Brain Damaged From Migraines or Seizures? Try These 6 Tips
In my experience, many migraine or seizure sufferers do not fully understand that, even when headaches or seizures are not occurring, there is brain damage occurring. Luckily, there are many proven ways to help protect your brain from these dangerous conditions.
With that being said, it is common for mainstream medicine to recommend medications that control the seizure or headache, but do nothing to help protect the brain. This is obviously a severe shortcoming and a failing in the way we treat migraines and seizures in society today. It is indescribably important for a patient to understand that the ultimate responsibility for their health lies within. It does NOT lie with the physician. They can guide and coach you, but the job of improving the health of your brain is yours alone.
Brain cells require a massive amount of energy (in the form of ATP) to function normally. The mitochondria inside of a cell is where this valuable ATP is made. You can't make all this energy needed to run a healthy brain cell without waste byproducts. Imagine lighting a fire to cook or heat water. When you do this, smoke is going to be produced as a by-product of the fire. And we all have heard that in a house fire more victims die of smoke inhalation rather than the fire itself. So this smoke can be dangerous. In physiology, this "smoke" produced as a by-product of generating ATP is termed "free radicals."
You may have heard of free radicals before. These free radicals are hostile little molecules that damage anything they touch. For those of you that used to play with fireworks as a child, the little "buzzing bee" type of firework always reminds me of a free radical. When they were lit, these little fireworks started to spin very rapidly in a circle, faster and faster, spitting small flames out the side. The end result is a small circle of fire spinning and buzzing all over the ground. So, picture this little buzzing bee molecule bouncing around inside of your cell, damaging anything it touches. Proteins in the cell, your DNA, even the mitochondria that produces the free radicals in the first place while making ATP. All can be damaged by free radicals.
Complicating this bad situation is the fact that the mitochondria do not do a very good job of protecting themselves from free radical damage. So the one part of the cell that we really, really want to protect and keep from being damaged, can't really protect itself very well. Too much damage and the mitochondria itself dies off, leaving the poor little neuron with less ATP factories to run the way it's supposed to.
This leads to what I refer to as a "sick neuron."
In general, if we stop a sick neuron from communicating with its healthy neighbor by loading people up with drugs and stopping the communication, we think that we've been successful. All we've done is stop the communication, but we haven't fixed the sick neuron. In many cases, that neuron continues to degenerate. If one neuron is going to be sick, it is highly likely that the situation is present for other neurons to be sick as well. Merely controlling the headache or the seizure with medications, rather than a complete program to heal the brain cells, is not optional. It is required if you'd like to truly improve the state of the way your brain is functioning and protect your cognitive ability for years to come.
Given that the mitochondria are so incredibly important in the process of brain health, what can we do to protect them inside of our brain cells? Here are some ideas.
1) Manage stress - is what you are stressing about as important as damaging your brain? Probably not.
2) Avoid environmental chemicals. There is a barrage of more than 82,000 chemicals registered with the FDA that we are exposed to on a daily basis. This ranges from having your house sprayed for bugs or weeds, to all the pesticides, fungicides and herbicides that are used on our conventionally grown produce. We have tens of thousands of chemicals in our environment that we were never been exposed to before and that our bodies are unsure of how to eliminate. As an example, there are the flame retardants built into things like clothing, mattresses, pillows, dog beds and furniture. As of July 2007, mattresses were required to have a much higher level of flame resistance; the amount of chemicals required to make it this flame resistant are much higher. These chemicals than show up in our bloodstream and may contribute to health problems by destroying our mitochondria. Another example is the use of nonstick cooking surfaces, which is achieved through the use of chemicals, which also show up in the bloodstream.
3) Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners. Period.
4) Avoid exposure to heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and aluminum. This can be achieved by taking your shoes off at the door, avoiding certain fish known to be high in mercury (like albacore tuna, ahi and swordfish) and staying away from cigarette smoke and areas where people commonly smoke.
5) Supplements like L-carnitine, Coenzyme Q10, whey protein and resveratrol have been shown to improve the health of our mitochondria.
#6 is clearly one of the most powerful methods to improve both the number and function of our mitochondria: Calorie restriction without nutrient restriction. This means that your 1200 calories / day comes from broccoli, not a Big Mac and supersized fries. With this approach, our cells have to use every scrap of glucose and every nutrient to function. Our cells run a tighter ship, creating more efficient and greater numbers of mitochondria. The opposite is true with too many calories-our cells get lazy and mitochondrial function heads south.
A study in the April issue of Free Radical Biology and Research provides further support of the concept that calorie restriction stimulates the production of more mitochondria in our brain cells, thereby protecting our brains and potentially reducing both the frequency and severity of migraine headaches and seizures, while working on truly healing the brain and eliminating these conditions.