A guide to herbal and holistic medicine for brain health and neurologic disorders
• Provides detailed herbal, antioxidant, and nutritional strategies for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, stroke, migraine, and seizures
• Supported by scientific studies and years of successful clinical practice
• Discusses potential side effects, counter-indications, and the proper dosages to reduce symptoms, slow disease progression, and lessen the chances of recurrence
Numerous medical journals have published studies supporting the use of herbs and nutrients in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. Yet in practice most neurologists rarely include them as part of their protocols. In this practical guide, Sidney Kurn, M.D., and Sheryl Shook, Ph.D., explain how to safely and easily incorporate herbs, antioxidants, and nutritional supplements into the standard conventional treatments for 6 common neurologic disorders: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, stroke, migraine, and seizures.
For each condition, the authors provide detailed strategies supported by scientific evidence and years of successful clinical practice. They examine the biochemical role of each recommended herb, nutrient, or antioxidant and discuss potential side effects, counter-indications, and proper dosages to reduce symptoms, slow disease progression, andin the case of stroke, migraine, and seizureslessen the chances of recurrence. The authors explore the nutrient deficiencies and physiological mechanisms, including inflammation, heavy metal toxicity, and mitochondrial dysfunction, that can cause oxidative injuries and initiate neurologic disorders. They reveal which common substances, such as aspartame and glutamate, can trigger these mechanisms at the cellular level and recommend specific herbs and antioxidants, such as turmeric, cannabinoids, resveratrol, and N-acetyl cysteine, to counteract their effects. They discuss the importance of sleep to overall well-being, especially for those suffering from neurologic disorders, and offer tips to help ensure a good night’s sleep.
Integrating neuroscience, biochemistry, herbalism, and decades of clinical experience, the authors lay the scientific foundation for a holistic, naturopathic approach to neurologic disorders and a way to enhance the quality of life for those suffering from these conditions.
|Publisher:||Inner Traditions/Bear & Company|
|Edition description:||2nd Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Sidney J. Kurn, M.D., has been a practicing neurologist since 1979, adding acupuncture to his practice in 1994 and herbal medicine in 1996. Now semi-retired, Dr. Kurn is currently studying physics at UC Berkeley. He lives in Santa Rosa, California. Sheryl Shook, Ph.D., earned her doctorate in neuroscience from University of California, Davis. She has completed studies in herbal medicine and currently is a sleep science and anatomy and physiology professor. She lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Read an Excerpt
Epilepsy (recurrent seizures) requires ongoing medical care. There is no evidence that seizures can be completely controlled with the use of herbs and nutrients without medication. On the other hand, as discussed above, herbs and nutrients may well help control seizures, allow reduction of medication dosage, and provide neuroprotection in the presence of seizures. As with all disorders, any seizure patient interested in the use of supplements requires individual evaluation for the best choice of supplements as well as ongoing supervision. The following summarizes the use of the nutrients and herbs that have been most successful in treating seizure disorders.
GABA: GABA is the main inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitter in the brain. Clinical experience and review of the available literature suggest it does cross the blood-brain barrier, contrary to the commonly held opinion that it does not. GABA is relatively safe and generally inexpensive. It can be sedative early on so the dose should be gradually titrated. Starting at 500–750mg at bedtime, the individual may slowly increase the dose as high as 1500mg twice/day. As noted above, phosphatidylserine appears to help GABA cross the blood-brain barrier. Phosphatidylserine dosage is 100–150mg twice/day.
Taurine: Taurine is an amino acid minus the amino group and is pervasive in the body’s metabolism. It inhibits the excitatory effects of glutamate and inhibits the enzyme that metabolizes GABA, the brain’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter. Both these effects are important in controlling seizures. Starting at 500mg on an empty stomach at bedtime, the dosage can be increased slowly up to 2 gm twice/day.
Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral with numerous functions in the body’s metabolism. Its value in seizures relates to its inhibitory role in the ion channel of the NMDA receptor, an important receptor for glutamate and the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. In addition, magnesium levels tend to be reduced in individuals with seizures. A chelated (bound to amino acids) form of magnesium is recommended rather than an inorganic form such as magnesium oxide or carbonate. The organic chelated form is better absorbed and the amino acid may be beneficial as well. In fact, magnesium taurate is available providing both magnesium and taurine. Magnesium dosage varies from100–300mg twice/day. At higher dosages, magnesium may cause diarrhea, which can be mitigated with the concurrent use of calcium at a similar dosage to the magnesium.
Although a number of herbs have traditional usage in epilepsy, skullcap, bacopa, peony root, and valerian appear to have the most scientific support.
Peony root, in particular, appears to inhibit calcium influx, an essential current for release of excitatory neurotransmitters. It also inhibits the gene essential for apoptosis and inhibits an important element of the metabolic cascade leading to inflammation. These latter properties suggest a role in neuroprotection. Finally, peony root appears to inhibit the high-frequency voltage discharge of neurons, a type of neuronal firing, that occurs in epilepsy.
Bacopa appears to have neuroprotective properties, enhances cognition, and has traditional usage in epilepsy. For individuals with frequent seizures, neuroprotection is important to limit neuronal excitotoxicity and stress.
Valerian, used for millennia, appears to have GABA enhancing properties, similar to a number of the pharmaceutical anticonvulsants. Smell and taste is a bit of an obstacle to the otherwise safe usage of this herb.
Skullcap is a traditional anticonvulsant herb with limited modern scientific study. The lack of evidence does not imply a lack of efficacy, and traditional usage is generally a good guide to an herb’s indication in a clinical setting.
Herbs can be utilized as aqueous extractions (teas or decoctions), alcohol extractions (tinctures), encapsulated dried herb, or gaseous extractions yielding increased potency encapsulated powders. An advantage to tinctures is the capacity for blending a combination of extracts into a single tincture. All the herbs noted above come as tinctures, and can be mixed together into a single tincture. For high potency tinctures with a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of herbal mg to alcohol ml, one or more teaspoons twice/day is recommended. Based on the evidence presented above, a higher proportion of peony root in the tincture is recommended.
Historical usage, case series, and physiological mechanisms of cannabinoids all support the efficacy of its usage for recurrent seizures. In particular, a high CBD strain should be used to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC. The UCLA series in pediatric patients had a median dosage of 4.3mg/kg/day per patient (children). For an adult, starting with a low oral form of a high CBD preparation at 10–25mg/day appears reasonable. The gravity of seizures requires the monitoring of a medical practitioner, familiar with epilepsy as well as the use of cannabis in medical practice. This may require an open-minded neurologist along with a knowledgeable primary care provider familiar with cannabis medicine. Dosage will vary with each patient. It would not be appropriate to decrease or discontinue other anticonvulsants until there is a noticeable decline in the frequency or intensity of the seizures. Refer to the cannabinoid section of the introduction of the book for important general dosing guidelines for cannabinoids.
The relationship between seizure and sleep was documented by Hippocrates, and the connection has been described in many contexts since then. Reference the sleep chapter for details regarding improving sleep quality.
Table of Contents
How to Use This Book: A Guide for Patients, Families, and Practitioners
What These Six Disorders Have in Common: Contributing Factors and Treatments
The Importance of Sleep
1 Multiple Sclerosis
2 Parkinson’s Disease
3 Alzheimer’s Disease
4 Atherosclerosis and Stroke
5 Migraine Headaches
6 Seizure Disorders
Scientific Discovery and the Integration of Herbs and Nutrients in Future Treatments of Neurologic Disorders
New Supplement: Pyrroloquinoline Quinone
About the Authors