Do You Have an Inflamed Brain?
Mary, a 53-year-old working professional, came to my clinic complaining of memory and concentration problems, as well as gas and bloating. Scott, 48, had been feeling anxious and depressed and was in what he described as a state of “brain fog” for the past year, in addition to feeling muscle and joint pains. Tyler, a 15-year-old football player, had suffered a concussion several months ago, but his symptoms of headaches, insomnia, concentration, and memory problems have yet to resolve. What do all these patients have in common? The answer: an Inflamed Brain.
It seems that many neurological and psychological conditions are being discussed more and more these days. Whether it be depression, anxiety, insomnia, attention deficit disorders, autism, concussions, Alzheimer’s Disease, or Parkinson’s Disease; we see an increase in many of these conditions. While there are many complicated aspects and underlying causes for each of these conditions, neuroinflammation is a feature that they have in common.
Our brain is a very sophisticated organ that has specialized immune cells known as microglia. These microglia, which comprise about 10-15% of our brain cells, are in charge of cleaning up the central nervous system’s environment. They dispose of cellular debris and dead neurons when damage or infection occurs. As part of this process, they create inflammatory mediators, also known as cytokines, such as IL-1, IL-6, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, as well as other mediators like proteases and Reactive Oxygen Species. You may think that this all sounds bad, but it is a natural process needed for healing and repair. If the process of healing and repair does not take place, then long-term issues such as neurodegeneration can result. When environmental toxins, like the pesticide Roundup, are coupled with deficiencies in essential minerals such as magnesium, sulfur, and zinc, as well as deficiencies in neuro-essential fatty acids, such as Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), they contribute to keeping the microglia in a proinflammatory state. Combine this proinflammatory state with a challenge to the brain, such as a head injury or an infection, and you have a dangerous scenario allowing brain inflammation to increase.
We use an EEG baseline to see how different areas of the brain are communicating and if there is any dysregulation. Usually, the inflamed brain shows specific key biomarkers, such as increased Delta and Theta waves. Other brain wave patterns also give indications of brain dysfunction. We look further into the patient’s case by trying to identify toxins, such as heavy metals and pesticides, as well as stealth infections such as Lyme disease. In many cases, dysfunction in the gastrointestinal tract needs to be addressed. Dysbiosis, an imbalance in the GI bacteria, often leads to inflammation which travels along the Vagus nerve to the brain and further fans the flames of inflammation.
Treating an Inflamed Brain
If you have an inflamed brain, what can be done? Many tools are available. The contributing factors in each case will determine which path to take. The first thing is something that everyone can work on right away, and that is sleep. The deepest stage of sleep is when Delta waves are most prominent. This is the anabolic or restorative state of sleep. It has recently been discovered that the brain has its own lymphatic system for clearing toxins and other inflammatory elements. It is during Delta sleep that this lymphatic cleaning system is most effective. When people are having trouble with sleep, we use certain neurotherapies, such as neurofeedback and transcranial stimulation, to calm the brain and achieve a better transition to sleep.
The second thing to address is proper nutrition and elimination of foods that may be causing systemic inflammation. Despite eating a low sugar diet, rich in organic vegetables, fruits, and good quality protein, you still may not be getting enough nutrients. This is where nutritional assessment testing is of value. Sophisticated diagnostic tests, such as the NutrEval® and the Oligoscan, help uncover nutrient deficiencies and guide us in supplementation and dietary recommendations. Also, blood testing to identify pro-inflammatory environmental and food sensitivities and allergies are essential.
We use other modalities to help our patients reduce inflammation in the brain. One of these, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), is one of the most potent and effective therapies available. The patient lays in a specialized chamber that is filled with 100% oxygen. The hyperbaric chamber is pressurized to allow oxygen to dissolve into every cell in higher concentrations than can be achieved by any other means. This pressurized oxygen signals all cells in the body, including the brain, to reduce inflammation and swelling and to upregulate repair. Likened to a special genetic therapy, over 8,000 genes are affected after just a one-hour session in a hyperbaric chamber. Many patients with everything from stroke, autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, and Lyme Disease have benefitted from this remarkable therapy.
Intranasal PRP is another effective therapy to help reduce neuroinflammation. PRP combines platelet-rich plasma with insulin and other nutrients. This powerful combination of the patient’s blood-derived growth factors and other potent brain healing compounds can quickly dampen the fire of the inflamed brain and stimulate healing and regeneration of nerves and brain tissue.
Several cases introduced at the beginning of the article had symptoms from an inflamed brain, but each needed a different approach to help put out the “fire.” When we first met Mary, she had been complaining of memory and concentration problems, as well as abdominal bloating. She wanted to begin neurofeedback and our other neurotherapies right away. Mary’s baseline EEG revealed patterns that indicated the need to do further testing to see what was affecting her overall metabolic state. Nutritional testing showed severe nutrient deficiencies. The Oligoscan test and EAV (Electroacupuncture According to Voll) screening showed that Mary had a high toxic metal load as well as increased pesticides and chemicals in her system. Finally, stool analysis revealed an overgrowth of Candida, a fungus, in her GI tract. We immediately placed Mary on a detoxification protocol that not only addressed her toxins but helped to clean up her gut. Targeted nutrients were given to her both orally and intravenously to help replenish her deficiencies. Within a short time, Mary had a significant reduction in her symptoms. After her underlying problems were addressed, a customized Neurotherapy Protocol was created using neurofeedback and neurostimulation to improve Mary’s cognition.
Scott, whose brain fog, anxiety and depression could have easily been written off as just an anxiety and depressive disorder, found no relief from the medications his psychiatrist had prescribed. When taking his detailed case history, however, it became apparent that Scott had more going on. As with Mary, we used EAV testing to help reveal some of the underlying issues Scott was dealing with. Signals for Lyme disease and other related infections showed up strongly for him. We did more sophisticated blood work which confirmed that he did have several tick-borne illnesses. These were the main causative agents of his inflamed brain. We came up with a plan to help him battle his infections and now he is symptom-free. (For more information about Lyme disease, and our Whole-Body Approach, please visit our website and watch the video series on Lyme disease).
Tyler’s mother, Anne, was frustrated that she could not get more answers from his doctor. Tyler still suffered many crippling symptoms from the concussion he received during a football game earlier in the season. “Rest and wait,” was all they would hear. Tyler’s grades were suffering and he suffered daily from the pain in his head. While the school was accommodating to his situation, Tyler just wanted to get back to feeling normal. When they finally came to our clinic, a baseline EEG imaging showed us exactly what areas of Tyler’s brain were dysregulated and inflamed. A customized treatment plan included Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Neurotherapies, Intranasal PRP/Insulin, Cranial Osteopathy, as well as targeted nutraceuticals, was created for Tyler. Within just a few weeks, Tyler had his brain back!
Many things can contribute to neuroinflammation. Reducing as many contributing factors as possible will help make the brain more resilient, thereby reducing the chance of problems in the future. At our clinic, we strengthen and enhance our patient’s cognitive function and brain health.
Dr. Adam Breiner practices naturopathic medicine at Whole-Body Medicine in Fairfield, CT. Patients from Connecticut and surrounding states seek his care for Lyme Disease, Brain Injuries, such as stroke,concussions, TBI, as well as enhanced Brain Performance.
Visit the Neuroedge Brain Performance Center at: www.wholebodymed.com or to schedule an appointment or a FREE consultation call 203-371-8258 ext. 2.