Dr. Titus Chiu specializes in post-concussion syndrome. He joins me today to talk about post-concussion syndrome, leaky brain, brain inflammation, and how to safeguard your brain.
Listen to the Episode
85% of people who have concussions recover within a few weeks. There is the unlucky 15% that don’t, and they develop post-concussive syndrome.
– Dr. Titus Chiu
Common symptoms of post-concussion syndrome:
- Sound sensitivity
- Motion sensitivity
- Light sensitivity
- Motion sickness
- Sleep disturbances
- Brain fog
- Brain fatigue
What ends up happening, even from things like a whiplash where you don’t hit your head, even when you land on your shoulder or outstretched arm and don’t even hit your head, the force gets transduced up your body into that little fishbowl where the brain is sloshing around. A very common myth is that you need to actually hit your head to have a concussion. You don’t, and you don’t need to black out and lose consciousness to have a concussion.
– Dr. Titus Chiu
About Dr. Titus Chiu
Dr. Titus Chiu is a #1 bestselling author, award-winning international speaker, and Functional Neurologist that specializes in Post-Concussion Syndrome. Dr. Chiu helps health-conscious professionals heal their brains and regain their lives after a concussion by getting to the root cause. He is the #1 bestselling author of BrainSAVE! Learn more about Dr. Chiu’s unique approach to brain health at www.brainsave.com.
In a lot of people who have had concussions, that filter no longer works. So any little visual movement, even if the person is not moving, can trigger nausea, dizziness, motion sickness, vertigo, headaches, and all kinds of symptoms. Light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, motion sensitivity. In addition, I see a lot of people who have anxiety, and psychological symptoms. Maybe they have anxiety before the concussion and then afterwards- just unmanageable.
– Dr. Titus Chiu
In This Episode
- What post-concussive syndrome is. [6:13]
- Why some people don’t realize they have post-concussive syndrome. [6:58]
- Why you might not know that you have a concussion. [7:29]
- Two common myths about concussions. [8:40]
- Why post-concussive syndrome is so tricky, especially for conventional medicine. [9:24]
- The functional neurological approach to post-concussive syndrome. [10:55]
- Warning signs and symptoms of an acute concussion. [15:08]
- What to do if you have a concussion. [17:00]
- What leaky brain is and how it relates to brain inflammation and concussions. [22:20]
- Clues that you might have a leaky brain. [25:46]
- Some simple ways to activate your vagus nerve to heal a leaky brain. [38:42]
- Things you can do to safeguard your brain. [49:02]
Links & Resources
Get a FREE gift from Dr. Chiu: https://www.brainsave.com/blog/6-warning-signs-leaky-brain
Dr. Titus Chiu 0:00
If you have a physical insult like a physical trauma, but that initiates this biochemical trauma
Dr. Stephanie Gray 0:16
Welcome to the your longevity blueprint podcast. I'm your host Dr. Stephanie gray. My number one goal with the show is to help you discover your personalized plan to build your dream health and live a longer, happier, truly healthier life. You're about to hear from Dr. Titus two today we're talking all about the brain specifically leaky brain brain inflammation post concussive syndrome and how to safeguard it let's get started
Welcome to another episode of The your longevity blueprint podcast today my guest is Dr. Titus Chu, who is the number one best selling author award winning international speaker and functional neurologist that specializes in post concussion syndrome Dr. Chu helps health conscious professionals heal their brains and regain their lives after concussion by getting to the root cause he's the number one best selling author of brain save learn more about Dr. Chu's unique approach to brain health at brain save.com And listen to today's episode. Welcome to the show. Dr. Chu.
Dr. Titus Chiu 1:15
Thank you. It's good to see you, Stephanie. Dr. Gray, aka Steph.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 1:21
Like I said, I go by whatever you want to call it. Well tell me I start every episode with my guests story. So how did you happen to become a functional neurologist? If I said that right?
Dr. Titus Chiu 1:31
Yeah, you guys. So yeah, it started about 20 years ago, I was in a really big bad car accident. And yeah, I was actually I was on my way to work one day on my scooter. I was actually living overseas at the time, I was on my way, before I became a doctor, I chose to teach little kids English. That's a different story. But I was have my way to work by car didn't make the best life choices back then. But yes, I was wearing a helmet because I'm glad that I did. Because if I wasn't, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Because I was on the scooter I got hit by the car flew off of it, landed about 10 feet from the scooter broke my ribs, dislocated my shoulder and suffered a concussion. And actually, the impact of that force was so strong that although I was wearing a helmet, and it was buckled in, when I like set up, the helmet was off like it was so strong that boom, actually off of me. So luckily, I survived, obviously, but I ended up with chronic pain, and all the terrible symptoms of a concussion afterwards. I had dealt with for many years afterwards. Actually, a lot of what I tried within the time is interesting, because at the time, I didn't even realize I had a concussion. Because all of my focus and attention was on getting rid of this, like physical pain. Like even though everything healed, I ended up with chronic neck pain and shoulder pain and everything I tried within commercial medicine just didn't cut it. And so I actually decided to go outside the box and I studied, I got a postdoc in clinical neurology, I got a master's in nutrition, I studied chiropractic, acupuncture, functional medicine, anything that I can get my hands on to figure out this pain. And I'm so glad that I did because along the way, a lot of things that I learned in school, I began tinkering with my own health in my own brain. And many of the chronic body symptoms went away. But it was interesting, because throughout that time, when I was in school, I started to develop these brain symptoms. And this was already a few years after that car accident, I started to develop more brain fog and kind of what's known as vertigo, these episodes where I would just I was I remember, I'd be sitting down eating a taco, and all of a sudden, the whole room would move. And I almost fell off my chairs. Like, there's actually quite scary because I had no idea what was going on. And then I finally realized I put two and two together. I'm like, oh my goodness, a lot of these physical and neurological symptoms I was dealing with were from the original car accident. In addition to that, I started to just get more anxious and worried. And I never really had those issues growing up. I'm like, what's going on? And again, when I kind of sat down and reflect it, just like I do with my patients, you know, as you know, you take a deep history, I did that with myself. And I'm like, oh my goodness, a lot of this started when I had that car accident. So then it was really ironic because at the time, I was already practicing neurology, like helping a lot of patients heal their brains naturally. And so I understood the brain. I just didn't realize that I can cache it. So it's like this light bulb went off. I'm like, Oh my goodness. So I took a deeper dive into the world of concussion as already practicing. Like I said, I did the postdoc goes through practicing helping patients. But I want even deeper into the world of concussion and concussion science, because it's a completely different beast than even other natural medicine approaches when it comes to brain health, and especially concussion. So that's really and then I came up with a lot of discoveries along the way principles, dare I say, shortcuts and even secrets to healing the brain naturally. And in particular, things like concussion and leaky brain, which we could talk about in a little bit. But yeah, and I knew I was onto something, because a lot of stuff that I was discovering that was just shocking, just was not available. So that's why I wrote my book, I put together some online courses to get this information out there to the people that really needed it that were struggling, that weren't getting the answers or feeling better with the usual treatments.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 5:52
Let's go back in time, I do want to talk about both leaky brain and it sounds like what you were dealing with his post concussive syndrome. Am I saying that correctly?
