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Leaky brain syndrome

You may have heard of a leaky gut, but what about a leaky brain? And as you will soon find out, these two syndromes are often interconnected. But before you start conjuring up horrifying images of brain fluid leaky out of your ears, nose, and eyes, the leaking in leaky brain syndrome is into the brain and not out of it.

What Is Leaky Brain Syndrome?

Our brain requires “a precisely regulated microenvironment that contains uniquely balanced chemical composition, brain-specific growth factors, and signaling molecules….for proper synaptic, neuronal, and network activity” to take place. The brain’s internal milieu is maintained by a tight-woven fence-like structure called the blood-brain barrier (BBB).

A compromise to this tight junction allows neurotoxic blood-borne molecules and substances (e.g., heavy metals, damaging proteins like zonulin) to leak into the brain leading to an overactive immune system and neuroinflammation. While the BBB plays a critical role in keeping harmful substances from leaking in, it is also designed to allow oxygen, hormones, and nutrients to pass through and cellular debris and waste to pass out.

A leaky brain is an inflamed brain, and an inflamed brain can cause a whole host of symptoms and additional syndromes.

What are the symptoms of leaky brain syndrome?

Leaky brain syndrome can manifest as brain fog (via prolonged activation of mast cells), difficulty concentrating, chronic fatigue, brain health decline and cognitive impairment (including memory loss), mood disorders (such as anxiety and depression), ADHD, and progressively worsening headaches or migraines. It has also been linked to multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, autism, and epilepsy.

What can cause a leaky brain?

The umbrella cause of leaky brain syndrome is inflammation, as is the root of most diseases, and a compromise to blood-brain barrier permeability. Underneath that umbrella, though, there are several specific conditions and lifestyle factors that can contribute to leaky brain syndrome, including but not limited to chronic stress, sleep issues, excessive alcohol consumption, traumatic brain injury, chronic infections, mental health disorders, diabetes, elevated homocysteine from a vitamin B deficiency, heavy metal toxicity, exposure to environmental toxins, and autoimmune disease.

Leaky gut syndrome can also cause leaky brain syndrome. Brain health and gut health are inextricably linked via that gut-brain axis, a bidirectional communication line along the vagus nerve. Your stomach and small intestines have a lining similar to the BBB, serving the same type of function (to keep harmful substances from leaking into the gut). A dysfunction in the integrity of that barrier causes leaky gut syndrome, and leaky gut syndrome is one of the causes of leaky brain syndrome. 

Healing your gut microbiome through a fiber-rich, plant-based diet, high-quality probiotics, stress management, and sufficient sleep (to name a few gut-friendly practices) will, in turn, help heal your leaky brain.

How to “Fix the Leak” and Repair Your Leaky Brain

Leaky brain, like most leaks, is fixable, but first requires identifying the root cause(s) of the leak — simply managing the symptoms is just a patch job and not a long-lasting leak repair. Understanding what can cause leaky brain syndrome (as you’ve learned above) can help you choose the right personalized solutions to fix your leak. But one universal approach that we can all benefit from is to repair and fortify our gut.

Reducing oxidative stress, detoxifying your body of environmental toxins (from the air, water, and food), reducing psychological and emotional stress, making sleep a top priority, addressing food sensitivities (e.g., gluten), eating foods rich in essential fatty acids, introducing prebiotics and probiotics into your diet (via supplements and/or food), incorporating supplements that can help repair the BBB and support brain function (e.g., Nadovim), and exploring some integrative therapies are all viable ways to repair leaky brain.

Leaky brain

6 Innovative Therapies to Help Repair Leaky Brain

The master key to repairing leaky brain syndrome and, in turn, restoring cognitive and systemic health is to reduce brain inflammation, and support your body’s natural abilities to heal through diet, lifestyle, and innovative therapies. 

Disclaimer: The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products or treatments mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a licensed medical practitioner for medical advice.

At Innovative Medicine, we believe in transparency. We want you to know that we may participate in affiliate advertising programs pertaining to products mentioned herein.

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Meet the Author

Jenn Parker

Originally from Florida, and after ten years of thriving in Costa Rica, Jenn Parker now lives on a small tropical island on the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama. She is an avid surfer, nature photographer, environmental conservationist, traveler, yogi, and self-educated nutritionist and wellness advocate. She has long adhered to a plant-based diet, and full-heartedly believes in the power of nutrition. She has been working full-time as a professional wellness, travel, and lifestyle writer since the start of 2015. Passionate about sharing what she has learned along her journey and through extensive reading and research, she hopes to inspire others to lead a more mindful, environmentally conscious, happy, fulfilled, and healthy lifestyle.
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