Edge Effect - the Brain in CFS
The Brain is the Driver of your Car
I do like to read books by clever people who turn difficult subjects into simple concepts with practical implications for management. Dr Eric Braverman has done this with his book "The Edge Effect". He is highly qualified, well read and refers to the same people and ideas as I do. He combines the best of recent and modern thinking and research to come up with a model of the brain which dovetails with many of the things I already know to be important in sustaining good health. However, there are some very useful "bolt on" extras! Just as DNA is made up of four subunits which, when combined, provide the entire genetic blueprint for all of life on Earth, Braverman describes the brain in terms of the actions of four neurotransmitters, describes the symptoms that occur when there is an imbalance in each of these hormones, so that these imbalances can be recognized, and then goes on to describe what can be done in order to correct these imbalances. Many of these interventions I already recommend such as Stone Age Diet (more often I now prescribe the ketogenic diet - please see Ketogenic diet - the practical details and My book The PK Cookbook - Go Paleo-ketogenic and get the best of both worlds) , Nutritional Supplements, Sleep is vital for good health, Detoxification and so on, but Braverman directs us to further fine tuning.
The first step is to identify your personality type, which points to specific deficiencies, and then, having identified your personality type, try different interventions to see if they have a beneficial effect. I have summarised Braverman's findings but you can read about them in much more detail in his book. Please see Amazon.co.uk link to The Edge Effect by Dr Eric Braverman
Dopamine predominant (frontal lobes) 17% of people
Thinking intuitives - rationalists, theory oriented, precise, love power, high energy extroverts, tend to addictions. Achievers, thinkers, problem solvers, pragmatic but do not take criticism. Love activities requiring intellect - crosswords, chess. Relish competition. Motto: "Never take anything personally".
Too much: overly intense, driven and impulsive. Possibly violent, reckless driving, criminal behaviour. Dopamine is the "voltage" of the brain (ie height of electrical brain waves).
If deficient - becomes the loner, the procrastinator. Loses energy to socialise, loses feelings of emotion.
Symptom - inconsistent attention. Loss of working memory (ability to absorb information and use it for on-going processing).
Addiction to boost levels: cocaine, coffee, sugar.
Occupation: doctors, scientists, researchers, inventors, engineers, Generals, architects.
Acetylcholine predominant (parietal lobes) 17% of people
Intuitive feelers - idealists striving to be authentic, benevolent and empathetic. Good at thinking functions such as comprehension of language, intelligence and attention. Love words, ideas and communication. Highly creative and open to new ideas. Quick thinker, considerate of others. Flexible, creative, impulsive so long as it offers the promise of excitement and something new. Intuitive and innovative. Love teaching others. Sociable, charismatic, like meeting new people. Motto: "Always do your best".
Acetylcholine gives the brain speed (measured in alpha waves) of processing information and accessing stored information.
Too much speed: causes panic disorders, anxiety, hysteria, sometimes manic episodes. Sufferer may give too much to others to the point of masochism. May feel the world is taking advantage of them and become paranoid and then isolated.
If deficient (too little speed) - becomes the eccentric and the perfectionist. Steers away from human interaction, lives in a dream world. Workaholic, misses out on relaxation, enjoyment and warmth. Fatigue. Learning disorders.
Symptoms of deficiency - misplacing items, carelessness. Loss of immediate memory (lasts up to 30 seconds) causing poor learning capacity and loss of basic alertness.
Addiction to boost levels: nicotine, carbohydrate binge
Occupation: teachers, community work, artists, writers, musicians, counsellors, mediators, think tank, religious leaders, public service, self employed businesses.
Dopamine and acetylcholine are the ON switches for the brain, GABA and serotonin are the OFF switches. It is no surprise that most of my CFS patients are dopamine or acetylcholine types!
I often think one has to undergo a personality change to get out of CFS. The personality that gets you into it does not help you get out of it!
GABA predominant (temporal lobes) 49% of people
Characterised by stability, organisation and tradition. Guardians, caring type, look to preserve traditional values, dependable. Stable, calm, objective, level headed, punctual, confident. Tend to be homemakers, good team players, sensible, settled. Make others feel comfortable. May use alcohol to calm their compulsiveness. Motto "always keep your word".
Produce calming rhythmic theta waves - keeps brain in check, paces activity.
Too much - expend too much energy on caring at the cost of getting hurt. Rely heavily on friends and crave their judgement and approval.
If deficient - becomes the unstable personality and Drama Queen. This person meets the needs of others. Moods often unbalanced and mercurial. Inappropriately theatrical, loving and living for the big moment. Attention seeking, seeking reassurance of his worth. Feel worthless and without hope. The problems of the world become his own. Depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxious.
Symptoms of deficiency - lack of attention, impulsive actions. Loss of verbal memory, eg inability to understand sound, words, sentences and stories.
Addiction to boost levels: diazepam.
Occupation: administrators, accountants, security officers, nurses, technicians, air traffic controllers, paramedics, planners, homemakers.