Dr. Titus Chiu 6:00
Yeah. Posted considered post concussion. There's overall what that is what you just described, it's when someone tell me exactly when someone has a concussion and get this 85% of people who have concussions, within a few weeks, they recover. There's this 15%, the unlucky 50%. I like to say that don't and I was one of them. And that's where you develop what's known as post concussion syndrome. It's having a conglomeration of different symptoms, after you know, months or even years. And for me, it was years after it my original head injury. And so yeah, so like you said, can post concussion syndrome and leaky brain and they really go hand in hand. But so that's what post concussion syndrome is. But one thing a lot of people and I see this a lot in my practice, one thing I see with my patients is, because I actually think concussions that 85% That's actually I think a lot more people don't recover. I think that percentage a lot less a lot of people just don't realize it like I didn't realize it for many years. One of the thing reasons why is because the inflammatory effects of the concussion could last for weeks or months and, like develop over time. So and like when I was in that car accident, like I said to you, I was so focused on my pain that I didn't even pay attention was ever in my brain, right. But in addition to that, another reason why I think it's so uncommon, like, it's actually really a silent epidemic, because a lot of people don't even realize that they have a concussion, because you don't even need to hit your head to have a concussion. Because your brain right it sits so I'm holding up a model of my my plastic cultural brain here, pretty painted that just for the show. So your brain, it sits in like a little bowl that sits in what we call cerebrospinal fluid. So it's like floats around. And so most people think, you know, when I talk to my patients, I go, have you ever had a concussion like that never hit never? Like, well, have you ever had a concussion? Like no, never mind. You know what? That car accident that you're in where you had whiplash and all of your symptoms developed after that the vertigo, the depression, the anxiety, the autoimmunity, the gut symptoms, that was a concussion, because what ends up happening, if you even from things like a whiplash where you don't hit your head, I've even had patients who are riding a bike, they fell off their bike landed on their shoulder or on their outstretched arm, didn't even hit their head. But guess what? The force transduced up their body into that little goldfish bowl, and the brain was sloshing around. So that's a very common myth is that you need to actually hit your head to have a concussion, you don't. Number two, you don't need to black out or lose consciousness to have a concussion. I didn't black out, but I developed all the symptoms of concussion ones years after that. So that's one thing, but then from there, like we were saying, post concussion syndrome is where you have these symptoms that develop months or years after that original injury. And there's a neurological mechanism for that actually, neural immunological, we can talk about in a second, but some of the symptoms that can come up and that's why post concussion syndrome is so tricky, especially for conventional medicine, is because the symptoms are completely varied and unique based on which area of the brain was injured. So as an example, like how many of you out there listening to this right now are watching this experience brain fog or like brain fatigue or are easily distractible. Or maybe you've been diagnosed ADHD or you have a child who has look Guess what? This area of the nervous system that sits at the front of our brain called the prefrontal cortex Those are in charge of all those things I just described. So if someone has damage to their prefrontal cortex, they can develop brain fog, brain fatigue, like distractibility, depression even. Whereas if someone and a very another common area that can be injured in a concussion is what we call the cerebellum, and the cerebellum is all about balance and coordination and core stability, so common symptoms after that chronic neck or back pain that just does not respond to the usual treatments could be the cerebellum, problems of balance or coordination, maybe feel like a bit clumsy these days, you knock things over your you find yourself, like bumping into walls or door frames when you're trying to exit a room. That could be your cerebellum. That's why it's so tricky, I think, because a lot of conventional medicine approach, it looks at what is the symptom? And how do we give you a medication for that symptom. Whereas with this approach, functional neurology, we're looking at the root cause which area of the brain was injured from that concussion? And then once we identify it, the great news is, there's things we can do through the miracle of neuroplasticity, your brain's ability to change its shape, structure and function based on your experiences, you can actually heal from a concussion just like I was able to. So anyways, yeah, that's post concussion syndrome. Some of the most common symptoms I do see, though, right are things like light and sound sensitivity or motion sensitivity. I have a lot of patients who after a concussion, I'll be walking down the supermarket aisle, and they just get triggered. They have no idea why they're like, Whoa, I don't feel good. It's because of this visual movement happening. It's not actually even movement with your body. I guess the best example for everyone out there is when you're sitting at a stoplight. Haven't you ever sat at a stoplight? Stephanie and you're sitting at your car and you're parked at your stop? Do you know you are and you see in the corner of your eye, another car move and you think you're moving? You're like, oh my goodness, you grab that? Yeah, I've done that many times. That's a visual, it's what we call an opto, kinetic response. There's different areas of our nervous system that can control that and suppress that. And a lot of people have had concussions, that filter no longer works. So any little visual movement, even if the person's not moving can trigger nausea, dizziness, motion sickness, vertigo, headaches, all kinds of symptoms. So that's very common light, sensitivity, sound sensitivity, motion sensitivity. In addition, I see a lot of people who have anxiety, right, like these quote unquote, psychological symptoms that maybe they had anxiety a little bit before the concussion, but then afterwards, boom, just unmanageable, or I've had patients who never had anxiety developed it after, it's kind of like I did, those are common. There's also a lot of sleep disturbances overall, it's like there's physical symptoms, like obviously pain, you can also have mental symptoms like brain fog, brain fatigue, you can have emotional symptoms like anxiety, or depression, and then sleep symptoms as well. That's in a nutshell, that's a post concussion syndrome is but again, it's all about figuring out for that person, what is the root cause which area of the nervous system was injured, so then we can put in some tender loving care to begin healing it. And again, the beautiful thing is, once we identify what the root cause is, healing is possible.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 13:27
