Mitochondria are now recognised beyond their role as the cell’s “powerhouse”. A systematic review on the mitochondria in psychological stress describes the mitochondria as “subcellular organelles that sustain life through energy transformation and intracellular signalling, with research demonstrating mitochondria changes directly impact systemic metabolic regulation, brain function, immunity, ageing and life-span.”  Emerging research further supports the important role of the mitochondria in stress response , inflammation regulation, neurogenesis  and cognition , amongst other roles.
The mitochondria’s role in regulating inflammatory and immune functions,  as well as the cross talk with the microbiota , further demonstrates the systemic influence of the mitochondria, beyond energy production.
Mitochondrial dysfunction, unlike mitochondrial disease, is reversible explains Dr. Yeoh in Mitochondrial function and its impact on brain health Eagle Natural Health Podcast. Dr. Yeoh discusses that increasing mitochondrial demands and toxin load caused by ‘metabolic burdens’, poor nutritional supply, lifestyle, environmental toxins and pathogens, leads to mitochondrial dysfunction. The dysfunction is far reaching, affecting multiple systems, and can be seen in a range of symptoms which Dr. Yeoh highlights in the podcast, including poor exercise recovery, learning disorders, poor cognitive function, memory loss, muscle pain and poor muscle tone.[5;3] Mitochondrial dysfunction may be implicated in a range of chronic conditions including those linked to premature ageing, metabolic dysfunction, degenerative neurological conditions, and both developmental and degenerative cognitive conditions. The link with cognitive degeneration is supported by decades of research demonstrating, for example, that the mitochondrial anomalies are found in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). One current hypothesis suggests mitochondrial dysfunction may supersede brain pathology associated with amyloid plaque formation. Another hypothesis suggests amyloid plaques may trigger mitochondrial dysfunction.
Dr. Yeoh discusses in-depth how to address mitochondrial dysfunction in clinical care. Some key considerations being:
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Dr. Christabelle Yeoh is a leading integrative doctor with a strong interest in chronic disease management, neurological, gastrointestinal and metabolic health. Dr. Yeoh is a Director and Past President of ACNEM and the medical director of Next Practice GenBiome, a cutting edge integrative health clinic in Sydney.