The trait of being a highly sensitive person (HSP) is used to describe a personality trait found in an estimated 15-20% of the population. This trait has been defined through the research of Dr. Elaine Aron. You can access her website at hsperson.com and take a self test to review the qualities and degree of expression of this trait in you or a close family member. The purpose of her research was to describe what she came to know about herself, and suspected in many others, and to empower others by bringing this trait to our knowledge, allowing for discussion and development of coping strategies. Her work provides great benefit to HSPs, spouses of HSPs, and to parents of children suspected to be HSP. The purpose of this paper is not to define in finite detail every quality of a HSP, or to relate all that is known about HSPs. I desire to provide a cursory introduction sufficient to raise curiosity and to present a theory for managing complex multi-system disease presentations amongst HSP patients.
Chronic Illness & Natural Treament of the Highly Sensitive Person Person
- The Highly Sensitive Person Defined
- The HSP Questionnaire
- An Acronym to Describe HSPs
- HSP & Chronic Illness
- The Sick HSP Questionnaire
- A New Theory for the Most Reactive
- How does an HSP Cope?
- Treatment of Chronic Illness in HSPs
- HSP Rule #1: Feed & Rest
- HSP Rule #2: Treat the Brain
- HSP Rule #3: Treat the Gut
- Confounding Factors
- A Gift and a Curse
The Highly Sensitive Person Defined
Firstly, being HSP is not a disease, syndrome, or disorder. As already mentioned, being HSP is a trait present in 15-20% of the population, making them a minority. It is also known by its scientific term as Sensory-Processing Sensitivity (SPS). It is innate, and has been found in over 100 species. It reflects a certain type of survival strategy described as being observant before acting. An HSP is more aware than others of subtleties due to how their brain processes information and the depth of reflection. An HSP will notice everything, and thus can become over aroused when things are novel, intense, chaotic, or complex. The over arousal may be conscious or subconscious and will eventually lead to feeling or being uncomfortable, overwhelmed, or over aroused.
HSPs are mistakenly described by non-HSPs as being shy, introverted, or too “sensitive” in general. This description is incorrect and short sighted and for the individual may lead to low self-esteem and feeling out of place or abnormal. HSPs are very sensitive to the moods and actions of those around them. Because they can pick up on the subtleties around them, they process and feel others moods deeply and will internalize those feelings. It is often too much and can lead to exhaustion and feelings of anxiety when exposed to stressful and or demanding situations where anger, irritability, depression, or stress may dominate. Another way of describing the frustrating part of this trait results from too much input or what I call to much sensing, reading, or picking up on the information within the environment. This may cause a sensory over-stimulation, which appears to overload the brain’s circuits, leading to mental exhaustion and the desire to retreat to safety and to recharge. Consider the questions as provided by Dr. Aron to evaluate the likelihood of being a highly sensitive person. A score of 14 or greater “YES” answers, confirms the trait.
The HSP Questionnaire
- I am easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input.
- I seem to be aware of subtleties in my environment.
- Other people’s moods affect me.
- I tend to be very sensitive to pain.
- I find myself needing to withdraw during busy days, into bed or into a darkened room or any place where I can have some privacy and relief from stimulation.
- I am particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
- I am easily overwhelmed by things like bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics,or sirens close by.
- I have a rich,complex inner life.
- I am made uncomfortable by loud noises.
- I am deeply moved by the arts or music.
- My nervous system sometimes feels so frazzled that I just have to go off by myself.
- I am conscientious.
- I startle easily.
- I get rattled when I have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
- When people are uncomfortable in a physical environment I tend to know what needs to be done to make it more comfortable (like changing the lighting or the seating).
- I am annoyed when people try to get me to do too many things at once.
- I try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things.
- I make a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows.
- I become unpleasantly aroused when a lot is going on around me.
- Being very hungry creates a strong reaction in me, disrupting my concentration or mood.
- Changes in my life shake me up.
- I notice and enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art.
- I find it unpleasant to have a lot going on at once.
- I make it a high priority to arrange my life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations.
- I am bothered by intense stimuli, like loud noises or chaotic scenes.
- When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous or shaky that
- I do much worse than I would otherwise.
- When I was a child, my parents or teachers seemed to see me as sensitive or shy.
An Acronym to Describe HSPs
Now that our suspicions have been satisfied and the trait of HSP has been confirmed we can now provide further descriptions that begin to elucidate the qualities and potential struggles of a HSP. The acronym DOES can help describe the varied qualities of a HSP.
