How To Heal From A Head Injury / TBI

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

In the fourth and final episode in a series about hidden brain injuries, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen give you a step-by-step process to counter the negative effects that come with suffering a brain injury. Armed with Dr. Amen’s simple pneumonic, you’ll have all the tools you need to avoid suffering and start feeling (and behaving) better.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And 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 you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Welcome back. We are on day four of traumatic brain injury week. And we're going to talk about interventions today, so this is a really good one. If you've had a traumatic brain injury, you're going to want to listen to this. Do you want to read a review before we do that?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Marshall Maxwell. Dr. Amen, thank you for your knowledge and sharing with the general world. It was interesting listening to your interview with Tom Bilyeu. I had a question for you about cannabis use, and I know you mentioned it ages the brain prematurely. Is it due to overstimulation of the cerebellum or frontal lobe? Intuitively, if the neurons are firing in a faster rate, then more wear and tear.
You know, and that's actually really interesting. I think over time it decreases blood flow to the brain, and that's why it is toxic. And it's not just smoking. What we actually found, it was more toxic to the brain than people who smoked cigarettes. So we also showed decreased activity in the hippocampus, the brain's major mood and memory center.
Tana Amen: Interesting, and that was with cannabis without the THC.
Dr. Daniel Amen: No. Cannabis has THC in it.
Tana Amen: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm thinking of CBD oil.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. CBD generally-
Tana Amen: You can tell I'm not a marijuana-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Generally no THC, but sometimes it does, and we've unleashed CBD onto the general population. People are giving it to their dogs, and there's been virtually no study. So I know the NFL has toyed with the idea of using marijuana as a treatment for traumatic brain injury. No, we're not there.
Tana Amen: So let's decrease their activity even more.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So let's talk about healing. If you've had a traumatic brain injury in your life, what are the things? So, brain envy, we talked it. Avoid anything that hurts it, and if we think of our BRIGHT MINDS risk factors, all of those are there.
Tana Amen: So in the last episode you talked about sugar, but it's really about eating a diet that supports brain health, and that's what we really did in Brain Warriors Way and BRIGHT MINDS. It's the same diet. In fact that's the cookbook you promote in BRIGHT MINDS is the Brain Warrior's Way cookbook. It really lays it out very clearly and easily, and gives you a path. How do you do this? Because people are like, "Okay. But it's hard to eat without putting sugar in your diet. It's hard to eat without a high grain diet that it quickly turns to sugar." It's actually not. Okay, so I've got hundreds of recipes that help you achieve that in a simple way. But that's critical to putting your brain in a healing state. If you think of nutrition it's like the number one thing in your life. You eat all the time, right? So you eat all day long, so you want to be eating things that are going to support healing. And that's one of the things you can do. And then we have supplements and things like that as well.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So hear at Amen Clinics we did the big NFL study at a time when the NFL was sort of in denial that they had a huge problem with traumatic brain injury. And we've scanned and treated about 300 players now. 80% of them get better when we do this: a multiple vitamin with higher doses of B Vitamins. Multiple vitamin, high dose fish oil. We use 5.6 grams of fish oil with about 2800 milligrams of EPA and DHA. And then we used a brain boost that worked in multiple ways. So ginkgo and vinpocetine to boost blood flow, phosphatidyserine to help with memory, huperzine A to help with acetylcholine. So we're really using supplements in a sophisticated way to nourish their brain. And that was super helpful.
The other thing was hyperbaric oxygen, and how did I learn about hyperbaric oxygen? My friend Mike [Utsler 00:05:07] from UCLA who also does SPECT scans showed before and after scans in people with hyperbaric oxygen showing improved blood. I actually published a study with Paul Harch from New Orleans on soldiers, and we showed not only did it increase blood flow, it decreased ... it improved concentration, it improved their memory, it decreased symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.
