Five Ways to Sharpen Your Memory

Five Ways to Sharpen Your Memory

Memory is the process by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved when necessary. Memory is important as it helps to retain information from the past and use it for present and future actions. Loss of memory is termed as forgetfulness or amnesia.

Three important brain centers involved with memory are the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, and the amygdala. The hippocampus is also involved with spatial memory. The amygdala is associated with emotional memory, and the prefrontal cortex is important for cognitive functions such as language, speech, decision making, and executing function.

Memory declines as a natural process of aging. Sometimes conditions like dementia, brain trauma, or repeated stress can also affect memory. Memory loss can range from simple forgetfulness to major diseases memory loss in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease where people cannot manage day-to-day tasks with ease, and it affects their functioning.

‘A healthy and balanced lifestyle, including nutritious food, regular exercise, no smoking, and ample sleep, can positively influence memory. Socializing with people and not getting stressed will also improve brain health and prevent memory loss.’
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Some people are, however, able to stay mentally sharp. A good lifestyle with a healthy diet, regular exercise, no smoking, and ample sleep can positively affect memory. The brain should be challenged continuously with stimulating activities such as puzzles, learning a new language, or learning to play a new musical instrument.

Research has also shown that interacting with people has a positive psychological impact and improved brain health. Social interaction helps to keep stress and depression at bay, which sharpens the brain and might prevent memory loss.

Some techniques might that might help in sharpening memory are:

Walking Backward

Walking backward encourages the mind to go backward in time. This helps to retrieve memories with ease. This suggests a link between time and space. Researchers at the University of Roehampton confirmed the theory conducted an experiment where people were shown a list of words, and pictures, or a staged video of a handbag bag stolen from a woman.

The people were then instructed to walk either forward or backward across a room in time. In each of the pictures, words, or staged video tests, those who walked backwards remembered more.

This experiment shows that when people remember a past event, it is reconstructed in the reverse order in our minds. On seeing an object, the details like patterns, and colors are observed first and then the function. But while trying to remember the object, the function is first recalled and then the details.


Drawing out a piece of information, rather than writing it down, helps to recall information more easily. Drawing also made a big difference in people with dementia. This is because while drawing out the information, people consider in more detail and this deeper processing helps to recall information with more accuracy.

Right Exercise at the Right Time

Regular aerobic exercise such as running can improve memory. Brain health improves considerably when the body is active as it improves blood flow, metabolism, and improves brain structure and function. While learning something new, a one-off bout of exertion might help boost memory, especially if combined with the right timing. Training right before learning something new helps in remembering better.

Not Doing Anything

Sometimes, doing nothing also helps to enhance memory. In an experiment, people who suffered from amnesia as a result of stroke were asked to memorize a list of 15 words. Some of them were asked to do some tasks after that, while others had to sit in a darkened room, doing nothing. Those who engaged in some activity were only able to recall 14% pf the original list of words while those who sat idle recalled 49/5 of the words.

In healthy people, a short break taken after learning something preserved memory up to a week later.


Taking a quick nap helps to consolidate memories by replaying or reactivating the acquired information . this technique worked best among people who are used to taking regular afternoon naps.

Stress hormones can damage the hippocampus, which is a memory center, and cause memory loss. Taking seven to eight hours of sleep is very important for brain and body.

Source: Medindia


Smart Drugs Revealed – Here’s What You Need to Know

Smart Drugs Revealed – Here’s What You Need to Know

Whether you are a college student that has an exam coming up or a busy professional who is striving for a promotion, the idea of being able to take something that can boost your brainpower and intelligence is very appealing. It may seem like something out of a science-fiction movie, but smart drugs are being used worldwide by people looking for a boost in mental and physical performance.

Smart drugs often referred to as “nootropics”, are classified as pharmaceutical substances taken with the purpose of boosting cognitive functions, improving concentration, studying longer, and managing stress better. In this article, we will explore everything that you need to know about the most popular smart drugs. 1. Caffeine

So many people don’t even consider caffeine to be a drug but it is actually a powerful, natural stimulant that gives you more access to various neurotransmitters in your brains. This can improve your short-term memory and learning skills, especially if consumed in moderate amounts. Having a cup of tea or coffee once in a while is an excellent way to boost mental focus, but you should always refrain from consuming more than 400mg/day. Just because caffeine is so widely available, it is not to be taken likely. Caffeine can significantly increase anxiety and stress, so be careful about how much you drink. 2. L-Theanine

L-Theanine is found in black and green teas and has been proven to enhance the mental effects of caffeine and counteract jitteriness, and in combination with caffeine, your cognitive performance, alertness, and ability to multitask will all be boosted. L-Theanine is not like caffeine, which is widely known so it is important to read more about the benefits of this supplement and any other you are planning to take. The best way to consume them together is by drinking pure green tea or combining coffee or tea with your L-Theanine supplement. This can improve your mental health, act as a diuretic, and help to balance your mood. 3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

