The evanescence of memory affects old and young people alike. At any moment you might find yourself unable to recall new events, memories of the past, or both. Depending on the cause, it may be temporary or permanent, recurring or even getting worse as you age. And it might not be age alone that is responsible. Stress, nutritional deficiency, poor diet, insufficient exercise or lack of sleep all affect your brain’s ability to process and recall events.
To better understand how to combat memory loss, it is best to look first at some common causes.
Causes of Memory Loss
Medication. One of the side effects of many common over-the-counter and prescription drugs is memory loss. Anti-anxiety drugs, sleeping aids, and antidepressants (among other medications) can affect your ability to concentrate, and your ability to move information from your short-term to long-term memory.
Alcohol, tobacco or drug intake. Excessive drinking, smoking, or drug abuse all affect your body’s ability to recall events and form new memories, as well as cause additional stress to your body’s systems.
Dementia. Loss of brain cells caused by disease, injury and aging can cause difficulties with forming or recalling memories.
Nutritional deficiency. Good nutrition is absolutely necessary for your brain to function properly. In particular, you need the appropriate amount of vitamin B1 and B12.
At the first sign of memory loss, it’s best to consult with your healthcare professional to rule out any serious health issues. However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially with something as important as memory. There are a number of available substances that might help you prevent your memory loss before it happens.
What is a Nootropic?
Nootropics improve one or more facets of mental function and improve memory, motivation, or even your ability to concentrate. The pill forms of nootropics go by many common monikers such as smart drugs, memory enhancers, and cognitive or intelligence enhancers. These can be purchased online or in health food stores. Nootropics also occur in many natural substances, and have been shown to help combat memory loss.
Prior to taking any nootropics, you establish a baseline by taking simple memory tests. This will help you track whether the nootropic is effective for you. Not all nootropics will work equally or in the same manner, so having the ability to definitely demonstrate an improvement in memory will allow you to narrow down which nootropics are the best for you.
You can further narrow down which natural nootropic is the right fit for you by deciding on where your issue lies and what you’d like to achieve. Do you have a problem concentrating or focusing? Do you suffer from lack of short-term memory? Perhaps you’re looking to improve your overall brain health to ward off memory loss as you age? Knowing your goal will ensure you find the right nootropic for your needs.
As nootropics are getting more popular, many people are discovering the benefits and turning to nootropics to improve their memory and cognitive function. Even Tech Titans have their own concoction of nootropics to enhance their brain’s performance.
Six Popular Nootropics
One of the most popular natural nootropics in the world, caffeine is easily accessible to most people. It can be consumed through coffee, tea, soda, caffeine supplements, and even chocolate.
Numerous studies suggest that caffeine may help boost long-term memory. A 200 mg dose of caffeine alone works to consolidate memories, allowing you to recall them at a later date. It works by blocking a molecule called adenosine, which is responsible for preventing the function of norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a hormone that has positive effects on memory.
Caffeine works in other ways as well. It eradicates the impairment of alertness connected with sleepiness. Tiredness contributes to a drop of performance, lack of attention, and reduced mental awareness and intellectual capability.
People have long associated taking Gingko biloba, a tree found in China, with memory improvement, but the benefits of Gingko are more than just an old folk remedy. A variety of peer-reviewed studies have shown that this nootropic may not only prevent memory loss, but may also improve cognitive function in someone who is suffering from a mild impairment.
Gingko biloba may be consumed in the form of a special extract that comes from the tree's leaves. This extract, called EGb 761, contains several compounds that work together to increase blood circulation in the body. Most importantly, EGb 761 increases blood circulation to the brain, which many researchers attribute to increased mental performance. Gingko also works to keep the blood vessels healthy and protects neurotransmitters which contribute to strong cognitive performance.
Gingko may even have a wider variety of benefits than simply memory improvement though. Taking it regularly has been shown to potentially improve sleep quality, calmness, and reduce anxiety.
Rhodiola is a plant found in the arctic regions and at high altitudes of Europe and Asia. It is considered an adaptogen, and it works to normalize functioning and healing of cells. Adaptogens control stress resistance, avert fatigue, and improve physical and mental performance, all of which are important to increase cognitive functioning and prevent memory loss.
Bacopa is a staple of traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India. It is frequently used to treat memory and brain-related disorders. It is also known as Brahmi and, like Rhodiola Rosea, acts as an adaptogen. As a nootropic, it may help to alleviate the adverse effects of memory impairment or loss, anxiety, and hyperactivity, while also helping fight stress.
Studies on Acetyl-L-Carnitine (commonly known as ALCAR) are fairly new, but preliminary research indicates that ALCAR has the potential to support healthy brain function and greatly improve cognitive performance.
ALCAR is an amino acid that is naturally created by the body and helps to produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a vital part of several brain functions, one of the most important being the developing of memories. Increasing the amount of this neurotransmitter in your body results in increased mental performance.
In addition to increasing neurotransmitter performance, ALCAR has also been shown to improve blood circulation and remove blood toxins from the brain, allowing it to perform at its peak operation.
L-theanine is an amino acid present in the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, and has been used in Japan for many years. It has demonstrated the potential to modify brain waves and neurotransmitters in relation to disposition, attention, and memory formation. Usage of L-theanine improves brain alpha-wave activity, an indicator of relaxation, and may help memory as stress directly impacts the formation of new memories.
Nootropics have changed the life of many people. Research is ongoing, but early results indicate that these compounds play a potentially important role in brain health. Whether your personal health goal is to improve your cognitive function, improve your concentration, or support your brain as you age, these six natural nootropics may ultimately help you in your goal to combat memory loss and stay an active, healthy adult.