A Proactive Approach to Brain Health
by Mark J. Kaylor
A lot of health-related articles offer up the kitchen sink approach of possible remedies. This often leaves the reader confused and overwhelmed. Because of the nature of dementia and the loss of one’s mental faculties, I will focus this article on several speciﬁc lifestyle choices that may provide you with the biggest impact. Many of us have concerns about the possibility of losing our memory, or even worse, being diagnosed with dementia.
Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, entails the growing loss of one’s personality, memories and the gradual loss of self, as it progresses. It is a “stealth” disease; developing slowly over many years, even decades. Further complicating this disorder is the fact that there is currently no acknowledged effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, a condition that saw a tenfold increase in the 20th century in the over 65 age group.
Thwarting our efforts to understand and treat these conditions is the multiplicity of causes that involve numerous processes in the body. For these reasons, effective prevention and treatment protocols that make the most sense are ones that entail multiple interventions in a holistic approach.
First, I’d like to dispel what I feel is an impacting ‘myth’ when it comes to age-related mental decline. While most sources consider aging a cause of our mental decline, I think this is a big mistake. Aging is associated with mental decline, not because it is a cause, but because it is associated with decades of poor diet, chronically high stress levels, oxidative stress, chronic systemic inﬂammation, lack of exercise and movement and more. Each of these are contributing factors in the development of neuro-degenerative disorders.
Depressing and overwhelming…I know. But there is good news. More and more evidence is coming to light that the choices we make can signiﬁcantly reduce our risk of losing our memory, or developing dementia. The remedies I will present to you each ﬁt this need by working in several ways and in a holistic manner.
Help From an Unlikely Source
There is one product that tops my list for supporting brain health and memory. It comes from a mushroom called Lion’s Mane. The story begins in the early 80s, when researchers were able to slow and even reverse Alzheimer’s progression by pumping Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) directly into a woman’s brain — a treatment that unfortunately is both impractical and exorbitantly expensive. This began the search for compounds that crossed the blood brain barrier and would stimulate the body’s own production of NGF.
This search led to the discovery of compounds in the Lion’s Mane mushroom, called hericenones, which effectively stimulate NGF production in the brain for the prevention of buildup of amyloid beta plaque, as well as the enhanced clearance of already existing formations. Human clinical studies found that these compounds in Lion’s Mane improved memory, mood, balance, perception, functional independence and quality of life.
The discovery of another compound in Lion’s Mane mushroom, Amyloban®, brought the added action of protecting healthy brain cells from damage associated with amyloid beta plaque buildup. These compounds gather together in a unique extraction and product called Amyloban 3399.
Exhibiting broader holistic activity as well, Lion’s Mane can strengthen the digestive tract, help with sleep, boost immune health and may improve overall energy and mood. In my practice I’ve seen consistent positive beneﬁts for those with concerns about their aging brain.
Ancient Remedies, Modern Medicines
While Lion’s Mane represents a new use for an old remedy, these next two herbal allies have both been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. First up is an herb known as Brahmi, more commonly called Bacopa in the West. Bacopa has been shown to balance dopamine production levels, which invigorate the mental processes, create a feeling of calm peacefulness, reduce stress and anxiety, as well as enhance brain communication, focus, learning, and memory. A human clinical study involving the elderly with memory issues saw improvements in attention and verbal memory after use for three months (450 mg daily).
This next herb is the hottest herb in the US market today, Turmeric. This common spice, widely used in curry, is a potent antioxidant and anti-inﬂammatory agent, with neuroprotective actions. Research on an active compound in this herb has found that it can decrease amyloid beta plaque, delay degradation of nerve cells, and speciﬁcally reduce inﬂammation in the brain caused by overactive microglia cells, now thought to be a leading cause of inﬂammation in the brain.
The Ubiquitous Compound
While this compound may be unfamiliar to many of us, it certainly is not to the cells in your body. Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid found in every cell. Approximately half of the body’s total amount of PS is found in the brain. PS may increase neurotransmitters, thereby enhancing memory, as well as improving communication of brain cells. A double-blind crossover study with Alzheimer’s patients taking 300 mg of PS daily for eight weeks saw overall improvement in well-being. A second study of 70 patients who likely had Alzheimer’s, consumed 200 mg twice a day, resulting in short-term improvements in memory. Two other placebo-controlled studies with older patients experiencing age-related memory decline saw memory, mood and cognition improvements. Other research has found PS to possibly beneﬁt Parkinson’s disease, ADHD and depression.
Putting It All Together
The question that almost always comes up is; “How much of this do I have to do?” The answer to this is simple — the more you do, the better. While serious cognitive disorders are extraordinarily difﬁcult to treat, the good news is that there now seems little doubt that our choices can dramatically impact the health, vitality and function of our brain, even as we get older. However, it requires a proactive approach; one that starts as early as possible. So begin today following your path to a healthier brain.
Mark J Kaylor
Mark J. Kaylor has been exploring holistic health and healing for close to four decades. He is the founder and director of the not-for-proﬁt Radiant Health Project. Mark welcomes your comments and questions and can be contacted at his website: www.RadiantHealthProject.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/RadiantHealthProject