As one of the most well-known and well-studied mental enhancers, Omega-3s are great for repairing and renewing brain cells, and in the process, preventing the brain from aging. Other positive effects of omega-3s surround the brain and enhance nervous system function and so it is important to incorporate them into your diet. This can be done by eating more oily fish like mackerel or through supplements in the forms of omega-3 supplements or fish oil. 4. Racetams

Racetams are a category of smart drugs, including piracetam, pramiracetam, phenylpiracetam, and aniracetam. These are synthetic compounds that can trigger the neurotransmitters in the brain with positive neuroprotective effects. These help to protect your brain function and nerve firings. When taking racetams, it is important to closely follow the instructions and consult a physician. 5. Ginkgo Biloba and Panax Ginseng

Ginkgo biloba leaves and Panax ginseng roots are two similar herbal supplements that are used for medicinal purposes and are found in China, Japan, Korea, and Siberia. The effects on your cognitive performance are all about improving brain function and preventing certain brain diseases, including Alzheimer, Parkinson, and Huntington’s disease, as well as helping with brain recovery after a stroke. Again with these supplements, make sure you do your research in order to not confuse them with other types of plants and seek medical advice if you have any reservations. 6. Rhodiola

Rhodiola Rosea L., also known as Rhodiola or roseroot is a popular supplement that is taken in the form of capsules. Rhodiola has excellent neuroprotective effects which might help to support good mental health, treat neurodegenerative diseases, and regulate neurotransmitters in the brain, all of which result in a more positive mood. 7. Creatine Monohydrate

As an amino acid that builds muscle mass and improves exercise performance, creatine monohydrate is found in many workout and body-building supplements and is very popular among athletes. Creatine helps to improve strength, muscle endurance, and recovery and aesthetic muscle size.

For the best results, creatine monohydrate should be taken in cycles in which you “load” for two weeks by taking 6 to 8 grams of creatine, and then “maintain” for the next 8 weeks by taking 2 grams a day. As well as the physical benefits of creatine monohydrate has been shown to promote improvements in short-term memory and reasoning skills as it increases levels of ATP molecules which result in increased cellular energy in your brain.

Now that you have a general understanding of smart drugs, the most important thing is to use them in a smart and responsible way, preferably under the guidance of a doctor or qualified health care provider. If you are looking at ways to boost your health with smart drugs, start with the basics. Clean up your diet, begin with gentle, non-prescription nootropics, and when you are ready, move on to prescription smart drugs to boost their effects.


3 Changes to Your Diet That Could Benefit Your Brain

3 Changes to Your Diet That Could Benefit Your Brain

Your brain is always working, despite evidence to the contrary (where did I put my keys again?). And how you fuel it directly affects its function. Eat high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and you’ll nourish and protect your brain from oxidative stress (the waste, or free radicals, produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells). Canada’s recently revamped food guide , which put an emphasis on eating more fruits and vegetables , has been lauded for its potential benefits to brain health (not to mention mental health benefits ). Need more convincing? The findings from these three recent studies are a good reminder why you should always keep nutrition on the mind. Eat more flavonoids

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed the eating habits of 600 Americans over the course of 20 years and showed that the people who ate more foods high in flavinoids had a 40 to 60 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer disease and related dementias. What are flavonoids?

Flavonoids are a diverse group of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables. They’re associated with all kinds of excellent activity, including skin protection, brain function, blood-sugar and blood-pressure regulation, plus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. For this study, the intake of one type of flavonoid, anthocyanins, which are abundant in blueberries, strawberries and red wine, had the strongest association with lowered risk of dementia . Apples, pears, oranges, bananas and tea also contributed.

The best part? A little goes a long way. The monthly average intake from the healthiest cohort was about seven half-cup servings of strawberries or blueberries, eight apples or pears, and 17 cups of tea.

(Here are other healthy habits that’ll boost your brain health.) Dip into those pickled capers

Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, published a new study that shows eating pickled capers is good for brain and heart health. They’re the richest known natural source of a bioflavonoid called quercetin, which regulates our potassium ion channels—their dysfunction is linked to diabetes, cardiac arrhythmia, and epilepsy. Quercetin can also directly regulate proteins required for bodily processes such as heartbeat, thought, muscular contraction, and normal functioning of the thyroid, pancreas and gastrointestinal tract. Not bad work for an inconspicuous condiment. Tap the protective power of fish

It irritates our eyes and throats, and damages our lungs, but air pollution also causes our brains to shrink and affects our memory and cognitive power as we age. A new study published in Neurology shows women who eat a diet high in omega 3s from fish can better withstand the detriment.

Next, learn the habits you should start today to keep your brain healthy at 80 .

The post 3 Changes to Your Diet That Could Benefit Your Brain appeared first on Best Health Magazine Canada .

Gallery: 35 Health News Stories You Need to Read This Week (Reader’s Digest Canada)


What happens in the brain when we sleep?

What happens in the brain when we sleep?

