They said it couldn’t be done: growing new brain cells with nutrition

This is a guest article  written by Dr. Estelle Toby Goldstein, a board certified psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist/researcher in Orange County, California, USA.

For as long as life is in your body, there is neurogenesis in your brain.

Yes, this means you can grow new brain cells.

Knowledge changes. When I became a neurosurgeon, most scientists who studied the brain were convinced that after a brief time when oxygen could not get to the brain, generally one to three minutes, brain cells would start to die.  Those cells could not be saved.  Frightening. Life would end for those cells, forever.

More recently, the word was plasticity. People started talking about the brain changing over the course of a life. We have seen people recover from strokes. We know it is not a weakened arm or leg that recovers or gets stronger but cells in an area of the brain that change their function and that “learn” to take over the function of any cells that have been lost.

Knowing that you can grow new brain cells—and they can grow new connections to each other— gives me a delightful feeling of power.

We always knew that neurogenesis, the birth of new brain cells, takes place in the embryonic period — that is, in earliest infancy. It is thrilling to watch a tiny child pick up languages from people in their surroundings without formal lessons just by ear. Likewise a young child might learn to play a musical instrument and pick up a tremendous amount of virtuosity quickly.

But just think, this capacity to grow brand new brain cells from a sort of “baby” cells: stem cells, undifferentiated or general cells that have not yet grown into their special roles. This is a gift.

All living beings grow by growing cells. The brain cells we are born with are not even done growing until we are aged 28 or so. The brain cells, with many tiny organs inside, do not fully complete growing the insulation around the wire-like part that transmits messages until then.

Before and after that time, so much can happen to a brain. Head injuries. Illnesses. Tumors. Even mental illnesses.

But we now have hope: we can grow more brain cells.

Our brain has a chance to repair itself like skin repairs itself after a cut. It may be natural to lose some brain cells with aging. Cognitive loss of aging, they call it and say it is normal.

They call them progenitor cells.

Since 1944, an increasing number of scientists has found evidence of the existence of these special brain cells that are capable of “giving birth” to new, fully functional adult brain cells.

This seems to be happening in several different parts of the human brain.1

Perhaps the best-studied part that does this is the hippocampus—the Latin word for “seahorse” because this tiny part of the brain  curls up like the tail of a seahorse. It is located on the inside of the temporal lobe, which means it is a bit deep—inside of where the ear is located—and is particularly important in emotion and memory. When cell injury or death occurs from something like head injury, it stimulates new cell growth in the hippocampus.

Another part of the brain that seems to have a lot of these progenitor cells is called the subventricular zone.

The ventricles are two pools of fluid, one on each side of the brain, that bring nutrition from the blood after it has been filtered into the special fluid that surrounds the brain. The new brain cells grow outward from the lining of these pools and into the brain.

This has been researched more in animals than in humans, but the nutrition that comes through that fluid (which starts from what you put in your mouth, like all other nutrition) can directly affect the chemicals that come from these new cells.

This has been most studied for dopamine, a chemical related to the reward centers of the brain, and which plays a role in addiction and mental illness.2

A Harvard neuroscientist recently estimated that the average adult human grows about 700 new cells in the hippocampus daily.3

Whether plant or animal, every living organism manufactures cells from air, water, sunshine, and nutrition.

There is more to this than a plant that grows new leaves by taking minerals from the soil and using the energy of the sun to make new chemicals.

Brain cells can become a great deal more than little bags of chemicals.  They are our thoughts, our identity, our work, and our relationships with the people we love.

When I talk to you, I am really talking to your brain.

Nutrition gives us the raw materials to make these newly developing brain cells into real cells with genetic materials, with tiny biochemical factories to transform cells into living tiny parts of the larger living entity that is a human.

What makes it into a working brain cell is what its owner teaches it.

Rehabilitation can help after brain injuries and strokes. Many therapies help recover from neurological illness, from psychiatric illness.

This is a very different approach from folks who prescribe psychotropic drugs. The measurable endpoints to prove such drug development works sometimes have little more than a dubious relationship with how these illnesses cause people to become ill.

On the cellular level, we know that neurological and psychiatric illnesses can cause cell death— the kind caused when cells do not get enough nutrition.

I am proud to have been one of the researchers who helped show that EMPowerplus is a reasonable alternative treatment for mental illness. It is a powerful part of a slowly emergent field we can only call nutritional psychiatry.

So take physical therapy and occupational therapy and aerobic exercise as your doctor recommends and is possible.  Take one or more of the forms of psychotherapy that diminish the signs of illness and improve well-being.

What you expose your brain to will not only direct your brain cells how to develop but how to connect with each other.

If you do not want the loss of brainpower that is considered “normal” for age, learn something new. Build those neurons. Teach them to do new things. You will not only grow new brain cells, but your brain cells will build new connections to each other.

I read recently that people who dance regularly and often are 73% less likely to get dementia. Social interaction, learning the steps—these are things that make a brain more powerful.

I cannot count how many patients I have treated with EMPowerplus over these past 17 years or so. How confident am I of its efficacy? I do not say this lightly, but I have seen miracles when conventional medication could not do the job. I have given it to friends and relatives, too.



About Dr. Goldstein

Estelle Toby Goldstein, MD is known as “The Renegade Doctor” because she tells the public things the doctors, hospitals, insurance, and big drug companies don’t want you to know.

A native of Boston, she graduated from medical school in France and after returning to the US, completed her internship in general surgery and residencies in neurosurgery and psychiatry. She has also completed fellowships in neurology and psychopharmacology, which included FDA drug development for many of the prescription drugs used in psychiatry today.

Dr. Goldstein is lifetime-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and practices what she calls “natural alternative mind-body medicine.” She concentrates on transitioning patients away from prescription drugs and onto natural products that can perform at least as well as prescription drugs, without the dangers and the costs and that are available in local stores, on the internet, or by mail-order.

To that end, Dr. Goldstein became involved with Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd in the early 2000s, after several of her patients came to her requesting information on their product, EMPowerplus. At that time, a few articles had been published in medical journals, but there was no hard research available. In 2006, she met Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, PhD, who had secured a grant from the Province of Alberta to conduct research into nutritional treatment for bipolar disorder. Dr. Kaplan asked her to open a branch of the clinical trial in the US, and the FDA approved a double-blind, placebo-controlled study (the first non-pharmaceutical study of its kind in America).

Dr. Goldstein has used EMPowerPlus as a first-line treatment for various disorders over the past 10 years and has seen results she can only call “miraculous.”

She recently relocated to Orange County and opened a private outpatient practice in Brea, concentrating on adults and helping those who have seen other doctors but have never found relief from their problems. She considers herself “the doctor of last resort”, when all others have given up.

Her online presence is best felt at her revealing blog, and she can be reached by email at

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