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NAD Therapy for Concussions

Published on June 22nd, 2020 by Dr. Alexandra Smith

​Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD) has multiple different indications including the prevention of brain cell death after traumatic brain injuries. NAD is synthesized in our bodies from nicotinamide, aka vitamin B3 – one of our essential vitamins. It is heavily involved in the energy producing pathways found in the mitochondria and promotes cellular energy by converting food into ATP (adenosine triphosphate). NAD has also been shown to be neuroprotective which is essential for recovery from a concussion. Naturopathic doctors use NAD therapy to prevent the lasting effects or symptoms post concussion.

Concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are induced by a mechanical impact or blow to the head. This is often related to sports injuries or trauma from car accidents. Following a brain injury, there is a multi-faceted cascade that occurs which affects brain health. Energy metabolism in the brain is altered and there is an increase in inflammation. This affects the brain cells known as neurons. These changes can cause neuron excitotoxicity – meaning that neurons can no longer maintain a homeostatic environment and continuously fire due to high levels of glutamate (an excitatory neurotransmitter) in the brain after a concussion. Swelling of the brain tissue can also occur which affects overall metabolism of cells. Patients will feel a variety of symptoms after a concussion including headache, nausea, fatigue, memory challenges, cognitive impairment, depression, irritability and sensitivity to light and noise.

​Studies have shown that oxidative stress after a concussion depletes levels of NAD in the mitochondria of neurons leading to cell death. This damage can occur in the acute, subacute and chronic stages of a head injury. NAD has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, prevent damage to brain cells and reduce the risk of neuronal cell death by correcting mitochondrial metabolism. When the brain is depleted of NAD, the cells rely on alternative, more oxidative forms of energy production. By increasing the brain’s levels of NAD, the mitochondrial energy pathways are forced back into functional metabolism. These are all key factors which need correcting for post concussion treatment. The goal behind NAD therapy is to restore mitochondrial metabolism and decrease oxidative stress in the brain. By using higher doses of NAD, naturopathic doctors can alter the brains energy metabolism to restore proper function after a traumatic brain injury.

​Naturopathic doctors administer NAD via intravenous infusion or intranasal spray. This allows the bypass of the gastrointestinal tract which increases absorption. NAD can pass through the blood brain barrier via intranasal administration. Naturopathic doctors have multiple different treatment options for concussion management, including NAD therapy. If you currently have a concussion or post concussion syndrome, consider talking to your naturopathic doctor about NAD therapy.

 

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