Search Term: " Huperzine "
How Huperzine Helps With Memory
Memory refers to the process by which information is encoded, stored and retrieved when required. Encoding makes information from the outside world to be sensed in form of physical and chemical stimuli. In the first stage, information has to be changed in order to be put into the encoding process. Storage is the process by which the information is maintained over duration of time. The third of final stage is the retrieval process where the information stored is returned back to the consciousness.
One of the major problems that many people undergo is memory loss. This is a condition in which a person cannot recall information or events that they would be able to remember in normal circumstances. One of the most effective ways to help improve memory is by taking Huperzine. This is a drug that has proven to help boost memory and learning.
Here are some of the ways on how Huperzine help with memory:
1. Boost the level of acetylcholine
Acetylcholine is a very important transmitter in the brain responsible for carrying out several functions including those associated to memory and cognition. It is released into the space between two cells, where it then stimulates nerve impulses from one cell to the other. When acetylcholine fails to work effectively, several types of brain dysfunction occurs. A shortage of acetylcholine is known to be the common cause of memory loss, decreased intelligence and learning ability. Huperzine helps in reducing the breakdown of acetylcholine and boost the duration and strength of nerve impulse. It makes the neurotransmitter more available leading to better memory and improved overall brain functioning.
2. Protection against free radicals
Huperzine offers protection against free radicals that are known to be the major cause of modern diseases. It decreases the activity of heightened free radical activity in the brain. This goes a long way in reducing the risk of having memory loss. It has also proved to be effective in helping adolescents improve their learning abilities and memories.
Improve Your Memory Naturall, How Does Huperzine A Help Improve Memory?
March 26, 2011 10:47 AM
Huperzine A and The Brain
Huperzine A is an organic compound naturally occurring in a plant species believed to be one of the oldest vascular plants still in existence. It is derived entirely from the firmoss Huperzia serrata, which is reputed for its memory-enhancing effects in China for the most part of its history. It has gained the attention of researchers and health professionals in the West owing to its purported role as a cholinesterase inhibitor, which delays cognitive decline and brain shrinkage tied to Alzheimer’s disease. It has become popular to people seeking other forms of cholinesterase inhibitors apart from those commonly available in the market, and anecdotal evidence points to its noticeable effects on symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Increases Quantities of Neurotransmitters
Cholinergic neurotransmission makes use of a system of nerve cells that participate in anti-excitatory activities in the central nervous system. These neurons rely on an endogenous compound called acetylcholine, which acts as the primary neurotransmitter in the brain, the brain stem, and the spinal cord. Acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter is synthesized from esterified acetic acid and choline, but its lifespan is cut short by the enzyme cholinesterase.
This enzyme induces the hydrolysis of this neurotransmitter back into choline and acetic acid. Huperzine A works on the principle of inhibiting the enzyme cholinesterase, resulting in a longer acetylcholine lifespan especially those in the brain. By doing so, it also raises the levels of other neurotransmitters that are in the employ of nerve cells.
Affects Chemical Compounds in the Brain
Nerve cells constantly respond to many chemical brains that may induce more neuronal activities that affect cognitive function. The busier nerve cells become, the sooner the brain is able to sustain concentration. An increase in neurotransmitters has been tied to greater neuronal activities. Also, there are exogenous chemical compounds that when ingested pass the blood-brain barrier and act as stimulants to nerve cells, such as caffeine.
It has been postulated that Huperzine A provides a nootropic effects by influencing endogenous brain chemicals and consequently stimulating neuronal activities in a similar way caffeine does. However, unlike caffeine, it is not considered a psychoactive drug. More importantly, a more recent study points to its effects on nerve growth factor, or NGF, a protein responsible for the growth and upkeep of nerve cells. This means Huperzine A not only influences brain chemicals, but also makes sure that nerve cells survive.
