Memory loss affects most people in one way or another. More often than not, it is a momentary memory lapse; nothing to worry about – it happens to the best of us. However, when memory lapses begin to become a regular occurrence, it is wise to dig a little deeper and seek medical advice.
Short-term memory provides a small storage space for daily tasks and lists, and is more likely to be affected with age. Memory is also affected by lack of sleep or by stress and anxiety. Conversely, if the mind is dull from depression or boredom, short-term memory becomes rusty from lack of use. Long-term memory tends to remain stable with age. Childhood memories remain in the mind better than adult memories.
Memory can be affected by a number of factors and there are many possible causes of patches of memory being lost, some more sinister than others. A high fever, an attack of epilepsy, severe alcohol intoxication or surgery can erase memory. A stroke can cause sudden memory loss (accompanied by other neurological symptoms, such as dizziness, visual changes, buckling knees or slurred speech.) A passing loss of short-term memory, or ischemic attack, lasts only a few minutes and can precede a stroke.
Memory problems can also be the result of deeper-rooted issues such as brain disease, tumors, or the onset of a disease such as Alzheimer's that causes brain cell deterioration. Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia are sources of memory loss in older persons and are associated with the gradual erosion of the personality. Sufferers who have any doubts at all should always seek medical advice with regards to continued memory loss.
Many substances affect memory, including prescription drugs, such as sleeping pills and antidepressants, and chronic alcohol abuse. Nutritional deficiencies should also be evaluated, especially in older people who do not always eat well. Problems with memory are often associated with physical fatigue that causes inattention. Some women experience memory loss in conjunction with menopause as a result of hormonal imbalances. Usually short-term memory loss is a side-effect of too much stress and an overload of information. There are many illnesses related to fatigue and poor attention span, including anemia, underactive thyroid and hyperactivity.
If a complete period of life has been forgotten, it is usually the result of blocking out psychological or emotional pain, as a coping mechanism. If a head injury is the cause of memory loss, have it evaluated immediately.
It may simply be lack of sleep; fatigue due to over-work, lack of exercise, or poor diet. These are all issue about which we can do something constructive to help us.
Forgetfulness is not a symptom of a serious problem, unless it becomes debilitating or accompanied by other symptoms of mental instability such as confusion or behavioral changes.
Many herbs create a positive effect on memory. Take them as herbal teas by brewing 1 tsp. of herbs in 1 cup of hot water and let steep for ten minutes.
Changing one's diet to include more nutritious and balanced foods can also help with diet related problems such as problems with sleeping. Lack of sleep in itself can cause memory lapses and cognitive deterioration. A healthier diet which helps with sleeping problems may therefore have a knock-on effect and also help to improve poor memory.
Short term memory loss is initially the most common complaint associated with mercury toxicity.
A damaged liver cannot remove toxins from the blood, causing them to accumulate in the blood and eventually the brain. Once there, toxins can dull mental functioning and cause personality changes, coma, or even death. Signs of toxin buildup in the brain include neglect of personal appearance, unresponsiveness, forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, or changes in sleep habits.
Alcoholics as well as the elderly suffer gradual loss of acetylcholine, a vital neurotransmitter. The brain compensates for this change by heightening the sensitivity of the receptors carrying memory messages, but because of the acetylcholine shortage, the transmission cannot be completed and short-term recall is poor.
Combine wheat germ oil with ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo biloba stimulates cerebral circulation and oxygenation, and improves mental clarity, alertness and memory by increasing blood flow in the small capillaries in the brain. Take 2-3 capsules daily.
Ginseng increases capillary circulation in the brain and decreases the effects of stress.
Gotu kola improves memory and increases mental stamina.
Lack of silica in nerve tissues and brain cells can produce poor memory. Supply the body with silica by taking horsetail juice and teas. For two weeks on and two weeks off, take 1 tbsp of juice mornings and evenings or 1 capsule of aqueous horsetail extract daily for two to six months.
Inhalation of rosemary essential oil enhanced overall memory performance and secondary memory factors, but impaired memory speed in a randomized study of 144 people. [British Psychological Society Annual Conference, March 13-16, 2002, Blackpool, UK.]
Eyebright strengthens brain and memory.
Sage leaves are good for memory improvement.
Blessed thistle takes oxygen to the brain and strengthens memory.
Inhalation of lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia) decreased working memory performance and memory reaction time in a randomized, three-arm (lavender, rosemary, no scent) study of 144 people.[British Psychological Society Annual Conference, March 13-16, 2002, Blackpool, UK.]
An IND (Investigational New Drug Application) has been filed with the FDA for GHB's proposed action on improving poor memory.
Sleep and rest is a simple remedy for memory loss that is caused by lack of sleep or fatigue due to over-work.
Several types of memory can benefit from supplemental testosterone: Working memory, which allows you to manipulate information over brief periods of time in order to make a response; verbal memory, which helps you recall lists of words; and spatial memory, which helps you navigate a route.
In a study of six middle-aged and elderly patients with major depression and low plasma DHEA levels, memory performance and depression improved significantly when DHEA was supplemented sufficiently to raise their plasma DHEA to levels found in healthy younger people [Biol Psychiatry, 1997 Feb, 41:3, pp.311-8]. Other, larger studies have not supported this claim.
To avoid brain calcification, be sure to keep mentally active. Stimulate and exercise your mind continually by solving crossword puzzles, playing chess, memorizing or going back to school to take some special-interest courses.
A calm environment can influence memory dramatically. A poor memory is often related to doing too many things at once. Try to avoid a hectic lifestyle. Turn off the television and radio when doing something else. Free the mind daily with a walk. Get sufficient rest and sleep. Use pen and paper to write things down, preferably in a book you can always keep with you.
A report published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition claimed that poor memory could be significantly improved by the intake of foods containing a substance called choline. Dr Steven Zeisel, from the School of Public Health and Medicine in North Carolina, reported that: "...the availability of choline for normal development of the brain is critical. In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences added Choline to the list of required nutrients for human health. Studies have shown that this substance acts as a catalyst in the release of neurotransmitters that control memory storage." Use 3 tbsp of lecithin three times daily.
GLA is required for all brain functions.
B-vitamins can be supplemented in a B-complex vitamin (100mg daily) to support the nervous system and prevent imbalances from occurring.
Niacin (100mg daily) stimulates brain function and promotes blood flow by opening the arteries and veins, an action which usually causes a harmless flush.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which inhibits free-radical damage of cells and improves circulation, both of which are necessary for mental activity. Use vitamin C, with bioflavonoids, at 1,000mg daily.
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