Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What have you done for your brain lately?

Everything you have ever experienced, felt or conducted in life is due to brain function.  The ability to enjoy, perceive, sense, and experience life is dictated by the firing rate and health of your brain.  It is impossible for a person to become healthy mentally or physiologically without a healthy brain.

This very poignant quote from my colleague, Datis Kharrazian, D.C., D.H.Sc. is the subject of this and several upcoming posts about brain function, its relationship to health and physiological functions, and what you can do to preserve and optimize your brain.

Our brain determines who we are, what we do, and what we get out of our lives.  We all know that our brain is vitally important to our existence, so let me ask you a very simple question:  What have you done for your brain lately?

Why do some people’s brains age gracefully, while others struggle for decades with symptoms of brain deterioration?  You and I both know someone in her nineties who is as sharp as a tack—just as mentally agile as she was when she was forty.  Unfortunately, we also know someone who is sixty and struggles with forgetting appointments, remembering names and places, and has difficulty recalling words.  Brain degeneration is a reality for all of us.  It is a normal part of ageing—the brain looses neurons and shrinks as we get older.  So, if it is just a normal part of ageing, why such a disparity?

On top of the normal loss of neurons and brain shrinkage that comes with ageing, our brains are constantly being assaulted by stress, stress hormones, inflammation, dietary sensitivities, poor blood sugar regulation, immune activation, detoxification deficiencies and lack of stimulation.  For the most part this is completely overlooked.

In our traditional healthcare system doctors are not taught to identify early and subtle changes in brain function—only to identify major disease once it has developed and then treat the symptoms.  By the time major symptoms have developed IT IS ALREADY TOO LATE.  Subtle changes in brain function  may be expressed by hypertension, poor digestion, constipation, sexual dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, incontinence, insomnia, depression, abnormal pain perception, and poor balance and coordination—just to name a few.  By the time doctors identify dementia, Parkinsonian tremors, or any other problems the brain has experienced accelerated degeneration for decades and the best that can be done is to manage the disorder.

This approach makes no sense and is not good enough for me.  I don’t want to develop dementia, have my career and family life suffer, lose all enjoyment in life to then just be managed.  Do you?

Here is what I do for my brain on a daily basis:
1.     Manage stress
a.       Vigorous exercise 5-6 times per week
b.      Manage physiological stress with adaptogenic herbs (Adaptocrine K-2) and phosphatidylserine (Adrenacalm K-16)
2.    Support detoxification (also known as methylation) with sublingual B-12/methylcobalamin (K-34)
3.    Antioxidants—the most important one to the brain is glutathione (Super Oxicell K-23)
4.     Reduce inflammation with the essential fatty acid EPA (Omega Co3 K-7)
5.     Support the structure of the brain with the essential fatty acid DHA (Omega Co3 K-7)
6.     Increase oxygenation and manage blood sugar levels with  vigorous exercise 5-6 times per week

The above is a good program for overall brain support and brain wellness, attacking many avenues of brain degeneration including stress, oxidation, detoxification, inflammation, and oxygenation.
Is this the right program for you?  The answer is maybe.  It certainly can’t hurt and will definitely help many people. But, is there a more tailored program for you?  You can start by filling out the Neurotransmitter Assessment Form (NTAF) on our website.  Look at your form—did you circle many 2s and 3s?  Perhaps you should be concerned.

The NTAF, coupled with a physical exam and a comprehensive blood chemistry (the Opti-Cardio test) will help us determine an individualized approach in treating and supporting your brain—helping you to be all that you can be (thanks,  Army).

Yours in Health,
Dr. James Turnbull D.C., C.C.S.T., F.I.A.M.A.

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