Sobriety Increases Brain Volume & Restores Some Lost Brain Function
Dr. Rodier recently wrote about degenerative brain conditions, like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and how the brain can actually regenerate if properly nourished.
Along these lines, a recent study in the journal Brain explored the brain's ability to regenerate after the toxic overload of chronic alcoholism.
Researchers focused on the brains of alcoholics during periods of sobriety and were astonished by the brain's prolific activity.
Subjects' brain regions began regenerating within just a few days without alcohol. In less than two months the results were astonishing:
1.85% increase in brain volume
20% increase in cerebellar choline levels - indicators of brain cell relay activity
10% increase in a chemical indicating proper brain cell function
Alcohol and aging have similar degenerative effects on the brain - shrinkage in brain mass and impairment of brain cells and brain region communication. This degeneration limits the brain's ability to learn, remember, and organize.
And, studies have long shown alcohol to significantly hinder short-term memory skills and activities like reasoning, planning, and prioritizing. Women are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol on the brain.
To make a simple analogy the brain of an excessive drinker is like dried up leaves on a tomato plant that has gotten more sun than water, but can still revive.
Similarly, alcohol cripples and kills brain cells, in part, by dehydrating them.
The longer heavy drinking goes on, the less the brain is able to regenerate. Without alcohol's toxic effects, the brain not only rehydrates but also resumes healthy functioning of brain synapses.
Thus, there is hope for excessive drinkers who get and stay sober, making abstinence a worthwhile exchange for increased intellectual function!
Avoiding tobacco also helps the brain, as tobacco also significantly hinders the brain's process of self-repair.
For more on alcohol abstinence and the brain: