Integrative Health Blog

Opioid and Painkiller Abuse: Replace What is Needed in the Brain

Posted by on Wed, Aug 02, 2017

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.”

Winston Churchill.

It’s all over the news. Deaths due to opioids and painkillers are rising dramatically and are now exceeding the mortality rates of auto accidents and gunshot wounds combined. The new healthcare budget may pump 45 billion dollars into opioid abuse treatment, intended to treat opioid abuse with the latest, more expensive, and perhaps equally addictive  prescribed opioids. This is tantamount to trying to extinguish a kerosene fire with gasoline. Morbidity and mortality rates will continue to worsen for opioid addiction, because certain basic, scientific truths about restoring the brain’s natural opioids are being ignored in society and even in mainstream healthcare.

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Tags: addiction, brain health, opioids

New Hope for Dementia

Posted by on Mon, May 02, 2016

Dementia is a broad category of brain diseases associated with long term, irreversible, gradual decrease in the ability to think and remember which is great enough to affect a person's daily functioning and which is worse than would be expected with normal aging.  

For decades, scientists have studied brain tissue samples of Alzheimer’s Disease victims, the largest dementia subcategory, (>50%), and have found distinctive pathological changes in the brain such as “plaque” and “neurofibrillary tangles” that are thought to somehow be causative of the disease.  The new sciences of Omics sheds new light on Dementia and is challenging long held views about its causes and treatments.

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Tags: functional medicine, brain health, precision medicine

Neurofeedback and School Performance

Posted by on Tue, Aug 25, 2015

Neurofeedback has been shown to be a valuable tool for school performance. This biofeedback technique helps a client to learn focusing skills, which are critical to learning and memory. Neurofeedback can balance brain wave activity and improve overall mental flexibility and performance. It often reduces anxiety, which can lead to better behavior, and may improve emotional control, thus enhancing social skills.

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Tags: ADHD, neurofeedback, brain health

Biofeedback for the Brain

Posted by on Tue, Feb 17, 2015

Ana Vargas M.D. (Mex.)             

            

Biofeedback is a collection of different techniques that help develop “conscious physiological -psychosomatic self-regulation”. In other words, it is a method that teaches us to “activate” the relaxation response, by practicing to control heart rate, breath rate, blood pressure, muscle tension or body temperature. 

Developing the Mind/Body Connection

The clinical application of Biofeedback was scientifically relevant because it challenged the old notion that the control of physiological processes by the autonomic nervous system was merely involuntary. We learned that we can develop conscious control over those processes, that we can voluntarily influence our bodily responses. The final goal is to help control stress and its many effects on the body (i.e., high blood pressure, anxiety, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and many more). “The premise is that the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind”.

These techniques are quite unique in that they were developed using modern electronic technology. The latest development of biofeedback applications is Brain wave biofeedback or Neurofeedback, which represents the most readily available application of neuroscience and the culprit of self-regulation techniques.

Neurofeedback has shown to improve autonomic regulation (“involuntary” physiological responses), promote brain competencies (i.e., attention and memory), help remediate functional disorders (i.e., anxiety, depression), and enhance optimal performance (i.e., musical and athletic performance). These technological advances are exciting news and are promising drug-free alternatives for many conditions that until now remain a challenge to conventional approaches.

How Neurofeedback Works

Imagine been able to modulate your mental processes by balancing brain wave frequencies so that you are not overcome by anxiety or depression, by training certain frequencies so that your attention and memory improve and you can perform better at work or school. It is all possible! Moreover, now with the addition of brain mapping the training can be more accurate since we can record the electrical activity of the brain and observe which frequencies are imbalanced and in which location.

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Tags: neurofeedback, brain health

Seven Ways that Exercise Maintains a Healthy Brain

Posted by on Mon, Sep 22, 2014

Teresa Fuller MD, Phd

Our children’s brains are under attack.  Take a look at these startling statistics from a comprehensive surveillance report by the CDC that spanned 2005 - 2011 which shows that among children aged 3-17 years:

  • 6.8% have ADHD
  • 3.5% have behavioral or conduct problems
  • 3% have anxiety
  • 2.1% have depression
  • 1.1% have autism spectrum disorder 

Moreover, research by the National Alliance on Mental Illness has found that among children ages 9 to 17, 21% have a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder, and that suicide is the leading cause of death in youth ages 15 to 24.

These numbers show us why brain health is a major focus of research today.  The good news is that there are many things we already know about how to maintain a healthy brain.  Last week, we talked about the importance of “brain food.”  And here’s another habit that is critical to brain health -- exercise.  Your brain needs an abundant blood flow to sustain its high energy demands for function, and exercise is a great way to increase blood flow to the brain.