Creates Positive Effects on Neuroplasticity
In contrary to former claims that the brain does not change after early developments during infancy, recent studies point to changes in both chemical makeup and cellular structure as we age. These changes are a response to both physiological stimulus and learning experience. New nerve cells are created as we spend more time sharpening our mental skills, much like how the muscles respond to continuous exercise and body toning. This process of change in the brain is called neuroplasticity, which Huperzine A supports by acting as a vitamin-like nutrient to nerve cells and neurotransmitters.
If you want to improve brain function and memory, give Huperzine A a try today!
March 23, 2009 01:56 PM
Our memory is as natural to us as breathing. An ability we all have, but don’t often think of, it doesn’t seem to cross our mind until we perceive that we are losing the ability. Memory lapses are an annoyance in themselves, but the anxiety that often comes along with them seems to be even worse. We often wonder if our memory problems are a symptom of some other problem like midlife depression, arteriosclerosis, or even Alzheimer’s disease. Although Alzheimer’s disease is a fairly common disorder among older people, one must realize that most memory lapses have nothing to do with Alzheimer’s disease.
Generally, it is believed that increasing age brings about an increased likelihood of developing memory loss. The mildest form of this illness is called age-associated memory impairment. This is characterized by one’s perception of his or her own memory loss and it is estimated that it is experienced by 40 percent of Americans over the age of sixty-five. Not all memory loss is attributable to aging, as occasional memory lapses are a natural normal part of life at almost any age, and are not likely to precede serious memory loss. With a proper diet, nutrition, and memory use, the memory should remain sharp and active well into one’s nineties or beyond.
One big reason why people suffer from memory loss is an insufficient supply of necessary nutrients to the brain. The life of the body is in the blood, as it literally feeds and nourishes every cell within our bodies. Only certain substances are allowed to pass from the bloodstream into the brain, thanks to the protective envelope that is known as the blood-brain barrier. If the blood is thick with cholesterol and triglycerides, the amount of nutrient-rich blood that can pass through the blood-brain barrier decreases. This can result in the brain becoming malnourished over time.
The functioning of the brain also depends upon substances that are referred to as neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals that act as electrical switches in the brain and are responsible for all the functions of the body. If the brain does not have an adequate supply of neurotransmitters, or the nutrients to make them, it starts to develop something similar to a power failure or a short circuit. If you are trying to recall as specific fact or piece of information and your mind goes blank, it is likely that the above “short circuit” has occurred.
There are many other factors that are involved in the deterioration of the memory. One of the most important is exposure to free radicals, which can cause huge amounts of damage if the memory is unchecked. Alcoholics and drug addicts often suffer a great deal of memory loss, with alcoholics being notorious for huge memory gaps that occur even though they are conscious. Allergies, candidiasis, stress, thyroid disorders, and poor circulation to the brain can also contribute to memory loss, while hypoglycemia can play a role in memory loss as well, as the brain requires that the level of glucose in the blood fall within a specific narrow range. Wide swings in blood sugar levels affect brain function and memory.
The following nutrients are beneficial in dealing with and preventing memory loss: acetylcholine, boron, DMAE, garlic, Huperzine A, lecithin granules, manganese, multivitamin and mineral complex, omega-3 fatty acid complex, phosphatidyl choline, phosphatidyl serine, SOD, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin B3, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, acetyl-l-carnitine, l-glutamine, l-tyrosine, coenzyme Q10, DHEA, DMG, melatonin, NADH, pregnenolone, RNA and DNA, Brahmi, ginkgo biloba, anise, blue cohosh, ginseng, gotu kola, and rosemary.
All of the above mentioned as well as formulas tailored to help improve memory can be found in capsule, table, or power forms. Remember, only look to name brands such as Solaray, Source Naturals and Natures Plus for quality products. Memory vitamins and herbs can be found at your local or internet health food store.
*Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Vitamins and herbs are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult with your professional health care provider before changing any medication or adding Vitamins to medications.
Huperzine And Memory
December 04, 2008 01:20 PM
Chinese club moss goes by the name Huperzia serrata, and gives its name to the sesquiterpene alkaloid it contains: Huperzine A. This alkaloid has been found to be a superstar in the arena of brain-saving treatments for conditions such as Alzheimer's and age-related senility. Studies in China have found up to 60% improvements in the cognitive functions of such patients, and its potential has been recorded in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This is no mere folk remedy, and is the subject of serious study.
