Can you really change your brain? Dr. Caroline Leaf in her book Switch on Your Brain and Dr. Daniel Amen in his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life say you can. Changing your brain is called neuroplasticity or brain plasticity. I briefly mentioned neuroplasticity last week in the blog on happiness. I talked about changing the fixed point of happiness in our brains. Our brain can “reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons [nerve cells] in the brain to compensate for injury or disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment” (medicinenet.com). New nerve endings grow and reconnect to the nerve cells making new pathways which are stimulated by activity. Before we briefly look at these two books, I’ll interject with an observation by our dear family friend, Katie Nickerson. Katie has been besties with my daughter since they met in 5th grade and due to a rare and chronic illness, Katie began practicing changing her brain. Katie says :
“I became interested in neuroplasticity because of my own health challenges. After about a decade of declining health and consultations with hundreds of doctors, I was diagnosed with a condition called CIRS which is a biotoxin illness in which my body develops sensitivities and reactions to environmental elements such as mold and chemicals. There is no cure according to most doctors but there is a new theory and treatment that considers this illness to actually be a brain injury, a limbic system injury to be exact. I came across the idea of neuroplasticity as I began to research this treatment whose main tenant is that you can rewire your brain to not react to triggers thus healing yourself from this illness.”
Katie shared her books by Drs. Leaf and Amen with me. Both authors recognize toxicity and inflammation caused by stress to contribute to many of our illnesses and diseases. Leaf writes, “stress is a factor in 75 percent of all illnesses and diseases that people suffer today…Research shows 75 to 98 percent of mental, physical, and behavioral illness comes from one’s thought life” because of the negative chemical responses due to toxic thoughts and behaviors. Does this mean we are willing ourselves to be sick or suffer with dementia? No, but what we believe takes on a physical existence in our cells either positively or negatively. Daniel Amen says that negative brain chemistry causes chemical chaos in our bodies. He says holistic health has four healthy components: biological, psychological, spiritual and social. Using anxiety as a simple example, it effects our mind by toxic thoughts which causes a physiological response of tense muscles, GI issues, etc, which ends up making us difficult to live with.
Dr. Leaf writes our “…state of mind is a real, physical, electromagnetic, quantum, and chemical flow in the brain that switches groups of genes on or off in a positive or negative direction based on your choices and subsequent reactions…The brain responds to your mind by sending these neurological signals throughout the body, which means that your thoughts and emotions are transformed into physiological and spiritual effects.” Dr. Amen’s book talks a lot about the chemical breakdown in the different parts of the brain and shows us what natural chemicals we are missing as evidenced by our thoughts and actions. These missing chemicals can be added via supplements or medicine such as SSRIs. The missing chemicals show up in ADD, dementia, depression and anxiety, and dyslexia. Many of his suggestions you can do on your own.
Which leads us into all kinds of side discussions like “leaky gut”, gluten intolerance, in-season nutrition, C-section babies missing the mother’s microbiomes by not coming through the birth canal, brain injuries in athletes and soldiers and so on. We need to pay attention to what applies to us and our families. One of these side discussions I’ve been experimenting with is binaural beat music to increase gamma waves or alpha waves or whatever waves you might think you could use more of. I like the gamma wave part because gamma waves (fastest brainwave frequency) is associated with deep meditation/prayer, intense concentration, memory and cognitive functioning. Some believe gamma wave therapy can remove the brain plaque that causes Alzheimer’s. Leaf has a 21-day program to stop toxic thoughts and replace them with healthy thoughts which Katie is doing. So far so good with Katie, and we are rejoicing with her improvement.
I’m pondering: I read recently that about the time Henry the 8th began flirting around with Jane Seymour and becoming discouraged that Anne Boleyn had not given him a son, he had a serious fall from his horse while hunting. He was unconscious for over 2 hours. Contemporaries said he was never the same after that fall. His personality and behavior changed. He became cruel and violent, and hence Anne lost her head.
#carolineleaf #danielamen #neuroplasticity