“Brain retraining” has become an increasingly common approach to chronic illness. It’s especially popular for conditions like multiple chemical sensitivities, EMF sensitivity, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and POTS, but people have had success with an enormous range of chronic mental and physical conditions, from depression and anxiety to IBD and other autoimmune disorders.
I’m a bit biased because this is where my focus currently is for my own health, but I do think brain/nervous system approaches are the missing piece for many with chronic illness, especially people who have tried every diet and supplement regimen under the sun and still haven’t seen much improvement.
The central ideal of these approaches is that it isn’t the environment that’s the problem – it’s the way your body is responding to it. Maladaptive response patterns can be conditioned into us in a number of different ways and at any point in our lives, but the common denominator is that the body has learned to operate from a “threatened” mode, rather than a “safe” mode. It’s not quite as simple as the classic dichotomous “fight or flight” vs. “rest and digest,” but that idea does roughly get at what’s going on.
The body does not heal efficiently when it feels threatened, so all these programs use various tools to teach the body that foods and social experiences and exercise and other environmental stimuli do not need to be defended against; that it is safe. (If this sounds a little intangible or pseudosciencey, I hear you – one of my current research goals is to bring some concreteness to these approaches!)[Read more…] about Brain Retraining: How to Choose a Program?