D is for depth of processing. The foundational aspect of high sensitivity persons arises from the tendency to process information more deeply. This also can mean that highly sensitive brains will elaborate sensory input more thoroughly. This sensory input arises both externally and internally, which adds to our understanding of the difficulties of being ill as an HSP.
O is for overstimulation. Overstimulation occurs when an HSP takes notice of every little thing in the moment. The moment can be noisy, busy, intense, disorganized, and even long. Having to process so much leads to mental or physical burn out. In the presence of a chronic illness such as mold exposure, lyme disease, or autoimmune disease, the burn out is even more debilitating for a HSP and can leave them completely disabled physically, mentally, and emotionally.
E is for emotional reactivity and empathy. Studies on HSP patients show heightened emotional reactions to negative or positive experiences. Interesting was the observation that such reactions are greatest in positive experiences particularly when their childhood was positive. In addition HSPs show greater activity in the parts of the brain associated with more empathy. They are actually able just by observing another’s actions or reactions to produce the same areas of activation within their own brain. The ability of an HSP to activate matching areas within the brain by observing an activity in another is believed to be related to empathy. HSPs know exactly how another person is feeling, because their brain is able to mirror the same areas of the others brain resulting in empathy.
S is for sensing the subtle. HSPs brains are more aware of the subtleties around them. Thus the scientific term Sensory Processing Sensitivity, indicates processing of information with deeper and greater emotional emphasis than a non-HSP. The observations made as a HSP are able to provide significant clues about their environment and their safety within that environment. In the presence of a chronic illness, the limbic system, which evaluates a HSP’s safety, becomes overcharged and overwhelmed, and becomes perpetually active, unable to discern the level of threat, and then fails to shut down when the threat is gone. This state is similar to being in a chronic fight, flight, or freeze state, whic
HSP & Chronic Illness
This trait also appears to be related to chronic illness in some of the most sensitive or reactive patients. Over the years I have been given the privilege to assist many patients who present with the most complex, unrelenting, multi-system disease states or symptoms. Many patients we treated appeared to be highly sensitive and reactive to chemicals, solvents, pesticides, and other exposures in their individual environments. We historically described these patients as environmentally ill, toxic, or overloaded. Treatment focused on pathways of detoxification including gastrointestinal cleansing and high dose glutathione IV therapy. All of this proved to be very helpful.
In recent months and in the last few years, we are seeing more of these extremely ill patients. Older protocols that were once effective, struggle to produce the same results. Patients appear to be more reactive to detoxification protocols, and require greater effort and diligence to stricter guidelines of eating and detoxification support. In seeking to treat sicker patients, genetic testing began to expose individuals with methylation concerns and those at high risk for environmental reactions to mold. The testing revealed those at risk for heightened inflammatory reactions and thus immune responses when exposed to outside immune threats. We began to notice though, that these patients were also reporting the highest reactivities to foods, infections, environmental exposures, drugs and even natural and herbal products. Some of these patients even reported heightened awareness and reactions from electromagnetic fields associated with cell phones, computers, televisions screens, cell towers etc; Following is a list of symptoms in a variety of ill patients. A highly sensitive patient, who has a chronic multisystem disease, will have more than 10 of the following symptoms where a non-HSP will usually have less than five.
