We all have heard the old adage, “We only use 10% of our brains.” This is not entirely true. This statement is referring to the fact that 10% of our brains are neurons: the cells that are the basic working unit of the brain. Neurons are what functional neurology targets to strengthen and rebuild connections. But the other 90% of brain cells are just as important to pay attention to.
We have astrocytes which help maintain the very important blood-brain barrier (BBB) as well as help neurons actually work; there is recent research showing astrocytes are doing more than just providing structure to the brain. Then we have oligodendrocytes that provide the fatty sheath that surrounds neurons (myelin) that allows neurons to fire faster and more efficiently. Finally we have the microglia. Microglia are like little spiders that crawl around in the brain, especially as we sleep, and clean up all of the “trash”; things like tau proteins and neurofibrillary tangles that are present in conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
When the brain goes through trauma whether it is a hypoxic event, stroke, mTBI/concussion or even a major psychosocial stressor, the microglia go through a process called microglial priming. Now the microglia “spiders” lose their legs and break into 2 entities: M1 which is pro-inflammatory and M2 which is anti-inflammatory. In these states, the microglia cannot move around to clean up the “trash” in our brains and if the balance shifts towards increased M1 activation, more inflammatory processes occur and more microglial priming occurs in surrounding tissues. Once the microglia are primed, they will never go back to the “spider” form.
So what to do after brain trauma —> glial priming —> Neuroinflammation? We must aggressively support the M2/anti-inflammatory process. The 5 major lifestyle modifications must address: alcohol consumption, dietary changes, exercise prescription, stress reduction and achieving restorative sleep. There are also necessary nutraceuticals that have been shown to cross the BBB to reduce inflammation and these need to be utilized. Microglial priming and Neuroinflammation are serious conditions that can eventually lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s and must be addressed. Let me help you learn how to decrease your Neuroinflammation and not only regain more function, but improve quality of life for many years to come.