I had a concussion - here is how I learned to heal it naturally.

I had a concussion - here is how I learned to heal it naturally.

We often think that concussions only happen to athletes and NFL players, but that’s not the case. There are tons of ways that our brain can take a pounding even when we don’t live our lives on a football pitch.

In December, while out celebrating Christmas & New Year’s in ice-cold Courchevel, I went sliding and literally smashed my coccyx and tailbone on the ice and felt the repercussions throughout my whole body, including a pretty bad follow on headache. 

When this happened, I wanted to go deeper into what concussion was - as well as consider holistic ways to help my brain recover.

What actually is a concussion?

A concussion is an injury to the brain caused by any sort of trauma to the head or head injury - including falling, accidents, assaults, or just plain smacking your head way harder than you meant to on something.

What a concussion actually means is that the brain has moved and even ‘bounced’ inside the skull in a way it wasn’t meant to and this can cause swelling, bruising and even bleeding. 

The best vitamins & health hacks for brain injury recovery

Antioxidants - brain injury is an obvious example of inflammation in the body - just this time it is inflammation of the brain which is particularly dangerous. The best way to counteract this inflammation is to increase your consumption of antioxidants as these fight against free radicals (such as radical oxygen species) as well as generalized inflammation. 
  • There are tons of antioxidants but our favorites are glutathione (in a liposomal form), turmeric as well as Vitamin C and E.

According to Mayo Clinic:

NAD is essential for cellular health and energy conversion, and lower levels of the vital enzyme are associated with concussions as the brains taps its supplies to deal with them. A second part of the study involves the ingestion of nicotinamide riboside (NR), a vitamin B3 (niacin) metabolite naturally found in milk. The New York-based makers of a commercially available NR supplement, Thorne Research and ChromaDex Corp. (OTCQX: CDXC), are sponsoring the study and are seeking to show that NR can help boost the levels of NAD in the brain.

Higher NAD levels, the company asserts, could lead to lessened concussion symptoms. Its hope is that a positive result in the current study could lead to future clinical trials ultimately identifying NR as a natural way to manage symptoms in athletes and others with diagnosed concussions and traumatic brain injuries.

The Department of Neurosurgery at the College of Georgia has found that turmeric reduces swelling, pain, and oxidative brain injury in mice. Turmeric needs to be in a fat-soluble formulation to be able to cross the blood brain barrier and to move into brain tissue. A new curcumin extract called Longvida has been developed by a team of scientists at UCLA to help with this.

Green tea is another winner. Like turmeric, it’s known for its broad-spectrum antioxidant power (thanks to the EGCG in it) as well as L-theanine and also the caffeine in Green Tea. As well as the antioxidant power, studies have shown it is also anti-inflammatory. Researchers suggest that one particularly interesting and powerful benefit of green tea is that the L-theanine in it can also be neuroprotective too. Resveratrol is thought to have similar properties.

Supplement where necessary, or make dietary changes in the days, weeks, and months after the concussion. Food-wise, be sure to grab for resveratrol-rich foods like blueberries, red grapes, and pistachios.