The Sick HSP Questionnaire
- I feel nauseous or have abdominal pain after eating grains or sugar laden foods
- I often have difficulty staying on task or feel like I have “brain fog”
- I often lose my train of thought or forget common words or names during a conversation
- I react negatively with the intake of even small amounts of processed sugar
- I become bloated or feel intense pressure with eating(often associated with grains)
- I often feel like my brain just “hits the wall” or “just turns off”
- I often react to strong smells such as perfumes, gasolines, cleaning products, or smoke
- I often get headaches from exposure to chemicals or after eating processed foods
- I either continuously feel fatigued or lose energy at some point during the day
- I often feel fatigued after eating
- I have depression or low motivation for things previously found to be joyful
- I have anxiety or a reduced tolerance to stress compared to the past
- I have difficulty falling or staying asleep and often wake frequently during the night
- I feel like my mind is always racing and have difficult not “thinking”
- I have low exercise tolerance or feel exhausted with any activity
- I fail to wake rested on rising in the morning
- I have irregular heart rhythms or palpitations
- I have diarrhea, constipation, or alternating between both
- I have had or do have irregular itchy skin or throat sometimes associated with eating
- I often am very sensitive or react to normal doses of prescriptions or natural medicines
- I have unexplained body aches, stiffness, or joint pain
- I have received a diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
- I do have burning pain, numbness, or pins and needle sensation in my arms or legs
- I often feel my day is ruined if I fail to get adequate or quality sleep
- I often feel worse with fasting or skipping meals
- I am often more irritable then I would like to be due to fatigue or poor sleep
- I often feel inflamed or have swollen hands or feet
A New Theory for the Most Reactive
Then a question arose in our minds. What if the trait of being a highly sensitive person would also be related to heightened sensing or reaction within illness or disease itself. Thus the HSP trait may not only predict how we react on an emotional or cognitive level within our social environment, but it also predicts how reactive or sensitive we may feel when illness, infections, inflammation, toxicities, or disease are present. We might say this is another way. Our most sensitive, reactive, and ill patients may be HSPs. If they already carry the trait to recognize subtitles within the environment around them, then why not also the environment within the body, particularly when it is ill. With the presence of internal illness or disease, a heightened state of arousal would ensue, following which, an increase in recognition of internal and external imbalances or reactions.
Common complaints found in a significant number of patients include Candida, parasites, and overgrowth of bacteria in the intestinal tract. Most patients only present with symptoms once yeast or bacteria exceed a threshold of total volume or activity. But in a HSP, their increased sensing ability will register the presence or imbalance of the intestinal microbiome and begin sending signals and producing symptoms comparable to that of an extremely toxic individual, without being nearly as toxic. If this is true, imagine what it must feel like when a HSP is really toxic at an extreme level. The body registers and senses the imbalance at 10 or 100 times more intensely than the average person or non-HSP. The trait of HSP leads to heightened awareness of more symptoms with the addition of those symptoms being much more intense. Imagine this patient having Lyme disease, a chronic viral infection, or an autoimmune disease. Their reality of how they feel and react to varying treatments is much more intense than a non-HSP.
So as not to be misunderstood, the trait of HSP does not make for exaggeration of symptoms or disease states. It only predicts a much more recognizable set of symptoms, that once felt deeply are more readily and easily recognized from that point in time. It appears if we catch this trait early on in disease expression we can reverse quickly the symptoms of the disease state. If a great length of time has passed to produce a chronic disease or autoimmune state it will be much harder to reverse. It also predicts the likelihood of the treatments which benefit the patient in their recovery, may become part of the long term plan to maintain whatever portion of health is recovered.
How does an HSP Cope?
Due to our understanding of the symptoms and conditions present in chronic illness and adding to our understanding the traits of HSPs, we can predict how a HSP may present or cope with a chronic disease.
Firstly, they will present with more symptoms, some common and many irregular, than the average chronically ill patient. The list of symptoms or complaints will easily number 15 or more. They will present with symptoms across every specialty including gastroenterology, cardiology, rheumatology, endocrinology, immunology, and possibly others. They may have already been referred to many of these specialties without benefit of finding the cause or benefit from any prescribed treatment.
Secondly, they will be physically and mentally exhausted to some degree of time each day. If a patient is not thoroughly exhausted and wakes with some energy to start the day, they will at some point in the day hit the wall. This is when they are finished. This may come after taking a shower or getting ready for work or getting the kids off to school. This tendency for a HSP to be over aroused happens both externally and internally. In the absence of a proper diagnosis and treatment protocol, a chronic infection like Lyme, parasites, or Candida will cause both physical exhaustion but amplify all sensitivities of a HSP. It takes energy to process and not become over aroused from the abundant sensory information in the normal demands of living. In addition, all the symptoms associated with any disease will be amplified, due to the trait of increased sensing in HSPs and the fact that this increase will lead to quicker “burnout” of typical resistive abilities to sensory overload.
Thirdly, the HSP will begin to find it extremely difficult to manage the fatigue and over arousal and will recognize in themselves an increase in frequency and duration of “retreating to recover”. Once the body has reached its max it will have to retreat to a quiet, non stimulating place, to recover, recharge, and reboot. This is also a protection mechanism. To persist to try, manage, or keep up with the demands of current living, in the presence of extreme physical and mental exhaustion combined with internal and external over stimulation, may lead one to believe a complete mental breakdown is imminent. The only option is to retreat to safety. This mechanism of retreat is both common and effective, and thus has become so much of the general routine for HSPs, even if subconscious. They often fail to recognize the pattern until we point it out to them. In addition we believe it is both powerful and necessary to remind the HSPs, who may feel guilt about their difficulty in managing their lives and the demands of a family, that this coping mechanism is common, helpful, and at the moment necessary for recovery. As we discover and treat the root issues, energy will improve and the HSP will recover to their previously effective wonderful selves but also knowing for the first time through the process of healing how to embrace and support the HSP trait moving forward.
