As we age, brain health and memory become a major concern for many of us. The good news is, there are many things we can do to help keep our brain vital. Practicing certain exercises, using herbs and supplements, getting quality sleep, and eating a healthy diet are some of the most important things we can do to enhance the memory and optimize the brain.
Qigong is an ancient form of exercise encompassing slow movement, massage of acupuncture pathways, and breathing exercises. We have energy pathways throughout our whole body, including on our scalp. By stimulating the pathways that connect to the brain, we can remove energetic blockages and increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain. The following are a few brain-stimulating exercises to do on your own. These exercises are excellent for memory, cognition, and preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as to treat post-stroke symptoms.
- Comb through your hair from front to back with your fingertips to stimulate the scalp and cranial acupuncture points.
- Tap with all ten fingers on the front of the forehead to simulate the frontal lobe.
- Place both thumbs at the back of your head, feeling for tight and tender spots. Press and massage these points along the ligaments next to the cervical spine. Keeping these points as well as muscles and ligaments open increases blood flow and thus oxygen to the brain.
- Bring the arms up over head, tap your fingers at the crown of your head, then slowly bring your hands down in front of your face a few inches away, visualizing all the stress leaving your brain and body and sending it to the earth.
- Pinch and squeeze your earlobes. The ears are a microcosm of the whole body, especially the brain. The acupuncture/acupressure points on the earlobes are used for trauma, stress, and addiction and are used in hospitals and trauma centers around the country.
- Rotate your body to the left and right, tapping your sides as you swing your arms. By opening up the spine, we are unblocking the energy and sending blood flow up and down the spine and to the brain.
- Deep breathing from the chest to the lower abdomen stimulates the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the heart, stomach, colon, and other organs. This can help calm the brain in times of excess stress and over-production of cortisol.
Herbs and Supplements for Brain Health
1. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is one of the best brain herbal supplements available. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of years. Gingko has been shown to lower the stress hormone cortisol which helps create a relaxed and focused state of mind.
Bacopa monnieri is an herb that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. It helps with memory and brain function and works by increasing the connections between neurons.
3. Panax Ginseng and Rhodiola Rosea
Panax ginseng and Rhodiola rosea are adaptogenic herbs that are often found together in herbal formulas. They have both been shown to relieve stress, increase energy, reduce brain fog, improve sleep, and bring a calming effect to the mind. Our brains function best when we are calm and focused, which allows us to access our memory functions and cognition optimally.
4. Omega-3 Fish Oil with EPA/DHA
These ingredients in fish oil have been shown to improve brain function. EPA is known for improving mood and reducing inflammation, while DHA is the fatty acid that helps improve brain development and cognitive function.
5. Lion’s Mane Mushroom
This powerful mushroom, Hericium erinaceus, may protect against dementia, reduce mild symptoms of anxiety and depression, and help repair nerve damage. In studies, lion’s mane mushrooms have also been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-boosting qualities among other beneficial properties.
Acupuncture is an effective treatment for optimizing brain function. It is used to keep the energetic, neurological, and vascular pathways to the brain open, as well as helping to regenerate brain function in cases of dementia and for post-stroke sequelea.
Other Ways to Take Care of Your Mind
Getting regular, quality sleep and eating a healthy diet are the most important things we can do on a daily basis to keep our memory and brain function at optimal levels. Getting enough regular sleep allows our brain and body to restore and heal overnight. And feeding our body with the cleanest, healthiest food possible is vital, since food is our energy and turns into our very cells. Avoiding processed foods, sugar, additives, preservatives, excess alcohol, chemicals, and pesticides is key to allowing our body to function optimally. The more we include a variety of organic vegetables in a balanced diet of healthy fish, legumes, and healthy fats and protein, the healthier our body and brain will be, so we can live to a vibrant old age.
Donna Bunte, MSOM, LAc, of Donna Bunte Whole Health is a licensed acupuncturist, Chinese medical practitioner, integrative nutrition health coach, and qigong and meditation teacher. She has been helping people get healthy, have more energy, and feel good about themselves since 1995.
Donna can be reached at her office at 203.698.0793, cell at 203.253.9885, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit: www.donnabunte.com and find her on Facebook at facebook.com/donnabuntewholehealth and Instagram at: instagram.com/donnabuntewholehealth/.