Brain Not Working as Well as It Used to? Here are Ten Things to Consider…
Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT
When there is something wrong with your brain, you may not be aware if it. Other people around you though may notice you’re not as sharp as you once were.
Four years ago, my children noticed I was more forgetful than usual. As did several of my friends. One of them suggested I go get my head examined – at the Amen Clinic. I couldn’t really tell there was anything all that wrong with me but I wasn’t sleeping well and I would forgot what I was searching for when I would start a google search. I thought most of my symptoms were just from menopause. Other people begged to differ.
The Amen clinic spent two days evaluating my brain – they did two two different Spec Scans. I was injected with a radioactive substance that was active in my brain for thirty minutes. On one test I had to do a series of exercises to see how well my brain did when I was active and on the other test, I had to relax. Then they took pictures of my brain. The radioactive substance lit up the parts of my brain that were active during the tests.
The Spec scans showed the back part of my brain way over functioning but the front part of my brain having very little activity. The odd thing too, there was no difference in how my brain worked when active or when relaxed. They also took a comprehensive history of brain trauma and the results were consistent with having a long term undiagnosed brain injury (I was tossed out of a moving car when I was four).
So why did it take almost 50 years to show up? Untreated brain injuries can cause early dementia. If you find yourself extremely stressed out, an undiagnosed brain injury from years earlier can make it harder for your brain to work properly. My mother had recently passed away from brain cancer and my body was also stressed from going through menopause. Both these made it harder for my compromised brain to function effectively. Our brains are amazing and can rewire themselves to compensate for all types of trauma – for a time.
Luckily for me it was treatable. A week later, I went to a Neurofeedback specialist who did a 32 channel quantitative EEG (QEEG) analysis that validated the results of the Amen clinic’s tests. The post summary recommendations were not nearly as comprehensive as the Amen Clinic’s. If you have a serious concern, visit the Amen Clinic first. If you are more curious about how your brain is performing and for follow up, the QEEG test suffices. A QEEG scan is also most often 1/10th the cost of the Spec scan and does not require anything be injected into your body.
As part of the Amen’s clinic recommendation to heal from my brain injury, I had to spend three months in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber (HBOT) for an hour a day. Depending on the rigor of the study, this approach is or is not validated. For me, it worked. The Amen Clinic helped me acquire my own chamber through Oxy health. They also had me adopt a number of nutritional and lifestyle practices to heal my brain injury.
Six months after my diagnosis and doing the Amen Clinic’s recommended intensive protocol of daily HBOT treatments for three months I went to a month long intensive program to become a registered yoga teacher. I wanted to test drive my improved brain. Doing yoga every day, including all the various breathing exercises I learned, had the added benefit of helping me learn how to activate desired brain wave frequencies on demand by following different breathing patterns.
Two years later after following the Amen’s Clinics recommendations, I went in for another QEEG Analysis – and all parts of my brain now function as they are intended. I even got to test out how well the breathing exercises I mastered practicing yoga worked for attaining desired brain states.
I still follow many of the practices I learned from having this brain injury. If you’d like improve your brain health and keep your brain in a state of peak performance consider looking into how these would work for you:
- Get a Quantitative EEG Analysis. This is done by a neurofeedback practioner qualified with QEEG. This can show you where you could improve your brain performance. QEEG practioners exist in most major metropolitan area – just google it – quantitative EEG, QEEG, or quantitative neurofeedback. Make sure they have the systems that can evaluate 32 channels.
- The brain needs a lot of water – many brain deficits improve with being better hydrated. Drink at least 100 ounces of good quality filtered water. Start out your day with at least 20 ounces of water. For an added boost for your digestive system, put in 1 tsp of brags apple cider vinegar.
- Fish oil – helps improve cell signaling in the brain and aids in repairing brain injuries. Do cod liver oil – not just the capsules. This article recommends 1g – I was taking 6 g per day to heal my brain injury. Now I take about a tablespoon a day – most days.
- Tumeric root crosses the blood brain barrier for six hours when steeped as a tea. It helps reduce brain inflammation and prevents many brain degenerative diseases. Get the actual root, slice it thin and steep it as a tea. Drink it for the next six hours.
- Do a high protein, complex carb diet – all organic. Avoid sugar and alcohol. The Mediterranean diet or Paleo suffice. Aim to keep your blood sugars in control. The test called the A1C measures your blood sugar levels over time. To maintain excellent brain health, keep you A1C levels below 5.7.
- Take a high quality multi-vitamin – the neurofeedback therapist may have some other recommendations for supplements to enhance your brain based on your specific goals.
- Pay attention to environmental toxins around your house, yard, car, etc – anywhere you exist. This includes cleaning supplies, what you put on your lawn, your laundry detergent, the soaps you use, sunscreens, lotions – all of this can impact your brain. Avoid sunscreens with benzoates – review anything you are going to put on your skin on the – check out the cosmetics database to make sure what you are using is safe – www.ewg.org.
- CBD oil also helps heal brain injuries – http://herb.co/2016/10/31/cannabis-heal-concussion/. Follow the dosing directions on the packaging.
- Exercise for a half hour a day to the point where your heart rate is elevated to the point where if you were walking with a friend, you’d be a little challenged to carry on a conversation. I wear an apple watch that helps me make sure I get into this zone for 30 minutes a day.
- Consider adopting a yoga practice to improve your abilities to attain desired brain states and study interpersonal neurobiology to understand how your relationships can impact your brain health. We teach both of these in Cheetah Learning’s mindfulness training courses.