Concussion and the Female Brain

It has been well researched that male and female brains are different. Now research is explaining that concussions are a very different experience in a female brain. In a concussion the female brain has a 44% greater rate of acceleration increasing the incidence of concussion. There are also differences in neck circumference, girth and length as compared to males of the same age.

Female hockey players have the highest incidence of concussion and are concussed at 3 times the rate as male FOOTBALL players of the same age. Female lacrosse players come in second, however female lacrosse is a NON-CONTACT sport (their incidence is the same as male lacrosse which is a contact sport), this means that these women do not wear any protective gear to prevent or reduce the incidence of concussion. Girls’ Soccer comes next and is the second OVERALL in all youth sports. Softball and baseball have equivalent rates even though they are very different sports. Showing overall girls take a “bigger hit”.

Another difference between male and female athletes , is females report more concussion symptoms than their male counterparts, their symptoms last longer and have 4 times the migraine incidence than males of the same age!

SO why is this the case??

In a menstruating female (please note, girls as young as 6 can have hormonal fluctuations that would put them at the same risk as their older counterparts that have a menstrual bleed), hormones play a role in concussion pathology. If a girl sustains a concussion in the first two weeks of her menstrual cycle, when progesterone is high, there is a sharp, abnormal drop in progesterone and a sharp abnormal rise in cortisol. Progesterone withdrawal leads to headache, dizziness and nausea, and elevated cortisol, which can contribute to leaky gut. Then Estrogen levels will then slowly increase abnormally, which acts on the trigeminal vascular complex (the migraine pathway) it is apparent that female physiology would account for higher incidences of concussion symptoms and longer times for recovery in female athletes.

Unfortunately, ACL (anterior cruciate ligament of the knee)  injuries are also more common is women. This is well reported due to posture and anatomy related to center of balance and hip structure. Approximately 85% of all ACL injuries are the result of a previous concussion. The ACL ligament is the stabilizer in the “righting reflex” (The righting reflex, is a reflex that corrects the orientation of the body when it is taken out of its normal upright position). When a concussion goes untreated the righting reflex is impaired as it initiated by the vestibular system in the brain.

SO how do you heal from a concussion??

First of all, keeping the body in optimal condition with a healing diet free of chemicals, artificial hormones, unnecessary pharmaceuticals & preservatives, drinking purified water, getting proper sleep, proper & safe exercise, and stress management will reduce help keep the body in optimal form and reduce the recovery period should a concussion occur.

Secondly, learn your sports teams’ concussion protocol (most have an outdated version of this) and watch your child during practices and games. You know her best and you can best protect her if you see her take a hit that looked harder than she anticipated.

If a concussion Happens

1) Immediately after a possible concussion offer something with natural sugar to the athlete. Sips of fruit juice or gummy bears (that is glucose and gelatin/collagen) flood the brain with immediate sugar to eliminate the build up of concussion containing neuro-chemicals.

2) Report the incident to your family physician as millions of concussions go undiagnosed and can lead to long term, or permanent symptoms for your child.

3) Take her to the chiropractor! Be sure you find a doctor certified in an updated concussion treatment protocol that include a test at baseline (this should be done before the incident. Kids in general should be under some form of maintenance chiropractic if they are playing sports. Many Chiropractors do a baseline test for concussions at the beginning of each school year)

4) Heal the gut! Estrogens cause leaky gut simply by the nature of the hormone! High cortisol, low progesterone and elevating estrogens is a leaky gut trifecta! Consider using specific strains of probiotics, immunoglobulins, or collagen to help heal and seal the gut.

5) Constantly check in with your athlete, ask she how she is feeling, sleeping and recovering. It is common to have “regressions” in healing with concussion recovery. Stay the course and know healing is possible.

In closing, Concussions are a very common sports injury. There are marked differences in how females and males exhibit symptoms. Keeping this in mind will help our daughters play their favorite sports healthy and injury free.

 

 

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3858400/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24396327

10 things every expectant mother should know …that will help with pregnancy, childbirth and beyond.

