How To Assess Your Brain To Determine Problem Areas

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In the final episode of week 2 of The Brain Health Revolution 6-Week Challenge, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen give you more of the major risk factors for cognitive decline, as well as how to assess your brain to see which risk factors are the most important for you to address. By doing so, you’ll be putting your brain in a healing environment so you can feel better.

Read Full Transcript

Dr Daniel Amen:               Welcome to The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen:                        I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Dr Daniel Amen:               The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years, using tools like Brain SPECT Imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit

Tana Amen:                        The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to

Dr Daniel Amen:               All right, this is Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen:                        I’m Tana Amen.

Dr Daniel Amen:               We’re so excited you’re with us. For this week’s series, what we’re doing is we’re playing the live class from the Live Class from The End of Mental Illness.

Tana Amen:                        We wanted you to join us on this journey because we have such a good time in our class, and the people who joined us had just saw such incredible transformation that we wanted to share the challenge with our tribe. We wanted to share this with you, and we hope that you will join us in the challenge.

Dr Daniel Amen:               The G in Bright Minds is for genetics, but people get this wrong. Genetic rescue is not a death sentence. It’s a wake-up call to be healthy. Meet my friend Leeza Gibbons. Many of you know her. She had a mother and grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease, and I wanted her to come see me. She and I became friends. I was on her show 20 years ago, just about 20 years ago. She had me on over and over again. I’m like, “You need to come [inaudible [00:01:51] with that family history.” About 11 years ago she was going through a divorce, and she felt bad, and we scanned her. Her brain looked terrible.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Overall, very low blood flow to her brain, especially some of the areas thought to be involved in Alzheimer’s. SPECK can tell years before people have any symptoms if they’re likely to get dementia. This is what her brain looked like 10 years later, was dramatically improved. I’m so proud of her. You are not stuck with a brand new hat. You can make it better. How would she ever know unless we actually looked? How do you decrease your genetic risk? These are factors that have research behind them.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Vitamin D. All of you should know your Vitamin D levels, one of your important numbers we gave you, and optimize it. I take 7,000 units of Vitamin D a day, just to keep healthy. Blueberries, make them organic, but they’re loaded with nutrients to help your brain. Then, the herb sage, the supplement curcumin, green tea. We want people to test their brains regularly on our website, Brain Fit LIfe. You can actually take a 35-minute sophisticated, neuropsych assessment that will tell you the health of your brain. You need to do it on a laptop. You shouldn’t do it on your phone.

Dr Daniel Amen:               If you have 40 minutes, sign up for Brain Fit Life, take what’s called Web Neuro and it’ll give you a sense, how’s your mood? How’s your anxiety, but how’s your processing speed? How is your long-term memory? How’s your short-term memory? How’s your attention, and so on? Really important, but the most important strategy is to be serious. Whatever genetic vulnerability, like you have diabetes, and you are [crosstalk [00:03:57].

Tana Amen:                        Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Right, so being serious about your health, which I know you are, is really important. The age, and we talked a little bit about this, is head trauma. It’s an epidemic in this country, and it’s just heartbreaking that people don’t get it. I may get to be on one of the new shows during the Super Bowl, talking about rehabilitating brain trauma. If you’re going to play, you need to be serious about rehabilitation immediately.

Dr Daniel Amen:               We did the first and largest study on active and retired NFL players. We have more than 300 players. We have seen high levels of damage. The blue areas equal where the damage was in their brain compared to healthy. You can just sort of see it’s everywhere, but 80% of our players show improvement when we put them on our Bright Minds Rehabilitation Program. How exciting is that? 80% show improvement, especially in mood, memory, sleep, motivation. Here’s one of our players. You know Anthony.

Tana Amen:                        He’s so great.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Anthony Davis, the Hall of Fame running back from USC, who’s called the Notre Dame Killer. He came to see us in 2007, and his brain looked really damaged. He was having problems with his memory, with his temper. He was getting confused. In fact, what triggered him to come see me is he was on the 405, and he forgot where he was going.