Known as Qian Ceng Ta, Chinese club moss has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries for the treatment of fever and inflammation, which is not surprising considering that most plants contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. However, what is unusual is the fact that it has also been found effective in treating some forms of dementia and depression, and also helps to reduce the incidence of panic attacks in those susceptible to them.
Not only that, but the plant has been found to possess diuretic properties, and a reduction in the swelling associated with water retention could also help to reduce the pain and other effects of swelling and inflammation. However, for now it is its effect on the brain that we are concerned, and research has indicated the likely mechanism by which Huperzine A works.
Huperzine is an enzyme inhibitor - specifically inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase that breaks down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in the processes of memory, learning and mood. Outside the brain, it is involved in the movement of skeletal muscle tissue as well as in the regulation of cardiac and other smooth muscles such as those of the blood vessels.
When acetylcholinesterase (AChE) attacks acetylcholine (ACh), the latter attaches to a chemical site on the enzyme where it is then destroyed. It is a deliberate function of the body, designed to terminate a synaptic transmission. The purpose of a neurotransmitter is to allow the transmission of an electrical impulse form one nerve cell to another over a gap between them known as a synapse. Once the transmission has been completed, the enzyme can destroy the neurotransmitter, and then another takes its place. In fact one molecule of AChE can destroy around 5,000 molecules of ACh.
However, with age and for other reasons, these neurotransmitters can become depleted so that it becomes increasingly more difficult for brain cells to communicate with each other, and their destruction becomes undesirable. There are drugs available to help prevent this happening (e.g. donepezil, galantamine and tacrine), and so help to improve the memory and mental function of people as they grow older or contract conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
Huperzine A has been found to take up the site in the acetylcholinesterase molecule that would normally have been used by the acetylcholine, and so save it from destruction. The more Huperzine A molecules present, the more acetylcholine available to pass messages between brain cells, and the stronger the cognitive function of the subject or patient. The pharmaceutical drugs mentioned in the previous paragraph work in exactly the same way.
This is a very specific reaction, one molecule adopting exactly the same space as the other, and has been proved scientifically by comparing the physical shapes of the two molecules. It's just like a jigsaw puzzle, where only one piece can fit into each position. Except here there are two: Huperzine A and acetylcholine both fit into the exact same place in the chemical structure of the acetylcholinesterase molecule.
The biochemistry of the reactions involved is very complex, and shall not be discussed here, but the upshot is that Huperzine A can do exactly the same job as modern drugs to avoid this hydroxylation of the ACh needed for the proper functioning of your brain.
In fact, clinical trials have indicated Huperzine A not only to be comparable in effect to the drugs current used, but also likely safer with respect to the possible side effects. This has still to be confirmed, but the National Institute on Aging is currently carrying out a trial to evaluate this claim in tandem with its effect on Alzheimer's disease. It has also been examined at Harvard University for its effect on epilepsy on patients with whom alternative pharmaceutical treatments have been unsuccessful.
Another suggested benefit of Huperzine A is that it is an NMDA (N-methyl D-aspartate) receptor antagonist that provides protection against damage to the brain by an excess of glutamates, and that it can also help to protect nerve cells from damage. Since NDMA is responsible for the transmission of some types of pain, the antagonist can also act as an analgesic.
There are other benefits that Chinese club moss can provide, and myasthenia gravis is one of them. Although relatively rare, this is a serious condition in which acetylcholine receptors are deactivated on muscle cells. This is achieved through the autoimmune system malfunctioning and creating antibodies against the receptors, and the end result is paralysis and respiratory failure.
Huperzine A reduces the AChE available and so might possibly enable the acetylcholine to work more effectively and delay or even stop the deterioration of muscle function. When people hear of muscle paralysis they frequently forget that breathing requires muscle function, as indeed does your heartbeat. This is currently surmise, and studies are being carried out to determine whether or not this usage of Huperzine A is viable.
