Integrative Health Blog

12 Risk Factors That Affect Brain Function

Posted by Dr. Charles Gant on Mon, Jun 22, 2020


June is Brain Awareness Month, which is a wonderful opportunity to discuss or have a national conversation about our brain health, the part of us which makes us distinctly human.

In my recent book Awaken Your Godly Brain, [1], I stressed that 1/6th of our human brain, the most vulnerable prefrontal cortex, is designed to transcend the biological imperative of all living organisms – mere survival – but like any organ, the brain has some basic functional and physical needs that should be considered by everyone, especially if higher intelligence and transcendence matters. These twelve issues are listed below, which are the issues I address in my patients in every clinical day, and are unfortunately sometimes addressed in a very fragmented way in our healthcare system. Sometimes I under- or over-assess some of these in my patients, and I have been “practicing” and trying to improve my skills for about half a century.

With functional medicine, we now have the technologies to test for these 12 issues that free the brain up to function “normally” and the clinical skills to address them. In this short article, I will simply list them for your review, with a few comments to stress certain issues that are germane to each risk factor.

12 Factors for Brain Health

1. Neurotransmitter Imbalances – Amino Acids and Metabolite Testing. These are some of the “stress” hormone precursors that assist us in dealing with stressful events. Psychotropic chemicals (#8) artificially mimic them.

2. Gastrointestinal/Microbiome Infections – Stool Testing. Neurotoxins from the microbiome can influence brain function.

3. Essential Fatty Acid and Other Essential Nutrient Deficiencies, such as Minerals, Vitamins, Antioxidants, Oxygen Deficiency  – Functional or Standard Lab Tests, Sleep Apnea Testing etc. The brain is only 2% to 3% of the body’s weight, yet it consumes 20 to 30% of the body’s oxygen and calories at rest.

4. Oxidative stress and Inflammation Testing – Glutathione, etc. The brain is an organ that can suffer from inflammation like any part of the body.

5. Neurotoxin Overload – Mercury, Lead, Arsenic, Cadmium, Aluminum, Petrochemicals. The modern, industrialized world can be a rough place for a brain to live in.

6. Chronic Infections & Neurotoxins – Lyme Disease, Babesia, Bartonella etc. These tick-borne infections are now endemic in the western world.

7. Brain injury – CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) – The brain is an organ that can suffer from concussions and be bruised. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a useful, and far underutilized treatment to address CTE, a common disorder.

8. Self-administered Psychoactive Toxins – Substance Abuse (prescribed, illicit, “recreational” (alcohol, tobacco etc.), over-the-counter medications. This is perhaps the largest category of brain injury causes.

9. Energy Medicine Assessments – AET (allergy elimination therapies), Acupuncture. Energy medicine approaches to brain healing are also far underutilized.

10. Vaccination toxicity – Vaccinations don’t “cause” serious brain injury but they can be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” when some combination of the above factors, #1 – #9 are already in place. Any sudden incursion into an already stressed immune system, especially in children, can “tip the scales.”

11. Genetic vulnerability to #1 – #10. The branch of genetics that deals with vaccinations is called Adversomics and Vaccinomics. All disorders, according the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) are caused by environmental stressors and the genetic vulnerability to them.

12. Irrational Thinking – Cognitive Therapy, especially mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT). Once the brain is reasonably healed physically (#1 – #11 above), various approaches to “exercising it” are available. I sometimes offer Mindfulness and Healing Guided Sessions online. No experience necessary! Check the website to see if a session is scheduled. 

If we are to intelligibly discuss Brain Awareness Month, then we must discuss at least these twelve risk factors above and how a multi-risk factor analysis heals. Books and thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies are published that deal with each of these risk factors separately, but this should provide you with an eagle’s eye view of the landscape of services that are offered.


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[1] Gant C (2020) Awaken Your Godly Brain.  


Dr. Gant functional medicine doctor Wash DCCharles Gant MD, PhD,  is a physician, author and teacher and has practiced Integrative and Functional Medicine for over three decades. He specializes in getting to the root cause of health issues to support healing at the molecular level.  Areas of interest include ADHD, chronic diseases, metabolic, hormonal and immune disorders, infectious disease (Lyme and co-infections), genetic testing and more. He is an expert in interpretation of functional medicine testing to diagnose precisely what is deficient in each patient, and then replenish those missing, essential items. 


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Topics: functional medicine, integrative medicine, brain health