Chronic Stress

Evidence continues to mount that chronic stress takes a significant toll on the brain and body. Science News has a great overview of our current understanding:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/chronic-stress-can-wreak-havoc-body?utm_source=Society+for+Science+Newsletters&utm_campaign=946ef117fe-Editors_picks_week_of_Feb_16_2015_2_21_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a4c415a67f-946ef117fe-104500089

Even while we find ways as individuals and as a society to improve the circumstances that cause chronic stress, we need to recognize that for many it is difficult to avoid. Neurofeedback can help reduce brain stress and eventually help guide to a lifestyle that maximizes healthful, stress-reducing behaviors and practices.

Healing the Brain and Brain Plasticity

A great essay from the weekend Wall Street Journal about maintaining brain health through aging, injury, and disease processes. There are no guarantees in life, but there is excellent proof that physical, emotional, intellectual, and social engagement in life enhances brain function into middle and old age. This article did not mention neurofeedback, but does discuss other forms of brain entrainment like auditory therapy. Neurotherapy is unique in that it persuades the brain’s own white and gray matter to perform training tasks on their own. It is a “learned” process that is dependent on the brain plasticity described in the article.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB20167761076414843692504580443981315539578

Obesity and Brain Health

The journal, Obesity Reviews, has published a article that adds to the evidence that obesity is unhealthy to the brain. The greater a subject’s Body Mass Index (BMI), the greater the disruptions were found in the white matter of the brain. These changes were even greater with increasing age of the subjects. The limbic system, which is responsible for emotional control, is disproportionately affected.

The bottom line is that it is very worthwhile to maintain a healthy BMI via sensible nutrition, exercise, and good sleep habits. Support those you care about in finding good brain and body health.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/obr.12248/abstract

Neurodegenerative Disorders, Alzheimers Disease, and Klotho

This paper seems to show real breakthrough potential for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers Disease. These findings are in mice and human applications are years in the future, but this approach looks as promising as anything that I have seen in a long while.

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/35/6/2358.abstract

In the meantime, anecdotal and case report evidence shows that neurofeedback has the potential to stabilize the brains of those with dementia disorders.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID)

Whatever you call it, ME, CFX, or SEID, is still in the process of being defined. Sometimes there seem to be triggering factors, but much more often, the problem seems to occur randomly. We don’t know what vulnerabilities make people susceptible. Diagnosis is difficult. Treatment can be even harder.

The Institute of Medicine has just put out a new statement about ME/CFX/SEID.

http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2015/MECFS/MECFS_ReportBrief.pdf

Maybe this will help the medical community give this condition more recognition. However, most EEG neurofeedback practitioners are aware of this diagnosis and the application of neurotherapy to help with the symptoms. It may take years to thoroughly define SEID, but treatment of the nervous system manifestations is available now via neurofeedback.

Sleep Deprivation in Teenagers

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/teens-are-sleep-deprived-heres-how-that-affects-sports-school-health/2015/01/26/7ebc22ba-8144-11e4-9f38-95a187e4c1f7_story.html

Yes, EVERYONE needs to get enough sleep for their brain to function well!

Brain “Farts”; Optimizing Memory

http://mashable.com/2015/01/27/brain-fart-science/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link

I don’t know of anyone who has not been in the situation when they know what they want to say but they are unable to produce the word(s). Often it will occur to them later once they are less pressured. This article gives part of the picture.

The more that I am in the field of brain health, the more that I realize that the most important factors in having good memory in an otherwise healthy brain is lifestyle related. The brain needs to be well-rested in order to process, store, and retrieve memories well. Having a calm and focused brain is also essential.

Neurofeedback can help the brain to find appropriate activation levels for good information processing and retrieval. The tips in the article are also helpful.

Spontaneous Gene Mutations and Autism

This interesting article makes the case for spontaneous gene mutations being a major cause of the symptoms of autism. This makes a lot of sense to me. As many cases of autism that I have seen, each is unique in its specific manifestations even with the similarities that establish the diagnosis of “autism”. The difficult part, as it usually is, will be identifying and providing effective remedies for those with genetic mutations that seem to be causing their symptoms. Neurofeedback and functional medicine can be helpful in the meantime.

http://www.technologyreview.com/photoessay/533501/solving-the-autism-puzzle/

Brain Health and Fitness

The Washington Post has run a great article about how body and brain fitness are one and the same.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/diet-and-exercise-resolutions-a-failure-maybe-youre-thinking-about-them-wrong/2015/01/20/8319b240-9b58-11e4-96cc-e858eba91ced_story.html

This is not theory or conjecture; it is proven over and over with scientific studies. Exercise improves overall energy levels and moods. A fit body also provides the brain with better nutrients, oxygen, and detoxification. A complete inability to exercise is extremely rare. So get creative and find regular activities that work out your body and your brain!

Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Children with Neurological Conditions

A study of children in the US with certain common neurological conditions such as headaches, migraines, and seizures showed that they were nearly twice as likely to use some form of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) than children without these conditions. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24753991 Of the CAM techniques used, the most popular were mind-body techniques.

This data seems to reflect how poorly current medical models for treatment of these conditions perform in real world settings. In my practice, I see two main issues. The first is the lack of effective treatments, mostly in the form of medicines. However, even such highly technological and expensive procedures as deep brain stimulators seem to have only limited efficacy. Even more prominently, is the problem of unacceptable side effects. So many medicines that are meant to correct certain aspects of brain function cause symptoms that can be just as debilitating or worse than the original problem. The biggest issue is often sedation. In children as well as adults, being “out of it” for much of the time makes them inaccessible for high quality social interactions, learning, exercise, and other activities that are essential for normal brain development and maintenance.

No wonder these children, or more likely their parents, are turning to CAM.

While neurofeedback is not a panacea, it tends to have some significant positive impact on most brain-based conditions. Its lack of side effects is one of its most notable benefits over medicines or invasive surgical procedures. Neurofeedback allows most brains to re-engage with their environment. Then social skills improve, learning become easier, physical activity levels increase, and overall well-being makes improvements.

Too bad allopathic medicine is just beginning to realize what many health providers and health consumers have realized for a long time. Treatment of brain-based symptoms need to be carefully individualized. Frequently, CAM techniques like neurofeedback, which promotes brain regulation, are an excellent place to begin.