The human brain is the center of the central nervous system as well as the primary control center for the peripheral nervous system. The brain controls involuntary activities such as heartbeat, respiration, and digestion - these are known as autonomic functions. The brain also controls conscious activities, such as thought, reasoning, and abstraction. The human brain is more capable of these higher order activities than any other species. Animals do have thought, reasoning and emotion. To enhance memory and brain function through natural supplements, see Memory.
Brain food and diet
Are there any foods that boost brain power? Swedish researchers found that among nearly 5,000 15-year-old boys they surveyed, those who ate fish more than once per week tended to score higher on intelligence tests three years later. The omega-3 fats found in fish -- particularly oily fish like salmon, mackerel and, to a lesser extent, albacore tuna -- are important to early brain development and to maintaining healthy brain function throughout life. Acta Pediatrica, March 2009.
Would fish oil supplements offer similar benefits? Probably, but there could be other substances in fish that could influence mental health. Other options to consider include krill oil, flaxseed oil, and eating fish eggs (this is quite expensive).
Research in monkeys suggests that eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids enhances the development of complex brain networks. Oregon Health & Science University, news release, Feb. 5, 2014.
Brain power through herbs and nutrients
It is possible to improve brain power through herbs and supplements. Brain washing prevents many doctors in recognizing that certain supplements are quite potent and could help many who have age related brain decline. Quite a number of herbs and supplement can easily cross the blood brain barrier. A bad brain with weak function can be turned around, often within days. Brain supplements can help improve brain function. Many of these are found in Mind Power Rx:
Mind Power Rx brain supplement for optimal brain health, formulated by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Mind Power Rx is formulated by Dr. Sahelian, bestselling author of Mind Boosters (also published as Mind Boosting Secrets), to provide steady mental sharpness and focus all day long. Eyesight Rx is a popular product that improves visual acuity within hours or days. Mind Power Rx supports:
• Memory and Mood
• Mental clarity
• Alertness and Focus
FREE sample of brain boosting supplement
Ingredients in brain supplement formula:
Acetyl-L-carnitine is the acetyl form of carnitine and a powerful brain supplement. It has been tested in Alzheimer's disease.
Carnosine is a potent antioxidant and some people notice a mood lift
Choline is a methyl donor
DMAE leads to alertness
Inositol is available in capsule form or as inositol powder
Trimethylglycine (TMG) is quite potent. Most TMG tablets are in a 750 mg dosage, but 100 to 200 mg is a more reasonable approach, and when combined in a brain formula with other nutrients, much less is recommended.
Tyrosine is an amino acid
Vinpocetine is derived from the periwinkle plant
Methylcobalamin is also known as vitamin B12
Pantothenic acid is a B vitamin
This brain supplement has also a proprietary blend of:
Ginkgo Biloba leaf extract, Mucuna Pruriens extract, ashwagandha extract, Bacopa monniera extract, Gotu kola extract, reishi extract, Ginseng extract, Fo-ti extract, and Rhodiola extract.
Resveratrol, found in red wine, shows promise as a nerve protector.
Brain supplement questions
Q. Could you please advise me on which formula you consider your most effective in promoting 'powerful' brain function and 'powerful memory recall, which I would be pleased to try on your reply.
A. There are dozens of brain supplements and brain herbs, and each person will respond differently to different dosages and combination. So it is impossible to say. A good way is to try different brain nutrients and brain herbs one a time to see which ones work best.
Q. I am a licensed psychologist looking for a
program to learn more about brain supplements. I want to be able to
recommend these brain supplements to my patients so that I can treat them
more holistically. Do you offer any type of post-grad training or can you
recommend a place?
A. I asked Dr. Sahelian and he said he does not have such a program and is not aware of one. Perhaps you could recommend Dr. Sahelian's book Mind Boosters?
Q. I am a small businessman and I have to work 14
hours a day, my work is related to Brain. I want to increase my Brain
Power, specially the Will Power & Sixth Sense, My Brain is too much weak,
I always Forget the work that I think to do next day, my remembering power
is very very much weak. And will power I have no. I have very much weak
decision power. This is Happening for last 5 years. I was a best poet &
Musician but now my these abilities have almost overed and finished, I was a
Good Speaker but now I can not speak a sentences at stage and also I was a
Good Host at Stage but now its very difficult to me to be Host for any
Stage Programme. I was intellegent but now I am ......I can not explain.
When I get up early in the morning I feel pain in my all Body specially in
the Head. Can u help me in this regard, I need some effective Food
Supplement for increasing My all Abilities & Brain Powers that I have
A. You may wish to read the book Mind Boosters that has a chapter with many suggestions on how to improve brain power. There is no one answer. Plus, it is important to have a medical evaluation to make sure there are no major correctable problems with your health.
