Brain Health


Healthy Living Blog

By Rachelle Tetreault, L,Ac

     The benefits of improving cognition, memory, and overall brain health is available to each of us. Our brain peaks about the age of 18 years and this is the time our memory and ability to process information is prime. Major neurological issues which are seen in the clinic range from dementia, post-stroke sequelae, Parkinson’s disease, to neurodegenerative disorders with compromised physical ability. More common symptoms of brain degeneration are forgetfulness, poor memory, difficulty concentrating, and an increase in anxiety due to lowered ability to comprehend. These can be accelerated with chronic stress, trauma, ageing, or brain trauma.

In Eastern Medicine, our main therapeutic goal is to tonify the kidney yin, yang, essence, and heart blood. Memory and focus issues are manifested by a heart blood deficiency. In the clinic, this is seen by a small, thin left sided cun pulse. It is imperative to open the sensory orifices and this in turn improves awareness. The regulation of energy and blood circulation is needed and to remove blood stagnations that may exist. Eastern herbals formulas have neuroprotective benefits to improve both mental and physical abilities. Combined herbal and acupuncture provide added circulatory effects to promote microcirculation and increase blood perfusion to the brain.

With memory issues, the goal is to improve both memory and learning ability. This is done by nourishing the heart blood and energy, tonifying the kidney essence and improving blood circulation to the head. This is done by specific acupoint placements and herbal formulas based off of individual assessment and need following assessment of individual.

Lifestyle necessities for optimal brain health include a range of check offs. Keeping both the brain and body engaged with activity is key. This can be simple physical activity like tai chi, gardening, music with dance, yoga, art, prayer, and meditation. These all both stimulate yet have a calming effect on the mind. Simple things like getting sunshine, having social connections, learning new hobbies and tasks, volunteering, and spending time with our furry friends or pets all help both stimulate and calm the brain which is what keeps our brain and body engaged. This allows the balance of mind and body to take place. Other activities like games, nature hiking, and finding time for play and dance all have many neuro benefits to not only calm us but stimulate us at the same time. Tai chi is a major form of exercise which allows both the body and mind to connect. It has been shown to improve cognitive skills, memory, and overall balance.

Proper sleep, reducing chronic stress, hydration, ensuring a nutrient dense diet with good protein and fats and phytonutrients all play a big part in staying healthy. Food therapy to nourish the brain and improve memory include green tea, blueberries, ginkgo, rhodiola, and even turmeric. An adequate amount of lecithin is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses. These impulses actually control our memory. Lecithin is found in egg yolk, flax seed oil, walnut, sesame, soybean, and raw wheat germ. B vitamins not only help with stress but are important for energy and proper brain function.  Eating foods rich in Vitamin B include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and fortified breakfast cereal, and brewer’s yeast.

As a memory tonic, a brain bean soup has been used by cooking equal portions of navy, black, and kidney beans. Season with turmeric, thyme, and rosemary and eat a bowl daily. Also, a trail mix of equal portions of dried blueberries, walnuts, goji berries, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds have been part of an old tried and true tradition to improve mind function founded by Tao nutrition.

It is recommended to find a good balance between exercise, rest, and true relaxation. Staying both mentally and physically engaged and active helps ensure optimal mind and body health. Exercises that are good for the heart or cardiopulmonary system are also good for the brain. Avoid a stressful and hectic life as possible. Find joy in the simple things. Develop healthy sleeping habits. Try to be in bed by 10pm and get 7 to 8 hours each night. Avoid overthinking or worrying by accepting what you do not have control of and make healthy changes for what you can control. Our emotions effect our heart blood and this deficiency is what typically creates brain health issues resulting in poor memory and cognition. The heart is as our mind or known as shen in Eastern Medicine. They are inter-related and both affect the other. It is important to know the root cause to treat correctly and have long-term benefits.

So the mind and body coincide for optimal brain health and function. Heart health which not only comprises the vascular  and circulatory part of the body but emotions, stress management, adaptability, preventing rumination or overthinking all contribute to both cognitive and healthy brain functions to enjoy long-lasting neuro health. Call today for your assessment. Let’s start your journey to optimal health. 772-353-1397