- Ultrasound Can Open Blood-Brain Barrier
- The Gut-Brain Connection
- Heal your gut.
- Decrease your stress.
- Decrease the alcohol.
- Exercise – your body and your brain.
- 8 Ways to Support Blood-Brain Barrier Health
- 1. Only eat when you’re hungry
- 2. Avoid smoking and drinking
- 3. Get enough sleep
- 4. Take nutritional supplements
- 5. Avoid inflammatory foods
- 6. Reduce EMF exposure
- 7. Consume antioxidant-rich foods
- 8. Reduce stress
Ultrasound Can Open Blood-Brain Barrier
CHICAGO – In preliminary studies, focused ultrasound directed at the blood-brain barrier briefly made it more porous, which could be a means to allow drugs into Alzheimer's patients' brains or permit toxins to escape.
In the phase II safety trial, researchers treated three women diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease with low-intensity focused ultrasound who had been administered a micro-bubble contrast agent to assess the safety of using the device and treatment.
“The results are promising,” said Rashi Mehta, MD, of West Virginia University (WVU) Medicine and West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute in Morgantown.
“We were able to open the blood-brain barrier in a very precise manner and document closure of the barrier within 24 hours.
The technique was reproduced successfully in the patients, with no adverse effects,” she told MedPage Today at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting here.
The treatment involved no administration of drugs designed to reduce the levels of amyloid plaque, one of the purported causative agents in Alzheimer's disease.
Mehta and co-researcher Jeffrey Carpenter, MD, also of WVU Medicine, suggested that just opening the blood-brain barrier might be helpful to Alzheimer's patients because it could allow toxins to escape the confines of the brain and be eliminated by the body.
In one patient who has been followed for more than a year, there has been no deterioration of function since undergoing the procedure.
For the new study, the researchers delivered low-intensity focused ultrasound to specific sites in the brain critical to memory in women, ages 61, 72, and 73, with early-stage Alzheimer's disease and evidence of amyloid plaques. The women underwent three successive treatments at 2-week intervals, and were tracked for bleeding, infection and edema, or fluid buildup.
Post-treatment brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) confirmed that the blood-brain barrier opened within the target areas immediately after treatment.
Closure of the barrier was observed at each target within 24 hours.
Mehta suggested that the blood-brain barrier was probably open only for about 6-8 hours, but the patients were examined for closure of the barrier 24 hours after the treatment.
For the procedure, the researchers performed MRI-guided low-intensity focused ultrasound, positioning a helmet over the patient's head while in the scanner.
The helmet is equipped with approximately 1,000 separate ultrasound transducers angled in different orientations. Each transducer delivers sound waves targeted to a specific area of the brain.
Patients also receive an injection of contrast agent made up of microscopic bubbles. Once ultrasound is applied to the target area, the bubbles oscillate.
“The helmet transducer delivers focal energy to specified locations in the brain,” Mehta explained. “Oscillation of the microbubbles causes mechanical effects on the capillaries in the target area, resulting in a transient loosening of the blood-brain barrier.”
“This is a very elegant technique,” commented Max Wintermark, MD, chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical School in California, who was not involved with the study.
“You inject microbubbles in the bloodstream and then with magnetic resonance imaging you identify your target and then you aim focused ultrasound at this target and the ultrasound shakes the microbubbles against the walls of the arteries, which makes the arteries of the blood-brain barrier open up. And even more interesting is that this opening is reversible.”
“You can imagine a lot of conditions for which this may be useful,” Wintermark told MedPage Today. “We have a lot of great medications for treating diseases in the brain, but we cannot get the medications there. This technique may give us the opportunity to have these drugs pass through the blood-brain barrier.”
Wintermark said the technique can specifically target which areas of the blood-brain barrier can be opened so as to target specific areas of the brain that require therapy.
“Sometimes you want to get medications into the brain, and sometimes you want to get toxins out, and I think that is what they are doing in this application for Alzheimer's disease,” he said.
Mehta and colleagues are recruiting additional patients for the phase II study, which eventually will include 10 patients. The team will then design a phase III study to prove the treatment's effectiveness.
“We'd to treat more patients and study the long-term effects to see if there are improvements in memory and symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease,” Mehta said. “As safety is further clarified, the next step would be to use this approach to help deliver clinical drugs.”
The Gut-Brain Connection
If you’ve read about leaky gut, then you already understand how the health of your gut can be an accurate reflection of your overall health.
