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Depression, Serotonin, Inflammation & The Gut

Depression, Serotonin, Inflammation & The Gut

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Do It Yourself Brain Improvement

The number of individuals diagnosed with ADD continues to rise.  While the diagnosis rate inflates, as do the pharmaceutical sales of habit forming and side effect laden prescriptions.

Is this is a condition that is being over diagnosed for the sake of big business?  If not entirely, then what is causing this widespread, suboptimal cortical functioning? Chemical exposure? Cultural influences? Horrific nutrition? Or maybe a combination of them all.

Regardless of the answers to these questions, the fact remains that the signs and symptoms that land you under the umbrella of an ADD diagnosis and subsequent prescription are societally prevalent. It’s important to recognize these traits, and do what you can naturally first in order to stave off any chemical intervention.

Let’s first look at some of the issues at hand.  These include short attention span or lack of focus, distractibility, lack of perseverance, impulse control problems, hyperactivity, chronic lateness/poor time management, disorganization, procrastination, unavailability of emotions, misperceptions, poor judgement, trouble learning from experience, short term memory problems, and social and test anxiety.

The handling of these issues is largely governed by an area of your brain called the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is touted as the most evolved part of your brain.  Overall the PFC is the part of the brain that watches, supervises, guides, directs and focuses your behavior, governing “executive functions” such as time management, judgement, impulse control, planning, organization and critical thinking.

This area continues to develop as we age, and doesn’t fully develop until well into adulthood.  This explains why we tend to become more responsible and less reckless as we age, and why youth tends to exemplify the opposite.  It also explains why people’s personalities may change after a concussion or trauma to the dome.

Identifying potential areas of deficit and providing patients with targeted brain based therapies and exercises is a practice we incorporate at Clarke Chiropractic and Wellness.  We may have the patient perform eye exercises or interactive metronome.

If you think you may be dealing with an under functioning PFC based on the descriptions above, feel free to give us a call (321-848-0987) for an evaluation and if warranted, subsequent therapies.

In the meantime, here are a couple of at home remedies to give that PFC a jolt:

THE CLASSICAL STYLINGS OF MOZART

A study published in the International Journal of Arts Medicine found that listening to Mozart actually reduced the slow brain activity (theta brain-wave) that is often excessive in ADD.  Subjects (children ranging from ages 7 – 17) displayed better focus and mood control, diminished impulsivity, and improved social skills after incorporating sessions of Mozart at least three times a week.

DIET AND EXERCISE

(yet another reason to implement these seemingly simple lifestyle changes)
In order to fully appreciate why this suggestion is relevant, we need to understand that it is the neurotransmitter dopamine that helps to prevent the PFC shutdown that happens in ADD.  Drugs like Adderall work by stimulating dopamine.
A diet high in refined carbs (simple sugars: cakes, candies, ice cream, pastries, soda and simple carbs: bread, pasta, rice, potatoes) has a negative impact on dopamine levels in the brain.
Exercise naturally triggers the release of dopamine, and subsequently norepinephrine which is another neurotransmitter that stimulates the PFC.

So as stated, another reason to clean up the diet and get moving with some regular exercise.  This is not just a over-stated, lazy suggestion for wellness.  As explained above, these two suggestions carry actual, natural chemical repercussions similar to the effective ingredients in some of today’s most over prescribed drugs.

A Functional Approach: Connecting the Dots

I recently had the opportunity to spend my afternoon as an exhibitor at the Brevard County Women’s Expo.  The reason for my presence was to provide information and an avenue to pursue natural, holistic healthcare.  One of the biggest draws to our booth was the book, “Changer Your Brain, Change Your Life,” by Dr. Daniel Amen.  I highly recommend this book, or at the very least checking out our previous post pertaining to it. (https://clarkechiropracticwellness.com/2013/08/08/mental-health-a-new-perspective/)

Basically, the book provided hope by doing two things.  Number one it illustrated that areas of decreased blood flow and metabolic activity in the brain do exist.  This means that there are portions of the brain not functioning at full capacity. Depending on the location of decreased function, various symptoms will be outwardly exhibited resulting in the diagnosis of conditions like anxiety, ADD/ADHD, depression, anger, obsessive compulsive behavior, sleeping disorders, etc. This is huge because it demonstrates to the individual that there is no inherent character flaw within them, but rather an area of the brain with sluggish function.
The second critical thing this book shows is that therapies can be applied that target the area of decreased function.  Dr. Amen’s clinics have functionally scanned over 80,000 brains from 90 countries showing the affects of brain based therapies pre and post treatment.  The real testament though is the improvement to the patient’s quality of life.  An image showing increased activity is one thing, but it’s pretty much meaningless to the individual if they are still burdened with life altering symptoms.
(It should be noted that when he finds it necessary, Dr. Amen also utilizes pharmaceutical means in conjunction with the therapies to treat his patients.   Other patients have responded simply to the brain based therapies and supplementation.)
The universal optimism to be drawn from Dr. Amen’s work is that it provides more proof that the brain can adapt.  Application of the correct brain based therapies and exercises can positively take advantage of the brain’s plasticity or adaptability and increase function from the brain and beyond.  As we know, the brain serves as the master control center for the entire body, inside and out; making the possibilities endless.
From a functional doctor’s point of view, this ties in phenomenally with what we do and why we do it.  Let me explain:
When you seek treatment, you are more than likely looking to address a symptom that has become bothersome in your life.  Although bothersome, this symptom is actually a good thing as it is our body’s brilliant way of letting us know something isn’t right.  Rather than attempting to silence our body’s inborn alarm system, as a functional doctor, we look to neurologically, nutritionally, and biomechanically analyze the whole picture and discover the breakdown in function that caused the symptom to manifest in the first place.  Being trained to identify areas of potential decreased function in the brain, and then apply specific therapeutic exercises and therapies to target that area and take advantage of the brain’s aforementioned plasticity is what functional neurology is all about.
You see, there is no claim being made to cure those conditions mentioned above.  The approach is to acknowledge the symptoms, but go beyond them attempting to identify and correct the underlying breakdown in function causing the symptom.  The thing about a symptom is that we never know if this is the first identifiable sign of an underlying issue or the 4th or 5th.  And if we simply silent the symptom, the internal derangement more than likely still exists and will manifest itself in other, perhaps more severe ways; kind of like the body screaming even louder for our attention.
This all ties into Dr. Amen’s work in that he has contributed to evidence showing the brain can change through therapies.  Being that the brain controls all function, effective treatment can not only lead to addressing the presenting complaint, but end up having widespread, favorable consequence throughout the body.  Sleep patterns, immune function, digestive issues, blood pressure regulation, name it.
If you’re ready for a change and interested in further exploring the world of natural and holistic healthcare through functional medicine I’d love to talk.
Stay open my friends.