CTE Prevention


The only positive diagnosis at this time is by autopsy after death. There are not yet any clinical guidelines for diagnosis. If CTE is suspected, often because of the patient’s history, brain imaging and other tests can rule out other causes such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson’s.

Researchers have been investigating the possibility of fluid biomarkers to assist in diagnosis. Additionally, they are finding promise in advanced neuroimaging techniques. Specifically, new methods of diffusion MRI and radionucleotide PET scans could aid in the early detection of CTE.8


There is no current treatment available for CTE other than the kind of care given to PTSD, Alzheimer’s, and other patients with neurodegenerative conditions. Because CTE is caused by repetitive mild head trauma, treatments such as multidisciplinary attentive treatment (MAT) which is used for patients with severe traumatic brain injury, may not be effective for CTE.1

At this time the only treatment is prevention by practicing some of the following:

Avoidance. Avoid participating in collision-likely contact sports such as those listed above.

Change the rules. The NFL did institute a new rule outlawing using the helmet to hit an opposing player's body during a tackle.2 In the aftermath of this rule concussions dropped by thirty percent in the NFL.3 Four states, Illinois (children under twelve), New York, California, and Maryland, have introduced legislation regarding tackle football.4 But in every case the bills died due to parental, coaching, and organized football lobbying.5

Public service announcements by major media providers have been cautioning parents about the dangers of youth football. For example, CNN's PSA in their 2019 "Tackle Can Wait" campaign says: "That means high school football players who started playing tackle football at 5 years old have 10 times the risk of developing CTE than players who started the game at 14."5

Limit # of seasons of play The longer athletics play collision-causing sports such as football, the greater the risk of their developing CTE. A 2020 evaluation of the brains of 266 deceased American football players found,

"The odds of CTE double every 2.6 years of football played. After accounting for brain bank selection, the magnitude of the relationship between years played and CTE status remained consistent. "6

Nutritional support for athletes. In 2014 a military panel recommended supplying military personnel with ample omega-3s to possibly protect them from stress and increase wellness and performance.7 To our knowledge no research has been done as to the nutritional support athletes were offered during their lives. However, perhaps in the future guidelines will be established for the nutritional components to support neurogenesis and prevent neurodegeneration.

For a Healthy Brain

The following have been identified as supporting neurogenesis, memory, executive function, balance, and motor skills, and protecting against anxiety. Studies show that intake of antioxidants are applicable for both PTDS and CTE.

Neurogenesis support: Acetyl-l-carnitine, astaxanthin, and phosphatidylserine.
Improve Cognition: Astaxanthin, ashwagandha, curcumin, ginseng, green tea, n-acetylcysteine, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphatidylserine, PQQ, vinpocetine, and vitamin E.
Reduce Brain Inflammation: Alpha lipoic acid, Apigenin, ashwagandha, astaxanthin, baicalein, CoQ10, curcumin, garlic, ginseng, green tea, omega-3, 6, 7 essential fatty acids, pycnogenol, reishi mushrooms, resveratrol, sage, SAM-e, vinpocetine, and zeaxanthin. Reduce Depression: 5-HTP, baicalein, ginger, ginseng, goji berry, n-acetylcysteine, olive leaf extract, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphatidylserine, sage, SAM-e, tryptophan, and vitamin B12.
Support Brain Plasticity: Blueberries, DHA, fisetin, ginseng, goji berry, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and resveratrol.

Next: Brain Support Protocol


Note: additional sources of the above information are available in our guide to brain care, Natural Brain Care, or upon request.

1. Steinberg L. (2018). Helmet Rule Change: NFL's Next Step Toward Player Safety. Forbes. Aug 14, 2018.
2. 1 France24. NFL concussions show sharp drop after rule changes. Retrieved Oct 1 2019 from https://www.france24.com/en/20190124- nfl-concussions-show-sharp-drop-after-rule-changes.
3. Bakala B. (2018). House Committee Passes Tackle Football Ban for Illinoisans Under Age 12. Retrieved Oct 1 2019 from https://www.illinoispolicy.org/house-committee-passes-tackle-football-ban-for-illinoisans-under-age-12/.
4. Fainaru-Wada M, Steele M. (2018). Debate over youth tackle football an extension of country's polarized politics. Retrieved Oct 1 2019 from https://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/24773919/efforts-ban-youth-tackle-football-five-states-draw-comparisons-nanny-stategrass-roots-politics.
5. CNN. Andrew S. (2019). New PSA warns parents to avoid youth tackle football by comparing it to smoking. Retrieved Aug 13 2021 from https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/11/health/cte-youth-football-psa-trnd/index.html.
6. Mez J, Daneshvar DH, Abdolmohammadi B, Chua AS, Alosco ML, et al. (2020). Duration of American Football Play and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Ann Neurol. Jan; 87(1): 116–131.
7. Coulter ID. (2014). The response of an expert panel to Nutritional armor for the warfighter: can omega-3 fatty acids enhance stress resilience, wellness, and military performance? Mil Med. Nov;179(11 Suppl):192-8.
8. Dallmeier JD, Meysami S, Merrill DA, Raji CA. (2019). Emerging advances of in vivo detection of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and traumatic brain injury. Br J Radiol. Sep;92(1101):20180925.