Optimizing Brain Health.

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I recently heard on the CBC radio an interesting interview with Dr. Antoine Hakim on his recent book: “Save Your Mind” Seven Rules to Avoid Dementia.” Five hundred thousand Canadians suffer from dementia and Dr. Hakim reviews seven scientific approaches to preventing it. He did not mention any nutritional prevention but Dr. Bredesen in his studies offers the MEND protocol. This is a protocol I have used in my practice over the years that any brain conditions may benefit from: Concussion and brain injury, PTSD, dementia and early symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and the treatment of Brain Tumors. When I give this kind of protocol I encourage the patient that they are also supporting the health of their gut and their heart and also preventing cancer. Here are one and two of my ‘Wisdom Notes’ outlining my protocols.

  1. Exercise is number one and Dr. Hakim talks about the importance of exercising every day to the point of getting out of breath. This stimulates a production of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) which protects and repairs memory neurons.
  2. Diet: A low glycemic diet prevents insulin resistance and inflammation of the brain. Gymnema or Berberine 500mg (Thorne) can be used to help with sugar cravings and maintains healthy blood glucose levels tp HgA1c below 5.5.
  3. Sleep: 8 hours of sleep per night is generally accepted as the normal requirement for most people. I use a lot of melatonin (dosage can be easily adjusted). Kava Forte can be used to treat anxiety interfering with sleep, but treating the adrenal glands is always the core treatment. I love Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng and Withania) in the liquid form and will combine it with other adaptogens to make up an adrenal formula. My liquid herbal female adrenal tonic contains: Withania, Astragalus, Siberian Ginseng, Reishi, Shativari, and Rehmannia. My male adrenal tonic contains Panex ginseng, Withania and Astragalus. It is important to avoid licorice in patients with high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for dementia.
  4. B12 5mg and folate as 5MTHFR to keep homocysteine levels below 7. Vessel Care (Metagenics) 2 in am, and chewable methylcobalmine form of B12 (AOR).
  5. Reducing inflammation and amyloid plaque: Curcumin and Withania. My favorite form of Curcumin is BCQ (Vital Nutrients) as it also contains Boswellia or Boswellia Complex which crosses the blood brain barrier to reduce the size of brain tumors. I dose it quite high 6 or more in divided doses throughout the day and watching for loosening of the bowels. Vitamin E containing mixed tocopherols (Ultimate E Thorne) one per day.
  6. Hormone balance: to include regulating the thyroid, cortisol levels and other hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. For stress control in PTSD and depression: Rhodiola and Ginseng and St John’s Wort. A reminder that St. John’s wort causes photo sensitivity so not to be used in the summer months and it also interferes with liver clearance of many prescription drugs. St. John’s wort tablets are high in hyperforin NOT found in the tincture.
  7. Digestive health: The GI is the second brain. Avoiding gluten and using probiotics is imperative. Ther-Biotic Complete from Klaire Labs can help lower ammonia which is harmful for the brain and implicated in hepatic encephalopathy.
  8. Cognitive enhancement: Bacopa contains Siberian Ginseng as well as Rosemary. Kerry Bone is known to take 9 Ginkgo per day when he is travelling and lecturing to help with cognition as well as jet lag. I print out this Ginkgo monograph for my patients to show how it is a tonic used for the prevention of many diseases: Macular degeneration, MS, circulation to the extremities as well as to the brain, mood regulation and tinnitus to mention a few. Lions Mane has also been shown to help in neurodegenerative conditions including MS, dementia and neuropathies. It crosses the blood brain barrier to increase myelination.
  9. Blood pressure control: Kerry Bone outlines the importance of the microcirculation and endothelial health for many health conditions including the brain. He mentions ginkgo, garlic, green tea, bilberry, blueberry, and grapeseed extract. Vitanox is an excellent antioxidant blend providing many of these herbs. I also love using Hawthorne tincture to lower blood pressure. This is another beautiful herb full of bioflavonoids with broad benefits.
  10. Essential fatty acids: make sure the dosage is 3000mg per day of EPA and DHA to provide blood thinning effects as well as brain support: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega 3 per day.

Recommended Reading: Karen Jensen, ND Three Brains: How the Heart, Brain, and Gut Influence Mental Health and Identity by Karen Jensen, ND / Grain Brain by David Perlmutter M.D / Preventing Alzheimer’s by Dr. Shankle and Dr. Amen.

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