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"knowledge is power. Learn how your body works."

  • Team BLC

(VIDEO) Brain Health - Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Dementia & TBI

How do you have a healthy brain? What's going on behind the conditions of:




Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Dementia Alzheimer's Dx

How are they connected? What's different? What can we do naturally & holistically to impact our brain health? Does diet matter? Which one? Is everything genetic?

These questions and more will be answered by Dr. Zachary in the newest Body Love Cafe's educational class on Brain Health - bring your questions!

You know Brain Health is important... But do you know how to impact it? How much of this is really "in our head" and how much is impacted by other parts of the body?

How do we look at our brain & body as a whole?

Dr. Zachary is a DC practicing a natural, functional health approach at Body Love Cafe and her main passion is to teach and educate her patients and the public!

BRAIN HEALTH Class Outline

*signs/symptoms from Nat’l Institute for Mental Health


It is composed of nerve cells called neurons (billions) and is our most complex organ in the body - often referred to as our body’s “computer.”

Embryonically the brain and the gut were the same tissue and then divided into the CNS (Central Nervous System - brain, spinal cord, nerves) and the ENS (Enteric Nervous System - gut)

Highest amount of neurons in brain, then gut then spinal cord/nerves. (A mere 200-600 MILLION neurons in the gut!)

Gut often called “Second Brain” (it can operate independently of brain/spinal cord). Smooth muscle & MMC - new field of ‘Neurogastroenterology” from J. Neuroscience re “study of abnormalities in gut neuromuscular function and complex brain-gut interactions.”

Much to be learned but know 90-95% of serotonin produced by ENS. 50% of dopamine...bacteria impacting this production - depending on them according to the research. (Peripheral serotonin is produced in the digestive tract by enterochromaffin (EC) cells, by some types of immune cells and neurons.)

Mental, emotional and immune health largely determined by your gut bacteria.

Vagus nerve (CN X) main way of communication between brain and gut. 80-90% from gut to brain communication…

Demo Vagal Tone testing and exercises in TBI section.


Very common but serious mood disorder that can be life threatening and also change the brain over time.

In Dr. Zachary's opinion, depression is always a symptom of something else. Recommend management that treats the immediate symptoms while going after root cause.

For a dx of depression you must have symptoms present for at least two weeks.

Can impact daily life (work, home, eat, sleep), change the way you think/feel. Telling symptoms is “a lack of joy” including activities that the person normally finds pleasurable.

Some have described depression as “anger turned inward” - of course, there are physiological reasons!

Important to understand signs/symptoms because some “high functioning” individuals might not realize they have it and suffer much longer than needed which can have long-term consequences.

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood

  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism

  • Irritability

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities

  • Decreased energy or fatigue

  • Moving or talking more slowly

  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping

  • Appetite and/or weight changes

  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

Classic theory


Current understanding

complex condition that may involve any or all of the following: genetics, biochemicals, gut bacteria, immune health, neuroinflammation, infections, toxins, conditioning, trauma, personality (psychosocial)

Range of treatments

(partial list - and condition know to reoccur/relapse)


Diet (higher fat/keto, feed gut bacteria, zero sugar/processed foods/low grains), exercise (HIIT most effective), supplements (B vitamins, Neurotrophin PMG, 5-HTP), herbs (St. John’s Wort, Turmeric Forte, Skullcap, Saffron) , bodywork (chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, energy), light therapy, meditation, structure/routine, sleep hygiene, stress management


psychotherapy, behavior skills/emotional regulation (CBT/DBT), support groups, biofeedback, hypnosis, journaling


medications (antidepressants, anti-seizure, anti-psychotics, intranasal/intravenous ketamine), TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation), ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), in-patient hospitalization, outpatient day programs

⇒ Recent research with ketamine used advanced microscopic brain imaging, focusing on a region called the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC - which is involved in regulating emotions - previous research shows it can undergo changes in both mice and humans with depression.

