Memory Loss Natural Treatments
By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Memory is an intricate and complex function of the brain. It
requires millions of neurons to operate in perfect harmony. As we age, we experience memory glitches in which spontaneous memory loss occurs, such as when you can't recall something that is at the tip of your tongue-a senior moment, yikes! Aging causes neuron loss, which can affect your memory of recent events. You might forget where you left your keys, or the name of a person you just met. More serious, non-aging-related memory loss might manifest as forgetting how to do things that you've done many times before or being unable to learn new things. Progressive memory loss is a serious condition.
Causes of memory loss include depression, dementia, Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative brain disorders, side effects from certain drugs, stroke, trauma, and alcoholism.
In Chinese medicine, memory depends heavily on the kidney-adrenal network and the spleen-pancreas-stomach network. The kidney network stores your life essence and the spleen network supplies energy for daily living through healthy digestive processes, producing vital nutrients and distributing energy to the brain and other organs. As we age, our kidney essence is depleted. Combine aging with a weakened digestive system, and the brain receives less and less of its essential nutrients. Lack of physical and mental exercise also prevents nourishment from reaching the brain.
I regularly treat patients suffering from memory loss. One patient, a woman about fifty years came old, came to see me, complaining of dramatic short-term memory decline and other symptoms. She was going through menopause and she decided, in consultation with her gynecologist, not to go on hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) because of a family history of breast cancer. I approached her treatment by fortifying the underlying vital life essence and bolstering the digestive system to help with proper nutrient absorption and delivery. After a three-to four-month course of acupuncture and herbal therapy, she reported substantial improvement in her memory, and her menopausal symptoms improved as well. I also instructed her in memory exercises and qi gong practice.
HOME REMEDIES FOR MEMORY LOSS
- Make Dr. Mao's Anti-Aging Brain Mix by mixing together 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup pine nuts, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/3 cup dried goji berries, 1/2 cup dried apricots and 1/2 cup dried blueberries. Pack in a sealed container or zipper-lock bag to preserve freshness. Eat a small handful in between meals daily as a snack. The essential fatty acids and rich carotenoids and antioxidants in the nuts and fruit will nourish and support your brain and prevent low blood sugar.
- Drink green tea daily, as green tea prevents an enzyme found in people with Alzheimer' s disease from forming and is also rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that help prevent premature brain aging.
- Spice tea: make a tea from any of the spices below, which are rich in volatile oils and B vitamins and act as natural brain boosters. Steep 1 teaspoon of any of the following in combination or by themselves in boiling water for 5 minutes: dill, cloves, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, sage, fennel, anise, cardamom, garlic, onions, ginger, leeks, scallions, peppers, chives, cinnamon, basil, and coriander. Drink a cup when you need to concentrate or find your focus waning.
HERBAL THERAPY FOR MEMORY LOSS
Herbs can be found in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medicine practitioners. Herbs should be used according to individual needs; consult with a licensed practitioner for a customized formulation.
- Gingko biloba supplements can help strengthen learning, thinking, retention, and recall.
- Gotu kola can help improve cerebral circulation.
- Our Super Clarity formulation contains natural Chinese herbs traditionally used to enhance memory and focus: Ginkgo Leaf, Sharp-Leaf Galangal Fruit, Schisandra Fruit, Oriental Arborvitae Seed, Asian Ginseng Root, Dong Quai, Jujube Seed, Lycium Fruit, Rehmannia Tuber, Chinese Asparagus Root Tuber, Asian Water Plantain Rhizome.
- Taoist masters of ancient China used reishi or ganoderma mushrooms daily to support healthy mental function.
- Our Enduring Youth formula contains herbal extracts to support healthy brain function: Chinese yam, goji berry, schizandra berry, Asian cornelian, China root, cistanches, sweet flag, Chinese senega, dipsacus, anise, Chinese foxglove, and other herbs.
DAILY VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS FOR MEMORY LOSS
- Phosphatidylserine (PS; 300 milligrams), a compound made by the body from the amino acid serine, can help lower the stress response and promotes the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Its role in reversing age related dementia and memory loss is well documented in Europe.
- L-carnitine (500 milligrams) has been studied for its potential to enter the brain and help delay the onset of Alzheimer' s and other memory-loss conditions.
- Microalgae from lakes and oceans, such as blue-green algae, spirulina, and chlorella (1 to 3 grams), are easy-to digest, high-protein and high-energy supplements that support healthy brain function.
- The amino acid compound GABA (250 milligrams), consisting of glycine, taurine, L-glutamine, L-phenylalanine, and L-tyrosine can be helpful when taken daily.
