How Memory Works

Forgetful memoryTo better understand why our memory sometimes falters, we need to understand how the brain stores information. Information is not stored in a single area of your mind, but are scattered over various regions. You can think of you brain as an area containing various storage bins. Each time you collect a piece of information, you brain decides how to categorize it and then what bin to drop it into. The next time you go looking for those facts, your brain then at least has an idea of what bin it placed it in.

For example, you may store the name of a person you just met several moments ago in your recent memory right along side what you had for breakfast this morning. Your brain also has a different “storage bin” for long-term items, such as knowledge acquired years ago or your memories of childhood. It also has a different storage bin for short-term facts, that information that you need at the moment, but you may not need tomorrow or even later in the day.

You’d be surprised how early in life that you begin to lose brain cells. This phenomenon occurs as early as your 20s. This is when your body manufactures less of the certain chemicals that are essential to the ideal functioning of your memory.

There are several logical reasons, besides aging that you may forget certain things. Let’s say you misplaced a piece of paper. You’ll get a fuller appreciation for the complexity of the human memory once you realize everything that goes into retrieving this information. While this may seem to be a single action, it’s really a series of smaller steps. You brain first retrieves the name of the object, in this case the paper, and then its shape, function and other physical qualities associated with it. In other words, your brain is reconstructing the entire image of that paper from various areas or “storage bins” of the brain.

Memory experts explain that there are three reasons that may explain why you can’t remember where you left it. First, you may not have clearly registered, or taken notice, of where you laid that paper down. Second, if you did register it in your brain, you failed to retain it. Finally, you may have registered and retained where that important paper is, but you aren’t able to retrieve it.

If you want to remember where you put your piece of paper or your keys, you’ll need to make an extra effort at going through all three stages of the memory process.

Forgetting may be as simple as failing to encode the action properly. Perhaps you were distracted at the moment that encoding process would have been taking place. Don’t blame yourself, if the location of the paper never actually found its way into your memory in the first place.


Stress and Memory

Stress and MemorySome memory loss is considered a mild cognitive impairment, but chronic, long-term stress can have a serious effect on the severity of that memory loss. When you’re exposed to stress, your body releases hormones, including cortisol, which may prevent the brain from remembering new information or even retrieving already stored items.

Excessive stress can actually damage that part of the brain which is central to learning and memory. It’s called the hippocampus, and the problem centers around the continued secretion of corticosteroids or cortisol.

When your body perceives a threat, the adrenal glands release a hormone called adrenalin. If that perceived threat – and a threat can be defined as anything from a life-changing situation to a looming deadline at work – is long-term, your system attacks it by releasing cortisol through the adrenal glands. Cortisol remains in the brain for a longer period of time where it can adversely affect the brain cells.

You might think that improving your memory is pretty much hopeless, short of shutting out all the stress in your life. Cheer up! That’s not the case. Stress has another side effect on the body. Exposure to constant stress literally gobbles up your reserves of the vitamin B-complex vitamins in your system. And while that may sound like more bad news, it really leads us to a solution to stress-induced memory loss.

Research has discovered that simply by supplementing our diets with plenty of B vitamins, we can counter that memory fatigue. The B-complex of vitamins is really a family of eight related nutrients, including Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), folic acid, B12, pantothenic acid, Niacin (B3). B6, and biotin.

Another recent piece of research you might be interested in: Your system has more trouble dealing with stress when it’s low on the B-vitamins.

When it comes to B vitamins and stress, it’s a lot like that proverbial vicious circle. You’re under increased stress at work, let’s say. You body, then, tries to compensate by using more of the B-vitamins. You become dangerously depleted in these nutrients, and your body reacts by managing stress even more poorly, including a sagging memory.

Your brain, just like every other organ in your body, needs to be supplied with plenty of nutrients in order to perform at its peak efficiency. Overexposure to stress depletes your system’s reserves of vitamins. If you find that your memory is failing you and you know that you’ve been dealing with anxiety or stressful situations, consider supplementing your diet with some B-vitamins. You may find it’s just that easy to have a great memory again.

Resources: Natural Herbal Memory SupplementSuper Memory Secrets

Alternative Health Treatments for Memory Loss

Generally speaking, nutritional intervention is key in boosting a failing memory. Herbs and nutritional supplements are a great way to do this without the side effects of prescription drugs. There are several herbs that contain an outstanding array of phytonutrients to help you either curb forgetfulness or help maintain a healthy memory.

There are many herbs that claim to help boost memory; many of them work by aiding in your circulatory system. When your cardiovascular system is pumping at peak capacity, then it can nourish even the smallest of capillaries in your brain with more vitamins and minerals.

And that’s exactly why the herb bilberry is extremely important for good brain health. The European herb bilberry is a cousin of the American blueberry and carries a host of antioxidant properties. It possesses a legendary reputation as an aid to improving blood flow, especially to the tiniest of capillaries of your body — That’s one of the reasons it’s an excellent choice for eye health as well!

Another excellent choice for brain and memory health is a Russian herb called rhodiola rosea. This is, perhaps, Mother Nature’s most tightly guarded and most powerful brain boosting secret. It possesses a remarkable stress-protective capacity. It certainly isn’t as well known as some of the other herbs, but if you can find it, you may just be pleasantly surprised at the benefits it can provide.

Of course, the granddaddy of all herbs for memory is ginkgo biloba. This herb has been used for millennium as part of traditional Chinese medicine to help improve memory and concentration.

