Brain Health

Brain Health

I am not a medical doctor but I have had over 22 years of experience in living with the devastating effects of 3 Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) as well as many other very severe injuries to my body. Since my accident I have learned a great deal about Brain Injuries and other types of trauma. My interest in learning about Brain Injuries was so great that I focussed my research for my Master’s of Education (Received in 2005) on Brain Injuries in children, adolescents and adults. As such, I received my M.Ed. from the University of Toronto with a specialization in Cognitive NeuroScience.

My interest is in providing help and support to others who might be experiencing something similar to the challenges that I have gone through. My advice is to experiment with different treatments and see if this helps your situation. Don’t rely on health care professionals to have all the answers. You are the driver of your body and you must learn what is best for your brain and body.

I will update this page as I learn additional ways to promote and support Brain Health. If you have some information that is not mentioned here and it has helped you, please feel free to share it with me. Thank you 🙂 

FYI – I prefer to learn ways to help myself from someone who has experienced the challenges of a TBI rather than from someone who has only learned about the brain from reading a book or listening to a lecture.  Experience is the best Teacher!  I am happy to help others as much as I can. 

(1) SLEEP PROBLEMS, FATIGUE & ANXIETY:

The brain is your body’s master computer exerting its influence on all other systems in your body. A Brain Injury often results in severe stress and this may negatively affect many other parts of the body. Increased stress often shows up with sleep problems, fatigue and anxiety.

It is the purpose of your adrenal glands to help your body cope with stresses and survive. The adrenals are two walnut sized glands that sit on top of your kidneys and are called “the glands of stress.” It is their job to help your body cope with stress regardless of whether this is from a Brain Injury or other physical injury, from stress at work or from relationship problems.

The hormones secreted by the adrenals include cortisol and adrenaline amongst many other important ones. These are your body’s stress hormones and help to regulate and maintain your body’s metabolism as well as the “fight-or-flight” response. This response is the natural reaction of your sympathetic nervous system when your body encounters a threatening (stressful) situation.

The stress caused by a Brain Injury can lead to great stress on the body’s sympathetic nervous system causing it to remain on high alert in the “fight-or-flight” mode for most of the time. This can cause your adrenal glands to stop working properly and no longer release the necessary hormones. When this happens, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety and sleep problems are often the challenges. This can result in a condition called, “Adrenal fatigue,” aka, Adrenal insufficiency.

The symptoms of Adrenal fatigue are as follows: (1) Lack of energy, (2) increased effort to do everyday tasks, (3) difficulty getting up in the morning, (4) fatigue that continues and is not relieved by sleep, (5) craving for salt or salty foods, (6) decreased sex drive, (7) increased time to recover from illness, (8) mild depression, (9) symptoms increase if meals are skipped, (10) memory problems.

The blood tests to check for hormone levels fail to identify the low adrenal function associated with Adrenal fatigue. These tests are more suited to identify the severe condition of Addison’s disease, which is a rare and serious adrenal gland disorder in which the body can’t produce enough of two critical hormones, cortisol and aldosterone. Adrenal fatigue is not as severe as Addison’s disease but regardless, it still causes you to feel very fatigued and leads to chronic health problems.

Lack of a restorative sleep is one such problem. If your Adrenal glands are not producing enough cortisol this will cause disrupted sleep patterns leading to insufficient sleep. This combined with the sleep problems that a TBI survivor already experiences results in additional problems for a survivor.

Having experienced Adrenal fatigue after I sustained a TBI I felt compelled to share this information with others as modern medicine does not consider this to be a Medical Emergency even though it causes additional SLEEP problems for a survivor as well as additional FATIGUE & ANXIETY. Modern medicine doesn’t even consider Adrenal fatigue to be a distinct syndrome even though it can wreak havoc with your life. Low adrenal function is a problem that has become invisible to many doctors since they know very little about this difficult health problem. Your concerns may be frequently dismissed since the lab tests failed to show that anything was wrong. The reason for this is that these lab tests are narrowly interpreted and ONLY show that your symptoms are not severe enough to warrant a diagnosis of Addison’s disease. Hence, your symptoms and problems are disregarded because they must be . . . . all in your head !

