New study links inflammation with brain fog

New study links inflammation with brain fog

A new study has shown what we have known for some time in functional medicine: Chronic inflammation causes brain fog and mental sluggishness — many people with chronic health conditions report these symptoms.

In the study, 20 healthy young male volunteers received a salmonella typhoid vaccine, which temporarily spikes inflammation. On separate days they received a placebo shot of saline and did not know on which day they received the vaccine.

They were then given cognitive testing in areas challenging alertness, prioritizing sensory information, and the ability to make executive decisions when presented with conflicting information.

The results showed that the area affected by the inflammation from the vaccine was alertness. The other two areas did not change.

The researchers suggested that inflammation impacts brain networks involved in mental alertness and that anti-inflammatory drugs may be warranted.

Functional medicine approaches to brain inflammation and brain fog

Fortunately, functional medicine offers solutions for brain fog and mental sluggishness. The key is to find and address the source of chronic inflammation.

But first, do you suffer from these symptoms associated with brain inflammation?

  • Brain fog
  • Unclear thoughts
  • Low brain endurance
  • Slow mental speed
  • Loss of brain function after trauma
  • Brain fog and fatigue and poor mental focus after meals
  • Brain fog and fatigue from chemicals, scents, and pollutants
  • Brain fog and fatigue from certain foods
  • Depression

While the brain can become inflamed, we may not necessarily know it as we don’t feel pain from brain inflammation (headaches are caused by other mechanisms although brain inflammation can play a role).

Instead, brain inflammation most often manifests as brain fog and sluggish brain function.

This is because brain inflammation hinders energy production in neurons, making it harder for them to communicate with one another. This causes the brain to slow down and fatigue more easily. Things like reading, working, concentrating, or driving for any length cause fatigue.

The brain has its own immune system made primarily of microglia cells. In the past they were considered nothing more than glue that held brain cells together, but now we know they are very important and outnumber neurons ten to one.

The brain’s immune cells do not have a built-in off switch like the body’s immune cells. As a result, brain inflammation can burn through brain tissue like a slow-moving fire, worsening brain function over time. We see this often in people suffering from symptoms from a brain injury they had years ago.

Also, when not fighting inflammation, the microglia cells carry out very important and necessary “housekeeping” work that keeps the brain healthy and functioning.

Healthy microglia get rid of dead neurons, beta amyloid plaque, and other debris that interfere with nerve communication. They also support neuron metabolism and synapses.

This is especially true in children, whose brain immune cells help “prune” developing neural pathways so that the brain develops as it should. Children whose brains are besieged by inflammation suffer from glitches in these pathways and their brain does not follow healthy developmental patterns.

Brain inflammation not only causes brain fog and mental sluggishness, it also accelerates the degeneration of the brain. This raises the risk of neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and more.

In fact, brain aging is linked more to brain inflammation than simply getting older.

What leads to brain inflammation and brain fog?

Basically, chronic inflammation anywhere in the body can inflame the brain. This can include chronic joint pain, infections from bacteria, viruses, or parasites, leaky gut or gut inflammation, or an undiagnosed and unmanaged autoimmune condition.

Inflammation in the body releases immune cells called cytokines. These cytokines can trigger inflammation in the brain.

Brain inflammation is now being recognized as a primary cause of chronic, unresponsive depression. After all, antidepressants do not address brain inflammation.

If you have brain fog or mental sluggishness, see if any of these factors could be contributing:

  • Diabetes and high blood sugar
  • Poor circulation
  • Lack of exercise
  • Chronic stress
  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory issues
  • Anemia
  • Previous head trauma
  • Neurological autoimmunity
  • Gluten and dairy intolerance
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Environmental pollutants
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Inflammatory bowel conditions
  • Leaky blood-brain barrier

Taming brain inflammation

If you start to feel more mental clarity when addressing underlying causes of brain fog, that means you’re on the right track.

While working on the dietary and lifestyle factors that trigger brain fog, the following compounds can also help dampen brain inflammation:

  • Rutin
  • Catechin
  • Curcumin
  • Apigenin
  • Luteolin
  • Baicalein
  • Resveratrol

The amount you take depends on the degree of brain inflammation. Ask my office for more information.

