What is Functional Neurology?

What is Functional Neurology?


Functional Neurology provides effective, drug-free solutions for many difficult-to-treat conditions, including:

  • ADHD and learning disabilities
  • Brain injuries and strokes
  • Problems with memory and balance
  • Headaches and long-term pain

It is based on the principle of neuroplasticity, your brain’s ability to grow and change, and on the ability of your brain to affect physical, mental and emotional health. When your brain works better, you are healthier and you feel better.

Functional neurology is a new field being developed by a multidisciplinary group of research scientists and clinicians from around the world, working to find new ways to help your brain work better. It applies principles from cutting-edge brain research and uses innovative, drug-free procedures to change your brain and improve your health. The results are often remarkably fast and long-lasting.

The emphasis in Functional Neurology is on your brain’s ability to change and to work better. In conditions like ADHD, learning disabilities, memory and balance problems, headaches and chronic pain, the problem is usually not that your brain is broken or defective. It simply needs a tune up. Some pathways in your brain are not being used as much as they should be, and some areas are dormant when they should be active.

And we can also harness the power of neuroplasticity when there is damage like a brain injury or stroke. When an area of your brain is damaged, it has a remarkable ability to regenerate and reorganize and regain lost function.

This ability of your brain to grow and change can also have negative consequences. For example, harmful changes in your brain underlie many cases of chronic pain, and a functional neurologist will help reverse the changes in your brain that are contributing to chronic pain.

A functional neurologist will identify those areas of your brain that are working well, those that aren’t, and devise a treatment program to get you back to health.

A functional neurology treatment program includes neurological exercises that you do at home for 10 to 15 minutes a day. These are usually physiological exercises more than mental exercises. They include balance, coordination, and eye exercises, and sensory input like listening to sounds that help your brain work better.
A functional neurologist will also help you identify and address stressors that might be limiting your progress, physical problems in your neck, back, and the rest of your body that might be affecting your brain, and talk with you about daily habits of work, rest, and diet.

If you have been struggling with a health condition, or not getting the results that you want with your efforts to improve your health, then it might be that negative changes in your brain are limiting your progress.

Functional Neurology fills an important need in modern health care, both traditional and alternative, because it offers an effective way to help your brain work better, and provides effective relief for many otherwise difficult-to-treat conditions.

What is Chiropractic Neurology?

What is Chiropractic Neurology?


Chiropractic neurology harnesses the power of your brain to help you feel better fast. It offers effective, drug-free solutions for many difficult-to-treat conditions, including:

• ADHD and learning disabilities
• Brain injuries and strokes
• Problems with memory and balance
• Headaches and long-term pain

Chiropractic neurology is a subset of functional neurology with a special emphasis on the interaction of the brain and the body.

Your brain and your body are talking with each other right now, at every moment in time. Chiropractic neurology can improve the nerve messages from your body to your brain, and from your brain to your body, with a positive effect on your health.

Your body is constantly talking to your brain. Thousands of nerves in your muscles, skin, and joints send messages to your brain, and your brain uses those messages to know where your body is and what it is doing.

If the messages from your body are stressful or confusing, your brain doesn’t work as well as it would otherwise. If, for example, the muscles, tendons and bones in your shoulder can’t slide past each other easily, they send conflicting messages to your brain. Nerves from one group of muscles might send the message that your shoulder is up, while nerves from other muscles send the message that it is down. Imagine the confusion in your brain. When your brain gets mixed messages from the muscles, tendons and bones in your body, then it doesn’t work as well. This can have a negative impact on all kinds of things like your digestion, circulation, hormones and muscle tone, or on your emotions and ability to think clearly.

On the other hand, clear signals from your body stimulate and nurture your brain, and help it work better. Your brain needs the signals from your body to stay healthy.

The brain does a lot of its work quietly, out of your conscious awareness. The base of your brain, an area called the brainstem, controls your breathing, heartbeat, and digestion, as well as your level of wakefulness and much about your emotional tone. Because your brain has a direct and powerful impact on all of the functions in your body, when you improve the function of your brain, you feel better and you are healthier.

