Now that we have reviewed the general treatments for brain and nerve health, we will address unique treatments for individual disorders. Let me stress that until enough of the general treatments are accomplished, including good diet, heavy doses of B vitamins and essential fatty oils, these additional treatments may not be of great value.
Traumatic brain injury: this occurs by trauma to the brain, which may be from a fall, an automobile accident, a sports injury, or an assault. This injury causes a bruise on the brain, both at the site of initial impact when the brain hits the skull, and at the opposite side of the brain as the brain bounces off the skull at the site of the initial injury. The second injury to the brain is called a contrecoup injury. The brain will immediately swell, because of blood vessel breakage, inflammatory substances are released, attracting inflammation and swelling to both areas of injury. If the swelling increases, it will compress the brain tissue and blood vessels, so that nutrients and oxygen cannot be carried to the site, and waste products cannot be removed.
One of the eleven approved uses of hyperbaric oxygen is for healing chronic wounds. Hyperbaric oxygen is the use of 100% oxygen in a pressure environment that is 50-100% higher than normal atmospheric pressure. You may have heard about its use for divers who get the “bends” in diving. Hyperbaric oxygen is known to induce angiogenesis, which is the formation of brand new blood vessels to an area of low oxygen saturation. It is through this and other mechanisms that wound healing takes place.
Because of oxygen deprivation, the brain cells will soon become dysfunctional, and eventually start dying. Hyperbaric oxygen can reverse this process by bringing much needed oxygen to the areas of dying cells. The injury process causes the release of significant numbers of free radicals, which cause further damage and swelling. This can be reversed by IV EDTA Chelation therapy, especially when DMSO is added to the IV solution. This combination is extremely effective at providing much needed oxygen and removal of the free radicals that are initiating the cascade of inflammation and swelling leading to the death of the neurons.
Interestingly, progesterone decreases inflammation and early edema in early traumatic brain injury. Normal testosterone and estradiol levels are also important to prevent neuronal loss. One important item to recognize is the potential for pituitary dysfunction after a head injury. It will be important to check the hormones that the pituitary releases, both early in the head injury and months later. These would include growth hormone, FSH, LH, ACTH, TSH, and ADH.
Spinal chord injury is treated in exactly the same way as traumatic brain injury, with hyperbaric oxygen and EDTA Chelation therapy, with DMSO added. The major problem with spinal chord injury, if the spinal chord is not totally severed, is the post injury swelling and inflammation, which compresses the chord and leads to complete chord death. The above treatments, if initiated early, will usually prevent this complication. Unfortunately, many patients end up in a hospital after their traumatic brain or spinal chord injury and do not have access to these treatments for a week or two, by which time permanent neurologic damage has taken place.
Stroke causes damage similar to trauma in the brain because a clot is dislodged and gets stuck in a small blood vessel, thus prohibiting blood supply to the tissue that it supplies. This causes the same inflammatory response with free radical damage, nutrient and oxygen deficiency, and waste product buildup, leading to neuronal death. This can also be resolved with hyperbaric oxygen, EDTA Chelation therapy, and EDTA Chelation therapy with DMSO added.
Pancreatic enzymes and a soy extract called “nattokinase” have the ability to break down clots. The pancreatic enzymes need to be administered at high doses between meals. If given with meals, they will be used up assisting the pancreatic enzymes to break down food.
There are many disorders that are classified as emotional disorders that actually have a strong association with physical root causes. Often there has been some damage to neurotransmitters that conduct the message from one nerve cell to another. Seratonin and dopamine are the two most common neurotransmitters whose deficiency causes anxiety, depression, insomnia, attention disorders, PTSD, and severe stress. These neurotransmitters can be assessed through a urine evaluation, and precursors of these neurotransmitters can be given to increase the levels in nerve tissue.
There are three toxic metals that are known to interfere with brain function: mercury, aluminum, and lead. Oral Chelation therapy can remove these metals from the brain and improve brain function. There are many relaxation techniques that are helpful, including meditation and energy work. Biofeedback and audio-visual entrainment and emotional release techniques are also effective treatments.
Let us now turn our attention to the huge topic of neurodegenerative disorders. These include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease), and Huntington’s disease. These disorders are triggered by environmental factors in genetically susceptible individuals. These triggers include stress, poor nutrition, and chemical toxic exposures and toxic metal exposures (including mercury, aluminum and lead). There is an excellent video produced by the University of Calgary, called “Mercury Effect on Nerve Fibrils,” that can be obtained by Googling it on the Internet. It is a scientific documentation of the effect of mercury on the formation of nerve fibers and maintenance of nerve tissue.
The basic injury in all neurodegenerative disorders is free radical production and its injury to brain tissue. There are many substances that will reduce these free radicals or oxidative stress in the brain. The antioxidants, vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene, along with minerals selenium and magnesium, and the hormone melatonin, all reduce oxidative stress. Glutathione, which must be administered IV or transdermally, is one of the best antioxidants and is also a chelating agent for toxic metals. N acetylcysteine, alphalipoic acid, and vitamin B12 will also reduce oxidative stress. These can be taken orally.
Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. When glutamate levels become high, the body will reduce that excitatory neurotransmitter into the glutamine form, and it will be taken up by the glial cells into the brain tissue. When high doses of glutamate are ingested, as in MSG (monosodium glutamate), glutamate can become a neurotoxin. When we eat out, it is important to be aware that MSG is often added as a flavor enhancer to our food. It is not uncommon to consume 9 mg of MSG in a single Chinese meal. Humans actually concentrate MSG in tissue 4-5 times more effectively than other animals. The 9 mg equivalent dose to the same dose in an animal has been shown to cause neurotoxicity, which may explain why some people become ill after eating Chinese food.
