Background: The U.S. military has seen dramatic increases in traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among military personnel due to the nature of modern-day conflicts. Conventional TBI treatment for secondary brain injuries has suboptimal success rates, and patients, families, and healthcare professionals are increasingly turning to alternative medicine treatments. Objective: Effective treatments for the secondary injury cascades that occur after an initial brain trauma are unclear at this time. The goal of successful treatment options for secondary TBI injuries is to reduce oxidative stress, excitotoxicity, and inflammation while supporting mitochondrial functions and repair of membranes, synapses, and axons. Intervention: A new paradigm of medical care, known as functional medicine, is increasing in popularity and acceptance. Functional medicine combines conventional treatment methods with complementary, genetic, holistic, and nutritional therapies. The approach is to assess the patient as a whole person, taking into account the interconnectedness of the body and its unique reaction to disease, injury, and illness while working to restore balance and optimal health. Functional medicine treatment recommendations often include the use of acupuncture, Ayurveda, chiropractic manipulation, detoxification programs, herbal and homeopathic supplements, specialized diets, massage, meditation and mindfulness practices, neurobiofeedback, nutritional supplements, t’ai chi, and yoga. At present, some of these alternative treatments appear to be beneficial, but more research is needed to validate reported outcomes. Conclusions: Few clinical studies validate the effectiveness of alternative therapies for TBIs. However, further clinical trials and empirical studies warrant further investigation based on some reported positive results from research studies, case histories, anecdotal evidence, and widespread popularity of some approaches. To date, only nutritional therapies and hyperbaric oxygen therapy have shown the most promise and potential for improved outcomes for the treatment of secondary TBI injuries.

Richer, , , , , , , , (2017). Functional Medicine Approach to Traumatic Brain Injury. Medical acupuncture, 2017 Aug;29(4):206-214. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28874921