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  • Writer's pictureNiko

My BrainMD Journey

Updated: Mar 13, 2021

The more work I do with folks -- honing our spiritual, emotional, mental and physical practices -- while honoring the journey every step of the way, the more I'm committed to exploring supplementation as a natural support to enhancing mental resilience and ease.

As a result of the amazing feedback from clients, I am completing a 200+ hour certification in Brain Health Coaching from the Amen Clinics, the global leader in SPECT scan-based neurology and 'healthy brain' education.

Don't wait to learn about supplementation for mental health ... especially if you or someone you love is taking pharmaceuticals such as Ritalin, Ambien, Zoloft, Prozac, Lorazepam, Lithium and the like. I'm not saying we should avoid these medicines at all costs -- I'm just saying that supplementation, nutrition and exercise are still the primary foundations for long-term health.

Below, you'll find some really useful information and links to finding the right premium supplements for you and yours. As always, please reach out to me if you'd like to know more or to share your own experience.

Here's a quick list of the supplements I'll be outlining below:

>>> About the Supplements and Amen Clinics <<<

First, a bit about this product line (skip this section if you just want to get to the supplement links and info below). These are developed by Dr. Daniel Amen and the Amen Clinics. Amen Clinics is considered one of the global leaders in brain health -- blending the best of psychiatry, SPECT brain scanning, therapeutic interventions and a natural approach to healing and brain support.

I love this whole company because Dr. Amen is not just all about the meds. Yes, he'll use traditional psychiatric medication when appropriate, but truly the magic of his approach is in using brain SPECT scanning and the best science behind natural, day-to-day interventions (by the way, if you think you or someone you love might benefit from the complete brain scanning and Amen brain health workup, reach out to me for a referral).

The work from this clinic and Dr. Amen's 30+ years of dedicated service literally saves thousands of individuals and families each day. He covers the whole gamut of brain troubles: Addiction, ADD/ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, Toxicity, Genetic disorders, you name it.

You can read any number of his books to understand how to help yourself and those you care about in a way that is truly impactful and life-affirming.

To wean many of his patients off of medication or over-medication, Dr. Amen researched and developed these supplements that use naturally occurring minerals and enzymes to support healthy blood flow in the brain and ward off the harmful effects of brain aging (think Alzheimer's, dementia, etc).

Dr. Amen is also SO driven to give people nutritional, exercise and whole health living remedies. That's why I truly respect his approach more than anything. I'd encourage you to check out his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. Personally, I like my paperback copy so I can make notes and bookmark pages as a handy reference.

Another great resource for women in particular is Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. It's an engaging questionnaire that you can do by yourself or with friends and loved ones so you can better understand some beautiful features of how you think and what type of brain you have, without having to spend thousands of dollars going to a clinic to get the SPECT brain scans.

Okay, so that's enough of me waxing poetic about the Amen solutions and giving you unsolicited suggestions ;-) Here's my rundown of the supplementation.

As always, make sure to run these ingredients by your primary care doctor. That being said, some PCPs are slightly anti-supplementation or perhaps not that well versed in these ingredients. Remember that Dr. Amen and his team are all highly qualified MDs. He also staffs his clinics with naturopaths, integrative medicine specialists and functional dietitians. All I'm saying is that we choose to consult with PCPs who don't have an inherent bias against the effectiveness (and proven science) of these interventions.

>>> Supplements Section <<<

This is the gold standard of daily supplements. The blend here is done with the highest quality oil and has the right balance of EPA/DHA which you'll most commonly see on the shelves at the grocery/health foods store. Potent, balanced, TOXIN-FREE fish oil helps with energy, memory, focus, heart health and mood stability. It truly is the holy grail of supplementation and virtually everyone should be taking this. You're even taking in 50 Calories of GOOD fats with each 2-a-day intake.

Fun Fact: EPA fish oil is directed at stimulating parts of the brain that feel stressed or are under-active. It is absorbed more easily across the blood-brain barrier and has important effects on setting emotional stability, having clarity and developing good organization/resilience. For those who have more anxiety/OCD, DHA fish oil has a calming, regulating effect which leads to greater feelings of internal balance.

This is the daily multi-vitamin with rocket boosters. Not only does it have a higher quality, more appropriate selection of your classic, necessary daily multis (zinc, magnesium, folate, B6, Vitamin D etc), but it has added probiotics, natural leafy green and fruit antioxidants, and added brain and vitality-boosting ingredients such as alpha-lipoic acid and resveratrol. Clinicians will often say that you can get all of these necessary vitamins and enzymes from a balanced daily diet. I think that is totally true and accurate in perfectly consistent circumstances.

But, let's be honest .... how many of us have this type of perfection day in and day out?

We may have some solid days or even weeks of balance...but there are going to be those high sugar days and those days where we skip meals or are suffering from illness or dehydration. I view this daily regimen as a failsafe. A support and platform from which I can springboard my best intentions, my best thinking...and have a safety net for when I stumble or when outside forces derail my best plans.

