Most people do not seem to be worried about improving the performance of their brains. Indeed, it is one of the “silent” organs, yet, it is the one on which we most predominantly rely. Our knowledge of the brain, and how to look after it, typically comes from information about the diseases that can affect it. Perhaps, the times we notice our brain the most is when it is exposed to overindulgence or induces behavioral changes, which can alter our lives.
Indeed, the concept of brain wellness is alien to most individuals, even physicians and other health workers. For optimum performance, the brain needs the right kind and dosage of vitamins and other nutrients. Certain activities like exercise improve brain performance; in contrast, stress in all forms is harmful to the brain. Selective gut microbes are helpful and, perhaps, as is sexual hormonal balance. Truly, the mind and body are not separate entities but unified as one. The right foods, nutrients, and activities are critical to maintaining healthy brain function.
There is much misinformation about how alcohol and substance abuse affect the brain. Although it can be argued that modern science would suggest that certain types of psychedelics might be useful to treat certain psychiatric diseases or enhance spiritual awakening, their unfettered use can lead to an important biochemical imbalance in the brain that hastens its deterioration. Viewing the excessive use of alcohol and substances as an imbalance in brain wellness that can be modulated or prevented, even in the presence of the continued insult, is a novel concept in the management of addictive diseases. Therein lies the nexus between brain health and disease.
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Unfortunately, treatments for addictive disorders are poorly understood. Instead of knowledge in brain science, we are bombarded by potions and remedies that do not work; an over-reliance on self-help; and misinformation as to where and how to seek help. Briefly, there has been a failure of education, because the stories of people suffering from such do not have enough attention paid to their predicament. In those instances where stories of addiction are publicized, they tend to be negative; stories of despair. For decades, Professor Dr. Bankole Johnson (The Professor) has wondered why academics have not applied much energy towards writing a book or books that lay out some fundamentals of the brain, how to optimize it, and how to mitigate the potential damage that can be done to it by alcohol and drugs. Strangely enough, when such books are written, the task is usually left to the untrained. This is not a “doctor knows best” elitism but a call to understanding that this is unique to many fields of medicine. As examples, how often do non-cancer doctors or heart surgeons write treatment orientated textbooks about how the layperson can perform heart surgery or treat cancer? Yet, for addictive disease, one of the most complex brain disorders, this is more often than should be the norm.
“Six Rings” is an attempt to bridge the gap between an educated lay and professional audience in the understanding of brain wellness, how to maintain it, the perturbations that can occur with excessive alcohol and substance use, and a more wholesome and integrated approach to its treatment.
“Six Rings” is a series of 3 books, each mostly comprised of short allegorical stories that are composites of The Professor’s past experiences, fictionalized characters, and coincidences; as well as a blend of individualized approaches and patient-orientated, personalized treatment. Clearly, this book isn’t big enough to encompass all the possible stories but aims to provide a snippet of insights.
Central to the “Six Rings” books was the drive to make these scenarios entertaining, such that the reader is invited ever deeper, into an understanding of neuroscience, brain wellness, and addictive behaviors. Indeed, the book becomes denser the further the reader delves into it, and before long, the reader will find him or herself to be an informed and engaged student.
Throughout “Six Rings”, illustrations, paintings, and music are used to “set the tone” for the upcoming section, and to inject mood and atmosphere into the allegorical stories. The Professor is aware that art, art forms, and music are all very personal, and that his choices are meant to be a window into him and how he perceives his environment. The Professor understands that many authorities seem to have forgotten the hidden power of art, music, and the spiritual environment to heal.
In “Six Rings”, the Professor takes a risk by inviting the reader into his world, his life and his choices; not to evince criticism or debate, but to add flavor, color, and humanity to the allegorical stories.
The Professor hopes that you enjoy the stories, that should evoke in you a curiosity to learn more, and above all, understand the rich complexity of optimizing the brain and treating diseases that can afflict it.
“Six Rings” is neither prescriptive nor a standardized textbook. It is not an algorithm-based method to a treatment approach for particular brain disorders. Essentially, it is a personalized view that assembles certain facts and knowledge to provide a landscape of options and opportunities, from which the clinician may make decisions. References are provided to elucidate where necessary but not to overwhelm the text by being exhaustive. Extensive use is made of online information to keep the level of the book an “easy read”, and certainly, to enjoin the reader even more by the allegorical stories using simple language and examples.
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Finally, “Six Rings”, in the third book of the series, comes full circle to the present time to shed light upon the impact of the novel COVID-19 viral pandemic, as the progenitor of the next pandemic which shall be in brain disease in very many forms including stress-related and addictive disorders.
In sum, the “Six Rings” series is an outreach to the reader to draw him or her into the smorgasbord of appreciating the mysteries surrounding the functioning of the human brain in health and disease. Keeping the brain in optimum condition has to be a deliberate, conscious, and ongoing effort just as it is to maintain physical wellness. That effort to maintain brain performance is key to preventing, fighting, or ameliorating diseases of the brain. “Six Rings” views the excessive use of alcohol and drugs as perturbations of brain performance that can be healed using personalized multi-modal approaches.
The first book of the “Six Rings” series will be published by Privée clinics and PEPCO LLC, and will be available on Amazon from September 1, 2020 in Kindle and paperback forms, as well as in English and Spanish audiobooks.
Tempus est ut reveles invisus, regionem suam