Neuroprotection and Neuroregeneration
I get a lot of questions about neuroprotection and neuroregeneration with regards to neurologic disease. Protection from not only preventing disease but also from progression of disease. Regeneration to improve function from already affected brain cells. Yes, we can both neuroprotect and neuroregenerate.
But what do these words mean? Inherently, they both imply damage or injury has been done. While damage can be done to the many nerves that travel through our body, for the purposes here we will refer to the brain cells. Neuroprotection speaks to the process of preventing existing neuronal death which can come from excessive release of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter, or from free-radicals. The destroyers of free-radicals, referred to as antioxidants, help to protect the brain. Neuroregeneration, on the other hand, refers to the processes that support regrowth of the cells of the brain to form new cells and new connections.
We can protect our brain from free radicals and other toxic substances. But once fully formed, somewhere in our early twenties, technically we cannot grow new brain cells. But we can have functional recovery, meaning we can strengthen the signals between connections, boost existing cells, slow progressive disease, and improve the function of our brain. There are many pharmacologic agents to neuroprotect and some to help neuroregenerate. But there are some important non-pharmacologic ways that can we accomplish both.
Nonpharmacological approaches include avoidance of environmental toxic exposures, exercise, vitamins, herbs, nutritional medicine, acupuncture and neurofeedback. Our brain is vulnerable to anything that can cause inflammation and it can be difficult to avoid all exogenous exposures that can cause inflammation. So we need to protect, support, buffer, and boost the brain.
We do this by reducing levels of toxic exposures and consuming nutritionally dense foods, plants, and vitamins. Studies have shown that there are some powerful foods and plants that can provide the brain with what it needs to fight back. Examples include anti-oxidants from turmeric to fight free-radical damage to brain, or rhubarb and black currants to protect against neurodegeneration, or rhodiola which has been shown to reduce transmission, or boswellia which has been used to reduce swelling and inflammation of the brain, or N-acetylcysteine, a powerful antioxidant, or B-12 , a vitamin associated with depression. And there is so much more.
Any treatment that can help reduce anxiety and stress, and therefore minimize the surge of stress hormones, ultimately limiting inflammation can further protect and support the brain. This is why acupuncture and neurofeedback can also be useful and effective.
At the Center for Healing Neurology, we offer multiple ways to protect the health of your brain, be it preventative or management of existing symptoms. We focus on the alternative methods but can further guide with conventional methods when a more intense initial approach is warranted. If interested or simply intrigued, please feel free to call our clinic at 206-379-1213 to make your appointment.