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Is your brain on fire? Brain fog, memory loss, depression, autism, ADHD…

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Do you suffer from brain fog — that spacey, detached feeling like your head is in a fish bowl? Do you suffer from  depression, or does your child have autism? Are you concerned about Alzheimer’s? These conditions are signs of possible brain inflammation, or a brain “on fire.”

Although a head injury or infection are commonly associated with severe cases of brain inflammation, many people suffer from milder but chronic brain inflammation, which is linked to a variety of symptoms such as brain fog, depression, autism, or Alzheimer’s.

Brain inflammation and brain fog

Unlike most of the body, the brain does not produce pain when inflamed. Instead, one of the most common symptoms is brain fog, which makes people feel spaced out and disconnected. As Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS explains in his book  Why Isn’t My Brain Working?, this is because brain inflammation slows down the conduction between neurons. As a result, brain function slows, which causes that slowness and dullness of thinking.

Brain inflammation and depression

Studies also show depression is linked with brain inflammation. Inflammation creates immune proteins called cytokines. These cytokines can impair brain function and the brain chemical  serotonin; low serotonin is frequently linked with depression. In fact, up to a third of patients with hepatitis C who are given  interferon, which increases cytokine activity, develop depression, mania, and hypomania.

Brain inflammation, autism, and ADHD

Brain inflammation has also been linked with  autism  and other brain development disorders in children. Patients with autism have more inflammatory disorders than average (such as digestive disorders, allergies, ear infections, or skin eruptions) and brain imaging and autopsies show more  brain inflammation  in individuals of all ages with autism.

Brain inflammation and Alzheimer’s

Research also links brain inflammation with  Alzheimer’s. Although tau proteins and amyloid beta have long been the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, studies increasingly show inflammation plays a large role in the disease. Not only does inflammation degenerate brain tissue, it also appears to increase amyloid beta, which in turn increases inflammation in a vicious cycle that chews up brain tissue.

Quench brain inflammation for better brain health

So what can be done about brain inflammation to protect brain function? In his brain book,  Dr. Kharrazian  outlines a number of approaches:

  • Nutritional therapy. Several natural compounds have been shown to quench brain inflammation—ask my office for more information.
  • Keep blood sugar stable. Eating a whole foods diet that does not cause surges or drops in blood sugar is also important. Insulin resistance (high blood sugar), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and  diabetes  can all increase brain inflammation.
  • Food intolerances. It’s important to remove foods that trigger inflammation from your diet. For example, many people have intolerances to gluten grains, dairy, or other foods.
  • Balance hormones. Balanced hormones are also important to keep brain inflammation in check. For instance, low  estrogen  in women, low testosterone in men, or low thyroid hormones can play a role in brain inflammation.
  • Glutathione. Sufficient  glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant, is also necessary to prevent brain inflammation, as are sufficient essential fatty acids and vitamin D.
  • Gut health. Also vitally important is to address  gut inflammation. There is direct communication between the gut and the brain and gut inflammation has been shown to cause brain inflammation.

Ask my office for more information on how to manage brain inflammation for better brain and body health.

Meet the Author

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM.

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM. is the founder of the Holistic Wellness Center of the Carolinas where he is the Director of Functional Medicine. He holds a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine and is acupuncture physician and primary care physician in the state of Florida. His post-graduate focus has been in the fields of functional neurology, functional immunology, and functional endocrinology.

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