Episode 182: “The Invisible Injury”: Concussion Prevention and Support for Kids and Adults with Melissa Biscardi

In this episode, Dr. Lisa chats with Melissa Biscardi, registered nurse, manual osteopath, research trainee at the University of Toronto and a self-proclaimed brainiac who is obsessed with concussion rehabilitation, research and anything related to getting “go-getters” brains working and thriving. Melissa shares the most common ways kids and adults get concussions, along with how our changing hormones in perimenopause influence our risk and outcomes. Listen in to find out what to do if you or your little one has a suspected concussion to prevent long-term effects. Remember, “when in doubt, sit out”. A possible concussion is not something to take lightly.

Melissa Biscardi is a registered nurse, manual osteopath, research trainee at the University of Toronto and a self-proclaimed brainiac who is obsessed with concussion rehabilitation, research and anything related to getting “go-getters” brains working and thriving. She started in the healthcare field over 20 years ago and she feels she was born to heal but it took many twists and turns to find the right road. She completed a Bachelor of Science in nursing, master of science focused on concussion in women and is now doing her PhD looking at interventions to maximize concussion recovery. Melissa has a private practice in Toronto and also teaches virtually and now in person.  

Her holistic approach to care is what sets her apart and helps her get her patients their lives back after concussion and other forms of brain-drain! Melissa created an app called the Brain Tool Kit app which is available on Android and iPhone and can be used for concussion recovery or just for brain-tickling. She has published in a number of scientific journals and co-authored 2 book chapters, as well as a big sister to 2 of the best little brothers a gal could have, mother to a 3-legged cat and the #1 daughter to 2 quirky parents. She loves to run and hike and explore the spectacular views and sounds that nature has to offer

In today’s episode, we cover:

  • The signs and symptoms you need to look for when you or your kids have a concussion
    • including red flags of vomiting, confusion, slurred speech, weakness, numbness and increasing headache that need emergency care
  • Some myths around concussion that you need to know
  • The most common ways you and your kids can get a concussion
  • Possible long term effects you can experience from a concussion
  • The food that can help with your concussion recovery
  • The importance of exercise to support your brain 
  • How your hormones and menstrual cycle can impact your recovery from a concussion
  • What you should do if you suspect you or your kid has a concussion

You can connect with Melissa on Instagram @concussionrehabca or her website https://concussionrehab.ca/ for a free download of concussion red flags.

Today’s Mama Must-Have:

Dr. Lisa is a big fan of time to read after Stuart is in bed, even for 5 minutes 
Melissa loves to start her day with movement in the morning  

What Else is Happening?

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing session for expecting parents looking to decrease fear and anxiety to support their natural instincts around labour and birth is this fall. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Join Dr. Lisa’s Facebook group Wild Woman Adventures Toronto if you want to get out in nature, connect with other women and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Activities include: sunrise/sunset SUP, tree-top trekking, a new moon workshop and more!

Thanks for joining us!

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Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Episode 75: Where Are My Keys? How to Deal With Brain Fog in Perimenopause and Beyond

In this episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni discuss how brain fog can be impacted by: stress, nutrient deficiencies, lack of sleep, hormone changes with perimenopause and more. For your brain, it’s definitely a case of use it or lose it! Listen in to discover the causes of brain fog and what to do about it using mindfulness, meditation, nutrition, supplements, herbs and exercise, dark chocolate and caffeine (in moderation!). If you constantly forget where you put your keys or what your were going to say or do; then this episode is for you!

What is Brain Fog?

  • Cloudy mental thinking
  • Difficulty with focus or memory
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Difficulty to memorize new information

It is never normal to have brain fog at any age!

3 Things Every Brain Needs:

  • Oxygen
  • Fuel – Glucose or Ketones
  • Stimulation

Symptoms of Poor Circulation and Blood Flow to Your Brain:

  • Low brain endurance, poor focus and concentration 
  • Must exercise or drink coffee to improve brain function
  • Cold hands and feet, especially if you must wear socks at night
  • Cold tip of nose

Brain fog can be a symptom of neuroinflammation, in addition to :

  • Unclear thoughts
  • Low brain endurance with brain fatigue
  • Slow and varied mental speeds

What could be causing your brain fog?

