Mind-Body Medicine For Multiple Sensitivity – Micki Rose
What do you do when you are down to very few foods, can only use olive oil on your skin, react when you walk past smelly-candle shops and then become sensitive to water? You panic! Or....
You start to wonder whether you are barking up the wrong tree in your approach to your unwellness. Nutritionist-naturopath Micki Rose charts her journey and the book she has just written to help others along that path.
What do you do when you are down to very few foods, can only use olive oil on your skin, react when you walk past smelly-candle shops and then become sensitive to water? You panic!
I had been suffering severe mouth pain, migraine, crushing chronic fatigue and body-wide muscle pain for years. Convinced it was a 100% bona-fide physical problem, I had done all the usual elimination diet stuff, lowered toxicity, reduced inflammation, corrected the gut and liver, yada, yada, yada.
I’d even invented the TGF (Truly Gluten Free) approach of dairy and grain free which had helped but not enough, gone AIP (autoimmune protocol) and eliminated every food bar a few and then couldn’t get them back in! I realised I couldn’t follow any of my own patient protocols because I simply couldn’t tolerate any foods, supplements, herbs, homeopathics or medicines orally or via my skin. I couldn’t even tolerate painkillers. It was a nightmare. I truly started to fear for my future, and even my life.
Frankly, I’d had enough of the ‘cut it out’ approach and had nothing left to cut out anyway, so, I looked for what I call ‘nil by mouth’ healing: non-ingestive ways of getting better. I began researching various ‘healing’ methods and trialled 47 different approaches over three years! I learned about brain neuroplasticity, subconscious behavioural systems, ACEs (adverse childhood events) and adult-trauma-triggered illness, central sensitivity syndrome, the amygdala and loads more.
What is going on in multiple sensitivity?
As a result of all that, I have come to the conclusion that many of us with unrelenting chronic illnesses, especially the super-sensitivity ones, have a too-turned-up amygdala or sensitivity mechanism in the brain and nervous system. Our job is mainly to turn that switch back off, or at least down.
I believe we have Central Sensitivity Syndrome (CSS) or SSU (Sustained Sympathetic Upregulation) conditions, the main ones being:
You can read a post I wrote about CSS here: Central Sensitivity Syndrome. Essentially, we’re looking at a known process involving genetic methylation and physiological effects causing very real pain, fatigue and sensitivities. It definitely is not imagined; no-one makes pain or fatigue like that up!
In short: our pain and sensitivity mechanisms are on hyper all the time. But why?
In many cases, it’s all about safety and fear. The original genetic changes are caused by stresses of various kinds: commonly trauma and neglect in childhood, and emotional stress as adults, often both. Note that ‘trauma’ can mean being neglected, put down repeatedly or humiliated; it does not ‘just’ refer to physical or sexual abuse. You can read my factsheet on ACE disease and trauma-triggered illness here and find out your own ACE score.
It is quite staggering how many times I get a ‘yes’ now when I ask someone with an unresolving CSS-type illness if they had a major stress in childhood or before the onset of illness. Of course, that won’t be the case for everyone but the numbers are huge. It’s mostly subconscious too, which is my excuse as to why it took me so long to realise; you simply don’t see it on a conscious level!
Over time, we become ever more fearful of reactions, the illness, the future and we build strong ‘fear’ neural pathways in the brain which eventually trigger with the mere thought of a food or event. Fear feeds fear, and our life becomes smaller and smaller as our subconscious minds believe they are keeping us safe by limiting what we can – literally - take in. And there’s nothing like pain or fatigue to keep you safe and at home, is there?
In those cases, I advise people start with mind-body medicine, not functional medicine. And it usually works as a better way into the body.
The approach to chronic illness in a nutshell..
In my opinion, to get truly well from a persistent, unresolving chronic illness, we need to work on the brain and subconscious as well as – and sometimes before – we chase down the biochemistry with tests, meds and supplements.
If you give your body the healing state it needs, change the way the brain is thinking about illness by building new, stronger neural pathways, much like a stroke victim does to regain limb-use, and remove the subconscious triggers, it has the power to turn itself around without so much biochemical work. It’s the combination of mind-body and functional medicine that enables change, but, interestingly, the order in which you do things really matters.
As an illustration, as I know you like those, here’s my case in simplified terms: I went straight into things like limbic retraining a la DNRS and Gupta and had to stop as it made me much worse. I had to go back and do the amygdala work much more before I could cope with limbic stuff. And then, it was only after the amygdala-calming was a daily established routine and that brain retraining had begun in earnest that I felt able to then start addressing learned behaviours, unhelpful beliefs and subconscious triggers.
That then led to an outpouring of trauma, leading ultimately to me being diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) three times before I listened. I was SO sure my illness and super-sensitivity was purely physical; I’m a nutritionist, what can I say..? - and I then went through trauma therapy. Not pleasant, but necessary as it turned out.
It also turned out to be really hard to explain to other people and to write it down so it made sense! I’m pleased to say I got there in the end and we now have the Healing Plan, which gives you a five-step programme to use as a guide through this fascinating but complex maze.
Did it work?
As I write today, I have reintroduced a lot of foods and I feel I am somewhat approaching ‘normal’ health for a 50 year old! I did it without changing my diet, removing or taking anything, so it shows it can be done.
To help you discover more, I’ve set up a new Mind-Body Medicine section on the Purehealth site here and a new blog to capture all my future witterings on the subject.
I always said I didn’t want much: just to have a normal life instead of one full of struggle and pain. And, I guess that’s you want too.
To buy Micki's Healing Plan go here.
For more on Mind/body medicine go here.
For more on total food intolerance and some other approaches to managing it, go here.