What can be done: 

Lifestyle Changes and Nutritional Supplements: There are no magic pills for Adrenal fatigue but there are important lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements that will help with your recovery.  (1) Find ways to reduce your stress through meditation, exercise, music, daily walks, etc. Reducing your stress can help your Adrenal glands function more effectively.  (2) In addition, a diet that contains the right nutrients is important to help your Adrenal glands function properly.  I purchased “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” By: Dr. James Wilson from the website that follows below and the information I learned along with his suggestions have helped me greatly. Please visit: https://adrenalfatigue.org  

Homeopathic Medicine: This has also greatly helped my sleep, anxiety and Adrenal fatigue problems.  In Homeopathic Medicine, the Vital Force is what heals the mind, the emotions, and the physical body. Some people call it CHI (China), KI (Japan), PRANA (India), but it all involves the energy in our bodies. It is this flow of energy that keeps our mind, emotions, and body in harmony and free from disease.  Please visit: http://vitalityhealthcentre.com

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR): This is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of a trauma or other disturbing life experience. EMDR involves attention to three time periods:  the past, present, and future.  Focus is given to disturbing memories of a trauma which often cause problems with someone’s physical and mental health. There were great improvements with my sleep, anxiety and fatigue when I became open to resolving the disturbing and traumatic experiences from my past. Please visit: http://heather-morton.com  

NOTE: Sleeping pills such as Zopiclone, and benzodiazepines such as Clonazepam, Ativan and Valium should only be used temporarily to help you through an acute period. Long term use of these medications can result in dependency, cognitive impairment, and problems with one’s physical and emotional health.

Alternative Treatments: Discover Natural Treatments you can use to heal yourself at the following link: http://rethinkredorewired.com/

References: Anthony Aquan-Assee’s personal life experiences. Please visit: https://anthonyaquan-assee.com and http://rethinkredorewired.com, “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” By: Dr. James Wilson https://adrenalfatigue.org ,and  http://vitalityhealthcentre.comhttps://heatherandrewscounselling.com/emdr-therapy

THE SOUND OF MUSIC and its HEALING BENEFITS

You only need a pair of headphones and ‘Brain Entrainment Music‘ to reduce stress, improve your sleep, and improve your brain health.

It was the Sound of Music that brought me out of a two-week long coma and provided me with many healing benefits in my recovery and rehabilitation.

In 1997, I was involved in a very serious motorcycle accident and sustained a severe Traumatic Brain Injury as well as many other life threatening injuries.  At the scene of the accident, I had stopped breathing and did not have any vital signs. I had to undergo many life saving surgeries including Neurosurgery, Open Heart surgery, Lung surgery, General surgery, Vascular surgery, Orthopaedic surgery, and Plastic surgery. I remained lifeless in a deep coma for more than two weeks which led the top surgeons and doctors at a leading trauma hospital to declare me “Brain Dead” and suggest to my parents to have me removed from the life support system that was keeping me alive. 

This is when my brother, Jonathan put my walkman headphones on my ears and played the music that I loved. – ipods were not available at this time. 🙂 It was after this that I started regaining consciousness and eventually emerged from my coma. 

The use of sound for healing was known to almost all ancient cultures and civilizations. For example, the ancient Egyptians used vowel sound chants in healing because they believed vowels were sacred. Tibetan monks use singing bowls to promote deep relaxation, stress reduction, holistic healing, and chakra balancing. The Aboriginal or Indigenous peoples used the sound of voice and drums to heal various conditions.

Sound is a wave, and like all waves, sound carries energy. This is very important to life since everything is made up of various energetic frequencies. Everything in nature resonates to sound, therefore, everything is affected by sound frequencies. The body is made up of vibrating energy and therefore disease in the body indicates that something is out of balance with the natural frequencies in life. 

In order to understand the healing aspects of Sound, it is important to understand brain waves. The nerve cells in our brain produce brain waves that communicate information from one part of the brain to another.

Brain waves are like musical notes. The low frequency waves are like the sound of a drum while the high frequency waves are like the sound of a flute. Our brain waves determine how we feel. If your brain waves are moving slowly you will feel tired, sleepy, dreamy, and slow. If your brain waves are moving fast you will feel energized, wired and hyper-alert. 

When your brain waves are in sync with your activity, then your brain will function efficiently and effectively. Stress or poor sleep will interfere with the natural balance of your brain waves and result in various problems such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, memory problems, anger, etc.

Brain waves are measured in Hertz (cycles per second) and are divided into five different frequencies or speeds. The five brain waves in order from the slowest to the fastest are: (1) Delta, (2)Theta, (3) Alpha, (4) Beta and (5) Gamma.

(1) Delta Waves: Frequency range = 0 Hz to 4 Hz

Delta brain waves are the slowest and mainly occur during deep sleep. Delta waves are associated with deep levels of relaxation and restorative sleep. Irregular Delta brain wave activity has been linked to sleep problems, memory problems and other learning difficulties. Healthy levels of Delta waves are very important in one’s recovery from a brain injury as they contribute to a more restful and restorative sleep.

(2) Theta Waves: Frequency range = 4 Hz to 8 Hz

Theta brain waves are present during deep meditation and light sleep and in the REM dream state. They are also present when we are engaged in an automatic task such as driving or brushing teeth. Theta brain waves improve your focus and keep you calm and balanced. 

