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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

How to Maintain a Healthy Brain

Oct 30, 2021 03:49PM ● By Linda Sechrist

If it seems as though it takes a village of health practitioners and time spent researching the latest brain science to maintain a healthy brain, it does. This month, Natural Awakenings provides readers with a shortcut by rounding up local practitioners that have done their homework and spent hours and in some cases, nearly a lifetime, practicing and applying what they’ve learned about how to maintain a healthy brain.


Author of Hormone Deception and Sexy Brain, Dr. Devaki Lindsey Berkson, who practices at Naples Center for Functional Medicine, specializes in medical nutrition, hormone therapies, and gut issues. In practice since the start of functional medicine, Berkson was a distinguished scholar at Tulane Medical School’s estrogen think tank, where she worked with the two scientists that discovered the first two estrogen receptors and how hormones work. Today she also focuses on the renal program she initiated after reversing her 15-year longstanding Stage 3 kidney disease and returning her kidney function to normal.

Berkson is disappointed that many doctors and women are still afraid of estrogen replacement (ER). “The 19-year re-analysis of the “Women's Health Initiative” by 12 prestigious cancer centers such as Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, has clearly shown that the breast tissue in healthy women that are on ER for a few years is protected against breast cancer (reduces case incidence rate by 23 percent). If you get breast cancer after or while being on ER, you have a 44 percent reduced rate of dying from the illness (reduction of fatality incidence). Nothing else in medicine has ever been this breast-protective or lifesaving,” advises Berkson. 

Perplexed by the mindset of many in the medical field, as well as most women and men that still regard hormones as largely having only to do with sex or reproductive issues, Berkson notes that the "Cache County Study on Memory in Aging," published in PubMed, clearly shows that being on ER for up to 10 years reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease by 50 percent. The recent large study from the University of Arizona on insurance patients clearly shows that those on hormones, especially natural bioidentical forms, had up to a 72 percent decreased incidence of cognitive decline compared to those that age without hormone replacement.

But too few doctors and the majority of the public know about this life-saving research. Educating the public and medical professionals about hormones and bioidentical hormone therapy is one solution. Berkson does this frequently at medical conferences and through her podcasts posted on her website, as well as via her educational membership with levels for the public and practitioners (

Hormones are the brain's biggest caretakers. “The brain’s synapses, neuroplasticity and even volume depend on hormones. The reason that my book is titled Sexy Brain is because the hormones associated with sex—estrogen, progesterone and testosterone—rule the brain. We are at risk of cognitive decline when these hormone levels begin dropping," advises Berkson. According to Dr. Dale E. Bredesen, a neurologist, respected expert in the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases and the author of The End of Alzheimer’s, one the first things to address when attempting to reverse mild to moderate cognitive decline is hormonal deficiencies.

In Europe, where socialized medicine is prevalent, hormones are prescribed for free to individuals over 50 years of age. “Experts in the medical field there are aware of the financial burden that cognitive decline would have on their healthcare system, which is why they are proactive. In my opinion, if in the U.S. individuals over 50 years of age were prescribed hormones, there would likely be fewer people in need of assisted care or memory care facilities. There would also be less occurrence of colorectal cancer, bone fractures and dementia,” says Berkson.

More than one solution


Medical director for the Naples Center for Functional Medicine Dr. Carol Roberts notes, “There is generally not just one solution for mild to moderate cognitive impairment, which can be ameliorated by diet and exercise, as well as NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) infusion therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). “A series of 40 HBOT treatments, which improves tissue oxygen supply and low oxygen levels conditions in the brain, has been proven to produce excellent results in individuals suffering from stroke, brain injury or neurodegenerative disease,” says Roberts.

HBOT, also offered in Fort Myers at RB Institute and Root Causes, is used in a variety of conditions such as wound healing, post-concussion symptoms, neuropathic pain, toxicity, tick-borne illnesses, consequences of cancer, sports injuries, autism and neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and birth injuries.

NAD+ intravenous therapy


A relatively new treatment, NAD+ intravenous therapy, which targets the body on the molecular level, is also helpful in treating cognitive decline as well as giving the brain a post-COVID reboot. NAD+ is a naturally occurring cofactor/coenzyme derived from vitamin B3 (niacin), present in all living cells. NAD+ starts to diminish as we age, so research has focused on the impact of reintroducing it to the body.

NAD+, also offered at Root Causes, is being referenced as the body’s anti-aging molecule that potentially slows cognitive decline and promotes healthy brain functions, mental clarity, higher concentration levels and memory function. Presently, NAD+ studies involve humans with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders. As a supplement, NAD+ does not need U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval and is available to the public.


