Recently the Department of Defense together with the Institute of Medicine published ‘Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel (2011)’ While we share on this website numerous parental and professional positive anecdotal reports, this report is validation through clinical validation for the nutritional therapy to treat various neurological conditions including traumatic brain injury and stroke.
In the report, there were a number of nutrients found to be effective. While there are a number of them found naturally through food sources including polyphenols which are rich in cocoa and amalaki , due to recent mice studies, I want to focus on the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs)
“If the results in mice can be reproduced in people, patients with traumatic brain injuries could receive the BCAAs in a drink.”~ Akiva S. Cohen, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Dr. Cohen may be interested to know that he may be on to something! On this website we provide with permission parental and professional written as well as video before and after anecdotal feedback in hopes that these type of cases can be validated in a double blind clinical trial. Most do not fully appreciate the important role that nutrition has on the body, the brain.
A thirty five year old male was diagnosed with severe stroke in the left hemisphere right in the speech center of the brain from a severed carotid artery. Under induced coma part of his skull was removed for brain swelling and then he developed pneumonia and kidney failure. He was put on dialysis in ICU. Once home his mother started serving him casein free whey isolate protein which was blended with Turmeric, Amalaki, Haritaki, Gymnema, Green Tea, Guggul, Cocoa, and also Cinnamon orCayenne Pepper which removed his severe headaches. The mother increased her son’s dosage up to four scoops a day. At this point his speech was 23% intelligible and his prognosis was that he would never be able to speak clearly again due to the area the stroke affected. He had rapid improvements however and in four months went to 82% intelligibility. Paralysis to his right arm and leg are also improving. After one year seizure free and remarkable progress in all areas he stopped the protein formula and one week later started having seizures again. He started again and is once again seizure free.
Amino acids naturally found in 100% natural, 100% casein free, whey protein isolate contains all the essential amino acids as well as the branched chain amino acids used in the various studies, and if it’s casein free can be used by those following a GFCF diet.
Amino Acids: Alanine, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, Cystin, Glutamic Acid, Glycine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Proline, Serine, Thereonine, Trytophan, Tyrosine, Valine
The following are clips pulled from the report ‘Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel (2011)
“The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are nutritionally essential in that they cannot be synthesized endogenously by humans and must be supplied by diet. They differ from other essential amino acids in that the liver lacks the enaymed necessary for their catabolism.
Branched –Chain Amino Acids and the Brain
In the brain, BCAAs have two important influences on the production of neurotransmitters. As nitrogen donors, they contribute to the synthesis of excitatory glutamate and inhibitory gamma-amionobutyric acid (GABA) (Yudkoff et al,, 2005). They also compete for transport across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) with tryptophan (the precursor to serotonin), as well as tyrosin and phenylalanine (precursors for catecholamines) (Fernstrom, 2005). Ingestion of BCAAs therefore causes rapid elevation of the plasma concentrations and increases uptake of BCAAs to the brain, but diminishes tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine uptake. The decrease in these aromatic amino acids directly affects the synthesis and release of serotonin and catecholamines. The reader is referred to Fernstrom (2005) for a review of the biochemistry of BCAA transportation to the brain. Oral BCAAs have been examined as treatment for neurological diseases such as mania, motor malfunction, lateral sclerosis, and spinocerebral degeneration.
A list of human studies (years 1990 and beyond) evaluating the effectiveness of BCAAs in providing resilience or treating TBI or related diseases or conditions (i.e, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracranial aneurysm, stroke, anoxic or hypoxic ischemia, epilepsy) in the acute phase is presented in Table 9-1; this also includes supporting evidence from animal models of TBI.
Clips from Table 8-1 Relevant Data Identified for BCAA
Aquilani 2008 TBI Randomized placebo-controlled trial Post injury supplementation of BCAAs
Disability Rating Scores DRS) improved significantly for treated patients while the score in the placebo recipients remained virtually unchanged. 68% of treated patients achieved DRS scores that allowed them to exit the vegetative or minimally conscious state. From day 15 to discharge from rehabilitation center, further significant brain function improvement was detected in patients in treatment group; no improvement was detected in placebo.
Evangeliou 209 Refractory epilepsy Ketogenic diet, supplemented by powdered mixture of BCAA
Adding BCAA to ketogenic diet resulted in a 100% seizure reduction in 3 patients who had experienced seizure reduction on ketogenic diet alone. Four patients who already had 50% reduction on ketogenic diet alone achieved an additional 20-30% reduction. One patient who had 20% reduction on ketogenic diet alone, achieved 50% reduction after adding BCAA.
Cole 2010 TBI, lateral fluid percussion Postinjury, consumption of BCAAs
After being treated with BCAA for 7 days, in vitro analysis showed that hippocampal slices from injured mice incubated with BCAA fully restored synaptic function
Clips from Summary
TBI has been associated with neurological disorders, neurodegenerative disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy), neuroendocrine disorders, psychiatric and psychological diseases, nonneurological disorders, and musculorskeletal dysfunction. Managing this multifaceted disease is a challenge. Given TBI’s complex pathobiology and acute, subacute, and long-term effects both the timing and duration of administration of any potential interventions are important to consider. Nutrition has emerged as a possible approach for the prevention of or therapy for injuries to the brain, including neurodegenerative disorders and ischemia. DoD requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convene and ad hoc committee to review the existing evidence for the potential role of nutrition in providing resilience or treating the acute and subacute effects of neurotrauma, with a focus on TBI.
In spring of 2010, the IOM appointed a committee of 11 experts with extensive knowledge in the areas of neurology; nutritional sciences, clinical nutrition, and dietetics; physiology; physical midcine and rehabilitation; psychiatry and behavioral science; biochemical and molecular neuroscience; epidemiology/methodoly; and the pathobiology of TBI. Two public workshops featuring presentations by civilian and military subject matter experts in TBI provided important information for the committee.
Clip from Conclusions and Recommendations
This report emphasizes the importance of nutrition not only to augment overall defensive mechanisms against the effects of TBI but also as postinjury treatment to lessen the acute and subacute effects of TBI. The committee found that the majority of clinical guidelines for TBI do not specifically address optimal nutritional support for TBI.