Q. I went across your website and found out lot of
information regarding supplements which are useful for brain health.
I am suffering from cerebellar ataxia. My MRI brain scan shows cerebral
atrophy. there is imbalance in walking and i cannot run and jump. My
memory is good. Please can you suggest me the best of supplements helpful
for my brain health.
A. I am not in a position to make any specific individual recommendations. The term cerebellar ataxia is used to indicate ataxia due to dysfunction of the cerebellum. Cerebellar ataxia has many causes. Perhaps your doctor may wish to try certain brain boosting herbs and nutrients.
Have you done any research on supplements that
increase the amount of neurons, brain cells being produced in the brain?
I don't recall coming across specific research in humans on this topic.
I am very interested in finding out about any of
your supplements which are known to cross the Brain / Blood Barrier.
This is a complicated question to answer since there are thousands of dietary supplements and few have been specifically tested in terms of crossing the barrier. However, the brain nutrients certainly do since the effects are noticed within hours.
Q. Are you familiar with the results with Cognitex Life Extension product?
It has pregnenolone and vinpocetine along with Leucoselect Phytosome
[containing 50 mg grape seed (Vitis vinifera) procyanidin extract
complexed with soy (Glycine max) phospholipids (bean)]150 mg, BlueActiv
Wild Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) Anthocyanins extract (fruit)150
mg Sensoril Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract (root and leaves)
[std. to 8% withanolide glycoside conjugates.
A. I have not tried Cognitex formula so I do not know the effects it has on memory and mental function.
Ultrafine particles, including diesel soot and other combustion bi-products, might increase brain cancer risks. These particles, about 1/70th the diameter of a human hair, are able to lodge deep in human lungs and from there, enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain. The leading cause of cancer deaths in people less than 19 is brain cancer, The young brain is more susceptible to environmental toxins that induce cancer. Of all the particulates, those coming from diesel appear to be the most worrisome. Brain cancers and other tumors of children's nervous systems rose by more than 25 percent between 1973 and 1996. In as little as three months, the brains of laboratory rats begin to change after being exposed to the air around congested Southern California freeways.
The most common form of brain cancer in adults is glioblastoma multiforme.
Brain Function and Lifestyle
There is growing evidence that what's good for the heart is also a boon for the aging brain. In a survey of 26 large studies of older adults, an expert panel found that certain heart-health factors -- like high blood pressure, diabetes and exercise habits -- appeared key to study participants' brain function as well. Cognitive function refers to a person's ability to learn, reason and remember, for example, and these skills commonly decline with age. In some cases, the decline is part of a process leading to Alzheimer's disease or other forms of brain decline such as dementia. But a growing number of studies are finding that controllable lifestyle factors such as exercise and intellectual and social engagement throughout life seem to alter a person's risk of brain decline and dementia. Going out for a daily walk might not prevent Alzheimer's, but it might help delay its onset.
I consider fish to be brain food since they contain important fatty acids such as EPA and DHA.
Brain Training - Training Neurons - Have your own brain gym and exercise your neurons
Memory and intelligence can improve through brain training. Brain cells (neurons), just like muscles, are dynamic structures. When the brain is kept active, brain cells grow and dendrites (the treelike communicating arms between neurons) lengthen and form additional connections with neighboring neurons. These serve to improve brain function. It's never too late to give your neurons a workout.
The human brain is made of living tissue that has the ability to restructure itself. You can improve your brain memory, creativity, and intelligence through your own conscious effort. Researchers have discovered that the length of dendrites increases proportionally to a person's education and lifestyle. Those with a college education who continue to stay mentally active have longer dendrites than those with less education and an intellectually sedentary lifestyle. Thinking and intelligence improve as more dendrites lengthen and connect with adjoining dendrites. Animal studies also confirm the "use it or lose it" theory. Rats placed in an enriched environment (maze learning) show an increase in dendrite growth and enhanced problem-solving ability. When rats are moved to an impoverished environment, dendrites regress. Neurons can grow and change through the last days of life.
A great way to train your brain is through brain game, brain teaser, brain puzzle, brain twister.
Q. Is it true we only use only 10 percent of our
A. During waking hours, no area of the brain is silent or completely inactive. It is possible to train our brain more with various intellectual activities, but it is quite unlikely that we only use such a small percent of our brain.
Brain training computer games
- do they work?
