Taking Care Of Our Brain

Reprinted from Sunshine Sharing Vol. 5 No. 8

Enhancing your brain power

The brain is described in the dictionary as the part of the central nervous system enclosed in the cranium of vertebrates, serving to control and coordinate the mental and physical actions. However, in the common speech, brains means intelligence � the ability to comprehend, remember and process information. Sometimes we think that having �brains� is just a matter of genes or plain �luck�. However, our capacity to think and know is not something that is set in stone at birth. IQ can change and there are many things that can be done to improve our �brains.�

Like any other organ of the body, the brain can be strengthened by good nutrition. It can also be developed with use or diminished with abuse. In this issue you�ll learn some of the herbs, nutrients and practices that can enhance your �brain power.� You�ll also discover some of the things that diminish it. So, exercise your �central nervous system processing center� (i.e., brain) and read on.

Starting Right

Good nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood is vital to the development of the brain. Essential fatty acids are extremely important to the development of the brain, so children should not be put on a low fat diet. Children need fats, but they need healthy fats, like those found in nuts and seeds, salmon and ocean fish, flax or hemp seed oil and butter. These healthy sources of fat are vital to their developing central nervous systems.
Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar diminishes brain power. The brain consumes more sugar than any other organ in the body. When blood sugar levels drop, many of the higher processing centers of the brain start to shut down. Mental confusion, irritability, inability to concentrate and even �crazy� behavior can result.

Refined sugars and carbohydrates give the brain a �quick fix� of sugar, but lack the other nutrients the body needs to control and process the sugar in a stable manner. Hence, they produce rapid increases and decreases in blood sugar levels creating a blood sugar �roller coaster� with corresponding behavior. If you or your children behave like angels at one time and demons at others, you may be on this blood sugar roller coaster.

Other symptoms include a sudden inability to concentrate, sleepiness or a drop in body temperature (cold nose or limbs). This usually happens in mid-afternoon or when the person hasn�t eaten for a while.

Getting out of the refined carbohydrate �amusement park� and onto a diet rich in complex carbohydrates can help the brain stay focused. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much clearer you can think on a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and natural sweeteners (like unprocessed honey, real maple syrup, xylitol etc.). These foods keep the brain supplied with a constant, controlled level of sugar that helps keep thought processes focused and stable. Once you�ve been on a diet free of refined carbohydrates for about three to four weeks, you�ll be amazed at the clarity of your thought processes. It�s like the proverbial �light bulb� turning on in the mind.
Licorice root can help to stabilize blood sugar levels and kill the craving for sugar and stimulants.

GTF chromium can also be useful for the same purpose. Another supplement that can help is the Chinese formula Nervous Fatigue. It builds the adrenal glands and pancreas and helps overcome mental fatigue, confusion, inability to concentrate and emotional mood swings.

Getting Blood to Your Brain

The brain doesn�t just need sugar, however, it also needs a constant supply of oxygen and other vital nutrients carried by the blood. Circulation to the brain is another major factor in brain power. Perhaps you�ve noticed that when you�ve been sitting for a long time you start to feel sleepy and have a difficult time concentrating. After taking a walk, however, your mental alertness returns and the fatigue vanishes. This is because the pumping action of the muscles in your legs gets more blood to the brain. Hence, a sedentary life-style can diminish your thinking capacity. Something as simple as a gentle exercise program (even walking) can enhance your mental ability.

Many Americans, however, suffer from an even more serious circulatory problem � atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. If you enjoy a diet rich in saturated fat and low in fiber you�re just asking for this condition. Atherosclerosis is the result of cholesterol formations in the arteries of the body, especially the arteries leading to the heart and brain. As the arteries which carry blood into the brain become �plugged� the amount of oxygen and nutrients reaching our thinking center diminishes. The result � loss of memory.

The same diet that helps control hypoglycemia also helps to prevent the clogging of your brain�s blood vessels and hence, your �constipated� thought processes. Whole grains, fresh vegetables and other foods rich in natural fiber help to keep your cholesterol levels down and your brain power up. If you already have this problem, there is a solution. Oral chelation can remove the plaque lining your arteries and get your blood (and your thoughts) flowing freely again.

MegaChel is a product loaded with high doses of antioxidant vitamins and nutrients that helps your body break down arterial plaque. It works best taken with liquid trace minerals (Ionic minerals) (1). When using MegaChel, start slowly with one tablet two times daily and gradually increase to a full dose (5-6 tablets twice daily) over a period of 3-4 weeks. Divide your age by 10 and stay on the full dose for that many months (i.e., 3 months for age 30, 7 months for age 70). Taper off gradually.
The MegaChel oral chelation program can be even more effective when combined with other herbs that enhance circulation. Ask your NSP Herb Specialist for further information.