Thank you for going over all those symptoms of post concussion syndrome. I was going to ask you what those were, and you went ahead and went there. But let's rewind What about when someone has a concussion. So if someone really does get their head or let's say they fall, I like that you pointed out you don't have to hit your head. And I guess I'll use an example of myself my I had a bad snowboarding accident where I deformed my tailbone. And at the time, I didn't realize that I probably also had a concussion, but a chiropractor said no, you definitely had a concussion from that and I didn't hit my head. I didn't really pay if I did. I don't remember. No. I didn't think of I didn't think of that as being a concussion. You know what I mean? I thought of it as being just a bad ball. Like I hit my tailbone. But yeah, I could have hit my Well, yeah. My brain.
Dr. Titus Chiu 14:10
Yeah, depending on the force is transduced up the spinal column, and it shakes up the your brain sitting in that little fishbowl, right? It's possible.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 14:20
So now that it listeners individuals are aware of the falls and not necessarily hitting their head can lead to having a concussion. Can we go to that moment? So tell us about just the concussion? What should individuals monitor for what what are signs and symptoms of a concussion? Especially in kids? I know before we started recording, I was mentioning to you I have a three and a half year old and he is a little ninja he does flips. He is it has had so many times I it's just the truth and other parents go Oh, it's just a boy thing. You know, boys hit their heads, but I am legitimately nervous, like, should he be in gymnastics or not being?
Dr. Titus Chiu 14:53
Now I get that question all the time. Yeah. So let's unpack the first thing. So like you said after concussion, obviously, some of the most the warning signs are if you end up feeling dizziness or vertigo or nausea and vomiting, that's a serious thing. So I specialize just to be clear, I specialize in post concussion syndrome. So I work with a lot of people, months or years, they've been looking for answers, or they didn't even realize there, they had a concussion at the all these mystery symptoms. So I work more with this unraveling, right, so it's more chronic, but then what we're describing yet very important is that a huge stage. And so if you develop any of those symptoms, you definitely want to get checked out by a medical doctor or go to the emergency room get scans done, because it's no joke. Thankfully, at least a lot of the patients I work with, I mean, actually, thankfully, and also at the same time very frustrating for them. When they get the scans done later on either right then or weeks or months later, most of the time they come up completely normal. They're like what's going on? And the doctor is just like, oh, it's in your head, take these, you know, medications for that? Well, the thing is that it's actually it is in your head. But like I said, the different areas, we call these neural networks that make up your brain and then lead to your experiences of good health or brain symptoms, right. With the case of an acute concussion, though. Yeah, like those are some typical warning signs. Those are the most dangerous ones, especially vomiting, one of the most important things during that time after you get checked out and make sure you're medically safe. Because yeah, after that car accident, I was taken to the hospital by way of ambulance, and they did all the tests and made sure that I was not going to die. So step one, don't. Okay, but then step two, right? It is actually important to rest, right in terms of, you know, things that you can do, especially when you feel it right. And that's the thing, because and we'll talk about this in a little bit. But what actually happens in the brain after a concussion, what the a lot of times people feel really sleepy. So definitely listen to that, because I have so many patients, they're just like, oh, yeah, I fell on my tailbone after snowboarding. And I've just like our I was in a soccer game and I got knocked out. But then my coach is like, oh, go back in there. They went continue to play. And even if they didn't get bumped again, that's like the last thing you want to do, because the brain is in a very sensitized laboratory state. So listen to your body. So step one, don't die, let's step to listen to your body. If you need that rest and downtime, get it but a lot of research, believe it or not, like another myth, a blow out of the water, it's not good to just completely rest, like after about 72 hours, maybe for some people a bit more. Again, listen to your body, it's actually good to start getting more movement and exercise. And one of the best things I found what the research shows to again, number one if you're not dead, and you're medically stable, alright, and then number two, you are listening and resting is stationary bike. Because when you do stationary bike, you're getting the good cardiovascular benefits, you're getting oxygen to your brain, you're boosting BDNF, and as long as you don't overdo it, it's very healing for the brain. And the reason why I say stationary is because you're not moving your head. And that's the thing that the most important thing is to avoid a lot of these jolts as much as possible. Again, life happens, especially the first few weeks afterwards. Um, but again, the research shows that yeah, just like like a lot of unfortunately, a doctor just said, Just rest, you know, don't do anything. That's against what the current research shows. But everyone's different. So obviously, talk to your doctor first.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 18:51
So you've also mentioned this concept of leaky brain. So what is leaky brain? And how does that relate to brain inflammation and even concussions putting this together for us?