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Tags: children's health, pediatrics, brain health

4 Great Nutritional Brain Health Boosters for Children

Posted by on Sat, Sep 13, 2014

Brain Food for Optimal Concentration, Creativity and Cognition

Now that our kids are back in school, they’ll need all the brain power they can get.  Our brain function is so vitally connected to what we eat that Dr. Scott Shannon, noted psychiatrist says this: 

“In order to ensure that your child’s brain is able to function well…you must first ensure that it is being properly nourished.…Poor diet is without a doubt one of the major reasons we’re seeing such an incredible spike in the number of kids diagnosed with and medicated for mental and emotional disorders.  Even drugs can’t help our kids when they are quite literally being starved of their mental and emotional health.” Scott Shannon from Please Don’t Label My Child

Indeed, more and more studies are showing just how powerful food is in the function and growth of the brain.  On the other hand, the wrong foods are absolutely detrimental to brain function. We as parents need to equip our children with the tools they need for better concentration, creativity and cognition. So here are four great nutritional brain boosters:

1. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables! 

Our children need at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  Parents of a picky eater have to be very creative about getting the fruits and veggies in, such as smoothies and milkshakes with hidden fruits and vegetables. 

How do fruits and vegetables boost brain power?

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Tags: children's health, pediatrics, brain health

Help for Depression with a Functional Medicine Approach

Posted by on Tue, Sep 09, 2014

Dr. Chas Gant, integrative and functional medicine physician,  at National Integrated Health Associates was recently interviewed on TakeBackYourHealth radio on the subject of Depression: What We Can Learn from Robin Williams.

What are the causes of depression and what can we do about it?

Listen to the interview

 

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Tags: depression, functional medicine, brain health

Help for Memory with Neurofeedback

Posted by on Tue, Jul 08, 2014

Ana Vargas MD (Mex.), MS

Among the many changes inherent to aging, losing our memory ranks at the top of the most feared events. 

Where Are My Car Keys? 

Most people close to their 50's are familiar with occasional forgetfulness and foggy thinking. Recalling names, words, and location of objects, may start becoming a challenge even for those once-called brightest minds (car keys, anyone)? Glimpses of our thinking skills on the decline alert us to pay close attention. However, memory difficulties not only may affect the golden generations, but anyone from young to old. 

How to Stave Off Memory Loss 

It has been recognized that the ability to "think well" in middle age depends greatly on our lifestyles. Normal brain aging can be delayed, and the risk of developing dementia can be decreased by keeping healthy habits and being physically active throughout our lives1. Imagine that, exercise helps the brain too! Indeed, the improvement of cognitive performance through healthy habits and physical activity applies also to those in the younger years including children. 2

Whichever the case, (decrease age related memory decline or improve memory in younger years) there is more we can do.  A clinically available technology has shown promising results for those of us reaching (or passing) middle age, as well as for those in school age:   Neurofeedback, also called EEG Biofeedback. 3

How Does Neurofeedback Work?

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Tags: neurofeedback, brain health

The Advantages of Neurofeedback Therapy

Posted by on Wed, Nov 13, 2013

Chas Gant MD, PhD

Balancing  the Brain

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive, drug-free therapy which has been found in many peer-reviewed studies to be effective for a wide range of medical and psychiatric disorders.  This is not surprising when one considers that the brain is the command and control center for the body’s nervous, endocrine (hormones) and immune systems.  Neurofeedback as a stand alone treatment essentially ignores all of the causes of chronic medical and psychiatric disorders, such as allergies (e.g., celiac/gluten), infections (e.g., Lyme/candida), metabolic imbalances (e.g., diabetes/hypertension), toxicities (e.g., heavy metals/pesticides), nutritional deficiencies (e.g., magnesium/omega 3 fatty acids) and the genetic vulnerabilities to all of this.  Neurofeedback as a stand alone treatment makes no claims about treating  the big killers, cancer, cardiovascular disease and addictions, and simply balances the command and control center, the brain, and lets those benefits cascade down through the nervous, immune and endocrine systems to effect astonishing benefits. 

I call this the top-down approach, because neurofeedback is a treatment at the top of the body (the brain) and its benefits are realized down below in the body.  Of course, the bottom up approach, addressing the underlying immune, allergic, metabolic, nutritional, infectious and genetic causes of chronic medical and psychiatric disorders is still important, and when both a top-down and a bottom-up approach are combined, the outcomes appear to be more promising than ever.

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Tags: neurofeedback, brain health