Nurture Integrative Health

Traumatic Brain Injury in America – Why Naturopathic Neurology is Important

According to the Center for Disease Control 2015 report to Congress, up to 5.3 million Americans are affected by traumatic brain injury, (TBI), related disabilities. On average, the emergency departments report over 3 million concussions and traumatic brain injury diagnoses per year. These numbers only account for people who actually go to their local emergency room. The numbers do not include those who did not seek medical help, were evaluated in a Doctor’s office, or military members who receive care at a Federal facility. If we include those cases, the occurrence of traumatic brain injury in the US rises closer to 5 million.  

The populations that report the most traumatic brain injuries are military personnel, veterans, and youth athletes between 15-18 years old. A staggering 47% of brain injuries occur in high school football players. Think about the last football game you watched and you’ll get the picture. For military personnel, many brain injuries are caused by explosive blasts such as the 109 US service members diagnosed with TBI after the March 2020 attack on Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq.  

Effects of Brain Injury – What happens to your brain?   

Within the first few minutes after sustaining a concussion, the intestinal barrier becomes permeable and can start releasing lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a toxic peptide to the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier becomes permeable within 24 hours and up to 30 days after injury. This permeable barrier allows damaging substances to enter the brain through the blood. The brain’s ability to use energy becomes affected. A cascade of neurotoxic chemicals wreaks havoc on the brain, causing neuroinflammation. If the cascade is not stopped, chronic neuroinflammation build-up occurs and leads to secondary conditions that affect multiple body systems.

Long-Lasting and Hidden Effects of Brain Injury

Depending on the severity, location, and duration of the brain injury and patient’s overall health, neuroinflammation cascade can be managed. There are many factors that can impact an individual’s ability to heal from a brain trauma. Some of these factors include frank anemia, hypermobility syndromes, previous head injuries, PTSD, environmental illness, history of migraines or seizures, and ADHD or learning disabilities. Many people can have a delay in symptoms up to 15-20 years. 

These symptoms can affect the hormonal system, gastrointestinal system. They can lead to autoimmune disease, mental health presentations, and co-exist with environmental illness. Complications of brain injuries can include long-term depression or anxiety, dementia, seizures, Parkinson’s like symptoms, chronic headaches, hormone disruption, and chronic fatigue. If you have symptoms, you could not explain they may be because of a recent or past concussion.

Your Brain is Your Life.

Our brains are our vitality. Many practitioners state our vital force comes from our adrenals or kidneys, but our brains manage all of our organs. It is incredibly important to address both brain injury and brain health. 

Aside from being a Naturopathic Doctor, I’m also a certified Athletic Trainer. During my 8+ years of actively working in the field, I have seen 100s, more likely, a 1000 concussions. Athletic Trainers are one of the most highly trained professionals that manage traumatic brain injuries. We see them in their most critical initial moments and the final moments of returning them to play. 

I clearly remember sending an athlete off to the hospital on a backboard with a possible spinal injury. He came back to school with a diagnosis of concussion, his second one that year. When I met with him to decide if he was fit to re-enter the football program, he told me he recently had episodes of getting lost on campus. Imagine that for a moment, a young 17-year-old man experiencing Alzheimer-like symptoms that included not knowing where he was on the campus he’d lived on for the past 2 years. Watching this boy, and more youth athletes like him, lose his connections to the cognitive abilities that allow for independent adult lives broke my heart. I wanted to help. That’s my intention for this article and my practice, to be helpful. 

What Can You Do When a Brain Injury Happens? 

First, for safety’s sake, if something happens, seek medical attention right away. Safely get to an emergency room and explain what happened. The trained Doctors and Nurses will do the rest. 

Once you’re out of their care, here are the basic guidelines to help manage brain injuries from physical trauma, emotional trauma, and environmental illness by supporting healing and bringing down neuroinflammation.

  • Address any sleep disturbance. If you aren’t sleeping, you can’t heal. 

  • Take out any inflammatory foods from your diet such as dairy, gluten, corn, or soy. 

  • Avoid lifestyle habits that increase inflammation, including cigarette smoking and alcohol. 

  • Balance blood sugar by eating every 2-3 hours and limiting carbohydrate intake. 

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting more detailed notes on each of these basic guidelines for TBI healing. Follow me at TreeRootMedicine.com, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to read more.  

To learn more about me, Naturopathic Neurology or to schedule a free 15 minute ‘How can I care for my brain naturally?’ phone conversation, drop me a note at TreeRootMedicine.com 

If you’d like to book a Naturopathic consultation at my office in Beaverton, OR, visit or call MediProHolisticHealth

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