Is Your Brain on Fire?

If you are suffering from autoimmune Hashimoto’s low thyroid, you may also suffer from some degree of brain inflammation. Brain fog, fatigues, poor motivation, and depression are some of the symptoms of brain inflammation. Sometimes brain inflammation can be weakening if it is advanced enough.

Curious if you have brain inflammation and if you do, what your type of brain inflammation you have? Brain inflammation can be subtle, moderate, or severe. It can either be transient or chronic. If you’re suffering from autoimmune Hashimoto’s, be mindful of your brain autoimmunity, another factor in causing brain inflammation.

Subtle neuroinflammation:
• Brain fog
• Slowed mental speed
• Lower brain endurance (can’t read, work, or drive as long you used to)
• Brain fatigue after exposed to certain foods or chemicals
• Comes and goes

Moderate neuroinflammation:
• Fatigue
• Depression
• Lack of motivation
• Unable to focus and concentrate well
• Always sleepy
• Need to sleep more than 8 hours
• Lethargy
• Appetite loss
• Unable to be physically active

Severe brain inflammation:
• Disorientation or confusion
• Dementia
• Delirium
• Coma
• Seizures
• Difficulty speaking
• Tremors or trembling
• Involuntary twitching
Transient brain inflammation:
Exposure to a trigger activates symptoms but they subside. Individual has more good days than bad.

Chronic brain inflammation:
Symptoms persistent chronically and the individual has more bad days than good.

Neurological autoimmunity:
Your immune system protects you from disease and infection. But if you are suffering from autoimmunity, your immune system attacks healthy cells, mistaking it for a foreign invader. Hashimoto’s is caused by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland and on the other hand, neuro-autoimmunity happens when the immune system attacks nerve tissues. Patients who are suffering from autoimmunity can also suffer from the common symptoms of brain inflammation, such as brain fog, fatigue, and depression. If you have Hashimoto’s it’s important to find out whether you have brain autoimmunity.

Why brain inflammation happens
You may think that neurons are the primary cells in the brain, but they are not. Neurons only make up about 10 percent of the brain. The rest of the brain is comprised of glial cells, the brain’s immune cells. These cells outnumber neurons 10 to 1.

Researchers have discovered that glial cells do significantly more that protect the brain. When the brain is not engaged in inflammation, glial cells support healthy neuron function, remove plaque and debris that can lead to neurodegenerative diseases, and support healthy communication between neurons.

Things that cause brain inflammation includes brain injury, autoimmune disease, insulin resistance and diabetes, inflammatory foods, food intolerances, excess alcohol consumption, chronic viral or bacterial infections, leaky gut, leaky blood-brain barrier, hormonal imbalances, or other chronic imbalances.

Chronic brain inflammation makes glial cells engage in inflammatory combat instead of supporting neurons.
If your symptoms are mild, functional medicine protocols can help reverse them. As long as you follow a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can live a life largely free of brain inflammation symptoms.

These protocols include:
• Balancing blood sugar; lower high blood sugar.
• Do not eat foods that cause an inflammatory reaction, particularly gluten.
• Repair leaky gut and leaky blood-brain barrier.
• Improving diversity of your gut microbiome.
• Manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
• Manage chronic infections.
• Taking glutathione and other supplements that dampen inflammation.
• Exercise daily, particularly with high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
• Balance your hormones.

If your brain inflammation is moderate to severe, you may need to go beyond these steps to focus and find out one or more root causes. Unlike the body’s immune system, the brain’s immune system does not have an off switch. Brain inflammation can damage brain tissue for a long time.

Also, a severe brain inflammatory event can cause glial cells to become “primed.” This means the cell’s shape has permanently changed and it no longer can help neurons. It just functions in an inflammatory capacity. These glial cells also die sooner.

Once your glial cells are primed this acute inflammatory triggers can set off severe brain inflammation symptoms. The symptoms are memory loss, inability to speak properly, loss of muscle function, being bedridden from fatigue and more.

Trigger-happy neurons
Outside of brain inflammation another mechanism that can cause brain symptoms is called “neurons close to threshold.” This happens when neurons are too weak and fragile and are easily overwhelmed, which causes them to fatigue. Smelling perfumes for the chemically sensitive person, eating gluten for the gluten intolerant person, pushing your brain past what it can handle (with reading, working, studying, driving, etc.), too much noise for someone who is sound sensitive, etc. are examples of events that can fatigue weak neurons.

This happens because poor habits or chronic inflammation damages the neurons’ mitochondria, the energy factory in each cell. This weakens the neurons and causes them to fire too easily and fatigue.

This is a broad overview of neuroinflammatory concepts. Ask my office how we can help you manage your brain inflammation.

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