Exercise shown to improve autoimmunity outcomes

Exercise shown to improve autoimmunity outcomes

Exercise may seem like a bad idea when you feel run down, in pain, or fatigued from an autoimmune disease. Autoimmunity, a disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue, can make exercise feel like an impossible feat when you’re not feeling good.

However, studies show daily physical activity improves outcomes and helps manage symptoms compared to not exercising at all. This even extends to patients who may stop exercising due to pain, such as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. No matter how small the effort, something is better than nothing when it comes to regular physical activity and autoimmunity.

Exercise guidelines for autoimmunity

Exercise has many general benefits, the best perhaps being that it simply makes you feel better. People who engage in regular physical activity report less depression and better self-esteem, and are happier. These benefits alone support autoimmune management as a positive mindset is more anti-inflammatory compared to a negative one.

However, when it comes to autoimmunity, exercise delivers specific immune benefits. In fact, you’ll never reach your full potential at managing an autoimmune condition unless regular physical activity is part of your protocol.

In studies, regular exercise has been shown to help dampen autoimmunity in patients with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other conditions. Studies have also shown that sedentary patients have higher incidences of autoimmune diseases than more active patients.

Research also shows that as a trend, patients with autoimmune disease tend to be more sedentary. This is understandable — autoimmune disease can make you feel poorly much of the time and our cultural depictions of exercise make it seem unattainable. The pressure to be a hard-bodied athlete who flips tractor tires and runs up stadium stairs can lead to resignation instead of physical activity.

But the benefits of physical activity for autoimmunity don’t have to come from intense workouts at a CrossFit gym, long runs, or two-hour weightlifting sessions to deliver benefits. Your fitness level, symptoms, and energy levels will determine what is appropriate for you.

To be effective in managing autoimmunity, exercise can be as simple as a short walk around the block if you’re just getting started. If chronic pain is an issue, exercising in water or on a recumbent stationary cycle may be more appropriate. If you’re feeling good and have been building your fitness, daily high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which activates a wide number of anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating mechanisms, can super charge the autoimmune-dampening benefits of your workouts.

 

While it’s important to exercise regularly, equally important is to not overdo it. Overtraining increases inflammation and can and lead to exercise intolerance, a condition in which exercise makes you feel worse, takes an unusual amount of time to recover from, or triggers a relapse or flare.

Exercise intolerance stems from compromised mitochondria related to chronic inflammation associated with autoimmunity.

Also, for some people with autoimmunity, there are days where they are bedridden with flu-like symptoms and barely able to function, much less exercise. Approach your physical activity habit with common sense and self-compassion — some days it just won’t be appropriate and that’s ok. Ease back into it when you feel better.

If you would like help understanding the Benefits of Exercise for Autoimmunity, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.

Why exercise is good for autoimmunity

The primary benefit of exercise with autoimmunity is that it lowers inflammation and stabilizes immune function. Because inflammatory flare ups provoke autoimmune relapses and tissue destruction, keeping inflammation down and immune function stable is paramount.

Physical activity increases the activity of regulatory T cells. These cells are critical when it comes to managing autoimmunity. As their name implies, they help regulate the immune system when it comes to increasing or dampening inflammation. Exercise has a profound impact on regulatory T cells.

Exercise also shifts the balance between the pro-inflammatory Th1 system and the anti-inflammatory Th2 system to be less inflammatory and more balanced.

It also promotes the release of messenger immune cells called IL-6, which help dampen inflammation.

A study on the effects of exercise on women with lupus showed that three months of regular aerobic exercise modulated immunity and did not trigger inflammation.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis show milder symptoms and improved joint mobility with regular exercise.

In patients with multiple sclerosis, physical activity enhanced mood and mobility. Exercise lowers the risk of neuropathy in type 1 diabetes patients.

Many people feel they can’t exercise due to pain, but research has shown it reduces pain in patients with fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions that cause pain.

If you feel too unwell to exercise, ask yourself what you feel you can reasonably do and start there. Ask my office for more advice on using physical activity to address autoimmunity.

Want to know more? Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.

What leaky gut is and why you should care

What leaky gut is and why you should care

If you have been researching how to improve your health, you may have heard of leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability. If that conjures an unpleasant image of your gut contents leaking into the rest of your body — that’s not too far off the mark.

