Healing the Brain after Anesthesia

By Dr. David Martín, DOM, AP and Deb Martín, Holistic Health Educator

August, 2022

Anesthesia is a delicate balance between life and death for the body and the brain.  However, the impact isn’t over when surgery (or the procedure) is done.  More often than not the follow-on impacts after anesthesia are not considered nor managed.  Fortunately, Natural Medicine brings many tools to help reverse and clear the associated problems.

The most common post-op issue Dr. David sees at the clinic is patients complaining they can’t think clearly.  Occasionally, he sees gassy belly when too much gas was pumped in during surgery.  But it can be worse.

According to Dr. Dale Bredesen, MD, an expert in neurodegenerative diseases and author of The End of Alzheimer’s Program, general anesthesia is one of the causes of cognitive insufficiency and decline, perhaps starting a painful descent into Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Syndrome) or other neurological conditions.

In Dr. Bredesen’s 30 years of research, he has discovered that general anesthesia and associated surgical procedures “represent a potent dementing program, associated with a doubling of the risk for dementia.”  The mechanisms are many, including stress on the detoxification systems and other issues of poor oxygenation and low blood pressure. Antibiotics disrupt the microbiome and create permeability (leaky gut). And there is inflammation associated with the procedure itself, as well as healing the wound and general trauma to the body.


I’m happy to report that we have helped many patients through their healing process using acupuncture, lymphatic drainage massage and herbal medicines.  It usually takes several weeks, and in some cases, many months to fully clear the remnants of a single general anesthesia event.  It’s worth the effort to take action both before and after a surgical procedure.


Before signing up for surgery, consider other forms of healing, if practical and you have time.  Our Western Culture has excellent surgical staffing and equipment in hospitals to perform expensive, invasive, and sometimes life-saving surgeries.  We have great trauma care in the U.S.A!

However, for many conditions using other tools in the realm of Natural Medicine doctors and therapeutic practitioners of massage and yoga work well without negative side effects.  What if a few sessions of acupuncture, a skilled massage or yoga therapy could solve it?

Dr. David has a favorite mantra, and it applies here with great importance.  Pay attention to these as healing methods to clear and restore the brain and body:

  1. The AIR you breathe.
  2. The WATER you drink.
  3. The FOOD you eat.
  4. The THOUGHTS you think.

Wise Advice:

In 1999, Dr. David and I attended a conference in San Diego at which we witnessed a panel of 8 doctors from a Johns Hopkins’ Integrative Medicine Team (4 M.D. surgeons and 4 Doctors of Oriental Medicine).  They discussed whether to use surgery or acupuncture for back pain.  At the end of the panel, the surprising answer was this:  Roughly 80% of the time acupuncture solves the issue, and 20% of the time surgery is required.


In his book, The End of Alzheimer’s Program, Dr. Bredesen makes the following recommendations regarding procedures using general anesthesia.  You’ll see our comments in italics:

  1. Talk with your surgeon ahead of time. Maybe general anesthesia isn’t necessary, and another option can be considered which is less toxic.  Or, ask:  “How long is the anesthesia expected to be used?“ These questions can bring forth better possibilities for you.
  2. Talk with your anesthesiologist ahead of time. You can request they ensure your pressure does not suffer a rapid drop during the procedure (often reducing critical blood flow to the brain).  They can select shorter-acting drugs, etc.  Also, discuss any other medications you are on.  (Note from Dr. David: tell them about your powerful supplements as well!)
  3. Prepare yourself for general anesthesia by optimizing your detoxification in preparation. This will help your body clear more rapidly.  Useful supplements include glutathione (Note: we provide therapeutic injections at the clinic) and “NAC at 500 mg twice daily, milk thistle 70 mg three times per day, and methionine 1 gram per day.” Also useful are high-potency multivitamins with at least 500 mg of Vitamin C, and B vitamins.  Dr. Bredesen recommends that these supplements be taken for at least one week prior to surgery and at least two weeks afterwards.  (Dr. David has seen hundreds of such cases at the clinic, and he recommends that supplements and herbs should be taken much longer…until the patient is fully healed.)
  1. Supplements to stop taking a week before surgery include natural blood thinners such as fish oil, Vitamin E, garlic, gingko, and ginger. Some which would lengthen the effects of anesthesia include: St. John’s wort and valerian root.  (Note:  Blood thinners can typically be restarted once the wound has healed.)
  2. Repair the gut and eat a diet to clear the anesthesia. For a few weeks after surgery, enjoy bone broth for easy digestion, for protein and collagen needed for wound healing and repair.  Eat foods with high fiber content such as crucifers, e.g. broccoli (cooked).  Avoid alcohol—or at least keep it low. Drink one to four liters of filtered water daily. Eat to induce mild ketosis by consuming healthy fats to detoxify and reduce inflammation.
  3. Use a sauna several times a week to sweat out the toxins; then make sure to use a clean, natural soap. He mentions castile soap.



Yes, there is HOPE of keeping the brain in good shape or reversing any damage following general anesthesia!  As Dr. David often states, using natural medicine is a participatory sport.  Do the planning to prevent and reverse damages which may be caused by anesthesia.

Chinese Medicine has herbs and acupuncture to help. Massage is valuable too. These are our main tools for patients.  However, other solutions are found in Functional Medicine, including the use of blood tests and Food as Medicine.  Certainly, exercise practices such as yoga, qigong and tai chi can be exceptionally helpful for all things brain.  One of the diagrams in Dr. Bredesen’s book The End of Alzheimer’s Program, shows the yoga position “Downward Dog” and discusses how it drains toxins from the brain via the glymphatic drainage system.   (This recently-discovered glymphatic system works much like the lymphatic drainage system for the body).

Yoga, Thai Chi and Qigong are documented to help reverse cognitive decline. A quick Google search will give you plenty to consider, and you can expect many other health bonuses to these practices.  Join in on a class at the clinic!  We offer these classes.  Give us a call for more information or check our Events page .

Healthy Brains to All,
Dr. David and Deb Martin
Lotus Blossom Clinic

The End of Alzheimer’s Program: The First Protocol to Enhance Cognition and Reverse Decline at Any Age; Dale E. Bredesen,MD, copyright 2020.

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Reversing Alzheimer’s: When Love Inspires Recovery

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21st Century Alzheimer’s Vaccine

The Eight Causes of Alzheimer’s

Can You Prevent Or Heal Alzheimer’s?

Serving the Greater Fort Myers area with Natural and Holistic Medicine, including Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Massage, Science-backed Food as Medicine, Laser Therapy, Energy & Transformational Sessions…and Community Classes & Events both Virtual and In-Person!


We are not M.D’s, Nutritionists, or Dieticians.  Vickie Gelardi and Deb Martín are certified in the Conquering Any Disease, a High-Phytochemical Food Healing System, and they work under Dr. David Martín’s directions with his patients, helping them incorporate his dietary guidelines into their lives to improve health.