More than one in seven children suffer from developmental disorders today. But this doesn’t mean change isn’t possible. The brain is enormously malleable, or plastic, and with the right input on a consistent basis using functional neurology, we often can improve brain function.
Common brain development disorders today include:
How Brain Development Disorders Arise
These disorders can arise for a variety of reasons, such as:
Poor brain development unfolds in a variety of ways. For instance, important milestones in brain development, such as crawling, may be skipped. The brain is a highly complex network of multiple pathways. Proper formation of this network of pathways depends in part on the child going through each milestone of development.
When the brain fails to develop correctly, one hemisphere grows more slowly than the other, giving rise to various disorders that are either left-brain dominant or right-brain dominant. This is why we see kids who are intellectually advanced (left brain) yet socially and emotionally delayed (right brain). As this imbalance progresses, the brain finds it increasingly difficult to network between the hemispheres, causing loss of function.
Also, infections and autoimmune attacks against areas of the brain sabotage proper development and hinder function in those pathways. For instance, the basal ganglia, which helps regulate involuntary motor movements, is a common site of viral and autoimmune attack. This can cause disorders such as OCD, Tourette syndrome, and tics.
Start with Metabolic Health of the Brain
Functional neurology also includes addressing the metabolic health of the brain. If the brain is struggling with inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, or chronic poor health from a bad diet, it will not respond as well to rehabilitation. Additionally, children’s brains require ample healthy fatty acids — EPA and DHA.
Metabolic issues to look out for with brain development disorders include:
Fortunately, functional neurology can help address brain development disorders.
The types of brain rehabilitation a child needs depends on patient history and a functional neurology examination, which assesses brain function, areas of under and over development, and areas that are over stimulated or under stimulated. The functional neurologist can then tailor exercises to the brain environment and adjust them over time as function improves.
Many families report swift and significant shifts in behavior, mood, sociability, learning, and other brain-based signs.
Ask my office how functional neurology can help if your child has a brain based developmental disorder.
If a child suddenly develops behavioral and neurological symptoms after a strep infection, PANDAS should be suspected. PANDAS is a neuro-immune disorder in which a strep infection triggers brain inflammation and the immune system starts to attack and destroy brain tissue, causing a sudden onset of neurological symptoms.
PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.
PANS, or Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, is similar, except environmental factors or other infections trigger symptoms.
PANDAS diagnosis criteria
PANS diagnosis criteria
Functional neurology help for PANDAS/PANS
Because PANDAS and PANS involve the immune system, management involves testing markers for inflammation, infections, immune function, and brain autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks and destroys brain tissue).
It’s also helpful to conduct a functional neurology exam to identify compromised areas of the brain, as well as to establish a baseline of brain function.
Repeat testing can show you how well PANDAS/PANS protocols are working. Functional neurology rehabilitation may also help with recovery. For instance, therapies targeting different areas of the brain can calm an over active immune system and over activation of pathways.
Functional medicine help for PANDAS/PANS
Additionally, functional medicine strategies may include removing inflammatory triggers from the diet and the environment; nutritional therapies to lower inflammation and support brain health; addressing blood sugar, gut health, and toxicity; supporting neurotransmitters; and repairing mitochondrial function and the blood-brain barrier.
Conventional medical help for PANDAS/PANS
Therapies from the conventional model that have been shown to help include steroids and NSAIDs for inflammation; plasmapharesis (plasma exchange) to reduce antibodies; intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) to support immune modulation; and immune modulating medications when necessary.
Understanding the PANDAS/PANS brain
When PANDAS/PANS strikes a child — an estimated 1 in 200 children are affected — parents become both frightened and devastated. Understanding what is happening in the brain can help alleviate anxiety.
The functional neurology exam can help identify which pathways in the brain are affected. PANDAS/PANS typically affects communication loops between the basal ganglia, cerebellum, and frontal lobe.
Act quickly to address PANDAS/PANS
PANDAS/PANS is a significant and scary disorder, but taking action quickly improves the chances of an optimal outcome. For more information, contact my office.
Hypothyroidism has received a lot of attention online since the publication of Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Datis Kharrazian in 2009. While many facets should be addressed in managing hypothyroidism, one of the most important continues to be a gluten-free diet.
Research shows ninety percent of hypothyroidism cases are due to an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. This disease is called Hashimoto’s.
Most doctors do not test for Hashimoto’s because it does not change treatment, which is thyroid medication. Also, many cases of hypothyroidism go undiagnosed because Hashimoto’s can cause the lab marker TSH to fluctuate.
Where does gluten fit in with this? Numerous studies have linked an immune reaction to gluten with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Whether it’s a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, gluten triggers an autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland in many people. Most of these people do not even know they are sensitive to gluten.
Going Off Gluten Is The First Step With Hashimoto’s
Studies, clinical observation, and patient stories make a very strong case for the benefits of going gluten-free to better manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism symptoms.
A number of studies for several countries show a link between Hashimoto’s and gluten. This is because the protein structure of gluten closely resembles that of thyroid tissue. When your immune system reacts to gluten, it may start erroneously reacting to thyroid tissue as well. This will cause the immune system to attack and destroy thyroid tissue in a case of mistaken identity.
Studies also show patients improve on a strict gluten-free diet. One study showed as many as 71 percent of subjects resolved their hypothyroid symptoms after following a strict gluten-free diet for one year.
