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I Forget If I Have A Memory Problem
by Dave Foreman
While working in my pharmacy, I had a regular customer who came in monthly to purchase her memory pills (lecithin). She would walk in and say, “Dave, I need my memory pills.” Then she would reach down, pick up a bottle, and walk to the register. Several months later, she walked into my store and said, “Dave, I need my memory pills - but forget what they are.” My response was, “You must have been out of them for awhile!” I know that sounds cruel, but she laughed and we figured out what she needed. As our aging population continues to grow, this type of situation will grow, too.
Is your memory going bad because you have too many trains on the track, or because you are in the beginning stages of Age-Related Cognitive Decline (ARCD)? We all expect to lose a bit of our memory as we age. I remember my grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease during my last few years of pharmacy school. It was horrible. ARCD is related to Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia, but the onset is more gradual with ARCD than other forms of cognitive decline. People with ARCD have problems with memory and learning, thinking, use of language, attention and concentration, and many other functions of memory. My advice is if you or a loved one is suspicious of problems with cognition, please consult a qualified health care provider to get a proper diagnosis.
There are many reasons for our memory or thinking to decline, and regretfully, aging can be part of it. There are very sophisticated tests that can be done to see how severe a person’s decline might be. There are a few risk factors that need to be taken into account, too, including age, prior heart attack or heart failure, and being female. Obviously, these are just risk factors, and if you have any of them, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will have issues with ARCD.
Luckily for us, natural medicine offers several approaches to this condition. Let’s take a look at a few dietary changes that can be made to help delay the onset or maybe even prevent it from happening altogether.
First, make sure your diet is high in anti-oxidants. Berries, greens, and red, yellow and orange fruits and veggies are naturally high in antioxidants. Believe it or not, consuming a bit of caffeine can improve your cognitive abilities as well. I would rather have you use tea to get this caffeine, but I am also a realist, and coffee does offer caffeine and other health benefits, when consumed in moderation.
Lifestyle adjustments will also aid in the fight against this slowly developing condition, such as: stopping smoking, increasing exercise, and getting enough rest (all part of my Four Pillars of Great Health). Remember, following my Four Pillars (Supplements, Diet, Activity, and Prayer) will carry you a long way in every health challenge you face.
Let’s move into the supplement side of this condition. Mother Nature offers us a few exciting and science-based alternatives. Taking a supplement of Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) at a dose of 1500 mg per day has shown to significantly improve cognitive function, including memory, mood, and response to other health related issues. The response to ALC has even been shown to last for about a month after use of the supplement is stopped. One of my favorites for nervous system support is Phosphatidyl-serine (PS), or the newest version of PS, Alpha-GPC (Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine). Both provide a key nutrient used in neurotransmitter production (Choline). PS or Alpha GPC are mentioned in all of my recommendations for nervous system support. If you give the body the tools it needs, it will take care of itself. Science has shown that taking PS can significantly improve cognitive function and help a host of other nervous system disorders, including depression.
There are a few newcomers to the block when it comes to improving the symptoms of ARCD: vinpocetine and Huperzine A. Vinpocetine taken in doses of 30 to 60 mg per day has shown to improve the symptoms of those with dementia and cognitive decline. Huperzine A, on the other hand, may require 100-150 mcg taken 2 to 3 times per day to reach the desired effects. Both of these supplements tend to work in the first month to six weeks. As with any supplement program, you will want to allow 60-90 days before deciding if there is improvement.
Finally, it is important to remember that this condition comes on gradually, as opposed to its closely related conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. You need to take a proactive approach by incorporating the lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, etc.) along with your supplement program. Don’t give up. If one supplement doesn’t seem to work, either try a different compound or add something new. Also consult with your health care provider for additional assistance and recommendations.