Three…No, Five! Science-Validated Natural Therapies Post Concussion
Richard Maurer, ND — @drrichardmaurer — http://facebook.com/bloodcode
April 2017, I have re-written this older post since my 21 year old son had a head injury that was slow to bounce back. I went into some more recent research (2016-2017) and thought it important to add two other things to my first list of Hydration / fish oil / protein intake. The two new ones are Citi-choline (for the first 1-3 months following injury) and extra vitamin D, 2000 iu per day extra.
First-off, the most relied upon therapy once concussion is confirmed, is the abstinence of mental / brain stimulation – this includes screen time and mental effort. It is clear to anyone who treats concussions, how disruptive this is to the academic environment at school. With guidance; mental activity can be resumed, but gradually. Subsequent concussions require greater treatment vigilance because brain damage is more evident with multiple concussive events. With three children involved in different sports and schools, I have been involved in educating the community about natural therapies that carry promise for post-concussion healing. Here are three well-established interventions.
1 – FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTATION
Double up on fish oil, or just begin fish oil if not already in your daily routine.
This goes to a rat study in the Journal of Neurosurgery, July 2010 by the Zone and fish oil advocate Barry Sears. The punchline in this study reads, ““Animals receiving the daily fish oil supplement for 30 days post concussion had a greater than 98 percent reduction in brain damage compared with the animals that did not receive the supplement.”
How much can we assume will provide benefit to humans, well the rat study is not a perfect corollary but I suggest getting at least 1 gram of DHA and double that of EPA. This requires 5 High potency capsules or 1 generous TBS of liquid fish oil (Carlson’s finest fish oil).
2 – HYDRATION (When in doubt, hydrate)
Post-concussion brain damage is made worse with dehydration and the fluid and mineral disruptions that deprive the normal brain nutrition and metabolism. Staying hydrated is key.
3 – Protein intake—Don’t give in to low appetite and eat less at this time, instead insure adequate dietary protein.
Published in April of 2011, the US Department of Defense assembled a team of researchers to assess different therapies that might mitigate brain damage from TBI. In the Globe and Mail online, nutritional intake in the 24 – 48 hours post concussion was summarized, “Providing the brain with food for energy quickly after the injury occurs may mitigate the level of consequences you undergo as a result of the concussion. Speedy delivery of a high-protein foods immediately after the injury and followed up with a high-protein diet for a couple of weeks may alleviate future problems and help you recover quicker.” Meat is an effective source of protein to include in your diet because it also contains sufficient amounts of creatine, which provides your brain with substantial amounts of quick energy. Meats are concentrated natural protein sources that help reach the recommended dose of protein within the day – 1 gram of protein/kg body weight. [The Blood Code recommendation is 1 gram of protein/pound of lean body mass. –RM]
[In my experience, vegetarians and those with inappropriate dietary restriction of nutrient-dense foods suffer the longest from even mild concussion events. My interest and lectures for the Paleo Conferences and Weston a Price Conventions are, in part, related to my clarity that nutrient dense, animal based diets are best for sports and for those of us, like me, that desire high performance out of their human body and mind. – RM]
4 – Very simply, assure there is a little extra vitamin D supplementally. I recommend an additional 1000 to 2000 iu per day extra. In the month following a concussion, Vitamin D (VDH) supplementation has demonstrated neuroprotective properties. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27185224]
5 – CITI-CHOLINE (aka: CDP Choline): Old research is found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1940965
I have seen numerous promising recent studies showing benefit at lower doses. I have settled and recommended 250 mg twice daily for 1-3 months post concussion. The CDP Choline product I recommended is by Jarrow – cheapest here:
You can find these supplements through FULLSCRIPT here.
Danger Zone in the days post-concussion:
It is important to realize that the danger zone following a concussion can last up to 48 hours, with the first 24 hours being the most critical. Contact a physician if these symptoms arise:
- A headache that gets continually worse
- Slurred speech
- One pupil larger than the other or other visual disturbances
- Change in sleeping pattern — such as sleeping much more than normal
- Confusion and restlessness