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Dr. Greg Symko-The most valuable thing I learned from my stroke.

We all tend to go about our lives trying to get things done. Whether it is getting to work on time, getting the kids off to school, cleaning the bathrooms, washing the car, cutting the lawn.

Our days are filled with activity and work. Rarely do we have time to think about our accomplishments, dreams and how fortunate we are to be able to do all these things. The simple act of making a cup of coffee or tea is breathtaking. This is especially true when the ability to do this simple task as well as the others is taken away from you.

I understand that feeling. I understand the lose of not being able to do simple tasks again. What I learned from my stroke is to be grateful for every day and every task that needs to be done. If there is something missing in your life or you are not happy with, change it and deal with it today, because tomorrow you may not get another chance.

Dr. Greg Symko-A slow recovery from a stroke can be frustrating.

I had a long conversation with a patient today about her progress. We went through some exercises and she had a hard time with them. She was frustrated and angry since over the weekend she had no trouble with them. I told her that I understood her frustration. Not always with stroke recovery do you consistently get better. Like any one you have bad days and good days. The only trouble with stroke recovery is that your brain has very little extra reserve. So the bad days can feel pretty bad, almost like you’ve regressed all the way back to the beginning.

I still have bad days were my pain seems unbearable or I’m dizzier than before or light headed or very fatigue. I have to except these days and I tell my patient’s that unfortunately they have to as well. One of my patients had a wonderful out look. She said, “The bad days only make the good days that much better.”

Dr. Greg Symko-The gluten syndrome, a neurological disease.


The Children’s Gastroenterology and Allergy Clinic, P.O. Box 25-265, Christchurch 8144, New Zealand.


Hypothesis: Gluten causes symptoms, in both celiac disease and non-celiac gluten-sensitivity, by its adverse actions on the nervous system. Many celiac patients experience neurological symptoms, frequently associated with malfunction of the autonomic nervous system. These neurological symptoms can present in celiac patients who are well nourished.

The crucial point, however, is that gluten-sensitivity can also be associated with neurological symptoms in patients who do not have any mucosal gut damage (that is, without celiac disease).

Gluten can cause neurological harm through a combination of cross reacting antibodies, immune complex disease and direct toxicity. These nervous system affects include: dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system, cerebella ataxia, hypotonia, developmental delay, learning disorders, depression, migraine, and headache. If gluten is the putative harmful agent, then there is no requirement to invoke gut damage and nutritional deficiency to explain the myriad of the symptoms experienced by sufferers of celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity. This is called “The Gluten Syndrome”.

Dr. Greg Symko-What are one of the primary causes of heart attacks and strokes?

It is triglycerides (the other blood fat), that is the primary risk factor increasing your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

Many people are surprised to learn that even though triglycerides are a fat, the unhealthy diet that raises triglycerides has nothing to do with fat intake; triglycerides (and cholesterol as well) are elevated by eating sugar.

The other dietary factor that in some cases will raise cholesterol is polyunsaturated oils (the ones that the propaganda says will help prevent cardiovascular disease).

Neither triglycerides nor cholesterol are elevated by eating saturated fat in general or high cholesterol foods in particular. Remember, while cholesterol is not a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease, triglycerides are, and are probably the most significant.

A study published in Circulation (October 21, 1997, shows the result of Harvard research indicating that …


What raises triglycerides? Starchy foods and sugary foods. The most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke is to either significantly reduce your starch and sugar intake or completely eliminate it.

Dr. Greg Symko-Is good posture important for your brain?

posture-150x150You can tell a lot about the health of a person by looking at their posture.  You can particularly know about their brain health.  There is a part of you nervous system that controls your posture and this is called the PMRF.  If the PMRF is working correctly you have good posture.  The PMRF allows you to stand up and sit up straight.  What is interesting about that is your brain, the part that makes you you has a great influence on this PMRF.

So if that part of your brain we call the frontal lobes does not work well the PMRF will not work well.  The question you may have is what started not working well first the PMRF or the Frontal lobe.    Either can influence you posture.  It takes good observation and a trained Functional Neurologist to figure it out.  So the next time you are sitting and working at your computer ask yourself is my posture good and if not what is my brain doing wrong.

