What are Limbic System Retraining Exercises?

By

Shana

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Published on

June 05, 2024

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Updated on

June 05, 2024

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Robert Stevens

Limbic System

What is the limbic system?

Also referred to as, “the emotional brain,” the limbic system is a complex set of structures in the brain responsible for interpreting sensory information and determining whether something is threatening or benign. Then, based on this determination, it will prompt the nervous system to activate the fight or flight response if a threat is perceived or return to parasympathetic functioning (rest and digest) if no threat is deemed present.

Because the primary job of the limbic system is to keep us safe, it sometimes reacts on the side of caution and learns from past events to overprotect us in the future. For instance, if in the past, while under a large amount of psychological or emotional stress, you were exposed to a large number of chemicals from the environment, according to the limbic kindling theory, a “conditioning effect” may take place in which the limbic system “wires in” an association between the chemicals and the stress response. Once a conditioning event has taken place, the brain and body may continue to produce an excessive stress response to even a normal amount of chemicals, such as those found in ordinary household products.

Limbic System Impairment or Dysfunction

As we mentioned above, in some instances the functioning of the limbic system can be impaired such that the “threat-detection & response” mechanism effectively gets stuck on high alert, and sensory stimuli get misclassified as threatening when they are actually benign. This leads to chronic elevation of the sympathetic stress response, which is now being understood as possibly being the root of many modern complex chronic health conditions, including:

  • Food sensitivities
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS)
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Pain Syndrome
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Dysautonomia (a disorder of autonomic nervous system)
  • Brain fog
  • EMF (electromagnetic field) sensitivities or EMS (electromagnetic hypersensitivity)
  • Lyme Disease, prolonged COVID, and Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome
  • Immune systemdysfunction
  • Emotional trauma, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions
  • CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndromes)

More research needs to be conducted into the causes of the above conditions, but one active hypothesis points to “central sensitization” and “subconscious conditioning” as playing a major role.

What is optimistic is that we know from the field of neuroplasticity, that the brain is highly malleable; it is able to change its own structure and function in response to new inputs and deliberate exercises. If you or someone you know has suffered a substantial decline in quality of life due to the onset of a chronic illness, re-origin has many success stories as well as research that give reasons for hope.

What is limbic system retraining?

Limbic system retraining refers to any exercise aimed at restoring proper function to the limbic system. More often than not, for those struggling with a chronic health condition, the limbic system has been reset to a heightened state of arousal and anxiety. This leads to hyper-sensitization, and increased levels of immune activity and inflammation.

In such cases, the goal of any limbic system retraining exercise program should be to systematically desensitize the limbic system with respect to the triggering stimuli. This is all possible thanks to neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s innate ability to change both its structure and its function in response to new activity and information. For example, if you’ve ever gone from not knowing how to ride a bike, and then being able to find your balance and ride… you’ve used neuroplasticity. If you once were afraid to fly, and now you love jet-setting off to different places… you’ve used neuroplasticity. Every time a new habit, routine, or skill is acquired, the brain has changed accordingly.

When it comes to rewiring the stress response, there are a small handful of basic principles that make up good limbic retraining exercises.

6 Key characteristics of a good limbic system retraining exercises

The process of improving brain function by building new beneficial neural pathways is made possible thanks to brain plasticity. Just like a muscle can respond to training, so too can the limbic system responds with the help of deliberate brain retraining or ‘rewiring’ exercises. However, not all exercises are created equally. For anyone looking to overcome a heightened threat reflex, the following elements must be included in an effective brain retraining program:

Identification

The person must become aware of the heightened stress response, what triggers it, and how it feels, in the body and mind.

Interruption

The limbic retraining exercises should prompt the individual to interrupt the vicious cycle of reacting to symptoms. This is typically done through a combination of body language, somatosensory mapping, and Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP) to rewrite old mental scripts or trauma loops.

