Defining Lyme Brain
As we currently understand the developmental disabilities of brain inflammation, let us explore some specific fundamentals that will help you understand how you can be helped should you struggle with any brain imbalance including the LYME BRAIN:
- THERE IS OFTEN AN IMBALANCE BETWEEN THE TWO HEMISPHERES, THE DIFFERENT BRAIN CENTERS, AND/OR THEIR NEURONAL CONNECTIONS. The two halves of the brain are referred to as cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres. These are separated into ‘lobes’ and ‘gyri’ with particular and distinct functions. When we are discussing the ‘circle’ listed above, we are mainly talking about the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes, and their connections to deeper brain centers. For example, there are common neurological deficits in all the Frontal Lobe disorders even though patients may still present with different symptoms. The primary problem relates to the imbalance between both right and left frontal hemispheres and/or an inability of the frontal lobes to neuronally fire back onto the deeper brain centers that govern autonomic and emotional function.
Normal (asymptomatic) individuals exhibit an asymmetric distribution of nearly all human functions within the cerebral cortex including cognitive, motor, sensory, neuro-hormonal, immune, autonomic, and endocrine functions, i.e. the left side of the brain controls things that the right does not and visa versa.
Though we now understand that there exists an unbelievable ability of the brain to ‘take up the slack’ of an underperforming neighbor, it may not exactly jump to volunteer for the extra work.
Neuroplasticity is the buzzword in neurology today and speaks to the brain’s ability to remold and reshape to necessary needs, but it often takes a little coaxing. Functional Neurologists like buzzwords; they like big words. Personally, I like words like neuroplasticity because if you break it down it explains exactly how God made us – with the innate ability to adapt to our environment and be molded and shaped for the better.
Brain Based Therapy is a method of shaping and molding. It’s the ‘little coaxing’ we use to re-train the brain around damaged or dysfunctional centers. It’s all about balance. Failure to develop and maintain this balance of inter-hemispheric (between sides), inter-lobal (between parts), and inter-glial (speaking of the non-neuronal brain cells we will discuss later) communication or damage affecting such balance between each center results in a form of ‘functional independence’ that creates havoc. I think it’s pretty cool that tiny neurons were created to function in symphony with others, not independently. It is kind of a microcosm of life – we are to be interdependent, interconnected beings, sharing life with others.
Even though the diagram above is a gross over-simplification of how our brains work, it gives you an understanding in the importance of proper balance of each lobe/brain center. We will see that both developmental issues and, more commonly, environmental issues (LYME) are most prevalent in causing such imbalances and that such imbalances are never normal and may be the cause of severe emotional upsets.
- MANY CONDITIONS IN THIS CIRCLE OF DISORDERS ARE THE RESULT OF A RIGHT OR LEFT HEMISHPERE DEFICIENCY. Most Frontal Lobe syndromes can clearly be related to dysfunction or delay in development/function of one hemisphere. For example, if the right hemisphere is under-stimulated resulting in slower temporal processing within that hemisphere, it decreases effectiveness of the right hemisphere’s normal executive functions. We’ll explain more about this later.
In the case of a right hemisphericity (decreased firing of the right frontal lobe), there will be a decrease in activity seen in modern functional imaging of the brain (functional MRI, QEEG) which will show a decreased activity in the right frontal and pre-frontal cortex with an asymmetric distribution of activity in the basal ganglia (part of the midbrain) and cerebellum as these are centers that receive the frontal lobe’s output.
This right hemisphericity (right hypo-functioning) is possibly the more common finding and may also explain why young boys are affected more than young girls as seen in the gross imbalance in ADD/ADHD and autistic diagnoses. The frequency ranges from approximately 6 to 1 in ADD to 50 to 1 in high functioning autistic individuals because young male brains are more asymmetrical than young female brains because of hormonal differences.
Male brains are more susceptible to prenatal and postnatal influences; these influences, which are thought to consist of maternal prenatal levels of estrogen, create this left greater than right cortical development characteristic of male brains. Dietary and environmental exposures to estrogens also may contribute to these problems. It has been hypothesized that abnormal decreases in dopamine (a brain neurotransmitter) have a greater negative affect on right frontal cortex function than left due to the asymmetrical distribution of dopamine receptors in the brain (there are more dopamine receptors in the right frontal lobe, hence, more susceptible to losses).