Another promising application of Chinese club moss extract is in preventing organophosphate poisoning. These pesticides permanently suppress acetylcholine. This results in seizures due to a lack of interruption of the signals from nerves to muscles. The seizures can result in rapid death from uncontrollable seizures, or from permanent contraction of the diaphragm muscle that allows breathing. Although no human studies have yet been carried out, animals given Huperzine A prior to organophosphate exposure have survived without seizures.
There are no doubts that Chinese club moss and the Huperzine A extracted from it are effective in preventing the suppression of acetylcholine, and in permitting the proper activity of this important neurotransmitter. It is finding an increasing number of potential uses beneficial to the human body, not the least of which would be a partial remedy for some of the effects of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Enhancer for Youthful Vitality
June 16, 2005 08:20 PM
NEW PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENT
Enhancer for Youthful Vitality
Five tablets contain:
Suggested Use: 5 tablets before exercise and/or at bedtime with plenty of water at least two hours after the last meal. Discontinue use or reduce dosage if any of the following symptoms are present: nausea, excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle spasms, cramps, excessive urination, insomnia, headache, cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure, or changes in mood or emotional balance.
Thanks for the Memory
June 11, 2005 03:49 PM
Thanks for the Memory by Estelle Sobel , February 6, 2002
Thanks for the Memory By Estelle Sobel
"I feel like every day, I lose my memory more and more. It started when I couldn't find my car keys, sometimes I forget directions. My mother has Alzheimer's so I'm concerned," says Jerry Solowitz, a 63 year old man.
Ellen Lerner, 37, sometimes worries that she can't keep track of everything in her job as a public relations executive. "I feel like stress can get to me easily, and I worry because I forget simple things like where I put a file."
Should these people be concerned?
"Yes," says Lynda Toth, Ph.D., co-author with Pavel Yutsis, M.D., of Why Can't I Remember? Reversing Memory Loss (Avery, 1999).
Jerry should start a specific program with a health practitioner who specializes in memory loss, due to lots of unsuspected new causes for memory dysfunction. Ellen needs to make lifestyle changes, as stress can definitely lead to memory loss.
"Cortisol, which is one of the stress hormones, can be harmful because it keeps calcium in the memory pathway too long and destroys the neurons, which is very damaging to the brain," notes Toth.
Why Does Memory Fail?
Memory fails for several reasons, says Augustine DiGiovanna, M.D., author of Human Aging: Biological Perspectives, (McGraw-Hill 2000), and Professor of Biology at Salisbury State University in Salisbury, MD.
Normal Aging: Much of diminished memory as we age is due to reduced blood flow to the brain from atherosclerosis, which is hardening and narrowing of the arteries. Decreased blood flow causes neurons to shrink and function less effectively.
Also, as we age we lose neurons and neuron connections that can lead to memory loss. So the way people think, how much they remember, and the mental activities they do determine how many brain cells survive through the years.
Finally, as people live longer, the chance is greater that the body's immune system and other defense mechanisms won't be able to protect against certain diseases that affect the brain and memory (Parkinson's, strokes, Alzheimers, atherosclerosis).
A Starving Brain: The brain is not getting fed the nutrients it needs (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, glucose). Without the right "food" the brain's energy levels become lowered and stop powering the memory cells. Then, free radicals can do more dirty work and continue to rust memory cells.
Drink And Sink: Alcohol passes through the blood-brain barrier and slows down the processing of information between memory neurons. Memory loss increases over time, as memory tissues shrink.
Sad Stories: Depression can imbalance the neurotransmitters and electrical charges of neurons.
Tense and Tight: High blood pressure can constrict and narrow blood vessels, limiting blood and oxygen flow to the brain.
One way to boost brain power is to take the right supplements.
Ginkgo biloba: The powerful medicinal herb ginkgo biloba increases blood flow and circulation to the head by dilating blood vessels in the brain, allowing more oxygenated blood to get to the neurons. It also protects against free radical damage.
