Healthy Beginnings

The Web of Brain Health – A Holistic Approach to Healing

Because scientific research is now available to offer proof that many natural remedies have profound effects, we have entered a new era for healing brains. Inclusive in this list are injuries (stroke, traumatic brain injury), disease (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis), developmental issues (Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Asperger’s) and/or emotional-psychiatric problems (fear, anxiety, depression, bi-polar, schizophrenia).

Today, we understand that the brain is not a fixed structure that when damaged cannot be fixed; today we understand that the brain is plastic – it can change, grow new neurons, reestablish lost connection and even move functioning from one area to another to restore performance, which is known as neuroplasticity. To accomplish this healing and retraining, many natural therapies such as acupuncture, nutrition and computerized neuro-training are proving themselves as the remedies the brain needs. Patients no longer are limited
to current conventional treatment with only drugs, surgery and the therapies
of physical, occupational and speech/ language.

Healing the brain engages a complex web of biological and physiological processes that are interdependent – hence when one is not working it will negatively affect the others. What further complicates the web is the brain’s interdependence of different areas/ regions for proper function. The good news is that research has provided us with enough understanding of
the interdependence, biological and physiological mechanisms that we can effectively apply natural therapies to facilitate the brain’s healing.1, 2 The web is comprised of the following nine realms that are each addressed to either recover or maximize function.

Nine Realms of the Web and Healing Process

  1. Treating the whole body (general health)
  2. Eliminate external interference and damage
  3. Neurophysiology
  4. Awaken the brain (brain activation)
  5. Neuron timing
  6. Brain region synchronization
  7. Mind-body connection (emotions, visualization)
  8. Holistic care (psyche)
  9. Integrative care (medications)

Treating the whole body is where the healing process begins because of the many bodily systems that support and impact brain function. Basic functions such as heart and blood vessels provide the circulation of building materials and waste removal, the lungs provide blood enriched with oxygen, digestion provides necessary nutrients, the liver, kidneys
and intestines3 remove toxins and waste, which otherwise can damage tissues. Brain function is dependent upon stable and proper blood sugar4, good red blood cell production and proper thyroid/ metabolism and other hormones.5, 6

To properly remediate issues within the brain, it cannot include treatment of the brain alone; the entire organism must function at an optimum level to produce the greatest repair in the brain.

Eliminating external interference and damage includes external pathogenic factors and prevention of excessive inflammation. Viral, bacterial, parasite, yeast and fungal infections can directly impact the brain and so too can the secondary inflammation7 caused by these bodily infections. It cannot be emphasized enough that all things that cause inflammation can interfere with neuron function, neuron connections to each other at the synaptic junction and/ or damage to neurons, blood vessels, meninges and cerebral spinal fluid production, reabsorption and circulation. Further, our modern food supply and environment are filled with altered proteins and chemicals responsible for the interference and subtle damage.8, 9, 10, 11, 12 More deeply concerning is that some foods are causing the production of antibodies that damage myelin sheath (a possible component of Multiple Sclerosis MS13), causing the tangles in Alzheimer’s14 and damage to mechanisms that allow neurons to communicate with each other and antibodies that damage the brain’s blood vessels resulting with inflammation of the brain.15

Once the whole body has been taken into the plan of action, the practitioner may turn directly to the rehabilitation of the brain itself with a variety of treatments.

Awaken the brain includes therapies that stimulate neurons and/or specific areas of the brain such as acupuncture 16, 17, 18, 19, essential oils, flower essence, sound, light-color, laser, vision, vibration, magnetic pulse and more.

Neurophysiology includes providing nutrients that are needed for neuron function and making neuron connections.20, 21

Neuron timing refers to ring efficiency – the more a neuron can fire (be active) at a given moment the better the signal flow is from one neuron to the next. Like a domino effect, the neurons re in a sequence and if one is not ring
the sequence is interrupted. Further, 
the brain needs to efficiently process information. So, just like your computer performs better with a ‘faster processor,’ the brain can improve its processing by how fast individual neurons can ‘ fire’ and then ‘re-charge’ themselves with each activation. The faster they can ‘ fire and re-charge’ the faster you can process information.22, 23

Brain region synchronization is necessary like neuron timing in that there is a sequence to the flow of information from one region/area of the brain to another and lack of being in-sync will cause dysfunction.24

Mind-body connection is instrumental to facilitating brain region synchronization because thoughts can place us in sympathetic mode (fight, flight, freeze) 25, 26 or in the parasympathetic mode (rest and digest) of which alters the sequencing of activated brain regions.

Integrative Care is needed so patients on medications can make a safe transition replacing drugs with natural therapies. This requires medical doctors to coordinate with the doctors, physicians and therapist who are outside the conventional healthcare system.

Holistic care plays a significant role because the patient’s life circumstances (financial, mobility) and relationships with family, friends, work will have a direct affect upon the patient’s state of mind – positive or negative.

Bottom line, healing the brain is beyond writing a prescription, a patient taking their medication and completing six weeks of therapy covered by their insurance. Part two of this three-part series will discuss “Why Brains Do Not Heal,” and part three discusses “What You Can Do to Help Heal Your Brain.”

For more information, call Van Harding at 530-536-5084 or visit www.tahoeneurohealing.com.

References

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    Principle of Neural Science, 4th Edition, New York:McGraw-Hill, 2000
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    Brain responses to visceral and somatic stimuli in irritable bowel syndrome: a central nervous system disorder?
    Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2005 Jun;34(2):271-9
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    Impact of metabolic syndrome on cognition and brain: a select review of the literature.
    Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2012 Sep;32(9):2060-7
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    Sensitivity-related illness: the escalating pandemic of allergy, food intolerance and chemical sensitivity. Sci Total Environ. 2010 Nov 15:408(24):6047-61
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    The immunology of immediate and delayed hypersensitivity reaction to gluten.
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    The onset of enhanced intestinal permeability and food sensitivity triggered by medication used in dental procedures: a case report.
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    Systemic inflammatory challenges compromise survival after experimental stroke via augmenting brain inflammation, blood-brain-barrier damage and brain oedema independently of infarct size.
    J Neuroinflammation. 2011 Nov 12;8:164
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    Changes in regional cerebral blood flow and glucose metabolism following electroacupuncture at LI 4 and LI 11 in normal volunteers.
    J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Oct;15(10):1075-81
  17. Janine Reis
    Noninvasive cortical stimulation enhances motor skill acquisition over multiple days through an effect on consolidation (Neurological Therapy)

doi: 10.1073/pnas.0805413106  National Academy of Science of USA

Edited by Emilio Bizzi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, and approved November 25, 2008 (received for review June 5, 2008)

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Plasticity of Primary Somatosensory Cortex Paralleling Sensorimotor Skill Recovery From Stroke in Adult Monkeys
Journal of NeurophysiologyPublished 1 April 1998Vol. 79no. 4, 2119-2148

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Effects of Interactive Metronome Therapy on Cognitive Functioning After Blast-Related Brain Injury: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial

Neuropsychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0034117
Online First Publication, September 23, 2013. doi: 10.1037/a0034117

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