It’s definitely not brain surgery!

Seemingly every day, science finds more evidence to prove that what we THINK is critical to how we FEEL, physically as well as emotionally. To a great degree, our thoughts can, and do, regulate our health. While intelligence is distributed throughout the entire body, the brain is the central processing location, the “Grand Central Station ” of the network of nerve impulses. We teach this to our patients when describing the benefits of chiropractic, acupuncture, or other neurologically based health care.

It would probably be a good idea, then, to make sure they have some basic information on how they can maintain and improve brain health at all stages of life.

John H. Byrne, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) at Houston Medical School, studies the neuronal and molecular mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Here are three tips he offers for maintaining and improving brain health. Giving this list to your patients will be one more way you can help them live longer, healthier lives.

1) Exercise

“Everyone knows that exercise is good for the heart, but what they may not know is that exercise also appears to be good for the brain,” said Dr. Byrne, the June and Virgil Waggoner Chair. “There is a lot of recent evidence demonstrating that exercise itself promotes neurogenesis — the generation of new nerve cells in the brain. It had long been believed that once you lose nerve cells, they are gone for good and the brain cannot regenerate them, but exercise appears to inspire the brain’s ability to generate nerve cells.”

2) Diet

“There are certain ‘brain foods’ that seem to have a benefit on the brain,” Byrne said. “New research shows that Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in salmon and other fish, may build the brain’s gray matter. Foods and beverages that are rich in antioxidants may also help keep the brain sharp. For brain food, consider a glass of red wine, some salmon, blueberries, a little bit of chocolate or a cup of green tea. Foods, indeed, can play a role in brain health, but remember, everything in moderation. Research shows that those who are obese have a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases that affect the brain. Staying slim appears to promote brain health, so exercise, watch your calories and eat the right types of food.”

Naturally, there are some “qualifications” to that advice. Taking the cue from Byrne’s counsel “everything in moderation,” a glass of red wine is good… a bottle isn’t. Dark or raw chocolate is good… milk chocolate isn’t. Salmon and selected other fish in small quantities is good… mercury-laden species or fried fish isn’t.

3) Brain activity

“You’ve heard the saying,’Use it or lose it.’ It’s true,” Byrne said. Those who are intellectually active have a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s. You must exercise your brain cells just as you exercise your muscles, so read a book or do a crossword puzzle. Those types of activities can protect your brain. There is also evidence that social activities help to promote brain health. Interacting with others stimulates the brain.”

SOURCE: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Chiropractic Neurology – Q & A

by Terry A. Rondberg, DC

Chiropractic Neurology - by Terry A. RondbergBased on my previous articles on the subject, it’s clear there is a lot of interest about chiropractic neurology. What’s it all about? I’m posting this blog in frequently asked question (FAQ) format to ensure you can quickly find the answers you need.

Q. What’s chiropractic neurology?

A. According to the American Chiropractic Neurology Board (ACNB), chiropractic neurology is defined as “the field of functional neurology that engages the internal and external environment of the individual in a structured and targeted approach to affect positive changes in the neuraxis and consequent physiology and behavior.”

Q. So what does that mean in plain English?

A. It means that a chiropractic neurologist examines how the nervous system is functioning (or malfunctioning). If the system is out of balance, chiropractic treatment focuses on repairing the imbalance, such as vertigo, Autism, attention deficit disorder (ADD), to restore the patient to health.

Q. What others types of disorders can chiropractic neurology address?

A. Chiropractic neurologists may treat the above conditions, as well as dizziness, disequilibrium and imbalance, dystonia, tremors, chronic pain syndromes, back pain and movement disorders. They may also treat behavioral disorders such as Tourette’s Syndrome, as well as changes in personality or motor, sensory or cognitive impairments resulting from head traumas, accident injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and mild TBI.

Q. So what’s the difference between a chiropractic neurologist and a medical neurologist?

A. According to the ACNB, the chiropractic neurologist provides the same manner of consultation as a medical neurologist, with the major difference being that the therapies and applications are performed without the use of drugs or surgery. So, a medical neurologist or neurosurgeon will prescribe medications, injections or brain surgery to correct a disorder or condition. On the other hand, the chiropractic approach is to therapeutically change brain and nervous-system function.

Q. How is a chiropractic neurologist different than a “traditional” chiropractor?

A. Most chiropractors are trained in the detection and correction of spinal dysfunction. But spinal function is just one of many influences on the nervous system. A neurologist not only has completed the doctor of chiropractic program, but must receive three years of additional training and testing to become a board-certified neurologist in the chiropractic profession. The extra training is specific to the field of neurology and includes the study of neurophysiology and clinical and diagnostic techniques.

Q. What are the benefits of chiropractic neurology?

A. Simply put, many conditions of the brain and nervous system do not respond well to aggressive interventions such as drug therapy or surgery. Both drugs and surgery are often associated with increased risks for serious complications or dangerous side effects. Thus, the approach taken by chiropractic neurologists can be highly beneficial in treating brain and nervous system disorders using safe and effective methods with lasting health benefits.

Neurofeedback Defined – By Dr. Terry Rondberg

Neurofeedback has evolved from a fascination during the ‘60s and ‘70s to the current mainstream methodology for improving certain health conditions and human performance. Neurofeedback, like chiropractic, was considered a radical type of health care approach, but as the years have passed, it has become more mainstream. Now it is accepted as another form of health care.

This evolution has been driven by years of scientific research demonstrating that the mind and body are connected, and that people can be taught to harness the power of this connection to improve physical activity and health.  Interest in neurofeedback is growing, and the need for an answer to: “what is neurofeedback and why is it a perfect fit for chiropractic?” The leading professional organizations representing the field have provided the following definition:

“Neurofeedback is a process that enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance. Precise instruments measure physiological activity such as brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity, and skin temperature. These instruments rapidly and accurately “feed back” information to the user. The presentation of this information — often in conjunction with changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior — supports desired physiological changes. Over time, these changes can endure without continued use of an instrument.”

The patient is strapped to sensors that provide real-time readings of internal bodily processes, such as muscle tension, blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature and brain-wave activity. Then, they are taught strategies to gain better control over those processes, which can help achieve certain health goals.

Neurofeedback is like using computers to listen to your body and displaying that information so you can see it and decide how to change it. We think of this as an emotional exercise. You use your head instead of your muscles.

It is directly training the brain to function more efficiently. We observe the brain in action from moment to moment and share that information with the patient. Then we reward the brain for changing its activity to more appropriate patterns. This is a gradual learning process. It applies to any aspect of measurable brain function. Neurofeedback is based on electrical brain activity, the electroencephalogram or EEG.

Practitioners apply electrodes to the scalp to listen to brainwave activity. The signals are processed by computer, and we extract information about certain key brainwave frequencies. (All brainwave frequencies are equal, but some frequencies respond differently). We show the ebb and flow of this activity to the patient, who then attempts to change the activity level. We promote some frequencies but other frequencies, we hope to diminish. We present this information to the person in the form of a video game. The person is effectively playing the video game with his or her brain. Eventually, the brainwave activity is “shaped” toward more desirable, more regulated performance. The frequencies we target, and the specific locations on the scalp where we listen to the brain, are specific to the conditions we try to address, and to the individual.

About the Author – Terry A. Rondberg, DC
Terry Rondberg, known worldwide as an expert on chiropractic and wellness, is publisher of The Chiropractic Journal and the author of several books on the medical field, including Chiropractic First and Under the Influence of Modern Medicine.