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Is Your Brain on Fire? (Part 1)

After countless hours studying the topic, attending seminars on it, and treating hundreds of individuals in my own practice, I believe that neuroinflammation is one of the most overlooked problems affecting the Floxed today. The term “Floxed” refers to people who have symptoms resulting from the use of fluoroquinolones, a class of antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections. These symptoms may include extreme fatigue, tendon rupture, joint and muscle pains, nerve pains, and nervous system disturbances like neuroinflammation.


inflammation of the brain – is the activation of the brain's immune system in response to an inflammatory challenge, such as the use of fluoroquinolones. Research shows that fluoroquinolones love fat tissue, and that’s what makes up the human brain. Neuroinflammation can present as a variety of problems, and many people that come to me for help are in a dichotomy – meaning they have symptoms that seem opposing, or unrelated.

For example, they might have Achilles tendon pain accompanied by pain in their elbow. Others might report mood swings, anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, or simply not feeling or acting like themselves. However it manifests, it’s important to pinpoint this neuroinflammation and address it with a proper treatment plan in order to recover. If left untreated, a tendon tear will seem like nothing compared to the neurological problems that might lie ahead.

Your brain on fire

For someone with neuroinflammation, it’s almost like their brain is on fire.

t’s important to understand that the brain doesn’t have pain receptors like other parts of the body. If you hit your thumb with a hammer, pain receptors will let you know that something is wrong by causing you to feel pain in your thumb. But the brain doesn’t act the same way. If you could theoretically hit your brain with a hammer, it would not illicit that same pain response. Instead, the brain signals there’s something wrong using different methods, like brain fog, memory problems, anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, insomnia, reduced brain endurance, and chronic fatigue.

Chronic fatigue is a common symptom of neuroinflammation

I see in patients. It’s similar to driving your car around with the emergency brake on: the car has to work harder, requiring more energy and gas, just to complete the task it was meant for. That is your brain when it’s inflamed. It has to work ten to twenty times harder when neuroinflammation is present, which results in a spectrum of symptoms ranging from slight brain fog to full-blown chronic fatigue. In extreme cases, untreated neuroinflammation can lead to coma, seizures, difficulty speaking, and tremors. But how do we know if the brain is on fire so we can begin to treat it? Functional medicine can help.

Subtle, moderate, and severe symptoms

If you’ve read this far and thought, “This sounds like me,” then you’re not alone. Many people have some or all of these symptoms, but now we must determine which are present and how to classify them. I’ve broken down the list of possible neuroinflammation symptoms into three categories: subtle, moderate, and severe. It’s important to identify your symptoms so that they can be addressed properly with a treatment plan.

Brain neuroimflammation Time Line

Subtle symptoms: Brain fog, reduced mental speed, and reduced brain endurance are classified as subtle symptoms of neuroinflammation. Experiencing brain fatigue after a long drive, where you’re being exposed to strain and stressors over a period of time, is one example. Another is experiencing brain fatigue after exposure to certain chemicals or scents, or after eating certain foods.

Moderate symptoms: Mental health disorders like depression and anxiety fall into this category. Inability to concentrate on tasks, excessive sleepiness, lack of motivation or appetite, insomnia, and the inability to be physically active are also moderate symptoms of neuroinflammation.

Severe symptoms: Difficulty speaking, tremors, disorientation, and involuntary twitching can be signs of severe neuroinflammation. Shaking, or lack of balance when completing simple tasks like walking, can also be present. More serious symptoms like seizures, dementia, and even coma are possible if left untreated.

If these symptoms sound familiar to you, then it’s possible you are suffering from brain inflammation. In the next part of this blog series, I’ll go over the different tests available to determine whether you have neuroinflammation and how severe it might be.

Part 1 Brain on Fire

Part 2 Brain on Fire

Part 3 Brain on Fire

Part 4 Brain on Fire