Treatment of Chronic Illness in HSPs
Our ability to propose a model or approach for treating HSPs is based on years of experience in treating extremely sensitive or reactive patients in a natural or alternative medical setting. Sadly, as we look back we can recognize that many of our patients might have been HSPs, who are super “sensors” of the internal and external environment. Our approaches often worked, but of course, as have many other good intentioned alternative physicians, we have had some difficult cases that we struggled to provide perfect solutions.
We have with time and experience discovered a consistent pattern of symptoms that dominate the clinical picture. The symptoms present commonly in two distinct locations, and are believed to be the primary or dominant locations for reacting to the environment both from outside as well as inside the body. We might say that these two locations are the two convergent points where our bodies connect us with the world outside of us with the world inside of us and vice versa. The first is the brain and perhaps specifically the areas of the brain known as the limbic system and the second area is the intestinal tract. Some may mistaken this statement as the common term known as the gut brain connection. I think this simple idea fails to encompass the full complexity of the totality of all symptoms. Each area will require its own distinct set of treatments focused on what works best for each patient individually. We do have examples of a SSRI medication that appears to calm the brain and Irritable Bowel Syndrome simultaneously, but no medication or herb is able to fully rescue the overarousal experienced by a HSP. We have found by focusing our efforts in these two areas of the bodies with individual and distinct protocols our HSP patients are returning to health and better coping skills than previously utilized. This idea will become more clear as I discuss the different treatments and their effects on the varying symptoms of a HSP. As we discuss potential treatments, some rules are helpful to guide our consideration of the many options.
HSP Rule #1: Feed & Rest
One of the guiding principles for treatment of a HSP is: HSPs are more likely to be content and cooperative when they are not overstimulated, worn out, or hungry, says Dr Elaine Aron. My clinical experience agrees full heartedly with this statement.
A simple analogy may be helpful in describing the cost of the normal everyday tasks required of HSPs. We are all familiar with how bank accounts function. The two most common transactions associated with a bank account are first, deposits, and second withdrawals. When we make deposits to a checking account we add to the balance of the account causing a more positive balance. The other transaction is a withdrawal, resulting in a decline in the total balance, and leads to a lower and possibly negative balance. Of course it makes sense, if we draw more from the account then we actually have, we create a deficit, which causes emotional pain. If more positive deposits are made to exceed the withdrawals, peace and happiness automatically ensue.
Now liken a bank account to a being HSP. Their choices, where they go, with whom they associate, what they take on, what they do, all require a physical payment in mental, physical, and emotional energy. For a non-HSP with plenty of energy, no thought is given to the cost. But for an HSP, breathing costs, thinking costs, being social costs, feeling guilty costs, not being able to relax in the absence of stress costs. Everything a HSP does has a price that must be debited. The question is how much? For many HSPs the account often starts low and in fact they often draw on reserve accounts. Once the accounts are overdrawn, retreating is required in order to replenish personal accounts, which are needed to live and function in the next moment, day, or week.
HSP support protocols are designed to reduce reactivity, when we react less we pay less, leaving more reserves to draw on at a later time when it is needed most. In addition HSP protocols enhance stamina for greater resistance to stimulation, and improve recovery by adding in deposits which include good routines like yoga and meditation, guilt free down time, and sleep, just to name a few. And lastly, HSP protocols help discover root causes of depression, anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia, in order to plug the metaphorical drains that rob HSPs of needed energy. HSP’s are so often being robbed of energy, and they don’t even know it. As one patient said to me, “I just thought I was a terrible human being.” She just had Lyme disease and needed help to get rid of it while being a mother of 3 young energetic children. Thus, the first suspicion of a serious problem in HSPs is severe fatigue and low motivation(and it’s not depression as is so often diagnosed).
