Exercise for Your Best Brain Health

If the body be feeble, the mind will not be strong.

~ Thomas Jefferson

Exercise is a critical component of creating your best brain health. Modern day neurotoxins, including heavy metals and industrial pollutants, as well as a genetically modified and adulterated food supply, radiation, and an increasingly contaminated water supply, are all factors which have brought our brains to a low point of neurologic health. When undertaking the process of identifying and treating your neurotoxic burden, physical movement through exercise is a key component. Your brain is under constant modification, both constructive and degenerative. This ‘plasticity’ provides us the opportunity to not only repair damage from lifelong neurotoxic burdens, but actually to improve our brain and neurologic function to a higher level, once the neurologic terrain has been detoxified and maximally supported.

Exercise in all forms stimulates the brain to work at improved capacity by promoting neurons to repair and strengthen their interconnections and provide protection from oxidative stress. Scientific studies have illustrated that during exercise nerve cells release brain growth proteins known as neurotrophic factors, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health, and has a direct benefit on cognitive function. Among elementary school students, 40 minutes of daily exercise increased their IQ by an average of nearly 4 points. Among 6th graders, the fittest students scored 30 percent higher than average students. At any age, exercise serves as a powerful tool to maximize our brain health and function. In more advanced age groups, exercise has been effective with Alzheimer’s disease, as even mild to moderate exercise can reverse normal brain shrinkage by 2 percent, effectively reversing age-related Hippocampal degeneration.

Whatever your current neurological health or physical functional level is, the healing of your brain and nervous system is best facilitated by an appropriate level of exercise. Exercise helps maintain healthy blood pressure and weight, improves circulation and lymphatic toxin drainage, strengthens the heart, increases the production of endorphins, improving energy and mood, and lowers stress and anxiety, all of which contribute to enhanced brain health and a heightened sense of wellness. Whichever exercise program you choose, commit to establishing exercise as a routine, as it is a medicine with a multitude of benefits, including achieving your best brain health.

From Sean Plake, Certified Personal Trainer (the exercise expert who brought me back to my best physical and brain health!): What is keeping you from starting an exercise program for improved health? Some people are intimidated by weights and the thought of sweat, or are unsure of their ability to participate in an exercise program. You should never feel intimidated by exercise, which is simply performing body movements at different rates. Television creates the illusion that exercise is only for ‘fit’ people, which could not be further from the truth. Exercise and movement are for EVERYONE! Exercise can be done at your local workout facility, outside at a park, in your home, and even in your office. When starting an exercise program with a qualified, Certified Personal Trainer, and after medical clearance from your physician, you should begin a program appropriate for your level of ability, and then slowly increase the intensity and volume as tolerated. You just need to start moving to see improvement of your overall mood, alertness, energy and general health!

For a comprehensive brain health/neurotoxin burden evaluation and individualized, comprehensive treatment protocol, please contact Dr. Costello’s office at 505-503-8325 for an appointment. To read more from Sean and to schedule a free initial consultation, visit his website at: http://www.seanplakephw.com. http://www.drcostello.com.


Neurotoxicity and Reversible Pain Syndromes

In the last analysis, we see only what we are ready to see, what we have been taught to see.  We eliminate and ignore everything that is not a part of our prejudices.

~ Jean-Martin Charcot (1825 – 1893)
Founder of modern neurology.

In my practice of holistic neurological medicine and as a neurosurgeon, I encounter patients daily with acute and chronic pain syndromes. My evaluation always considers such causes as nerve impingement, injured joints, discs, or lesions, and spinal malalignment, etc. In many cases, however, there is often a deeper, more elusive physiological cause to their pain syndrome involving neurotoxicity.

In the hospital setting, patients are seen acutely, often when trauma has occurred, or a physiologic process has reached a critical stage of crisis. These patients are managed according to standard emergency medical and surgical protocols. Conversely, in the office, most patients present with chronic pain syndromes, for which they are often desperate to find a remedy, as only palliative measures have been offered previously. Many of these patients have been suffering unnecessarily for varying lengths of time and have been economically and personally impacted by living with pain.

The good news is that pain syndromes are often reversible once the underlying structural and physiologic causes are identified.  Such reversible syndromes would include migraine, cluster, and tension headaches, occipital headaches and neuralgias, neck and low back pain, facial pain, (Trigeminal Neuralgia and TMJ pain), thoracic pain, Shingles (Herpes Zoster) and Post-Herpetic Neuralgia, Myofascial Pain, Fibromyalgia, pelvic and abdominal pain, including dysmenorrhea, bladder pain, stomach and bowel pain, upper and lower extremity pain (including Restless Leg Syndrome), Carpal Tunnel Syndromes, all forms of peripheral neuropathy, and Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD), etc.

