As you know, I’ve been doing a lot of work on neuroinflammation (brain inflammation) recently. I have now completed the new Brain Factsheet for you in the A-Z and copy the new bit below for you. I have tried to give you a good idea of where brain inflammation might be a factor in a condition or symptoms as many people – including medics! – have no idea about it, wouldn’t recognise it as part of the problem and wouldn’t know what to do about it if they did! I hope it helps. You can see the full factsheet here. And see the brain blog posts here.
Brain/Neuro Inflammation Symptoms
So, what to do if you are having brain problems? It depends on the type of issue you are having. In essence, many people suffer with a slow down in brain function – a loss of brain endurance – which is very distinct from memory loss. Or, they can have problems with long-term hidden brain inflammation causing depression, anxiety, food and chemical sensitivities. More severely, they can suffer loss of brain function after a head injury, stroke, trauma or maybe an infection or toxin that crosses the blood brain barrier, setting up an immunological response called glial priming, where the inflammation is constantly doing damage over time.
All forms of brain inflammation confer a higher risk of neurodegenerative issues like Alzheimer’s and dementias so it is wise, if you recognise yourself here, to do something about it.
To help, here are what I would term the milder or early symptoms of brain inflammation:
- Brain fog (hazy thoughts and recall)
- Mental speed varies
- Reduced brain endurance (can’t do things as long eg. read/drive/chat), losing words, gaps as talking, not thinking well
- Brain fatigue after exposure to specific chemicals, pollutants, perfumes
- Brain fatigue after specific foods
- Depression, lack of motivation and drive, fatigue, need to sleep
- Change in handwriting over the years or if writing quickly
- Poor digestion, motility, acid, enzymes, infections etc because of vagus nerve and NI feedback
When the issue becomes more chronic, this can develop into what is termed Sickness Behaviour Syndrome (SBS). That then looks like this – you can have some or many of these symptoms. Usually people recognise themselves quite easily:
- Depression or anxiety – unresolving with normal approaches
- Can’t concentrate esp for long periods, brain fog, slow brain/lack of endurance
- Increased need for sleep/general sleepiness, lethargy/fatigue severe and chronic
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of appetite
- Malaise and can’t be physically active/exercise without crashing, body feels heavy
- If not physically tired, the brain fatigue means you can’t handle stimuli/input like sound, smells, touch, light etc, have to avoid it or absent yourself and possibly sleep to recover
- Muscle weakness
- Cognitive decline
Not nice. People with symptoms like these – think of the unresolving depression or tinnitus, for example – rarely consider brain inflammation as a cause so it goes undetected and untreated.
To be complete, here are the symptoms of severe brain inflammation:
- Delirium, confusion, disorientation
- Dementia, personality or behaviour changes
- Difficulty speaking
- Trembling, tremors, involuntary twitching
Hopefully, I don’t get to see many of those.
To help, here are some typical patient ‘pictures’ where I might consider brain/neuro inflammation treatment:
- A person who can’t handle stimui/input like noise, light, smells etc, has to get away from it in some way or stop it; they might have adrenaline rushes, heart racing and be quite reactive to stress, either having to sleep to recover or suffering brain or nervous system symptoms such as brain fog, can’t write well, think straight, focus, feel anxious or depressed.
- Person has brain fog, exhaustion/chronic fatigue, can’t handle stimuli, chronic pain.
- Person has a brain injury and has never felt the same since.
- Person has poor cognition, memory and learning ability, can’t find words or recall where things are.
- Person falls apart/can’t function after stress
- Person with unresponsive clinical depression
- Person with a leaky gut not resolving
- Person with chronic constipation, chronically low acid and enzymes, can’t swallow pills –
- Person with chronic food intolerance or unresolving SIBO/constipation or gut problem
- Stroke/TIA patients
- Some cases of restless legs syndrome
- Some migraine cases (especially if hypoxic – lack of blood flow to the brain or vagus isn’t right)
- PTSD or ACE Disorder/Trauma patients
- Children having meltdowns
- Never felt well since eg. accident, surgery, infection, trauma etc.
- Someone who has a significant reaction to a trigger – brain/body just shuts down, there is a need to stop whatever they are doing.
- Person has chronic pain – can be anywhere in the body or moving about.
That’s a LOT of people who probably aren’t even aware that brain inflammation could be involved, and who certainly aren’t being treated for that!
Neuro Inflammation (NI) Treatment
So, we recognise ourselves. What do we do about it? It’s complex, but then you knew I was going to say that! Essentially, treatment is based around diet, lifestyle, supplement protocol and brain exercises. It is far too complicated to go into in depth here so do book in if you need help. However, I’ll try to give you a steer on the basics.
In NI, the diet and lifestyle changes are the most important part. People often think they can get away with doing all their normal stuff and take some supplements. That is going to help, sure, but if you are having serious symptoms like those above and/or you want to prevent progression in the future, you will need to make some changes.
The basics that you need to get right – because they ALL cause or worsen NI are:
- Circulation and blood flow to the brain
- Sleep (do not underestimate this one, it is a real priority for lowering NI)
- No/limit alcohol
- Gluten and cross-reactive free diet, possibly ketogenic and/or intermittent fasting depending on severity (see the Cyrex tests here).
- Blood sugar
As I say it can be a lot more complex than that. For example, if inflammation in the gut or elsewhere in the body is inflaming the brain or, say, an infection, a toxin, a drug or medicine or emotional stress is keeping glial priming processes going, they have to be sorted out. We need to check if there is a leaky blood brain barrier or neuro autoimmunity going on, sort out any anaemia, improve asthma or breathing problems and much more besides. But, those first basic elements are crucial for getting well so that is where to start.
Treatment also includes improving vagal tone and doing customised brain regeneration and HIIT exercises. These have to be specific to the case once we have worked out what regions of the brain are involved – I have a Brain Region form I get you to fill in to help us with that.
In addition, there is a whole NI supplement protocol that is customised depending on each case. These are the kind of core products I would use in treatment – obviously I don’t have your case here so please check ingredients/discuss with your practitioner as always, or book in and I can prepare a customised protocol for you. The dosages can vary greatly and you may need other products on top of or instead of these. Consider these type of things:
NeuroFlam – a polyphenol-based anti-inflammatory that will cross the blood-brain barrier (where many won’t).
Trizomal Glutathione – this is costly, but it works. Crucial in stopping the free radical attack on neurons and brain tissue.
NeurO2 – brilliant for increasing blood flow to the brain
There are several other elements to this protocol, but those are some of the key ones to think about. If I get a chance, I may well write a Brain Plan for you but, as I say, much of it has to be customised for each person.
I hope that helps. Neuro-inflammation is very often missed in cases but can be having a real impact, especially if normal interventions are not getting you well. Book in if you need help and we’ll work on it together.