Eating and the HSP
For a HSP, hunger is a stimulus for overarousal arising from inside. Hunger is extremely depleting to HSPs because it diminishes the already strained nutrient and energy supply normally required to calm a sensitized nervous system. Once over aroused, hunger may not even be noticed. HSPs are more likely to be content and cooperative when they are not overstimulated, worn out, and hungry. Once exhausted it becomes extremely difficult for an HSP to correct the situation on their own. I often recommend, for the most sensitive individuals, small and frequent meals, sometimes starting just after rising from bed, even if it is just a piece for fruit.
HSP Rule #2: Treat the Brain
An HSP brain requires perfect effort in rest and recovery of the brain. Sleep is an absolute necessity as are other rejuvenating brain therapies. The brain of a HSP is also very sensitive to inflammation resulting from infections, toxicities, and allergic responses. An inflamed HSP brain will be more easily aroused and overwhelmed. The laboratory work up for an HSP includes an extensive review of immune function and response with evaluation of potential chronic infections including bacteria(such as Lyme), viruses, parasites, fungi, and mold exposures. The laboratory work up also includes heavy metal testing and evaluation of immune response associated with allergic response both within the body and from outside allergens. The most important contributor to inflammation in the whole body and extending to the brain arises from the intestinal tract. That will be discussed in great detail in the following sections. Great care is taken to discover root issues of inflammation and begin protocols for all sources of infection and toxicities.
Adrenaline and HSPs
A common weakness discovered in chronically ill HSPs, is the absence of adrenaline. Adrenaline is a catecholamine neurotransmitter associated with stress response. An analogy I use to describe how adrenaline functions within our body is likened to taking a calm and peaceful walk in nature. Somewhere along the trail we hear rustling in the bushes and a bear steps out. Suddenly our body goes into what we describe as a flight or fight mode. Adrenaline suddenly is pushed through our system to increase heart rate, blood pressure, alertness, and blood glucose. All of these changes induced in our physiology, help us to fight, freeze, or run for our lives. We are glad to have adrenaline in these specialized, unique, and hopefully rare conditions. But for HSPs, reality is much different. The bear is always present in the form of clear and or potential overarousal, with adrenaline acting as the buffer. It takes adrenaline to get out of bed, take a shower, drive to work, go grocery shopping etc; In other words, HSPs use adrenaline everyday to function optimally. One of the most useful tests is an adrenaline stress test in which we evaluate a resting non stressed adrenaline level followed by a period of exercise induced stress. We then compare the total levels and ratio of adrenaline at both resting and under stress conditions. The absence of sufficient adrenaline at rest or under stress conditions is an accurate predictor of any patient’s ability to manage arousal. Adrenaline means less or delayed arousal. No adrenaline equals no arousal management. In the absence of adrenaline even a non-HSP may find it difficult to retreat. Sometimes patients may report feeling the fight has gone out of them and simply lay down waiting for the bear to consume them. That of course represents a seriously depleted case and requires immediate attention by the doctor to help rebuild adrenaline stores.
Sleeping and the HSP
Sleep is vital to the recovery for a HSP from the day’s activities as well as predicting the tolerability of the following day. I describe the benefit of sleep for a HSP following my description of adrenaline because sleep is the best natural therapy for recovering adrenaline. In the absence of good quality deep sleep, a HSP will fail to recover adrenaline sufficiently for the following day’s needs. We all recognize the need for water and in the absence of it, we recognize life is difficult to sustain for more than a few days. We can go longer without food, yet we know that life is sustained by regular intake, and the absence of it for a few weeks can be also threatening to our lives. The absence of quality deep sleep also produces its own set of problems. As odd as it sounds, a perfectly ill and exhausted HSP should get great sleep, you would think. But, the opposite is true. There just isn’t enough Yang to support the Yin. Recognizing its significant value in both recovery and optimal maintenance of a HSP, I always say to the patient, “you have got to sleep even if I have to drug you to do it. The absence of adequate, deep, restful, recovery sleep, can no longer be tolerated.” Then we begin the work of finding what works for them.