Neurotoxicity occurs when toxins accumulate in the neurological tissue of the body and undermine the functioning of the brain and nervous system. Long-term exposure to environmental toxins such as heavy metals, low grade infections, radiation, chemicals, food additives, pesticides, etc. can result in neurotoxicity. Chronic exposure to and bioaccumulation in the brain of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, iron, and aluminum, can lead to neurotoxicity, as can exposure to poisonous plants, animals, or molds.

The symptoms of neurotoxicity are largely reversible once identified and properly managed. Neurotoxicity symptoms resemble those of disease conditions such as the chronic pain syndromes listed above, but also of depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), chronic fatigue syndrome, the Autism Spectrum, as well as an array of autoimmune diseases, (Celiac disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and psoriatic or rheumatoid arthritis, etc.), all diseases notoriously unresponsive to conventional therapy. My experience in managing these conditions is that neurotoxicity is usually a contributing, underlying factor.

Once you’ve recognized that you might have a reversible pain syndrome, then what would be your next step for long-term cure and relief? Correct identification of all contributory, causal issues is required, and appropriate treatment undertaken. If the underlying cause of your pain or illness is toxicity, and your treatment plan does not include a detoxification regimen, your overall recovery is very likely to be incomplete and slower than it needs to be.  Standard suppressive pharmaceutical management of pain syndromes typically does not provide long-term relief and cure, and the side effects can be overwhelming. Having the underlying neurotoxicity issues identified and safely managed is a necessary part of your care to provide long-term relief and cure, with the additional benefit of elevation of your general health as well.

If you’re dealing with acute or chronic pain and would like a comprehensive holistic neurological evaluation and treatment approach, please contact my office for an appointment at 505-503-8325.

Understanding the Environmental Influences of Neurotoxins on Your Brain: Mercury Poisoning

We live in a world where it is easier to break an atom than a preconceived idea. – Albert Einstein

The Ancient Greek Physician Galen (a great scientific researcher who advanced the disciplines of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, neurology and pathology), as well as the renaissance Physician Paracelsus, (the father of toxicology as a science), studied, practiced, and wrote in detail and at great length of their experiences with the neurological and physical toxicities of mercury exposure. Yet, two millennia later, medicine remains largely in the dark as to the role this poison plays in chronic, as well as acute, exposures.

Diseases of the nervous system are increasing at exponential rates. Neuroinflammatory illness such as autism, behavioral disorders, tremors and movement disorders, MS, ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s dementias, psychiatric disorders, depression and anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, insomnia, memory impairment, neuromuscular weakness, neuropathies, tinnitus and hearing loss, headaches, and acute and chronic pain syndromes, are all reaching epidemic numbers.  These illnesses are physically, emotionally, and economically costly, often causing long term disability and unnecessary suffering.

A number of environmental toxins have been well established causes of neurological disorders and brain dysfunction.*  The most neurotoxic of the list is the heavy metal mercury. All forms of mercury pose a significant threat to both the developing and adult nervous systems.* It has bio-accumulated throughout our aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and is now heavily entrenched in the food chain, with our nervous systems and bodies serving as deadly endpoints.

Neuroscientific research has demonstrated the neurotoxicity of mercury as causally related to a number of mechanisms. It is well established as creating deficiencies of such critical antioxidants as Selenium, as well as creating intracellular imbalances of other essential minerals in the brain, and it has been shown to cause disruption of neurotransmitters which are involved in the programmed cell death of neurons.  These processes all impose substantial oxidative stress on our nervous tissues, causing neurotoxicity and associated neuroinflammation. If left untreated, these potentially reversible and preventable processes lead to neurodegenerative disease and irreversible cell death.

Cases of childhood autism and multiple sclerosis, both rarities during my medical training and neurosurgical residency, as well as adult MS, ALS, dementias, cognitive dysfunction, and balance disorders, are increasing in all age groups. While acute mercury poisoning is more readily recognized by mainstream medicine as a cause of such neuroinflammatory illnesses, chronic mercury exposure typically is not. As we are initially exposed to toxic mercury in the womb, this is a critical oversight.  I measure every one of my patients’ mercury levels, including my pediatric patients, and I am acutely aware of the levels of mercury with which children are being born.

How might our approach toward neurological disease be altered? Firstly, mercury  fillings are entirely avoidable. As for industrial sources, the world stage is  Finally legislating tighter control of production, handling, and disposal of mercury, as has previously been targeted with the neurotoxin lead. For those stores of deadly mercury that have already found their way into our central nervous systems and bodies, your neurotoxic burden can be readily assessed and managed by a qualified licensed medical practitioner. Ongoing exposures can be addressed and corrected, including safe removal of mercury  fillings by a biological dentist.

In summary, neuroinflammatory illness can be prevented, halted, and reversed, when accompanied by a neuroinflammatory and neurotoxicity assessment and followed by a safe detoxification
protocol. Without this information, many patients suffering from neuroinflammatory illness are left with only a symptom-related diagnosis, with limited treatment options.