Leaky gut happens when contents from the small intestine spill into the sterile bloodstream through a damaged and “leaky” gut wall. This contamination of the bloodstream by not only partially digested foods but also bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens begins to create a foundation for chronic inflammatory and autoimmune health disorders.

Symptoms and disorders linked to leaky gut include fatigue, depression, brain fog, skin problems, joint pain, chronic pain, autoimmune disease, puffiness, anxiety, poor memory, asthma, food allergies and sensitivities, seasonal allergies, fungal infections, migraines, arthritis, PMS, and many more. Basically, your genetic predispositions will determine how leaky gut manifests for you.

Leaky gut is referred to as intestinal permeability in the scientific research. It means inflammation has caused the inner lining of the small intestine to become damaged and overly porous. This allows overly large compounds into the small intestine. The immune system recognizes these compounds as hostile invaders that don’t belong in the bloodstream and launches an ongoing attack against them, raising inflammation throughout the body. Also, some of these compounds are very toxic (endotoxins) and take up residence throughout the body, triggering inflammation wherever they go.

At the same time, excess intestinal mucous and inflammation from the damage prevents much smaller nutrients from getting into the bloodstream, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies and poor cellular function.

Leaky gut is increasingly being recognized as a common underlying factor in most inflammatory symptoms and disorders.

If you would like help understanding Leaky gut, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.

Medicine finally recognizes leaky gut

Conventional medicine has long ridiculed leaky gut information and protocols as quack science and alternative medicine folklore, but newer research now establishes it as a legitimate mechanism. In fact, pharmaceutical companies are even working on drugs to address leaky gut.

Research has established links between leaky gut and many chronic disorders. It’s good this long-known information is finally being validated in the dominant medical paradigm as the gut is the largest immune organ, powerfully influencing the rest of the body, as well as the brain.

Current studies link intestinal permeability with inflammatory bowel disorders, gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, depression, psoriasis, and other chronic and autoimmune conditions. Given what we know about the connection between gut health and immunity, it’s vital to include a gut repair protocol in overall treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.

How to mend leaky gut

Sometimes, repairing leaky gut can be as simple as removing inflammatory foods from your diet. Other times it’s more complicated. Most importantly, you need to know why you have leaky gut. Either way, however, your diet is foundational.

Many cases of leaky gut stem from a standard US diet of processed foods and excess sugars. Food intolerances also contribute significantly, especially a gluten intolerance. A leaky gut diet, also known as an autoimmune diet, has helped many people repair intestinal permeability. Keeping blood sugar balanced is also vital. If blood sugar that gets too low or too high, this promotes leaky gut. Stabilizing blood sugar requires eating regularly enough to avoid energy crashes. You also need to prevent high blood sugar by avoiding too many sugars and carbohydrates. Regular exercise is also vital to stabilizing blood sugar and promoting a healthy gut.

Also, failure to eat enough fiber and produce leads to leaky gut by creating a very unhealthy gut microbiome, or gut bacteria. Our intestines (and entire body) depend on a healthy and diverse gut microbiome for proper function. A healthy gut microbiome comes from eating at least 25 grams of fiber a day and a wide and rotating variety of plant foods.

Other common things that lead to leaky gut include antibiotics, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, excess alcohol, hypothyroidism, and autoimmunity.

A leaky gut protocol can help you improve your health, relieve symptoms, boost energy, make you happier, and clear your brain fog. Ask my office for advice on improving your well being through a leaky gut diet and protocol.

Want to know more? Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.

Floss your teeth daily to reduce your risk of stroke

Floss your teeth daily to reduce your risk of stroke

You may be familiar with common stroke-prevention strategies: Exercise regularly, eat plenty of vegetables, minimize stress, and keep inflammation at bay. But did you know taking good care of your teeth and gums is a major way to lower stroke risk?

A new study has found a significant link between stroke and oral bacteria. An analysis of blood clots from 75 ischemic stroke patients found almost 80 percent of them had oral bacteria DNA concentrated in the blood clots that weren’t found in other blood samples from the same patient.

The presence of oral bacteria in blood clots rounds out a much larger picture that shows the role gum disease and oral bacteria play in cardiovascular and neurological health.

The same research team has also found that blood clots containing oral bacteria cause heart attacks and brain aneurysms, that thromboses in the leg veins and arteries contain oral bacteria, and that oral bacteria is linked to heart infection.