Omega 3s - these are fatty acids that are well known to help with brain health. They’re fascinating because they are tied to the production of BDNF - Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor. BDNF works by helping your brain grow new nerve cells.
  1. The Advances in Nutrition journal researchers found that fish oil supplements helped the healing. However, if there is any sign of bleeding on the brain - do not take fish oil as it may exacerbate this situation. 
Vitamin B12 - B12 is arguably the most important vitamin for brain and brain health. The reason is because the body uses B12 to create the myelin sheaths that surround each of your nerves (made up of protein and fat). These myelin sheaths act as conductors and allow the electrical impulses of the nerves to travel and communicate quickly and efficiently. B12 is known for assisting with and helping to improve neural function - as well as producing energy within the brain cells, critical for a brain that is healing. I love a methyl B12 supplement as it is more stable and easy for the body to absorb than some other types of B12. 
    MCT Oil - when you think of MCT oil, you might think of coconut oil, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The acronym MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. These are a type of fat that are rapidly broken down by the body and then converted into ketones. Normal fats can’t cross the blood-brain barrier - meaning the brain can’t use them as an energy source (using glucose instead) - but ketones *can* cross this barrier - meaning that they are an added fuel for the brain. These are really needed in times of brain recovery. You can get MCT oil in coconut oil - so add it into your cooking, coffee or tea as a quick health hack.
    Vitamin D - while also being a critical player in keeping your immune functioning at its best, the hippocampus (a part of your brain which controls memory and recall) is heavily packed with vitamin D receptors. It’s also thought that Vit D stimulates the production and creation of neurotransmitters which helps internal communication between neurons and even reduces post-concussive depression which has been researched and documented. 
    1. Head here for more info on how to self-dose Vitamin D - and in a world full of supplements, if you’re confused about where to source high-quality Vitamin D, I wholeheartedly suggest you head to https://wholescripts.com/register - where my good friend, Dr Will Cole, has an amazing Vitamin D. As a friend of Agent Nateur, you can use referral Code: drwillcole and practitioners Last Name: Cole to take the next step in your Vitamin D health journey.
    Vitamin E - another vitamin heavily connected to brain health is vitamin E due to the powerful effect it has as an antioxidant on fatty tissue like nerves. Animal studies have shown that supplementation with Vitamin E actually reduces nerve damage and improves performance and recovery after repetitive concussion episodes and brain injury. Studies have also shown that taking Vitamin E before any concussive event can actually have a neuroprotective element to its benefits, too. Vitamin E works really well alongside other antioxidants referenced throughout this article.
        Probiotics - this one might sound like a bit of a stretch, but when you remember that the brain and the gut are connected through the enteric nervous system that works based on biochemical signaling between the digestive tract and the central nervous system / brain, you know that the connection needs to not be overlooked at a time of brain injury. The gut is well known for producing many neurotransmitters also made in the brain (which is why mental health doesn’t *actually* just start in our heads) - and that these two areas are in constant communication with each other.

                      Research on this area remains underway but at the very least, getting your gut health 

                      under control is an added benefit. And who knows? If your brain is taking some down

                      time, maybe your gut needs to step up to create the neurotransmitters that the brain 

                      can’t - but yet need more than ever.

          Acetyl L-Carnitine - and the final vitamin we would advise helping on the holistic route to brain healing, acetyl l-carnitine, is an amino acid that is naturally produced by the body and acts as an antioxidant. It plays a key role in creating the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is influential and powerful in controlling cognitive function. It helps with supporting healthy memory, computation, and perception and the added benefits of its antioxidant power is another plus in the recovery journey for your brain.

            Lion’s Mane - an up and coming type of mushroom, Lion’s Mane works by triggering the release of BDNF (similar to Omega 3s) as well as Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). This pair controls a huge part of the process around the creation, growth, maturation (and death) of neurons and really critical parts of the brain. Lion’s Mane can really help with concussion because it also helps with the growth and re-growth of the myelin sheath (which takes a big hit during a concussion).

                  If this has happened to you, other things to consider are:

              • Seeking medical attention as soon as possible - the first 24 hours are critical;
              • Getting into a Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Chamber (if you can find one) - research is showing suggestions that HBO therapy can have beneficial effects on concussion recovery;
              • Your gender - Yes really. When considering how long it might take to recover, research suggests that females can take up to 4x as long as men.
              • Put your phone down - your brain needs rest and so heavy use of technological devices should be avoided until any symptoms calm down. Reintroduce technology slowly whenever is right;
              • Consider light, light exercise - a new study has shown that while rest is crucial, light activity within 7 days of the incident has now been associated with a reduced risk of ongoing and persistent post-concussive symptoms. Light aerobic activity and a gentle walk in nature seems like a potentially safe and effective solution here. 

              There's a lot to take in here. Most importantly though, always seek medical attention, it’s always better safe than sorry.

              With love,