We have gained experience in three areas of treatment which have been extremely helpful in restoring and enhancing adrenaline release from the adrenal gland. (This is not the same as adrenal fatigue or low cortisol as often diagnosed through salivary testing.) The first area has been in the area of Neurofeedback. The effects of chronic inflammation, infection, or toxicities results in offsetting the normal balance of electrical activity or electric waves within the brain. Brain waves, including Delta, Theta, Alpha, and Beta, when viewed from a brain map(aka QEEG), can describe concern in areas of cognition, memory, mood, anxiety, attention, and sleep. Neurofeedback is a therapy, relying on the brain’s neuroplasticity, that resets faulty wiring and promotes the rewiring of more efficient brain circuits. In the case of a HSP, the brain circuits, having been overwhelmed, have short circuited and one of the results is the absence of a normal adrenaline response. The absence of adrenaline predicts fatigue and inability to handle normal daily tasks without feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Neurofeedback therapy resets the brain circuitry improving mood, focus, memory, sleep, and stress resilience, in addition to reducing excessive sensory arousal. Generally speaking the sensory input from the external environment does not change, just our ability to process more has improved, so that we can handle more, before becoming over aroused to exhaustion. Treatment of the brain utilizing brain maps as a guide has decades of research which provides a consistently positive and predictable result.
Many of the ideas presented to protect the brain of a HSP, I liken to Magneto’s helmet. Magneto if you recall is a super bad guy in the movie series X-men, who can lift and manipulate all things made of metal with his mind. But he has to wear a helmet to protect his mind from being overridden by the good Dr. Xavier, who is trying to save the world from Magneto.
Daily mindfulness meditation is like putting on protective armor over your head to reduce the threat of overstimulation. The benefit of meditation may lie at its most likely source of benefit deep in the area of the brain known as the limbic system. The limbic system, derived from the Thalamus, Hypothalamus, Amygdala, and Hippocampus, help us make emotional connections and decipher our safety in relation to the world around us. Many therapies devote attention to this area, but none have been as successful as mediation. This is nothing new to our culture, yet even with years of study and support from all medical communities, we are not emphasizing its value enough. Patients who report adopting a practice of regular mindfulness meditation report significant reduction in pain and overarousal, and improvement in quality of sleep. Additional benefits include reductions in symptoms of anxiety, depression, and fatigue. These benefits arising from mediation would appear to be beneficial to anybody suffering with these concerns, but for a HSP these improvements allow a state closer to optimal functioning.
Frequency Specific Microcurrent
As has been already stated in a previous section the human body is more electric than physiologic. Medicine has been experimenting with electricity and currents for hundreds of years with great success. In the early stages frequencies were used to treat cancer, and produced miraculous cures. In recent years medicine applied frequencies to heal bones faster and that practice continues to this day. In the last 2 decades a significant body of experience has grown to find over a hundred conditions that are greatly benefitted, if not cured, utilizing specific frequencies. A group of frequencies have been combined to support treatment of the brain, reducing inflammation, and affecting the limbic system which helps to reduce stress and reactivity to external aggravators. Microcurrent frequency is part of the medicine of the future providing phenomenal results in the current moment.
Reduce EMF Exposure
More and more we hear and learn of the difficulties of so many in regards to electrical currents, radio frequencies, and electric computers and phones. All of the devices produce and recieve different frequencies which compete with or seem to be overbearing of our own natural magnetic fields. We are more electric than we are physiologic. Many patients report having intense sensations, buzzing feelings, electric shocks, and debilitating fatigue when exposed to short or continuous electrical or radio frequencies. We recommend having a specialist evaluate your home and workplace to determine problem areas and to provide solutions to reduce these exposures. It is possible that much of the sleep problems so many HSP patients have is a result of the frequencies arising from the internet router, lamps, and cell phones sitting on our nightstands charging less than a foot away. Tips for reducing radio frequency exposure include turning your WIFI off at night and recharging your phone in a location not near your head.
NES Health Scan
Backed by more than 30 years of scientific research and over a decade of clinical studies and practitioner use, the NES Health Scan delivers an immediate, but detailed and accurate analysis of our bodies electric fields. Again, we are more electric than we are physiologic. Our heart and brain produce electromagnetic fields 10-15 feet in diameter for example. Through a non-invasive and painless scan we are able to review up to 150 systems and subsystems of the bodies electric field(aka Body Field), identifying blockages in the body’s musculoskeletal system and energy channels, as well as analyze the strength of the energy produced by various systems and organs. The NES scan also identifies information distortions in the human body-field, nutritional sensitivities or deficiencies, impact from environmental factors such as toxins and EMFs. And with great accuracy the NES body scan is able to identify core emotions, beliefs, and even challenges in an individual’s overall ability to create and actualize in life, which presents along the meridians or channels as emotional blocks. A patient may identify with specific emotions or blocks from past shock or trauma that may still be presenting as conflicts or which are stored in the Body-Field as tissue, cellular or energetic memory. The NES Scan finally provides treatments and recommendations designed to remove energy or emotional blocks and improve cellular communication between all organs and cells optimizing energy and detoxification. This therapy compliments any patient’s protocol arising from treatment for chronic or persistent conditions and to discover and treat emotional blocks. NES scan appears to reduce reactivity or sensory sensitivity to the environment both within and without and is a valuable tool in the total treatment of the patient in both mind and body.