⇒ This research showed the importance of dendritic spines are to sustaining the beneficial effects from the ketamine. The researchers hypothesized that “coupling the drug with something else that helps those new dendritic spines survive could prolong ketamine’s effects” and considered even trying a “...non-drug intervention such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is already FDA-approved as a depression treatment, and could potentially be modified to promote synapse survival.”

Please read the ROAD TO RECOVERY at www.BodyLoveCafe.comInclude SURVIVAL PLAN and to share with 3 trusted sources


Fear and/or anxious feelings that do not go away and can worsen with time interfering with daily life (work, school, family).

  • General anxiety is typically 6 months of excessive anxiety/worry almost daily. Again, important to know how some feelings of anxiety get expressed in the body:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge

  • Being easily fatigued

  • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank

  • Being irritable

  • Having muscle tension

  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry

  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep

Panic Disorder is different with unexpected panic attacks and may include the following:

  • Heart palpitations, a pounding heartbeat, or an accelerated heart rate

  • Sweating

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking

  • Feelings of impending doom

  • Feelings of being out of control

Intranasal esketamine being used as a new “off-label” medical treatment for anxiety (FDA approved for depression).GABA, Kava Forte, Gymnema, DHEA, Magnesium, Orchex

Author Unknown Poem

If the mountain seems too big today
then climb a hill instead
if the morning brings you sadness
it’s ok to stay in bed
if the day ahead weighs heavy
and your plans feel like a curse
there’s no shame in rearranging
don’t make yourself feel worse
if a shower stings like needles
and a bath feels like you’ll drown
if you haven’t washed your hair for days
don’t throw away your crown
a day is not a lifetime
a rest is not defeat
don’t think of it as failure
just a quiet, kind retreat
it’s ok to take a moment
from an anxious, fractured mind
the world will not stop turning
while you get realigned
the mountain will still be there
when you want to try again
you can climb it in your own time
just love yourself til then


A “fight-flight” response that occurs even after the danger has passed often reoccuring with more mild stimuli proving a heightened response. Symptoms can occur immediately after trauma or even years later.

Columbia U study published this month in Development and Psychopathology journal found that “adversity early in life is associated with increased gastrointestinal symptoms in children that may have an impact on the brain and behavior as they grow to maturity.

Professor of psychology at Columbia and lead author said, “Our findings indicate that gastrointestinal symptoms in young children could be a red flag for future emotional health problems.” “Previous research has demonstrated that a history of trauma or abuse has been reported in up to half of adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), at a prevalence twice that of patients without IBS.”

A doctor who has experience helping people with mental illnesses, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, can diagnose PTSD.

To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom

  • At least one avoidance symptom

  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms

  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms

Re-experiencing symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating

  • Bad dreams

  • Frightening thoughts

Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. The symptoms can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing symptoms.

Avoidance symptoms include:

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the traumatic experience

  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

Arousal and reactivity symptoms include:

  • Being easily startled

  • Feeling tense or “on edge”

  • Having difficulty sleeping

  • Having angry outbursts

Arousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic events. These symptoms can make the person feel stressed and angry. They may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

Cognition and mood symptoms include:

  • Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event

  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world

  • Distorted feelings like guilt or blame

  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

Children and teens can have extreme reactions to trauma, but their symptoms may not be the same as adults. In very young children (less than 6 years of age), these symptoms can include:

  • Wetting the bed after toilet-trained

  • Forgetting how to or being unable to talk

  • Acting out the scary event during playtime

  • Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult

Options to consider with your functional med doc:

  • GABA

  • CBD oil

  • Kava Forte

  • Neurotrophin PMG

  • Brain Rescue Remedy

  • Nevaton Forte

  • Rule out functional issues

  • Rule out infections

  • Rule out gut issues - watch Advanced Gut Health video on BLC website!

Watch The Chemistry of Food video on for detailed food/nutrition

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

TBI realities that are NEVER talked about⇒ emotion-regulation issues or episodes of explosive anger?

Recent studies have also pointed to a peculiar connection between brain injury and intestinal damage. "These results indicate strong two-way interactions between the brain and the gut that may help explain the increased incidence of systemic infections after brain trauma and allow new treatment approaches," said University of Maryland School of Medicine lead researcher Alan Faden.