Brain training computer games are thought to help people with memory problems function better, but their benefits for those who don't have measurable cognitive impairment isn't clear. Dr. Peter J. Snyder of Lifespan Affiliated Hospitals in Providence, Rhode Island analyzed 10 randomized controlled trials of a variety of brain training approaches, ranging from a popular computer-based program to individualized piano lessons. While there was some evidence that brain training helped people's immediate performance on tasks related to the training, there was no evidence that the effects could be generalized to other areas of mental function.
The findings don't mean that brain training isn't helpful for people who have memory problems, nor are they definitive proof that brain exercise can't help keep healthy people's wits sharp. But social and intellectual engagement in day-to-day life, from reading to grandchildren to doing crossword puzzles, watching Jeopardy, reading books, is "probably just as effective or more effective" than any formal brain exercise program. Alzheimer's & Dementia, January 2009.
In a six-week study, researchers found people who played online games designed to improve their cognitive skills didn't get any smarter. The researchers recruited participants from viewers of the BBC's science show "Bang Goes the Theory." More than 8,600 people aged 18 to 60 were asked to play online brain games designed by the researchers to improve their memory, reasoning and other skills for at least 10 minutes a day, three times a week. They were compared to more than 2,700 people who didn't play any brain games, but spent a similar amount of time surfing the Internet and answering general knowledge questions. All participants were given a sort of I.Q. test before and after the experiment. People who did the brain training didn't do any better on the test than people who had simply been on the Internet. Adrian Owen was assistant director of the Cognition and Brain Sciences unit at Britain's Medical Research Council and the study's lead author. Nature, April 2010.
Brain disease - Disorder
There are dozens of brain disorders, I will mention a few:
Cyst - Brain cysts, thin-walled collections of fluid, may form within the ventricles or in the brain itself. They may be caused by infections or tumors, but in many cases the cause is unknown. Cysts may be asymtpomatic and are often noted on CT or MRI brain scans performed for other reasons. In some cases, cysts may cause headaches, weakness, seizures or hydrocephalus. Arachnoid cysts are the most common type of brain cyst, and are fluid-filled sacs appearing in one of the three layers of tissue covering the central nervous system.
Hemorrhage - There are two main types of brain hemorrhagic strokes: intracerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage. Intracerebral hemorrhages occur within the brain. Subarachnoid hemorrhages occur between the inner layer (pia mater) and middle layer (arachnoid mater) of the tissue covering the brain (meninges).
Stress and certain medicines can interfere with optimal brain function. Several conditions that impede brain health.
Stress, Anger, and Anxiety - There's an intricate connection between the brain and the body. They communicate with each other through hormones, neurotransmitters, and many other types of chemical messengers. For instance, the hypothalamus and pituitary, two regions in the brain that control various hormone systems, respond immediately to stress by releasing hormones that stimulate the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Excess cortisol can wreak havoc with brain cells, interfering with mental functioning and memory. In turn, the immune system and some of the organs in the body release chemicals that pass into the brain and influence the function of brain cells.
Whether physical (e.g., intense athletic competition, illness) or psychological (e.g., emotional difficulties, financial worries), stress has definite harmful biological effects. Our immune system responds quickly to our thoughts and emotions. On the surface of white blood cells, there are receptors to which hormones and neurotransmitters attach. When we are under stress, substances released by the brain attach to the cells of the immune system and disturb their proper functioning. Positive thoughts and emotions are believed to enhance the immune system. The immune system can in turn send substances back to the brain, altering the release of neurotransmitters, thus influencing mood and cognition.
We can make our brain even healthier by replacing negative input with positive input. As you know, whatever enters our stomach affects our body. We need to be as careful about what enters our brain. For instance, unhealthy relationships with parents, a spouse, a lover, relatives, an employer, or roommates can give the ego a regular beating. The constant exposure to this emotional insult inevitably has a detrimental influence on the psyche, and consequently affects physical and brain health. If improving the lines of communication and restoring healthy interactions are not possible, it may be appropriate to temporarily withdraw from unhealthy relationships and give time to heal.
Reduce your exposure to movies, books, and television programs that portray violence, horror, or negativity. Viewing violence may make some people, especially children and teenagers, more aggressive. Even if the violence does not manifest externally, violent programs can affect dreams. Radio and television shows that continually criticize and disparage individuals or groups due to ethnic, racial, and sexual orientation are an additional source of negativity. Be conscious of what you feed your mind. Watching excessively violent movies, or reading similar books, is for the mind what consuming junk food is for the body.
If you're a news junkie, take breaks once in a while for at least a weekend and don't read a newspaper or watch the news on television.
