Head hurting? Feeling dizzy? Trouble remembering?
Your brain may be cut off from the rest of your body — and drowning in its own toxins!
When I’m trying to help a patient with memory loss or any neurological issue in my office, I often tell them, “I want to make sure your head is screwed on straight.”
It might sound like I’m joking, but what I mean is that one of the root causes of memory loss—and, quite frankly, any major neurological disease—is a misalignment of the human body.
And that can occur especially the head and neck.
As an integrative medical doctor, I look at the whole body—and the reason that doctors like myself are successful at helping people get better is because we have many more tools in our toolbox other than just prescription medications to band-aid a medical problem.
As much as nutrients and nutraceuticals are a big part of my practice, there are other modalities that can be the key to some troubling symptoms.
I’ve found that the structure of the human body is a huge part in the process of healing the human body. And that means getting the “head screwed on straight”—and thus getting their body in alignment—can have a profound effect on memory, mood, and the healing of neurological issues.
The important and promising part is that there are some relatively easy and effective ways of taking care of the issues, which I’ll get to in a moment.
What’s sidelining your memory?
I’ll admit that this subject of body alignment and structural issues is very important to me… and that’s because I love rugby. But it’s hard to separate my medical brain from my sports brain while I’m watching those rugby players out on the field.
It scares me, how hard these guys hit their heads and the punishment they put their bodies through, and how those players are messing up the alignment of their heads and necks — as well as inflaming and injuring their brain tissue.
The good news is that most rugby teams understand the importance of the alignment of the body, so they employ chiropractors to help readjust the players. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the misalignment of the head and neck is playing some role in the development of the concussion syndrome.
As you may be aware, the subject of concussions on the rugby field has been the main subject of a movie last year called Concussion.
In that movie, Will Smith portrays the real-life forensic pathologist who blew the lid off the connection between repeated head trauma (a.k.a. concussions) in football with memory loss and cognitive decline. We now know this is a real disease, and there’s a name for it: chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
But you don’t have to be a rugby player — or even any kind of athlete — to have experienced the kind of trauma and resulting memory loss that the movie exposes.
Low- or no-impact events like a fender-bender… a minor fall… or even years of bad posture, hunching over a desk or a computer could have left you askew.
Four memory-blocking mechanisms of misalignment
There are four reasons why a misaligned spine and the poor flow of cerebrospinal fluid contribute to a large part of memory loss and other neurological issues.
The first is the basic tenant of chiropractic care, which is that “structure equals function.”
What this means is that the nerves that come out of the spinal cord “talk” to the brain and organs—and if they are “pinched” or obstructed, they can cause a host of medical issues that range from sciatica to memory loss or headache.
If the nerves coming out of the upper spine are constricted, they don’t “talk” and instruct the brain what to do, think, and remember. And therefore, putting the spine back in alignment can almost instantaneously restore the body and nervous system “talk” to the brain.
The second reason is that the misalignment of the head and neck and even the cranial sutures of the brain can disrupt the flow of cerebrospinal fluid through the brain and the spine.
Believe it or not, the cerebrospinal fluid in your brain and spinal cord has a continuous slow flow and rhythm of fluid that continuously circulates from the bottom of the spine to the important parts of your brain. This flow of cerebrospinal fluid can get blocked or slowed down and can cause the pressure in the brain to be lopsided (or, as we medical professionals call it, “asynchronous”).
When the pressures in your brain are not being distributed properly, then your brain can’t function optimally.
The third reason is when your spine, cranial sutures, and cerebrospinal fluid are cockeyed, it can block and impede the flow of blood and lymph.
The lack of symmetrical and stable blood flow to your head and brain is an obvious detriment to your health and memory. I’m not talking about a major impedance of blood flow, like what happens when your arteries get clogged with atherosclerosis (a.k.a. plaque)—but I am talking about enough of an asymmetry that can affect things enough to cause symptoms.
The blockage of lymph is also a contributor to worrisome neurological symptoms because it can cause the brain to percolate in its own trash. Toxins can thus cause a host of serious medical issues including neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and any version of memory loss.
The fourth reason is that when the head and neck are catawampus, the “gyroscope” of the brain is thrown off, which can make you feel dizzy and unbalanced. Imagine feeling seasick all the time!
This can also make you — especially if you’re a little bit older — particularly vulnerable to falls. As a result, you might lose confidence in your ability to get around… be constantly afraid of falling… and even feel confused and disoriented.
Straighten your neck out and get your fluids flowing
The best therapies that I have found that help these issues are chiropractic and craniosacral therapy, as well as acupuncture.
The most direct therapy about setting the cranium and getting your head and neck in better alignment is chiropractic adjustments, which are crucial to getting your neck in better alignment.
Chiropractors are like “carpenters” who try to get your “house” in perfect alignment. As I mentioned earlier, if your vertebrae are jutting out to the left or the right, the physical obstruction can block the lymph and blood flow. So, the goal of the chiropractor is to get these cervical vertebrae in better alignment.
Craniosacral therapy, on the other hand, is a gentle technique to get the flow of cerebrospinal fluid flowing.
If chiropractors are “carpenters,” then craniosacral therapists are like “sculptors.” This is because craniosacral therapists sculpt and restore the flow of this precious fluid by holding the body (mostly the head and neck) in certain positions.
Believe it or not, the cerebrospinal fluid flows and circulates from your brain to your spine at a rate of about 12 beats per minute. When your neck is out of alignment… and your cranial sutures are stuck… the “beat” of this fluid can be so severely slowed that your brain can’t be nourished and cleansed properly, causing pressure to build up inside of it.
These therapists — usually massage therapists with specialized training in this technique — cradle and hold the head and neck in certain positions and restore this flow, which is important to restoring proper brain health.
The therapy is unbelievably relaxing and restorative.
Needle therapy hits the reset button
As you know, I’m a certified and licensed medical acupuncturist and have been practicing this amazing “art” for many years. And what I’ve found is that acupuncture has many wonderful and safe benefits when it comes to brain health, with its main benefit being that “resets” the nervous system.
The needles activate and stimulate certain special spots right under the skin that can help bring more symmetrical energy (which is called “chi” in the world of acupuncture) to the brain and nervous system.
There’s also an added benefit of the muscular relaxation that the needles create that also aid your body and musculoskeletal system in getting in better alignment.
Some of the special kinds of acupuncture that can be especially helpful in memory loss and concussions are auricular and scalp acupuncture. These two specific kinds of acupuncture are when the needles are placed in specific spots in the ear (auricular) or threaded in certain planes of the scalp.
The theory is that ear acupuncture can more directly “communicate” to the nervous system and the brain because of a believed connection between the ear and the brain. Scalp therapy can also release tension patterns in your scalp and bring better energy and blood flow to your cranium, scalp, and brain.
Therefore, if you are suffering from memory loss (or, in fact, almost any neurological condition)… or you want to prevent these conditions from occurring… make sure to get your head “screwed on straight.”
You can get an evaluation and treatment from any of the health professionals mentioned above.
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Vol. 11, Issue 1 • January 2017
Full references and citations for this article are available in the downloadable PDF version of the monthly Nutrition and Healing issue in which this article appears.