Was I just about to say something? Oh, I forgot what it was. And where is my cellphone? I thought I put it down. Oh, I’m holding it. And what’s that great movie we saw a few weeks ago? Do you remember it?
Some of those thoughts may have gone through your head during the past week. Admit it. We can go down the memory lane of our day-to-day lives and just get a little detoured sometimes. Yes, we forget things. Maybe not all at once, but spread over time.
As you get older, you may feel like you are forgetting more things. Forgetfulness is seen as a normal part of aging. When we are young, we simply don’t pay much attention to these sudden lapses, which don’t seem too many anyway. You may be making more lists these days than you did in the past.
Forgetfulness may be a normal part of aging but it also may be a sign of serious memory problems, such as dementia, a clinical syndrome, which affects our ability to carry out everyday tasks. The syndrome includes Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. Some memory problems, however, are the result of the treatable conditions.
It’s important to know the difference between normal age-related forgetfulness and the symptoms that may indicate a developing cognitive problem.
Causes of memory loss
There are various causes of memory loss: lack of sleep, the medications you take, and drinking too much alcohol, can affect memory. You may also have stress, anxiety or depression or a Vitamin B-12 deficiency, or have suffered an injury, and that can impact memory, too. So can illnesses such as thyroid or neurological conditions. In older people, decreased blood flow to the brain can impair memory through changes in cognitive skills.
Tips to improve memory
The brain is a remarkable for many reasons. One is that it can produce new brain cells at any age, so just becoming older doesn’t mean significant memory loss is inevitable with age.
Your lifestyle, daily activities and habits can have a big impact on your brain’s health. Here are some ways you can improve your memory:
- Get enough sleep. (Lack of sleep can impact memory).
- Try to reduce your stress, possibly through meditation or mindfulness.
- Laugh and take time with friends.
- Give your brain a workout.
- Eat foods and supplements to help the brain. (For instance, try to cut down on sugar, refined carbohydrates, and consume more fish and maintain a healthy weight). Omega-3 fish oils may help memory, too.
- Drink less alcohol (as referred to earlier).
- Learn as much as you can.
- Exercise your brain, possible through cognitive-related games, such as crosswords and word-recall games.
Chinese herbs and memory
Supplementing your diet with herbs may help you combat memory loss by improving blood and oxygen flow to the brain, and boost energy levels.
In Chinese medicine, memory depends on two defined networks: kidney-adrenal and the spleen-stomach-pancreas. The kidney network stores your life essence, and the spleen supplies energy for daily living through healthy digestive processes, produces nutrients, while distributing energy to the brain, and other organs.
Chinese herbs linked to improved memory
Gingko Biloba has been the subject of many studies, some conflicting, about its effect on memory. It has been used for many years because it has been traditionally known to improve concentration and memory by improving blood flow to the brain. Some studies show modest improvements in cognitive function for older adults with dementia, but its other impacts are uncertain. There is a need for more clinical studies, experts say.
Huperzine A, which is derived from what is known as Chinese club moss, has been cited as an herb that could help memory, impact or in a similar way as Alzheimer’s drugs, but more evidence is needed to confirm its safety and effectiveness, reports say.
Hawthorn, also known a Crataegus oxyacantha, is one of the most widely used herbs for heart disorders, also has been linked to strengthening blood vessels, and improving memory.
(Asian Panax) Ginseng is an energy-boosting herb that stimulates mental activity. The ginsensoides, from ginseng roots, are said to reverse anti-inflammatory impacts.
Rosemary, an aromatic herb, enhances mental clarity and memory, with a study showing students in a room that contained rosemary in its essential oil scored better in memory tests. In one of his plays, Shakespeare noted, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”
Gotu kola has been known for years to stabilize cell membranes and the circulation system for improved brain strength.
Bu Nao Wan is a common formula used for memory problems related to weakness in the kidney system.
Gui Pi Wan is an herbal formula used for heart function and stress, including forgetfulness.
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