The importance of finding a balance between the absence of stimulation and overstimulation is vital to staying mindfully present. In the attempt to avoid arousal the more overstimulating the remaining stimulation becomes. A story is told of a man who, wanting to avoid stress, retreated to a cave to meditate day and night for the remainder of his life. But soon after he had to exit the cave due to the distressing sound of dripping water. The moral of the story is that the sensitivity to stress will always be there with us. Instead of retreating from our stress we need to find a new way of living with the stress or arousal.
Another principle easily applied in this situation is to act. The more we do or act, the more we can habituate or acclimate to a stressor. By participating in over arousing situations we develop our ability to be less aroused in those same situations. Overcoming our fears or associations with activities which produce significant arousal is best accomplished by doing those activities. Living your life the way you would like to, requires being exposed and vulnerable to the world around you. It seems that the ability to improve at being less aroused in an overstimulating environment, is to be passionately engage in ways that allow love and passion to redirect our attention form our inner awareness of being overstimulated, even if for a short moment, to accomplish a simple task we value. Having said that sometimes it can be very difficult to begin to face life without it overwhelming us as we do. Often past trauma or a current history of PTSD or stress disorder, can also slow us down or completely cripple us from acting. Therapies which can be helpful include counseling, neurofeedback, meditation, prayer, EMDR, Frequency Specific Microcurrent(FSM), or Iasis(a form of passive neurofeedback). As we do our best to move forward in our lives and relationships consider applying such therapies for stabilization of the limbic system and greater stress resilience.
HSP Rule #3: Treat the Gut
As I have previously suggested, a HSP is highly sensitive or can sense irregularities, great or small, arising at the junction of the gastrointestinal tract. Inflammation arising and possibly resulting in “leaky gut” symptoms appear to amplify the fatigue, brain fog, and even pain present in many HSPs. Root causes of inflammation include infections or overgrowth or common bacteria, yeasts, and even parasites. Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia also causes increased sensitivity and reactivity to normal stressors. Many HSPs may present with digestive complaints mimicking IBS, specific or vague food sensitivities, and or fatigue or decline in mood with eating. There are a number of concrete ideas for improving gut health leading to greater energy and stamina for HSPs.
White Refined Sugar is the Enemy
Most reasonable people would agree that too much sugar is not good for health. But for many HSP’s, any added sugar, which is added to so many foods, acts as a toxin. Historically white refined sugar was refined from sugar cane. That is no longer the case. It appears that in the last 5 years, a significant, if not majority or all, portion of manufactured sugar that is added to foods, is now produced from beets, corn, and potatoes. I suppose that might be tolerated so long as no antibody response or food allergy or intolerance to those foods existed. But the refining of sugar from these vegetables raises a few concerns. Number one is that these are all genetically modified crops, number two, they all have been sprayed and now contain the herbicide glyphosate, and thirdly, they are using solvents to extract the sugars. Whatever the reason or root cause, HSPs report that the consumption of sugar currently added to processed and manmade foods, makes them very ill. It predictably produces fatigue, brain fog, and in some pain, with even a single episode of consumption. HSP’s can prove the reality of this reaction by simply avoiding all foods with added sugars for just one week. You will feel so much better. To drive the point home, you can then try eating your favorite desert and see how you feel by the next morning. If you don’t feel anything, we might question your identity as a HSP. The symptoms or reactions are again predictable. Completely eliminating sugar from the diet is not easy, as most of us like it and it is added into nearly everything, but it is possible. Work with a Naturopathic doctor to determine the best diet and options for you to remove refined sugar from your diet. As the title of this section suggests, sugar is one of the main enemies of a HSP, as it robs them of needed energy, brain power, and a balanced mood or stress response. No matter how good it tastes, it cannot compete against how good it feels to feel good.
