[The following is the full transcript of this video blog. Please note that this video, like all of Dr. Chiu's blog videos, features Dr. Chiu speaking extemporaneously– he is unscripted for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!]
Hey, my friends, I'm Dr. Titus Chiu, and this is The Modern Brain.
This is part three of our three-part miniseries on brain trauma. In the previous video, we talked about what trauma does to your brain and nervous system.
In this video, I'll be teaching you what trauma does to your immune system, how that can become a vicious cycle and three simple things you can do about it.
As a quick review, when you are under stress, your brain goes into a state of crisis mode or red alert.
It enters what's known as a fight or flight response, where you can experience increased blood pressure, faster pulse, you may start sweating and your pupils will dilate.
Why your pupils dilate when you're stressed
The reason why your pupils dilate and get big is that when your brain or body or being threatened, you need enough light to come in so you can see what you're up against.
This also lets you see a clear path to run away from the threat.
This is one of the reasons why it's called a fight or flight response.
Fight or flight response is normal
As you learned before, this is actually a normal response.
It’s good and useful because it helps you deal with stressors when they come up.
However, if the trauma is too much for your nervous system to handle at that time, it could then get stuck in this crisis mode - and that becomes the first vicious cycle.
The second reason why people can get stuck in a vicious trauma cycle is that not only does your nervous system and brain enter a state of crisis mode when you experience trauma, but so does your immune system.
Let me break it down for you.
Your immune system is in charge of a bunch of different things in your brain and body but the NUMBER ONE FUNCTION IS PROTECTION.
Your immune system helps protect your brain and body from different types of invaders - things like bacteria, viruses as well as parasites.
The way your immune system is through specialized cells.
They all have different functions to help neutralize those different pathogens and invaders.
The interesting thing is this: not only does your immune system help protect your body from all these different invaders, but it also protects your brain.
One of the major immune cells of your nervous system is what we call microglia.
As you can see here, I drew a little picture of that microglia here for you.
The reason why I did so because the way it looks will help you remember what its main function is.
When the microglia is in a happy, healthy state, it helps to clean up debris that builds up over time.
This debris is the result of your nervous system's exposure to stress or toxins.
The doodle above is what the microglia when it's happy and healthy, with its little arms and legs.
Here, it's able to actually crawl around your brain. Yes, these cells are crawling in your brain right now.
That's a good thing because what they're doing is actually cleaning up the debris and the gunk of your everyday brain activities that build up over time.
After trauma, your microglia change and transform.
Not only will it change how they look but also what they do in states of chronic stress, inflammation or after trauma.
If healing doesn't happen, your microglia change their shape and end up looking like this guy above.
As you can see, it has lost its legs and arms and it can't crawl around the brain anymore.
So what does it do?
It just hunkers down and creates a massive inflammatory response in your nervous system.
This is one of the major hidden forces keeping your brain from healing.
Microglia breaking down is the second vicious cycle that hampers your recovery.
The good news is that all is not lost.
Even if your microglia become irritated, there are things we can do to help calm it down, appease and pacify it.
The most important thing is to figure out what are the other sources of inflammation in your body, or in your nervous system that are triggering it and irritating your microglia.
In the meantime, one foundational strategy you can take is to simply lower your inflammation levels. Here are three simple ways of doing that.
And so there you have it, three simple things that you can do to help calm your microglia and break that inflammatory vicious cycle that makes so many people get stuck in states of perpetual stress survival mode and trauma.
If you try out these foundational strategies, and they seem to help a bit but you're still struggling, then be sure to reach out to brain specialists to help you identify the other sources of inflammation in your body as well as your nervous system.
When you finally get to the root cause for why you're still struggling and stuck in that vicious trauma cycle, there's so much you can do to turn your health and your life around.
If you enjoyed this three-part miniseries on brain trauma, subscribe to my BrainSAVE! YouTube channel where I'm constantly updating it with information to empower you to heal your brain and transform your life.
And be sure to share it with at least one friend.
My name is Dr Titus Chiu thanks so much for joining me. This has been the Modern Brain.