Research: Ginkgo biloba extract displayed a significant effect on helping the mental abilities of people 50-59 years old (Phytotherapy Research 13, 1999: 408-415).
Pregnenolone: This powerful hormone regulates the balance between excitation and inhibition in the nervous system and helps enhance memory and brain function, possibly by repairing a fatty substance that is part of the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve cells. Research: A St. Louis University School of Medicine study on mice showed that pregnenolone enhanced memory and helped mice to navigate mazes better.
Huperzine A: This herbal supplement is derived from club moss found in China; in purified form it inhibits the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that you need for memory.
Research: Studies conducted by Alan Mazurek, M.D., found that Huperzine A in purified form improves memory, enhances focus and concentration and has been used to improve memory loss in Alzheimer's patients (Alt. Ther. in Health Med. 5 , March 1999: 97-98).
Another study in The Journal of Neuroscience Research showed that Huperzine A is a potent inhibitor of cholinesterase, which penetrates the brain and produces a dose-dependent increase of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine, norepinephrine and dopamine in rat cortex (41, 1995: 828-835).
Phosphatidylserine (PS): This substance, which occurs naturally in nerve cell membranes, helps keep fatty substances soluble and cell membranes fluid and helps reduce levels of cortisone which are damaging to tissues.
Research: Phosphatidylserine encourages a sense of calm by raising the levels of alpha brain waves and increasing the production of acetylcholine (Neuropsychobiology 24, 1990-1991: 42-48).
Vitamin E: This potent antioxidant attaches to bad cholesterol and helps prevent free radical damage to cells.
Research: Age-related processes like memory function and problem solving can be affected by free radical damage. Several studies show that vitamin E might slow the effects of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease (JAMA 282, August 18, 1999: 621). Acetyl-l-carnitine: Increases cognitive performance because it rejuvenates cellular membranes of mitochondria, the storehouses of energy contained in every living cell.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Preserves memory tissue by increasing glutathione levels, which protect fat stores in neurons from being damaged.
Nine Ways to Remember
Dr. Lynda Toth suggests the following ways to make the most of what you've now got.
1) Power Up Your Smile. Remove dental fillings and replace them with porcelain or ceramic ones. The mercury in metal fillings may be harmful (some believe) and can affect the brain and nervous system, inflaming memory tissue and preventing the entry of nutrients into the cells.
2) Don't Be a Tin Man/Woman Avoid exposure to aluminum. Don't use aluminum pots to cook in. Aluminum accumulates in memory tissue, damaging cells. In fact, autopsies of Alzheimers patients show they have unusually huge amounts of aluminum in the brain. But no one knows where this aluminum comes from.
3) Eat Right. Eat organic and pesticide-free foods. Pesticides get into the cells and can damage DNA.
4) A Matter of Taste. Avoid foods with artificial coloring, monosodium glutamate (MSG, often called "natural flavors" or "natural seasoning"). Also avoid processed foods with taste enhancers called exito toxins such as l-cysteine and aspartic acid.
5) In the Raw. Make sure that your diet consists of enzyme-rich 50% raw foods (fruits and vegetables) to feed the brain. Eat less animal fats.
* Drink green juices to support levels of the brain's clean-up enzymes.
*Eat lots of fiber, which helps remove toxins from the body. Pick up psyllium fiber.
*Limit intake of processed sugar, caffeine and alcohol to lessen the load on the liver and pancreas.
6) Cut Bait. Watch the fish that you eat. Lots of ocean and inland-caught fish are contaminated with mercury. Go for deep, cold water fish such as cod. Avoid shark and swordfish.
7). Oil Up. Supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acids, such as cod liver oil or flaxseed oil. These fats lubricate memory cells.
8) Work That Body. Stay fit and exercise. Exercise helps oxygenate the body, reduces cholesterol, and builds and energizes new memory cells which reduces wear and tear on the brain function.