Dr. Titus Chiu 18:59
Absolutely. So remember how I said 85% People they recover? 15% don't what I found is one of the main reasons why the 15% don't is because what we call brain inflammation or neuro inflammation. So what actually happens during a concussion, right? Regardless, if you actually hit your head or you just get a strong jolt to your body, you have a physical insult, like a physical trauma, but that initiates this biochemical trauma. It's an inflammatory cascade. There's these immune cells within your nervous system called microglial cells that when they get activated, they release chemicals that are very inflammatory and damaging to the nervous system. And so what ends up happening you have is physical trauma. Then you have the trigger of a chemical trauma. And that's what continues and perpetuates into post concussion syndrome and if not properly address, that's one of the reasons why people like you about all the time like NFL players, hockey players, they develop what's known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. That's kind of like the end game of concussions, on Manage like the improperly treated or managed. And the tragic thing is what I found. It just doesn't develop overnight. That's not the tragic thing. That tragic thing is because of that there's so many points along that journey, that you can change that person's life and trajectory of their health. That was the case for me. Because I, if I hadn't discovered all the things that I learned and applied it to my health, I'd probably be headed down that path of CTE or at the very least, I mean, when you have a concussion is unmanaged, increases your risk for Alzheimer's doubles your risk for dementia, multiple sclerosis, all these terrible things. And even if you don't develop those things, you end up having brain fog and brain fatigue and the quality of your life is just not what it can be. But again, the good news is because it doesn't develop overnight, there's a lot of things that you can do, one of the biggest things I've learned is identifying leaky brain. So just to kind of recap, when you have a physical trauma, right, that happens with the head injury or concussion, you then trigger this chemical reaction, inflammation, and inflammation can be very damaging to your brain. The interesting thing is, though, inflammation is actually a necessary part of the healing response. So it's actually there for a reason. The problem is when it gets stuck in the arm position, leading to chronic inflammation, one of the most common hidden root causes that most doctors don't know about, for chronic brain inflammation is leaky brain. And so your brain is not only protected by the skull, we talked about that fishbowl but surrounding all the surrounding your brain is what we call the blood brain barrier. So just like in your gut, you have a gut barrier that protects your body from all these creepy crawlies and undigested food particles, so on and so forth, you have a blood brain barrier. And the purpose of the blood brain barrier is twofold it protects. And it also is allows for selective passage, meaning their blood brain barrier protects your brain from things like viruses, toxins, pathogens, and it also allows the good things to come in like nutrients, oxygen, and healthy fats, so on and so forth. So what I've discovered in my years of research and also healing my brain, the number one root causes for chronic brain inflammation and poor recovery from a concussion is leaky brain where that blood brain barrier it's very fragile, it's actually made up of a single cell layer, just like your gut bear is very fragile and sensitive single cell, they're what we call an endothelial cell, they're really like a thinner than a tissue. And so with things like concussion, you can have actually tears of your blood brain barrier leading to leaky brain and things that normally shouldn't get in can, causing massive inflammation. That's what I find those unlucky 15%, like myself, get stuck in this vicious cycle. They have this initial injury, physical trauma, then it creates this chemical trauma, if there's already a lot of inflammation and toxins at the time of the injury, right. And that was a case for me. Back in the day, my health really wasn't that where it is now to believe, believe it or not, then it led to this vicious cycle where that inflammation that chemical trauma further damaged by leaky brain and prevented recovery. And the scary thing about leaky brain is the gateway to virtually all chronic serious neurological diseases, virtually, I mean, if you do a quick search on the internet, you're gonna find leaky brain breach of the blood brain barrier tied with Alzheimer's, dementia. That's why I think, you know, untreated concussions, lead to all those things, if not treated, one of the biggest things is leaky brain. The good news is your blood brain barrier, just like your gut barrier can heal, it actually can heal, I can heal on its own. That's why again, thinking back the 85% of people who you know, recover, which I actually think it's a lower percentage, but overall, most people do. It's because if they did have a leaky brain, from the trauma, it healed, like the body has the wisdom, it will heal when you give it what it needs. He get rid of what it doesn't. But that's what I found with the majority of my patients struggling months or years after their concussion is because of leaky brain. There are these other forces preventing that blood brain barrier from healing. Now, the good news is I mean, you know, there's a lot of reasons why blood brain barrier won't heal. The good news is there's simple things that you can do if you suspect that so some clues that you might have a leaky brain Number one, you've had a history of concussion, you're not recovering. But even if you've never had a concussion, a lot of people who have these viral illnesses these days, a lot of what their look, they're actually the research is showing it looks like a concussion, especially if you develop brain symptoms afterwards. So that's another clue, like some type of viral illness and you develop brain symptoms, like brain fog, or fatigue, could be leaky brain. Number three, a lot of the things I described earlier, like you're sensitive, sensitive to, like lights, or sounds, or maybe emotionally or mentally sensitive. And again, this is you might not even have had the concussion, you can still have a leaky brain. Number four, you have these flare ups with your health, especially as it relates to your brain health where you might feel good, you know, one day and then boom, it's like, Whoa, I feel so brain fog you I just tired and depressed or anxious, or why can I sleep. And a lot of people have leaky brain and sleep issues. There's a lot of root causes, as you know, stuff for sleep issues. But I usually find the pattern for leaky brain is you can fall asleep pretty well, but it's pretty light sleep. And even if you do sleep, when you wake up, you don't feel refreshed. There's other reasons for sleep issues. But that's the most common one I see with leaky brain. So those are some clues, right? Like I said, there's things you can do to really get to the root cause. But the first step is to identify Do you have a leaky brain?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 26:32
And I assume I think you have a quiz on your website, which helps identify that right?