�Brainy� Herbs

Two herbs have a special reputation for enhancing your mental capacity. The first is Gotu Kola, an herb from India commonly used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. It is a general tonic, nervine and adaptagen that services the small capillaries in the brain improving blood flow. It is said that elephants like to eat the herb and we all know that �an elephant never forgets.�
While you are unlikely to �never forget� taking the herb, there is reasonable evidence that the plant does posses an adaptagenic capacity that relieves depression, improves memory, concentration and reduces fatigue.
Another herb that has been found to support brain function is Ginkgo biloba. This is not based on tradition or folklore, but on modern scientific research done in Europe. Ginkgo has been found to stabilize the blood/brain barrier, enhance circulation to the brain and otherwise improve cerebral function. One study found that a daily regimen helped stabilize mental deterioration in patients with early Alzheimer�s disease and other forms of dementia.

Ginkgo is a major ingredient in Brain-Protex. This formula also contains blend of phosphatidyl serine, choline, and ethanolamine and inositol. These substances all help to support brain function. Other ingredients include rhododendron extract, a strong antioxidant; lycopene, a freeradical scavenger found in tomatoes; and alpha-lipoic acid, another antioxidant that enhances the properties of vitamins C and E, which improve memory. It is especially good for people over 50 concerned about memory challenges.

Can Music Make You More Intelligent?

Music is a wonderful way to boost our brain power. Frances Rauscher, Ph.D. found in a 1993 study that students who listened to 10 minutes of Mozart�s �Piano Sonata K448� were then able to increase their spatial IQ scores. If listening helps that much, what about actually studying music? A group of 19 preschool children were given eight months of music lessons. Their spatial reasoning performance greatly exceeded a demographically comparable group of 15 children who did not have music lessons. Spatial reasoning is the brain�s ability to perceive the visual world accurately, to form mental images of physical objects and to recognize variations of objects. Spatial reasoning is essential to success in a variety of academic subjects, notably math, the sciences, and engineering. Research has found that the relationship between music and spatial reasoning is so strong that simply listening to music can make a difference.

However, this is not a new concept. Plato believed music was the first subject that children should learn to create a sense of order and harmony in the mind. You might be wondering, how does this work and what kinds of music do this? The best music is from the baroque and classical periods which include mainly Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Handell. Our brains respond to the music of that era because it was created in such an orderly way. Our brains respond to order. This music causes the brain to use both of its sides simultaneously because of the symmetry, key relationships, rhythmic pattern contrasts, highs and lows, light and dark, and the way that it was arranged with such organization.

The right side of the brain (see image above) is the side that produces genius, whimsical, visionary, and poetic thoughts. The left side is the doing side. It controls reason, logic and action. All of us have these wonderful thoughts and ideas that occur in the right side of our brain, but not all of us are able to transfer them to the left side where we can act on them. Music is the way to improve the brain�s ability to do this.
Play music from the classical and baroque periods ten or twenty minutes before taking an exam, or giving an important presentation, or anytime you need to think and communicate clearly. Dr. Rauscher and her research team found that the abstract-reasoning IQ tests of 36 college students were about nine points higher when preceded by 10 minutes of listening to Mozart than they were when the same students listened to a 10 minute relaxation tape or sat in silence before the exam. Even simply singing for an hour each day has been proven to boost test scores and learning capabilities.

Unclutter Your Mind

Here are some great ways to reduce mental stress and help your brain work better.
Take five minutes at the end of each day to organize yourself for the next day. When you wake up, take a few moments to stretch (like a cat) and get the circulation moving. This helps to clear your mind. Relax and spend 5-10 minutes visualizing yourself achieving your desires and objectives for the day.
Allow yourself a five or 10 minute break when you begin to feel stressed during the day. Meditate during this break by focusing on a candle or just closing your eyes and picturing a favorite vacation spot in your head.
Take a day and turn off the TV, radio, and stereo. Notice how calm and nice the silence is.

Memory Loss

There are three degrees of memory: registration, long-term memory, and recall. Registration is the ability to understand once something has been explained. After a concept is understood it is then stored in our short-term memory, which has limited storage space. Unless it is repeated a few times the information will be forgotten and replaced by new facts.
When something is stored in your longterm memory you recognize and associate new material with words, experiences, memories, smells, etc.
When dealing with recall, reserved messages are brought from the unconscious mind into the conscious mind. The strength of recall depends on how well the new message was associated with other information that was stored in your long-term memory.