Tana Amen: So two things. Number one, to your supplement regimen, which I know that's what the study was done on, I just can't help it. The nutrition person in me is just like dying to jump in. You need to have your Vitamin D checked, because if you're feeling depressed or anxious, you need to be optimizing your Vitamin D as well. And I always recommend probiotics. It's just a must.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well let's just quickly go through the BRIGHT MINDS risks and interventions, because that's what you do with traumatic brain injury. So B in BRIGHT MINDS stands for blood flow. What we often see on scans is low blood flow, so things like beets and rosemary can increase blood flow to the brain. Ginkgo and vinpocetine as far as supplements, and hyperbaric oxygen. Anything that decreases blood flow makes your traumatic brain injury worse.
Tana Amen: So the hyperbaric oxygen, this is actually kind of funny. So apparently it works so well, I want to actually use it more, but apparently it works so well a couple of our celebrity patients who decided that it's easier for them to get one put in their home, didn't I hear that they were asking if they could sleep in it?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah.
Tana Amen: Because they felt so much better, right? So it was like, "Oh, can I sleep in this thing?" I'm like, "Can you do that?"
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's not recommended.
Tana Amen: But that's how much better they felt!
Dr. Daniel Amen: You can spend up to four hours a day in a hyperbaric chamber.
Tana Amen: Okay.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And the first thing that our football players said is their sleep got better, because sleep is often-
Tana Amen: And that was the point was they not only slept ... these people I'm talking about, slept better. There were two of them I can think of slept better, but they just felt so much better during the day when they did that. So yeah. I was like, "Oh! It must make a big difference."
Dr. Daniel Amen: The R is retirement in aging. When you stop learning your brain starts dying. And it used to be that people said, "Oh. People with traumatic brain injury should not do anything, should basically go into a dark room for a month and not do anything." And no. You should be using your brain, just not to the point where you trigger symptoms. The I is inflammation, and 97% of people are low in Omega 3 fatty acids. Often they have a high C-reactive protein, so the big intervention is fish oil. Get your gut right, so you had mentioned probiotics.
Tana Amen: Probiotics.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And also curcumin. Curcumin's-
Tana Amen: So probiotics is for your brain. Who knew? Now that's the big thing on the horizon. That's like what everyone's talking about.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, we talk about that all the time about your gut/brain health. And the G is genetics. So if you have a risk for Alzheimers disease, you actually ... traumatic brain injury generally is much worse for you. It can actually accelerate your risk. And people know about President Reagan, and some people say he had it in the White House. I'm actually friends with somebody that was in his White House. He said he absolutely didn't have it in his White House. But right after he left the presidency he fell from a horse and had a subdural hematoma. And then it really accelerated a process that may had been brewing. So genes are not a death sentence. They should be a wake up call for you to get healthy. H obviously is head trauma. Don't get another one! Right? So do not ski without a helmet. Do not do stupid things. And it's often on the ski slopes where it's not you!
Tana Amen: It's someone else. It happens all the time.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's the other people that make it a risk for you.
Tana Amen: But it's not just sports. I mean people don't really think about this, but as a nurse, I can't help it. I was a trauma nurse, and whenever I'm out I just see head injuries happening everywhere like before they happen. I can't help it. But people just aren't paying attention to certain things because it's not in their daily routine. It was something I was sort of trained for. I mean the big thing that we watch for, that we're so scared of, is older people falling. So you've got to make sure that you're pathways are clear, that you don't have steps. You've got nightlights. There are just so many little things like that, because once you've had a brain injury, once you've had a fall, you're more likely to fall.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because it hurts your cerebellum, so you're not quite as coordinated. Protect your head. T is toxins, and we're loaded with toxins with legalizing marijuana everywhere. People think alcohols a health food. I'd kill the pod, kill the alcohol, scan all of your personal products so you're not putting parabens and phthalates on your body. They're hormone disrupters, and we'll get to hormones in just a minute, but they're often low in people who've had traumatic brain injury. Almost all of my NFL players have low testosterone. Image that, right? These massive sex symbols really, but many of them complain of seriously low libido.
