With this being the last week of school for our boys, summer fun lurks right around the corner. Of course, summer fun conjures different images for different people. While some envision lounging next to the pool or venturing into the wilderness for a camping trip, the Widish family’s summer fun can be summed up with one word—baseball. Since all three of our boys are playing this summer, we’ll have three times the summer fun. Luckily, I love baseball and watching my boys play.
Okay, there’s one side of baseball I’m not crazy about. The older (and stronger) the boys get, the more likely it is that their pitches will have some real umph behind them. Since no one is perfect, and they’re still developing their skills, pitches can sometimes go a little wild and end up close to their heads. Sure, they wear batting helmets, but concussions are still a real danger. So much so that when my hubby agreed to be an assistant coach this season, he was required to take an online course to help him recognize the signs of this type of head injury. Learning about these situations helps the players keep playing baseball—and keep functioning in every day life.
A healthy brain makes every aspect of a child’s life easier—from interacting with friends and understanding social cues to learning a foreign language or a new math concept. When a friend shared a press release titled “Are Concussions Related to Alzheimer’s Disease?” from the American Academy of Neurology, I was reminded that when it comes to the brain, there’s more to the healing process than seeing the pupils going back to normal. According to the press release, a Minnesota study showed that people with a history of concussions are at increased risk for the kind of plaque buildup that’s prevalent in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. If this type of head injury isn’t healed completely when it occurs, the effects can last a lifetime. Brain health is not something you want to take lightly.
What exactly is a concussion? As the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital explains, the blow to the head isn’t the real problem. The problem is when the blow to the head basically shakes the brain within the cranium, altering the the neurons. In case you were wondering, your brain is not supposed to bounce around inside your skull. And when the neurons are altered, it isn’t able to function properly.
Reading the press release just as baseball season was about to begin made me realize I needed to get a little self-health education on this topic. It’s not enough to simply rely on the boys’ coaches to take responsibility. Don’t get me wrong—they’re thoughtful people. But some things we parents need to dig a little deeper into on our own, and this is one of them. I grabbed my copy of Mark Anderson’s CD, Closed Head Injuries, Mental Illness, Dementia: Dr. Royal Lee—Sixty Years On. I listened to it once, and then a second time, and a third. All told, I believe I’ve listened to it at least a half dozen times. Why? It’s filled with valuable information that Dr. Royal Lee discussed for the first time in the 1950s, and Mark Anderson has a way of explaining it so that most anyone can understand it.
Here are some straightforward facts you should know about your brain:
- While your brain makes up only 2 percent of your total body weight, it requires 25 percent of your body’s oxygen and glucose and a fifth of its electrical energy.
- Approximately 13 gallons of blood flow through your brain every single hour. That’s 20 percent of all the blood pumped by your heart.
- Your brain consists of roughly 30 percent protein and 70 percent fat. (Side note: The fact that your brain is made up of 70 percent fat is just one of the reasons that a low-fat diet isn’t good for you, but that’s another post.) Anyway, half of the fat in your brain is highly unsaturated EPA and DHA fat, which is why oily fish is considered “brain food.”
The CD includes a recording of Dr. Royal Lee discussing the long-term effects of a blow to the head, such as causing brain antibodies to show up. He makes an important distinction between two types of antibodies—the ones that fight off foreign substances, such as viruses, and the ones that attack natural body tissue. The second type is the basis of autoimmune diseases, which are caused when the body produces antibodies against its own tissue. In other words, a brain injury will often cause the body to produce antibodies that essentially attack your natural brain tissue. Not exactly ideal, right?!
As Anderson puts it, a head injury is about more than a couple weeks of brain fogginess. It often results in “long-term increasing mental dysfunction.” Evidence of these brain antibodies has been found in patients dealing with Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and other brain-related diseases. Remember the recent NFL concussion scandal?
I could go on and on with the other factoids I’ve picked up after listening to the CD so many times, but I’ll cut to the chase. Obviously, a concussion (or other head injury) can occur most anywhere, even just walking down the street. So if this occurs to us or someone we know, what can we, as self-health educated people, do to ensure the best chances of healing completely? Dr. Lee discussed one key element way back when, and Anderson offers the same advice today: give the brain the nutrients it needs.
Here are some key nutrients from Standard Process to help your brain recover—and then stay healthy.
- Neurotrophin PMG: This one needs to be taken on an empty stomach. It destroys the brain antibodies and turns them into histamines. Possible recommended dosage is 4 in the morning, 4 at midday, and 4 at bedtime—again, on an empty stomach.
- Ribonucleic Acid (RNA): Often referred to as the memory factor of the cells, RNA helps reorganize the structure in the injured section of the brain. Studies show that people with diseases such as Alzheimer’s have lower levels of RNA in their bloodstream. Possible recommended dosage is 3 twice a day at any time.
- Tuna Omega-3 Oil: This gives your brain a proper balance of EPA and DHA fat support that it needs to heal completely. Possible recommended dosage is 4–6 per day at any time.
- Cataplex G: Dr. Lee designed this supplement back in 1934. He named it after Dr. Joseph Goldberger, who discovered that pellagra (a disease associated with dementia) was caused by a deficiency in vitamin G. Possible recommended dosage is 9–12 per day at any time.
Your brain may need other nutrients to heal and stay healthy. You should work with your health care provider to determine the best choices and dosages for your particular situation.
Phew! Brain health is a complex topic, but it’s one worth getting “in the know” about. If you’re a parent, keep in mind that your kids probably won’t tell you about every bump to the head—and they don’t have to end up unconscious for it to have an effect on them. If you notice some changes in their mood or performance in everyday life and school, you may want to consider the possibility of a brain injury. The same goes for all your loved ones, no matter their age.
I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite parts of Mark Anderson’s presentation. At the end, he offers hope for all of us who fear that a declined mental state or Alzheimer’s is inevitable as we get older: “Your brain should get better, healthier, and stronger as you age because you have the benefit of experience.”
Keep your brain (and the one inside the skull of everyone you care about) healthy this summer, and every season hereafter.