by Maureen Cromey
An Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Expert
Do you ever walk into a room and wonder why you went in there? Have you driven home and have no recollection of the route you took? Have you been introduced to a couple of new people and then completely forgotten their names? Are you just not feeling sharp or bright, lacking the recall you had in your youth?
It's worrying to feel that your brain power or intelligence is starting to diminish. This can be caused by stress and feeling overwhelmed. It can be exacerbated by tiredness, caused by excessive use of alcohol or cannabis, hormonal changes, pregnancy, childbirth or menopause. Memory loss may be a side effect of medication or more seriously it may signal the onset of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other pathological conditions.
In Chinese Medicine terms the functioning mind is known as the Shen. This influences long term memory, intelligence, reasoning and moods. It controls how we react to situations, whether we stay calm and find a solution or panic and become confused. The Kidney Essence controls the Brain as an organ and a bright Kidney Energy is essential as it contributes to clarity of thought, intelligence and short term memory.
The brain is like any other organ in the body; it depends on the well-being of the whole body to work well and it needs to be specifically nourished and soothed to function optimally.
There are various steps we can take to boost our brain and mind and to nurture intelligence and maintain a youthful flexibility and recall. It is worth starting this now, whatever age you are. If you are young it will help maintain what you have and in older people it is essential to challenge and exercise your mind daily.
Ten steps to boost your brain power:
1. Have acupuncture monthly. Initially you may have a course of four to six sessions weekly to treat any specific issues and then go to monthly to maintain good health and mental clarity. Acupuncture has been shown to improve brain function, recall and attention. Scientific tests using MRI scans have shown positive results for vascular dementia and other degenerative problems when cerebral circulation was greatly improved with the acupuncture treatments. In clinical practice, I see people perform better in interviews and exams, react appropriately and calmly to stressful situations and vastly improve memory and mood. It can take a few sessions to see results and they are very positive.
2. Chinese Herbal medicine is fantastic for calming and clearing the mind. There are specific formulae depending on the pattern you may be showing. Confusion, apathy, melancholia, poor memory all respond to treatments.
3. Diet helps enormously. Increase fish and vegetables and coloured fruits such as blueberries and apricots. Regular balanced meals of good quality food are essential.
4. Reducing stimulants such as alcohol, sugar and coffee also boost mental performance. Avoid toxins in processed foods, drugs and from occupational exposure.
5. Herbs, nutrients and supplements can play an important role in boosting brain power. Gingko biloba, fish oils, B group vitamins, zinc and selenium are all significant.
6. Physical activities such as running, learning dance or another sport daily for at least 15 minutes makes a remarkable difference. It will also help with sleep.
7. Sleep. Enough and good quality. Avoid using too many sedatives or sleeping pills. These suppress brain activity. If you have trouble sleeping or suffer from anxiety or worries look at treating this. Acupuncture, counselling and lifestyle shifts always help.
8. Learn to meditate and practice daily. Meditation has been shown in trails to significantly improve cognitive functioning.
9. Regular sex and a happy love life sharpen mental acuity.
10. "Use it or lose it" applies to the brain and daily challenges such as learning a language, crosswords, reading, blogging or other intellectual activity maintain a youthful and flexible mind.
Finally, Attitude is important. An inquisitive, active mind will not deteriorate like a bored, underused mind. Ditch the TV and take up Zumba or cycling and read a few saucy novels. That will keep you bright and young.