The following two items aren’t herbs, but natural compounds that have proven beneficial over several years of study and use. The first is phosphatidylserine. It promotes a more efficient concentration level and reinvigorates a failing memory. You might find it shortened to PS in your health food store. This substance is found naturally occurring in all of your cells. However, as you age, your body produces less of it.

The second compound is normally referred to DMAE and this helps with your ability to learn as well as boosting your levels of concentration. DMAE can also help revive a sagging memory and contribute to an overall greater mental clarity.

Remember, before you start to add any dietary supplement to your regime that you let your health care practitioner know. He’ll be able to tell you if any supplement you intend to take interacts adversely with medications you may be on. Additionally, you may wish to consult with a professional herbalist as well to receive all the proper instruction and insight.


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Memory Pills

Antiaging SupplementsMore and more, people are turning to herbal and nutritional supplements for better memory and longer life. Some supplements are very familiar while others are less well known. Fortunately, there is a lot of investigation and research being carried out in Asia and Europe on natural and herbal remedies of that have a positive effect on memory.

With an aging population in the U.S., much research is being aimed at the problem of memory loss as well as improvement of intelligence and mental capability. The so-called smart pill ginkgo biloba is a case in point, and this plant is under constant investigation with regard to its effect on Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Kava Kava

The number of different herbs and plants and the type of chemicals they contain is massive. All the various nutrients, antioxidants, hormones, enzymes and amino acids are being studied to find out what benefits they bring to the table. kava kava, for instance, helps stress and anxiety and has been shown to have a positive effect in suppressing the growth of cancer cells.

For other reasons, however, it is banned for sale in parts of Europe and the UK, though the reasons for this are currently under review. It is commonly used throughout the Pacific for its soporific effect, but can cause skin problems if overused. However, where available, its use is thought to prevent the onset of some cancers including leukemia.

Human Growth Hormone

Another supplement that is contentious in its use is Human Growth Hormone or HGH. This is used as a supplement in adults suffering from growth hormone deficiency, and has been promoted as an anti-aging supplement. Whether or not it has this effect is still open to debate, though it certainly increases lean muscle mass and bone density in those with a deficiency. The first step in an anti-aging program should be to ensure that your growth hormone level is as it should be.

Ginkgo Biloba

The reason ginkgo is such a popular supplement is that it increases oxygen to various parts of the body. This goes a long way in treating memory loss. The queen of them all is probably ginkgo biloba. Studies have provided evidence that it can be beneficial in improving the brain and memory function in early stage Alzheimer’s, and in age-related cognitive decline (ARCD). It is also believed to help in cases of certain types of glaucoma. These benefits might be due to the effect is has of increasing the circulation of the blood to the brain.

Ginkgo is also a powerful antioxidant that can protect the central nervous system from the effects of aging, and protect the cardiovascular system through the destruction of free radicals in the blood. Free radicals can be responsible for mental deterioration and dementia in the elderly. Gingko biloba contains a number of different active antioxidants and chemicals that improve blood circulation to the brain.

Coenzyme Q10

It is not only the ancient remedies that are being found to have a scientific reason for their effectiveness in treating specific conditions, and Coenzyme Q10 is one of the relatively newer additions to nature’s arsenal. This substance is contained in every cell in the body, and it has been found to provide protection to the brain from Parkinson’s disease and other conditions that cause degeneration of the brain cells. This can help to improve memory, and reduce the effects of aging, though it does not relieve any existing Parkinson’s symptoms.

Studies into the effects of Coenzyme Q10 are still under way, and it has been shown to be a strong antioxidant. It is also believed to reduce high blood pressure though this is still under review, and studies into the potential uses of the supplement are continuing.


Although used extensively over the ages for a large number of ailments, bilberry is generally regarded by experts as being another strong antioxidant. In fact most supplements that have an anti-aging effect appear to be antioxidants. This is because aging is closely associated with the presence of free radicals in the blood, and even the traditional antioxidants vitamins C and E can have an anti-aging effect on the body.

Bilberry has been used for the treatment of arteriosclerosis and various eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts, and is commonly available. It contains flavonoids that can reduce the risk of blood clots, and hence of strokes and heart attacks. Although many of the medicinal properties claimed have yet to proved, bilberry is widely used as an herbal supplement.


Pumpkin is also high in antioxidants, and it is considered by the Chinese to stimulate the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The effect of increased insulin levels is to reduce the sugar levels in the blood, and reduce oxidation damage to certain cells in the body. It is being regarded as a possible natural treatment for diabetes that should reduce sugar imbalances and therefore have an anti-aging effect.


Dicosahexaenoic acid, otherwise known as DHA, is found predominantly in fish oils. Trials are currently under way with this material on humans in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease where it appears to reduce the formation of plaques in the brain. DHA used be found in cattle and eggs, but this has reduced considerably due to cattle being taken off grass some time before slaughter and there is less DHA in factory eggs.

The synthetic supplement is synthesized from beet though is more expensive than the marine source. This supplement is also effective in those that suffer from heart disease.

There are many other natural supplements that have an anti-aging effect or that improve the memory. Most work by means of their antioxidant content, and there are new studies being carried out continually throughout the world. China is a rich source of such remedies, and as that country opens up more will be known about the scientific basis behind their pharmaceutical applications.

There is little doubt that the use of herbs and vitamins for better memory and longer life has a strong scientific basis, and that we still have a great deal to learn about the remedies used before the introduction of mass produced pharmaceuticals.

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