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What Is the Blood-Brain Barrier?

By Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, MSc

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What Is the Blood-Brain Barrier?

No, the BBB isn’t some new hit band or exclusive club – it’s the blood-brain barrier, and it is one of our bodies built in mechanisms to protect the brain from harm.

Its discovery was actually somewhat accidental, when scientists injected dye into people’s bloodstream, watching the dye dispersed in the bloodstream, they happened to notice that the brain and spinal cord were the only parts of the bloodstream which didn’t change color, bringing about the discovery of the blood-brain barrier. The BBB is a semi-permeable function in your body that allows for the correct materials to cross over into the blood of the brain hemisphere while blocking out bad things and invaders attempting harming your brain cells and spine.

We Need This Invisible Armor

Why do we need this invisible armor to keep our brain protected? Well for starters, the brain is the most important organ in the body that’s needed for survival, allowing us to remain healthy, well and alive. If your brain did not have this barrier, then a host of bad bacteria, cells, and organic materials could make their home in your brain cavity, eating away at the tissue or riddling your brain with disease and infection. This certainly isn’t a pretty picture, which is why the blood-brain barrier is such a vital function in our bodies’ natural protections.

Now, it’s one thing to say that it protects the brain from invaders, but exactly how does it do such a crucial job? By taking advantage of the movement of the semi-permeable membrane and the concentration gradient. This form of active transport only allows the correct lipids, fats, and other substances from moving at a continuous pace. And what exactly is it blocking out? A whole host of unnecessary brain materials, including any “foreign substances” from reaching your hormones and neurotransmitters that are important to the balance of your body. To put it lightly, the BBB is a busybody part that is a non-stop brain security guard, only letting in the invited guests.

Impact of Materials Absorbed Through Barrier

The powerful nature of the BBB can actually be of detriment to many brain supplement formulations which the brain does not recognize, and thus will not allow through the BBB. The BBB is highly protective, and so when health care professionals are trying to do diagnoses’ and other therapeutic treatments, their effects and impact can be hindered by how much of the materials of the treatment is actually absorbed through the barrier.

Be Careful In The Supplement You Select

The blood-brain barrier is definitely difficult to get through, so if you’re planning on getting a brain supplement to boost brain function and overall health quality, then you need to be careful in the one you select, so you’re not wasting your time and money.

Why are these supplements so hard to get to the brain? The same reason “foreign invaders” have difficulty getting through – many of the materials in these supplements are synthetic and not what they claim to be, so the BBB rejects them and sends them on their way.

You need to do your diligent research to make sure that any brain supplements you purchase will actually be able to make it through the BBB. Anything filled with a long list of synthetics and highly foreign ingredients often will not make it through. Choose wisely to ensure that your brain supplement will move through the BBB and will be able to help you.