Apart from brain damage, certain things like alcohol consumption and drug use have been known to cause brain cell death. When people finally recover from periods of excessive use, they often have a hard time restoring mental/brain function back to proper levels. Most people who suffer brain damage, rarely make a complete recovery. However, Ayurvedic Medicine has proven time and time again that brain damage and neurodegeneration can be effectively treated. Contrary to popular belief, clinical studies show that brain damage actually can be treated and to a certain extent, reversed.
Brain damage can be reversed by inducing neuritic growth and neurogenesis. This can be achieved with the following:
1. Nootropics (Clinically-Tested)
These herbs improve the function of the brain and are known for relieving the symptoms of a wide range of neurological disorders including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, as well as minor complaints like difficulty concentrating, and mild memory loss. They nourish the brain and entire central nervous system, via the production of neurotransmitters and the production and release of neurological growth factors like BDNF – brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which results in improved brain function and neuron growth. Before doubting the benefits of these herbs, note that the clinical research on these herbs are pretty outstanding and continue to prove the claims of their efficacy.
This is one of the most powerful yet most misused nootropic herbs. Most people take it as a standardized extract, however, this is the least effective way to use it. Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic medicinal herb, but Ayurvedic doctors almost never use this herb on its own and we certainly never use standardized extracts. Clinical trials that are conducted in Ayurvedic medical schools have shown how effective this herb can be when properly utilized.
Here are a few mind-blowing studies in which Ashwagandha was used correctly as part of a complete Ayurvedic treatment protocol:
Ashwagandha is known for its brain-boosting benefits and contains naturally occurring steroids that stimulate growth. It is known to be a powerful nootropic as well as psychotropic and has had a significantly positive effect on neurological health in clinical research. Studies have proven that Ashwagandha improves cognitive function and memory while reducing inflammation, anxiety, depression, and stress. It also provides neuroprotection via the release of antioxidant enzymes.
In clinical trials, Ashwagandha as a single herb has been used for treating the following neurological & psychiatric conditions:
Ashwagandha is used in Ayurvedic Medicine as part of complete treatment protocols for the following neurological conditions:
-Irritable Bowel Syndrome
-Premature Ejaculation, and several other sexual dysfunction disorders.
In experimental studies, Ashwagandha induced neurogenesis via multiple mechanisms including the stimulation of production of BDNF – Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor. One of the chemical constituents known as “Withanolide A” is able to induce neuritic regeneration and synaptic reconstruction, meaning it has the ability to reconstruct entire neuronal networks.
This herb improves cognitive function by supporting the formation of Acetylcholine, increasing Serotonin levels, regulating Dopamine levels, reducing neuroinflammation and providing neuroprotective effects. Experimental studies have shown that Bacopa can also boost BDNF levels.
In clinical studies, Bacopa has been used to treat the following:
Bacopa is used in Ayurvedic Medicine as part of complete treatment protocols for the following neurological conditions:
– Poor Memory
– Development Issues
– Cerebral Palsy
– Parkinson’s Disease
– Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Bacopa can have side-effects and should be avoided by those who are pregnant, trying to conceive or breastfeeding. Only use it under the supervision of an Ayurvedic doctor.
Other Nootropic Herbs:
(Make sure to use these herbs under the guidance of an Ayurvedic doctor, as they can be dangerous if improperly used)
Most people are unaware of the proper ways to administer nootropics. Simply taking a supplement may help you with minor things like concentration and memory, but it is not strong enough to treat an actual neurodegenerative illness. It must be administered in the correct form (aqueous extract, alcohol extract, lipid-based, etc) with a drug carrier and a metabolic stimulant. This ensures that the phytonutrients and chemicals are properly metabolized and directed to where they need to go. Regular standardized extracts are nowhere nearly as effective as using these herbs in the proper Ayurvedic way.
2. Ayurvedic Clinical Procedures
In Ayurvedic medicine, complex medical procedures are done to administer these herbs as nose drops (intra-nasal administration) and medicated enemas. These procedures are done due to the fact that these are the most efficient ways to reach the central nervous system. Speak to an Ayurvedic doctor about these procedures if you are interested.
In clinical trials and case studies, patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases that have undergone these procedures have shown dramatic improvement in symptoms. In my own practice, patients/clients with MS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s have experienced significant improvement and display signs of reduced disease progression. I have also seen positive results when utilizing these procedures in neuro-muscular conditions like Fibromyalgia as well as hyperactivity disorders like ADHD.
Here are a few case studies with extraordinary results:
Here are a few clinical trials with extraordinary results:
3. Brain-Supportive Diet & Nutrition
The brain is made up of fatty material. The entire body is a product of all that we eat. Our cells are nourished by our food and are only able to carry out their functions properly when given the right nutrition. In recent times, people have turned to a low-fat or fat-free diet. Most people believe that fats make us fat and unhealthy therefore they must be avoided. However, most people are completely unaware that is quite untrue. Refined carbohydrates are what makes us fat and sick. Sugars and carbs, as well as hormonal issues, cause weight gain.