What occurs in the brain when we are deep in slumber? What are the different stages of sleep and what role do they play in learning and memory formation? What about in anxiety and pain? Do neurons and neurotransmitters also play a role? These are the questions we will tackle in this Special Feature, using the latest evidence available. We round up the neuroscientific evidence that helps explain the intricate workings of the human brain when it is asleep. Scientists generally agree that there are four stages of sleep that we cycle through several times each night. The first three form the so-called non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and the fourth one is REM sleep — where dreams occur.

In the first non-REM stage, the body and brain transition from wakefulness to sleep. The brain changes its electrical oscillations from the active, wakefulness pattern of brainwaves into a slower rhythm.

Muscle tone throughout the body relaxes. This is the phase during which our bodies may twitch as we enter slumber.

The second non-REM stage involves a drop in the body’s temperature, the heartbeat and breathing become slower, and the brainwaves slow down further. Short bursts of electrical activity in the brain may still characterize this stage of sleep.

The third stage of non-REM sleep is the deep sleep stage, which our bodies need to wake up feeling refreshed and restored. In this stage, heart rate, breathing, and brain activity all drop to their lowest point.

The REM, dream-filled light-sleep stage is the fourth and last one. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) , REM occurs about 90 mins after falling asleep.

REM sleeps lasts roughly 10 minutes the first time, increasing with each REM cycle. Rapid eye movement is so-called because the eyes quite literally move rapidly behind closed eyelids.

During REM, breathing becomes more rapid and irregular, heart rate and blood pressure increase to near waking levels. An interesting fact about REM sleep is that people experience less and less of it as they grow older.

One of the two main things that control sleep is the ensemble of “physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle” — called circadian rhythms . The term “circadian” comes from the Latin circa , meaning “around” and dies , meaning “day.”

Circadian rhythms respond to the light-darkness cycle and are genetically predetermined, at least in part, and dictated by so-called biological clocks — proteins that interact within cells in every tissue and organ in the human body.

The suprachiasmatic nucleus , a structure in the brain formed by a group of about 20,000 neurons , or nerve cells, coordinates all the biological clocks.

Secondly, the sleep-wake homeostasis also tracks a person’s need for sleep and dictates when they get sleepy. The so-called homeostatic sleep drive increases with the time that a person spends being awake. Its visible effects on brain activity and connectivity between neurons have been well documented .

Another area that has been the focus of much research is the relationship between sleep and learning or memory formation. Scientists know for sure that sleep is crucial for learning — but which stage of sleep is more important?

Does learning occur in the light REM sleep stage or the deep, non-REM phase of sleep? How do neurons in different brain areas coordinate across sleep stages to facilitate learning and memory consolidation?

Two studies that Medical News Today reported on help to shed light on these questions. Sleep helps the brain learn and stay flexible

In the first study , the experimenters tampered with the study participants’ deep, non-REM sleep stage after asking them to learn a new set of movements. The scientists monitored the participants’ brain activity — their motor cortex, specifically — throughout the study.

The team — led by Switzerland-based scientists — found that a restless deep sleep resulted in a visibly reduced learning efficiency. The researchers’ explained that their results hinged on the brain’s synapses and their roles in learning.

Synapses are microscopic connections between neurons that, together with brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, facilitate the passing of electrical impulses from one neuron to another. During the day, synapses switch on in response to the stimuli that the brain receives from the environment.

But during sleep, the activity of these synapses goes back to normal. Without this restorative period, they stay excited at their peak activity for too long.

This interferes with the brain’s neuroplasticity — that is, its ability to re-wire itself and create new connections between neurons. Neuroplasticity enables the brain to ‘pick up’ new skills, change and adapt to its environment stimuli, and ultimately learn new things.

Nicole Wenderoth, a professor in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at the ETH Zurich, and co-lead author explains what occurred in their new study. “In the strongly excited region of the brain, learning efficiency was saturated and could no longer be changed, which inhibited the learning of motor skills.” To the authors’ knowledge, this was the first study that showed a causal relationship between the deep phase of sleep and learning efficiency. “We have developed a method that lets us reduce the sleep depth in a certain part of the brain and therefore prove the causal connection between deep sleep and learning efficiency,” says study co-author Prof. Reto Huber. Sleep also helps us unlearn

The second study that MNT reported on looked at different sleep stages. However, this research showed that sleep does not just enable the brain to learn new things but also unlearn.

The original 2017 study involved an auditory learning task. The researchers played sound sequences while the participants were asleep and awake.

They monitored the volunteers’ brain electrical activity using an electroencephalogram (EEG).

The EEGs also captured sleep spindles that occurred when the sleeping brain learned new sounds. Sleep spindles are spikes in oscillatory brain activity that previous research has linked with learning and memory consolidation.

After each sleep session, the experimenters asked the participants to re-listen to the sound sequences and recognize them. They assessed their learning performance through tests.Using the EEG readings, the […]


Best Alternatives To Melatonin That Are Also Natural

Best Alternatives To Melatonin That Are Also Natural

Are you already annoyed by how you can’t seem to sleep at night? Or wake up frequently in the wee hours of the morning? If yes, then you must also be aware as to how insomnia can negatively affect how you function throughout the day.

A lot of people resort to drinking melatonin tablets to help them get a good night’s sleep. Although, some claim that drinking melatonin makes them feel groggy or lethargic during the day. So, are there any natural alternatives? Fortunately, the answer is yes. Here are some of them. Sleeping-Aid Herbal Teas

Photo by Mareefe from Pexels For the last hundreds of years, herbal teas have been used to treat a wide array of ailments and diseases, including insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Special blends like lavender, chamomile, passionflower, and valerian root are usually regarded as natural sleeping aids. So before heading to bed, make yourself a cup of tea while you calm down and relax. Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium is a kind of natural muscle relaxant naturally produced by your body. It is effective in blocking stress hormones in the brain, which can help you fall asleep. According to Healthline , health researchers found out that magnesium can also regulate the production of melatonin. And, insufficient levels of magnesium in our bodies can lead to insomnia and troubled sleep. Glycine Supplements

Glycine is a type of amino acid that is also naturally produced by your body. It supports our cognitive, metabolic, and musculoskeletal functions. At the same time, it also induces relaxation at night when your body is ready to fall asleep. Hence, this is also a good choice if you’re looking for a natural supplement to replace your melatonin tablets.

Sleep Sherpa also explains that glycine is a great choice for people who wake up in the middle of the night. This is because it promotes sleepiness by reducing brain hyperactivity and calming anxiety. It also won’t give you a hungover feeling the next day when you wake up. Warm Milk With Turmeric

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator from Pexels Though there are no scientific studies that create a link between milk and deep slumber, John Hopkins Medicine explains that a warm cup of milk has long been believed to promote relaxation before bedtime. On the other hand, Turmeric can protect against sleep deprivation. It can also help alleviate depression and can lower anxiety levels.

Mix it with one teaspoon of turmeric, cinnamon, and honey and you’ll have an anti-inflammatory golden milk go-to. Warm Milk With Strawberry

Mixing milk and strawberry has been a trend in Korea for a while now. It’s a refreshing spring drink and a delicious bedtime send-off drink for both kids and adults. Strawberries are rich in antioxidants, potassium, and Vitamin B-6, which help balance our bodies’ sleep-wake cycle by regulating melatonin. Also, strawberries are rich in Vitamin C, which can boost our immune system and improve our skin health.

Combine a cup of honey, two cups of strawberries, two tablespoons of honey, and a pinch of salt. Blend the mixture until smooth. Essential Oils

Photo by Mareefe from Pexels Like herbal teas, the practice of using aromatherapy for medicinal purposes is still very much alive until today. Different scents affect our minds and body. Out of all senses, only smell can travel directly to our brain’s emotions and memory center. This is why a particular smell can automatically evoke strong memories.

If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, grab a small bottle of essential oil and apply it below your nose or at your wrists. Alternatively, you can dilute three to five drops of oils in a diffuser and let it sit near your bed.

Sleep Doctor lists some of the most common oils for relaxation: Lavender



Rose and Geranium



Each of us reacts to smells differently, so before purchasing, experiment with different essential oils to find which is the right one for you and your sleep. Sleep Masks

Using sleep masks is one of the simplest and most effective solutions. A quality sleep mask is usually made from soft and natural materials that can block the light from all corners of your eyes. This darkness boosts the production of melatonin in your body. You can also try using sleep masks with earplugs to block out any noise. Daily Exercise

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels Physical activity alleviates the symptoms of chronic insomnia. It can even stabilize and improve your mood throughout the day. As explained by Sleep Foundation , the drop in your temperature after exercise can help promote falling asleep early. Working out can also reduce insomnia by decreasing anxiety, depression, and arousal. You don’t have to go crazy in the gym, at least a thirty-minute run can already be beneficial.

Insomnia is indeed a hard battle to conquer. But, worry not. There are a lot of natural remedies for it, including alternatives for Melatonin. Make yourself a warm cup of milk, try different natural supplements, and oils nearby and treat your body well.

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Non-Invasive Nerve Stimulation Boosts Learning of Foreign Language Sounds

Non-Invasive Nerve Stimulation Boosts Learning of Foreign Language Sounds

Summary: Transcranial vagus nerve stimulation could significantly improve a person’s ability to learn the sounds of a new language. The non-invasive stimulation technique could have positive implications for boosting other types of learning also.

Source: University of Pittsburgh

New research by neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh and University of California San Francisco (UCSF) revealed that a simple, earbud-like device developed at UCSF that imperceptibly stimulates a key nerve leading to the brain could significantly improve the wearer’s ability to learn the sounds of a new language. This device may have wide-ranging applications for boosting other kinds of learning as well.