  • Stress, Overwhelm, Multi-tasking, Worry, Distraction
    • Can result in elevated cortisol stress hormone and adrenal gland dysregulation, for more info see Episode 24
  • Hormone imbalance
    • Estrogen impacts serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine receptors in women
    • Low estrogen increases brain inflammation and degeneration
    • Thyroid hormones impact all neurotransmitter receptors – for more info see Episode 42
  • Fatigue and inadequate sleep –  for more info see Episode 73 
    • Glymphatic system supports brain repair during sleep
  • Blood Sugar Imbalances – for more info see Episode 45
    • Elevated blood sugar can promote inflammation and damage to your brain cells
  • Leaky gut and microbiome imbalance – for more info see Episode 8
  • Food sensitivities and allergies, including gluten
  • Medication side effects including antihistamines, medications for blood pressure, anxiety and sleep, painkillers, and some antibiotics
  • Excess alcohol intake
  • Chronic environmental toxic exposure – for more info see Episode 65
    • solvents (eg. exhaust, pollution, fragrances)
    • heavy metals like lead and mercury
  • Physical trauma including concussion 
  • Nutrient deficiencies
    • Essential fatty acids – omega 3 
    • B vitamins, especially low B12 and folate can cause elevated homocysteine
    • Protein for neurotransmitters, hormones, enzymes
    • Flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity
  • Infections, including Candida overgrowth, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and Lyme
  • Other conditions like migraines, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia

How does the keto diet impact your brain health?

Ketone bodies are made by your liver from fatty acids in your diet or body fat. These ketones are released into your bloodstream, taken up by your brain and other organs, shuttled into the “energy factory” mitochondria and used up as fuel. 

Beta-hydroxybutrate (a major ketone) may be an even more efficient fuel than glucose for your brain, providing more energy per unit oxygen used. A ketogenic diet can also increase the number of mitochondria in your brain cells to produce more energy.

Lab Tests to Consider to Determine the Root Cause of Your Brain Fog:

Blood work such as blood sugar tests, thyroid panel, homocysteine, MMA for vitamin B12 status

Comprehensive Stool Analysis or SIBO breath test

DUTCH for hormones, melatonin, oxidative stress

Urine and blood heavy metal testing

Natural Support to Consider for Improving Your Brain Fog:

  • Adequate sleep
  • Exercise and movement breaks 
    • Walk around the block
    • Jumping jacks in bathroom
    • Dance party
  • Be mindful and avoid multi-tasking
  • Calming activities like meditation, deep breathing
    • Nose breathing; breath of fire – support nitrous oxide, blood flow and circulation 
  • Enjoy caffeine in moderation – green tea is ideal for l-theanine plus antioxidant catechins
  • Stay hydrated with plenty of filtered water
  • Nutrition: 
    • Reduce sugar, processed foods
    • Enjoy more fatty fish, nuts, seeds, more vegetables especially beets, beet juice beet root
    • Spices: rosemary, sage, oregano, curcumin, garlic
  • Nutrient and herbal supplements:
    • Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom
    • Bacopa, ginkgo
    • Turmeric (curcumin)
    • Fish oil
    • Mitochondrial support like CoQ10, resveratrol, alpha lipoic acid, acetyl L carnitine
  • Bulletproof coffee with medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil
  • Essential oils like citrus (orange, grapefruit, lemon), lavender, rose
  • Acupuncture to support blood flow, stress reduction
  • Bodywork like physiotherapy, osteopathy

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Lisa loves her 80% dark chocolate after lunch for an antioxidant boost and her mid-morning decaf coffee with collagen, MCT oil and some sea salt

Dr. Toni is a big fan of Martin’s crispy apple chips from Costco for a healthy snack at the end of a meal or on its own.

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing info session for expecting parents looking to trust their instincts and their body during labour and birth is happening in May. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Sign up for Dr. Lisa’s free sleep webinar on Monday, June 7th at 8:00pm to discover how to use Naturopathic Medicine, essential oils, yoga, meditation, osteopathy and massage to get those zzz…s!

Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective in Fall 2021: get on the waitlist: wildcollectivetoronto.com

Email us or connect with us on  Facebook  and  Instagram

We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!