As we age, however, this ‘imbalance’ changes and the effects of puberty on the female brain swings the pendulum in the opposite direction revealing a much greater incidence of anxiety, depression, etc. in females.
Regardless of statistical incidences, people with brain imbalances suffer not only with the symptoms they express but with the ignorance in the medical community regarding diagnosis and solution. Labels are hurtful, and I hate them. They do absolutely nothing to help the patient and pharmaceutical companies are eager to create new diseases to slap on people’s foreheads so they can be loyal customers the rest of their lives. It is both unethical and criminal to make people victims of an imagined diagnosis code instead of searching for a cause so the patient may see real and permanent results.
I refuse to label people so if that’s what you’re looking for, stop reading this book now, go crawl in a corner and give up. This book is for those willing to stand up and say, “Hey, I’m a person and I deserve a doctor who will help me get to the bottom of this and help me find a solution!”
- ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES CONTRIBUTE TO THE PROBLEM. Some main factors in causation of frontal lobe disabilities are hypothesized to be environmental, especially in the more severely afflicted. This is why PHASE THREE LYME is so debilitating! Current socially acceptable behaviors, primarily those which are sedentary, such as a high proportion of time spent watching television, on the computer or playing video games (all highly left brain stimulants), are at least a factor for the dramatic increase in neurobehavioral problems.
The human brain is extremely plastic (moldable, changeable) allowing us to adapt to the environment in which we live. The window of time for the greatest development is between conception and the age of six; hence, bad parenting at early ages shapes the child for life. Other than healthy, loving environments, motor activities are critical during this time of brain development, particularly in males. A dramatic decrease in early motor activity in children will affect development of gross motor behavior, which is more specific to right hemisphere development, therefore, decreases in early motor activity equals decrease in right brain development. In more sedentary children, the increased use of TV, DVD, computers, iPhones, and video entertainment coupled with working parents, and parental fears for their children, all stimulate left-brain growth and lack of right brain stimulation.
Other environmental factors such as poor nutrition, increased poor caloric intake, environmental toxins, and early sensory deprivation are other important factors which we will discuss in greater detail later and are something that we heavily address in our office. This is the ‘functional medicine’ (metabolic) piece that is absolutely essential if a patient is going to recover.
- DEVELOPMENTAL INFLUENCES CONTRIBUTE TO THE PROBLEM. Though this has become the minority of cases we currently see, every patient has need for revisiting developmental stages. Persistent neurological reflexes that should disappear at specific developmental stages can linger to cause problems. We discuss remediating these in later chapters. Years ago I saw more developmental-delay issues due in part to common parenting practices at the time like the use of baby swings, playpens, Johnny Jump-ups, baby walkers, etc. that would restrict necessary cross-crawl activity crucial for brain development. Social and cultural understanding of the detriments of these things has decreased (at least with what we see in our office) the frequency of developmental problems but the sudden rise in inflammatory causes more than offsets any benefits of our efforts in educating parents about detrimental parenting practices during developmental stages.
- INFLAMMATORY INFLUENCES CONTRIBUTE TO THE PROBLEM. We will discuss much about this topic as I cannot recall a single patient in recent history that did not have some source of brain inflammation. Neurological pathways that are blocked or damaged from an immune attack or any source of inflammation simply cannot function properly. Thinking that you will have a healthy brain and be able to eat processed foods, McDonalds French fries, and a Slurpee just reveal that you may already have brain problems. We’ll talk about the destructive problems of GMO foods, excitotoxins (additives meant to increase taste and cause food addictions and thereby increase repeat sales), food coloring, preservatives, additives, etc. Also see my book, “Help, My Body is Killing Me…” for more on this topic.
- TRAUMATIC INFLUENCES CAUSE FUTURE PROBLEMS. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has now issued major concerns regarding long-term issues of traumatic brain injuries. There is also a huge concern now in the sports world as some data lists an unbelievable discrepancy in adult-onset dysfunction in all brain disorders (Alzheimer’s, early Dementia, Parkinson’s) with individuals who’ve played contact sports, especially professional football players. Some studies even reveal a decreased life expectancy! There are functional changes that occur in how the brain works but often no structural damage can be seen on standard imaging tests like CT scan, yet the chronic, sub-clinical inflammation consumes neurons like the heat of a slow burning fire.
Mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, can be defined as a short-lived loss of brain function due to head trauma that resolves spontaneously but can have lasting ill-effects. The brain floats in cerebrospinal fluid and is encased in the skull. These protections help us to withstand many of the minor injuries that occur in day-to-day life. However, if there is sufficient force to cause the brain to bounce against the skull, then there is potential for injury. It is the acceleration and deceleration of the brain against the inside of the skull that can cause the brain to be irritated and interrupt its function and, more importantly, sets up a chronic inflammatory process that slowly decreases function and destroys neurons.
While temporary loss of consciousness due to injury means that a concussion has taken place, most concussions occur without the patient being knocked out. Studies of football players find that the most of those affected were not aware that they had sustained a head injury. The chronic inflammatory processes that ensue not only destroy neuronal and glial function but bring fibroblasts that create adhesions and rigidity within the brain and between dural layers that cover the brain and spinal cord.
- ALL OF THESE CONDITIONS ARE VARIATIONS OF THE SAME PROBLEM. Most brain disabilities are of similar etiology and are variations of the same underlying problem. The frontal lobes, temporal lobes, parietal lobes, cerebellum, basal ganglia, and thalamus have been implicated in all of these conditions. This has been documented on static imaging such as CT scans and MRI, as well as functional imaging such as PET scans, QEEG and fMRI. Bottom line: inflammation in the brain blocks pathways that need to be ‘re-mapped’. The pathways that are damaged equal the symptoms the patient experiences giving a diagnosis specific to those symptoms.
John was a real estate agent in southern California for over 30 years. He was looking forward to semi-retirement and being able to spend more of his time playing golf, which was his passion. A few months ago he noticed a strange sensation, beginning in his legs that was slowly, over time, creeping upward. “It wasn’t pain,” he described, “it was a weird stiffness; sometimes it was tingly, other times it was achy, but it got worse every day.” John never went to a doctor, though he complained to his wife who would demand that he make an appointment. But he was stubborn and, like many men, just pretended it would be better tomorrow. After about 4 months, John’s stiffness became so bad that, when at his son’s house for a family function, he couldn’t get out of a seated position in the couch. That was the final straw that landed John in the ER. I’ll save some time and skip over most of John’s story and spare you the miserable months that followed with MRIs, CT scans, X-Rays, etc., and these after the ER just sent him home with prednisone telling him it was stress.
John was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, early stage, which ‘has yet to show plaquing’. This wasn’t the end of his story though because John had a dream to retire and play golf and his dream was not going to be side-lined by some crazy disease the “he was going to have to learn to live with”. He never gave up asking why and was willing to seek care beyond the confines of multi-million dollar facilities that offered no hope. The ‘end of his story’ was a beginning in a sense because John end up at a Naturopath’s office that had attended a seminar of mine, was referred for a phone consultation. After much consideration, John and his wife flew in for a complete work-up and we all learned new and amazing things. John learned that there was hope (he’s nearly completely recovered), I learned that even medications can be antigens in an autoimmune condition (it was Lipitor in his case), and my staff learned that a patient’s drive to fulfill a life-long dream can be an essential motivating factor to getting better.
Unfortunately, there are millions of people who do not have the insight to see beyond traditional medicine and believe they ‘have to live with’ whatever disease they’ve been told they have. We see it every day. Yesterday, one of my assistants told me about someone at church who was telling her that her son’s absence seizures were coming more frequently and that he’s had multiple grand mal seizures in the past month. The doctors increased his seizure meds but the meds seem to just, ‘wipe him out.’ After my assistant attempted to try to explain that there may be hope looking through a Functional Neurology and Functional Medicine lens, the woman interrupted with a, “oh no, they found the ‘cause’; they said it’s genetic.”
People are people. Somehow a ‘diagnosis’ seems to emotionally erase the responsibility of really figuring things out. If we can just blame a disease or a gene that is outside of our control then we absolve ourselves of any accountability. Yet the suffering continues. I cannot begin to tell you how many cancer victims we speak with every day that have been to hell and back with ‘therapies’ that have left them mutilated, yet fear, tradition, and peer-pressure pushed them down a medical path that left them crumbled in a corner like a dirty rag.
If the only thing you get out of ANY of my books/web info is HOPE, then I’ve succeeded! Find someone near you that understands the thing we write about. I teach doctors world-wide and we see patients in our office from around the world yet we are still amazed by the neighbors willing to let their children suffer a lifetime from a ‘genetic’ brain problem!
