Naturopathic Medicine and its Role in Concussion Management.

Why a naturopathic practitioner should be a part of your recovery team.


Concussion, also known as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a head injury that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Concussions are common occurrences in athletes and in unfortunate accidents. Symptoms can be debilitating. 

Common symptoms include:

  • Memory loss
  • Dazed or stunned
  • Clumsy movement
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Mood, behavior or personality changes
  • Headache
  • Nausea, Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry vision
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Feeling sluggish and foggy
  • Just not "feeling right"

A challenging thing about brain injuries is that there are often no observational markers. There is often nothing visible on imaging, unless there is a serious brain bleed. Concussion symptoms typically resolve in a couple weeks. It is very helpful to seek a care team immediately after injury to recover efficiently. A chiropractor is necessary for structural rehabilitation and a naturopathic doctor to provide adequate nutrients essential in the acute recovery phase.

Post-Concussion Syndrome

In some cases, symptoms persist and there is the development of Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS). PCS is diagnosed by the presence of at least 3 symptoms persisting for longer than 1 month. Most patients with PCS have multiple symptoms lasting for months or years (2).

Causes that contribute to the development of Post-Concussion Syndrome:

1. Autonomic nervous system dysfunction

2. Inflammation

3. Hormone dysregulation

4. Visual and/or Vestibular system imbalances

5. Cervical spine injury

6. Blood flow abnormalities

7. Psychological (worse with history of anxiety or depression)

This is why a team of practitioners is often necessary to help treat PCS. This might include a neurologist, optometrist, chiropractor, physical therapist and naturopathic doctor.

The role of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine can address multiple of the above causes, notably nervous system dysfunction, inflammation, hormone dysregulation, blood flow and psychological factors. Naturopaths will use a variety of tools including nutrients, herbal medicines and physical therapies.

How to address the underlying causes of Post-Concussion Syndrome

1. Dysautonomia (nervous system dysregulation) often leaves us in a constant “Fight or Flight” state. We need to restore the Vagus nerve to reduce the neuroinflammation and oxidative stress with:

  • The Intake of adequate fat via the diet -> eggs, avocado, fatty fish, health oils, seeds
  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation
  • Gentle exercise, such as Tai Chi and Yoga

2. Reduce inflammation:

  • Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory. A fat-based form is best and will also balance the microbiome.
  • Address food triggers and remove potential food intolerances and sensitivities contributing to inflammation
  • Omega-3 fish oils reduce inflammation and can provide resistance to oxidative stress produced in a concussion.

3. To address and regulate hormones it is best to get a comprehensive test to determine where some of the imbalances may be lying:

  • This may include Thyroid tests, Prolactin, DHEA, Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, LH, FSH, Growth hormone, Adrenal hormones

4. Anxiety and depression are psychological symptoms seen in Post-Concussion Syndrome. To calm anxiety and support mood:

  • L-theanine calms anxiety and also helps to improve learning and memory
  • Saffron has shown to be effective at improving mood and is generally well tolerated

5. Improve blood flow and oxygenation of the brain:

Remember that each person will have a different set of symptoms and a different contributing cause. For this reason, each individual will require a unique set of treatments and specialists on their team for the best response. Please discuss with your doctor what therapies may be best for you or schedule here.

Dr. Christine Kadykalo ND

Posted February 10th, 2022


The information contained on this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, a diagnosis, or replace that of your healthcare practitioner. If you need medical assistance, please consult your healthcare provider.