Mandarin Chinese is considered one of the hardest languages for native English speakers to learn, in part because the language — like many others around the world — uses distinctive changes in pitch, called “tones,” to change the meaning of words that otherwise sound the same. In the new study, published today in npj Science of Learning, researchers significantly improved the ability of native English speakers to distinguish between Mandarin tones by using precisely timed, non-invasive stimulation of the vagus nerve — the longest of the 12 cranial nerves that connect the brain to the rest of the body. What’s more, vagus nerve stimulation allowed research participants to pick up some Mandarin tones twice as quickly.

“Showing that non-invasive peripheral nerve stimulation can make language learning easier potentially opens the door to improving cognitive performance across a wide range of domains,” said lead author Fernando Llanos, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in Pitt’s Sound Brain Lab.

“This is one of the first demonstrations that non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation can enhance a complex cognitive skill like language learning in healthy people,” said Matthew Leonard, Ph.D., an assistant professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, whose team developed the nerve stimulation device. Leonard is a senior author of the new study, alongside Bharath Chandrasekaran, Ph.D., professor and vice chair of research, Department of Communication Science and Disorders, Pitt School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and director of the Sound Brain Lab.

Researchers used a non-invasive technique called transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS), in which a small stimulator is placed in the outer ear and can activate the vagus nerve using unnoticeable electrical pulses to stimulate one of the nerve’s nearby branches.

For their study, the researchers recruited 36 native English-speaking adults and trained them to identify the four tones of Mandarin Chinese in examples of natural speech, using a set of tasks developed in the Sound Brain Lab to study the neurobiology of language learning.

Participants who received imperceptible tVNS paired with two Mandarin tones that are typically easier for English speakers to tell apart showed quick improvements in learning to distinguish these tones. By the end of the training, those participants were 13% better on average at classifying tones and reached peak performance twice as quickly as control participants who wore the tVNS device but never received stimulation.

“There’s a general feeling that people can’t learn the sound patterns of a new language in adulthood, but our work historically has shown that’s not true for everyone,” Chandrasekaran said. “In this study, we are seeing that tVNS reduces those individual differences more than any other intervention I’ve seen.”

“This approach may be leveling the playing field of natural variability in language learning ability,” added Leonard. “In general, people tend to get discouraged by how hard language learning can be, but if you could give someone 13% to 15% better results after their first session, maybe they’d be more likely to want to continue.”

The researchers now are testing whether longer training sessions with tVNS can impact participants’ ability to learn to discriminate two tones that are harder for English speakers to differentiate, which was not significantly improved in the current study.

Stimulation of the vagus nerve has been used to treat epilepsy for decades and has recently been linked to benefits for a wide range of issues ranging from depression to inflammatory disease, though exactly how these benefits are conferred remains unclear. But most of these findings have used invasive forms of stimulation involving an impulse generator implanted in the chest. By contrast, the ability to evoke significant boosts to learning using simple, non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation could lead to significantly cheaper and safer clinical and commercial applications.

The researchers suspect tVNS boosts learning by broadly enhancing neurotransmitter signaling across wide swaths of the brain to temporarily boost attention to the auditory stimulus being presented and promote long-term learning, though more research is needed to verify this mechanism.

“We’re showing robust learning effects in a completely non-invasive and safe way, which potentially makes the technology scalable to a broader array of consumer and medical applications, such as rehabilitation after stroke,” Chandrasekaran said. “Our next step is to understand the underlying neural mechanism and establish the ideal set of stimulation parameters that could maximize brain plasticity. We view tVNS as a potent tool that could enhance rehabilitation in individuals with brain damage.”

About this language research article

University of Pittsburgh
Amerigo Allegretto – University of Pittsburgh
Image Source:
The image is credited to Leonard Lab/UCSF/Jhia Louise Nicole Jackson.

Original Research: Open access
“Non-invasive peripheral nerve stimulation selectively enhances speech category learning in adults” by Fernando Llanos, Jacie R. McHaney, William L. Schuerman, Han G. Yi, Matthew K. Leonard, Bharath Chandrasekaran. npj Science of Learning .


Non-invasive peripheral nerve stimulation selectively enhances speech category learning in adults

Adults struggle to learn non-native speech contrasts even after years of exposure. While laboratory-based training approaches yield learning, the optimal training conditions for maximizing speech learning in adulthood are currently unknown. Vagus nerve stimulation has been shown to prime adult sensory-perceptual systems towards plasticity in animal models. Precise temporal pairing with auditory stimuli can enhance auditory cortical representations with a high degree of specificity. Here, we examined whether sub-perceptual threshold transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS), paired with non-native speech sounds, enhances speech category learning in adults. Twenty-four native English-speakers were trained to identify […]


Natural brain booster: Drink ginger tea to improve focus and concentration

Natural brain booster: Drink ginger tea to improve focus and concentration

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is one of the most commonly consumed spices in the world, usually used for seasoning. Apart from adding flavour to your dishes, ginger has multiple medicinal properties and benefits. It has played an important role in both traditional Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic healing practices for ages. Also Read – World Brain Day 2020: Step-by-step guide on how your brain functions

