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An Encompassing Approach To Neuroinflammation


With a potential link between increasing rates of obesity, diabetes and neuroinflammatory conditions, practitioners provide an integrative health view.

Research has shown that inflammation is at least a part of the root cause of chronic diseases, which have become a 21st century epidemic. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , 70 percent of deaths in the U.S. are a result of chronic diseases. Further, the CDC reported that in 2005, 133 million Americans (almost one out of every two adults) had at least one chronic illness.

Decker Weiss, NMD, FASA, clinical education consultant with Wisconsinbased NeuroScience, Inc., pointed out that all chronic diseases are neuro-immune conditions, and their prevalence is skyrocketing. “The immune system has an effect on the nervous system (i.e., neurotransmitters), and the nervous system has effects on the immune system,” he said. “These connections are not always obvious, but when evaluating patient symptoms, it is important to know how intertwined they are.” 

The 2011 World Economic Forum predicted that unless current health trends are reversed, within the next 16 years management of chronic disease is predicted to cost the world a staggering $47 trillion in treatment and lost wages. Dr. Weiss noted that added to the astounding 50 percent of all Americans who have a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression or memory loss, millions more have what Dr. Mark Hyman calls “FLC” (feel like crap). “These people suffer from fatigue, insomnia or general malaise,” he said. “While the core causes of neuro-immune conditions are debatable, nearly everyone agrees we have a real problem on our hands.” 

“The numbers of individuals suffering from neuroinflammatory conditions has risen. Take Alzheimer’s disease for example,” added Jolie Root, nutritionist and educator for Carlson Laboratories in Illinois. “Today we see increasing prevalence, probably because of our aging demographic. Between the ages of 65 and 74, Alzheimer’s affects 2.9 percent of Caucasians, 9.1 percent of African Americans and 7.5 percent of Hispanics. As those groups age, the numbers increase, so that when individuals reach the ages of 75 to 84, the Alzheimer’s incidence will be 10.9 percent for Caucasians, 19.9 percent of African Americans and 27.9 percent of Hispanics. Once the individuals reach the age group of 85-plus, the rate is 30.2 percent for Caucasians, 58.6 percent for African Americans and 62.9 percent of Hispanics.”

Cause for Concern 

While many know that chronic inflammation is linked to heart disease and cancer, Americans are only starting to understand its link to neurological disorders such as depression, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease, among others. The American obesity epidemic is a common factor among all health issues that stem, at least in part, from chronic inflammation.According to the American Heart Association (AHA), 154.7 million Americans age 20 and older are overweight or obese (BMI of 25.0 kg/m2 and higher).Of that number, 78.4 million are obese (having a BMI of 30.0 kg/m2 or higher).And the problem is starting even earlier for the younger generation, as the AHA reports that compared to 1973 and 1974, the proportion of children age 5 to 17 who were obese was five times higher in 2008-09. According to the AHA’s 2013 data, 23.9 million children ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese and of that number, 12.7 are classified as obese.

“Neuroinflammatory conditions have increased over the past decade. From 2000- 10, there was up to a 48 percent increase in certain neuroinflammatory conditions,” explained Kira Schmid, ND, scientific director for Florida-based Life Extension.“There is a potential link between increasing rates of obesity, diabetes and neuroinflammatory conditions. In particular, excess insulin has been linked to brain inflammation.” 

While the cause of chronic inflammation can vary from person to person, eating a proinflammatory diet, stress, a lack of sleep and living a sedentary lifestyle can increase long-term inflammation in the body, as well as environmental toxins. “Virtually all neuroinflammatory conditions are increasing, as overall markers of inflammation in our population is consistently increasing,” said Cheryl Myers, chief science and education officer for Wisconsin-based EuroPharma, Inc., makers of EuroMedica products. “There are many causative factors, from obesity, which keeps the body in a proinflammatory state, to environmental toxins, to toxic changes over the last several decades to the American diet.” 

And while non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other prescription drugs may treat the symptoms in the short term, they may be doing more harm than good, causing damage to the body. Further, these medications are also only treating the symptoms and are not getting to the root of the issue. According to Jacob Mirman, MD of Life Medical in Minnesota, toxins cause synaptic dysfunction; drugs only make it worse, suppressing all sorts of chronic conditions causing the disease to move inwards.

“Over the years, conventional medicine has tried just about everything from blood letting to shock therapy,” added Dr. Weiss.“Despite advances in conventional medicine over the past several decades, patients continue to suffer because of a medical model that is focused primarily on symptoms and diseases. This way of thinking is completely wrong, since it’s based on where the issue is located in the body, rather than the underlying cause.”