Roberts also suggests that chelation therapy can be helpful. A chemical process in which a synthetic solution of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is injected into the bloodstream removes heavy metals and/or minerals from the body. It "grabs" heavy metals and minerals such as lead, mercury, copper, iron, arsenic, aluminum and calcium, removing them from the body.

Hypnosis and meditation


Technology can also keep the brain healthy and help the body heal itself. At Access Holistic Healing & Hypnosis, in Bonita Springs, a variety of services are offered to help individuals heal and live a conscious lifestyle. “One example is hypnosis. This tool can access and change the subconscious, which controls more than 90 percent of our mind, and houses beliefs, memories, emotions, habits and imagination. Using hypnosis, we can go deep enough to sometimes find the root causes of the problem, release them from subconscious and heal them on a conscious level. With this technique, the brain can be retrained and released from negative experiences, emotions and behavioral patterns, resulting in an individual being happier,” says owner Michele Durham, who adds that guided meditation, a means of entering theta brainwave state, can be helpful. 

Near-infrared light therapy

Durham also offers near-infrared (NIR) light therapy, which can be delivered to the whole body through a near-infrared light therapy device. “Near-infrared light therapy is essentially the same as red light therapy, except infrared energy is invisible and it penetrates the body deeper than red, reaching deep into soft tissues, muscles, joints and bone. The combination of red light therapy with near-infrared energy is being researched for amazing things such as the reversal of traumatic brain injury, stopping and healing the debilitating effects of stroke and heart attack, and the regeneration of damaged nerves and severed spinal cords,” explains Durham.

AARC LED chambers


Dona Parker, owner of Tree of Light Whole Body Rejuvenation, in Naples, explains some of the science behind her AARC LED chambers. “In the same way that plants use chlorophyll to convert sunlight into plant tissue, high-intensity light emitting diodes (LEDs) utilizing specific, proven wavelengths of light can trigger a natural biostimulatory effect in human tissue. Research has shown that phototherapy can increase circulation, accelerate tissue repair, kill acne bacteria, decrease inflammation and improve skin tone, texture and clarity, as well as ease muscle and joint pain, stiffness, spasm and arthritis. Research indicates that cells absorb particles of light (photons) and transform their energy into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the form of energy that cells utilize. The resulting elevation of ATP is then used to power metabolic processes; synthesize DNA, RNA, proteins, enzymes and other products needed to repair or regenerate cell components; foster mitosis or cell proliferation; and restore homeostasis. According to studies, near-infrared photobiomodulation is being seriously considered as a neuroprotective or disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients.

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy


Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) in the form of bioelectro-magnetic-energy-regulation known as a BEMER Mat, is available in Naples at Purely You Spa, and Spark Health Technologies, as well as in Fort Myers at RB Institute. One of the most popular PEMF systems produced in Switzerland and sold in the U.S. to private individuals and healthcare professionals increases the oxygen supply and nutrients to damaged cells. Once considered the stuff of Star Trek, healing at a cellular level with harmless magnetic waves is currently used to encourage improvements in Alzheimer’s patients. In a randomized, double-blind, clinical study applying external electromagnetic fields ranging from five to eight Hertz, significant improvements included improved visual memory, concentration, mental acuity, performance, spatial orientation, mood, short-term memory and social interaction.

In addition to these treatments and technologies, brain health experts suggest that exercising three. to five times a week may lower the risk of developing cognitive decline. Although staying motivated can be a challenge, joining or forming a Blue Zones Mohai walking group of five to seven people that meets at least once a week to walk throughout the community can provide accountability and consistency.

We should not forget the foundational aspects of our overall health—diet, restful sleep, social interaction, managing stress and controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as managing weight. These are all significant factors in good brain health, as well as boosting immunity, improving heart health and enhancing the social aspect of life.

Access Holistic Healing, 27975 Old 41 Rd., Ste. 200, Bonita Springs, 239-776-2211.

Naples Center for Functional Medicine, 800 Goodlette Rd. N,. Ste. 270, Naples, 239-649-7400.

Purely You Spa, 3066 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 302, Naples. 239-331-8266.

R B Institute, 13550 Reflections Pkwy., Ste. 5-502 and 5-503, Fort Myers. 239-939-4646.

Root Causes, 12734 Kenwood Ln. Unit 84, Fort Myers. 239-347-9234.

Spark Health Technologies, 11983 N. Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 150, Naples. 802-752-6342.

Tree of Light Whole Body Rejuvenation, 806 Neapolitan Way, Naples. 239-692-9367.