Healing Traumatic Brain Injury
When we think of traumatic brain injuries, we tend to think of sports injuries. However, there are many other common causes of traumatic brain injury, including motor vehicle accidents, falls, and assault.
No matter the cause, the effect is the collision of the brain against the skull, which results in brain tissue damage. This damage leads to the release of reactive oxygen species, resulting in the death of the affected brain cells.
If the brain is given enough time to recover from the initial assault, then our bodies have compensatory actions in place that will lead to the regeneration and healing of the brain tissue. However, it takes some proactive measures on the part of the injured person or, in most cases, on the part of those who are caring for the injured person.
As with any treatment, the best approach is to consult a physician to assure proper utilization of the following tools — including timing, frequency, and dosage.
Here are the tools, starting with Therapies
- Laser — Treatments that can stimulate nerve cell growth and repair, increase circulation, and promote oxygenation to the brain tissues.
- Acupuncture — A traditional Chinese medicinal practice that can also stimulate nerve cell growth and repair, increase circulation, and promote oxygenation to the brain tissue. Keep in mind that acupuncture may be overstimulating to someone who has suffered a recent brain injury. Again, it is critical to consult a physician before starting treatment.
- Floatation Therapy — A form of therapy that removes all stimuli and allows the body to normalize stress hormone levels, lower blood pressure, and improve the release of endorphins.
- Music Therapy — A therapy method that assists patients in entering a parasympathetic state, which helps to decrease the body’s stress response.
- Biologic Nootropics — Substances that aid in brain function enhancement, and include:
o Fish Oil — A dietary supplement that contains essential fatty acids to assist in the proper repair and signaling of the brain’s cells. Using pure fish oil is important for better health, and for the source’s sustainability. Proper processing ensures the removal of environmental pollutants that might otherwise cause a heightened inflammatory response.
o Vitamin C — A powerful antioxidant that is readily absorbed and utilized by the brain.
o B-12 — A common vitamin that blocks the effects of inflammatory cells that result from trauma, thus protecting the brain’s healthy cells.
o Phosphatidylcholine — This and other phospholipids act similarly to fish oil in the areas of brain tissue repair by decreasing inflammation, improving cell signaling, and repairing brain tissue, due to the fat content of these substances.
Now, let’s move on to Foods that promote brain health and healing
- Eggs contain many building blocks for tissue repair, including antioxidants, protein, and choline, to improve cognitive function.
- Turmeric is a beneficial dietary addition, due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been found to increase both dopamine and serotonin, both of which can assist in mood regulation. Given that depression is commonly seen in post-traumatic brain injury patients, turmeric offers multipurpose therapeutic qualities.
- Healthy forms of fats are essential to brain health. Healthy fat sources include fish, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and coconut milk. Look for sustainable sources and low levels of mercury exposure when consuming fish.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, which can contribute to increased exposure to inflammatory substances that delay healing and recovery.
Finally, here are some steps toward Foundational Health that can immediately begin to improve and heal the nervous system
- Sleep — Activates the brain’s immune system to remove problematic cells and debris that have built up from the trauma. Poor sleep is common after a brain injury, and there are various techniques, including botanical medicine, that can be implemented with the assistance of naturopathic medicine.
- Earthing — Direct contact with the earth has been found to improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and reduce cortisol levels. These factors will assist in proper healing of the nervous system. When the weather is not agreeable, grounding mats are available for indoor use to mimic the benefits of grounding and earthing.
The most important factor in repairing brain trauma after an accident is teaming up with a doctor to determine the best healing and treatment choices for the individual’s particular circumstances. At Prairie Naturopathic Doctors we are an incredibly empathetic and gentle group of doctors who care deeply for our patients and work diligently with them to ensure their best possible quality of life and health.
Engle, Dan. The Concussion Repair Manual: A Practical Guide to Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries. Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press, 2017.