The following post is #1 in our 4-part series on Memory Loss
Everyone experiences forgetfulness from time to time. Perhaps you’ve walked into a room or opened the fridge to find that you have completely forgotten why you did so, maybe you sometimes forget your PIN number to recall it at a later time, or can’t remember the name of the movie you saw the night before. This type of memory loss is known as short-term memory loss, and it is a common sign of aging, but it may become a cause for concern if these memory lapses become more frequent and are affecting your quality of life.
Dementia is not a disease, but a term used to describe a set of symptoms related to cognitive decline. To be considered dementia, cognitive impairment must affect at least two of the following areas: memory, thinking, language, judgement and behaviour. Dementia usually begins slowly and worsens over time, impacting the persons social interactions, work life and relationships.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia, affecting a staggering 33 million people worldwide. It is often thought that Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented, slowed or even reversed but we now know that this is plain myth.
Causes of Cognitive Decline
Mild memory loss can be linked to stress, anxiety, depression, pain, lack of sleep, lack of exercise or dehydration. Other risk factors for poor memory include:
*Hormones – hypothyroidism and low oestrogen levels
*Environment/toxicity including mercury toxicity
*Metabolic disorders like hypoglycaemia
*Nutrient deficiency including iron, essential fatty acids, B-12 and magnesium
*Chronic inflammation; and
Dementia can be genetic; however, it can also be associated with the following:
*Structural brain disorders
*Traumatic brain injuries
*Chronic alcohol and drug use; and
*Side effects from medications
Cognitive decline is ultimately caused by damage to brain cells specifically, through amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain.
Amyloid plaques are caused when a protein called beta-amyloid aggregates in the spaces between nerve cells. This aggregation causes neurons to die. The degenerated neurons and the aggregated beta-amyloid proteins mix together into a plaque in an attempt to protect the brain from chronic infection and inflammation. These cannot be broken down or removed by the body, so they accumulate in the brain reducing the response of the brain’s chemical messengers. This is known as amyloidosis and is linked to many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s.
Once believed to be a disease of the brain, it is becoming increasing understood that AD is a systemic disease affecting the brain. That discrepancy might seem subtle to most, but it is revolutionary when it comes to approaches to treatment.
Prevention and treatment
It has been estimated that as much as one third of dementia cases could have been prevented through better lifestyle and wellbeing choices.
Diet, vitamin and herb supplementation, exercise, reducing stress, getting enough sleep and avoiding medications that increase the risk of memory loss are great places to start.
*Fatty fish like wild caught salmon
*Olive and coconut oil
*Nuts and seeds, especially walnuts
Vitamin supplementation will also help immensely by adding in some of the compounds that may be missed through regular diet.
The most commonly prescribed supplements for enhancing memory include, choline, lecithin and DMAE.
These all boost acetylcholine levels in the brain. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that allows brain cells to communicate to each other. Depleted levels of acetylcholine can increase the risk of neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s and stroke.
Studies of memory in ancient medicine has been largely overlooked and undervalued until recently. Scientists are now isolating many compounds from traditional Chinese herbs such as Gingko Biloba and Ashwagandha as they can alleviate dementia and neurodegenerative disorders with far fewer side effects than western medicines.
Traditional Chinese medicine regards the health of the kidneys and the spleen as particularly important in reducing the signs of memory loss associated with ageing.
And so, along with diet and lifestyle changes we must also aim to alkalise the body, decrease chronic inflammation and oxidative stress (Alzheimer’s and Dementia are an oxidative stress challenge), and cleanse the four filters – gut, liver immune system, kidneys.
Another cause of memory loss is stagnated traumatic memories from our past that are stored in the brain.
We will go into each of these in more detail in the next email.
The beauty of natural medicine is that it targets the root of the problem instead of just addressing the symptoms.
In a recent study there was enough evidence to suggest that an individualised, systems-based approach that included addressing glycemic regulation through diet and exercise, stress reduction, sleep improvement, gut health support, brain trophic factor support (ie. supporting brain molecules called trophic factors), addressing latent infections, and consideration of toxic burden (e.g., heavy metals) can potentially address neurodegenerative cognitive decline, in some cases increasing hippocampal brain volume from the 17th to the 75th percentile. 
We can make changes now to prevent our typical memory loss progressing into something more serious.
Until next time,
Dedicated to Improving Your Wellbeing and Committed To Helping You Achieve Abundant Health and Wealth,
The team at Unique Health and Wellness.
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