Chiropractic neurologists have thousands of hours of postgraduate training and are the most qualified profession in the world to understand the effect of physical manipulation and bodywork on your brain. Each step of a chiropractic neurology treatment is taken with awareness of its short-term and long-term impact on how your brain is working. This facilitates good results with many otherwise difficult-to-treat conditions, including ADHD and learning disabilities, migraines and chronic pain, and memory and balance problems. It can also speed recovery from a brain injury or stroke.

The nerve signals from your body have a powerful effect on your brain, and your brain in turn has a profound effect on every aspect of your health – physical, emotional, and mental. Chiropractic neurology offers effective, drug-free solutions for many otherwise difficult-to-treat conditions, because chiropractic neurologists are so well trained to understand the effect of physical manipulation and bodywork on your brain, and how to use this knowledge to help you feel better fast.

It is important to find someone who is certified as a chiropractic neurologist. (There are only about 400 certified chiropractic neurologists in the world, and some practitioners claim to do chiropractic neurology without certification and with little training.) You can find a certified chiropractic neurologist at www.acnb.org.

You can learn more about functional neurology and drug-free solutions for a variety of different conditions in the other articles and videos on this website.

BrainTime® Training

BrainTime® Basics


Science is uncovering a previously unknown power of your brain to improve every aspect of your health: physical, mental and emotional. BrainTime® is a patent-pending, easy-to-use technology to build your brain and support your health. You listen through headphones to gentle sounds for ten minutes a day. The sounds work directly with your brain to make it more efficient.

BrainTime® has helped more than a thousand people to:

  • Overcome ADHD and Learning Disabilities,
  • Sharpen their memory,
  • Improve their balance,
  • Speed their recovery from brain injuries and strokes, and
  • Find relief from migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, and other kinds of chronic pain.

Scientific Description

For those who desire to understand the neurology and physiology of BrainTime®, here is an explanation.

Neurons in the brain have an inherent tendency to oscillate. The membrane potentials of nerve cells oscillate between conditions of more and less polarization, turning them ‘on’ and ‘off,’ more or less capable of exchanging information with other nerve cells. There are many types of neurons. Each has its own range of oscillation speeds determined by the type of ion channels in its cell membrane. The brain exhibits oscillations with a wide range of frequencies, from slower than one cycle per second to faster than 500 cycles per second, all happening simultaneously.

Neurons shift and synchronize their oscillations in order to share information with each other and the brain uses shifting assemblies of synchronized neurons to coordinate operations within and across neuronal networks.

Virtually no function in the nervous system exists without a time metric. Most of the brain’s activity is generated from within, and perturbation of this default pattern of activity by external inputs usually causes only a minor departure from its internally generated activity. The neurological foundation of perception and learning involves the ongoing adjustment, or recalibration, of the brain’s self-generated rhythms by external stimuli.

The sensory stimulation utilized in BrainTime® engages and trains the ongoing, inherent oscillations of nerve cells that are foundational for all brain activity. External stimuli such as those applied with BrainTime® create perturbations that advance or delay the phase of internally generated oscillations. A series of stimuli can shift the phase of ongoing oscillations, and/or modulate the frequency of the ongoing oscillations within the range available to that group of neurons. BrainTime® improves brain efficiency by training the brain to maintain efficient, ongoing default or resting-state oscillatory patterns.

When applying sensory stimulation, it is important to work within the metabolic capacity of the brain to avoid fatigue and further metabolic damage. Many patients have reduced metabolic capacity to handle sensory stimulation. If it were desirable to reinforce an 8 cycle-per-second rate of oscillation in the brain, the best clinical results occur with intermittent stimulation. For example, two stimuli at an interval of 125 milliseconds, followed by several seconds of silence, another two stimuli at 125 milliseconds intervals, again followed by a period of silence, etc. The more delicate the brain, the more “dilute” the stimulation needs to be.

The brain has more neurons at birth than any other time for the rest of its life, but minimal connections between the neurons. Maturation of the brain involves building connections between neurons and then training the neurons how to move in and out of synchrony with each other. The connections between neurons that are most widely separated, such as neurons on the two sides of the brain, are the last to mature, and usually the first to be affected by stress, aging, or injury.

