Preventive Brain Health and Brain Plasticity

In Dr. Ahvie, Healthy Aging by SFSCTCAdmin1 Comment

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What can we learn from professional athletes who suffer multiple concussions?

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Former NFL football player, Fred McNeil was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) during life using a sophisticated brain scan. His case was recently highlighted in the Journal of Neurosurgery, where authors showed that his brain scan during life, did in fact correctly diagnose CTE, which was confirmed at autopsy. This is the first case to demonstrate that we may have a test in the future, before autopsy, to diagnose CTE, at least at its latter stages.

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This is a classic example of a group of patients (in this case, world class athletes) who are serving us all by acting as the “canaries in the mine”. That is, their exposure to chronic brain injury is so overwhelming and repetitive, that it overcomes the enormous natural healing capabilities of the brain, and can teach us very important lessons about how we should be thinking about preventive brain health, as a priority in our lives.

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Why are some NFL football players more susceptible than others? Why do some football players suffer many more true concussions than others? These are extreme circumstances and we don’t know how to measure increased risk at this time. One observation that I have made repeatedly at Anatara Medicine and the San Francisco Stem Cell Treatment Center, ( is that extreme examples often shed light on the obvious – everyday markers of brain “stress” are ignored since they are not considered medical conditions.

• “Brain Fog”
• Mild memory loss
• Loss of focus
• Concentration
• Motivation and creativity
• Not remembering where our keys or cell phones are
• Feelings of occasional depression

Many of us have these symptoms from time to time, but brain “stress” needs to serve as “early warning signals”, and be understood and addressed. The brain has enormous adaptive qualities, it craves balance, but it can be overwhelmed after years of neglect.

One of the biggest differences between brain and physical illness is that we cannot easily test brain function and reserves in the same way we can for the body. Since there are no biological markers of risk for dementia, CTE, Parkinson’s, stroke, ALS, and many other neurodegenerative and mental conditions So, there are no easy ways to measure our individual risks. But, if you have these “subtle” symptoms, as many of us now have, they reflect a brain under stress, and by stress, I mean a brain that is not in reparative mode, but slowly and methodically operating sub optimally.

The brain has access to enormous reparative processes. How do we know this? Despite decades of exposures to toxins, lack of sleep, excess stress and anxiety, most adults chug along day-after-day, and our brains seem to be operating fairly well and predictably. For most of us, some better days than others! But for many people, we know that we are not operating at full brain capacity. The days of being in “the flow” are few and far between. So, what do our day-to-day symptoms mean?

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Our brain symptoms are signals that we should be caring for our brains more. An inability to stay alert, to think clearly, to focus, needs to be taken as seriously as any uncomfortable bodily symptom.

Stem Cell Therapy for Brain Health

What would I do if I was an NFL athlete or person with exposure to head injuries, or anyone at risk for repetitive head injuries in the now or in the future? This is an urgent care issue! I would seek out a stem cell center and get treated with my own stem cells. If I had serious concerns about my current mental and cognitive health, I would seek a center that can deploy my stem cells intravenously and directly into the spinal column to directly gain access to my brain. Why? Because I want the largest bolus of my innate reparative cells infused into my body to get optimized, and I would want to do so repeatedly and preventively. This, in concert with an integrated approach to brain health and repair, is my best option to prevent future risk. In this regard, studies now underway at major university medical centers across the country are showing the great and early promise that using various stem cell technologies for brain conditions including concussive disorders, stroke, and ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), which indicates that our brains remain “pliant” – which means that brain cells have the capacity to heal many forms of injury.

What do these athletes teach us everyday folks? What do we need to do to support our brains to be in reparative mode? Many of us are fearful of developing cognitive impairment over our longer anticipated life spans, since currently, over one-third of all Americans over 90 years of age suffer from dementia. We want to wake up each morning feeling enlivened, encouraged, fresh, focused and alert. How do we accomplish this without taking amphetamines?

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Preventive Brain Health

First and foremost, you take a functional approach towards integrative medicine. We all know that a preventative approach provides the best future for society and for us as individuals. To be optimized, everyone should undergo regular testing, and to learn what parts of our systems are strong and which are weaker, especially those lacking appropriate reserves. Replace what you are depleted in, take the right supplements that support detoxification and metabolic pathways that keep you in repair mode, eat a clean diet rich in good fats and low in carbohydrates, exercise, keep your weight under control, commune with nature, and have other strategies for relaxation, and more than 95% of the population will not develop cognitive impairment as we move the aging clock to 100 years.

The area of brain health, is in my opinion, one of the most underserved areas in medicine today. Lessons from side effects and severe withdrawal effects of Adderall, the amphetamine intended to treat adults with ADHD, now being abused predominantly by adults ages 20-39 to increase productivity and “pull all-nighters”, are humbling, and indicate a huge need to explore how to play into our brain’s standing principal. It is constantly searching for, and craving for balance.

In a unique collaboration between Anatara Medicine and the Institute for Rare and Neglected Diseases, we are developing a systematic approach to replenish and rebalance brain nutrients, seeking to strengthen our brain’s craving for balance, and thereby strengthening repair mechanisms and opening up new worlds of brain optimization. There is no reason why the great strides made in i.e., cardiovascular prevention over the past 30 years should not be reproduced to improve brain health.

Stay tuned and Happy Holidays!

Related articles:

Ex-NFL player confirmed as 1st case of CTE in living patient

Postmortem Autopsy-Confirmation of Antemortem [F-18]FDDNP-PET Scans in a Football Player With Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy



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