Dr. Titus Chiu 26:36
Yeah, leaky brain quiz. Pretty straightforward. Leaky brain quiz.com. So yeah, if you go to the take that frequence it'll help you identify your risk factor for leaky brain, low, moderate, or high, and some next steps and resources to help you through that. So but yeah, that being said, in the meantime, there are simple things you can do. And the research shows in my clinical experience for leaky brain, there's nutrients that have been shown to help heal a leaky brain. So things like ginkgo biloba, has been shown to help decrease antioxidant stress against the blood brain barrier. And remember, those endothelial cells I talked about earlier, it helps support circulation and oxygenation to help heal a leaky brain. In addition, nutrients like alpha lipoic acid, very powerful antioxidant that's been shown to help support people with blood sugar issues, but also mitochondrial energy issues, but also helpful to heal leaky brain. Also, as part of my toolkit, my arsenal is poly phenol, so poly phenyl blend, I actually have a bunch of poly phenols, sitting at my desk here, my morning routine, poly phenols, and things like curcumin, resveratrol, Taro stilbene, and EGCG, from green tea extract.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 27:52
So I was going to ask when you were alluding to the fact that right, when you have a concussion, you have inflammation, but you want to reduce the inflammation. But you also said you don't want to reduce all the inflammation, because that's part of the healing process, like post concussion? Do you want to be taking turmeric or, you know, like you're alluding to something that's anti inflammatory or not for the first 72 hours?
Dr. Titus Chiu 28:11
Yeah, great question. Oh, so again, what I'm kind of referring to is the chronic chronic stands. Yeah, exactly. The acute stage that leads needs a lot more monitoring a lot more. Because yeah, that can be serious.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 28:24
Chronically. Okay. We know there's chronic inflammation. So yes, you're saying take anti inflammatories, poly phenols whatnot, but
Dr. Titus Chiu 28:32
actually, just to speak, to answer your question, I've seen a lot of research for you. And for the acute stages, high dose fish oils can be a game changer. Things like hyperbaric oxygen, again, is you want to check with your doctor, you want to check with whoever is the technician doing that to make sure that you're a good candidate. But yeah, there's a lot of things. I just don't work. That's not my specialty, but I really know yeah, there's a lot there's like even progesterone, vitamin D, like, I knows fish oils, as well as I find melatonin works actually throughout the entire, either acute or even chronic, especially if in chronic you do have sleep issues. But yeah, hyperbaric oxygen, there's a lot of things that's out there that can help people recover faster. But you bring up a great point, you know, and everyone's unique, but overall, yeah, even in the acute stages, the research shows that really getting a handle on inflammation, because that's the thing is, when it's out of control, that's what we call the secondary injury, where you continue to have inflammatory damage on your brain and your blood brain barrier. Um, but you know, and yeah, for the acute for the sub acute and then for the post concussion syndrome, like for the more long term, you know, healing, there's slight nuances to it, but in open general, the majority of my patients, like they have brain inflammation, and one of the main reasons why they're not recovered Offering is they have too much brain inflammation. So I usually find that these poly phenols and things like omega three fatty acids, they need that. And they actually need more of it was actually a little bit just to geek out a little bit like the omega three fatty acids that we consume, either in food like fish or whatever, leafy greens, or even grass fed beef, those essential fatty acids get embedded into our brain cells. And that allows for proper brain function. So but the thing is, when you're under states of inflammation, your brain again, it's it's wisdom removes those essential fatty acids from your brain cells to help put out the fire of inflammation. It's what we call pro resolving mediators. The problem with that is, if you don't have a lot of omega three fatty acids in your brain cells, your brain will still pull them out to deal with the inflammation, but then at the expense of your brain function, meaning you'll feel brain fall, you'll feel brain fatigue, you'll feel anxious, you won't be able to sleep. So that's why I usually find higher levels of that, right? omega three fatty acids. That's part of my toolkit for actually, I have worked with some patients in the acute stage. But usually when I say acute, it's more sub acute and chronic. I'm just like, make sure number one, step one, don't die. Step two, let's have you thrive. And I'll help you thrive. Right. Yeah. So that being said, that's some of the things that have been shown to not only help with concussion, but also help heal leaky brain. So poly phenols, natural anti inflammatories, like omega three fatty acids, EPA and DHA, things like Ginko as well as alpha lipoic acid.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 31:43
This may sound silly, but also when we think of just the functional medicine, principles of healing leaky gut, do those apply to leaky brain as well, I mean, we talked about the same thing, reducing inflammatory foods, you alluded to kind of toxin and viruses before, right, removing infections, whatnot, we talk and same concept here, overall,
Dr. Titus Chiu 32:00
same overall concept, but there are some nuances. So as an example, and that's interesting, you bring that up, because yeah, one, I actually have a step by step protocol to heal leaky brain, and one of it is looking at gut function. Because as you know, the gut is made up of a bunch of different things. But in particular, the barrier you have these different tight junction proteins, right, that help keep your barrier tight. They're very similar in structure to the blood brain barrier. So when you have a leaky gut, what can end up happening is your immune system not can only attack the tight junction proteins are there and cause inflammation in your gut, they can also send the soldiers into the blood brain barrier. So that's one of the things that I see people get stuck not healing from leaky gut is a leaky or leaky brain not healing from leaky brain is a leaky gut. But then vice versa. I can't tell you how many times I've had patients or clients reach out to work with me. And then they've done the gut healing protocols, they've done the four hour or the five hour or maybe it's now seven. I've been in functional medicine for how they keep adding hours. So we have a gut healing in terms of the diet, the supplements, maybe some lifestyle, but and they get better, but they're in this roller coaster, because one of the missing pieces I found is the brain gut connection, because there are specific regions of your nervous system that control gut function, gut motility, the release of digestive enzymes blood flow, and I found that to be one of the missing ingredients when it comes to chronic gut issues. And I see this a lot with my concussion patients, but even patients who don't have concussions, but for specifically my concussion clients and patients, they have a head injury, they develop SIBO. They have a head injury, they develop leaky gut, and the research actually shows that you can you know, there's actually these animal studies looking at TBI, and in a completely healthy gut animal TBI, triggering leaky gut within a matter of hours, and that perpetually, so it goes both ways. Right? It's like, again, that's another one of the Vicious Cycles in order to heal the gut issue, especially if the dye and the supplements and lifestyle are dialed in. You have to do specific things to the nervous system, some of which we call vagal nerve activation. Yeah, that's just one of those multiple neural networks related to the brain gut connection. There's actually another area of the nervous system called the insular cortex that perceives all your digestive functions. You have other areas of your prefrontal lobe that control the autonomic response that actually supersede the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, meaning your brain controls that all of that stuff that's what I call a bore, the neurological circuits versus the neuro chemical make sense? Like die? Add supplements, they change the chemistry, but they don't do much to activate these nerve pathways. In order to do that, you need to actually train your brain through brain training. But yeah, even then there's simple things you can do to activate your vagus nerve.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 35:15
Can we go there?
