VITAL NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR THE BRAIN
Nuclear Imaging of Brains
SPECT can be helpful in understanding and treating alcohol, nicotine, and drug abuse and addictions.
Spect Imaging Normal Brain
The most common similarity among drug and alcohol abusers is that the brain has an overall toxic look to it. Not a pretty site.
Alcohol, Nicotine, Drug Abuse Brains or "Your Brain on Drugs"
In general, the SPECT Scan the brain looks less active, more shriveled, and overall less healthy. A "scalloping effect" is common amongst drug abusing brains. Normal brain patterns show smooth activity across the cortical surface. Scalloping is a wavy, rough sea-like look on the brain's surface. I also see this pattern in patients who have been exposed to toxic fumes or oxygen deprivation. My research assistant says that the drug brains she has seen look like someone poured acid on the brain.
For example, cocaine and methamphetamine abuse appear as multiple small holes across the cortical surface; heroin abuse appears as marked decreased activity across the whole cortical surface; heavy marijuana abuse shows decreased activity in the temporal lobes bilaterally and heavy alcohol abuse shows marked decreased activity throughout the brain. These findings tend to improve with abstinence, although long term use has been associated with continued SPECT deficits seen years after abstinence. SPECT can be helpful in several ways in drug and alcohol abuse. First, 3D surface SPECT brain images of drug and alcohol abusers can be used in drug prevention education. Second, SPECT studies can help break though the denial that often accompanies substance abuse. When one is faced with their own abnormal cerebral perfusion (holes as if eaten by acid) it is hard to remain in denial. Third, SPECT may help evaluate if there is an underlying neuropsychiatric condition that needs treatment.
In our experience, the effects of marijuana use typically cause decreased activity in the posterior temporal lobes bilaterally. The damage can be mild or severe, depending on how long a person used, how much use occurred, what other substances were used (nicotine is a powerful vasoconstrictor) and how vulnerable a particular brain is.
On Marijuana severe decreased activity off marijuana
This 57-year-old physician had abused marijuana for 30 years. We performed this SPECT series because he had been unable to stop using without feeling very angry, irritable, agitated and anxious.
The first study (those images in the right column) was performed after he came to the clinic intoxicated from 3 straight days of heavy usage. The second study (those images in the left column) was performed after he abstained from marijuana usage for 1 month.
Notice the study without marijuana shows decreased temporal lobe activity (likely from the chronic marijuana usage), but also patchy increased uptake, especially increased activity in the deep left temporal lobe (often associated with anger, irritability and anxiety). The study with heavy marijuana usage shows marked overall decreased activity, especially in the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes (associated with attention, memory and motivational problems) but also there is a decrease in the overactive areas noted in the "off marijuana" study.
This scan series argues for the possibility of "self-medication," but unfortunately this medication has the side effect of causing the potential for long term damage to his brain.
Alcohol - 38 year old 17 years heavy weekend use
#1 #2 48 year old 22 years alcohol use; #3 44 yr/old 18 years use; #4 45 yr/old 22 years alcohol use
Nicotine & Caffeine
45 yr/old 27 yr history 3 packs cigarettes, 3 pots coffee daily
#1 27 yr/old 2 yr cocaine; #2 28 yr/old 8 yrs. meth; #3 36 yr/old 10 years meth; #4 52 yr/old 28 yrs meth
#1 39 yr/old 25 yrs heroin; #2 40 yr/old 7 yrs methadone; #3 #4 39 yr/old 25 yrs heroin
Hope for Healing the Brain Alcohol, Cocaine Meth
On & Off Drugs
#1 On drugs; #2 drug alcohol free 1 year; #3 during drug abuse #4 drug alcohol free 1 year
Reproduced with permission from Amen Clinics.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this web site is for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for a medical evaluation. If you feel that medical interventions are necessary, please check with your physician.