Friday, December 28, 2007

Natural Cures For Memory Loss And Amnesia Get The Facts

Amnesia occurs when the portion of the brain responsible for retrieving stored memories is somehow compromised. This region of the brain is known as the limbic system; it comprises the hippocampus, the amygdala, and portions of the cortex. Besides retrieving memory, the limbic system is responsible for coordination of emotion and motivation and for some of the functions of the endocrine system.

People are amnesiac when the memory retrieval portion of the limbic system isn’t working properly but there is otherwise no change in language, attention span, visual/spatial functioning, or motivation.

Memories are not actually stored in the limbic system or the hippocampus. Rather, several areas of the brain are involved in memory; the type of information being assimilated determines where it is stored. For example, visual and auditory patterns are stored in the temporal lobe, whereas the parietal lobe stores language, speech, word usage, and comprehension.

Forms of Amnesia: Different Ways to Forget
There are two types of memory. Short-term or “working” memory stores information one needs to remember in the next few seconds, minutes, or hours (e.g., a telephone number or driving directions). Long-term memory includes relational and procedural memory. Relational memory is concerned with relationships among objects and depends on the hippocampus. In amnesia, both relational memory and short-term memory may be impaired. Procedural memory represents memory for single objects or tasks (e.g., riding a bicycle) and depends on cortical processors that remain intact in amnesia. This helps explain why amnesiacs often remember basic skills and motor function.

There are several forms of amnesia:

Anterograde amnesia is the most common. It is characterized by the inability to store, retain, or recall new knowledge after the event that triggers the onset of amnesia. Patients in this state often cannot remember what they ate for their last meal or events from the immediate past. They may fill in gaps in their memory with fabricated events (confabulation). This is the type of amnesia seen in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Retrograde amnesia is the loss of memories of events that occurred before the onset of amnesia. This is the form of amnesia most people think of when they hear the word amnesia. It often occurs after a head injury.
Transient global amnesia is a temporary loss of all memory, especially the ability to form new memories, with milder loss of past memories, going back several hours. This form is rare and seen mostly in older people. It usually dissipates within 24 to 48 hours. Transient global amnesia may be caused by migraine, small seizures in the temporal lobe, or transient ischemic attacks. Patients with this condition may become disoriented and repeatedly ask who they are, where they are, and what they are doing. Because this form of amnesia typically resolves on its own and only rarely recurs, there is no recommended treatment for it.
There are many possible causes of amnesia. The most common include Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury (head trauma), brain infection (such as encephalitis or meningitis), dementia, seizures, and stroke. Less common causes include a brain tumor or psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, depression, criminal behavior, or psychogenic amnesia). Psychogenic amnesia usually happens in close association with a stressful event that involves serious threat to life or health. Criminals frequently present with amnesia: reports indicate that 23 percent to 65 percent of murderers claim amnesia for their crimes (Taylor PJ et al 1984

Amnesia can occur because of brain damage that interferes with memory storage, retrieval, or consolidation. What ultimately causes the memory loss—a failure to store memories or a failure to retrieve them—remains unclear. However, a study using rats suggested that memory loss is probably due to an error in memory retrieval, which explains why amnesiacs can usually recover their memories (de Hoz L et al 2004).

Amnesia is also a symptom of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Wernicke-Korsakoff is caused by a severe thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency due to chronic alcoholism or malnourishment. Thiamine is necessary for the body to process carbohydrates. Besides amnesia, symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff include confusion, loss of balance, drowsiness, and problems with vision, such as double vision or rapid movement of the eye. In severe cases, the memory loss may be accompanied by agitation and dementia. The standard treatment is intravenous thiamine, administered as soon as possible after symptoms become apparent. This therapy does not correct the condition, however, and recovery may be gradual and incomplete.

Drugs besides alcohol can lead to amnesia. These include recreational drugs such as cocaine, LSD, PCP, and mescaline. Several prescription medications, including aminophylline, barbiturates, bromide, digoxin, diuretics, isoniazid, methyldopa, and tricyclic antidepressants, can also cause transient amnesia (Brna TG et al 1990). Any drug-related impairment is usually resolved once the drug is discontinued

Supplements that have been shown to boost memory and brain function include the following:

Cognitex with Neuroprotection Complex—3 capsules in the morning with or without food. This product was formulated by Life Extension Foundation. It contains many of the nutrients listed above, including GPC, ashwagandha, phosphatidylserine, grape seed extract, vinpocetine, and pregnenolone (optional).
DHEA—15 to 75 milligrams (mg) daily, followed by blood testing after 3 to 6 weeks to make sure that youthful levels of this vital hormone are being maintained
Ginkgo biloba—one 120-mg capsule daily
Huperzine A—50 micrograms (mcg) daily
Vitamin E—400 international units (IU) daily
Vitamin C—500 to 1000 mg daily
Complete B Complex—3 capsules daily. This product was formulated by Life Extension Foundation to provide the complete range of B vitamins. Each capsule contains:
Thiamin, 100 mg
Riboflavin, 50 mg
Niacin, 200 mg
Vitamin B6, 75 mg
Folic acid, 800 mcg
Vitamin B12, 1000 mcg
Biotin, 600 mcg
Pantothenic acid, 1000 mg
Betaine free base, 50 mg
Choline, 45 mg
Inositol, 250 mg
Para-aminobenzoic acid, 100 mg
Piracetam—4800 mg daily until memory is restored

Amnesia Safety Caveats
An aggressive program of dietary supplementation should not be launched without the supervision of a qualified physician. Several of the nutrients suggested in this protocol may have adverse effects. These include:


Do not take DHEA if you could be pregnant, are breastfeeding, or could have prostate, breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer.
DHEA can cause androgenic effects in woman such as acne, deepening of the voice, facial hair growth and hair loss.

