Limbic System: Caring for Your Brain’s Limbic System


A highly influential, walnut-sized area – deep in the center of your brain – is live wired with functions all critical to your survival. The limbic system in your brain, in fact, influences problem solving, organization, and rational thought, among other things.

From an evolutionary standpoint, the limbic brain is an “older” part of the brain of mammals, enabling humans to experience and express emotions, freeing them from primitive behaviors and helping to develop the surrounding cerebral cortex.

In order for these functions to have an effect in the world, though, your LS must fuel the passions and desires to enable them.

What Makes Up Your Brain’s Limbic System (LS)?

  • Thalamus is a large structure deep in the center of the brain that relays info to and from the outside world and your cerebral cortex
  • Amygdala is an almond-shaped structure in the temporal lobes involved in emotions and fear responses
  • Hippocampus is a seahorse-shaped structure that helps memories move into long-term storage
  • Hypothalamus is the size of a pearl and controls brain chemicals that make you hungry, sexual, sleepy, exhilarated, angry, or unhappy
  • Olfactory cortex is our sense of smell, which connects to emotional and memory centers

When the LS is overactive you are likely to interpret neutral events through a negative filter. For example, if you have a neutral conversation with someone whose LS is overactive or “negatively set,” he or she is likely to interpret the conversation in a negative way. On the other hand, when this part of the brain is balanced, a positive interpretation of events is more likely to occur.

Appetite, Energy and Sleep Are Influenced by the LS

Your sleep and appetite cycles are controlled by the LS, especially the hypothalamus. Healthy appetite and sleep are essential for optimal health. However, disruptions in the LS can negatively affect sleep and appetite, which may mean an inclination toward too much or too little of either.

LS structures are also intimately involved with bonding and social connectedness. We are social animals; when we are bonded to people in a positive way, we feel better about ourselves and our lives.

Another important function of the LS is to process sense of smell, says Dr. Amen. “Brain messages from all the other senses [sight, hearing, touch, and taste] are sent to a ‘relay station’ before zooming to their final destination in different parts of the brain,” he says. Because your sense of smell (via the nose) goes directly to the LS, it’s easy to understand why aroma has such a profound impact on emotions.

3 Ways to Balance and Optimize Your LS

Physical Exercise: One study comparing exercise with antidepressants found that after 12 weeks, both therapies were equally effective. At 10 months, exercise was actually more effective – and it has no side effects.

Vitamins and Supplements: Supplements containing Omega-3 fatty acids and fish oils – especially those containing a higher EPA content, and S-adenosylmethionine – have both been shown to support a healthier, happier mood.  

Find Passionate Purpose: What is important to you? What and who do you care deeply about? Answering these questions can help your mood; and they can also help you live a longer, fuller life.

To learn more about balancing your limbic system or how Amen Clinics can help you with depression or negative feelings in your life, contact the Amen Clinics Care Center online or call 888-288-9834 today.


  1. Thanks for the information on the workings of the Brain’s Limbic System (LS) and on how to care for the LS.

    Comment by Ben Ugoji — December 28, 2016 @ 6:17 PM

  2. But only the rich and wealthy can afford your treatment Mr.Amen and all those Supplements costs lots of money in the long run .
    And it would be a good idea to lower the cost of SPECT imaging for people whom have not have the financial resources and other aspect of your therapy , that would be really kind of you .

    Comment by WalterHero — December 30, 2016 @ 7:47 AM

  3. Very Interesting! I appreciate this good information!

    Comment by Judy Stephenson Fenton — December 30, 2016 @ 12:47 PM

  4. Agreed. Oh wouldn’t it be nice if we all c afford this and/ or have insurance cover this. One w think that being highly functional, knowing/understanding oneself (via these specs analysis), wb conducive to being more productive in society. A win-win. So how long w this take for the general public to be able to receive such great care as this.

    Comment by PaulandLea — January 2, 2017 @ 7:32 PM

  5. Dr Amen has written several books on the subject complete with questions. In at least one of the books he writes that he does this so that people who cannot afford to get a SPECT scan can still get help.

    Comment by Tom — January 6, 2017 @ 9:45 PM

  6. Its never going to happen for the general public. That is just a dream.

    Comment by P.F. — January 20, 2017 @ 7:40 AM

  7. Maybe in another century

    Comment by PaulandLea — January 20, 2017 @ 8:11 AM

  8. I’m surfing for solutions. This article is so brief. I didn’t actually read where it tells us how to take care of the LS. The thing is is that many people who are researching the LS possibly have a sick LS. Also get this, multiple chemical sensitivity, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, electromagnetic sensitivity are all results of a miswired LS. I didn’t get much from this article.

