The Blood Brain Barrier
At the very core of this article is the blood brain barrier. The blood brain barrier is only one cell thick. Just like you can suffer from a leaky gut, you can suffer from a leaky blood brain barrier.
If we were to zoom in close on a cross section of your brain, right where the capillaries deliver blood to your brain’s cells, you would see a layer of cells separating the blood and the brain. This is what we are referring to when we use the term “blood brain barrier.”
This barrier is held together by many very tight junctions. Any breaches in this barrier cause the brain to leak, which can lead to many major neurological problems.
Acute (or temporary) inflammation can cause temporary leaks, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to days. Chronic inflammation causes leaks which last anywhere from weeks to years.
Leaky gut and a leaking blood brain barrier often go hand in hand. If you are experiencing symptoms like brain fog, brain fatigue, bloat or excess gas, even constipation, you might be suffering from a leaky gut and/or leaky blood brain barrier.
Thankfully, there are several tests for key biomarkers we can do to determine if you are suffering from a leaking blood brain barrier.
One of the first things we check for is a blood brain barrier permeability. The lab report color codes the results, with anything in either yellow or red being a point of concern. Looking at the results of these sample patients, you will see that their protein levels related to permeability are high, indicating a leaky barrier.
High levels of some of these tests can also indicate an autoimmune disease which attacks the blood brain barrier’s cells.
There are other tests we can do to specifically test for autoimmune diseases against various neurological tissues. The sample test I have provided shows results for five different tissues.
It is important to get tested if you are suffering from these symptoms, so you can take steps now to try and prevent these degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
According to a recent review paper by Rajib Dutta, MD, the disruption of the blood brain barrier is directly correlated to neurologically degenerative conditions. These can include diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, Huntington’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and more.
This means a leaking blood brain barrier makes you more susceptible to these conditions. A healthy blood brain barrier, on the other hand, protects you from these problems and diseases.
A leaking barrier, Dutta argued, allows harmful blood components to leak into the central nervous system, and makes it very difficult or impossible to clear out.
Insulin is optimally tested while you are fasting. Because of this, lab reports often label this as “fasting insulin levels.”
The lab’s normal range of insulin will be anywhere from 2.6 to 24.9. The optimal level of fasting insulin, however, is between 1 and 5. This particular client’s levels were slightly over 38.
Seeing high levels of insulin, but especially seeing high levels in conjunction with other inflammatory markers, indicates you are prone to a leaking blood brain barrier, as well as Alzheimer’s.
On a lab readout, the normal range of homocysteine levels is typically from 0 to 14.5. When we say “normal” levels, there are really two meanings. The first is the “normal” reading that a lab sees in their tests. That is the range given above.
The other meaning, the one which we need to focus on, is the “optimal” level. In this case, the optimal level of homocysteine in your system is actually 4 to 6. One of my clients had a level of over 44, indicating high levels of neurological inflammation.
Dutta’s paper shows that much research has been done worldwide to connect the quality of the blood brain barrier to overall neurological health. The paper also breaks down individual diseases.
Parkinson’s disease may be caused or progressed further due to the leaking of serum (the fluid in your bloodstream and its components) into your brain. This leads to neurodegeneration being furthered in Parkinson’s disease.
ALS is a very destructive disease, with a very low chance of surviving longer than 5 years after diagnosis. Dutta’s paper argued that the degeneration of those tight junctions between cells (see above) can lead to motor neuron loss. We can test for the markers indicating the status of these junctions, as mentioned earlier in this article.
Multiple Sclerosis is directly related to the disruption of the blood brain barrier. If the barrier is improperly permeable, inflammation of the central nervous system can occur. This can be caused by what we call “metabolic dysregulation.” For more information on this, see my free download Top 12 Must Know Inflammatory Lab Markers (and Their Optimal Ranges).
Other Major Correlations
It is also important to note that traumatic brain injuries, especially multiple brain injuries, can disrupt the blood brain barriers. This disruption can persist for years after the injury. The marker we can check for is called fibrinogen, which can lead to, or indicate oxidative stress on your brain. Fibrinogen must be tested within 72 hours of injury.
Epilepsy has also been linked to a dysfunctional blood brain barrier.
A leaking blood brain barrier can be scary. The long-term conditions caused by a leaky barrier can be drastic. Dutta argues that we need to be checking for inflammation levels to identify risk of these conditions, and find a healing path to repair or protect the blood brain barrier.
Luckily, we can test for many different biomarkers with simple blood work. There are also many solutions available to heal your blood brain barrier.
Some of these solutions are as simple as nutritional or lifestyle changes. We can determine a healing path for you by using your blood work results to check for things such as gluten intolerance, vitamin D levels, fasting insulin levels, presence of testosterone or estrogen, gut problems, and much more.
And once we identify your issue, we can identify the path you need to heal. Your body has a god-given healing ability, which we can use to get you well again.
Please feel free to reach out to me for consultations or appointments, which are also available virtually.