Fat is essential for the brain because fats are the building blocks for brain tissue. How can the brain rebuild itself after all the wear and tear if it’s not given the proper nourishment? If you don’t give a person adequate protein, their muscles waste away, not enough vitamins and various conditions arise, not enough water and we get dehydrated. So what about “not enough fat”? In order to obtain/maintain proper neurological function, the brain must have its proper nutrition, which happens to be “fats”. Carbs may give the brain fuel, but it does not give it the building blocks to rebuild itself. Consume healthy fats such as:
Nutrients such as Magnesium, Vitamin D, B-Vitamins, Chromium, Choline, Tyrosine, and Tryptophan are also essential for brain function via the formation of myelin, neurotransmitters and more.
This nutrient plays a significant role in nerve conduction and the regulation of neurotransmitters in the brain. Deficiencies in magnesium have been linked to depression in clinical studies (see study). Supplementing with magnesium has been found to be beneficial in fighting depression (see study). In one study, Magnesium supplementation was associated with a significant reduction in spasticity and constipation in children with cerebral palsy (See Study).
The brain may be made up of fatty acids, however, it still runs on glucose. Chromium is essential for glucose metabolism. As you may or may not know, Alzheimer’s disease is now being considered (by some doctors) to be Diabetes Type 3 (see study). Chromium supplementation has not only been associated with better insulin sensitivity but it has also improved cognitive-cerebral function in elderly patients (see study)
This vitamin is essential for the formation of the myelin sheath – the insulation or protective covering around nerves. Poor memory has been linked to a deficiency in Vitamin B12 (see study) – this comes as no surprise considering the amount of evidence suggesting that this nutrient plays a role in preventing atrophy of the brain (a condition associated with Alzheimer’s Disease).
Also known as Thiamine, Vitamin B1 is a very important nutrient that can significantly improve neuropathy. More so, the fat-soluble form of vitamin B1 known as benfotiamine has demonstrated impressive results when used to treat diabetic neuropathy (see study). While diabetic neuropathy may seem less important in neurological health, keep in mind that neuropathic pain is associated with neurodegenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Neuropathic pain is very difficult to control, even with allopathic treatment. In my experience, vitamin B1 has been a crucial part of controlling neuropathy.
When vitamin B1 is depleted from the body, patients can develop life-threatening conditions such as Wernicke’s Encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s Psychosis. About 90% of patients with Wernicke’s Encephalopathy go on to develop Korsakoff’s Psychosis. In clinical research, supplementation with vitamin B1 is able to significantly improve these conditions, however, some of the symptoms may persist (see study).
In Multiple Sclerosis, a deficiency in Vitamin D is almost always seen. In fact, some doctors suggest that this deficiency is what puts patients at risk of developing the condition (see study). Supplementation has been associated with a reduction of relapses in patients with MS (see study). However, vitamin D deficiencies are not easy to correct. It requires multiple co-factors (Magnesium, Vitamin K2, etc) as well as proper liver and kidney function. Supplementation with vitamin D has also improved the condition of diabetic neuropathy in Diabetes Type 1 (see case study). The benefits of vitamin D go beyond neuropathy and multiple sclerosis and goes well into immuno-modulation and fighting inflammation.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These include Alpha-linolenic acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It is important to note that based on the fact that the brain is literally made up of cholesterol and fatty acids, dietary inclusion or supplementation of fatty acids is crucial for brain health. In clinical research, Omega 3s have improved depression (see study), ADHD (see study), and bipolar disorder (see study). Omega 3s appear to increase cerebral blood flow and oxygenation (see study) as well as reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline (see study).
Vitamin C – Being a potent antioxidant, Vitamin C protects the body (and brain) against the effects of oxidation. Vitamin C supplementation has been associated with the protection of cognitive function (see study). Patients with Alzheimer’s are found to be low on vitamin C – this may be one of the contributing factors to the development of the disease as supplementation with antioxidants appears to reduce the risk of developing it (see study). In experimental research, Vitamin C improved oligodendrocytes generation and remyelination (see study).
Other important nutrients
Vitamin K – In experimental research, Vitamin K enhanced the production of brain sulfatides (see study). This is one of the raw materials which make up myelin.
Choline – is required for the production of Acetylcholine – a neurotransmitter that appears to be deficient in Alzheimer’s Disease.
Tryptophan – is required for the production of Serotonin – a neurotransmitter that appears to be deficient in Depression.
Tyrosine & Phenylalanine – required for the production of Dopamine – a neurotransmitter that appears to be deficient in Parkinson’s Disease.
Glutamine – required for the production of GABA – a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in pain sensitivity.
Vitamin B6 – plays a significant role in the metabolism of neurotransmitters.
Vitamin E – protects against cognitive impairment and dementia in the elderly.
Omega 6’s – these also play an important role in regulating brain function and have proven to be beneficial in conditions such as Developmental Coordination Disorder (see study)
It has been seen that exercise is highly effective in stimulating “Neurogenesis” or “regeneration of brain cells”. For the longest time, it was believed that Neurons do not regrow, yet in recent studies, this has been disproved. Exercise is known to increase neuron growth factors such as NGF (Nerve growth factor), IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), VEGF (Vascular endothelial growth factor and BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor). In research, the increase in these factors appears to play a significant role in neurogenesis (regrowth of neurons). (See research)
The best exercises for the brain would be Yoga, weight lifting and High-intensity interval training. Martial arts are also very effective and provide the added benefit of training the mind as well.
To schedule a consultation with me, Click Here.
(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor. Ayurvedic medicines and herbs must be used under the supervision of an Ayurvedic doctor).
by Dr. Nishal R.