However, did you know that the correlation between your gut and your brain is one that is severely undermined? If you’re diagnosed with leaky gut, recent studies have shown you also probably have a leaky brain.
Similar to leaky gut, leaky brain is blood-brain barrier permeability—which leads to the subsequent slow destruction of the protective blood-brain barrier. The blood brain barrier is responsible for protecting the brain against circulating pathogens or toxins that could lead to inflammation and infection.
When damaged, the blood-brain barrier opens the floodgates to invaders that can result in brain fog, anxiety, depression, as well as neurodegenerative diseases Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Furthermore, recent studies have revealed that “systemic infection of inflammation gives rise to signals that communicate with the brain and leads to changes in metabolism and behavior” which can result in the decreasing of the firing rate of neurons within the frontal lobe of the brain.
As such, people with depression who are often prescribed medications do not show signs of improvement as the treatment fails to address the brain inflammation at its core.
Heal your gut.
Since leaky gut is directly linked to leaky brain, focus on first healing your gut. Once your gut is healed, you’ll find that you’ve addressed the root of the problem, and your symptoms should go away.
READ The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Diet
The vagus nerve, a nerve that is extremely critical to overall health, is responsible for linking the brain stem to the gut, heart, and lungs. Approximately 80% of is nerve fibers serve to drive information from the body to the brain.
Studies have revealed that stimulating the vagus nerve (through things such as cold showers, singing or chanting, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, laughing, probiotics, fasting, sleeping on your right side, and massage), can result in the restoration of homeostasis in the microbiota-gut-brain axis.
Decrease your stress.
Acute stress also helps promote the destruction of the blood-brain barrier. In particular, a study revealed that oxidative stress mediates an increase in blood brain barrier permeability. Practice mindfulness, yoga, and self love, in addition to some of the other strategies mentioned here.
Decrease the alcohol.
This might sound a bit drastic, but I highly recommend either eliminating or greatly decreasing your alcohol intake. Alcohol has been shown to contribute to increased blood-brain barrier permeability, and impairs not only gut and liver functions but can lead to persistent systemic inflammation in the body.
Exercise – your body and your brain.
Studies have shown that exercise increases BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is responsible for the growth of new brain cells.
I personally enjoy alternating between high-intensity interval training and more relaxing, self-healing exercises such as yoga and walking.
Furthermore, exercising your brain through meditation has been shown to increase regions of the brain involved in “learning and memory processes, emotional regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.”
As someone who has experienced some of the more severe symptoms of leaky brain, I have found that improving my gut health over the past couple of weeks has begun to clear my mind. Remember that the process is a committed journey, one that entails a desire to self-heal, and one that takes time. Love
8 Ways to Support Blood-Brain Barrier Health
In our last article, we discussed the blood-brain barrier and how a “leaky brain” can negatively affect your health. Now let’s take a look at a few things you can do to help heal your leaky brain and maintain a healthy blood-brain barrier (BBB) for years to come.
1. Only eat when you’re hungry
We’ve all eaten when we’re not hungry. Most people do it on a daily basis to some extent. But when you eat when you’re not hungry, you’re depriving yourself of better digestion, blood-sugar regulation, and growth hormone production.
1 These 3 things are critical for blood-brain barrier health. And in fact, ghrelin—a hunger hormone that is a precursor to growth hormone production—has even been shown to prevent blood-brain barrier disruption after traumatic brain injuries.
When we say only eat when you’re hungry, it doesn’t mean taking it to an extreme. You only need to wait until you are moderately hungry before you eat, not be absolutely starving. Try to stick to an eating schedule that ensures you will be hungry close to your mealtime.
2. Avoid smoking and drinking
You know about the dangers of smoking, but did you know that nicotine can also cause a leaky brain? A 2004 study found that chronic nicotine exposure increases BBB permeability along with altering tight junction protein distribution in the brain.3
Alcohol is also problematic for the blood-brain barrier. While moderate amounts of wine may have a beneficial effect, research shows that excess alcohol can lead to BBB damage.4
3. Get enough sleep
Adequate sleep is one of the biggest factors of BBB health. Adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Those who get less-than-adequate sleep are at risk for impairing BBB function.5
The overall quality of sleep is also important for blood-brain barrier health. If you get 8 hours of sleep but still wake up tired and groggy, you may not be getting the deep sleep your body needs. A sleep study can help determine whether sleeping soundly is an issue for you.
Additionally, follow these tips to ensure that you get enough quality sleep:
- Sleep in a dark room or wear a sleep mask
- Don’t use a computer or cell phone before bed
- Eat your last meal at least 2-3 hours before bed.