Tana Amen: Interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The M is mind storms. So it used to be mental health, but in my new book The End of Mental Illness, it's about mental illness, so I changed M to mind storms, because really abnormal electrical activity is often secondary to traumatic brain injury where it damages you're temporal lobes. There the Ketogenic Diet actually can be really helpful. You don't want to let your blood sugars get too low, because that can trigger off one of the mind storms.
Tana Amen: In severe cases don't you sometimes use like an antiseizure medication?
Dr. Daniel Amen: All the time. All the time. I'm a huge fan of Lamictal, and Neurontin, and Trileptal for my patients who have mood instability, irritability, anxiety, temporal problems.
Tana Amen: So if they're treating people badly in their lives or-
Dr. Daniel Amen: And they often, people who had a traumatic brain injury often get misdiagnosed as having Bipolar disorder when they really don't have the traditional highs and lows. They're just sort of irritable all the time, or anxious all the time. That's often secondary to a traumatic brain injury.
Tana Amen: That's so interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The I is immunity and infections. So cleaning up your diet, often going on an elimination diet can help. And if you're not getting better, getting screened for Herpes, and Lyme, and Toxoplasmosis.
Tana Amen: So what about someone whose had, so I had mono when I was little, when I was young. Very young. But ever since then apparently that stays in your system.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So you'll have markers for Epstein Barr virus, and it sort of wore out your immune system a little bit.
Tana Amen: Right. Because I've always wondered between that and all the other stuff I've had, and the kids. But I've always wondered why do I get sick when no one else ... Like if I'm around anybody whose sick, I get sick.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And so you want to keep your Vitamin D level in the high-
Tana Amen: And I do better now.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And for immunity you want to cook with mushrooms and onions, and you use a lot of garlic, which I'm grateful for.
Tana Amen: Lots of onions and garlic. I use lots of herbs and spices.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The N is neuro-hormone deficiencies. Often multiple hormones are low, and people who had traumatic brain injury, so getting them tested and optimized, killing the sugar, lifting weights can be helpful.
Tana Amen: So do you remember when my mom had her fall, it literally shut down all of her hormones? Now I remember that happening in the hospital sometimes, but those were, like we talked about, severe brain injuries. My mom's was pretty severe even though she was never hospitalized.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It was really severe. She had a subdural hematoma.
Tana Amen: But she was never hospitalized. So that's a common thing though, right? It can shut down all of your hormones.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's very common.
Tana Amen: And so people don't know it! And they wonder why they feel so terrible.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah. No, my friend Mark Gordon and I were in a new movie called Quiet Explosions. It's about how replacing your hormones can make a huge positive difference in your life. D is diabesity. It's just rampant. As Tana's keeps saying, get your diet right. S is sleep. When you get your sleep right things just get so much better. So my book Memory Rescue goes through all of these in great detail. Tana's cookbook, The Brain Warrior's Way.
Tana Amen: So one thing I want to say about sleep is that when you do ... This is one of the main things I hear with teaching the nutrition classes is that as you do all the other things, the sleep gets better. And as your sleep gets better, then you have more resistance, and you start to get better in other things. But it's like this circle. But as your diet gets better, as all these other things get better, your sleep gets better.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And there's specific things you can do, Melatonin, Magnesium-
Tana Amen: We have a great podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... hypnosis-
Tana Amen: We have a sleep specialist. One of our doctors is a sleep specialist. He's amazing.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Oh, Dr. Creado. We actually have a brand new sleep course coming, so stay tuned for that.
We hope this has been helpful. Such a common issue, but you're not stuck with the brain you have.
Tana Amen: There's hope.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Even if you've been bad to it, you can make it better. We can prove it. Stay with us.
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 5 star rating, as that helps other find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: For more information give us a call at 855-978-1363.