Neuroplasticity: Supporting Brain Care with Functional Medicine from Toronto

What if a functional medicine Toronto provider suggested ways to “change” your brain to address cognitive issues? 

It used to be thought that after a person grew out of adolescence, the brain was developmentally complete. And if a damage occurred during the adult years, it was deemed to last “forever”. But studies have insinuated the opposite!

Scientific evidence has shown that improving neuroplasticity could help the brain’s “malleability” in adapting to stressors, such as behavioral and environmental factors. “A growing number of research publications have illustrated the remarkable ability of the brain to reorganize itself in response to various sensory experiences,” confirms Frontiers in Psychology

So how do we improve our brain’s plasticity for optimal wellness? Here, the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre discusses how it works and ways to improve it.

Understanding Neuroplasticity: The Functional Medicine Approach 

It is described by StatPearls as, “….the ability of the nervous system to change its activity [growth and reorganization] in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure, functions, or synaptic connections…” These new connections happen due to incoming new “information”, such as sensory stimuli, dysfunction and development. So it is actually how the brain can “rewire” itself to function distinctly from past functions.

With that said, how can we encourage our brain to adapt to something like learning a new job skill or recalling facts? Read the next section for ways you can do it at home: 

  • Challenge your thinking: Try new activities, like learning a language, knitting or playing the piano! If you struggle at first, keep going because learning new things could trigger the building of new neural connections.
  • Consider an alpha-GPC supplement: A functional medicine provider can guide you in finding a supplement that contains alpha-GPC. Also known as alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, alpha-GPC is linked to improving mental performance. As a precursor to a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, the supplement could assist with recovering communication between neurons. This could lead to an improvement in cognition, memory, and clarity.
  • Work out: Regular physical activity increases your levels of BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF is a protein known for assisting with learning and memory improvements.
  • Check for hormone imbalances: Wonky hormones and postmenopausal health conditions can hinder neurotransmitter functions. Speak to a functional medicine practitioner about testing your hormones; functional medicine testing could determine the next steps in alleviating hormone imbalances, which could encourage improvements in mental health.
  • Test for food sensitivities: Did you know that when you’re sensitive to certain foods, this could trigger brain inflammation? If your functional medicine provider suspects that certain foods are problematic, you may be advised to take a blood test that measures food sensitivity reactions.

Brain Care: Why is it Individualistic and “Ongoing”?

Keep in mind that uniqueness matters: “Just as individual differences contribute to variability observed in brain structure and function, mechanisms of neuroplasticity also show significant variability across individuals,” explains an article from Frontiers in Psychology

Everyone’s condition is distinctive, which means each person is different; if you have damaging lifestyle factors or poor health conditions, this could affect it. Here’s a quick demo: if you’ve smoked cigarettes for four decades, rarely exercise, and eat junk food on an ongoing basis, your neuroplasticity may not be as malleable as the non-smoker who eats healthy and exercises regularly. 

At our clinic, we can customize your health care with integrative and functional medicine. We’re now accepting new patients who are empowered to reach optimal wellness such as those who want to learn about our functional medicine approach to brain health, including you!

About Functional Medicine and Our Private Practice 

All patients at the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre have access to a wide range of therapies, including IV therapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, naturopathic medicine, allopathic medicine/Western medicine, bio-identical hormone replacement therapies, and acupuncture.

When functional medicine and IV therapy is combined, our clinic is able to provide patients with comprehensive care.

What is the evidence for functional medicine?

There is significant scientific evidence for functional medicine, both in terms of its efficacy and safety. Functional medicine is a system of medicine that is based on the principle that the body is a whole system, and that each part of the body interacts with every other part. This means that when one part of the body is not functioning properly, it could have an impact on the rest of the body.

What are the goals of functional medicine?

Keep in mind that functional medicine addresses a person’s uniqueness. So the goals of functional medicine may vary depending on the individual patient’s unique health situation. But generally speaking, the goals of functional medicine are to identify and address the root causes of disease, to promote optimal health and well-being, and to prevent disease and illness.

What are the key principles of functional medicine?

