sharon

    1. Sharon!

      I've just discovered a bunch of comments by you from the last year in my blogger spam box. Blogger must not have recognized you as a human. Oh dear. I'm sorry I didn't respond to any of them, as I didn't see them.

      Yes, "neurons that fire together wire together" is one of the principles on which this program is built. It's pretty wild that a body can heal simply by taking advantage of neuroplasticity. What a wonderful gift God gave us when he made our brains plastic!

      I hope you are well,


  2. Thanks for sharing. I work in the neuro field as a PT and I always love hearing about new and helpful treatments.

    1. Melissa,

      You're welcome! This is a fantastic program and I'm glad to recommend it as a resource.



  3. This is wonderful!! I'm sooo excited for your progress and future! Praying for more wonderful results. I look forward to your blogs of travels, adventures and freedom!!

    1. Thank you, April! I am, too. :) So glad for your prayers. Hope you and your [growing] family are well.


  4. It is so great to hear of your recovery! I just started the program a few days ago and am amazed at how i will get a few minutes of elevated health that I haven't experienced since coming down with this awful mysterious illness. Here's to the start of a new journey! God bless you!

    1. Ryan, I'm sorry for my delayed response. I am delighted to hear that the program is already working for you! Thank you for sharing. It's always encouraging to hear about the many ways God is using this program to heal people from such serious illness.

      I also experienced bouts of relief my first week of doing the program, and as the months progress I am amazed at my healing. I hope you continue to see signs of healing that energize this whole process. :) I'd love to continue to hear updates from you as you press ahead.