Reduce Yeast Candida
Candida, a yeast, is found in all living creatures upon the planet. A healthy microbiome may keep it in check, but it proliferates with the use of antibiotics, intake of refined sugars, and the lack of friendly bacteria. Individually, we are all affected by Candida in varying intensities. Some seemingly have no symptoms, but in my experience working with HSP’s, most report symptoms of yeast overgrowth including, fatigue, brain fog, itchy ears, eczema, palpitations, loose stools, constipation, bloating, low libido, insomnia, anxiety, depression, low motivation, lack of focus, food allergies, or histamine reactions, just to name a few. HSP’s benefit greatly from a targeted Candida cleanse. Sometimes this may be done simply through a prescription of Fluconazole or herbal antifungal prescriptions for 14-90 days while avoiding refined sugar. A conversation with an alternative physician will be extremely helpful in determining the best approach to an effective candida detox. As everyone has yeast forms and candida in the intestinal tract, this quick and straightforward detox is one of the first to be implemented and provides improved energy for most HSPs.
Leaky Gut and the HSP
Besides the negative consequences of sugar and candida on the intestinal tract, food allergy and intolerances produce a significant impact in the local inflammation so often linked to “leaky gut”. Leaky gut refers to the expansion between cells, allowing undigested proteins and gut toxins, to leak into the bloodstream resulting in an immune response. This immune response results in inflammation and immune reactions potentially leading to autoimmune disease. The leading food causing this localized inflammation that is so dangerous is gluten. Gluten reactions are most often genetically determined. Testing with specific food intolerance tests or gluten sensitivity panels present a picture of reactivity, that when present, predicts leaky gut. Healing the gut requires removing gluten as the offending food, and any others that also might be reactive as determined through lab testing offered by naturopathic or integrative physicians. Then consider the use of the variety of healing amino acids and herbs to help tighten loose junctions in order to reverse leaky gut and eradicate its symptoms.
Detoxification of Intestinal Microbes.
After years of evaluating, testing, and treating patients for a variety of parasitic infections, I have come to two conclusions. The first is, if you are living you have been exposed and likely carry or have carried worms or parasites. The second is, if you have never been treated for a worm or parasitic infection, you have a worm or parasitic infection. It is surprising how often we complete a parasitic cleanse and a patient reports feeling more energy or less pain. Yes stool testing can be done, but in reality it is only effective for recent infections and only for a couple of intestinal parasites. That type of diagnostic thinking is too small when we consider the variety and number of parasites throughout the world. Third world countries are more educated and better supplied with the right medications than we are in the United States. What I love most about treating parasitic infections is the availability of antiparasitic herbs with their low side effect profile. Herbal treatment requires twice daily dosing for 1-3 months to provide a thorough response that covers the life cycles of a variety of infections. A parasitic treatment is highly synergistic with all the previous cleanses and protocols mentioned for the intestinal tract, but most especially with the candida cleanse.
If the previous discussions feel overwhelming or just complicated, I am sorry to add yet another few thoughts that for HSPs sound alarming but are vital to recovery of those chronically ill. Four other conditions that are complex and evolving with time, research, and clinical experience which can be extremely debilitating for HSPs, are Lyme disease, mold exposure, mast cell activation syndrome, and toxic metal accumulation. Each one of these exposures to infections, biotoxins, histamine, or toxic metals, requires its own dedicated encyclopedia to discuss the multitude of symptoms caused by each one along with the variety of potential treatments. Of greatest importance is to find a physician who is able to diagnose and treat each one of these debilitating conditions skilfully. For HSPs with any of the above conditions, hope has been nearly lost due to the chronic debilitating fatigue and absence of accurate diagnostics and treatments. Do not lose hope as time and experience have produced effective treatments and cures for the complex conditions previously mentioned.
A Gift and a Curse
Being HSP is not easy, but it has gifts which other human beings do not have and can rarely fully appreciate. Being HSP does mean a higher sensitivity or reactivity to the environment in which we live. It helps when we are not toxic, or carry chronic unresolved infections. It helps when we eat clean organic non refined foods, sleep 8 hours, do yoga, practice mindfulness, and meditate. It helps when people understand our strengths and are kind with our weaknesses and allow us time to retreat in order to heal and recover. The gift of HSP is yours to keep and does require a healthy mind and body in order to reach your destined potential. A healthy body is the battery that charges and sustains the brain of a HSP. Keep guard and take care of it so that your life may be joyfully and energetically lived as a now enlightened HSP.
We hope this is helpful for you and invite you to not get overwhelmed with what you think you’re not doing or don’t know. We welcome you to call us with any questions or concerns you may have about HSP.