When you get hit by a 255-pound offensive tackle up to 50 times a game, it’s bound to inflict physical harm.
That’s exactly what brain scans of hundreds of active and retired football players have found — clear evidence these helmet-to-helmet blows cause damage.1
But you don’t have to be an NFL footballer to experience a similar problem. Trauma to the head can come from falls, fights, vehicle accidents, blast injuries incurred in the military, or playing other contact sports besides American football.
If injuries are moderate to severe, they not only inflict immediate harm, they also increase the risk of future dementia up to four times over. Even mild brain trauma without concussion more than doubles the risk.2
If you’ve ever had just one concussion for any reason, your risk of dementia is higher, although probably not by a factor as high as four.
Fortunately, all is not lost. There are ways to reverse damage from such traumas.
Memory Restored in NFL Players
One doctor who specializes in the treatment of former NFL players is Daniel G. Amen, well known to many of our readers as one of the participants in our Regain Your Brain video series.
The first player with cognitive problems to seek his help was Anthony “Notre Dame Killer” Davis in 2007. A scan showed clear evidence of brain damage. Dr. Amen described the 54-year-old College Football Hall of Fame running back as having the brain of someone 85 years old.
After treatment, his focus, memory and energy were much improved. Other players soon showed up at Dr. Amen’s door and were similarly rewarded.1
His first study on former NFL players was published in 2011. Thirty players underwent a battery of cognitive tests and SPECT imaging. The latter looks at patterns of brain activity by measuring cerebral blood flow. The players showed clear evidence of cognitive impairment and brain damage.
Following six months of treatment involving diet, lifestyle and brain-directed nutritional supplements, Dr. Amen’s team confirmed significant improvements in memory, reasoning, and in speed and accuracy of information processing. Increased blood flow to various areas of the brain was also clearly demonstrated.3
Dr. Amen enthused, “The exciting news in my mind is that if we can demonstrate improvement in football players with chronic brain damage, it offers hope for the millions of people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.”
Boosts the Brains of Healthy People, Too
This study was followed by a trial published in 2013 in which 25 healthy adults were given brain support supplements only, without any lifestyle changes.
Even though this was a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, crossover trial — the most rigorous type of study that can be done – the researchers proved there were noticeable improvements in mood, memory, reasoning, information processing, executive function and regional blood flow after each group took supplements, compared to the period when they were on the placebo.4
In a crossover trial, the first phase consists of having half the group on the treatment and half the group on a placebo. Then the groups trade places for the last half of the trial. At either time they do not know whether they are receiving the placebo or the treatment.
Dr. Amen also added his comments on this study, saying, “We are very excited about these results, as it confirms for the first time in this ‘gold standard’ study format, that a comprehensive daily supplement system can help support brain function and overall brain health.”
The Amen Healing Protocols
To optimize benefits to the brain, the full Amen Clinic Program consists of the following:1
A brain-healthy diet — high in nutritious and colorful fruits and vegetables; sources of “clean” protein that are organic, free-range and grass-fed, free of hormones and antibiotics; high fiber whole grains, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, herbs, spices and plenty of water.
Learn something new – exercise different parts of the brain with language games and crossword puzzles; memory games and learning a new musical instrument; math games and map reading.
Exercise – steady walking with short bursts of activity, strength training, coordination activities (tennis, table tennis, dancing), yoga practice and tai chi.
Relax – anything that helps relieve stress is essential, such as deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery, socializing, etc.
Promote vascular health – practice great sleep habits, take gingko biloba and omega 3 fatty acids; avoid stress, caffeine and nicotine.
Decrease inflammation – regularly consume fish, nuts, broccoli, avocados, green tea, cacao, curcumin, rosemary and garlic.
Brain support supplements – omega 3, vitamins B6, B12, folate, C and D; gingko biloba, huperzine A, vinpocetine, choline, acetyl-l-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), CoQ10 and phosphatidylserine (PS).
Amen Clinics can be found at eight locations across the United States.
- Change Your Brain Change Your Life by Dr DG Amen, Piatkus 2016