Article by Timothy M. Marshall PhD and Carol L. Henricks MD
Hundreds of thousands of military veterans are returning from war with serious symptoms of brain injury. The negative health impacts of war on brain health are multifactorial. We have sent healthy young people to war and they have returned with neurological symptoms that interfere with their ability to function in their life. Many are so despondent that 22 military veterans a day are taking their own lives. Nutrient optimization is a critical starting point for recovery.
The focus needs to be on giving these veterans the necessary nutrients that their “war-torn” bodies need to promote optimal healing and regeneration. It is well-known that under prolonged stress (e.g. a hypermetabolic state) the body uses up a number of important nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, iodine, chromium, iodine, lithium and the essential B-vitamins at an accelerated rate – as well as increasing urinary losses of these nutrients. For healing to take place – optimized levels of the above nutrients along with a nutrient and dietary program that focuses on and facilitates neural regeneration and detoxification of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and other chemical burdens, which ultimately impair healthy brain functioning and slow or prevent healing.
Another serious condition facing our returning veterans is something very little known by the American public. A growing number of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are becoming sick and dying from what appears to be overexposure to dangerous toxins produced by burn pits, which are used to destroy waste.
Over 227 metric tons of trash are or were being burned daily. Waste products in burn pits include, but are not limited to: chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, discarded human body parts, metal / aluminum cans, munitions and other unexploded ordinance, petroleum and lubricant products, plastics and Styrofoam, rubber, wood, and discarded foot , lithium batteries, tires, hydraulic fluids, and vehicles. Jet fuel keeps pits burning twenty – four hours a day, seven days a week exposing thousands of our troops and contractors to toxic fumes on a daily basis.
Symptoms from burn pit exposure include constrictive bronciolitis ( a rare disease that affects the smallest passageways of the lungs ), brain lesions, Parkinson’s , headaches, memory loss, cholelithiasis, abdominal pain, skin lesions, skin cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and colon cancer to name a few. Toxins in burn pit smoke may affect skin, eyes, respiratory and cardiovascular systems, gastrointestinal tract and internal organs.
Toxic exposures of this magnitude require a detoxification protocol and a carefully designed regimen of nutrients to restore health. A Burn pit registry for exposed veterans has been established.
The constant stress of being in a war zone creates risk for adrenal fatigue. There are approaches to supporting recovery from adrenal fatigue.
The realities of war experiences help to create the pattern of responses we know as PTSD. Magnesium supplementation coupled with therapeutic levels of the B-vitamins and essential trace minerals – selenium, zinc, boron, chromium, iodine, and lithium – together have a calming and healing effect on the brain and promote deep neuronal healing (particular in combination with HBOT). Healing is optimized and greatly aided when the body receives the nutrients it needs, and is in a calm state of homeostatic balance.
Many are exposed to IED’s and other explosions and physical trauma which cause TBI and often multiple TBI. Healing the brain is critical to cognitive and emotional recovery. Even one concussion may lead to depression and increase the risk of suicide. If the brain does not heal, a degenerative process begins. The correlation between concussion, early onset dementia, ALS and Parkinson’s disease has been made. A special form of magnesium supplementation (e.g. mag threonate, MT) has recently been shown to promote improved cognitive functioning and neuronal cell healing. Stemgevity – a proprietary nutritional supplementation containing powerful healing herbs, and low-dose lithium in nutritionally relevant doses promotes the production and release of stem cells from bone marrow which further supports neuronal healing processes. Ambrotose, a patented formula of “smart sugars” enhances a number of essential metabolic activities, cell-to-cell communication in the brain, the endocrine system and the immune system.
Due to inherent flaws in our broken medical system –when these veterans return home, they are not effectively treated. The medications function to merely suppress systems, at best, and cause further nutrient depletions that undermine health and healing processes. In an attempt to cope with the pain and distress they feel, veterans often self-medicate with alcohol and drugs which results in further health and nutritional compromise.
Nutrition is typically not a focus of their thinking, but as healthcare practitioners, it needs to be a focus of our thinking. Medication may treat some symptoms, but medication creates dependency, not healing. Particularly with brain injury, if you do not heal the brain, continuing neurodegeneration takes place. Nutrient optimization is a critical starting point in this healing process.
Timothy M. Marshall, Ph.D.
Holistic Neurospecialist / Pharmacologist
Carol L Henricks, MD
Behavioral Neurology, Epilepsy,
Sleep Disorders, Traumatic Brain Injury
& Hyperbaric Medicine. .
NorthStar Neurology PC
7596 N La Cholla Blvd
Tucson AZ 85741
Office Phone: 520-229-1238
Office FAX: 520-229-1242