An Integrative Approach 

To provide practitioners with a starting point to begin helping their patients, NeuroScience, Inc. offers the “Assess & Address” model, which begins with lab test assessments. According to Dr. Weiss, the test results provide a personalized snapshot of the patients’ biomarkers, which can help practitioners uncover the physiological imbalances that underlie their concerns.“These tests can also help health care providers develop a care plan to correct imbalances,” he said. “Successful care plans utilize a variety of strategies, including lifestyle and dietary changes.” 

In addition to making positive lifestyle changes such as managing stress levels, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, exercising and getting the proper amount of sleep, utilizing a dietary supplementation regimen including omega-3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and curcumin, among others, can assist in reducing inflammation in the body.


Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive and behavioral function. Further, a number of studies show that reduced intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with increased risk of age related cognitive decline or dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

“The essential omega-3 fatty acid family member docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is aggressively retained and uniquely concentrated in the nervous system, particularly in the synaptic membranes in the brain,” explained Carlson’s Root. “DHA plays a key role in neuroprotection, successful aging, memory and other functions. In addition, DHA displays antiinflammatory and inflammatory resolving properties in contrast to the proinflammatory actions of several members of the omega-6 PUFAs family. Recently identified signaling pathways regulated by DHA and docosanoids, the DHAderived bioactive lipids, include neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), a novel DHA-derived neuroinflammation mediator. NPD1 activates potent antiinflammatory actions and induces cell survival in traumatic brain injury.” 

According to a study1 published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers recruited 447 people ages 55 to 80 to assess the effects of food intake on brain function.The researchers sought to evaluate if consuming the Mediterranean diet, which is high in omega-3s, may delay some of the cognitive decline that is common among individuals in this age group.

The researchers discovered that some foods were specifically linked to certain areas of cognitive function. The results suggested that consuming olive oil may improve verbal memory; walnuts may improve working memory; and wine may improve scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination, a test used to assess mental health and clarity. The researchers concluded that some components of the Mediterranean diet may help maintain cognitive function in older adults.

In another study2, published in PloS One, University of Pittsburgh researchers recruited men and women between 18 and 25 years of age to take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement daily for six months. The supplement contained 750 mg of DHA and 930 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).Before and after the six-month supplementation period, researchers conducted positron emission tomography (PET) scans and blood sample analyses on the subjects, who also took tests to assess their working memory.

After six months of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, the subjects performed better on the working memory test. The scientists noted that this is consistent with previous research showing that increased DHA may improve cognitive performance.

Carlson Laboratories offers a number of omega-3 supplements, including Carlson Super DHA Gems, Carlson EcoSmart DHA, Carlson EcoSmart Liquid, Carlson Norwegian Cod Liver Oil and Carlson Very Finest Fish Oil, which all offer 500 mg DHA per serving to combat neuroinflammation. “These products have been independently tested and are Five-Star rated by IFOS, the International Fish Oil Standards Program,” said Root.


Curcumin, the biologically active ingredient in the spice turmeric, has been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine for a number of uses because it contains anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties. “Many studies have suggested that curcumin may also be effective for neuroinflammatory conditions because it exerts neuroprotective actions through numerous pathways, including inhibition of amyloid beta, clearance of existing amyloid beta, anti-inflammatory effects, antioxidant activity and delayed degradation of neurons,” said Life Extension’s Dr. Schmid. “The anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin appears to result from a reduction of nuclear factor-kappaB, a nuclear transcription factor that regulates many genes involved in inflammatory cytokine production.” 

A study3 conducted at the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center and UCLA School of Medicine found that curcumin may help fight Alzheimer’s disease by increasing the body’s ability to clear the build up of plaques in the brain.According to the researchers, the age of the patient and the stage of the Alzheimer’s disease appeared to be key factors in the effectiveness of the curcumin compound, as the younger patients and patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s apparently more receptive to the benefits.

EuroMedica offers CuraPro, which provides a powerful antioxidant and healthy inflammation response*, according to the company. “The curcumin we use in our product CuraPro is called BCM-95 Curcumin. This form of curcumin is blended with turmeric essential oils and has up to 10 times the absorption of plain curcumin. We have many published studies on this form of curcumin,” said Myers. “We also have a major Australian university (Edith Cowen University) with a 12-month human trial underway comparing our CuraPro, four capsules daily, with placebo for slowing Alzheimer’s disease progression.”


According to Dr. Schmid, studies have also shown that levels of CoQ10 are altered in certain neuroinflammatory disorders, and supplementation is suggested as part of an integrative approach to improve outcomes in these conditions.