Brain Busting medicines
One of the most common causes of rapid cognitive decline is the use of certain prescription drugs. Sedatives and sleeping pills often have immediate and dramatic effects on memory and clarity of thinking. Regular use of some of these drugs can sometimes cause irreversible brain and memory impairment. The occasional use of melatonin is an alternative to sleeping pills, while kava and 5-HTP can substitute for antianxiety agents in the therapy of mild to moderate anxiety. Do not be concerned about the infrequent use of a pharmaceutical sedative: this should not interfere with memory.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs have become mainstays over the past five years, after several studies hinted they reduce the risk of dying from heart attacks. Millions of Americans now take a type of drug called statins. Although these drugs may reduce the risk of coronary artery disease in the short term, they may also have negative effects on brain health. Some studies have shown that those who lower their cholesterol levels excessively seem to have reduced mood, attention, and concentration, and are more likely to die by car accidents and suicide. Cholesterol is one of the important components of brain lipids. It plays a crucial role in the cell membrane, helps in the transmission of nerve signals, and serves as the precursor to the manufacture of pregnenolone, DHEA, estrogen, and all the other steroid hormones. By blocking the formation of cholesterol, or excessively lowering its concentration through drugs, are we also decreasing levels of steroid hormones in the brain? Could the shortage of these hormones in the brain lead to depression, memory loss, and cognitive decline? The answers are not yet available, but this possibility must be considered. Cholesterol-lowering drugs may be appropriate to use if cholesterol levels are very high, but keep in mind the negative influence these drugs may have on cognition. Make an attempt to lower your cholesterol through diet or natural supplements.
There are many other types of drugs that potentially could interfere with brain health and brain function. These include certain beta-blockers, painkillers, calcium channel blockers, anticonvulsants, chemotherapeutic agents, and muscle relaxants. Ask your physician whether any of the medicines you are taking has a negative influence on the brain, and whether there may be better pharmaceutical or nutritional alternatives.
Alcohol benefit and harm
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It acts at many sites, including the reticular formation, spinal cord, cerebellum and cerebral cortex, and on many neurotransmitter systems. Alcohol is a very small molecule and is soluble in "lipid" and water solutions. Because of these properties, alcohol gets into the bloodstream very easily and also crosses the blood brain barrier.
The average human brain weighs about 3 pounds (1300-1400 grams). At birth, the human brain weighs less than a pound. As a child grows, the number of cell remains relatively stable, but the cells grow in size and the number of connections increases. The human brain reaches its full size at about 6 years of age. The brain consists of gray matter (40%) and white matter (60%) contained within the skull. Brain cells include neurons and glial cells. The brain has three main parts: the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brain stem (medulla).
The frontal lobe is responsible for attention, thought, reasoning, behavior, movement, sense of smell, and sexual urges. The parietal lobe is responsible for intellect, reasoning, the sensation of touch, response to internal stimuli, some language and reading functions, and some visual functions. The occipital lobe is primarily responsible for vision. The temporal lobe is responsible for behavior, memory, hearing and visual pathways, and emotions.
Brain Surgery - Craniotomy
Brain surgery treats lesions of the brain and its surrounding structures through an opening (craniotomy) in the skull (cranium). Brain surgery may be needed when trauma occurs to the head or to treat:
* brain tumors
* bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage) or blood clots ( hematomas ) from injuries ( subdural hematoma or epidural hematomas)
* weaknesses in blood vessels (cerebral aneurysms )
* arteriovenous malformations (AVM; abnormal blood vessels)
* damage to tissues covering the brain (dura)
* pockets of infection in the brain ( brain abscesses )
* severe nerve or facial pain (such as trigeminal neuralgia or tic douloureux )
Intelligence appears to be associated with the speed of brain changes in childhood and the teen years, rather than the size of the brain itself. During childhood and adolescence, the cerebral cortex -- the outer layer of the brain, which is involved in learning, language, attention and other higher-order skills, and is also known as the gray matter -- gets thicker and thicker until it reaches a peak, and then thins out again. In a study of 629 brain scans from 307 healthy young people, it was found this process happened more rapidly and dramatically in the most intelligent individuals. It's not clear why the cortex shrinks after it thickens, but this may represent a pruning of brain cells that fine-tunes the cortex to make it more effective. Children who ranked highest on IQ tests started out with the thinnest cortexes, which then thickened more rapidly, reached a peak of thickness at about age 11, and then rapidly thinned. Children of average intelligence showed a similar pattern, but their cortical thickness peaked earlier, so they had a less prolonged period of cortical growth. Changes were most pronounced in the front portion of the cortex, the seat of reasoning, planning and other very complex thought processes. Nature, March 30, 2004.
