If you worry that your memory is going, you’re not alone. Do you regularly walk into a room and forget what you went there for? Have you ever drawn a blank on a close friend’s name? Do you routinely forget common words? Join the club. These little episodes are embarrassing and frustrating, but are you on the fast track to Alzheimer’s? Probably not.
Memory loss can the result of a number of factors, the most common of which is your age. However, hormonal changes, diet, stress, and simply trying to do too many things at once can also mess with your memory.
There are a couple of organ systems in Chinese medicine that are related to memory. The first (that I can remember) is the Heart. The Chinese Heart is home to your consciousness, spirit, feelings, thoughts, and…yes, your memory. Memory loss is one of the hallmark signs of a Heart disharmony.
Your Chinese Spleen is the organ closely related to digestion. Good digestion helps something called clear Yang to rise upward allowing for mental clarity. When your digestion is funky, you may experience fuzzy thinking and memory problems, along with digestive symptoms, such as heartburn, stomachaches, low blood sugar, gas, bloating, poor absorption of foods, and diarrhea or constipation.
The Kidney system is also a player in memory. One of the important functions of your Chinese Kidney system is how well and healthfully you will age. As you get older, your Kidney gets weaker as a matter of course, affecting everything from your hearing to the strength of your bones, and your mental function/memory. Along with aging, your Kidney also controls things like growth, sexuality, and reproduction. When women go through menopause, their Kidney system is affected, which is why memory seems to take an additional hit during this time.
So the question is: Can Chinese medicine and acupuncture help with memory loss? There is no simple yes or no, depending on the source of the problem. However, in many instances, Chinese medicine can help. For some patients I’ve seen in the clinic, memory problems are directly related to the amount of stress they’re experiencing, and in others, the memory issues began as part of menopause. For older patients who are beginning to show the signs of senile dementia, it may be too late to reverse their memory loss.
According to Chinese medicine, there are some things that you can do to safeguard your memory. This includes:
In addition to Chinese medicine, Western doctors and scientists are looking for ways to protect memory as we age. They have been conducting research on memory and the various factors that may help slow memory loss. Among them:
The good news here is that small changes can be enough to yield big results as long as you keep them up. A few cups of green tea, acupuncture to relieve stress, a couple of days a week of exercise, and moderate changes in your diet can be enough to lower your risk of age related memory problems.