BrainTime® utilizes a group of frequencies between 0.1 and 30 Hz that are best suited to develop and train long-range connections. The frequencies that are used and the intermittent method of stimulation are part of the BrainTime® patent specifications.

Protect Your Brain

Protect Your Brain


Forgot what you came into the room for, or what that person’s name is? Are you having a hard time doing two things at once, things that wouldn’t have been a problem five years ago? These are early signs of brain deterioration. They can be prevented and reversed, and they are most definitely not an inevitable part of aging!

This article is about what you can do to protect yourself, to keep your brain healthy for a longer period of time, not just from Alzheimer’s but from other forms of brain degeneration as well.

“The time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining.” John F. Kennedy

Each of the following six steps is crucial, and is discussed in more detail below.
1. Stimulate your brain. Keep active and have fun.
2. Eliminate Trans Fats from your diet.
3. Take three nutritional supplements.
4. Think twice about taking any drug, prescription or recreational.
5. Get eight hours of sleep each night.
6. Do two simple lab tests every year.

Step 1: Have fun; stay engaged mentally, socially, and physically.

Mental stimulation, social interactions, and physical exercise make the brain more robust with a greater ability to compensate for damage, and ward off dementia and other disability. Learn something new. Take up a new hobby. Elderly people who pursue leisure activities of an intellectual or social nature have 38% lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s. The more activities, the lower the risk.

Social networks help ward off dementia. The more extensive the social network, the better the brain works.

Perhaps the most direct route to a fit mind is through a fit body. People who exercise regularly in mid-life cut their risk of Alzheimer’s by two-thirds. It is never too late. People who start exercising in their 60s cut the risk of dementia in half.

Step 2: Eliminate trans fatty acids from your diet.

Trans fats make the membranes of your brain cells stiff and sluggish. They accelerate aging and gunk up your brain!

Trans fats are found in processed foods like margarine and salad dressings, packaged baked goods, and fried foods. Read labels and avoid foods that contain hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. Don’t eat fried foods, including french fries, doughnuts, and most chips.

Step 3: Take nutritional supplements: DHA, B-vitamins, and Vitamin E.

The most important fat in your brain is DHA. Because your body does not make DHA easily it is important to include it in your diet and as a supplement. Eat fish a couple of times a week, and take 500 mg DHA each day.

Take a mixture of B-vitamins to reduce levels of homocysteine, a substance that is damaging to your brain. A high level of homocysteine increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, leads to depression, and doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s. Every cell in the body produces homocysteine, but it must be removed quickly. This requires vitamin B6, B12, and Folic Acid.

Each person needs a different balance of B6, Folic Acid and B12 to ensure optimal conversion of homocysteine. I will help determine the optimum balance for you.

Until you have your program individualized, take a mixture of B vitamins that includes
• B1 thiamin 50 mg
• B3 (as niacinamide) 50 mg
• B6 pyridoxine 50 mg
• Folic acid as its active form 5MTHF 400 mcg
• B12 as its active form methyl cobalamine 500mcg

Vitamin E protects the fat in your brain from free radical damage. Make sure that your vitamin E includes gamma tocopherol.

Step 4: Think twice about taking any drugs, prescription or otherwise

Many common prescription drugs deplete the brain of nutrients that are essential for its health, especially antioxidants like glutathione and Co-enzyme Q10.

Drugs that deplete glutathione:
•Any drug that contains Acetaminophen. This includes Tylenol and countless other brands.

Drugs that deplete Co-enzyme Q 10:
•Antidepressants: including Amytriptyline, Desipramine, Doxepin, Imipramine, Nortripyline, and Protriptyline
•Antipsychotic: Haloperidol
•Blood pressure medication: including Atenolol, Bisoprolol, Clonidine, Hydrochlorothiazide, Metoprolol, Pindolol and Propranolol
•Cholesterol lowering drugs: including Atorvastatin, Fluvastatin, Lovastatin, Pravastatin and Simvastatin
•Anti-diabetic drugs including Glypizide, Glyburide, and Tolazemide

If you are taking any of these drugs, follow a supplement program that restores the lost nutrients.

