Inflamed Brains Move Slower

We don’t need scientific studies to tell us that our brains just don’t function as well when we are sick. Viruses, bacteria, and other inflammation triggers undoubtedly slow our thinking organs down and some call this a “brain fog”. What science can help us with is the “why”. Other studies have uncovered how long-term inflammatory damage occurs as cells die or change their activity in the brain. This study linked inflammation to changes in EEG measured, localized brain activity.

By measuring brain waves with an EEG before and after salmonella typhoid vaccines, researchers from the University of Birmingham, found that visual processing speeds changed when the vaccine rather than a placebo (fake injection) was given. They were looking for why many individuals with chronic illness complain of “brain fog” or mental sluggishness.
The study measured inflammation markers in the 20 male test subjects while measuring 3 different brain functions during a visual test: “alerting”, “orienting”, and “executive control”. Despite finding no significant behavioral differences in the inflamed versus the non-inflamed subjects, the EEG’s revealed changes in alpha brain wave patterns and theta brain wave patterns. It appeared that greater effort was required of the brain regions to function when inflammation was present.

As we begin to implement neurofeedback and the principles of Qualitative EEG (Brain Maps) in our practice at Sanctuary, this study draws a tight link between our long work on lowering inflammation to improve brain function and our new work with neurofeedback. Removing toxins, treating infections, and lowering inflammation allow our brains to heal. Neurofeedback can then take that healthier brain and move it towards more normal functioning, balancing alpha, delta, theta, and beta waves in the different regions. Helping patients live healthier more abundant lives requires multimodal approaches over months if we are to restore whole person health. It also requires careful discernment of when to apply those different therapies and how to combine them.

Original Article:
Leonie JT. Balter, Jos A. Bosch, Sarah Aldred, Mark T. Drayson, Jet JCS. Veldhuijzen van Zanten, Suzanne Higgs, Jane E. Raymond, Ali Mazaheri. Selective effects of acute low-grade inflammation on human visual attention. NeuroImage, 2019; 202: 116098 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116098
Thanks to Science Daily:
University of Birmingham. “Link between inflammation and mental sluggishness shown in new study.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 2019. <>.

Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.

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