Tana Amen:                        Oh wow.

Dr Daniel Amen:               He had to pull over to the side, and he called one of his friends in the Department of Pharmacy at USC who said, “You need to go see Dr. Amen.”

Tana Amen:                        Oh wow.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Of course, I remembered who he was because I grew up in Southern California. I have just loved him for the last 13 years. We have his scanned 10 years, 10 years later. Do you want a better brain a month from now? How about 10 years from now? You do the things we ask you to do. His mood is better. His work is better. His energy is better.

Tana Amen:                        He was so much fun to have on the podcast. He had a really rough life growing up. His is really interesting.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Yeah, no we adore him. Patrick [Caffery [00:06:26], who’s captain in the Marine Corp, sustained three blast injuries in Afghanistan, headaches, insomnia, anger outbursts. His scan showed both Traumatic Brain Injury, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the red, white, and blue scan. You can actually see the diamond pattern in his brain. That’s what we see with PTSD.

Dr Daniel Amen:               I loved what he said. He said four years later, “The more that time goes by, the better I am.” Isn’t that what you want? “The SPECK scan started an irreversible domino of exponential personal growth. The scan was the only reason I admitted I had both TBI, and PTSD. Wouldn’t have admitted it if I didn’t see it. Ultimately the scan was my gateway tool to a set of brain-healthy strategies that I still use to have a better brain, and a better life.”

Dr Daniel Amen:               Did Patrick have a mental illness? I would argue no. He had brain health challenges that when we optimized his brain, his life was better.

Tana Amen:                        We just throw these guys away.

Dr Daniel Amen:               We cannot do that anymore. It’s just not conscionable. If I was an evil ruler, and I wanted to increase your head trauma risks, I’d encourage distracted driving. Put your phones away. I’d invent evil ruler games like running with the bulls. Do you have any idea why people run with the bulls?

Tana Amen:                        It’s a tradition, but I don’t know why.

Dr Daniel Amen:               It [crosstalk [00:08:05].

Tana Amen:                        They are trying to … They don’t like it either. They’re trying to outlaw it.

Dr Daniel Amen:               I would require older people to get up on ladders to clean out gutters.

Tana Amen:                        You have no idea how many head injuries I took care of in the hospital from people falling off of ladders and roofs. So many. There was always someone in the hospital in a coma, head injury bleeds.

Dr Daniel Amen:               In the seven minutes we have left, I mean we could go on toxins for days and days, and we actually have podcasts we’d love for you to look, and listen to our Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. Tana and I really have really [inaudible [00:08:45] generally, and we’ve done 600 podcasts and seven million downloads. Alcohol is not a health food. You’ve heard me say it. Marijuana is not going grain. Cocaine is bad for your brain, but what we’ve learned is there’s many other things that are toxic. I’m not a fan of marijuana. We’ve talked about that over and over again.

Tana Amen:                        You and the mouse in your pocket?

Dr Daniel Amen:               Yes. I go, “Of course it should be legal. Why are you going to put pot heads in jail,” and Tana goes, “Who’s we?”

Tana Amen:                        No, no, no. He said, “Of course we think it should be legal.” Yeah. I’m like, “Who’s we?”

Dr Daniel Amen:               You have a mouse in your pocket.

Tana Amen:                        Yes.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Yes, that’s the mouse in the pocket thing. There are other things that are toxic for brain function. Mold exposure, carbon monoxide, firefighters, pesticides, toxic chemicals. 95% of baby foods contain lead.

Tana Amen:                        That’s insane.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Things like heavy metals, anesthesia. Anesthesia? Well, that’s what we were dealing with with you. [crosstalk [00:10:00].

Tana Amen:                        I started to wonder because like many people, I’ve had multiple surgeries, 10 medical surgeries. Is there a stacking effect? It’s like you have a threshold, and past a certain number it just begins to …

Dr Daniel Amen:               Do it for one. This is my assistant [inaudible [00:10:18].

Tana Amen:                        Does the start to affect you more after a certain number?