Supports brain function, memory and concentration.

Mind-Max contains magnesium l-threonate plus gotu kola aerial parts, bacopa leaf and ginkgo leafs herbs well-known to benefit circulation and brain health for a powerful brain boost. Between the ages of 20 and 90, the average person loses 5 to10% of his/her brain weight, with an accompanying loss in memory, attention and other cognitive functions.

Research shows that a decreased number of nerve synapses (the connections between nerve cells) may be responsible for this cognitive decline. Magnesium plays an essential role in nerve synapses. However, magnesium shortages have become common with the increase in processed foods and the lack of magnesium-rich whole foods in the diet. Moreover, most forms of magnesium are not well-absorbed by nervous tissue. Researchers at MIT have discovered that magnesium l-threonate, a highly absorbable form of magnesium, can easily cross the blood brain barrier and that it increases the brain's magnesium level.

Symptoms often combined with poor memory are fainting, snoring, insomnia, and headaches. Fainting or blacking out occurs when the heart isn’t able to pump efficiently enough to maintain adequate blood flow to the brain. As a result you might feel weak, nauseated, light-headed and experience blurred vision. A lack of minerals or a mineral imbalance can be the cause of fainting and memory loss. Ionic minerals or Combination Potassium may be helpful. People who snore commonly have difficulty concentrating. SnorEase may be helpful here.

Sleep disturbances or insomnia can cause mental fatigue. This often starts with a minor emotional disturbance or an injury that eventually becomes chronic. Most things people do to help themselves go to sleep, (raiding the fridge, watching TV in bed, drinking alcohol or taking sleeping pills) often makes the problem worse. Try taking Herbal Sleep.

Schizandra berries, an adaptagen found in NutriCalm and Nervous Fatigue Formula can also ease memory problems related to stress and insomnia.
If you are having trouble remembering things, or if you feel confused, or if you have an inability to concentrate it may be the result of a weak liver or a weak heart. A healthy liver is crucial to mental capability. High fat foods and excess alcohol are extremely bad for the liver. Therefore, if you consume a lot of alcohol and fat you can be sure that you will have a hard time remembering names, places, dates, statistics, and theories.
The heart is also often associated with one’s ability to recall important life events. Ginkgo and Hawthorn can improve circulation to the heart and brain. Eat chlorophyll-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, seeds, and basil to enrich the blood.

The brain neurotransmitter is called acetylcholine. It is responsible for coordination of smooth muscles. Memory has been known to improve when acetylcholine levels are boosted in the brain. Low levels of acetylcholine is associated with Alzheimer�s disease. Acetylcholine is increased by eating foods rich in choline, an amino acid that is in soybean products and eggs.
Some other foods reported to improve memory are foods rich in zinc like whole grains, green, yellow and orange vegetables, asparagus, kelp, celery, wheat germ.

Aromatic Brain Therapy

The fragrance of flowers, the scent of a pine forest or the aroma of herbs simmering in the kitchen bring powerful changes to our nervous system. These aromas all come from the essential oils produced by fragrant plants. These oils have a direct effect on the mind through the nerves that govern our sense of smell. In fact, the sense of smell is the only one of our five senses that �plugs� straight into our brain. Hence, aromatherapy is a valuable tool in helping to stimulate or calm our mind.

Here are a few examples:
Clove Bud helps relieve mental fatigue, shock, and denial.
Rosemary helps those suffering from memory loss, depression and a low view of life.
Peppermint improves concentration and helps fainting episodes. It relieves vasoconstrictive headaches.
Pine Needle balances circulation and encourages mental alertness. It is good for feelings of anxiety, mental fatigue, and lack of concentration.
Pink Grapefruit is wonderful for feeling sad, moody, or stressed. It is also beneficial during periods of intense stress that effect memory.
Lemon is good for the circulatory system. When feeling confused, lethargic, and worn out this is the oil to have around.
An oil good for vasoconstrictive headaches, stress and insomnia is Lavender. Use it when experiencing frustration, anxiety, and mental exhaustion.
Thyme encourages mental clarity and creates a feeling of enlivenment.
For best results, apply these oils topically to the temples, forehead, behind the ears or neck; or use them in a diffuser or bath.

�Music: The Gateway to Kid�s Imagination� Billboard: Nov. 1994.
�The Body System�s Approach to Natural Healing� by Steven Horne, (Provo, UT 1996).
�The Scents of Health� by L. Carl Robinson, (Roosevelt, UT 1998).