Ginger is an incredibly versatile home remedy. Ginger is a versatile home remedy and is known for relieving nausea, aiding digestion, soothing an upset stomach, fighting colds, helping with menstrual cramps, contributing to weight loss and more. The root of the ginger plant is also an excellent brain booster. Several studies have linked it to improved cognitive performance and memory. Also Read – Weight loss: This is how ginger diet will help you battle the bulge

The main active constituents found in ginger are gingerols and shogaols, which are known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumour properties. Also Read – Brain health: Tips to prevent eventual memory loss Ginger helps enhance memory in middle-aged women

A study published in 2012 issue of the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggested that ginger can help support memory and cognitive function in middle-aged women. The study included 60 healthy women who were between 50 and 60 of age and reside in Thailand. They were given either a placebo or a ginger standardised extract of 400 milligramme or 800 milligramme daily for two months.

Women who received the ginger supplement reported a significant improvement in cognitive functions and an enhanced working memory compared to the placebo group. According to the study, daily ginger intake improved four key brain functions: power of attention, accuracy of attention, speed of memory, and quality of memory. Based on their findings, the researcher concluded that ginger is a potential brain tonic to enhance cognitive function for middle-aged women.

They believe that the cognitive enhancing effect of ginger might be partly due to its antioxidant properties. Brain-Enhancing Properties of Ginger

Ginger contains more than 100 compounds, most of which are antioxidants that are particularly important for the brain health. Since it uses a lot of oxygen, the brain is more susceptible to free radical attack than any other part of the body. Antioxidants act as free radical scavengers and helped prevent or slow damage to cells.

Chronic inflammation of the brain may lead to brain disorders including depression, anxiety, ADHD, brain fog, and Alzheimer’s. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory property may be beneficial for brain health. Gingerol and shogaol are the compounds are believed to play main role in ginger’s anti-inflammatory effects on the brain.

Like turmeric, ginger also contains the compound curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Curcumin a popular herbal ingredient used to treat depression, anxiety, brain aging, and neurodegenerative diseases. Here are 5 ways ginger benefits your brain and mental health – Ginger protects the brain from free radical damage

Ginger increases the level of brain chemicals — serotonin and dopamine. Low levels of these chemicals have been linked to depression.

Ginger may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

What to get improve your memory and attention? Chew on ginger candy or drink ginger tea daily. If you don’t like the taste, add a few drops of ginger essential oil to a diffuser and inhale the aroma.


Adaptogens + Herbs To Prevent Brain Fog and Mental Fatigue

Adaptogens + Herbs To Prevent Brain Fog and Mental Fatigue

A FUZZY BRAIN IS no fun when you have worlds to conquer and magic to make (or maybe babies to feed and deadlines to meet). While a shot of espresso might get things buzzing, a powerful way to clear brain fog and boost cognitive power is with herbs.

Our go-to herbalist and founder of modern apothecary Anima Mundi , Adriana Ayales, is sharing this plant wisdom for busting brain fog and rejuvenating brain health overall. The idea of using herbs to optimize our mental capacity, mood and overall ability to function on a high level is everything we’re about right now…

Common Cognitive Pitfalls That Trigger Brain Fog: Lack of proper mineralization (Are you eating the rainbow? Where and how are you mineralizing your body?)

Low functioning microbiome (Digestive imbalances, weak gut flora)

Dehydration (You might be dehydrated and you don’t even know it. Drink water!)

Lack of movement (Sedentary lifestyle?)

Stress + Inflammation

Heavy Metals + Atmospheric Toxicity (Atmospheric contaminants can lead to biological and chemical stress, contributing to brain fog, and more.)

Pharmaceutical Side-effects (One of the leading causes of diseases are pharmaceutical side-effects, be sure to balance with diet, and the right herbs)

State of mind supercedes everything. For example, meditation is one of the best-researched brain-boosting exercises ever found. Going deep and doing guided visualizations, future self projections, silencing the mind, etc., is one of the most efficient techniques to re-wire our “hardwired” programming.

At the same time, brain tonics improve “hardware” functioning by protecting from damage (oxidation, inflammation) and assisting in the delivery of nutrients and removal of waste. Nootropics (known as ‘smart drugs’), nervines (nervous system relaxers), and adaptogens (endocrine balancers/ anti stress /immune boosters) help revitalize neurotransmitters and general nerve function, which improves memory and cognition while uplifting the mind.


Chronic and acute stress degrade your memory, especially if sleep deprivation enters the mix. So it’s not surprising that most of our stress-relieving adaptogens do double-duty as brain function tonics.