Patients suffering from TBI have been two and half times more likely to die from digestive problems than a person not affected by brain injury.

After infecting TBI-inflicted mice with negative gut bacteria, the animal's brain inflammation was seen to worsen.

Vagus nerve job is to calm your body/organs after the stress response - it’s a parasympathetic balance to that sympathetic fight or flight response.

Low vagal tone can impact health and contribute to:

  • Mental health issues

  • Dysglycemia (blood sugar “rollercoaster”)

  • Digestive issues

  • Autism

  • Migraines

  • Diabetes

  • Stroke

  • Alcoholism

  • “Leaky Gut” aka Intestinal Hyperpermeability

  • Heart Disease

Vagal Tone testing and exercises

Quick gut health physical exam:

  • Stress and Vagal Tone

  • Uvula Test - CN IX & X

  • Pupillary light reflex

  • Ragland’s Test

  • Chapman’s Reflexes

  • Nutrition Scan

You can improve Vagal Tone with:

  • Deep breathing/meditation/laughter/sing

  • Yoga and/or Chanting or Humming (Ohm)

  • Eat Fiber/Probiotic foods (feed beneficial bacteria and they communicate through Vagus N)

  • Cold temperature/shower/cryotherapy

  • Massage/bodywork/fasting


Decline of mental ability (cognition) that impacts daily life and the most common dx is Alzheimer’s.

Eat fat…(brain 60% fat, nerve sheath 70% fat)

Biggest issues to manage (per Dr. Bredesen):

  • Insulin resistance (“Type 3 Diabetes”)

  • Inflammation/Infections

  • Hormone, nutrient, and trophic factor optimization (Trophic factors in the brain stimulate cell proliferation and differentiation and promote growth in differentiated cells)

  • Toxins (chemical, biological, and physical)

  • Restoration and protection of lost (or dysfunctional) synapses

Alzheimer's Dx

Dr. Dale Bredesen has shared over 300 case studies using his protocol that have been effective in reversing cognitive decline from neurodegenerative diseases (ex. Dementia/Alzheimer’s Dx)

Amyloid precursor protein (APP) occurs naturally in the brain and depending on how it is cut by enzymes to create smaller segments it becomes:Healthy for the brain or Toxic for the brain (such as amyloid-beta plaque)

Used to think amyloid plaque was the end-all-be-all with AD but not accurate. They could be protective because they:

  • Acts as an antimicrobial

  • Binds to toxins (like heavy metals)

  • Protects against inflammation

Soooooo….Bredesen’s claim is that AD is a protective response to the issues we listed above under the dementia heading THEREFORE the key isn’t to reduce the amyloid plaques it is to reverse/minimize WHY they are being formed in the first place. (Similar to Cholesterol and plaquing in arteries) This is HUGE people and what functional medicine is all about!

3 Types of AD

Per The Bredesen Protocol


All things that contribute to neuroinflammation (inflammation in the brain) can contribute to Alzheimer's Disease (AD):

  • AGEs

  • ApoE4 (and ApoE3)

  • Diet High in Lectins

  • Imbalances in fatty acids (omegas)

  • Infections

  • Insulin Resistance

  • Leaky Gut or Leaky Blood Brain Barrier

  • Neuroinflammation

  • Toxins (incl metals)

Metabolic/Trophins Loss

As a result of imbalances in the endocrine system (hormones) and nutrient depletion, as well as neurotrophic loss (brain breaking down faster than it can regrow--BDNF think “garage mechanic for brain”).

  • ApoE4

  • Hormone Imbalances (Vitamin D, Sex and Neuro Steroids, Thyroid)

  • Insulin Resistance

  • Methylation Problems

  • Mitochondrial Damage

  • Neurotrophic Loss (atrophy in brain)

  • Nutrient Depletion


Toxin/infectious type is more environmental and likely to see after age 80.