Exposure to industrial chemicals in the womb or early in life can impair brain development. Only a few substances, such as lead and mercury, are controlled with the purpose of protecting children. The hundreds of other chemicals that are known to be toxic to the human brain are not regulated to prevent adverse effects on the fetus or a small child. Millions of children worldwide are harmed by toxic chemicals and may suffer learning disabilities and brain development disorders. But only substances such as lead, methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been sufficiently studied and regulated. The developing brain is more susceptible to the effects of toxic chemicals than an adult brain and any interference could have permanent consequences.
Brain Stimulation and Memory
Brain stimulation with gentle electric currents during sleep boosts memory. When German researchers applied several currents that mimic natural slow oscillating brain waves in sleep they enhanced the memory of medical students who had done a word-learning task. "It leads to improved memory retention," said Jan Born, a neuroscientist at the University of Luebeck. He and his team asked the students to learn a list of paired words in a standard memory test before they fell asleep. The researchers stimulated their brain while they slept. After they woke up, the students had to recall the words they had memorised. If the currents were applied to the scalp during deep sleep, the first few hours of nocturnal sleep, the students recalled a greater number of words than if they had been given a sham brain stimulation. The increase in brain memory was about 8 percent. The students did not feel any sensation from the currents to the frontal cortex of the brain or any adverse side effects. The currents forced the brain more into the deep slow-wave sleep to improve the memory function. Memory function in the medical students was already very good before they received the brain stimulation but the currents managed to improve it. Dr Jan Born believes the natural slow oscillations and those induced by the electrical currents affect the hippocampus area of the brain, which plays a part in memory.
Brain shrinkage and
As people age, they experience shrinkage in the part of the brain responsible for inhibiting appropriate behavior -- which may explain why older people ask embarrassing questions they seem to have fewer qualms about making racist or inappropriate remarks than younger individuals do.
Brain and MDMA, Ecstacy
The loud music typical of nightclubs and raves appears to prolong the toxic effects of MDMA, also known as ecstasy, on the brain. In the absence of loud music, however, the reduced brain activity caused by ecstasy use appears to be short-lived. The findings are especially relevant in light of "the increase of popularity of this stimulant drug and its association with certain youth subcultures, in particular the dance music scene, where ecstasy is preferred to other drugs. Increasing evidence suggests that Ecstcy drug is associated with increases in body temperature, toxicity to the brain and memory loss. Rats were injected with low doses (3 milligrams per kilogram of weight) or high doses (six milligrams per kilogram) of MDMA, or placebo. Rats from each group were then subjected to white noise at an intensity similar to what people are exposed to in nightclubs and at 95 decibels. The rats' brain activity was then measured via electrodes placed on their skull. The effects of the drug were apparent as quickly as three minutes after it was administered. In the absence of the loud music, low doses of MDMA did not affect the rats' brain activity compared with rats given placebo. When combined with the loud music, however, low doses of MDMA were associated with decreased brain activity. Long-term experiments showed that the reduced brain activity among rats given the higher dose of the drug persisted for up to five days. Brain activity returned to normal after one day in rats given a similar dose of the drug who were not exposed to the loud music.
Source: BMC Neuroscience, February, 2006.
Near Death Experience: Is it
all in your Brain?
The brain has a tendency to occasionally blur the line between sleep and wakefulness and this may help explain the phenomenon of near-death experience. Some people see bright light, feel detached from their bodies or have other extraordinary sensations and they consider these to be these so-called near-death experiences as evidence of life after death. Research explains that blending of sleep and wake states could be the biological cause of near-death experiences. It appears that adults who said they'd had such an experience were also likely to have a history of what's called REM intrusion -- where aspects of the dream state of sleep spill over into wakefulness. People may, for example, feel paralyzed when they first wake up, or have visual or auditory hallucinations as they fall asleep or awaken. The brain's arousal system predisposes some people to both REM intrusion and near-death experience. This arousal system regulates not only REM sleep, but also attention and alertness during waking hours -- including during dangerous situations. And many of the features of REM intrusions are similar to those of near-death experience. During REM sleep, visual centers in the brain are highly active, while the limb muscles are temporarily paralyzed. So REM intrusion during peril could promote the visions of light and sensation of "being dead" that people often have during a near-death experience.
Deja vu phenomenon
Most people have had deja vu -- that eerie sense of having experienced something before. Neurons in a memory center of the brain called the hippocampus make a mental map of new places and experiences, then store them away for future use. However, when two experiences begin to seem very much alike, these mental maps overlap and start to blur. It is basically just a malfunction in the brain's ability to sort through new information, something called episodic memory.