Nourish, Stimulate, and Calm Your Brain
Having difficulties focusing, remembering tasks or organizing your thoughts?
It may sound strange to learn that cognitive function is not solely the job of the brain alone; other parts and organs of the body are involved—the heart and kidneys both partner with the brain to nurture a healthy and attentive mind. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help optimize your brain power through a treatment approach that incorporates different modalities, including nutritional support.
One reason why the heart needs constant attention is because it must constantly pump blood throughout the body via the blood vessels. Oxygen and vital substances are delivered to the brain in this manner to stimulate or calm it. The heart also has another important responsibility relating to the sustainability of the brain: to house the Shen.
The concept of the Shen can be described as the spirit or mind of a person. According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the spirit, or Shen, embodies consciousness, emotions and thought. Shen influences long-term memory and the ability to think clearly, contributes to wisdom, and presides over activities that involve mental and creative functions. When the mind is healthy, we are able to think clearly. When the mind is unhealthy or unbalanced, we experience confusion, poor memory and clouded thinking.
The kidneys also contribute to a healthy brain as they supply a vital substance called Jing, which then produces marrow. Jing is a unique, fundamental substance necessary for human life. Marrow is the material foundation for the central nervous system and is the matter that ‘fills up’ the brain, thus the brain is referred to as the Sea of Marrow.
The Sea of Marrow is indispensable for memory and concentration. It also rules over the five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing and seeing. It is natural for the Sea of Marrow to wane as we grow older. However, there are acupuncture and Oriental medicine treatments that can help nurture even the most mature brain.
A healthy mind involves harmony between the brain (Sea of Marrow) and the spirit (Shen). Disharmony of the mind often manifests as anxiety, insomnia, muddled thinking, forgetfulness and chronic restlessness. Meditation and acupuncture, as well as diet and physical exercises such as Tai Chi or Qi Gong can balance and strengthen the mind.
Want to optimize your cognitive function and mental health? Call for a consultation today!
Challenge Your Brain
Keep your mind active and challenged. Brain function decreases with age. Studies show that cognitive exercise can improve blood flow to the brain. Spend at least 15 minutes each day on a mental exercise such as a crossword puzzle, journaling or learning a new language in order to slow memory loss.
However you choose to exercise your brain, acupuncture can help. Numerous studies suggest that acupuncture can help improve memory, mental clarity, concentration and cognitive function.
One recently published study showed how acupuncture can be used to help patients with vascular dementia. Cerebral functional imaging before and after acupuncture treatments showed a significant increase in the cerebral glucose metabolism of the brain, which is associated with improved cognitive function.
Other studies have looked at how acupuncture affects the performance of students taking an exam or those with Alzheimer’s disease and memory impairment induced by diabetes and cerebral ischemia. All results, thus far, have been positive.
Good Nutrition Boosts Brain Power
Looking to support your health and also boost your brain function? Good nutrition can help boost your brain power. Not only is it essential to overall physical health, it can also enhance the function and harmony of the mind.
The right foods enhance brain function by providing essential nutrients such as flavonoids, Omega 3s, vitamins, folate and iron–all great for improving the quality and quantity of learning capacity, cognitive abilities, memory and overall brain function.
Where to begin? First of all, avoid excess. According to Oriental medicine, overindulging in food or drink can impair your Qi–the energy which powers the body and the mind. Greasy, fatty, spicy and sweet foods can also lead to “stuck” Qi, worsening any symptoms of fogginess or sluggishness.
So how can you support your brain and body health with food? Consider these foods and their benefits for your brain and body:
Walnuts for Memory
Walnuts are a good source of vitamins B and E, which may support memory function and slow cell aging. Try eating 1-2 walnuts per day for optimal brain function. Nuts and seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, folate, vitamin E, vitamin B6 and zinc, all of which allow you to think more clearly. Seeds and nuts rich in thiamine and magnesium are great for memory, cognitive function and brain nourishment.
Leafy Greens for Concentration, Recall and Understanding
Cooked leafy greens support the Yin, which, according to Oriental medicine, enables better concentration and deep rest. Vegetables such as cabbage, kale, spinach, collards, turnip greens and others are rich in vitamins, folate and iron, all of which are essential for memory recall and increasing cognitive activity. Oriental medicine considers cooked foods easier to digest, so throw them in soup, steam them or stir-fry.
Water for a Calm and Restful Mind
According to Oriental medicine, drinking water is a crucial way to nourish your Yin, calming the mind and improving your rest. Oriental medicine recommends drinking warm water to support the body’s internal temperature.
Substitute any beverages with pure water to transport nutrients during digestion, to act as fluid between the joints, and help regulate our temperature and skin (via perspiration). As a broad guideline, drink half your weight in ounces of water.
Berries to Improve Learning Capacity
Most berries contain fisetin and flavonoids, which are great for improving your memory and allowing you to easily recall past events. Blueberries are well known for their role in improving motor skills and overall learning capacity.
Boost Your Mental Energy, Recall, and Focus
Are you having difficulties recalling what you ate for dinner last night, or do you tend to forget what you are talking about in mid conversation? Do you have trouble coming up with new ideas or find yourself having to study twice as much to retain half the information?
Fuzzy thinking can muddle our words as much as our thoughts. It can drain our creative juices, zap our confidence and make us question our intelligence.
Here are a few acupressure exercises to improve your mental function:
Mental Energy Boost
For a quick boost of mental energy, press point Shuigou. It is located between the bottom of your nose and your upper lip, in the vertical groove that is technically called the philtrum. Simply tap the area with moderate force for about 30 seconds to help revitalize your mind and bring your awareness back to the present moment.
Memory Recall Boost
When you’re struggling to recall information and can’t quite do it, try applying pressure to pointYangbai. To locate this point, find the middle of your eyebrows with your fingertips and slide upwards about half an inch. Just press and make tiny circular motions for a minute or two. Doing this gentle exercise may help coax the information from your mind you are looking for.
Focus and Learning Boost
To enhance your focus and learning ability press on pointYintang, located between the eyebrows and sometimes referred to as “the third eye.” The translation for Yintang, is “hall of impression.”
A “hall” is defined as a corridor or passageway, or the large entrance room of a house. An “impression” is defined as a strong effect produced on the intellect, emotions or conscience. Thus, Yintang is the entrance or passageway to the mind.
Yintang is used to improve mental clarity, concentration and cognitive function, as well as soothe emotions and relieve stress, anxiety and agitation.
For effective self-administered acupressure:
• Breathe deeply
• Focus on the point as pressure is applied
• Pressure should be strong but not uncomfortable
• Begin when you first feel symptoms and continue until they subside