Life Extension carries a number of products to support the brain and nervous system include Cognitex, Brain Shield, Neuro-Mag, Super Omega-3, Advanced Bio- Curcumin, Super Ubiquinol CoQ10, Super Ginkgo and Pregnenolone. “We are especially excited about Brain Shield, which contains the ingredient gastrodin, an extract from the Gastrodia orchid,” said Dr. Schmid.“Gastrodin, a multi-functional ingredient that supports overall brain health, has been shown to reduce general brain inflammation, a major contributor to neurodegeneration. It also boosts blood flow to the brain, supports neuro-regeneration, and inhibits oxidative stress by switching on the powerful nrf2 (a master regulator of antioxidant response).”


Like curcumin, Boswellia serrata (AKBA) is an anti-inflammatory, which can inhibit 5- lipoxygenase (5-LOX), the enzyme responsible for the production of leukotrienes. AKBA also modulates the movement of white blood cells. Boswellia is an ingredient in NeuriScience’s NorLox, which maintains a healthy immune response and immune function by regulating leukotrienes while promoting neuronal cell health, as well as in ImmuWell, which helps reduce stress caused by immune activity, modulates sympathetic nervous system activation due to immune activity, and regulates acetylcholine activation of T cells.

The company’s Avipaxin contains acetyll- carnitine, which helps support acetylcholine levels by supplying the acetyl group for acetylcholine synthesis. “Acetylcholine is very important for cognition and also helps regulate immune activity through the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway,” said Dr. Weiss.

Showing Support 

EuroMedica’s Myers recommended that practitioners provide nutritional training to their patients that includes a product recommendation summary. “We have found this helps patients develop the connection with their physician and provides the clinic with an opportunity to customize a supplement regimen,” she said. “Doing so delivers results to each patient’s individual needs. Additionally, it creates repeat business and patient loyalty, creating a win for both the patient and doctor.” 
Manufacturers offer a number of resources for practitioners to utilize.NeuroScience, Inc.’s toll-free telephone clinical support and education on products, testing and lab result interpretations are available each weekday to NeuroScience health care providers. Further, providers may access a wide array of complementary resources such as webinars, clinical research and NeuroScience’s NEI certification.

Life Extension creates a user-friendly site with a unique URL for each practitioner enrolled in its e-Partner program (www.lifeextensionretail.com/epartner). This is a personalized online store to which practitioners may send patients and other customers to purchase Life Extension products. The company’s team of naturopaths, nurses, nutritionists and personal trainers are also available to answer questions and provide research support for products.

And EuroMedica offers monthly product trainings, provides literature to support product lines for doctors to refer to as well as utilize with their patients, and offers a professional staff that is always available for further information.

Dr. Weiss stressed the vital importance testing can have on getting to the bottom of a patient’s health woes. “Start running neurotransmitter tests on patients suffering from a chronic ailment,” he concluded.

“You will see quickly how an ‘assess and address’ model works better than an ‘address and hope’ model.”


1 Valls-Pedret C, Lamuela-Raventós RM, Medina- Remón A, et al. Polyphenol-Rich Foods in the Mediterranean Diet are Associated with Better Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects at High Cardiovascular Risk. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012 Feb 20.

2 Narendran R, Frankle WG, Mason NS, et al.Improved working memory but no effect on striatal vesicular monoamine transporter type 2 after omega-3 polyunsaturated Fatty Acid supplementation. PloS One. 2012;7(10):e46832. Doi:10. 1371/journal.pone.0046832. Epub 2012 Oct 3.

3 Zhang L, Fiala M, Cashman J, et al.Curcuminoids enhance amyloid-beta uptake by macrophages of Alzheimer’s disease patients. J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Nov;10(1):1-7.

Healthy Take Aways

. According to the CDC, 70 percent of deaths in the U.S. are a result of chronic diseases.

. Between the ages of 65 and 74, Alzheimerfs disease affects 2.9 percent of Caucasians, 9.1 percent of African Americans and 7.5 percent of Hispanics.

. According to the AHA, 154.7 million Americans age 20 and older are overweight or obese (BMI of 25.0 kg/m2 and higher). Of that number 78.4 million are obese (having a BMI of 30.0 kg/m2 or higher).

. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function.


. Carlson Laboratories, (847) 255-1600, www.carlsonlabs.com
. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov
. EuroMedica, (866) 842-7256, www.euromedicausa.com
. Life Extension, (800) 333-2562, www.lef.org
. NeuroScience, Inc., (877) 282-0306, www.whyneuroscience.com

“The anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin appears to result from a reduction of nuclear factor-kappaB, a nuclear transcription factor that regulates many genes involved in inflammatory cytokine production.”