Thinking of pregnancy, planning pregnancy, birth and babies are amazing life events! here are a few tips that can improve experience and outcomes for an exciting time of life!

  • Avoiding gluten and dairy help reduce the potential of autoimmune disease and inflammation. Any trouble or history of trouble conceiving has to do with inflammation and autoimmunity. Avoiding these 2 over processed food ingredients assist in balancing the immune system and easing conception and healthy pregnancy.
  • Avoid GMOs, GMOs are genetically modified organisms. Basically, a science experiment with your food. There are no long-term studies on GMOs however since introduced into the population research has shown higher incidence of asthma and allergies among our children. GMOs take immune resistant components of OTHER species and put them into the seeds and DNA of the foods we eat, and it’s not labeled in the USA. BE cautious and buy organic as much as possible. Organic foods do not contain GMOs.
  • FOLATE and folic acid are not the same. Modern medicine has been conditioned to use these terms interchangeably. THEY ARE VERY DIFFERENT. Folic Acid is synthetic, inflammatory and poorly absorbed by the body. Worse in the presence of MTHFR mutations that mom and baby may carry.
  • Check your vitamin D levels. Today there is a lot of research about vitamin d. it helps with conception, it balances the immune system and it is a huge component in the brain development of your baby’s brain. Keeping levels therapeutic is a must. Aim for a level of around 60-80, current lab values do not reflect with the current research is saying is optimal. Ask your provider for your number as supplementation may be necessary above a standard bioavailable prenatal.
  • Take a probiotic. Probiotics help balance digestion, emotion and immunity, 3 things necessary for pregnancy and parenting! Hormones necessary for pregnancy can cause imbalances in immunity and digestion so be sure the probiotic is a balanced formula. Probiotics are also essential for baby. Especially if baby is born by C-section, premature or has distress during or after his or her birth.
  • Check magnesium levels. Magnesium is so important for healthy full term pregnancy and adequate milk supply after birth. In New England magnesium levels are always low, this can increase the incidence of preterm birth, preeclampsia and low birthweight. Keeping magnesium levels adequate can be difficult without additional supplementation. Speak with your provider about which form is right for you.  Other benefits of magnesium include softening stool and relaxation. Rest assured magnesium is found in dark chocolate so enjoy…a little.
  • Think long and hard about vaccinations in pregnancy and in your newborn. There is little research on the safety and efficacy of vaccination during pregnancy and in newborns. Much research is being done in this area currently. Please have a long discussion about options and choice for your pregnancy and your baby.
  • Plan for a natural birth and be prepared that it will be nothing like you planned. Take classes taught by experienced natural birthers, ask a lot of questions, have back up plans and make your requests and wishes known to your providers. Open communication ultimately makes for a better experience all around.
  • There is no perfect time to have a baby. However, getting your own health in order, possibly clearing allergies or sensitivities, checking for any SNPs or genetic variation that could be problematic for mom and baby, maybe a natural detox of some sort, balance exercise, stress, finances and all the other facets that will get turned upside down once a new family member arrives. Be in the best place you can be for this amazing experience
  • Listen to your gut, skip the books, the advice everyone has for you and raise your child exactly the way that is best for your family. Seek the help of trusted individuals and support your innate knowledge with what you know to be the truth…..enjoy

Can’t conceive? Check out this before feeling like all hope is lost

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Inability to conceive can stem from a number of causes:

  • Poor nutritional status
  • Genetic mutations
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Hormone imbalances

 

If a mother’s nutritional stores are depleted she will not have enough “supplies” to conceive and grow a healthy baby. Vital nutrients like Magnesium and b vitamins are necessary for proper development of a fetus and proper signaling of hormones from the mother to stimulate cell signaling and growth. Proper hormone balance between estrogen and progesterone is a must. Abnormal levels of either of these can create problems with conception. Be sure to check for low levels of progesterone or estrogen dominance.

