Do you suffer from brain fog — that spacey, detached feeling like your head is in a fish bowl? Do you suffer from depression, or does your child have autism? Are you concerned about Alzheimer’s? These conditions are signs of possible brain inflammation, or a brain “on fire.”
Although a head injury or infection are commonly associated with severe cases of brain inflammation, many people suffer from milder but chronic brain inflammation, which is linked to a variety of symptoms such as brain fog, depression, autism, or Alzheimer’s.
Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is a risk factor for brain inflammation. Because it is an autoimmune disease, it can drive inflammation in the brain. Hypothyroidism may also contribute to brain inflammation by depriving the brain of sufficient thyroid hormone.
Brain inflammation and brain fog
Unlike most of the body, the brain does not produce pain when inflamed. Instead, one of the most common symptoms is brain fog, which makes people feel spaced out and disconnected. As Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS explains in his book Why Isn’t My Brain Working?, this is because brain inflammation slows down the conduction between neurons. As a result, brain function slows, which causes that slowness and dullness of thinking.
Brain fog is a common symptom of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Brain inflammation and depression
Studies also show depression is linked with brain inflammation. Inflammation creates immune proteins called cytokines. These cytokines can impair brain function and the brain chemical serotonin; low serotonin is frequently linked with depression. In fact, up to a third of patients with hepatitis C who are given interferon, which increases cytokine activity, develop depression, mania, and hypomania.
Brain inflammation, autism, and ADHD
Brain inflammation has also been linked with autism and other brain development disorders in children. Patients with autism have more inflammatory disorders than average (such as digestive disorders, allergies, ear infections, or skin eruptions) and brain imaging and autopsies show more brain inflammation in individuals of all ages with autism.
Brain inflammation and Alzheimer’s
Research also links brain inflammation with Alzheimer’s. Although tau proteins and amyloid beta have long been the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, studies increasingly show inflammation plays a large role in the disease. Not only does inflammation degenerate brain tissue, it also appears to increase amyloid beta, which in turn increases inflammation in a vicious cycle that chews up brain tissue.
Manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism to quench brain inflammation
So what can be done about brain inflammation to protect brain function? In his brain book, Dr. Kharrazian outlines a number of approaches:
- Manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. The constant inflammation caused by an autoimmune condition can inflame the brain. Likewise, depriving the brain of sufficient thyroid hormone can lead to brain inflammation.
- Nutritional therapy. Several natural compounds have been shown to quench brain inflammation—ask my office for more information.
- Keep blood sugar stable. Eating a whole foods diet that does not cause surges or drops in blood sugar is also important. Insulin resistance (high blood sugar), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and diabetes can all increase brain inflammation.
- Food intolerances. It’s important to remove foods that trigger inflammation from your diet. For example, many people have intolerances to gluten grains, dairy, or other foods.
- Balance hormones. Balanced hormones are also important to keep brain inflammation in check. For instance, low estrogen in women, low testosterone in men, or low thyroid hormones can play a role in brain inflammation.
- Glutathione. Sufficient glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant, is also necessary to prevent brain inflammation, as are sufficient essential fatty acids and vitamin D.
- Gut health. Also vitally important is to address gut inflammation. There is direct communication between the gut and the brain and gut inflammation has been shown to cause brain inflammation.
Ask my office for more information on how to manage brain inflammation for better brain and body health.