Forgetful? Try These Natural Memory Boosters

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Dear Pharmacist,

My father was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s although mom has complained for years that he was forgetful. This became crystal clear to our family when we sat down to Christmas dinner and he couldn’t remember what holiday it was. The doctor wants to prescribe Aricept for dad, but we are all fans of yours and hope you can recommend something natural to try before the medication.

— H.C. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Answer: You have lots of choices. With your doctor’s approval, you can try a couple of these, or look for a  multi-tasking product that combines many of the ingredients below.

Huperzine A: It’s number 1 on my list because research proves it has a beneficial effect on memory and cognitive function. The herb -popular in Chinese medicine- works by boosting levels of the neurotransmitter “acetylcholine,” a memory chemical that is deficient in people with Alzheimer’s.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine:  It creates acetylcholine, a primary memory molecules.

DHA: This is a type of essential fatty acid that improves learning and memory. It’s super important for brain function.

Pregnenolone: This improves nerve firing, protects brain cells and enhances a process called “myelination” which protects nerve fibers.  It’s made in your brain from from cholesterol and if you take drugs to lower cholesterol, your memory function plummets right along with those triglycerides!   Does this explain a lot for those of you who feel like you’re losing your mind?  Simply put, statins could make you as sharp as a marble! Ask your doctor to discontinue your medication, or ask him/her if you can supplement with pregnenolone while taking your medicine.

Lithium orotate (5-10 mg daily): A natural over-the-counter supplement that may reduce feelings of anger and cause cheerfulness. People associate lithium drugs with bipolar disorder, but lithium is essential for every human being. Research suggests this mineral may reverse early Alzheimer’s, improve spatial memory, Meniere’s syndrome and migraine/cluster headaches.

Bacopa monniera: This is a smart pill, which Ayurvedic physicians have known about for eons. In the United States, it is grabbing hold of the interests of even traditional docs because some good studies prove that it can improve memory recall, alertness and cognitive function.

Vinpocetine: The periwinkle extract increases blood flow feeding your brain cells more oxygen and glucose. That makes nerve impulses fire better. If your condition is due to poor blood flow, then vinpocetine may be right for you.

Phosphatidylserine or PS:  This is a fatty substances that is part of cell membranes. It easily slips into brain cells and helps preserve and/or enhance memory.  The studies aren’t jaw-dropping, but PS is essential in my mind.

CoQ10:  This antioxidant and it’s active form called “ubiquinol” offer maid service to your brain cells. Research suggests the ‘cleansing’ action of CoQ10 slows down dementia and memory loss.

Did You Know?

Generic medications offer a low-cost alternative to pricey brand name drugs and work just as well.