Remember almost all pharmaceutical medication deplete some nutrient, this includes anything put on your skin topically too, like steroid creams or even sunblock. Be sure whichever depletions are being caused that they are RE-pleated properly.

 

If there is a genetic mutation present then, the interruption in signaling will not allow for proper conception, impanation or development of a growing fetus. MTHFR and homocysteine levels play an integral part in the conception and development of your baby. Be sure you are speaking with a qualified provider about your nutritional needs or get tested for the MTHFR mutation and treat it before trying to get pregnant. Avoiding all forms of synthetic folic acid and un-methylated B vitamins like cyanoB12 is a good place to start! Always remember Folic acid does NOT equal Folate; Folic Acid a synthetic type of Folate. Folic acid is not found in nature. Folic acid must undergo various transformations prior to utilization and with or without a MTHFR mutation, folic acid can cause problems with fertility. Always look for methylated or activated forms of folate in supplements.

 

Autoimmune diseases affect 30% of our population and repeatedly studied in the correlation with fertility challenges. Autoimmune conditions are often made worse with the above mentioned nutrition and genetic problems. Proper management of autoimmune conditions will maximize fertility and also improve rates of artificial insemination or conventional fertility management. Consider having some lab work done specific to autoimmune markers. Supplements like Zinc, probiotics, and Vitamin D are very helpful in supporting proper immune function. If a mom is struggling with fertility its always beneficial to avoid gluten as 20% of patients with MTHFR, and (estimated) 50% of patients with positive autoimmune markers have gluten sensitivity and gluten is inflammatory.  To that end, reducing inflammation on any level is beneficial to the body pre and post baby! Healing always begins in the gut, and a healthy gut improves fertility!

Common MTHFR Mutations and General Health

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What is a MTHFR Mutation? An abnormal change in gene structure/mutation, of the MTHFR gene can cause a disruption of the MTHFR enzyme’s normal function of breaking down homocysteine.

MTHFR mutations are common. The mutations can be “heterozygous” meaning they occur only on one strand or “allele” of the chromosome, or they can be “homozygous”, occurring on both alleles. The frequency of a mutation is common, occurring in about 60% of the population. MTHFR gene is directly related to hyperhomocysteinemia (high or elevated levels of homocysteine).

High levels of homocysteine can be attributed to many conditions seen in midwifery such as

  • Decrease in vitamin B-12 levels. Higher incidence of anemia
  • Complications in Pregnancy Due To Neural Tube Defects, posterior Tongue tie, lip tie
  • Anencephaly
  • Other neural tube defects
  • Spina bifida
  • Autism
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares
  • Down Syndrome
  • PEs
  • Altered drug metabolism
  • Low vitamin d levels/ osteoporosis
  • Neuropsychiatric Disorders
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Early Pregnancy Loss/ SAB (viable fetus)
  • Placental Abruption, Low Birth Weight

The most common MTHFR gene mutations are found at position 677 and/or position 1298 on the MTHFR gene.

Typical amino acids are replaced by others rendering the enzyme defective or inactive

  • MTHFR 677CC = a normal MTHFR gene
  • MTHFR 677CT = a heterozygous mutation which is one mutation
  • MTHFR 677TT = a homozygous mutation which is two mutations
  • MTHFR 1298AA = a normal MTHFR gene
  • MTHFR 1298AC = a heterozygous mutation which is one mutation
  • MTHFR 1298CC = a homozygous mutation which is two mutations
  • MTHFR 677CT + MTHFR 1298AC = a compound heterozygous mutation which is one mutation from two different parts of the gene

MTHFR 677TT + MTHFR 1298CC= DOUBLE Compound Heterozygus

folate-vs-folic-acid-1

Treatment: (of course always speak with a knowledgeable provider)

May or may not include.