Serotonin predominant (occipital lobes) 17% of people
Sensitive preceptors. Artisans who act on impulse and seek adventure. They prize fun. Motto "live through experience". Know how to enjoy life! Able to rest, regenerate and find serenity. Live for the moment, thrive on change, try new foods, pick up new hobbies, like a challenge just for the fun of overcoming it! Receptive to stimuli, in touch with mind and body, co-ordinated, resourceful. Not put off by a struggle. Love parties and celebrations, mountain climbing, hunting, skiing, scuba diving, anything so long as there is excitement with it! Optimistic, cheerful easy-going, want to join in and be part of the fun. Love children! Intensely loyal.
Serotonin vital at night for brain to recharge and rebalance.
Associated with delta waves in the brain.
Too much - nervous, hesitant, vulnerable to criticism, desperate desire for interpersonal relationship.
If deficient - becomes the self absorbed personality and the rule breaker. Loses sensitivity to others, flouts conventional values as beneath him, makes his own rules so others are damaged. Boundary between truth and lies becomes blurred.
Symptoms - inability to grasp concepts quickly. Loss of visual memory - inability to remember faces, colours, pictures, symbols and so on. Insomnia, PMT.
Addiction to boost levels: alcohol, sugar bingeing.
Occupation: mechanics, construction workers, drivers, military personnel, hairdressers, bar tenders, pilots, computer programmers, professional athletes, movie stars, photographers, surgeons, chiropractors, detectives, investigators, crisis intervention.
HOWEVER THE MOST IMPORTANT SYMPTOM OF A PROBLEM IN ANY OF THESE DEPARTMENTS IS MEMORY LOSS.
The difference in mental processing between a resourceful mind and senility is one tenth of a second. We normally generate a reaction within three tenths of a second - if this becomes four tenths of a second we can no longer process logical thought. When the brain slows down, and without care this starts on average at 40, we start to lose our edge. You just become less sharp. It's the old story - as you age you can stay just as fit and well but you have to work harder at it! Brain function is the most sensitive indicator of body biochemistry which means once the brain is working well, there is not much wrong with the biochemistry!
Most people have a combination of the above problems. In CFS there is probably a general deficiency of all the above neurotransmitters! Much can be corrected with the standard work-ups, but the following "bolt on extras" are often very useful! If you wish to define your type more closely, there is a detailed DIY series of questions which you can read in the book "The Edge Effect", together with frequently asked questions. The aim is to identify then balance up the imbalances. I can't repeat this here without breaching copyright! However you can experiment with the following interventions (or get the book!) and that will give further clues and answers to your personal brain chemistry.
The Powerful Dopamine Nature
Dopamine deficiency can be helped by:
Diet - eat foods containing phenylalanine which is converted into tyrosine, the raw material to synthesise dopamine. This means a high protein diet. Interestingly aspartame is high in phenylalanine which is maybe why diet coke is so addictive! (Aspartame is also metabolised to formaldehyde, a neurotoxin). Foods rich in tyrosine include all meats (especially wild game meats), dark chocolate, egg, walnuts.
Extra supplements: tyrosine - 1-2 grams daily, phosphatidyl serine 50-200mgs
Herbals - rhodiola 50-200mgs, ginkgo biloba 50-100mgs
The Creative Acetlycholine Nature
Acetlycholine deficiency can be helped by:
Diet - high fat (but good fats!): fatty meats, eggs, liver, nuts, quality cold pressed oils, avocado
Extra supplements: choline 100-500mgs, phosphatidyl serine 500-2,000mgs, aceyl L carnitine 250-1,000mgs, DHA 200-1,000mgs, pantothenic acid 25-100mgs, vitamin B12 100-500mcgms
Herbals - ginkgo biloba 50-100mgs, Korean ginseng 100-500mgs
The Stable GABA Nature
GABA deficiency can be helped by:
Diet: complex carbohydrates to supply the raw material to make GABA namely glutamine such as nuts, vegetables, pulses, fruits. Especially avoid refined foods.
Extra supplements: inositol 500-2,000mgs, glutamic acid 250-1,000mgs, melatonin 1-6mgs, B vitamins.
Herbals: valerian 100-500mgs, passionflower 200-1,000mgs
The Playful Serotonin Nature
Serotonin deficiency can be helped by:
Hormones - Human Growth Hormone see Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
Diet - tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin and comes from protein, especially game meats. Also avocado, dark chocolate
Extra supplements: 5HTP 100-500mgs, melatonin 1-6mgs, magnesium 400-1,000mgs, tryptophan 500-2,000mgs, B6 100-500mgs, fish oils, zinc 15mgs nocte.
Herbals St John's Wort 300-900mgs, passion flower 200-1,000mgs
REMEMBER WE ARE ALL A MIX OF ALL THE ABOVE AND IT IS ATTENTION TO ALL AREAS WHICH GIVES THE RESULTS!
Children are born with undisguised personalities. As we age our personality matures and the above traits should become less obvious. The aim is to balance up all of the above areas to find a state in which we are most productive and content.
The above should be done IN ADDITION to STONEAGE, or better still the PK, DIET, NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS, SLEEP, DETOXING (NB links to these four articles above) and so on!
- Common Hormonal Problems in CFS - Adrenal
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
- Low dose naltrexone
- Adrenal Gland
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