When Brains Collide and the Omega Protocol

Dec 18, 2017

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Michael Lewis MD is an expert on brain health, prevention, treatment, and management of brain injuries. He is a retired Colonel in US Army and has impacted the military’s approach to traumatic brain injury. Since retiring from the Army he founded the Brain Health Education and Research Institute outside of Washington DC. He is the author of the recently published, “When Brains Collide.”

Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Restoring Neurologic Health:

We discuss the mechanism of concussion and how it creates brain deterioration both in the short and long terms. “Primary injury” is the near term injury. “Secondary injury” can lead to persistent oxidative stress, reactive oxygen species, oxygen deprivation and ultimately brain damage that relates to Alzheimer’s disease.

We have more discussion on concussions and head trauma and how that may lead to blood brain barrier permeability AKA “leaky brain.” This seems to relate to inadequate drainage of the newly discovered “glymphatics system” of the brain and inefficiency with the healing process therein.

The ApoE4 gene – linked to significantly higher risk of Alzhiemer’s – is also an indicator of higher risk of having difficulty recovering from head injuries or having more severe symptoms if and when a head injury occurred in the past. Some researchers, for example Dr Caleb Finch at USC maintains that from an evolutionary biology perspective the ApoE4 gene status -which confers a 50-90% increased lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s – seems to be more associated with a proinflammatory state thereby making recovery from persistent oxidative stress and inflammation more challenging.

30% of the brain is fat. Omega fatty acids are analogous to bricks in the wall of your brain. The balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids is important. Omega 6 fatty acids are more inflammatory and an overabundance of them in your body can prevent healing.

The critical omega 3 fatty acids seem to be DHA and EPA. DHA, a precursors of Resolvins and neuroprotectins, and EPA influence healthy blood flow, cell to cell communication, and mediate anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

You can ask your doctor to measure your Omega 3 (i.e. EPA + DHA) levels with a lab called an
“omegacheck”
“omegaquant”
“omega3index”
These terms are commercialized lab terms that can be drawn at many of the larger standard lab companies.

Ideally Omega 3 (EPA +DHA) levels should be greater than 8% on one of these tests (there may be exceptions depending of your family history and what medications you are on so – as always- check with your doctor when looking into this, this is not medical advice as there is some risk to high omega 3 levels for a small subset of people). We think the ideal ratio of Omega 6:3 is about 4:1. Most Westerners have proinflammatory diets making this ratio much higher.

Through this interview there is discussion about processing practices for fish oil companies and how to understand if your fish oil is of high quality. Quality fish oil should be molecularly distilled for safest processing and lowest toxicants and in triglyceride form for best tolerance on your stomach and most easily digested. Dr Lewis recommends a concentrated form so you can get enough with a minimal number of pills.

There is also a brief discussion about bleeding with high dose omega 3 fatty acids.

It takes 12 weeks to saturate the brain, but Dr Lewis with his Omega 3 protocol uses 3-6 times the regular dose for the first month or so.

If you can’t consume clean fish multiple times per week or are a vegan consider using algae-based omega 3 fatty acids. This is, in fact, where fish get their omega 3 fatty acids from.

A newer supplement, Specialized Pro-resolvin Mediators (aka: SPMs) which seem very promising, primarily based on the work of Dr Charles Serhan and his group at Harvard, are a downstream product of omega 3 fatty acids and are important in the resolution of inflammation. Some of the “SPM” products on the market today may in fact not be actual SPMs but simply closer down the metabolic chain of events to SPM than traditional Omega 3 fatty acid oils.

Transparency note: at the time of the recording, Dr Lewis was a paid consultant to Nordic Naturals a purveyor of Omega 3 supplements.

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