Brain Health and the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB)
Keeping your brain healthy is a key to quality of life in your later years! For instance, Alzheimer's disease
now afflicts 5.4 million people in the United States -- double the number in 1980 and up from 4.5 million in 2009 -- and the number of people with Alzheimer's is expected to reach 16 million by 2050
Dementia, a common result of Alzheimer's disease, also occurs in people who do not have the disease. Estimates from data analyzed in 2005 "suggest a global dementia prevalence of 24.3 million, with 4.6 million new cases of dementia every year. The number of people affected will double every 20 years to 81.1 million by 2040." (Wikipedia
)Alzheimer's and other dementias: world map
Plenty can be done to slow or eliminate the risks of both Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. A key factor in these diseases is the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier (BBB)
.Blood-brain barrier: Aging and microvascular disease - systematic review and meta-analysisIs Breakdown of the Blood-Brain Barrier Responsible for Lacunar Stroke, Leukoaraiosis, and Dementia? The BBB has several important functions:
- Protects the brain from foreign substances in the blood that may injure the brain
- Protects the brain from hormones and neurotransmitters in the rest of the body
- Maintains a constant environment for the brain
With stress, hormonal imbalances
, chronic inflammation, and diseases like high blood pressure and adrenal fatigue
, the blood-brain barrier becomes compromised and pathogens, especially viruses, and heavy metals are known to find their way into the brain. Food sensitivities and chronic gastrointestinal infections
create inflammation in the barrier, thereby weakening it.
To determine if you have adrenal fatigue, use our Adrenal Stress Index Test
To determine if you have chronic gastrointestinal infections, use our Gastrointestinal Health Panels
To determine if you have hormonal imbalances (both women and men), use our Hormone Panel Saliva Tests
To help your body to restore the integrity of a "leaky" BBB, you can use essential oils. Therapeutic grade essential oils may restore the integrity of a "leaky" blood-brain barrier along with neutralizing toxins and killing pathogens that have crossed over the barrier.
All essential oils cross the blood-brain barrier but the sesquiterpene classification of essential oils is best known for affecting brain function.
Sesquiterpenes are known for their ability to oxygenate and erase damaged DNA in the brain. They are powerful anti-inflammatory agents, antiseptic, cooling, anti-allergic, analgesic, antispasmodic, and slightly antibacterial. Because of their strong effect on the brain, these oils effectively calm and balance emotions.
To identify the best oils to positively influence your brain, use Essential Oil Body Feedback. First press or massage the upper shoulder or neck area, looking for tender trigger points or tight muscles. The second step is to take a deep breath of an essential oil and after you exhale, again press the tender or tight areas. If the tension and tightness is reduced, then the essential oil will positively impact brain function. If tension and tightness remains the same or is worse, then that essential oil will not positively impact brain function and may actually make you feel worse.
It is important to apply essential oils to the base of the neck or around the hairline to affect brain function. Applying oils along the spine also allows them to enter the brain through the cerebral-spinal fluid. Diffusing essential oils also helps brain function because small molecules are accessing the brain through the sinuses. If you take the oils internally or apply them to your feet, you will not achieve the same effects.
Essential oils with the highest concentrations of
- Black Pepper
- Celery Seed
For assistance with Essential Oil Body Feedback, testing, or any other support, please call or e-mail the Optimal Health Center.