Dr Daniel Amen:               [crosstalk [00:10:20] a big, fat, healthy brain when she first came to work with me, and then she had an aortic aneurism.

Tana Amen:                        Yeah, but heart surgery is the worst, by far. By far, so for people listening [crosstalk [00:10:31] heart surgery …

Dr Daniel Amen:               I can tell because she was moodier, she was sadder, and she was [crosstalk [00:10:38].

Tana Amen:                        Yeah, my uncle’s doing the same thing.

Dr Daniel Amen:               I could say, “Oh, well she’s bad,” but …

Tana Amen:                        We know too much.

Dr Daniel Amen:               … we know that there’s a reason why people act the way they do.

Tana Amen:                        Yeah, my uncle had open-heart surgery, it was a year and a half ago now, and I told him, I called him ahead of time, and told him, “Look, they’re not going to tell you this,” and I told him, “If you start struggling with your mood, your memory, your energy, blah, blah, blah.” He’s like, “Okay honey.” Sort of just …

Dr Daniel Amen:               Okay honey.

Tana Amen:                        Then, all of a sudden, now he’s forgetting everything. He’s depressed, and so he called me, and we’re trying to work on it, but heart surgery is terrible.

Dr Daniel Amen:               I love the comments. 95% of baby food contains lead.

Tana Amen:                        Yeah. It’s insane. Let’s just start them off.

Dr Daniel Amen:               When we worked on rehabilitating their brains …

Tana Amen:                        Problems.

Dr Daniel Amen:               … it’s better over time.

Tana Amen:                        That’s amazing.

Dr Daniel Amen:               How do you know if there’s toxic risk? Do you have a history of water damage in your home, or work because of the mold? Foreign travel.

Tana Amen:                        Oh, now foreign travel is just like …

Dr Daniel Amen:               That’s why you keep trying to get me to go out of the country.

Tana Amen:                        I’m not going to China. I’m not going to bother you about that.

Dr Daniel Amen:               We see it on scans, on SPECK scans, toxic hair metal analysis, mycotoxin testing for mold, and we often refer … We have five, soon to be six, integrated functional medicine doctors that work at Amen Clinics. How do you decrease toxicity? You avoid it. We like this app called Think Dirty. You can scan all of your personal products. They’ll tell you on a scale from one to ten how quickly they’re killing you.

Tana Amen:                        They also give you suggestions for alternatives.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Right, and you found a couple of brands that you like.

Tana Amen:                        Oh, I love some of the makeup, and the body products, and the house products. Yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Yeah, and then support the four organs in detoxification. Drink more water to flush things through your kidneys. Eat more fiber to flush things through your gut. Saunas, or sweating, with exercise. Kill the alcohol to help you liver, and eat Brassicas, detox-fine vegetables that can help your liver like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts. These are the first group of Bright Minds, bright blood flow, retirement and aging, inflammation, genetics, head trauma, toxins. We have more coming up.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Tasks for this week. We have a poster for you that basically summarizes all the things Tana and I just talked about. You can download it, and what I want you to do is circle your risk factors, and what things you’re going to commit to to get rid of them. People go, “Well, what’s the list of things to do and not to do?” This is the list.

Tana Amen:                        Right. Going through Bright Minds’ list.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Two, we want you to listen to one of our Brain Warrior’s Way Podcasts. We put a number of links to some of our highest rated ones, but you can also go to and …

Tana Amen:                        Pick the subject.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Pick among the 600 of them that are there.

Tana Amen:                        There’s a number of them on nutrition, or head injuries, or whatever.

Dr Daniel Amen:               We have [inaudible [00:14:02] addiction. We just did [inaudible [00:14:03].

Tana Amen:                        So good. Loved her.

Dr Daniel Amen:               We’ve done [inaudible [00:14:05] forgiveness. I want you to take a day, and then I want you to do this for the rest of your life where you need to hydrate. Drink half your weight in ounces a day. This is if you’re under 200 pounds. If you’re over 200 pounds, make sure you’re drinking 80 to 100 ounces of water.