(3) Alpha Waves: Frequency range = 8 Hz to 12 Hz

Alpha brain waves occur when the brain is daydreaming or at the beginning of meditation and practicing mindfulness. Alpha waves help calm you down and promote feelings of relaxation which helps your body get prepared for sleep. Alpha is the frequency between our conscious thinking and subconscious mind. 

(4) Beta Waves: Frequency range = 12 Hz to 40 Hz

Beta brain waves are the high frequency waves most commonly found in awake humans. They occur during conscious states such as cognitive reasoning, calculation, reading, speaking or thinking. If you are in a business meeting you are likely in a high Beta state. High levels of Beta brain waves result in stress, anxiety and high adrenaline levels. This will adversely affect one’s recovery from a brain injury. 

(5) Gamma Waves: Frequency range = 40 Hz to 100 Hz

Gamma brain waves are the fastest of the brain waves and are associated with higher states of conscious perception. There is a strong association between Gamma waves and peak concentration. 

The Implications of our Brainwaves

 When our brain waves are out of balance, we will experience many different problems such as sleep problems, anxiety disorders, depression, anger, problems with our attention, chronic pain, etc. In order for someone to get a restorative sleep the frequency of their brain waves must drop to slow delta waves. However, this may be difficult for someone to achieve as it may be hard for them to relax after having a busy day. Their brain may remain in the Beta state on high alert.

It is possible to use Sound to help a brain injury survivor cope with many of their problems and improve their brain health. 

I have used a Science based Sound Healing Technique called “Brainwave Entrainment” to alter my brain waves and improve the health of my brain after sustaining three separate Traumatic Brain Injuries.

This healing technique involves listening to sounds and music that have “Binaural Beats”, which help me go from a state where I am wide awake to a relaxed sleep state within minutes. 

Brainwave Entrainment is a method to alter the frequency of your brainwaves by listening to sound or music that contains the desired frequency.  So if you want to sleep, you would listen to sounds or music that slowly descends to a delta frequency. This causes your brain to reduce the frequency of its own brain waves to match this new frequency. However, humans can’t hear anything below 20 Hz in the delta frequency range. So, it would be useless to listen to a tone, sound or music that is below 20 Hz. 

Using Binaural beats is a technique to create sound or tones in the lower delta frequency range directly inside the brain. Binaural beats is a sound wave technique in which the right and left ears listen to two slightly different frequency tones.

 These frequencies when processed by the brain cancel each other out, creating a whole new frequency. For example, if the left ear registers a tone at 200 Hz and the right registers a tone at 210 Hz, the binaural beat that is registered in the brain is the difference between the two frequencies (210 Hz – 200 hz = 10 Hz), which is an Alpha wave. This 10 Hz Alpha wave frequency tone can’t be directly heard by the ears, but it would create this frequency in the brain. It does this because the brain will synchronize itself to this new frequency that is being registered. 

Using Binaural Beats has been an effective way to help improve my sleep and reduce anxiety and ultimately improve my brain health.  Try out the following Binaural Beats. They won’t hurt you.  The worst thing that can happen is that you will feel more relaxed listening to these peaceful and soothing Binaural Beats. 

To listen to Binaural beats you will need:

1)  a music playing system such as a cell phone. 

2) a pair of stereo headphones because each ear hears the sounds in a different frequency. *** To get the full benefit you need to use headphones.

3) 15-30 minutes of listening time

4) a quiet and relaxing place to listen

5) patience and regular practice 

Try out these Binaural Beats:

ENNORA:  https://www.ennora.com/products/perfect-sleep/

GAIA Meditation: https://www.gaiameditation.com/free-binaural-beats/

REFERENCES – The following websites were used and have some useful information:

Sound Healing in Ancient Egypt by Avilone Starre, 2015: http://www.avilonestarre.com/blog/sound-healing-in-ancient-egypt

Ancient Frequencies, 2012, Michael Jacobson: https://soundhealingcenter.com/shrf/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Indigenous-Sound-Healing.pdf

MATTEO NUNNER, SOUND THERAPY AND WELL-BEING: SOME SCIENTIFIC STUDIES, 2017: https://www.medicinanarrativa.eu/sound-therapy-and-well-being-some-scientific-studies

Neuroacoustics: The Healing Power of Sound. By Erik L. Goldman | Editor-in-Chief – Vol. 5, No. 3. Fall, 2004: https://scientificsounds.com/index.php/library/neuroacoustics-the-healing-power-of-sound

Brain Works: https://brainworksneurotherapy.com/what-are-brainwaves

Lucid: Your 5 Brainwaves: Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta and Gamma: https://lucid.me/blog/5-brainwaves-delta-theta-alpha-beta-gamma/

Fall Asleep Fast With Binaural Beats:  https://sleephabits.net/binaural-beats

https://www.binauralbeatsfreak.com