Step 5: Get eight hours of sleep every night.

Sleep is a time when our brain cells do vital repair work and eliminate toxins that build in the brain. If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain can’t do this essential housecleaning. It slows down and ages faster. Sleep in a dark room, and set up your life so that you go to sleep and wake up on a regular schedule.

Step 6: Every year, do simple lab tests for brain damaging chemicals

These two lab tests can save your brain.

Urine lipid peroxide test: Lipid peroxides measure free radical damage in fatty tissue of your body. Because your brain is made primarily of fat, this is an excellent way to determine free radical damage in your brain.

I offer this test in my office for $20 (2/2008), or you can order the Vespro Free Radical Test or the OxyStress Test online.

If lipid peroxide is high, it is time to make some changes. Start by changing your diet, boosting your intake of antioxidants, and taking an inventory of your lifestyle to see if you are under undue stress or being exposed to toxins. I will help you lower the levels.

Homocysteine: Elevated homocysteine is associated with heart disease, stroke, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological diseases. Make sure it’s in an acceptable range.

Homocysteine is ideally lower than 6 umol/L, and should certainly be lower than 9 umol/L. The solution to elevated homocysteine is an inexpensive vitamin regime. I will help determine the balance of B vitamins that is optimal for you.

In conclusion:

Live long and live smart! Fix the roof while the sun is still shining.

Learning and Attention

Learning and Attention


Functional neurology offers a drug-free solution for ADHD and learning disabilities. This article provides an overview of the neurological basis of problems with learning and attention, as well as effective treatment options.

The human capacity to focus our attention, to use language, and to read and write depends on a brain structure that has evolved for hundreds of thousands of years. When humans started standing and walking on two legs, our brains began to grow larger. Balancing and moving on two legs requires a tremendous amount of fast-acting, coordinated brainpower, as well as a precise timing system to coordinate messages between many areas of the body to anticipate the effects of movements from one second to the next.

The brain functions that allowed bipedal movement set the stage for the development of complex thought. The areas of the brain that plan and coordinate movement evolved to allow abstract thought. The cerebellum, basal ganglia, and frontal lobes of the brain control movement, and they are also the areas of the brain that allow executive function, which includes our ability to make decisions, set intentions, and think abstractly. Because of this relationship between movement, it’s no surprise that most developmental and learning difficulties have a common symptom of poor motor coordination.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is especially dominant in the parts of the brain that promote movement. Stimulant medications like Ritalin that affect the function of dopamine have become the medical mainstay in the treatment of many attention, behavioral, and learning difficulties. As will be discussed below, functional neurology offers effective alternatives to the use of stimulant medication with a combination of nutritional support, movement exercises, and physical treatments.

The two sides of the brain have different cognitive functions and different effects on our hormones, immune system, and the autonomic nervous system that controls our digestion and other automatic subconscious functions. It is important that the two sides of the brain work smoothly together, with mutual checks and balances.

Two aspects of treatment are especially important. First, it is important to recognize that most difficulties with attention and development including Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Asperger’s Syndrome involve a lower functioning of the right side of the brain compared to the left, as seen with functional MRI and PET scan imaging. The treatment program should be designed accordingly. Second, dopamine function in the brain is affected by nutritional factors, especially the status of folic acid. Nutritional supplementation and dietary modification can have a profound effect on the ability to focus attention.

The attention and developmental problems described above are more common with males: for example, males are six times more likely to have ADD than females. Male brains are more asymmetrical than female brains, and therefore decreased levels in dopamine have a greater negative impact on the right side of the brain, because there are fewer dopamine receptors in the right side of the brain.

One the other hand, learning disabilities, dyslexia, and auditory processing issues often involve a lower functioning of the left side of the brain.

Functional neurological treatment to improve learning or attention includes brain exercises, movement exercises, and physical treatments that stimulate the appropriate parts of your brain, as well as lifestyle and dietary modifications to help your brain work better.

Emotional Ease

Emotional Ease


You can feel better by changing your brain, and it’s easier than you think. Your feelings and your brain are ‘joined at the hip.’ When you change one, you change the other.

