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Memory and Concentration

Exam stress, a fuzzy head, poor focus or slow recall of information can be frustrating & stressful. Many people lack clarity of thought & have poor memory for a variety of different reasons such as nutrient deficiencies, poor circulation to the brain, age and high stress levels to name a few! This doesn’t mean this should be considered ‘normal’; there are many natural remedies which can be used short or long term to assist with sharpening the memory & clearing the head to assist focus and concentration during exams and presentations.  Bacopa, Brahmi and Gingko are ancient herbs which are well known for their abilities to assist memory & concentration, while Withania & Ginseng improve performance during times of Stress. Choosing a combination of these herbs with the addition of nutrients for the nervous system will assist with exam preparation & improving cognition.

Adults & children alike will benefit from Omega 3 – a nutrient imperative for proper functioning of the nervous system which is often depleted by long term Stress. Omega 3 is found in certain species of fish such as salmon, tuna, anchovies & sardines as well as vegetarian sources such as Flaxseed oil & Chia seeds. Ideally we are able to maintain our Omega 3 levels from a varied, whole food diet however due to factors such as polluted waters, heavy metal levels in fish, & poor quality supply, coupled with the modern day tendency to higher stress levels & poor absorption of nutrients most people will find that dietary sources alone are not enough. Supplementation ensures a high dose with no risk of heavy metal contamination; this will improve the nervous system’s ability to cope with stress & balance moods as well as aid information recall & concentration.

Magnesium is an important nutrient during exams or periods of increased stress as it calms the nerves. This is particularly important for those who suffer from nervousness or an inability to sleep. Best results are achieved when these nutrients are supplemented over a period of time as the results are cumulative & improve as the deficiency decreases.

To calm the nerves and aid cognition in the short term, homeopathics such as the Brauer Focus spray are very beneficial. Many people find the Focus Spray useful before & during exams, while essential oils such as Peppermint, Rosemary and Basil are fantastic to use in oil burners while studying as they assist memory & recall.

Research Updates - 3 November 2014

Bhutada , P et al (2011), ‘Protection of cholinergic and antioxidant system contributes to the effect of berberine ameliorating memory dysfunction in rat model of streptozotocin-induced diabetes’,   Behavioural Brain Research, Volume 220, Issue 1, pp: 30-41.

Diabetes Mellitus is a condition in which there is often eventual brain damage, producing cognitive difficulty, including trouble with memory and concentration. The reasons behind this are many, including:

-           changes to the central nervous system following long-term high blood sugar,

-          Oxidative damage to the brain,

-          Changes in brain insulin signalling systems,

-          A build-up of advanced glycation end products, and

-          The effects of long-term medication use.

One of the medications associated with cognitive dysfunction is streptozotocin.

This recent trial assessed the effects of berberine on this drug-induced cognitive dysfunction. Berberine is a constituent found in a number of herbs, including goldenseal, barberry and Oregon grape. Chronic treatment was shown here to reduce cognitive deficits and markers of brain damage in diabetic rates. Short-term dosing also helped improve drug-induced changes in behaviour.

If that all got a bit sciencey for you, here is the take-home message.  Berberine seems to be able to prevent decreases in memory and concentration in diabetics, and can help reverse the cognitive decline induced by streptozotocin treatment. If you're on this medication, speak to your Naturopath and some herbs containing berberine.

Vive Health Naturopaths recommend the following products for Memory and Concentration:

Products Suggested Dosage
1. Fusion Green Tea (30 Tabs, 60 Tabs) 1 tab in the morning.
2. Herbs of Gold Memory & Cognition Gold (30 Tabs, 60 Tabs) 1 tab x 2 daily
3. Nutra Life Super Brahmi & Ginkgo Complex (50 Caps, 100 Caps) 1 cap daily with a meal.
4. Herbs of Gold Omega Concentrate (100 caps, 200 caps) 2 caps x 2 daily.
5. Brauer Focus (20ml) Adults: 10mL under the tongue every 1/2 hr for 4 doses. Thereafter, 4 hourly until symptoms abate.
Children 6 to 12 years: 5 mL under the tongue every 1/2 hr for 4 doses.
6. Eco. Aroma Peppermint Pure Essential Oil (10ml) Rub onto temples, or burn in an oil burner.

NOTE: Consideration should always be given to individual requirements. Please consider seeing a qualified practitioner before commencing a new treatment protocol or when combining supplements with pharmaceutical medication.

For more information on Memory and Concentration or to ask a Qualified Naturopath a question Click Here.

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