Limbic System Impairment and Chronic Illness

Updated: Jun 23




In my personal and professional experience, I have seen over and over again how limbic system dysfunction negatively impacts our health and emotional responses to life.


(Learn more about the limbic system here.)


What exactly is Limbic System Impairment? Simply put, Limbic System Impairment occurs when the brain’s threat/survival response becomes overreactive. The brain starts to create a Rolodex of "triggers" to look for and recognize that it has decided are harmful. Triggers can be chemicals, hormone changes, infection, toxins, emotions, sensations, even people!


When the Limbic System activity becomes hypervigilant and over-reactive looking for these triggers, the Conscious Brain (Pre-frontal Cortex) loses its ability to help evaluate whether these triggers/threats are real. The lack of prefrontal 'help' to discern true threat from false threat results in excessive stress hormone release and dysregulation of different systems in the body (Endocrine, Digestive, Immune, Somatosensory). The imbalanced biochemistry from the over-reactive limbic system then results in increased inflammation and a weakened immune system, and the body loses its ability to effectively fight infection, detoxify, and heal injury. This sets up the perfect condition for chronic illness.


Chronic infection is one condition commonly associated with limbic system impairment. When the body is overridden with stress hormones, weakening the immune system, one becomes much more susceptible to infection, and it can be very difficult for the body to effectively clear it.


Chronic pain is another condition that can be caused by limbic system dysfunction. In this case, the brain inappropriately sends pain signals to the body.


In the case of chemical sensitivity, the limbic system misinterprets chemical threats to such a degree that minuscule amounts of chemicals can result in extreme stress responses and allergy reactions.


These are but a few examples of how the brain and the limbic system can run faulty messages to the body and cause us to chase “ghost” issues. In my own healing, I often said to myself, “the symptom feels real but it's actually a faulty wiring in the brain creating this biochemistry or sensation.”


My mantra for limbic-related symptoms is “feels real...but the meaning is not true”. Another mantra I like for chronic pain is “I feel sore and yet I am safe”. I recommend saying that to yourself if you have these issues I describe.


Subconscious Resistance To Change


Brain retraining practices also help us to become aware of our limbicly cross-wired unconscious resistance patterns. These unhealthy emotional belief patterns are not easy to override. In fact, it's these resistance patterns that have an incredible amount of control over our behaviors, and we are often slaves to these emotions and beliefs unless we become conscious of them. (More on limbic system resistance to change here) These unconsciously held beliefs about change often result in our efforts to heal being thwarted or sabotaged. It can be the most frustrating part of the process of healing! The good news is that we can change our beliefs in different ways. Brain retraining can create new associations and emotional habits which over time change our beliefs. And there are other ways to shift our beliefs using quantum healing tools that I utilize in more advanced practices once the limbic system issues are calmed down. Learn more about my customized Brain Rewiring Attunements here for addressing unconscious resistance patterns.


I have found that unless one can be willing to consciously interrupt the limbic protection response, it is difficult for most treatments or therapies to be successful in the long term without unconscious self-sabotage acting up again. I personally teach a variety of methods to help with the healing process of illness, trauma, etc, and I always start with the basics of brain retraining. I know that unless the person can override their limbic system resistance to change through consciously engaging their prefrontal cortex (the goal of brain retraining), it can be difficult to make long-term progress with any healing modality.


Might it be possible that your illness or trauma pattern could shift if you were willing to let go of all the emotional resistance to the situation? My experience tells me that yes, our beliefs and our body chemistry can shift when we create an emotional state of non-resistance to our problem and even self-generate emotions of love, joy, and gratitude while experiencing our current challenges. I know that seems impossible when you are in pain, or have severe fatigue, or have raging anxiety. But I have been there, and it is possible to self-generate joy even when you're sick.


Resources/Help: You can learn more about how to address chronic Lyme disease, trauma, mold toxicity, chronic fatigue, allergies, and a host of other chronic illnesses in my "Creating Calm" online course and through free resiliency training and my YouTube or Instagram channel.


Love and Light,


Dr. Cat