Dr. Titus Chiu 35:18
We go there. Yeah, absolutely. Well, actually, it's perfect because one of the other things that I've found that helps heal leaky brain and what also the research shows is, guess what? activating your vagus nerve. There's research that shows that people are animals, again, a lot animal research in this area that have a TBI. And then they get vagal nerve stimulation that helps protect from further damage or helps heal that blood brain barrier. So yeah, vagus nerve activation is very important to help heal, leaky brain. And there's a lot of different ways of activating the vagus nerve. And just as a primer, probably most people on this listening to this have heard of the vagus. But it's one of the major weigh stations in your parasympathetic nervous system. In short, it puts the brakes on stress, because I find that a lot of people who have had trauma, whether physical or even mental emotional trauma, their nervous systems get stuck in this state of fight or flight. And no matter how much you meditate, no matter how much, you know, happy thoughts, you think you have this ancient part of your nervous system that just is stuck in survival mode. And so what I found is there's these special reflex points found all throughout your body that can trigger and modulate that stress response, that no amount of positive thinking or meditation could do, because those are all functions of the higher centers of our brain we call the prefrontal cortex, but many times in trauma, that area doesn't work too well. I can speak I've had personal experience of that. So I found a more effective way to put the brakes on stress is more body based somatic base. And one of my favorite ways of activating the vagus nerve is actually what we call palming. So this is exercise that's developed that was discovered by ancient Tibetan Yogi's were to clear mental fatigue. And what they do is what you do, if you're gonna go along, you take the palm of your hand, right, so the fleshy part of your palm, right, so the bottom part of your hand, and I like to rub my hands together in the spirit of Mr. Miyagi generating some of that lifeforce energy and chi, or at the very least some heat. And then what you can do is, then close your eyes, and gently put your palms apart the fleshy part of your eyelids. And, you know, when I do it is just immediate. I just, there's several reasons I'll explain in a second, but I just like it's like this sense of home. kind of chilling out. Yeah. Yeah, immediate, right. And so the key is gentle pressure on the eyeballs, no more pressure than you put on like an egg yolk. You can just take a few deep breaths in and out.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 38:07
Now I just want to take a nap.
Dr. Titus Chiu 38:10
Because so it's worth.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 38:13
It's done. Don't do this while driving. Yeah, don't
Dr. Titus Chiu 38:16
do this all driving. Number one, you need your eyes. And number two, unless you're driving one of those self driving vehicles, you need your hands, do not operate heavy machinery while combing. So yeah, that's that's palming in a nutshell. Those are some there's more advanced ways of doing that. But yeah, like you felt yourself. That's one of my favorite ways, because number one, and this is actually great for people who find themselves on screens a lot. And who doesn't these days, right. But I know you and me, especially we're doing a lot of work on screens. So it's great for people who are in screens a lot, who have a lot of use their eyes a lot in their work, or if you experience rainfall. And sometimes it's like experience headaches may be right around your forehead like that area. It's fantastic for people who experience those symptoms. And yeah, the reason why it works so well is number one, it's when you close your eyes, so do a little another experiment. So just go ahead and close your eyes. When you close your eyes, obviously, the light in the room, it's less light, but then now put your hands over your eyes and pay attention to the difference. It's like night and day, no pun intended, right? So immediately we're taking out that visual pollution that we get the light pollution we get all the time, and that gives this cranial nerve number to your optic nerve. It gives it a break that perceives images, right? But then number two, and that the key was putting gentle pressure on the eyeball. When you do that there's a reflex that activates you think his nerve it's what we call the AKI little cardiac reflex. So there's another cranial nerve cranial nerve five that then communicates with cranial nerve 10 Which is your vagus nerve. In this region we call your brainstem. Right? That controls the fight or flight response. So when you put gentle pressure on your eyes, not only are you removing the light pollution, but you're also triggering a, you know, a parasympathetic or rest, digest and heal response. That's why you're like, Yeah, I want to take a nap now. Great words. And a lot of times that I do that, I'll find that like, yeah. Oh, like sigh or immediately I'll be like, I'll feel grounded and more in my body. And yeah, sometimes it'd be like, Yeah, I'm gonna take a little break now. Go take a little nap. So yeah, that's one of my favorite ways of activating the vagus nerve.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 40:40
Can you give us just a couple other quick ones? Like, are you a fan of singing or gargling or?