Brain and Memory Power Boost If you're just looking for a brain boost, I'd go with this one. It's got the standard inclusions such as Gingko and Huperzine-A. It also has other compounds such as NAC that Dr. Amen points to for stabilizing temporal lobe function (language, memory, listening, reading, social cues). You get a bit of these in the Neurovite Plus, so this is a boost for that if you're already taking it.

Daily Essentials Bundle To save about $50, they offer a bundle of a monthly supply of these first 3 supplements for under $100. I think it's a great option, although based on specific needs you may have, I think some of the below items may add more value than bundling the Brain and Memory Power Boost in with the first 2 essentials. Focus and Energy

I don't know about you, but I'm happiest when I have clear mental endurance without too many ups and downs in my day. For those who have a coffee or tea love affair, I'd really recommend adding this supplement as you decrease your intake to 1-2 cups per day. Caffeine, after all, restricts blood flow in the brain and can drain vitality over time if there's a high daily intake. In this supplement, there's a caffeine-free green tea extract and a host of other beneficial ingredients. For those who feel like they also have impulsive/compulsive behaviors or ADD-like symptoms, this supplement will help balance and direct that excess brain activity.

Green tea, by the way, has many of the opposite effects of caffeine -- it actually has been proven to BOOST blood flow in the brain and it is an active cleanser for the liver.

Okay, so GABA is a great intervention. There are a few primary uses:

1)GABA is a great sleep aid. It doesn't make you drowsy, it simply calms the ruminating parts of the brain that might lead you to find going to sleep difficult. I prefer it to products containing melatonin (BrainMD has melatonin-containing sleep aids as well) only because of my personal experience with melatonin. For me, melatonin had helped me go to sleep and stay in deep theta sleep during stressful times in life; the only problem is that I would wake up with a foggy headache consistently that kind of ruined my day.

2)GABA is the Amen clinic's go-to supplement for helping ward off symptoms of anxiety/depression. Some folks who find themselves over-anxious, with brains that are over-active (either hyper-focused, obsessive or else disorganized and scattered), could benefit from a daily dose of GABA. If you or someone you know has been told that they are over-responsive/over-excitable with Dopamine, GABA is a great way to stabilize this behavior.

The other side of the GABA/Dopamine paradigm is the Serotonin uptake side. It helps not to think of Dopamine and Serotonin as opposites, or 2 ways to treat types of depression. It's more accurate to say that Dopamine has to do with pain/pleasure receptors in the brain, and Serotonin has to do with overall communication between nerve cells and the body. Now, we're definitely going into some mental health / psychiatric medicine areas here, so I definitely encourage folks who think they might need to look into all this to make an appointment with a licensed counselor or mental health professional. I would not simply talk only to my PCP about any of this. Second opinions in this realm are priceless. Oh, and it's also pretty important to mention that using supplements is a good alternate route to acting on a mental health diagnosis and prescription that could affect your insurability down the line (yes, life insurance companies will take note if you've been put on antidepressants in the past or are currently taking prescribed psychiatric meds). One thing to mention about Serotonin is that it has commonly come to be understood as the 'happiness' chemical. This is not really an accurate representation of Serotonin's function. More accurately, Serotonin is a great communicator that links to memory, focus and mood. Ninety percent of Serotonin is made in the gut, which is why it is so important to have healthy digestive function and healthy diet as a precursor to a balanced life and mind. This supplement contains 5-HTP and saffron, among others, to help your body receive a steady supply of this great internal regulator. If you are suffering from rigidity, nervousness, mood swings, irritability and excess worry, this supplement plus exercise (and light therapy) will go a long way to restoring balance.

I think of Serotonin as the "right relationship" chemical. It's when we experience too much worry, an excess of fear, too much rigidity or habitual behavior, too much panic or negative thinking, that Serotonin steps in to help us regain our sense of proportion again. It greases the connections between neurons and darts all around the body communicating with vital systems and processes.

It's a very complex conversation, but I hope my explanation helps here a bit. This supplement will usually have positive effects on your sleep cycles as well, if that's also a concern.

ProBrain Biotics We've all heard of the gut-brain connection at this point. The Amen team simply took the 2 best, proven probiotics on the market and amped up the dosage of each in this hyper-packed pill. A great formulation that's simple, straightforward and effective.

Vitamin D3 5000 Finally, I'm sure many of you have been hearing of the value of Vitamin D. Especially during long indoor periods or during low activity periods, Vitamin D is increasingly being shown to help with longevity, cancer prevention and mood stability. It's in the Neurovite Plus daily supplement above, but if you want a higher dosage, I'd add this to the equation.


So that's the best of what I've been learning so far in this certification course.

Please don't hesitate to reach out to me or give me a call with more questions, or to let me know how these products are working for you.

If you plan to try them, I'd also suggest a 90-day course to see if it is making a difference for you. When signing up to purchase the items online at, you can also use the code WELCOME10 at checkout to receive a 10% discount. You can also subscribe to regular monthly delivery, and receive an additional discount.

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