- Consider taking a melatonin supplement
4. Take nutritional supplements
Your blood-brain barrier requires a number of nutrients to keep it functioning properly. While you would ideally get these nutrients from food, getting everything your body and mind needs from your diet is difficult these days.
If you have the symptoms of a leaky brain, adding the following supplements to your daily regimen can help:
- Prebiotics and probiotics
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- B vitamins
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin C
- Alpha-lipoic acid
These and other beneficial supplements for the BBB can be scanned using ZYTO biocommunication technology.
5. Avoid inflammatory foods
Recent research has found a link between the blood-brain barrier and systemic inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease.6 This suggests that inflammation can indeed lead to a compromised blood-brain barrier, leading to serious health problems such as Alzheimer’s and other neurogenerative disorders.
Now that we know controlling inflammation is key in maintaining a healthy BBB, we should avoid the following inflammatory foods in our diet as much as possible:
- Fried foods
- Refined flour
- Processed foods
- Trans fats
6. Reduce EMF exposure
Computers, cell phones, and Wi-Fi have made life easier in a lot of ways. But this technology also produces EMF pollution, which can be harmful to the blood-brain barrier.7
While we can’t all go live in the wilderness and leave our electronics behind, there are things we can do to limit EMF exposure and help protect the integrity of the BBB:
- Turn off your Wi-Fi at night (Or better yet, use a wired Internet connection)
- Get a radiation-blocking cell phone case
- Use your cell phone speaker or an air tube headset
- Remove all electronics from your bedroom
- Walk barefoot on your lawn every day
7. Consume antioxidant-rich foods
As mentioned, systemic inflammation can damage the BBB. Along with avoiding inflammatory foods, adding antioxidant-rich foods to your diet can help reduce inflammation. Some of the best antioxidant foods are blueberries, salmon, dark chocolate, and leafy greens.
Antioxidant-rich foods are not only beneficial for the BBB, but also the health of your gut. Curcumin, for example, has been found to reduce intestinal inflammation8 and can help heal a leaky gut. Antioxidants offer a number of other benefits as well, including helping you look and feel younger.
8. Reduce stress
Stress is the underlying cause of many mental and physical ailments. It elevates cortisol levels which can lead to cognitive decline, thyroid and metabolic dysfunction, immune suppression, and more. Research shows that acute stress increases permeability of the blood-brain barrier as well.9
One of the most effective ways to manage stress is to meditate daily. Just 10 to 20 minutes a day can significantly reduce stress, leading to enhanced mood, improved digestion, and lower blood pressure.10 To further reduce stress, you may also want to consider things qigong, massage, acupuncture, and perception reframing.
1. “Why You Should Let Yourself Get Hungry.” MaryVanceNC.com. Maryvancenc.com.
2. Lopez, N.E., M.J. Krzyzaniak, et al. “Ghrelin Prevents Disruption of the Blood-Brain Barrier after Traumatic Brain Injury.” Journal of Neurotrauma 29, no. 2 (2012).
3. Hawkins, B.T., T.J. Abbruscato, et al. “Nicotine increases in vivo blood-brain barrier permeability and alters cerebral microvascular tight junction protein distribution.” Brain Research 1-2 (2004): 48-58.
4. Haorah, J., B. Knipe, et al. “Alcohol-induced blood-brain barrier dysfunction is mediated via inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor (IP3R)-gated intracellular calcium release.” Journal of Neurochemistry 100, no. 2 (2007): 324-326.
5. He, Junyun, H. Hsuchou, et al. “Sleep Restriction Impairs Blood-Brain Barrier Function.” The Journal of Neuroscience 34, no. 44 (2014): 14697-14706.
6. Takeda, S., N. Sato, & R. Morishita. “Systemic inflammation, blood-brain barrier vulnerability and cognitive/non-cognitive symptoms in Alzheimer disease: relevance to pathogenesis and therapy.” Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (2014).
7. “EMF and Blood Brain Barrier.” EMF Research. Emfresearch.com.
8. “Mazieiro, R., R.R. Frizon, et al. “Is Curcumin a Possibility to Treat Inflammatory Bowel Diseases?” Journal of Medicinal Food 21, no. 11 (2018): 1077-1085.
9. Esposito, P., D. Gheorghe, et al. “Acute stress increases permeability of the blood-brain-barrier through activation of brain mast cells.” Brain Research 888, no. 1 (2001): 117-127.
10. “Meditation, Stress, and Your Health.” WebMD LLC. Webmd.com.