  • Getting you or your family members tested (blood, saliva)
  • Avoiding all forms of synthetic folic acid and un-methlyated B vitamins like cyanoB12
  • Folic acid does NOT equal Folate.
    • Folic Acid a synthetic type of Folate. Folic acid is not found in nature. Folic acid must undergo various transformations prior to utilization.
  • Being mindful of all pharmacology and vaccines
    • Antacids (deplete B12)
    • Cholestyramine (deplete cobalamin and folate absorption) – common in gallbladder issues during pregnancy!
    • Colestipol (decrease cobalamin and folate absorption)
    • Methotrexate (inhibits DHFR)
    • Nitrous Oxide (inactivates MS)
    • High Dose Niacin (depletes SAMe and limits pyridoxal kinase = active B6)
    • Theophylline (limits pyridoxal kinase = active B6)
    • Cyclosporin A (decreases renal function and increases Hcy)
    • Metformin (decreases cobalamin absorption)
    • Phenytoin (folate antagonist)
    • Carbamazepine (folate antagonist)
    • Oral Contraceptives (deplete folate)
    • Antimalarials JPC-2056, Pyrimethamine, Proguanil (inhibits DHFR)
    • Antibiotic Trimethoprim (inhibits DHFR)
    • Ethanol
    • Bactrim (inhibits DHFR)
    • Sulfasalazine (inhibits DHFR)
    • Triamterene (inhibits DHFR)
  • Involving yourself with providers who are educated on MTHFR
  • Take supplements that are methylation supportive
    • L-5-MTHF
    • Riboflavin (B2)
    • Methylcobalamin or Hydroxocobalamin
    • Zinc
    • DHA
    • Choline
    • TMG (must be avoided in pregnancy)
    • Magnesium
    • Methyl- B6
    • NAC
    • Vitamin E (natural forms only)
    • Selenium
    • Glutathione
    • Vitamin C
    • Vitamin D
    • Potassium
    • Probiotics
    • Molybdenum
    • Milk Thistle
    • *****Avoid gluten as 20% of patients with MTHFR have gluten sensitivity and gluten is inflammatory

 

What a post-partum mom really wants when you visit her and her baby

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Truth is visits from well-meaning family and friends are always welcome! It’s the unsolicited advice or subtle (pressured) offers to hold/ care for the newborn we could all do without. Research has shown us time and again that the first weeks of life are critical for bonding, proper milk supply and post-partum recovery of the mother.

The best things we can do for mom and her new baby is:

1) Take their other kids somewhere. Older siblings are usually under stimulated by the daily goings on of a newborn. So take the other children for as long as you can, and bring them back exhausted and fed.

2) Feed the mama! Remember she is constantly feeding another human! Be sure to check with here to see if there are particular things she is or isn’t eating. Be sure the dish is disposable or a gift. Post-partum moms do not have the best memory capacity.

3) Collect some cash or a gift card for cleaning services! Who has time for cleaning after you have just spawned a human from your loins! Find a trusted service or person to do the job! Worth every cent!

4) Offer to watch the baby while mom naps or showers. Both those items become scarce in the immediate post-partum period. A few minutes of your time are a huge gift to a tired or smelly mama!

5) Help to recognize signs of postpartum depression. “Baby Blues” can last 6 weeks, anything beyond that that could be cause for concern should be addressed and guided to the proper provider. As you all know regular chiropractic has been shown to reduce post-partum depression. Be Sure to on the lookout for tell-tell signs that mama might be struggling.

6) Invite mamma and baby to get out of the house. We all know what kind of Olympic sport it is to get a newborn fed, changed and clothed to get out; help her get a change of scenery, even if it is only a short walk around the block.

7) Offer to run errands for her, do her grocery shopping in person or online, pick up a few items at the coop, grab that homeopathic for the baby’s prickly stomach (remember #6) it is likely she will gladly accept the help.

8) Make a sign for their door that says “Baby Sleeping” or “please come in..and do some laundry” in early postpartum days sleep is precious get any and all you can! And avoid being disturbed by the UPS guy or the neighbor’s kids who want to play.

Truth is we have all been there and we all need the help. This is an amazing way as women we can support each other and grow together. When mama is recovered she will be ready to help you with your bundle of joy!