HOW TO TREAT MEMORY LOSS WITH DIET AND NUTRITION
A regular and balanced diet rich in essential amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins will help to ensure a vibrant and sharp memory.
- Make sure to eat some form of protein, such as nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, or animal products, with each meal.
- Fish, especially deep-ocean fish, are a good source of the essential oils that our cells need for healthy function.
- Foods to favor include black walnuts, yams, squash, snow peas, pumpkin, potatoes, parsley.
- Eat apples, papaya, pineapples, raspberries, mushrooms, celery, beets, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, Chinese dates,
- Make a tea with hawthorn berries.
- Eat oats, pearl barley, adzuki beans, black beans, chestnuts, lotus seeds, and sesame seeds.
- Avoid dairy products.
- Avoid fatty, fried, and processed foods.
- Avoid chocolate, caffeine, carbonated beverages, and alcohol.
- Do not overeat, as overeating stalls the energy at the center of the body, preventing it from nourishing the brain.
EXERCISES TO ENHANCE MEMORY
- The best way to keep your brain sharp is to exercise it. Incorporate mind-stimulating games into your daily life. Listen intently and memorize names, shopping lists, and daily activities-this keeps your mind working and stimulated. Puzzles and memory games are also helpful.
- Regular cardiovascular exercise is a natural way of improving circulation to the brain and can help improve memory by 20 to 30 percent.
- When you feel tired, take a 15- minute power nap. During sleep our body regenerates, so a good night's sleep is crucial for mental energy.
QIGONG MOVEMENTS FOR MEMORY LOSS
I also recommend Dao In Qi Gong exercises to help you lead a long and healthy life. One of my favorite Dao In moves, Immortal Beating the Heavenly Drum, stimulates the brain and improves circulation to the head.
• Practice this exercise once in the morning and once in the evening, but not immediately before bed, for optimum results.
• Sit comfortably at the tip of a sturdy chair with your spine erect, arms on top of your legs, and head tilted slightly forward.
- Begin breathing slowly and rhythmically, inhaling deeply and gently and exhaling slowly.
- Cover both ears with your palms, with the fingers of each hand pointing toward each other at back of your head.
- Inhaling, place your index fingers on top of your middle fingers and then snap them off, striking the back of your head on the depressions located behind the ears at the base of the skull, where the Wind Pond (GB-20) acupoints are located. Repeat continuously, with about one strike per second.
- Exhaling, continue striking the Wind Pond points with your index fingers while bending forward at the waist. Tilt your head down.
- Continue breathing and striking for 20 to 30 seconds, until you've struck the points 36 times.
- Conclude the sequence by rising back to the sitting position with your last exhalation.
ACUPRESSURE TREATMENT FOR MEMORY LOSS
- Start with the acupressure point at the top of your head: locate the acupoint Hundred Meeting (DU-20), at the top of your head, midway between your ears. Apply gentle pressure with your index finger for 5 minutes. This point is traditionally used for improving brain and spirit functions.
- Use the acupressure point inside your ankle: locate the acupoint Forceful Torrent (KID-3), on the inside of your left ankle between the Achilles tendon and the anklebone. Pinch the point with your right thumb and index finger using moderate pressure for about 5 minutes. Repeat on your right foot. This acupoint is traditionally used to strengthen the kidney system, and it also has anti-aging benefits.
MEMORY LOSS: WHAT TO AVOID
- Avoid medications that contain diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl and Tylenol PM, which can cause temporary confusion and temporary memory loss.
- Avoid alcohol, other recreational drugs.
- Consult your doctor about some blood pressure medications such as methyldopa (Aldomet) or propranolol (Inderal) that may cause memory loss.
- Consult your doctor about some tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil) that can also adversely affect memory.
- Avoid having high blood pressure, and keep your cholesterol levels, especially the LDL levels, regulated.
- Bludau, J., M.D., et al. 2007. Cognitive impairment over the age of 85: hospitalization and mortality. Arch. Gerontol. Geriatr. (May 9).
- Kanowski, S., et al. 1996. Proof of efficacy of the Ginkgo biloba special extract EGb 761 in outpatients suffering from mild to moderate primacy degenerative dementia of the Alzheimer type or multi-infarct dementia. Pharmacopsychiatry 29:47-56.
- Ni, M., and C. McNease. The Tao of Nutrition. Los Angeles: Seven Star, 1987.
- Schulz, V., et al. Rational Phytotherapy. New York: Springer, 1998.
©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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