Your feelings and emotions live in a primitive area in the middle of your brain called the limbic system, and functional neurology can bring balance and ease to this part of your brain. The emotional, limbic parts of your brain develop early in life, much earlier that the verbal thinking areas, and they are hugely important for your well-being and success in life. Your emotions provide the motivation for your actions and they provide a filter for how you view the world.

Functional neurologists take advantage of your brain’s ability to change, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. They help you create the conditions in your brain to have clear thinking, easy stable emotions, and the ability to handle more stress.

A functional neurologist is likely to recommend specific changes in your diet and physical exercise, non-thinking brain exercises, and sensory stimulation like BrainTime® and brain-friendly physical treatment to activate the pathways in your brain that support resilience and emotional well-being. You get the best results with a multi-pronged approach. Here is a brief introduction to some of the important factors.

Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that carry messages in your brain, and they are continually being made and then reabsorbed or broken down. The process of making and recycling neurotransmitters requires vitamins and minerals, and if you don’t have enough, your brain doesn’t work as well. This can cause emotional imbalance and lack of resilience. A functional neurologist will help you determine the vitamins and minerals that are most helpful for you.

Scientists are also discovering how your gut affects your brain. Unhealthy organisms in your intestines can make and release chemicals that are stressful for your brain, a condition sometimes known as GAPS or Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Diet and digestion are therefore very important considerations for anxiety and depression, and a functional neurologist can advise specific dietary choices to feel better emotionally.

The two sides of the brain have different but complimentary functions that can effect emotional function; the left side is more active during exploratory, “approach” types of behavior, and the right side is more active during cautious, “checking out the scene” types of behavior. Both types of behavior—pushing forward and hanging back—are important, but if one predominates it can cause problems.

Functional neurologists are trained to evaluate the side-to-side differences in brain function in order to design treatment plans that will support an optimal balance between these behaviors. Treatment includes non-thinking brain exercises, sensory stimulation like BrainTime® and brain-friendly physical treatment to activate the pathways in your brain that will help you feel better.

You can learn more about functional neurology and drug-free solutions for a variety of health issues in the other articles and videos on this web site.

You can also call to set up a consultation and get started with a treatment program to feel better fast.

Balance and Your Brain

Balance and Your Brain


Did you know that falls are the number one cause of death for people over age 75, and the leading cause of accidental death for people over age 65? Did you know that hidden balance problems play a major role in seemingly unrelated problems like motion sickness, learning difficulties, anxiety and digestive problems?

Functional Neurology provides the most comprehensive approach to the evaluation and treatment of balance problems in the healthcare system today. This article will give you an overview of how your balance system works, how it affects the rest of your body, what can go wrong and what you can do about it.

Balance tells your brain where you are in relation to gravity. Your brain relies on nerve messages from your inner ear, your neck, your feet and your eyes to know where you are in relation to gravity. These messages all work together and add to one another. For example, if you close your eyes it is harder to keep your balance, and if you put your feet in ice water to numb the messages from your feet it is harder to keep your balance.

Many of us have first-hand experience with nausea after riding the roller coaster or merry-go-round. You might not be aware that hidden balance problems can be a factor in digestive problems, incontinence or a racing heart. These connections happen because nerve messages to and from the balance centers in the base of the brain also affect the control centers for the parasympathetic nervous system that controls digestion and other subconscious vital processes.

We can categorize balance problems as either peripheral or central. Peripheral problems are due to dysfunctions in the areas of the body that send balance messages to the brain: the inner ear, the eyes, neck and feet. Central problems are due to dysfunctions in the areas of the brain that receive the balance messages. Peripheral and central problems respond to different types of treatment.

Dysfunction in the inner ear can cause balance problems. Sometimes a virus affects the messages from one ear, and can cause a sensation of spinning or vertigo. At other times, “ear rocks” come loose in the inner ear, and they cause a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV. The room spins when you tilt your head in particular directions. A specific set of exercises can help get the ear rocks to a safer part of the inner ear so they won’t cause the balance problems. Meniere’s disease is another balance problem that is caused by dysfunction in the inner ear.

