Autism, Alzheimer’s, Traumatic Brain Injury, Parkinson’s disease. What do these common conditions all have in common? Find out in this month's newsletter.
Many experts consider all of these conditions to be the result of neurologic trauma. These injuries come in three basic forms:
There is an increasing awareness of Physical trauma due to closed head injuries from football, boxing and hockey. The sight of Mohammed Ali with his Parkinson’s tremors lighting the Olympic torch was a prime example. Sudden impacts can cause long lasting injuries to nerve tissue. Much like repetitive motion injuries that cause damage to wrist nerves in carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive blows to the head can take a toll on the nerves of the head. Sometimes these forces are so small that they don’t qualify as a concussion but cumulatively they add up. Some occupations put workers at risk. Some people are prone to falls. Physical traumas come from 1) sudden severe blows as well as from 2) multiple small insults.
Chemical trauma is a very real risk factor in brain injury. We are all exposed to heavy metals, petrochemicals, and agricultural chemicals in addition to toxins that are produced within our own bodies by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Luckily most of what we take in can be excreted, much like a self-cleaning oven. However, some people have great difficult with excretion and thus become “chemical hoarders.” While most of us can use some help with detoxification, these people really need help in the form of a dedicated detoxification program.
The flip side of toxic exposure is nutrient deficiency. You literally are what you eat and what supplements that you take. Your nutritional needs are unique to you. Comprehensive nutrient testing is important for everyone, especially those with symptoms of brain injury. Without all the individual vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fats, proteins, and cofactors your brain is vulnerable to physical, chemical and mental insults. It will also have difficulty with repairing itself.
PTSD or “shell-shock” is a dramatic example of Mental trauma. Being subjected to great danger, fear or combat can make significant changes in the way the brain works. Mental traumas can also come through chronic or repetitive stress like interpersonal, workplace or family of origin issues. Symptoms may include anxiety, depression, fatigue, and memory loss.
How can we develop a comprehensive approach to better treat these terrible conditions? What can be done to stop and reverse the damage? Using the same format we use to understand where they originate, we can devise integrative treatments that lead to repair and restoration of function:
There are many physical measures that help restore brain function. Dance, Yoga and Tai Chi bring balance and harmony to the brain. Exercise improves brain function by improving circulation and strength. Massage, chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation are all helpful in restoring neurologic function. Certainly avoiding further physical trauma is important.
Last month, I wrote about the book The End of Alzheimer’s by Dale Bredesen, M.D. He indicates that the brain requires proper nutrition to restore chemical balance. In previous issues of Natural Awakenings magazine I wrote about what nutrient testing is recommended for Alzheimer’s disease. I also recommend comprehensive stool testing to determine if there are imbalances in the gut micro biome, parasites, yeasts or digestive malfunctions. Toxicity testing should also be done to rule out heavy metals and other chemical poisons. Hormone testing is also important. If you can determine what you are lacking or getting too much of you can make the proper adjustments to your diet, supplement and detox programs.
Mental treatments can include psychotherapy, meditation, yoga, visualization and meditative prayer. I suggest that you find a practice, group or therapist to help you with this aspect of your condition.
There are several other therapies that show great promise in treating these neuro-degenerative conditions. Dr. Bredesen recommends a Ketogenic diet and we have seen great results in patients who switch to eating this way. We have also seen impressive improvements in those patients who undergo cold laser therapy. I recommend the book The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge, M.D. Check out chapter 4 entitled Rewiring the Brain with Light.
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