Dr. Titus Chiu 40:44
Yeah, singing is fantastic. gargling. I, I usually don't find it works as well as the other techniques out there. Right? I have a lot of patients like, Yeah, I heard about Gartley. I did it and I just have a clean mouth down here. Again, the key is you have to find the one that's right for you because there's multiple access points. But yeah, one of the I think majority people would benefit from is that palming? Especially if you find yourself on screen slack, in addition to that, yeah, toning, making the sounds like or Yes, singing, like even breathing exercises, activates the vagus nerve, right. But in addition to that, there's different reflex points found throughout the body, the belly, the ear all over that trigger this sympathetic or rather, the opposite the rest, digest and heal response.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 41:36
I gotta be honest here in some of the symptoms of post concussive syndrome kind of almost sound like mold toxicity. So my guess that I had on today for the podcast that launched today, I should say, we talked about mold pearls. And I just had I listened to that episode this morning. And I'm thinking kind of the disequilibrium and the light sensitivity and sound sensitivity and whatnot. But how do you differentiate even that between Long COVID? Or is the commonality there the brain inflammation that's inducing these similar symptoms?
Dr. Titus Chiu 42:02
Great question. You know, at the end of the day, it's really about the honesty part of it. And that completes semantics, right? The whole functional medicine Functional Neurology approach is about getting to the root cause. And so we can label it post concussion syndrome, because it's like, oh, boom, they had a concussion. And then now they have symptoms. But yeah, some of the, like, deeper reasons why I see people not recovering from a concussion are things like mold toxicity, or food sensitivities, or heavy metal toxins or unmanaged stress. And so that's why the holistic root cause approach is totally necessary when it comes to post concussion syndrome. The cool thing is, though, I've worked with many clients and patients over the years who had quote, unquote, post concussion syndrome. And we identified one of the obstacles in their healing was mold toxicity, because mold can have a really powerful impact specifically on the nervous system. So what I found, again, the missing piece, just like, you know, these little reflex points I'm sharing with you about the vagus nerve, that's brain activation, believe it or not, when you do these things, you're activating your nervous system, you're not taking a supplement, you're not changing your diet. I'm not saying that's not needed that's totally needed. And foundational, but when you describe disequilibrium, and you know, some of these common symptoms, mold toxicity, I've had a lot of patients who do the mold protocols, they feel somewhat better, but they're still having disequilibrium. Why? Because their vestibular system, their inner ear, or their cerebellum is out of balance. And the only way to fix that is through brain activation, brain training. Like there's specific I exercise I give my patients who have disequilibrium, whether from mold, whether from concussion, there's specific head movements I do, I have patients sometimes sit in a little, like an office chair, take a piece of paper with a.on it and they slowly move side to side while looking at the dot, that's brain activation. There's no diet, there's no supplement, there's no positive thinking mantra that can replace that physical neuroplasticity. That makes sense. Again, all the other stuff is totally necessary because I've also had patients who do those things, right, they have disequilibrium, they go to maybe a balance specialist or vestibular therapist, and they get those exercises, but then they have leaky brain, and they have food imbalance their food sensitivities, so without addressing that piece, so what I've discovered one of the biggest discoveries through all this, in order to heal the brain, you need that holistic approach to addressing the physical, the chemical as well as the emotional but once you do, right once you can personalize a plan that's right for you healing as possible. You can shift the trajectory of your life away from things like Alzheimer's, dementia and CTE and get your brain and your life back. It's totally possible. Do you
Dr. Stephanie Gray 44:59
I have to bring in on medication here, do you ever use low dose Naltrexone in any of your patients? Or have you heard much about it?
Dr. Titus Chiu 45:04
Yeah, I've heard great things. I don't personally use that in my practice. But I've heard great things to modulate the immune system great for autoimmunity for inflammation. Yeah. So I don't personally use that. But I've heard good things about it, for sure.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 45:19
Just want to answer because we do a lot of it. Yeah. Yep. And it is very helpful in combination with the whole whole holistic approach. You're saying? Yeah, exactly. So let me come back around. And my question, Should my three and a half year old be in gymnastics or not? Yeah. How do you answer that with sports? I mean, not everybody gets injured, and you can't live your life in fear either.
