Three supplements to give right away if your child sustains a head injury or concussion
Both of my sons have played competitive and contact sports for many years. They also have sustained more head injuries and concussions than I would like.
Over the course of time and as a nutritionist I learned that there is more you can do than just rest and avoid TV and video games (although those steps are very important too!).
My son was recently in a roll over car accident and thankfully all three in the vehicle were wearing seat belts. He said that if they weren’t they most likely would have been ejected.
But it got me thinking of what I would do right away if he did sustain a head injury.
I am currently putting together an herbal/nutritional first aid kit for both of my sons (yes, they are thrilled…sarcasm) and it will include the ingredients I have listed here in their first aid kits.
With kids back in school it also means kids are back into their sport activities so I hope you find this helpful should the need arise. It may be a good idea to keep these items on hand.
This is by no means meant to replace medical care after a head trauma but rather in addition to. Always discuss these options with your doctor, especially if on medications.
But here are some supplements that can provide the tools to allow the brain to begin to heal. These are not “cures” but rather they are used to optimize brain health for healing.
Here is a good starting place if your child sustains a concussion, even a mild one.
Homeopathic Arnica Montana: While traditional medicine is very skeptical in regards to homeopathic remedies, this is one that I keep in my son’s sport bags and is the first thing I reach for when a head injury occurs. There are other homeopathic remedies for head injury side effects but this should be in your first aid kit to reduce swelling and inflammation due to the trauma. Use it as soon as you can but it can also be used for head injuries that have occurred even months prior.
When using homeopathic remedies, it is best to consult with a specialist who is trained to work with them.
Otherwise, to keep on hand for these emergencies, I purchase Boiron brand Arnica Montana 200 ck. You can usually find this at Whole Foods or your local health food store. Dose out 5 pellets every 15 minutes if you can but neither water nor food should not be consumed 15 minutes prior nor 15 minutes after so you may have to dose out more than every 15 minutes in those first few hours. Ideally just get as many doses in as you can. Do not touch the pellets-just pour them from the vial cap into your mouth. Let them dissolve under the tongue. After the first 24 hours you can start to space the doses out and give the pellets 3 to 5 times daily for the first week.
While others continue to be skeptical, I have seen great results with homeopathic remedies so I do use them in certain instances.
Curcumin (from Turmeric): This compound has been shown to have neuro-protective properties and has been shown to be beneficial in rehabilitation from brain injuries. Giving Curcumin can result in a significant reduction in neuro-inflammation.
For a brand I like Terry Naturally Curamed 750 mg. capsules and I would give one to two three times per day for the first several days following the trauma. There are other reputable brands out there but I have seen positive results with this product in my clients and so I stick with what has been effective.
High dose fish oil: Studies show that animal’s receiving fish oil after a head injury for 30 days had a greater than 98% reduction in brain damage compared with the animals that did not receive supplementation.
For a head injury I would give an immediate high dose of fish oil that contains 1 gram. There are many contaminated fish oil products to be wary of. Also avoid farmed salmon and only consume wild caught Alaskan salmon for your fish oil dose or consume sardines (I like Wild Planet brand)
Start with a high dose for the first 1-2 weeks and then reduce the dose. Depending on the research the range can be from 4 grams of combined EPA/DHA to 10 grams. Take 3 grams three times per day for the first week. I know that is a lot of fish oil but this is short term only.
For the second week reduce that to 3 grams two times per day. After week two it depends on how you are feeling as to whether you should continue on the high dose or reduce the maintenance dose. Once you are feeling better, reduce the dose to 3 grams every day.
Always take your fish oil with a meal that contains fat. If you are eating a low fat diet you will have difficulty reaping the benefits from the fish oil.
There are many more supplements that I would suggest for a head injury but this is a good place to start within the first few hours after the impact.
In addition to that, the diet should be clean, meaning free of sugar and processed foods. Provide plenty of healthy fats such as avocado and it’s oil, quality EVOO, raw nuts and seeds, organic protein sources and plenty of organic leafy greens, vegetables and fruits. This is not the time for sugar, candy, soda, fast food and frozen meals. These are inflammatory foods. Avoid any foods with toxins for now so if you can buy all organic during this time that is the best choice. Otherwise, choose your organic foods following the clean 15/dirty dozen guide provided by www.ewg.org. The goal is to reduce brain inflammation and provide optimum conditions for healing.
While some are able to return back to their normal routine within weeks, others may have long lasting side effects from their concussion such as ADD symptoms, fatigue, confusion, forgetfulness, anxiety, depression and more. If you or your child needs more nutritional support during the healing process, please contact me or your holistic health professional.
Chapman, E., Weintraub, R., Milburn, M. et. al. Homeopathic Treatment of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury:
A randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 14, 6,
Dec. 1999, 521-542.
Ji, S. (10/1/14) How Whole Turmeric Heals the Damaged brain. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/how-whole-turmeric-heals-damaged-brain-1
Mercola, J. (2/9/14) Fish Oil Cited in Dramatic Healing After Severe Brain Trauma. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archives/2014/02/09/fish-oil-brain-health.aspx
Wu, A., Ying, Z., Gomez-Pinilla, F. Dietary Curcumin counteracts the outcome of traumatic brain injury on oxidative stress, synaptic plasticity and cognition. Exp. Neurol, 2006 Feb., 197(2):309-17 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16364299
Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the E book Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in food first when addressing the root causes to your health conditions. For more information, visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com
The information provided is meant for educational purposes only. As a nutrition professional, Karen Brennan does not treat, cure nor diagnose.