Other research has linked oral bacteria from gum disease with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The bacteria produce toxins in the brain that give rise to the misfolding of proteins in the brain that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot starves a part of the brain of blood flow and vital oxygen, causing massive tissue damage. It is commonly caused by the narrowing and hardening of the arteries from plaquing, or atherosclerosis.

There is evidence that oral bacteria activates platelets and speeds up the development of atherosclerosis and blood clotting.

If you would like help understanding about Dental floss relation to stroke, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.

Here’s a tip to motivate you to floss

We get it, flossing is tedious and annoying. You just want to brush your teeth and be done.

Here’s a little tip that may motivate you to floss and brush more regularly: After you floss between a couple of teeth, smell your floss. If it has a foul odor that’s a sign you’ve got oral bacteria accumulating on your teeth and gums. This is also a sign your breath probably stinks as well! Smell check your floss after flossing each section of teeth — you may find areas that need extra attention.

Reacquaint yourself with healthy flossing and brushing habits and consider investing in a water flossing device. These devices use water to deliver extra cleaning power to the teeth and to stimulate gum tissue, so it stays healthy. However, please note that a water flosser should be an adjunct to flossing and not a substitute. Water flossing is not as effective as using dental floss.

Use functional medicine to prevent strokes

Healthy teeth and gums also depend on a healthy diet and lifestyle. This ties in with general stroke prevention strategies — 90 percent of strokes are caused by dietary and lifestyle habits.

Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability.

Studies have found the following factors are the most common causes of strokes:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excess alcohol
  • Stress and depression
  • Diabetes
  • Excess abdominal fat
  • Heart disorders

As research continues, poor oral hygiene may get added to this list.

Functional medicine strategies to prevent stroke

Focus on whole foods, plenty of vegetables, and healthy fats. Ditch the sodas, desserts, sweet coffee drinks, and processed foods. It might be hard at first, but you’ll start to feel heaps better.

Stabilize blood sugar

High blood sugar from too many sweets and processed carbohydrates causes chronic inflammation, which damages and thickens arterial walls and promotes the formation of arterial plaques and blood clots. Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes, increase your risk of stroke by two to four times.

Regular exercise prevents strokes and makes you feel awesome

Exercise is a magic bullet when it comes to preventing strokes and promoting a healthy brain. Regular physical activity keeps blood vessels strong, improves oxygenation of the brain, and increases your metabolism. Exercise after a stroke also significantly reduces the severity of the repercussions and improves recovery.

Ask my office how we can help you lower your risk of stroke and support your brain health.

Want to know more? Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.

Controversial new study reports statins useless

Controversial new study reports statins useless

A controversial new study found that high cholesterol does not shorten life span and that statins are essentially a “waste of time,” according to one of the researchers. Previous studies have linked statins with an increased risk of diabetes.

The study reviewed research of almost 70,000 people and found that elevated levels of “bad cholesterol” did not raise the risk of early death from cardiovascular disease in people over 60.

The authors called for statin guidelines to be reviewed, claiming the benefits of statins are “exaggerated.”

Not only did the study find no link between high cholesterol and early death, it also found that people with high “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) actually lived longer and had fewer incidences of heart disease.

The co-author and vascular surgeon went on to say that cholesterol is vital for preventing cancer, muscle pain, infection, and other health disorders in older people. He said that statins are a “waste of time” for lowering cholesterol and that lifestyle changes are more effective for improving cardiovascular health.

Naturally, the paper drew fire and its conclusions were dismissed by other experts in the field. Statins are among the most commonly prescribed drugs — one in four Americans over the age of 40 take statins and the drug accounts for more than $20 billion in spending each year. Statin use has gone up more than 80 percent in the last 20 years.

If you would like help understanding Heart Health and Diabetes, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.

Statins linked to higher risk of diabetes and other health disorders

In functional medicine we recognize cholesterol as a vital compound in the body for multiple functions, including brain function and muscle strength. Overly low cholesterol is linked with an increased risk of several health disorders, including diabetes.

One study of almost 9,000 people showed that people in their 60s who used statins had an almost 40 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes. They also had higher rates of high blood sugar and pre-diabetes, or insulin resistance. High blood sugar disorders underpin numerous chronic inflammatory conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Previous research found a 50 percent increased risk of diabetes in women who took statins.

