The brain and the gut are intimately related on both an electrical basis as well as a biochemical basis. The brain speaks to the bowel and the bowel speaks to the brain. For instance, the insula is an area of the brain that has to do with somatic perception. Somatic perception is our feeling in the gut, and this area is tightly linked to the biochemical and inflammatory state of the bowel. When there is inflammation or increased lipopolysaccharide exposure in the blood stream, turning on an inflammatory process, you will often see effect in areas like the insula and the anterior singular cortex. There is a bidirectional mechanism. Individuals with electrical instability, as recognized on qEEG in these areas, are more susceptible to the impact of toxins and inflammagens from their gut. By being aware of the bidirectionality of the gut-brain axis we get to choose the most direct method to improve a person’s health.
Stress has been shown to increase the amount of bacterial toxins in the blood stream. Our perception of stress plays a very large role in the expression of inflammation that comes with exposure to that stress. Individuals under chronic stress are going to be more potently affected by a dysbiotic bacterial/fungal population in their bowel.
We can change the brain’s set point using neurofeedback and biofeedback and decrease the level of perceived threat from our environment. By doing so, we decrease the amount of endotoxin exposure to our system, decreasing inflammation and creating a positive feedback cycle with regard to the gut-brain axis. That is very exciting because in integrative and functional medicine we recognize the health of the gut is central to well-being and the process of disease formation.
Neurofeedback is the training of higher brain-wave functions; it is biofeedback for the brain. When using cortical-neurofeedback, you have the central nervous system moving toward a state of perceived safety in the world. With regard to stress-related chronic illness, perception is reality. The brain is the center of health. The brain defines what we experience. It is our organ of perception. If our organ of perception is not functioning well, then we cannot perceive accurately. If we cannot perceive accurately, we are going to have a hard time moving forward in our health and well-being. The behavior comes from our brain, the function of that organ, and our learned cues. Either it is a problem with its functioning or with the learned cues and exposures that we have been presented with.
One can learn to shift your brainwave patterns if we can just show you your brainwave patterns via neurofeedback. Because neurons that fire together, wire together, we can actually help people heal, long term, via feedback. We can help individuals create a more efficient functional brain that they then take out into the world and continue to build upon in a way that continues to increase in function and continues to foster well-being. By addressing the brain and improving its electrical efficiency, we open up tremendous capacity for the body to heal in levels we had not been able to achieve before such training.
Auto Train Brain is a neurofeedback and multi-sensory application. It reads EEG signals from 14 channels and process these signals to give visual and auditory cues. Upon continuous usage for more than 20 times 3 times a week, the brain performance is improved, the left hemispheric dominance is established and the inflammation is reduced. Because neurons that fire together, wire together, those pathways become reinforced and, therefore, more efficient in the long term. Those pathways become more likely available for that person to use in their everyday life when they are actually processing thoughts and stimuli and information.
The therapies in which the longer you use them, the less you need them are the ones known as healing therapies. Neurofeedback definitely falls in that category because neurons that fire together, wire together. Once the brain learns a new trick, unless that brain is injured or metabolically severely compromised, it gets to keep that trick. Not just keep it, but it gets to build upon it, which is remarkable. Depending upon the technology, the necessary number of training sessions can be anything from 20 to 80 sessions. Not only do you typically get to hold onto the results that you achieve, but the brain can then build upon those results to overcome barriers that it has had in the past. That is why these kinds of interventions need to be done as early as possible in life. Brain mapping on kids and neurofeedback to deal with processing disorder, learning disorders, and attention disorders early in life allow what can become more functional pathways to be incorporated into learning, long term. We cannot even begin to measure how important early intervention is.
Life is neurofeedback. If we understand that concept, then everything we do is training our brains to become more efficient to do that thing again. If we learn how to play the piano at a very early age, it is not that difficult to pick it up again later in life. Early childhood development gives us a good model to understand this pyramidal understanding of neurologic function. As you improve your foundations, you have more and greater opportunity to build upon those foundations.
Coming back to the gut, again, if that individual who is engaging in brain training of some sort has an increase in intestinal permeability and high inflammatory load as a result of a gut dysfunction, then that individual is going to be impaired in their ability to learn most effectively, and neurofeedback, while it may still be effective, may not be as efficient in the learning process. Neurofeedback combined with a diet is the most impressive as we address conditions of the brain. A hallmark of brain-supportive therapy is a diet that is low antigen, low simple carbohydrate, high nutrient density, and high in essential fatty acids. Nutritional supplementation is used to build the wall of the bowel or augment the healing capacity of the surface of the bowel.