This is a new one on me, I have to say. Doing my Neuroinflammation training course, I have recently been astounded at the impact a trauma to the head can have on future illness. Think playing footie and being knocked out momentarily or smacking your head a good one during a car bump; even being hit around the head violently, God forbid. They can all have a major impact on how your brain – and your body – functions in later life, mainly because it causes an inflammatory and sometimes immunological glial priming cascade which then causes damage later on. Importantly, this is a common precursor to brain degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Dementia so we need to take note of any clues.
There are sort of two levels of inflammation that can occur:
Level One Inflammation
If you are suffering from reduced brain endurance (ie. you get tired doing normal stuff like reading, driving, writing) and can’t do them for as long as you used to, have brain fog that comes and goes or is there all the time and some loss of cognitive function/memory, you may have some degree of brain inflammation that needs addressing before it progresses in later life. This can be quite simple to treat.
Level Two Inflammation
If you are more progressed, you might have unresolving depression that just doesn’t respond to the usual treatments, have significant brain type reactions (dizziness, vertigo, vision changes, brain shutdown etc) to immunological things like colds, food proteins or chemicals (not the smell of them, the actual chemicals) and generally feel like you need to sleep or rest a lot to escape from all the stimuli overwhelming you. You might also suffer chronic pain. This is much more challenging to treat (understatement….), obviously, but often until someone lowers the fire in the brain, other interventions are just not going to work.
Useful to think about it, I think. Of course, there are many causes of brain inflammation. TBI (traumatic brain injury) includes a bang on the head (even more significant if you lost consciousness even for a few seconds), strokes/TIAs and certain infections that can cross the blood brain barrier. Or, there could be a blood brain barrier breakdown from high oxidative stress or a loss of zonulin. Tip: if your gut zonulin shows low and you recognise yourself above, test your blood brain barrier with a Cyrex 20 too in case! Otherwise, some kind of systemic inflammation from eg. the stomach, liver, gut, joints, skin etc can trigger brain inflammation in various ways, not least hitching a ride up the vagus nerve straight to the brain stem, eek!
With regards to treatment, I learned that the normal anti-inflammatories I might give are not going to hack it for brain inflammation. I now have a good idea of what to do and a protocol to help lower the various forms of brain inflammation if I find it in patients. A useful extra tool in my healing toolbox!
Always working on stuff for us all… 🙂