In addition to raising the risk of high blood sugar and diabetes, statins also may cause such side effects as muscle weakness and wasting, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and dizziness.

Statins do not address the underlying cause of heart disease: Chronic inflammation

Statins may lower cholesterol, but they do not address the underlying cause of heart disease, which is typically chronic inflammation (some people are genetically predisposed to cardiovascular disease). The body uses cholesterol to repair arteries damaged by inflammation — the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes.

For instance, the vast majority of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol. In other countries where people have higher cholesterol than Americans, they also have less heart disease. In fact, low cholesterol in elderly patients is linked to a higher risk of death compared to high cholesterol.

Improving heart health through functional medicine instead of statins

Functional medicine is a great way to improve cardiovascular health because it avoids drugs that cause potentially harmful side effects. Although lifestyle changes may require more work than popping a pill, they address root causes of your disorder versus overriding them. This means you feel and function better overall.

What does a functional medicine approach to heart health look like?

  • An anti-inflammatory diet
  • Releasing feel-good endorphins on a regular basis through exercise (endorphins are anti-inflammatory)
  • Targeted nutritional support
  • Identifying and addressing the root causes of your inflammation, which are different for everyone. Possibilities include high blood sugar, poor thyroid function, an undiagnosed autoimmune disorder, chronic bacterial, fungal, or viral infections, leaky gut, or a brain imbalance, such as from a past brain injury.

It’s important to address things from this angle because cholesterol is vital to good health. It is found in every cell and helps produce cell membranes, vitamin D, and hormones. It’s also necessary for healthy brain function.

Inflammation promotes heart disease

Chronic inflammation and not cholesterol is the concerning factor in heart disease. The blood marker C-reactive protein (CRP) identifies inflammation. If it’s high, you have a higher risk for heart disease than those with high cholesterol. Having normal cholesterol but high CRP does not protect you from heart disease.

By using functional medicine to lower your inflammation and improve your heart health, you not only avoid the risks and dangers of statins, but also you get to better enjoy your golden years thanks to improved energy and well being.

Want to know more? Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.

What kind of brain inflammation do you have?

What kind of brain inflammation do you have?

If you have a chronic health or autoimmune condition, chances are you also suffer from brain inflammation. Brain inflammation causes symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, lack of motivation, and depression. We all have some degree of brain inflammation, but it can range from barely perceptible to debilitating depending on how advanced it is.

What kind of brain inflammation do you have? We can look at brain inflammation as either subtle, moderate, or severe, and as transient or chronic. Brain autoimmunity is another cause of brain inflammation and brain-based symptoms.

Subtle brain inflammation:

  • Brain fog
  • Slower mental speed
  • Reduced brain endurance (can’t read, work, or drive as long you used to)
  • Brain fatigue after exposure to specific foods or chemicals
  • Comes and goes with exposure to triggers

Moderate brain inflammation:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to focus and concentrate for long periods
  • Sleepiness
  • Need to sleep more than 8 hours
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unable to be physically active

Severe brain inflammation:

  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Dementia
  • Delirium
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Tremors or trembling
  • Involuntary twitching

Transient neuroinflammation:

  • Symptoms are activated by exposure to a trigger but subside. Person has more good days than bad.

Chronic neuroinflammation:

  • Symptoms are persistent symptoms and the person has more bad days than good.

Brain autoimmunity:

  • Autoimmunity is a condition in which the immune system attacks tissue in the body, mistaking it for a foreign invader. Neuroautoimmunity is more common than people realize and can cause a wide range of neurological symptoms, depending on the area of the nervous system being attacked. Symptoms are caused by flares of the autoimmune condition, which can be whatever triggers the body’s immune system. These people also have symptoms of brain inflammation.

If you would like help understanding Brain Inflammation, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.

Why the brain becomes inflamed

Most people think the brain is made up mainly of neurons and that neurons run the show. But in recent years, research shows neurons only make up about 10 percent of the brain. The rest is made up of the brain’s immune cells, called glial cells. Glial cells outnumber neurons 10 to 1.

Although the glial cells are the brain’s immune system, scientists have discovered they do much more than defend the brain. When the brain is not battling inflammation, glial cells support healthy neuron function, clear away plaque and debris that can lead to brain degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, and they help facilitate efficient pathways of communication in the brain.