The reason glutamate is so toxic is that it opens up sodium channels, so that sodium rushes into cells, which brings water molecules with the sodium. If the glutamate levels are high enough for a long enough period of time, these cells will actually balloon and burst. If this damage were not enough to a cell, approximately 4-6 hours after ingestion of a high glutamate meal, calcium channels will also open up. There is usually a 10,000-1 ratio of calcium outside of the cell to inside of the cell. This ratio is maintained by the cell membrane and is really an indicator of the health of the cell. If calcium is permitted to enter the cell, it must be pumped out of the cells, and the body utilized cell energy to perform this task. If calcium is not removed from the cells in an expeditious manner, the cells will die. In fact, it is the calcium rushing into cells with inadequate energy to pump it out that is the ultimate death to the human body.
As an interesting side note, Calcium is the mineral that stimulates the cells to function. The contraction of the muscle takes place because calcium channels are opened up to trigger muscle contraction. It is only when the energy level is low and the calcium cannot be pumped out, or the calcium channels are open too much of the time, that cells will die.
Magnesium, taurine, zinc, and huperzine have been shown to reduce the excitatory effects of excessive glutamate.
There are many other toxins that may be present in our body that may affect brain tissue. These toxins may be removed with a far infrared sauna. Milk thistle and alphalipoic acid provide liver support, which is our organ of major detoxification. There are also a number of substances which provide the brain and all cells of the body with energy. Because the mitochondria are the organelle that produces our energy, all these substances provide mitochondrial support. Coenzyme Q10 is the critical fifth step in a nine step process of the electron transport chain, which is the major energy-producing cascade in the body. L-Carnitine is the transport protein that moves triglycerides across the mitochondrial cell membrane, so that triglycerides can be used for cell energy. Ribose is a sugar that part of the ATP (adenosinetriphosphate) molecule. ATP is the major energy source for every cell of the body. Phosphatidylcholine is one of the major phospholipids in all cell membranes, and imparts the fluidity or normal functioning to each cell. This can be given IV and orally, so that cells will function better.
Stem cell research is an area of moral controversy because of the source of acquisition. The reason there is such a dilemma about the acquisition of stem cells is that they are derived from fetal tissue, which can come from the premature death of fetal infants (abortions). The stem cells derived therefrom are sold at a high price. However, stem cells can be obtained from an umbilical chord after delivery of a live birth, from other adults, and there is also new research that there are substances that can encourage one’s own stem cells to be released at a faster rate than usual. There is a lot of promise on the horizon regarding this research and its use in neurologic disease.
Stem cells are cells that have not committed themselves to become a certain tissue. When they arrive at a site in the body where new cells need to be formed, they can then transform themselves into those cells. In many neurologic disorders, including all the degenerative disorders, new cell growth may be an important part of the healing process.
Multiple sclerosis is a process in the brain where the fatty sheath, called myelin, that surrounds each nerve cell, starts to break down. This is characterized by plaques seen in the central nervous system on MRIs. This affects both the motor and sensory systems of the body. The etiology is unknown; however, it may be an autoimmune disease, where the body starts to attack its own myelin sheath, or it may be another disease triggered by the known neurotoxin mercury.
Chelation of toxic metals, if present, forms a core treatment for this disorder. DMSA is a chelating agent that is capable of crossing the blood brain barrier, and pulling metals out of the brain to detoxify it. IV glutathione is another chelating agent and is a strong antioxidant that may reduce the inflammation around the nerves. This can be followed by IV phosphatidylcholine, which is an important part of the myelin sheath and its repair. Flaxseed oil and methylcobalamine (B12) may also prove helpful. The old literature shows scientific support of the “Swank Diet” in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. This is a diet that is low in saturated fats, has normal protein intake, high polyunsaturated oils (such as cod liver oil), and mandates fish three times per week.
Hyperbaric oxygen has also been shown to improve multiple sclerosis. The original research was done in Great Britain, when an individual was given the assignment to prove that hyperbaric oxygen did NOT improve multiple sclerosis. His careful science showed the opposite. Unfortunately, his hyperbaric oxygen machines were taken away from him and the data was never published.
Autism spectrum disorders are characterized by neurologic and behavioral impairment. Mercury impairs the methylation pathway, which may be at the core of many of the symptom abnormalities in autism. These may include gastrointestinal illness and immune deficiencies.
Treatment is a multifactorial plan. The diet must eliminate gluten, gliaden (a wheat protein), soy, casein, lactose, and sugar. Many autism victims need to have Chelation to remove toxic metals. Supplementation of methylated B12, folinic acid, betaine (trimethylglycine or dimethylglycine), and magnesium may be important to improve the biochemical abnormalities. Probiotics and pancreatic enzymes may be necessary for better gastrointestinal functioning. IV secretin has been helpful in some children with autism. Transdermal glutathione is also an important part of the total treatment.
Neuropathy is a descriptive term that refers to breakdown of nerves. This may be indicated by tingling, pain, numbness, or misperception of tactile stimuli. The causes are multitudinous, including autoiummune disease, post infection, diabetic, hereditary, nerve entrapment or compression, trauma-induced, or drug/ toxin induced, as in chemotherapy. Treatment includes identifying the cause and treating it if possible. The omega 6 oils, including borage and evening primrose oil are important for proper nerve function, as are the B vitamins. There are frequency generators that can release frequencies that heal and repair nerve tissue. The energy work of acupuncture and Jin shin Jyutsu may also interrupt the abnormal frequencies released by the damaged tissue and cause healing to take place.
Stan M. Gardner, M.D. is certified nutrition specialist (CNS). He writes and lectures extensively on the subject of preventive medicine and natural means of healing. With over 15 years experience in the integrative field of medicine, he is a popular speaker and provides interesting perspectives on healthy alternatives to drugs and surgery. For more information visit www.stangardnermd.com.