Traumatic brain injury (or TBI), many of which result in concussions, are a big and rapidly growing problem today for youths and adults alike. Nearly 3 million emergency department visits each year are due to TBI, and of that, 330,000 of them are children being treated with sports-related concussions. With 1 in 5 high school athletes sustaining concussions each season and 33 percent of those having two or more in the same year, we’re reaching an epidemic which can have lifelong repercussions.
Traumatic brain injury is a major focal point of our research here at Pioneer Health Center, and what we’re learning about it is truly groundbreaking. In this post, I’d like to share with you how TBI occurs and how athletes are seeing incredible recovery rates with the compounded preparation, Synapsin.
Brain Trauma and the Inflammation CascadeWe used to believe that most neurodegenerative conditions resulted in permanent damage to the brain, but we now understand that it may not actually be damage, but more like a “switch” that’s turned off due to a hit or blow to the head or even inflammation. You see, in a healthy brain, neuron cells (the live tissue in our brain) are constantly being regenerated as others are broken down. But in the case of TBI, a switch is turned off and the scale tips towards neuron breakdown rather than neuron generation. When this happens, this is part of an inflammatory cascade, as it’s a protective measure by the body when damage or a threat is detected. Much like how your ankle swells when sprained, a similar process happens in the brain due to a concussion. In the brain, TBIs can contribute to neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and behavioral changes, as well as recurring headaches, migraines, and fatigue.
Our current research shows that if we can turn this switch back on, we may, in fact, be able to restore normal brain function by reducing inflammation, which is at the core of most TBI-related conditions today. What it comes down to is understanding if our brains are firing signals appropriately or not. When we look at traumatic brain injury in this lens, we can ask ourselves if it’s damage we’re looking at or if it’s actually an incorrectly set switch. If we can help the body more appropriately turn this switch on and off, we can influence healthy physiology and retain function, thus impacting neurodegenerative conditions and chronic concussion damage.
Brain on Fire: The Role of Glial CellsTo better understand how our brain operates and why inflammation in the brain occurs due to TBI, we have to look at what are called glial cells. Glial cells are a big topic in neurodegenerative disease research today and were discovered just in the last ten years.
Our current understanding is that glial cells play a significant role in neural degeneration (neuron death) and immune cell activation in the central nervous system. With traumatic brain injury, glial cells are immediately activated, creating an inflammatory response. So long as they remain activated, inflammation persists due to the constant release of inflammatory chemicals or mediators.
So, what’s activating them? Toll-like receptors, which are receptors designed to look for mediators with either damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPS) or pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPS). When toxins from the environment or infections like viruses or bacteria are present and detected, the toll-like receptors tell the body there is damage or infection, which activates the glial cells and generates an inflammatory response.
Glial cells can also be activated by an imbalance between glutamate and GABA. Glutamate and GABA are like the yin and yang of brain activity. While glutamate is necessary for higher brain function and excitability, GABA allows for rest. We need a balance between the two to have normal brain function, however, trauma to the brain can cause the two to become imbalanced, and may then trigger ongoing inflammation. This can lead to more glial cell activation, keeping the inflammatory cascade going.
So, in order to restore balance to the brain, we need to either remove the trigger or block a receptor. This can be especially tricky when someone sustains recurring concussions because of the more frequent the concussion, the more significant the sustained damage due to chronic glial cell activation and inflammation. In cases like this, the brain becomes “on fire”, or constantly activated. As a result, the scale tips towards neuronal death (instead of neuron generation).
With this new knowledge about glial cells, we now understand that glial cells may play a role in every degenerative brain or nervous system condition.
The good news is, the compounded pharmaceutical, Synapsin, is designed to specifically target glial cells by tipping the scale back into balance. This is true for both acute and chronic concussion and TBI cases.
How Synapsin Helps with Chronic Concussion TreatmentThe idea for Synapsin was five years in the making when clinical pharmacist, board-certified nutritionist, and personal friend of mine, Jim LaValle, began using it on athletes with recurring concussions. His initial applications of Synapsin were so rapidly successful that the NFL soon hired him to run a medical facility to help athletes recover from concussions. He found that even athletes who sustained injuries years ago saw remarkable brain function improvements on Synapsin. Additionally, LaValle found Synapsin was having positive effects on those suffering from executive burnout, brain fog, and many other brain-related conditions.
So, what exactly is Synapsin? Synapsin is a new and innovative compounded formulation designed to help improve our brain’s ability to decrease inflammation and improve neurogenesis (growth and development of new nervous tissue.) It’s made from a patent-pending powder blend of ginsenoside Rg3, and nicotinamide riboside along with an ultra-low dose of Naltrexone. Specifically, it may support:
LaValle and those of us researching and applying Synapsin are seeing excellent results with people who have concussions or traumatic brain injury because of the way in which it targets the glial cells in this kind of trauma and interrupting the inflammatory cascade resulting in a dampening of the “brain on fire”.
Using Synapsin in Functional MedicineAs you may know, not only is Pioneer Health Center a compounding pharmacy, we’re also a functional medicine practice. That means we never look at a medication or health condition in isolation. When we evaluate traumatic brain injury, for example, we know that the body is responding a certain way for a reason. Looking at traumatic brain injury in this way, we can begin to understand what is actually happening in the body and how we can assist it. This is what drew us to Synapsin, because it actually addresses the underlying cause of neurodegenerative disease associated with concussions, as it naturally helps the body balance itself and regain normal function.
Today, we’re one of the very first compounding pharmacies using Synapsin and have been seeing incredible results. One of our patients who experienced a concussion and severe memory loss after she fell on ice several years ago reported:
“I used to wake up every morning not knowing who I was, where I was, and didn’t even recognize my own mother. Now, since taking Synapsin, I know my name, my home, I recognize my mother, and even my cats!”
We’re excited about what this new research means in the field of traumatic brain injury, and that future is already here at Pioneer Health Center as more and more patients come to us for neurodegenerative conditions as well as looking to optimize healthy aging.
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