“Everything you have ever experienced, felt or conducted in life is due to brain function. The ability to enjoy, perceive, sense and experience life is dictated by the firing rate of your brain. It is impossible for a person to become healthy mentally or physiologically without a healthy brain.”(1)
The Brain is the Master Organ
Everything you have ever experienced in the past and will ever experience in the future is because you have a brain. Everything you have ever done and will do in the future is directly related to the health of your brain. This includes your ability to eat, taste and smell food, your ability to enjoy being with your loved ones, your ability to appreciate music and poetry, your ability to sing, dance and breathe. All of these things are directly determined by the health of the brain. As the brain deteriorates, you lose all these capacities. Your quality of life becomes dramatically compromised. This is what happens in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Do you know anyone with Alzheimer’s disease? Maybe a friend or family member? You can see how their whole quality of life is compromised. They stop appreciating the things in life they used to love and just don’t care about the things they used to care about. They no longer have the capacity to feel the emotions they used to feel. And the worst part is they gradually stop loving their loved ones because they can no longer remember who they are and all the lifetime of experiences that they shared together. Everything you do for them goes unappreciated. Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is one of the hardest things you can do knowing that as their condition progresses, they will become more and more dependent on you and less and less appreciative of all your effort. All this happens due to neurodegeneration (degeneration of the neurons of the brain). And the worst part is that most doctors don’t consider brain health until advanced stages of degeneration. And the literature shows that there are many natural compounds that support brain function and slow down the progression of these neurodegenerative diseases, even after they have developed. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
The Health of the Brain is Often Overlooked in Medicine
Brain health tends to be ignored in both the conventional and alternative health care systems. Most doctors are focused on their particular specialty, which is understandable. But even primary care doctors tend to focus on all the other organs and metabolic issues before considering the health of the brain. Most doctors don’t make any recommendations on brain health until patients start showing signs of dementia. They often don’t do anything when patients complain of warning signs of neurodegeneration such as mental fatigue, poor memory, poor gastrointestinal function, sleeping disturbances or depression. When patients come in to their office with these problems, they either prescribe medication to address the symptoms or if they recognize early-stage dementia, refer them to a specialist, such as a neurologist or psychiatrist for evaluation. However, it so happens that these are the two specialties of medicine that have the poorest outcomes. Why? Because the brain is so complex, treatment options are limited to pharmaceutical drugs and because the science behind the use of these medications is so tenuous and misguided as you will see. Patients definitely need doctors that can diagnose brain lesions and deal with mental disorders. The problem is we have a large population of patients that are not being served because the options patients have are limited by the pharmaceutical model instead of offering brain activation, brain rehabilitation and brain nutrition therapy.
Conventional Medicine Offers Little for Neurodegenerative Disorders
There are very few drugs available that have been approved by the FDA to treat neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementias. Most psychotropic drugs only treat the symptoms of neurodegeneration, such as depression, tremors or sleeping disorders. Even then, they don’t do a very good job. A new meta-analysis was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine which concluded that antidepressants do nothing for mild to moderate depression. (10) They only showed benefit for severe depression. If someone is suicidal, they may be helpful. For the typical patient who has depression, they have been shown to be no more effective than placebo (sugar pills).
It’s important to be able to diagnose a patient and identify where the lesion is in the brain but the typical neurodegenerative patient is not being helped very much by the current healthcare system. In functional medicine, we have the ability to improve brain physiology by increasing blood flow to brain (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17), by increasing neurotransmitter quantity (18, 19, 20, 21, 22) and by dampening inflammation in the brain (23, 24, 25, 26) which you can’t do with any medications. There are plant compounds that have been shown to help with all of these things but there are no medications currently available that can help with any of them.
The next article shows that we really don’t have an evidence-based model of medicine. We will also reveal what people (and doctors) consider “aging” is really neurodegeneration (degeneration of the brain) and what you can do to prevent this from happening and/or progressing!
- Datis Kharrazian, D.C., Brain and Neurotransmitters Seminar, San Francisco, CA, Nov. 22-23, 2008
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