Factors that cause brain inflammation include a brain injury, unmanaged autoimmune disease, high blood sugar, eating inflammatory foods, undiagnosed food intolerances, excess alcohol consumption, a chronic viral or bacterial infection, leaky gut, leaky blood-brain barrier, hormonal imbalances or deficiencies, or other chronic health conditions and imbalances.

When the brain is in a chronic state of inflammation, this takes glial cells away from their job of supporting neuron health, debris clearing, and neuronal communication. This not only causes symptoms like fatigue and depression but also raises your risk of more serious brain disorders down the road.

If your symptoms are in the mild category, following functional medicine protocols (finding and addressing the root causes of your brain inflammation) can help restore your brain health. As long as you follow a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can keep brain inflammation at bay.

These strategies include:

  • Balancing blood sugar; lowering blood sugar if it’s too high.
  • Removing foods that cause an immune reaction from your diet, gluten in particular.
  • Repairing leaky gut and leaky blood-brain barrier.
  • Improving microbiome diversity.
  • Addressing autoimmune conditions.
  • Addressing chronic infections.
  • Taking high-quality glutathione and other supplements to dampen inflammation.
  • Daily exercise, especially high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
  • Hormonal balance if necessary.

If your brain inflammation symptoms are in the moderate to severe category, you still need to follow these steps, but you may need pursue one or more of them very aggressively, as well as adjust your expectations. Unlike the immune system in the body, the brain’s immune system does not have an off switch and inflammation can move through the brain like a slow-moving forest fire for months, years, or even decades. If you have not been the same since a brain injury or other brain insult, this may apply to you.

Additionally, if glial cells undergo a severe inflammatory event, such as a brain injury, they can become “primed.” A primed glial cell permanently changes its physical structure to function less as a neuron helper and more as an immune soldier. This also shortens its lifespan. As with neurons, we only have so many glial cells — their numbers dwindle as we age, and unmanaged brain insults and injuries and unhealthy diet and lifestyle habits can accelerate their demise.

Once glial cells are primed, acute inflammatory events can trigger your brain inflammation symptoms, even if you are following a healthy diet and lifestyle. Also, symptoms from triggering events will be much more severe once your glial cells have been primed. Whereas someone with mild to moderate neuroinflammation may suffer from some brain fog or fatigue if triggered, a person with primed glial cells may see loss of brain function, depending on the area of the brain most affected. This could mean bouts of memory loss, inability to speak properly, loss of muscle function, fatigue so severe they are bed ridden, and more. Once your glial cells are primed, it becomes necessary to structure your life around preventing flares.

Note: One scenario that can occur with primed glial cells is that anti-inflammatory functional medicine protocols may work great for a few weeks and then the person has a rebound crash with severe symptoms. This does not mean the protocols aren’t working, it just means you need to slow down with your protocols and keep systematically working through the various mechanisms until you find your primary triggers, whether its blood sugar, hormonal imbalances, or a dietary or chemical trigger. They will be different for everyone.

Trigger-happy neurons

Outside of brain inflammation lies another mechanism of brain-based symptoms called “neurons close to threshold.” This means that a triggering neurological event, such as smelling perfumes for the chemically sensitive person, eating gluten for the gluten intolerant person, pushing your brain past what it can handle (with reading, working, studying, driving, etc.), too much noise for someone who is sound sensitive, etc. can fatigue fragile neurons and trigger symptoms.

For instance, a scent-sensitive person may develop migraines and fatigue walking past a perfume counter, or a gluten sensitive person may suffer from brain fog and fatigue after eating gluten. Or a day-long drive may take three days to recover from for the person whose neurons have lost endurance.

Poor health and chronic inflammation sabotage neuronal mitochondria, the energy factory in each cell. This causes a neuron to fire too easily, and then to fatigue. A classic example is tinnitus — auditory neurons are too close to threshold and “hear” noise that isn’t there, which causes ringing in the ears.

In these cases, rehabilitation includes anti-inflammatory strategies for the brain, but also gently exercising the neurons back to better health. This may mean a gradual introduction of essential oils for the scent-sensitive person, using hearing aids to gently stimulate the auditory neurons for the person with tinnitus (there are other causes of tinnitus, this is just one), or gradually increasing reading time each day to build endurance.

This is a broad overview of neuroinflammatory concepts. Ask my office how we can help you manage your brain inflammation.

Want to know more? Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.

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