Tana Amen:                        You have to replace your electrolytes.

Dr Daniel Amen:               New learning on day four. We downloaded, I created for you a new learning by brain region list. If you want to optimize your frontal lobes, judgment, forethought, impulse control, your temporal lobes. We just want you to pick one thing, and tell us you did it. Five, from day five until forever, I mean for 15 years now I’ve been taking two Omega 3 power, high-quality fish oil every day to decrease inflammation, and support the health of your brain.

Dr Daniel Amen:               Day six, fill out Have I Had a Head Injury Questionnaire. A lot of people go, “No,” like you. You said, “No,” when I asked, “Did you ever have a head injury?” “No.”

Tana Amen:                        I was never in a coma. I was never on [inaudible [00:15:19].

Dr Daniel Amen:               You flipped a car at 75 miles an hour, and landed on the top of the vehicle.

Tana Amen:                        I was never …

Dr Daniel Amen:               Yeah. Day seven, we have a Toxic Questionnaire for you, and we had no money from Think Dirty. We just think it’s cool, but we want you to actually scan your personal products. I went through my bathroom when I first discovered this …

Tana Amen:                        Oh my God.

Dr Daniel Amen:               … and threw out half of it.

Tana Amen:                        The worst part was the stuff that was advertised as natural, that was advertised phytonutrient based were my worst products. That was horrifying. The ones I spent the most money on.

Dr Daniel Amen:               I know we’re out of time. A couple of questions. “I’ve been told that mixing fruits and veggies together is bad for you.”

Tana Amen:                        Yeah, that’s what I was going to do. I was going to address this only because, maybe you can join in with me, but I wanted to address that one, that mixing fruits and vegetables, or this idea of food combining, because I used to actually do that. I always thought that that just sounded logical, but sounding logical and being logical, or having science behind it are two different things because the truth is is when I really dug into it, there wasn’t really science behind it.

Tana Amen:                        The way that certain foods are digested are different in your body, so if you think about it, fats, and carbs, and proteins are digested in different ways in your body, and the enzymes are released different places, and so I could never find the science behind this, the studies that actually backed it up. Have you ever found that?

Dr Daniel Amen:               No. I think the more you worry about it … I don’t think [crosstalk [00:17:02].

Tana Amen:                        For thousands of years, there’s never been a way for people to have known that.

Dr Daniel Amen:               One other one, and then we will end. “I’m taking this challenge, not for myself, but for my family member that has brain health issues. How can I influence them to get a proper assessment?” What I often say is, “One, you have to live the message. If you live the message, and you’re authentic, …”

Tana Amen:                        You’re doing the right thing.

Dr Daniel Amen:               “… that will help.” Then, nudge them. Invite them to take the course with you, and if they won’t, send them perhaps my TED Talk, The Most Important Lesson From 83,000 Scans, or Change Your Brain, Change Your Life In Just 15 Minutes. They can get a taste of if I have a better brain, I can have a better life. If I don’t look at my brain, well, how the heck would I never, would I ever know where I’m at. We are grateful for all of you, for all the comments.

Tana Amen:                        Yeah. Lots of people.

Dr Daniel Amen:               It was really great. Actually, there’s a question about alkaline water. Generally not a fan of it.

Tana Amen:                        Not a fan of drinking it. I’m not a fan of the expensive systems where that’s all you drink all day. If you have a little bit of alkaline water after a heavy workout, something particularly stressful, that’s fine, but drinking it all day, it starts to become the equivalent of taking antacids all the time. You need stomach acid.

Dr Daniel Amen:               You need stomach acid, so neutralizing that is generally not a good idea. We will be back with you next week. Invite your friends. Thanks for tuning in.

Tana Amen:                        Thanks.

Tana Amen:                        If you’re enjoying The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode, and while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating as that helps others find the podcast.

Dr Daniel Amen:               If you’re considering coming to Amen Clinics, or trying some of the brain-healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast10 to get a 10% discount on full evaluation at or 10% discount on all supplements at For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.