Cognitive Function in Eastern Medicine

Cognitive Function In Eastern Medicine

Holistic Living Blog by Dr. Rachelle Tetreault


According to Eastern Medicine, the Kidney produces marrow and the brain is considered the actual sea of marrow. In order to properly nourish the brain, there needs to be a strong kidney jing (essence). The kidney is also vital in allowing the heart to store the shen  (spirit) or mind. This will help bring clarity and maintain a healthy consciousness affecting both memory and thinking. Consciousness, alertness, and enhanced mental activity can all be improved by working on the energy of the kidney jing.

Often due to stress or overworking, it can be hard to concentrate or remember correctly. Other factors include lack of proper sleep, aging, or multi-tasking. These factors all create a deficiency and lack of nourishment over time. The goals in Eastern Medicine would be to nourish the heart or mind, strengthen and tonify the Kidney jing (essence), and also improve perfusion to the brain.

There are many techniques used to ensure a neuroprotective effect to help both treat and prevent many neurodegenerative disorders. Acupuncture can be used to initiate a circulatory effect to both deliver oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain. This improves blood circulation throughout which leads to a positive cognitive effect. This effect includes improving both memory and cognitive ability. Post-stroke acupuncture is very common in Asia to improve long-term outcomes. However, it is recommended to do at early onset for best results.

Much research has been placed into finding ways to prevent deteriorating brain health. There are many food compounds that have shown promising effects as well to reduce aging neuropathology. Garlic extracts improve memory and focus. Within five weeks, a pinch of garlic powder a day showed positive results. A 12 week study showed that specific probiotics like lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria improved cognition.

The gut and brain are directly linked for overall health in many ways. So it is important to keep a slim waist line and have a healthy digestive system. Other foods have shown to increase hippocampal volume by increasing omega 3s in the blood. More plant-based foods like berries and greens are exceptional for overall cognitive function. Blueberries daily are encouraged in children with attention deficit issues. Decreasing saturated fats found in red meat plays a big role in reducing inflammation of the brain. However, fatty fish as we know is very beneficial for not only brain health but reducing inflammation throughout the body and providing precious minerals. Other foods like whole grains, soy, barley, and a handful of nuts each day are all brain foods.

The ancient tradition of healing foods for cognitive function dates way back to food therapy adapted by our great Sages. For poor concentration, about ½ cup of blueberries should be consumed daily for up to four weeks. To improve memory, a variety of beans made into a soup seasoned with many herbs like thyme, turmeric and rosemary is used daily. Also, a trail mix of dried blueberries, pine nuts, walnuts, pepitas, and goji berries are recommended for both brain health and to improve fertility. Both are affected by kidney essence in Eastern Medicine. Stress, aging, and lack of nourishment affects both brain health and fertility.

There should be a good balance between staying active and resting. Both yin restorative and yang active movement is encouraged. This is healthy for both mind and body. A healthy sleeping habit helps to recall memories by what is called consolidation. A hectic lifestyle can create chronic stress which can lead to poor memory and deficiency of kidney essence and heart blood. Often insomnia is tied into the deterioration of cognitive function. It is recommended that all ages but especially the elderly engage in mentally fulfilling tasks and puzzles.

We know that lecithin found in flax seed oil, soy, and raw wheat germ, (also in egg yolk) is needed for the transmission of nerve impulses for basic cognitive function such as memory. Other food sources can be walnut and sesame seed oil. B vitamins help with spleen energy and are essential for dealing with stress and improving cognitive function. Deficiency of vitamin B has been linked with brain shrinkage (especially B12). Foods such as fish, eggs, nutritional yeast and fortified cereals are good sources of B vitamins.

According to the American Academy of Neurology, people who overeat are twice as likely to develop cognitive decline such as memory problems. This would be adults who eat between 2100 and 6000 calories daily. Interesting data based on research to show our gut affects our mind directly. Hence, lower portions and more quality of foods needed to have optimal brain power as adults specifically.

Taking time for proper breathing, reflection, and rest daily are staples in establishing more consciousness in your overall health. Call today for your journey to optimal health 772-353-1397.