Natural Mind and Memory Boosters
How it works: Improves circulation; acts as an antioxidant.
Positive effects: Improves mood, memory, concentration, and energy.
Cautions: Blood thinner: use with caution if taking blood-thinning medication. Rare side effects of headaches, nausea, or nosebleeds have been reported at high doses.
Dosage: 120-240 mg a day of a standardized extract providing 24 percent flavonoids, taken in two divided doses (60-120 mg twice daily).
Vinpocetine: The Secret of the Periwinkle
Vinpocetine, the active ingredient of the periwinkle plant (Vinca minor), has been available as a cognitive enhancer since 1998. Like ginkgo, vinpocetine improves blood flow and circulation, thus helping deliver oxygen to the brain. There have been many studies to support its efficacy, including one at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England. In this double-blind placebo-controlled study, researchers gave 203 people with memory problems either a placebo or 10-20 mg of vinpocetine. Those on the vinpocetine showed a significant improvement in cognitive performance, with a slight edge to the higher dose group. Research in Russia has also found vinpocetine to be potentially helpful for those with epilepsy.
According to a seventy-two-year-old man with ARCD, "I take a 5-mg dose of vinpocetine at breakfast and lunch. I feel more focused, and it seems that I can make decisions quicker. I also notice colors to be more vivid."
Vinpocetine is available in 5-mg and 10-mg pills. Peak blood levels occur one and a half hours after ingestion. It is best to start with 5 mg twice daily, and build up slowly. Although there are no known adverse effects, we have no long-term studies at high doses, so it's best to be cautious in raising the dose.
How it works: Improves blood flow and circulation to the brain.
Positive effects: Improves cognitive performance; potentially helpful in epilepsy.
Cautions: None reported.
Dosage: 10-40 mg a day. Increase dosage gradually but do not exceed 40 mg daily.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine: The Brain's Superfuel
The amino acid carnitine can be used directly as brain fuel. Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is especially useful because the "acetyl" part helps to make acetylcholine, the key memory neurotransmitter. Supplementing ALC helps to promote both acetylcholine production and release.
ALC also acts as an antioxidant that protects against brain damage and keeps your nervous system youthful. In animals, ALC helps to stimulate the growth of new brain cells and improve communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
Plenty of studies have proven ALC's mind- and mood-enhancing properties. You need between 250 and 1,500 mg for a noticeable effect. ALC becomes even more effective if taken with phosphatidylserine. Unfortunately, it is very expensive and is perhaps not a smart nutrient of choice for this reason. It's best to take it some time before or after eating for maximum absorption.
How it works: Fuel for the brain; helps make acetylcholine; acts as an antioxidant.
Positive effects: Improves mood and mental performance.
Cautions: Not recommended for those with diabetes, liver disease, or kidney disease.
Dosage: 250-1,500 mg daily, between meals.
Glutamine: More Superfuel
Glutamine, another amino acid, is also used directly as fuel for the brain. Glutamine has been shown to both enhance mental performance and to decrease addictive tendencies. Supplementing glutamine, which the brain uses to build and balance the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate, can help promote memory. It can be a very useful addition to a supplement program if you are breaking your addiction to sugar or stimulants. We recommend 2-5 g a day, the equivalent of a teaspoon of glutamine powder, which is much more cost effective than tablets. It is best taken between meals for maximum absorption.
How it works: Fuel for brain cells; helps build and balance neurotransmitters.
Positive effects: Improves both mental energy and relaxation; reduces addiction; stabilizes blood sugar; promotes memory.
Cautions: Rare reports of headaches at high doses.
Dosage: 2-5 mg daily between meals, for maximum absorption.
More on: Alternative Health Care
From NATURAL HIGHS: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind/Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford. Copyright © Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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