- THESE PROBLEMS ARE CORRECTABLE. Because brain organization is plastic (changeable), many aspects of neurobehavioral disorders do not have to result in permanent impairment (unless left alone). Appropriate forms of “re-mapping” (Brain Based Therapy, Neurofeedback) and behavioral modifications (Neural Cognitive Therapy) can significantly improve or completely correct the underlying problem. Since motor and cognitive dysfunction often coexist, improving the function of one effect change in the other.
Annie, an eight-year-old beauty with long black hair and princess eyes was a handful. Her parents had three other children, all younger than Annie with two still in diapers. “I’m just worn out,” confessed her mother, a thirty-something, dedicated homemaker who was at the end of her rope. “We’ve tried everything we know,” explained her dad, “yesterday the school’s counselor had recommended either you or medication, but said we have to do something now.” Annie had been on medication last year for the ADHD her pediatrician diagnosed. Like most kids, she did not do well, “It just made her completely groggy,” said mom, “she had no personality.”
It’s always nice to see parents “at the end of the line” because they seem to be more willing to do the hard things that it takes to get their child better. It’s kind of like that with all patients; if they aren’t sick enough to make drastic life-style changes, then they are NOT going to get better. Not that every case needs dramatic life-style changes but the willingness to do so is crucial. I once had a family with a teen-ager who was in juvenile detention, soon to be in prison that absolutely refused to remove gluten from their diet because, “pizza was his favorite food”. Just shoot me now!
Praise God that Annie’s parents were committed. They could see beyond immediate gratification to the hope of recovery. Maybe that is the sign of a healthy brain – one who can put-off immediate satisfaction for a future, attainable goal. Annie’s a different person today because her parents had a healthy brain. Yes, we needed to change her diet, detox heavy metals and teach her brain-based exercises to do at home and yes, the results were both dramatic and gradual but she is now in high school getting excellent grades.
Functional Neurology and Functional Medicine offer us intervention strategies including Advanced Neurofeedback, home Brain-Based therapy, functional testing, kinesiology, and other labs that can both reveal true, underlining causes and show marked positive effects and objective changes in a relatively short period of time. Using the newer therapies we suggest in this book, most of our patients now notice significant changes in months as opposed to years (or never).
- HEMISPHERE SPECIFIC TREATMENT AND INFLAMMATORY CAUSE IDENTIFICATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS. Besides increasing motor performance, timing, endurance, and posture, we will finally address the need for hemisphere specific treatment modalities. Brain Based Therapy, sensory stimulation, and cognitive functions directed toward the under functioning hemisphere are the most important consideration in treatment. Achieving a balance of activity between the two hemispheres is critical for allowing cognitive and bilateral motor binding to occur, which would reduce hemispheric neglect (hypofunction). As the hemispheres achieve a normal coherence and synchronization, motor and cognitive performance will improve. Below is the ONLY way that we believe one will achieve lasting results:
- Determine the specific brain gyrus that is NOT firing correctly. This is done through a detailed neurological examination and a “Brain Map” using a functional electroencephalogram (EEG). Our Neural Integration software system lays out a detailed explanation of improper brain function.
- Determine the CAUSE. Most common causes are inflammatory processes from toxicity, autoimmune inflammation, or trauma. The patient is experiencing an EFFECT. If they ever expect to recover from the effect, the cause must be discovered and removed.
- Determine a plan of attack to REMOVE the cause. Treatment is appropriate to the cause.
- Develop specific Brain-Based Therapies that RE-WIRE the brain pathways that were damaged.
This above approach seems simple, and, though it is working wonders to prove that people are NOT ‘crazy’, it requires that your doctor or doctors are aptly trained in functional neurology and functional medicine. I certainly don’t consider myself an expert as I am always learning (maybe addicted is a better term) but, as the title of this book state, regardless of what your previous doctors have told you, there IS an answer.
There are REAL causes to problems that require solutions not found in a new prescription or another label. It is true that you will not find the therapies we suggest referenced by pharmaceutical companies but NOT true that what we do and suggest for patients doesn’t work or has little validation. Functional EEG’s (one of our primary therapies) have MORE positive research data and proven clinical trials than any drug on the market! The problem is that there is no money to be made by Big Pharma! I hate to be cynical but it’s both sad and true.
What is a person to DO???? – call our office -651-739-1248