Dr. Titus Chiu 45:39
Exactly. That's my philosophy, right? You can't live your life in fear, and you make decisions, and you look at the risks and the benefits. But the good news is, the brain is not this mysterious black box that we once thought, right? We understand what happens in the brain with a concussion. And to all the research I've done, because I have a lot of I get this question all the time from my parents, not my parents, but actually they had this question years ago, they're like, I wish we do for itis would have saved us a lot of grief now, but I get it from a lot of my patients who have or my parents of the patients, right, because some of them like they had a concussion they've recovered, they're like, Well, should we get him back in the game or somewhere like they're in the game, they haven't had a concussion. But we want to prevent the great news is, even though the brain is very one of our most sensitive and fragile organs, there's things we can do to minimize risk that we can do to help safeguard the brain. And it's a lot of the similar things. So essential fatty acids is research that shows when you have healthy levels of that, like stuff happens in life, boom, you hit your head, even in kids, little bumps here and there and maybe bigger ones, when you have your inflammation levels in a good place at the time of those little bumps, you minimize the risk for the damage later on. Right? More resilience? Yeah, sure. Like, that's the first thing. Second thing, especially if you're you know, you have kids that are like athletes, like gymnast or soccer, soccer is a big one, actually, football because of the headers, doing things to help strengthen the neck muscles. And that's actually there's a lot of theories as to why one of the statistics is women or girls tend to develop post concussion syndrome more than men. And one of the theories has to do with just the strength of the neck. Because you know, again, is it big generalization, but most guys, especially if they're in sports, right, so one thing anyone can do out there, men, women, boy girl is do neck strengthening exercises, like isometric exercises to strengthen their neck, you can take like a little squishy ball, put it against the wall, and put the back of your head on it. And just gently push really, the key is gentle. So it's what we call isometric exercise, you could do the same thing moving forward, you take your hand, put on your forehead, and just gently push forwards, right, put on the side of your head, gently pushed to the side. And on the other side, left side, gently push the side and hold right. And you can feel like this contraction. The key is obviously you don't want to strain yourself. And there's more advanced techniques to do that. And a lot of manual therapists know those. But just to get started, things you can do to strengthen your neck, do things to help manage inflammation beforehand, right? Through a healthy diet, avoiding food triggers, taking, you know, essential fatty acids, supplements, Omega three in particular, those are things you can do to help safeguard your kids and yourself. I consider myself fully recovered from my concussion. But that's why I have all these supplements sitting on my desk right now. I take those as my safeguard moving forward, I want to bulletproof my brain because life happens, I'm not just gonna hide in my house and try to avoid things but at the same time, you can approach it still engage with life, but do it in a way that boosts your resilience for protection.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 49:04
Love, I love it. Cool. Tell us where listeners can find you. And also tell me more what's in your books are a lot of the supplements and exercises in the book. Some of
Dr. Titus Chiu 49:12
them Yeah. And also I have the top five supplements for concussion. Again, just to clarify, these are the best I've found for post concussion syndrome for my patients. And for myself. Number one, there are some of these cool brain training exercises. So we talked about the vagus nerve, we talked about the cerebellum, the inner ear, there's all these really cool exercises that you can then match to the different region of your nervous system. There's actually a quiz in there. Remember I was talking about that missing piece, there's a quiz that you can take to identify which area of your nervous system might be the root cause for your concussion symptoms. So if you have anxiety, it could be your vestibular system. If you have balance issues, it could be your cerebellum. So it helps you figure out which exact area might be the root cause and then you gives you some exercise to start with. And then yeah, at the end of the book, there's like a whole six week plan to just get started on that road to recovery. It's called Brain safe by the way. Yeah, you can find it on Amazon brain say,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 50:13
we will post a link to your book and then also to the leaky brain quiz.com. We'll post that link as well. Anything else you want to share with us before I ask you your top longevity tip?
Dr. Titus Chiu 50:22
No, that's it. I mean, that's the thing. Actually, I do want to share one thing because I do know a lot of people who struggle with post concussion syndrome, it's difficult, it's challenging because it's what we call the invisible injury. Like most of us that have had these injuries, we look totally normal. So a lot of times it can be really discouraging being written off by your doctor and just saying, Oh, it's all in your head, because he can't see it. But the amazing thing what I found, there are physical reasons why everything that I was describing to like all these different brain regions, there are tests that can reveal which areas of the nervous system to this I've been doing this for over 15 years, I can identify to the specific brain nuclei many times which is which area of their brain is the root cause right so it's not in your head like if you've been struggling with it, it's not in your head it is in your head but it is in your head not in the way that they told you. And there is hope for healing so I that that's just the number one message I want to share.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 51:26
Love Atlanta love it. I don't think I asked you or maybe I did we didn't get there were listeners can find you also are you on Instagram, Facebook.
Dr. Titus Chiu 51:32
Yeah, Instagram, Facebook, you can go to Dr. t i t us ch er you Dr. Titus to Instagram, Facebook, I have a YouTube channel where I'm posting some, some informative and hopefully entertaining videos on brain health. And then again, if you want to figure out if leaky brain is causing your brain symptoms go to leaky brain quiz.com.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 51:54
Awesome. Okay, top longevity tip.
Dr. Titus Chiu 51:57
So one of my favorite, I have a lot of different things that I do. But one of my favorites right now is sauna. I sit in specifically an infrared sauna, I heat my body up kind of like a shish kebab from the inside out. And then immediately afterwards, I'll go take a cold shower. So a lot of research is looking at the contrast between like temperature hot and cold as being this really good stressor for your body to boost that resilience that we're done. So that's one of my favorite ways of doing it. And there's a ton of research looking at how that can activate certain survival genes, leading to longevity. So yeah, that's my number one. For those of you who don't have easy access to sauna or infrared sauna, you can just do it in the shower, right, take a hot shower, and then turn it to cold. But if it's your first time doing it, maybe not that cold has ease your body into because the point is you don't want to overdo the stressor on your body. You want to find what's right for you, and then continue to lean into that edge and expand.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 52:58
Wonderful love it. This was great. Thank you so much for coming on the show today and really talking about I like how you said that invisible injury and teaching our listeners how to safeguard their brains. This was awesome. Thank you so much. Thank you. Well, that again was a super interesting interview. I agree with Dr. Chu, that probably less than 85% of people really recover quickly from concussions. But good news is that you can save your brain even if you are years out from your injury. Be sure to check out his book brain safe to learn strategies for as he says to bulletproof your brain. Be sure to check out my book your longevity blueprint. And if you aren't much of a reader, you're in luck. You can now take my course online where I walk you through each chapter in the book. Plus for a limited time the course is 50% off, check this offer out at your longevity blueprint.com and click the Course tab. One of the biggest things you can do to support the show and help us reach more listeners is to subscribe to the show. Leave us a rating and review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. I do read all the reviews and would truly love to hear your suggestions for show topics guests and for how you're applying what you learn on the show to create your own longevity blueprint. This podcast is produced by Tim podcast. Thank you so much for listening and remember, wellness is waiting
the information provided in this podcast is educational no information provided should be considered to be or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your personal medical authority.
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