  • ApoE3 (more common)

  • Biotoxins

  • Heavy Metals (including amalgams)

  • Hormonal Imbalances

  • HPA-Axis Imbalances

  • Infections (such as mold, Lyme, HSV, active EBV, oral/nasal/gut dysbiosis)

  • Low Zinc/high copper ratio

  • Psychiatric disorders (correlation)

  • Toxins (including pesticides, NSAIDS, PPIs, statins, and other drugs)

Bredesen’s Protocol

highlights for testing




Vitamins C, D, E

Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio

A/G ratio (albumin:globulin)

Fasting insulin, glucose, hemoglobin A1C

LDL-p or Oxd LDL

Cholesterol, HDL, Triglycerides


RBC thiamine pyrophosphate

Vitamin D

Estradiol (E2)





Testosterone, free testosterone

TSH, T3 free, T4 free, reverse T3

ApoE 4

Leaky Gut assessment

Heavy metal testing

Microbiomes - NO pathogens - gut, oral , nasal

(rec Spectracell, Cyrex/Dunwoody, DUTCH, 23andMe, HTMA, OATs, GI-MAP)

CNS Vital Signs, Brain HQ or other cognitive performance testingMRI with volumetrics imaging

Sleep study

$8425 online to order ALL the test but not imaging!!!

Our pricing for most of the blood tests would be $100-$200. The heavy metals $100. The gut health testing $300-600 depending on the test. 23andMe is $100-200 and sometimes has promo codes for considerably less. The DUTCH is $275.

Bredesen’s Protocol

highlights for treatment

Fix the CAUSE (infections, toxins, inflammation)

  • Lifestyle changes

  • Diet, supplements

  • Optimize hormones with bioidentical hormones, supplements and/or herbs

A few treatment highlights:


  • Cruciferous foods/supplements, glutathione, zinc

  • Activated charcoal, manganese, vit B6, vit C

  • Sauna


  • 8 hours sleep/bed before midnight/no blue light at night/no EMFs at night

  • Do brain-stimulating activity/games/exercise

  • Minimize stress/oral hygiene/coconut oil-pulling


  • Ketoflex 12/3

  • Light nutritional ketosis, high fiber, eat 12 hour window, stop 3 hours before bed

  • MCT oil until insulin sensitivity normalizes then switch to avocado/olive oil

  • Many uncooked veggies

  • Fast 12 hrs/day

Eat regularly:

  • Avocados

  • Artichokes

  • Beets

  • Cilantro

  • Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli/broccoli sprouts, various types of cabbage, kale, radishes, Brussels sprouts, turnips, watercress, kohlrabi, rutabaga, arugula, horseradish, maca, rapini, daikon, wasabi, and bok choy)

  • Dandelions

  • Garlic

  • Ginger

  • Grapefruit

  • Jicama

  • Kimchi

  • Leafy greens (such as kale spinach, and lettuce)

  • Leeks

  • Lemons

  • Mushrooms

  • Olive oil

  • Onions

  • Pasture raised eggs

  • Resistant starches (such as sweet potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, and green bananas)

  • Sauerkraut

  • Seaweed

  • Tea (oolong, black, and green)

  • Wild-caught fish (SMASH fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring)


  • Dairy (occasional cheese or plain yogurt fine, best is Organic Pastures)

  • Fruits (high glycemic ones especially)

  • Gluten

  • Grains

  • High mercury fish (ex. tuna, shark, and swordfish)

  • Processed foods

  • Sugar and simple carbs (including breads, wheats, rice, cookies, cakes, candies, sodas, etc)

Some important notes re diet:

  • Avoid overheating foods (as it creates AGEs)

  • Fish is good, but don't do too much meat.

  • Remove all inflammatory lectins

  • If you do eat fruits, make sure they are higher in fiber and not as juice.

  • Include lots of good fats in your diet (such as avocados, olive oil, MCT oils like caprylic acid, and if non-lectin sensitive then nuts and seeds oils are okay)

  • Use digestive enzymes

  • Include probiotics and prebiotics

List from The Bredesen Protocol and mybiohack

Body Love Cafe - Dr. Brandy Zachary, DC, ACN - Walnut Creek, CA 94598 - 925-788-6300 - Body Love Cafe by Dr. Brandy Zachary, DC. Statements not evaluated by FDA, not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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