We are facing an explosion of childhood development disorders these days. The rates of ADD, ADHD, autism, and dyslexia continue to mushroom, and kids today are increasingly having a hard time maintaining healthy brain function.
Research shows much of this is due to brain inflammation. As research continues to reveal these underlying mechanisms, we can use functional medicine principles to develop more effective ways to help with these children.
The childhood brain develops through the late teens. Gray matter develops completely by about age 8 or 9, and white matter develops until about age 18 or 19. In the first few years of life, the neurons in the child’s brain migrate to the areas of the brain where they will live permanently and branch out to one another to form neuronal pathways.
For proper brain development to occur, these neuronal migrations and connections must be pruned so they grow in the right direction and form proper connections.
Cells in the brain called glial cells actively prune and modulate how neurons migrate, direct their migration to the right locations, and remove debris, protein aggregation, and dead cell matter. This helps the brain develop in the most efficient way possible.
(Learn more about this during my weekend course happening May 18–19: Neuroinflammation.)
In addition to facilitating proper brain development, glial cells also function as part of the brain’s immune system. However, unlike the immune system in the rest of the body, which has a system to turn on and turn off inflammatory reactions, glial cells do not have an easy off-switch. Instead, chronic inflammation pushes glial cells to stay over-activated, resulting in a cascade of damage to surrounding brain tissue.
When glial cells become activated by an inflammatory insult — such as a brain injury, dietary or chemical triggers, poor gut health, or brain autoimmunity passed on from the mother while in utero — they are no longer able to do their job of managing neuron migration, neuron connectivity, neuron synaptic response (communication between brain cells), and debris removal. These processes are all critical for proper brain development.
If you know a child with any type of developmental delay, whether its ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, a learning disability, tics, OCD, or other brain-based disorder, you must definitely consider a neuroinflammatory component. Neuroinflammation is caused by factors that over-activate glial cells, taking them away from their jobs of facilitating proper development and instead shunting them into soldiers of destruction.
This can start prior to birth — a newborn’s brain can be dramatically influenced by the mother’s neuroinflammation during pregnancy. In addition, the mother’s gut microbiome, the community of bacteria in the intestinal tract, influences the activity of glial cells in the child’s brain. These factors are critical to address during prenatal care.
Managing these issues in the developing brain is more complex than adopting an anti-inflammatory diet or adding anti-inflammatory supplements, though those strategies are helpful. It requires a more thorough understanding of the various possible mechanisms based on breakthrough research in the last few years.
What’s exciting, however, is that compared to 10 years ago, we now have many more tools at our disposal to help children with these developmental issues.
I’m teaching a new course on how to identify and treat neuroinflammation — a common underlying cause of childhood brain development disorders.
If you’re seeing patients with childhood brain development disorders but feel like you’re hitting a dead end, this course will help. If you’re a lay person who is science-savvy and self-educated on health, this course can also help you help your child.
It’s based on over 20 years of experience working with patients, breakthrough scientific research, and clinical strategies.
By the end of the Neuroinflammation course, you’ll have a clinical model you can immediately use to help your current patients and attract more patients to your practice. If you’re a lay person you’ll have a deeper understanding of chronic brain issues based on the newest research.
The Neuroinflammation class happens live north of San Diego May 18–19, 2019 … you can also attend via livestream. Purchasing the course gives you one full year of access to the course materials and videos.
The class will also be available for purchase after the live date.