There are four key principles behind functional medicine: 1. The patient is a whole person, not a collection of symptoms. 2. The root cause of disease must be found and treated; treatment should not only relate to symptoms. 3. The body has an innate ability to heal itself, and the role of the practitioner is to facilitate this process. 4. The approaches in treatment must be individualized, taking into account the unique circumstances and needs of the patient.

How does functional medicine address the root cause of disease?

Functional medicine focuses on identifying and addressing the triggers of disease conditions. By taking a comprehensive and individualized approach to healthcare, functional medicine practitioners are able to provide patients with customized care for patients; this can address the underlying causes of their health conditions. Functional medicine practitioners use a variety of tools to assess each patient’s unique situation and to assist with identifying the root cause of their disease. 

The Toronto Functional Medicine Centre takes pride in our integrative approach to health and clinical care for patients. Our virtual and in-person consultations can help address chronic conditions, nutritional deficiencies, weight loss, abdominal pain, digestive issues, and other health concerns. Our collaborative approach to wellness encourages patients and practitioners to join forces to create treatment plans. 

How can we inspire you to reach new cognitive heights? Functional medicine from our Toronto clinic could provide a personalized approach to your memory and concentration. Click here to contact us today. 

Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. Consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website.

 

References:

Camandola S, Plick N, Mattson MP. Impact of Coffee and Cacao Purine Metabolites on Neuroplasticity and Neurodegenerative Disease. Neurochem Res. 2019 Jan;44(1):214-227. doi: 10.1007/s11064-018-2492-0. Epub 2018 Feb 8. PMID: 29417473; PMCID: PMC6082740.

Canal N, Franceschi M, Alberoni M, et al. Effect of L-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine on amnesia caused by scopolamine. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy, and Toxicology. 1991 Mar;29(3):103-107. PMID: 2071257.

Drago, F., Mauceri, F., Nardo, L., Valerio, C., Lauria, N., Rampello, L., & Guidi, G. (1992). Behavioral effects of L-!a-glycerylphosphorylcholine: Influence on cognitive mechanisms in the rat. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 41(2), 445–448. https://doi.org/10.1016/0091-3057(92)90124-X

Dyall SC. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and the brain: a review of the independent and shared effects of EPA, DPA and DHA. Front Aging Neurosci. 2015 Apr 21;7:52. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2015.00052. PMID: 25954194; PMCID: PMC4404917.

Hortobágyi, T., Granacher, U., Fernandez-del-Olmo, M., Howatson, G., Manca, A., Deriu, F., Taube, W., Gruber, M., Márquez, G., Lundbye-Jensen, J., & Colomer-Poveda, D. (2021). Functional relevance of resistance training-induced neuroplasticity in health and disease. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 122, 79-91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.12.019

Kidd, Parris M.. “Neurodegeneration from mitochondrial insufficiency: nutrients, stem cells, growth factors, and prospects for brain rebuilding using integrative management.” Alternative medicine review : a journal of clinical therapeutic 10 4 (2005): 268-93 .

Mattson, M. P., Moehl, K., Ghena, N., Schmaedick, M., & Cheng, A. (2018). Intermittent metabolic switching, neuroplasticity and brain health. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 19(2), 81–94. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn.2017.156

Neuroplasticity: How to Use Your Brain’s Malleability to Improve Your Well-being” by Megan Call for the University of Utah, posted August 8, 2019, viewed on July 15, 2022. 

Puderbaugh M, Emmady PD. Neuroplasticity. [Updated 2022 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557811/

Son JS, Choi S, Kim K, et al. Association of Blood Pressure Classification in Korean Young Adults According to the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Guidelines With Subsequent Cardiovascular Disease Events. JAMA. 2018;320(17):1783–1792. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.16501

Voss P, Thomas ME, Cisneros-Franco JM, de Villers-Sidani É. Dynamic Brains and the Changing Rules of Neuroplasticity: Implications for Learning and Recovery. Front Psychol. 2017 Oct 4;8:1657. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01657. PMID: 29085312; PMCID: PMC5649212.

What is neuroplasticity?” by Kendra Cherry, medically reviewed by Shaheen Lakhan, MD, PhD, FAAN for VeryWell Mind, viewed on July 16, 2022.