Dr. Greg Symko-One of the possible causes of blood pressure could be in your brain.

Blood-pressureThere is a part of you brain called the PMRF.  One of its jobs is to keep your heart rate/blood pressure normal.  If the PMRF is not working correctly, you can have high blood pressure and a high heart rate.  Medications for high blood pressure work very well.  But there are individuals with high blood pressure that can not be controlled by medications or medications help some but still the person has high blood pressure.

Finding out if this PMRF is a problem is possible and the treatment for it if it is a problem does not involved surgery or medication.  Treatment can be as easy as doing a simple eye exercise for 2 minutes several times a day.

A functional neurologist  just has to know what to look for and how you can fix what you find.

Dr. Greg Symko-Lyme disease, the stealth infection that is hard to kill.

Lyme-150x150Borrelia burgdorferi is the Latin name of the bacteria that is the culprit in Lyme disease.  What makes it so troublesome is that it is a Cell Wall Deficient bacteria or CDW.  What does this mean?  CDW bacteria can basically come out of it’s protective shell.  This does several things.

If a bacteria does not have its shell the bodies immune system has a hard time seeing the bacteria as an invader. In addition by getting ride of it’s shell it becomes very small and pliable.  This allows the bacteria to go to places too small for other types of infections.  It can cross the Blood Brain barrier which normally keeps bad things out and it settles in the brain.

This can give rise to a whole host of neurological issues depending on were it has latched onto in the brain.   So in a sense the bacteria hides from the immune system which tries it’s best to get at the bacteria but can’t.  Also antibiotics find it very hard to reach the infection as well.

Dr. Greg Symko-Lyme Disease: Are those symptoms real?

Stress-150x150The very nature of the bacteria of Lyme is that it can and does settle in the nervous system, because it is safe and it is hard for the bodies natural defense to find it.  It is also difficult for antibiotics to find it.

So why all the symptoms?   It is very simple.  The brain runs your body and your body runs your brain.  Our body system is all connected.  every were from your fingers and toes to the top of your head.  Every body function from your heart beating to you digesting food your brain has a hand in the correct functioning of it.  when you brain gets an unwelcome visitor it has it’s own immune system to deal with it.  Unfortunately because nothing is supposed to get into the brain the immune system is not very good at picking out the bad guys and starts to not only try to kill the invaders, but it starts to kill itself.

When you start losing brain cells you start having all types of problems running the body.  Typically in Lyme disease you can have a great deal of joint pain, depression, brain fog, fatigue.  All these symptoms are brain related.

Dr. Greg Symko-Is it possible to feel healthy again after Lyme Disease?

Apple-150x150One of the biggest problems with Lyme disease is that not everyone with the symptoms of pain, brain fog, fatigue, anxiety etc.. has Lyme disease.  The other problem is after a 6 to 12 month course of  antibiotics symptoms still persist or they come back after a few months.  That means two things either the Lyme bacteria was not killed or there was no Lyme in the first place.  Blood tests are also not very good.  There are both false positives and false negatives.

that is the problem.  there is a solution.  the Functional approach is one where the brain immune system is calmed down while determining if indeed there is a Lyme problem.  There are many types of infections that mimic Lyme disease.    All that has to be done is to determine if that is the case and then apply the appropriate treatment.  Not a 100% guarantee, but maybe a solution for many suffering from these symptoms.

Dr. Greg Symko-Is it possible to overcome the many symptoms of Fibromyalgia?

happy-150x150Yes indeed.  One of the most important things to do is to stop treating the individual as someone who is crazy and is not really feeling these terrible symptoms.

The first thing that needs to be done is determine why the symptoms are even there.  If you have a clear understanding of the nervous system, the brain and how it all works you can clearly find areas that are not working well.

Once you find what is not working well you can attempt to fix it.  Once it is fixed there is a good chance that the symptoms will decrease or go away.  You see it is important not to get hung up on a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, because it doesn’t tell you what is wrong or how to help.  What I find with treating Fibromyagia patients is that you have to think out of the box.