Elevated Emotion

The person must learn to shift their brain chemistry from CAN (Cortisol, Adrenaline, Norepinephrine) dominant to DOSE (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, Endorphins) dominant. This is typically done through mental rehearsal, allowing oneself to become immersed in a positive and pleasant sensory experience. Listening to music, dancing, visualizing health, and walking in nature are all good options.

Somatic Experience

It isn’t enough to simply understand this process in your brain cortex. Rather, an emotional shift must be felt in your body. It is for this reason that such sayings as: “Lose your mind and come to your senses” can be helpful to employ.

Intrinsic Reward

The process of identifying, interrupting, and replacing an old, unpleasant experience or response with a new positive one, eventually becomes its own reward. This triggers the release of dopamine with respect to the act of improving one’s brain through limbic retraining exercises; thus, it becomes easier and easier to maintain motivation, and results beget further results.

Repetition, repetition, repetition

Bruce Lee once said: “I don’t fear the man who practiced 10,000 different kicks. I fear the man who practiced 1 kick, 10,000 times.” A core principle of any effective brain rewiring program is repetition. If permanent change is the goal, then it must be understood that, just like going to the gym, the brain and body do not change in any meaningful way based on what is done once or twice. Rather, it’s what you do repeatedly that leads to lasting change.

Key benefits of a quality brain retraining program

A quality brain retraining program should produce the following benefits:

  • Reduce anxiety & stress
  • Restore health & homeostasis
  • Increase energy & wellbeing
  • Improve focus & productivity
  • Break free and heal from “self-perpetuating inflammatory conditions:”
  • Sensitivities (food, chemical, EMF)
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
  • Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain
  • Lyme Disease
  • Post Viral Fatigue & Prolonged COVID
  • Feeling overwhelmed, burnout, anxiety, or depression

The re-origin program has been designed by our expert Ph.D. Neuroscientists and Clinical Psychologists, to incorporate easy-to-use, step-by-step techniques that anyone can learn and apply to his or her own unique condition. If you’re ready to see how it works, try a free trial today.

Limbic System Retraining FAQ

Can you retrain the limbic system?

Yes, scientific research shows that it is absolutely possible to retrain the limbic system using self-directed neuroplasticity exercises like the ones in the re-origin program.

What is the goal of limbic system retraining?

The aim of any limbic system retraining program is to ultimately to calm the nervous system and restore homeostasis to the body. This is very similar to the goals of any functional medicine protocol, but rather than requiring a physician, one can begin to improve one’s state of wellness through the use of deliberate and specific brain retraining exercises.

What are the benefits of retraining the limbic system?

Some of the documented benefits of limbic retraining include:

  • Reduction of the chronic stress response
  • Improved energy and ability to recover
  • Improved mood and sense of wellbeing
  • Reduction in physical symptoms related to limbic hyperactivity
  • Recovery from chronic self-perpetuating inflammatory conditions

How to calm my limbic system?

  1. Limit your exposure to stress
  2. Become aware of what’s triggering your stress response
  3. Interrupt the pattern using a fully body-mind-based brain retraining technique (which you can learn in our program)
  4. Practice and repeat (our coaching program can help)

Join a community of people who are all learning the same things and making strides on their own healing journey!

Join the re-origin limbic retraining program

Re-origin offers a science-based, self-directed neuroplasticity program for people struggling with chronic health conditions. Sign up for a free info call to see if re-origin is the right fit for you.

References

  1. Jason, L. A., Porter, N., Herrington, J., Sorenson, M., & Kubow, S. (2009). Kindling and Oxidative Stress as Contributors to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Journal of behavioral and neuroscience research, 7(2), 1–17. Accessible from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3022475/
  2. Gupta A. (2002). Unconscious amygdalar fear conditioning in a subset of chronic fatigue syndrome patients. Medical hypotheses, 59(6), 727–735. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0306-9877(02)00321-3
  3. https://www.ebtconnect.net/ebt_hypothesis.pdf

By

Shana

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