9) Do Mind Games. Read, listen to music. Tune into different radio stations than the ones you normally listen to. Do crossword puzzles and a wide selection of word games which can stretch your brain and give it a tough workout.
Student of Life
You need to keep learning your whole life to keep your brain and memory in tip top shape. The brain is adaptable, and you are always building new neurons, says Dr. Toth, which means that there is no limit to how long it can develop. Anything that stimulates the brain will help it to grow. That's why as you get older it's even more important to take classes, start a new hobby, travel. In fact, the challenge of learning and doing new things (without stopping in a fit of frustration) causes your brain to grow, says Dr. Mazurek.
The Good News
As people get older, their brains may actually improve and repair themselves through a complicated process that is designed to eliminate faulty neurons that are prone to making mistakes. At the same time, brain activity goes on that results in the development of new and improved connections with neighboring neurons.
Research also shows that memory improves if you train people to have faith in themselves. (The brain helps those who help themselves.) Apparently, a confident perspective can encourage the brain to actually improve to the point where its new-found abilities may increase to the point where it fulfills expectations.
So keep your chin up and stay away from the artery-clogging saturated fat that can cut off the brain's blood supply. It's all in the attitude, says Dr. DiGiovanna. And, of course, the key to a long and happy life with your brain is also on the end of your fork and in that bottle of supplements.
Estelle Sobel, is the co-author of Beautiful Skin: Every Woman's Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age (Adams Media, May 2000).
Improove Memory ...
June 09, 2005 05:49 PM
Mesmerizing Memory by Cal Orey Energy Times, January 1, 1999
In the 60s, the same rock 'n' rollers who belted out "One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small," often espoused the belief that certain pills could expand the mind. While counter-culture pill purveyors were pilloried for their pill-popping claims, 90s nutritional research has uncovered a stash of supplements that may amplify mental improvement.
Like a blues singer bending a high note, researchers are now humming with dramatic assertions that certain nutritional supplements can sustain and enhance concentration and memory function. For instance, studies reveal possible benefits for cognitive powers from vitamin C, magnesium and Ginkgo biloba. A recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 278:1327-1332) said that an extract of Ginkgo biloba "can stabilize and, in some cases, improve the cognitive function and social behavior of demented patients."
A researcher in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences noted that a daily dose of vitamin E may "help protect the brain and its memories from the ravages of time." And the beat goes on: other evidence indicates that zinc, iron and boron may pump up short-term memory attention span and cut the time it takes to perform mental tasks.
Lester Packer, PhD, professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, told a joint 1996 United Nations-World Health Organization conference on Aging that "there is a growing body of evidence indicating that the free radical theory of aging and aging-related disease is valid," and that dietary and supplemental antioxidants can help fight illness and mental deterioration.
Vitamin E and other memory aids are believed to protect brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, "the ferrymen of the brain's communication system," that influence concentration and memory. Experts say that sustaining the level of these nerve chemicals in the brain can potentially improve all mental processes.
Too much alcohol, for example, commonly causes progressive mental decline, according to Secrets of the Superyoung (Villard) by David Weeks and Jamie James. The authors also point out that "the memory tends to worsen noticeably after 15 years of alcohol drinking, and much sooner in people who go on massive binges."
"The effects of cigarette smoke are subtler because the poisonous effects of carbon monoxide in each puff are temporarily offset by the alerting effects of the nicotine," they add. Can't remember the name of that singer cavorting in a music video? Tests have shown that smokers are worse at connecting peoples' names to their faces than nonsmokers.
n Learn something new: A second language, musical instrument, or unique puzzles and games keep neurons working like new.
n Turn off the TV: Read. Studies show that passively watching TV requires less concentration than eating cereal. Mental rejuvenation also requires physical activity. Exercise increases oxygen flow to the brain, which supports memory, concentration and cognition. One study has shown that exercise significantly brightened the moods of middle-aged and older women, regardless of whether they were pre- or post-menopausal, with or without hormone replacement therapy.