Why You May Need To Stop Eating Other Foods Too
Sorry to say, going gluten-free alone doesn’t always work. Many people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism also need to go dairy-free. Dairy, whether it’s cow, goat, or sheep, is the second biggest problem food for people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Many people simply have an immune intolerance to dairy and aren’t aware of it until they stop consuming it. However, in an immune sensitive individual, the body may also mistake dairy for gluten and trigger an immune reaction that ultimately ends up targeting the thyroid.
For those serious about managing their Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, a gluten-free and dairy-free diet frequently results in profound alleviation of symptoms, if not total remission.
Many find they may need to eliminate additional foods, such as certain grains, eggs, or soy. An elimination/provocation diet can help you figure out what your immune system reacts to, or a comprehensive food sensitivity test from Cyrex Labs.
What Is There Left To Eat?
If you’re used to eating without restrictions, eliminating gluten, dairy, and possibly other foods to manage your Hashimoto’s. Contact our office to start your journey to a healthier and happier life. Click the button below to book.
One of the biggest mistakes many people make is assuming a tremor signifies Parkinson's disease. The truth is many different kinds of tremors exist for different reasons. You can distinguish between them by knowing some basic characteristics.
Understanding the Expression of the Tremor
Tremors can be grouped into three categories: action tremor, resting tremor, and physiological tremor.
Action tremor happens with movement. These tremors typically stem from a disorder of the cerebellum, the area at the back of the brain involved in movement and coordination. The more calibration the movement requires (such as touching your pinkie finger to your nose with your eyes closed), the easier it is to see this tremor. Drinking alcohol may make this tremor worse.
Resting tremor happens when the hands are totally at rest. These tremors are related to the basal ganglia, and area of the brain involved in regulating movement. Moving the hands will stop the tremor. This is the type of tremor associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Physiological tremor results from a metabolic issue affecting muscle contractions, such as too much coffee, low blood sugar, too much thyroid hormones, or certain medications. The key feature of this tremor is that it happens both at rest and in action.
Types of Tremors
Those are the three primary ways tremors express themselves. Beyond that, we can identify different tremors based on what causes them.
Essential tremor is the most common tremor and is caused by a hereditary disorder of the cerebellum. You know you’re a candidate for this tremor if drinking alcohol makes it better and other family members have it. It may also occur in the head and the voice.
Orthostatic tremor occurs in the legs when a person stands up but goes away upon walking. It is related to misfiring in the autonomic nervous system, which governs unconscious bodily functions.
Dystonic tremors occur with dystonia, a disorder in which muscles contract involuntarily.
Parkinsonian tremor is a pill-rolling rest tremor and re-emergence tremor (i.e., it occurs after the arms have been held out a few moments).
Cerebellar tremors occur when the cerebellum cannot correctly calibrate muscle movements during movement, such as bringing a glass to your mouth. Vertigo and nausea may be other complaints.
A Holmes tremor is also known as wing-beating, midbrain, or rubral tremor. It is associated with strokes that impact the midbrain, as well as copper toxicity.
Palatal tremor is a rare disorder that causes rhythmic tremoring of the soft palate.
Neuropathic tremor stems from neuropathy, more often an acute autoimmune neuropathy.
Neurotoxic and drug-induced tremors, are, like they sound, induced by toxins and medications.
Psychogenic tremors are a psychiatric disorder in which the individual creates the tremor.
Functional Neurology and Tremors
In functional neurology, we can often lessen the severity of tremors by identifying the area of the brain causing them and then using brain rehabilitation techniques to address dysfunction in those areas. We also work with you to reduce inflammation, ensure proper brain nutrition, and improve overall metabolic health so that your brain has the best chance at improvement.
Do you suffer from acid reflux, indigestion, slow gut transit time, or feeling like there’s a brick in your stomach after eating? Or perhaps you’re on a restricted diet for a chronic health condition but still react to an ever shrinking list of foods. If so, you need to work on restoring digestion.
Many factors affect digestion, including aging, poor brain function that affects gut function, poor diet, and more. Often the problem often isn’t the food itself, but a hyper sensitive immune system reacting to food proteins that are not broken down properly. Thankfully, you can improve your symptoms greatly with proper supplementation.
Breakdown of Food Proteins is Key for Good Digestion
For good digestion, you need sufficient hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzyme activity in the gut. These both serve the important function of breaking down food proteins, which prevents the immune system from targeting them and causing symptoms.
HCl is naturally present in the stomach and is vital for digestion of proteins. Low HCl symptoms include:
Many people with poor digestion also have poor pancreatic enzyme output. Similar to stomach acid, these enzymes are critical to break apart food proteins so the immune system doesn’t react to them, causing inflammation.
Supplement with HCl and Digestive Enzymes for Healthy Digestion
Supplementing with HCl and digestive enzymes can go a long way toward improving your digestion by supporting breakdown of food proteins as well as relieving symptoms.
Follow this advice when supplementing with HCl and digestive enzymes:
Oral Tolerance and Digestive Function
It’s particularly important for people with food sensitivities to support food protein breakdown with proper levels of HCl and digestive enzymes. At the root of this is the concept of oral tolerance Oral tolerance is how well a person’s immune system can tolerate acceptable foods while responding appropriately to bacteria or other harmful compounds.
While there are other factors that affect oral tolerance, it’s important for food proteins to be broken down small enough that the body accepts them and doesn’t mount an immune reaction causing symptoms.
You’ve heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” When we can’t digest food properly, it means our bodies aren’t getting the fuel to function at their best. If you suffer from symptoms of poor digestion or food sensitivities, contact my office.