Beyond Dynamic, the Brain is Neuroplastic: Rewiring Brains to Create Modern “Miracles!”
There’s a palpable sense of anticipation, excitement, and urgency when like-minded integrative practitioners from across the globe gather together in one space. We all share the common goal to better support our clients and patients by plugging into the expertise of the sharpest thought leaders in medicine. The overriding hope of all attendees is to leave with new insights and the ability to apply emerging and successful methods to approach various challenging conditions.
I’m back from the Institute for Functional Medicine’s Annual International Conference!
This meeting of the minds didn’t fail to exceed the goals and deliver the hope that the participants desired.
In fact, “amazing” doesn’t go far enough to describe what I learned on the powerful ability of our brains to “rewire” and “re-fire” neural pathways. Who knew of all the ways to create new patterns of behavior and alleviate symptoms that appeared to be “untreatable” brain conditions!?
It is truly miraculous.
Let me start from the beginning.
The Dynamic Gathering
Throughout the years of being a licensed naturopathic doctor, I have been to many conferences. Admittingly, this is partly due to the fact that keeping up with the latest in medicine is a requirement for my continuing education. However, more importantly, for me, attending them is for all the reasons I stated in my last blog. This particular gathering was no exception.
You see, typically, conventional continuing medical education centers around non-participatory lectures. It is usually esteemed and well credentialed doctors and scientists reporting on their latest drug or interventional trials. Usually the results are tied into applications for the clinical setting. The hope is that this new pill, or a different way of approaching delivery, will provide better outcomes for real patients, not just the participants in the experimental studies.
This is where the conferences in naturopathic, holistic, and functional medicine are a bit different. We are seeking new approaches that move beyond our expensive healthcare system with its insanely sad statistics in accomplishing beneficial medical outcomes.
Our hope is to access clinical results for our complex patients, not experimental results of generalized populations. We seek to find the cause of imbalances and map out system matrixes for a truly comprehensive body, mind, and spirit approach. This stretches us beyond the current models of thinking in medicine and hope for a panacea. Therefore, we need access to doctors who are seeing results using a new way of thinking.
After our brains have been worked out, and our wallets are a bit lighter, we want to return to our “Sally” and “Billy” with a smile. These two, who we have been ruminating about late into the night, can now receive actionable ways to move them beyond their plateaus. It takes work on the clinician’s part of learning and Sally and Billy’s part in making the lifestyle shifts. (I suggest essential oils to help with that shift!)
In this way, the creation of new partnerships of more empowered doctors and patients in medicine is formed.
With each new union, we are changing the way medicine is done.
Do you see how this is miraculous?
What Happens When Science Is Properly Applied Clinically?
There’s another way that these gatherings are different from typical lectures that report on lowering a clinical marker, decreasing symptoms, or suppressing suffering…
We see how “miracles” are achieved.
We see the faces of those changed by these methods, we see the emerging scientific trials with real life patients, not isolated and controlled studies.
It makes me believe in a new modern-day miracle.
With every new client, I see a new “miracle.” But, it’s not really a miracle, its science properly applied.
Do you believe in these kinds of miracles?
Imagine What Happens When You Exercise the Brain!
So, with each conference, I have seen amazing things, especially with functional medicine. Still, never have I seen such a large compilation of “everyday miracles” in three days!
It comes down to one word…
What is it? Here’s MedicineNet’s definition:
Neuroplasticity: The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.
Brain reorganization takes place by mechanisms such as “axonal sprouting” in which undamaged axons grow new nerve endings to reconnect neurons whose links were injured or severed. Undamaged axons can also sprout nerve endings and connect with other undamaged nerve cells, forming new neural pathways to accomplish a needed function.
The old belief that our brains were static and couldn’t be “fixed” is being scientifically debunked!
Imagine what happens when this is brought into clinical practice?
It’s… well astounding.
When You Apply Functional Medicine Concepts and Clinical Relevance to Neuroanatomy and Brain Function, You Access the Power of Functional Neurology
Many of the speakers, but especially Dr. Kharrazian’s presentations on how traumatic brain injury effects the brain-gut axis and his engrossing lecture on the rehabilitation of the brain, exceeded my expectations on what was possible for the everyday clinician to accomplish with the brain!!!
In between learning the delicate nuances of the brain’s biochemistry and genetic vulnerabilities, impressive and individualized supplementation and lifestyle changes for creating neurogenesis, and mind-body techniques, was this missing link to truly support recovery of damaged brains- functional neurology and a whole array of “new” applications. Our sessions ranged from systems biology, hormones, genomics, diet, and exercise, to less known practices such as sensoriogenomics, NeuroMovement, and virtual reality. (My other favorite presentation was Dr. Titus Chiu, Healing the Brain with Sensorigenomics.)
I made it a point to go to presentations that were using new methods to “rewire” the brain and rehabilitate damaged neural pathways by “exercising” and reinforcing new ones. The results were astounding, as all the presenters showed us real life patients who had been changed for the better with these applications.
I was astounded when diving into the PDF notes of the clinical applications of combining functional medicine with the concept of neuroplasticity. Before I get too geeky on you, suffice to say, I’m excited on providing more ways to activate your and my clients’ brains!! I will continue to dive into the notes within the next few months and beyond!
As I integrate the material, I’m sure I’ll be sharing more. I will probably be asking my clients more questions about their physical exam findings from their doctors and various brain function questions, so you guys be prepared!
For more information:
Here’s a 16-minute clip on some of what Dr. Datis taught us. It’s a lot of big words, but the big picture is moving beyond supplementation with providing “brain exercises” and the “neuron basics” of oxygen, stimulation, and glucose, to enable the formation of new pathways.
You can watch a great overview of the full forum below:
Creating a Happy Neuron Bath
As Dr. Kharrazian mentioned, we have to bath the neurons in a healthy environment. One way is to get rid of the toxins it is surround in. Click here to read how to transform an area in your body you may not normally think of as a source of toxicity, your mouth!