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Neurotoxicity Associated with Traumatic Brain Injury, Blast, Chemical, Heavy Metal and Quinoline Drug Exposure

Kathryn L Colvin, PhD; Geoffrey P Dardia; James Macrellis, MAJ(r); Timothy M Marshall, PhD; Remington Nevin, MD, MPH, DrPH

Chronic, excessive exposure, and accumulation of neurotoxic agents such as heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium), mefloquine (Lariam), and food additives such as monosodium glutamate and aspartame cause neurotoxicity and brain damage. This chemical-induced brain damage closely resembles the pathophysiology of classical traumatic brain injury with decreased cognitive function, neurodegeneration, and increased psychiatric manifestations (depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and irritability). Current evidence supports a strong causal relationship between military-related exposure to specific neurotoxins, and the development of serious medical conditions and higher rates of suicide among service members. To address this current deficit in military health care, it is recommended that efficacious, nontoxic, neuroprotective, and neuroregenerative agents such as highly bioavailable magnesium, nutritional lithium, zinc, selenium, boron, ascorbate, tocopherols, heavy metal chelators, and glutathione precursors such as N-acetyl-cysteine be immediately used as a “protective shield” and to support critical healing processes in the brain and nervous system.

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