Do not take choline if you have primary genetic trimethylaminuria.
Choline can cause fishy body odor, excessive perspiration, hypotension (low blood pressure), depression, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea.
Folic acid

Consult your doctor before taking folic acid if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Daily doses of more than 1 milligram of folic acid can precipitate or exacerbate the neurological damage caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Ginkgo biloba

Individuals with a known risk factor for intracranial hemorrhage, systematic arterial hypertension, diabetes, or seizures should avoid ginkgo.
Do not use prior to or after surgery.
Avoid concomitant use of ginkgo with NSAIDS, blood thinners, diuretics, or SSRI’s.
Gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea and diarrhea) may occur.
Allergic skin reactions may occur.
Elevations in blood pressure may occur.
Huperzine A

Do not take huperzine A if you have a seizure disorder, cardiac arrhythmias, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, or malabsorption syndrome.
Huperzine A can cause excessive perspiration, blurred vision, fasciculations (involuntary muscle twitching), dizziness, bronchospasm, bradycardia, arrhythmias, seizures, urinary incontinence, increased urination, excessive salivation, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Niacin (nicotinic acid)

Do not take high doses of nicotinic acid (1.5 to 5 grams daily or more) if you have liver dysfunction, an unexplained elevation in your serum aminotransferase (transaminase) level, active peptic ulcer disease, arterial bleeding, or if you consume large amounts of alcohol.
Consult your doctor before taking high doses of nicotinic acid if you have a history of jaundice, peptic ulcer disease, gastritis, disease of the liver or bile ducts, gout, kidney dysfunction, or cardiovascular disease (especially acute myocardial infarction or unstable angina).
Consult your doctor before taking high doses of nicotinic acid if you have diabetes. High doses of nicotinic acid can negatively affect glucose tolerance. Monitor your serum glucose level frequently if you take nicotinic acid and have diabetes.
Have your doctor monitor your serum aminotransferase level if you take high-doses of nicotinic acid.
Nicotinic acid may cause flushing, principally of the face, neck, and chest. This flushing is thought to be prostaglandin-prostacyclin mediated. Histamine may also play a role in the flushing.
Nicotinic acid can cause dizziness, palpitations, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, chills, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and muscle pain.
High doses of nicotinic acid can cause blurred vision, macular edema, toxic amblyopia, and cystic maculopathy.
PABA (Para-aminobenzoic Acid)

Do not take PABA if you are taking sulfonamides or have a kidney disease.
PABA can cause anorexia, nausea, vomiting, fever, and rash.

Phosphatidylcholine can cause increased salivation, a metallic taste, headache, drowsiness, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea.

Phosphatidylcholine can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and indigestion.

Do not take pregnenolone if you could be pregnant or are breastfeeding, or if you have prostate, breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer.
Do not take pregnenolone if you have a seizure disorder.
Pregnenolone can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea.
Pregnenolone can be converted to steroids such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).
Trimethylglycine (betaine)

Do not take trimethylglycine (betaine) if you have gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or peptic ulcer disease.

Do not take vinpocetine if you have a history of allergic or hypersensitivity reactions to any vinca alkaloids.
Consult your doctor before taking vinpocetine if you take warfarin (Coumadin). Have your international normalized ratio monitored frequently by your doctor if you take vinpocetine and warfarin.
Consult your doctor before taking vinpocetine if you have low blood pressure (including transient low blood pressure or orthostatic hypotension). Prolonged use of vinpocetine may lead to slight reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
Vinpocetine can cause temporary rapid heartbeat, pressure headache, facial flushing, dizziness, insomnia, drowsiness, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

Consult your doctor before taking vitamin B1 for a thiamin deficiency, lactic acidosis secondary to thiamin deficiency, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, Wernicke's encephalopathy, or Korsakoff's psychosis.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

High doses of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may interfere with the Abbott TDx drugs-of-abuse assay.
Riboflavin absorption is increased in hypothyroidism and decreased in hyperthyroidism.
If you are taking nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors, even a mild riboflavin deficiency can increase your risk of lactic acidosis.
Vitamin B6

Do not take 5 milligrams or more of vitamin B6 daily if you are being treated with levodopa, unless you are taking carbidopa at the same time.
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)

Do not take cyanocobalamin if you have Leber's optic atrophy.
Vitamin C

Do not take vitamin C if you have a history of kidney stones or of kidney insufficiency (defined as having a serum creatine level greater than 2 milligrams per deciliter and/or a creatinine clearance less than 30 milliliters per minute.
Consult your doctor before taking large amounts of vitamin C if you have hemochromatosis, thalassemia, sideroblastic anemia, sickle cell anemia, or erythrocyte glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. You can experience iron overload if you have one of these conditions and use large amounts of vitamin C.
Vitamin E

Consult your doctor before taking vitamin E if you take warfarin (Coumadin).
Consult your doctor before taking high doses of vitamin E if you have a vitamin K deficiency or a history of liver failure.
Consult your doctor before taking vitamin E if you have a history of any bleeding disorder such as peptic ulcers, hemorrhagic stroke, or hemophilia.
Discontinue using vitamin E 1 month before any surgical procedure.



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