Supplemental Brain Help
Antioxidants, including the previously mentioned vitamin E (You haven't forgotten vitamin E already, have you?), provide crucial help for vigorous cerebral function. The free radicals created by tobacco smoke, air pollution, ultraviolet light and certain carcinogenic chemicals deconstruct cell membranes and may foster microscopic brain cell havoc. Antioxidant enzymes convert free radicals to more neutral, benign substances and nutritional antioxidants can neutralize free radicals by linking up with them.
Vitamin C, a brainy antioxidant all star, performs so well that, according to Dr. Khalsa, its levels in the brain are almost 15 times higher than in other parts of the body. This nutrient, he asserts, aids mental and physical longevity. In a UCLA study, people who ingested at least 300 mg of vitamin C daily lived more than six years longer than those who ingested less.
Added to this mix, magnesium also scavenges free-radicals, according to Dr. Khalsa. Plus, experts recommend grape seed extract (phytochemicals that protect a wide range of cellular structures) to safeguard nerve cells and mental capacity.
B Vitamins for the Mind
Boron plays a crucial part in mental function. Scientists at the USDA's Human Nutrition Research Center have linked boron deficiencies to chronic lethargy and fatigue. In brain studies, they found that the electrical activity of the gray matter in the boron deficient indicated increased drowsiness and mental sluggishness.
HupA basically protects the brain from free radical damage (due to low levels of antioxidant defenses) and maintains or enhances crucial neurotransmitter action. More specifically, HupA helps reduce the breakdown of acetylcholine, the vital neurotransmitter, and makes this substance more bioavailable. In addition, HupA helps make choline accessible to the brain for the synthesis of acetylcholine, according to a study in Neuropharmacology (30, 1991: 763-768).
Normally, the brain manufactures sufficient levels of the chemical phosphatidylserine, a lecithin-derivative that helps boost neurotransmitter release, but deficiencies of vitamin B12 and folic acid, or of essential fatty acids, may retard that production. Low levels of phosphatidylserine in the brain are related to impaired mental function and depression in the elderly. Scientists reporting in Aging (5, 1993; 123-33) describe "good results" using phosphatidylserine in the treatment of age-related cognitive ills.
Ginkgo Brain Power
Another ingredient in what seems like an alphabet-soup of brain nourishment is DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fat essential for normal brain function. Researchers met recently at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center's Nutrition Information Center to discuss "Keeping Your Brain in Shape: New Insights into DHA." Their findings revealed links between low levels of DHA and Alzheimer's, depression, memory loss, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and certain behavioral traits including aggression and hostility.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health point out, however, that fish is an excellent dietary source of DHA. In their studies, they discovered that depression rates in Japan and Taiwan, where fish ranks a top spot on the menu, are significantly lower than in North America and Europe.
DHA also is crucial to the neurological development of children, according to findings published in Pediatrics (vol. 101, no. 1, January 1998). Researchers suggest that DHA-rich breast milk should be the model for infant formulas that enhance babies' neurological development. Scientists also have correlated some behavioral problems in children-ADHD, for example-to DHA deficiencies.
If you are a vegetarian, or have other cause for concern about a potential lack of DHA in your diet, you can rely on dietary supplementation of DHA. Bruce J. Holub, PhD, of the University of Guelph in Canada provided vegetarians in his research project with DHA supplements over a 42-day period and substantially increased their DHA blood levels.
The bottom line to enhanced mental performance is to take a balanced approach, says Robert Snider, MD, who specializes in preventive medicine in Massena, New York. "Maintaining brain power includes exercise, stress reduction and good nutrition." The message to keep in mind: Don't lose your nutritional balance or you could lose a piece of your peace of mind.
Recommended Reading: & Brain Builders (Reward Books, 1995), by Richard Leviton.
Brain Longevity (Warner Books, 1997), by Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD.
Omega 3 Oils to Improve Mental Health, Fight Degenerative Diseases and Extend Life (Avery, 1996), by Donald Rudin, MD, and Clara Felix.
Successful Aging (Pantheon, 1998), by John W. Rowe, MD, and Robert L. Kahn, PhD.