BACOPA In India, bacopa is locally known as brahmi after “Brahma,” the mythical creator of the Hindu pantheon, and is another Ayurvedic powerhouse used to improve cognition, memory and focus. It also has research on its use to help recover from brain trauma. Bacopa is adaptogenic, helping protect the body from stress, while being a revitalizing, relaxing (nervine), and mentally-stimulating herb that may support us in our healthspan extension quest. Bacopa is known to boost two key neurotransmitters, serotonin and GABA in the hippocampus, which is the brain’s hub for memory and emotions. Bacopa works best when taken consistently for longer periods of time, allow at least 1 month to feel the effects. The most common dosage for “faster” results, are about 5-10 grams of powder daily, or 350 mg extract per day. ASHWAGANDHA. Yet another beloved Ayurvedic plant that has 3,000 years of recorded use, ashwagandha provides numerous benefits for the body and brain. Studies have shown it’s brain protective, improves learning and memory, lowers blood sugar and cortisol levels, and helps fight symptoms of anxiety and depression. Research on ashwagandha has found that it inhibits the formation of beta-amyloid plaques. These plaques, considered toxic to brain cells, accumulate in the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

RHODIOLA is a classic adaptogen known as one of nature’s greatest “antidepressants” as its shown to greatly influence neurotransmitters that affect mood and emotion. Being an adaptogen, it is regulating to the endocrine system and protective against oxidative stress. Rhodiola also improves ATP synthesis, which boosts energy on a cellular level, and it increases stamina while decreasing mental and physical fatigue. LION’S MANE. This exquisite mushroom has received very impressive studies due to it containing NGF (nerve growth factor) which is known to stimulate nerve growth, heal nerve damage, improve brain function and cognition, and fight dementia. Components and extracts of Lion’s Mane have proven antibiotic, anticancer, neuroprotective, fat- and glucose-lowering effects. Lions Mane is also used to ease digestion, used against stomach ulcers in Chinese Medicine, improves anxiety, cognitive function, and depression, and has anti-fatigue and anti-aging properties. Studies also show lion’s mane enhanced both acetylcholine (Ach) and choline acetyltransferase (ChAT, an enzyme that produces acetylcholine) concentrations in the blood and in the hypothalamus.

The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.


Can you use cannabis to calm dementia?

Cannabis plants are photographed during the grand opening event for the CannTrust Niagara Greenhouse Facility in Fenwick, Ont., on June 26, 2018. Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press The question: My father has dementia and we have been looking after him at home. The last thing we want to do is put him into a nursing home during the COVID-19 pandemic. But he is a challenge and is agitated at times. I’ve heard that cannabis has a calming effect on people with dementia. Is that worth trying?

The answer: Agitation, which includes restlessness, general emotional distress and sometimes aggression, is a major problem for people with dementia, as well as their caregivers.

The existing drug treatments – mainly antipsychotic medications – are only modestly successful in lessening agitation, and they also carry risks of harmful side effects.

Dementia experts generally agree that behavioural interventions should be tried before turning to these medications. For instance, it may be possible to identify the cause of the agitation and develop a solution or an appropriate distraction, such as music or pet therapy. But, as the disease progresses, agitation tends to get worse and behavioural approaches become less and less effective.

So, there is a real need for new treatment options, says Krista Lanctôt, a senior researcher at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

This need, she adds, has raised interest in cannabis because it has a wide range of effects on the brain, some of which might help deal with certain troubling dementia symptoms.

But only a handful of small studies have actually explored the use of cannabis products in patients with various types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. And, so far, the research results have been mixed.

One of the most promising studies involved 39 patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s. The trial was designed to assess nabilone, a drug that is currently approved for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea.

Nabilone contains a synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

Each patient received both the real drug and a placebo, in random order, for six weeks.

“Nabilone treatment was associated with a clinically and statistically significant reduction in agitation over six weeks, compared to the six weeks on placebo,” says Lanctôt, who led the study. “Also, caregiver distress was significantly lower.”

Although the results are promising, Lanctôt says the findings need to be confirmed with more research.

She notes that marijuana contains a lot of different cannabinoids. In order to understand their potential effects – both good and bad – it’s critically important to isolate the components and study them in a systematic fashion and in combination if warranted.

Lanctôt is already planning a larger study involving 168 patients, who will be divided into three treatment groups. They will receive either nabilone or a placebo, or cannabidiol oil (CBD), a compound derived from marijuana plants.

Dallas Seitz, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Calgary, agrees that it’s far too soon to recommend cannabis for agitation. “I think it’s good that we don’t jump on the bandwagon right away because there is so much misinformation out there about the potential benefits of cannabis.”

Indeed, there is reason for caution, particularly in this vulnerable patient population.

Previous research suggests that cannabis may worsen memory. So, cannabis might not be appropriate for people in the early stages of dementia while they still have their cognitive abilities largely intact.

Cannabis also has a sedating effect, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Too much sedation, which is often linked to a higher dosage, can lessen quality of life if a person is sleeping much of the time. It can also increase the chances of having a catastrophic fall.