    Comment by Dianna Sierra — March 19, 2018 @ 4:08 PM

  9. Which books?

    Comment by Barbi — April 16, 2018 @ 8:23 AM

  10. Amen Clinic does not accept insurance, HOWEVER there is an opportunity to submit a claim to your insurance company and attempt reimbursement. I did okay. Additionally, if you call to inquire about an appointment they send information and suggestions they have a family rate for 3 or more. Paying for preventative maintenance for myself and my dependents is fair. Being proactive about my health is a choice so I personally do certain things to get the most out of what I partake. I try to exercise and most of my meals are creative and healthy some are not.
    FYI: SPECT is used allover the nation maybe you can reduce costs by having the report read by Amen Clinic. I don’t know that answer. Blessings All.

    Comment by Rainni Lacy — April 16, 2018 @ 11:03 AM

  11. “Change your brain, Change your body” has comprehensive set of questions to assist identifying the parts of the brain one can increase function in, which is at the end of the book. Wonderful tool. The book is segmented into chapters addressing the issues with that area of the brain and what to do and not do in support of it.

    Another book, Change your brain, change your life, with chapters for each area of the brain. No questionnaire. Provides the care and support to heal it.

    There may be other books. These are very informative and clear. Highly recommend.

    Comment by Lauren — April 16, 2018 @ 2:48 PM

  12. The solution is Dynamic Neural Retraining System. Check it out at retraining the It works. I highly recommend going to the in person seminar. I’m in recovery from limbic system dysfunction and my health has improved greatly thanks to DNRS.

    Comment by JC — February 5, 2019 @ 11:00 PM

  13. The average person cannot afford this help. If Dr Amen really cared about helping people these costs would not be so high. I have suffered my entire life. I was Soo releived to hear they opened a clinic in IL. My hopes for finally getting help and and possibly knowing what it would feel like to feel normal and be happy and have some type of a real life were completely shattered when I found out it would cost me $5000. Dr Amen I believe is in this for the $$$ more then he is to help people.

    Comment by Kathy — April 28, 2019 @ 3:30 AM

  14. Hi – Dr.
    Amen’s clinic supplements aren’t all very expensive – most are actually comparably priced with similar supplements and vitamins at CVS, walgreens, vitamin shoppe,… I’ve priced them out myself, trying to save money! the difference is Brain MD supplements are formulated based on his extensive brain health research and trust I’ve developed for his service and products. Some of the services are covered (partially) by insurance – you have to call and speak to them to find out. Their CSR phone persons are very helpful. My insurance didn’t cover but after trying6-8 different meds and realizing this is not a chemical brain issue – I’ve had multiple TBI, I needed a doctor to take it seriously, I saved the money and went to their clinic. I learned SO much. My brain can heal, I have to work at it and it is going to take time. Adjusting my thoughts to giving me the time to heal vs. believing in some pill supposed to give me instant relief is the first hurdle. IF you have the money do it, #1 for yourself, #2 so the world will start to see pharma is not the answer, brain health is and begin to support insurance coverage and accept the common sense conversation Dr. Amen brings to mental health care – the actual brain needs to be health, the same way any other organ in your body does, and your mental health is associated with it.

    Comment by Anne — November 20, 2019 @ 5:07 AM

  15. He does care! I’ve met a few of his staff as a patient and I truly believe they DO care. And as for the costs, they need to be paid appropriately to perform the quality services that they do for us patients, keep staff updated on education, the cots also supports the ongoing research, the equipment, offices available, getting the info out there, lobbying for support from insurance/govt. He is working hard to get these services available to everyone, watch his show on public TV – you can tell the difference between his intentions and some gunthy renker doctor pushing skin care. Be MAD at the stupid insurance companies and big pharma – they make money on your chronic illness and NOT healing you, speak to your congress/senate members about better mental health care!

    Comment by Anne — November 20, 2019 @ 5:15 AM

  16. HI JC
    I am looking into DNRS and wanted to know what your experience has been. I’m suffering from mold illness but mostly from mood instability. I was thinking of doing the dvd’s First

    Comment by Nicole — December 4, 2019 @ 5:30 AM

  17. Thank you Dr Amen! I have to improve on my exercise (I walk) however I will start doing more HIIT intervals and I love the questions about purpose. I will do them with my 12 yr old daughter and my husband. Purpose is so important specially in 2022 after the pandemic. I got Lupus and it affects me with brain fog and I am learning to look after my brain and body even more! thank you

    Comment by Patty Pereira Taylor — April 27, 2022 @ 1:46 AM

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