Restrictions in the neck can cause balance problems. If the joints and muscles in the neck are not moving smoothly, they send conflicting messages to the brain that can cause disorientation, dizziness and other balance problems after moving your neck. Treatments to restore normal motion in your neck can relieve many balance problems, including motion sickness.

Sometimes a balance problem is not in the inner ear, neck, feet or eyes, but instead is caused by dysfunction in a part of the brain that receives balance messages. For example, the cerebellum is a part of the brain that receives balance messages and coordinates movement. If it is trigger-happy it might overreact and cause you to feel spinning, nausea, incontinence, or faintness for a few seconds after you turn your head. Treatment to help rehabilitate the cerebellum is often helpful in this condition.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand the wide impact of the balance system on other areas of health, and the wide variety of issues that can cause balance problems. Particular chiropractic neurology treatment and rehabilitation procedures can be helpful for each of these conditions.

Relief From Chronic Pain

Relief From Chronic Pain


Functional Neurology offers a comprehensive drug-free solution for migraines, fibromyalgia, and other forms of chronic pain. When a person has chronic pain, some part of the pain pathway in their brain or spinal cord has become “trigger-happy,” or overly active. Functional neurology treatment builds the natural pain inhibiting parts of your brain to help you feel better.

We experience pain when the conscious part of our brain that registers pain becomes active. Pain is not necessarily related to damage or dysfunction in the part of the body that is hurting. For example, some people experience severe pain in some area of the body that is not being damaged, and anyone who has had surgery knows that the effects of anesthesia cause us to have no experience of pain despite extensive cutting. The experience of pain depends on whether the conscious part of the brain that registers pain is active.

Nerves send messages from our joints, muscles, and organs to our brain. There are several relay stations on the way from the body to the brain. Each of those relay stations modifies the message. They can turn the pain signal up or down.

Here are some examples of pain relay stations in action: under normal conditions we can turn the pain signal down by rubbing the area that has been injured. This is because the act of rubbing affects spinal cord relay stations that turn down the pain signals from the body. For another example, if there is no anesthesia available, a soldier might be given a shot of whiskey and something to bite on before the medic removes a bullet from his body. Biting affects the relay stations in the base of the brain that reduce pain signals from the body, and alcohol numbs the conscious area of the brain.

Medications act on different parts of the pain message pathway from the body to the brain. Anti-inflammatory medicines reduce the signal coming from the body. Opioids like codeine affect the relay stations in the spinal cord and base of the brain, and antidepressant medications affect the conscious areas of the brain that register pain. Each can be effective in different ways.

When a person has chronic pain, some area of the pain pathway is usually malfunctioning. It has often become “trigger-happy,” or overly active. Sometimes rubbing an area of pain actually makes it hurt more, and sometimes massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, or chiropractic adjustments can add to the problem rather than alleviate it.

Functional neurology treatment is designed to calm down areas of the pain pathway that are trigger-happy. This is often accomplished by directing treatment to a part of the body that doesn’t hurt. Treatment might also include dealing with sources of immune system irritation, including food sensitivities and chronic hidden infections. The immune system often contributes to chronic pain by creating an ongoing inflammatory response.

Digestion and Your Brain

Digestion and Your Brain


Your brain and your digestive system affect each other, and this can create a vicious cycle that damages your health. You must address both your brain and your digestion to get relief from many chronic health problems.

Your stomach and intestines affect your brain. Irritation in your intestines stresses your brain, and if you can’t absorb the nutrients in your food, your brain doesn’t get the fuel it needs do its job.

It goes the other way as well. If your brain isn’t working well, your digestion suffers. People with brain injuries often develop problems with digestion, and as people get older and their brain slows down it is common to have low appetite, heartburn or bloating and constipation.

This gut and brain two-way interaction can create a vicious cycle that keeps you stuck in a pattern of poor health. You might continue to have problems with your digestion even though you eat the best diet in the world if the base of your brain is not doing its job, or you might struggle with anxiety, depression, or memory and concentration problems no matter how much therapy, exercise, and other lifestyle changes you make if you have a problem with your digestion.