What’s more, cannabis may interact with some medications including warfarin, a commonly prescribed blood thinner. “It could increase the risk of bleeding,” Lanctôt warns.

She also points out that the positive findings from her nabilone study offer “absolutely no evidence” that agitation can be eased by recreational and medical marijuana.

The synthetic THC in nabilone is structurally different from natural THC, she explains. In fact, a few earlier studies suggest that natural THC does not reduce agitation.

To further complicate matters, there is a huge variation in cannabis products, which contain very different ratios of THC to CBD.

What’s needed, Seitz says, is a well-studied standardized product. “That would allow us to say that a certain compound, at a specific dose, will have a predictable effect,” he says.

In the meantime, some families may still be tempted to try cannabis with their loved ones. If they do so, Lanctôt says, they should seek the guidance of a doctor and a pharmacist to minimize the potential for harm.

Paul Taylor is a Patient Navigation Adviser at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. He is a former Health Editor of The Globe and Mail. Find him on Twitter @epaultaylor and online at Sunnybrook’s Your Health Matters .


Lesser-known Vitamin B3 variant may be key to addressing Alzheimer’s

Lesser-known Vitamin B3 variant may be key to addressing Alzheimer’s

Advertisement Vitamin B3 may be the key to improving cognitive and physical functions of those with Alzheimer’s disease . In a recent report, scientists from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) said that a specific form of Vitamin B3 known as nicotinamide riboside (NR) helped normalize the levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide or NAD+ – a metabolite considered to be vital to several bodily processes, including DNA repair – in a specially-developed strain of mice.

These mice, in particular, were specifically developed and bred to mimic key features of human Alzheimer’s. As such, they exhibited characteristics such as mitochondrial dysfunction, lower neuron production and increased neuronal dysfunction and inflammation, as well as tau pathology, failing synapses, neuronal death and cognitive impairment.

The full report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists , detailed how researchers tested the effects of an NR supplement by adding it to the drinking water of the newly developed mice. The team then observed the mice over a three-month period, after which they were examined. (Related: A form of vitamin B3 significantly reduces the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer .)

The researchers noted that NR-treated mice exhibited less DNA damage , higher neuroplasticity and increased production of new neurons from neuronal stem cells, in addition to having lower levels of neuronal damage and death. The NR-treated mice also performed better than control mice on multiple behavioral and memory tests, such as water mazes and object recognition.

In addition, the team reported that the NR-treated mice had better muscular and grip strength, as well as higher endurance, and even improved gait, compared to their control counterparts. These physical and cognitive benefits, they added, could be due to the NR supplement’s rejuvenating effect on stem cells in both muscle and brain tissue.

Treating mice with NR, the researchers said, appeared to clear existing DNA damage in the hippocampus.

“We are encouraged by these findings that see an effect in this Alzheimer’s disease model,” explained Dr. Vilhelm Bohr, a senior investigator for NIA’s Molecular Gerontology Lab and a co-author of the study, adding that the team is now planning to further test NR and other similar compounds in order to study their therapeutic potential for Alzheimer’s patients. What is nicotinamide riboside?

Also known as niagen, nicotinamide riboside is an alternate form of vitamin B3, a micronutrient that the body uses for proper metabolism and nervous system function, among others.

Just like other forms of vitamin B3, nicotinamide riboside is converted by the body into NAD+ , a coenzyme or helper molecule responsible for the following bodily processes. Producing cellular energy

Repairing damaged DNA

Fortifying cells’ natural defense systems

Protecting the body against oxidative stress from free radicals

Setting the body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm

First described in 1944, nicotinamide riboside — as with all forms of vitamin B3 — is an essential nutrient. This means that one must obtain it from food, as the body cannot produce it on its own. This means that problems can occur if one does not get enough amounts of this particular vitamin.

Some of the signs of vitamin B3 deficiency are: Sun-sensitive dermatitis, in which a thick, scaly, darkly pigmented rash develops symmetrically in areas exposed to sunlight.

Gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain and ultimately, diarrhea.

Neurological symptoms such as headaches, apathy, fatigue, depression, disorientation, and, in extreme cases, memory loss.

Classified by the Food and Drug Administration as “ Generally Recognized as Safe ,” studies have shown that nicotinamide riboside is non-toxic and can be safely taken up to doses of 1000?milligrams per day .

One must note, however, that nicotinamide riboside, unlike other forms of vitamin B3, is only present in trace amounts in most food items. Given this fact, it may be better for individuals to take nicotinamide riboside supplements instead.

If whole foods and natural sources are more of your thing, however, you may want to increase your intake of the following food items: Raw, unpasteurized dairy

Wild-caught fatty fish

Organic, free-range chicken breast

Organic, free-range beef liver

Organic mushrooms


Organic green, leafy vegetables Organic whole grains If you want to protect yourself against the possibility of developing neurological disorders in the future, it may be time to boost your vitamin B3 intake in general by eating foods and taking supplements containing this essential nutrient . Sources include: