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How to Use Ancient Chinese Medicine to Improve Your Memory

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Are you dealing with forgetfulness or having trouble focusing?  You may want to consider incorporating some natural remedies for focus and concentration. As a board-certified acupuncturist and clinical herbalist, I’ve successfully used Chinese medicine and acupuncture to help treat and heal patients who struggle with brain fog and memory issues. Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate Traditional Chinese Medicine principles and natural remedies to improve memory and help you stay more focused. 

Using Chinese medicine principles to help with memory issues

Chinese medicine encompasses a variety of practices that are founded on the use of herbs and treatments such as acupuncture to help treat illness and other symptoms, including helping improve focus and memory. Much of my Traditional Chinese Medicine and my practice is focused on providing individual care and natural remedies that are tailored to each individual and their own personal medical history and situation. For instance, Chinese medicine differentiates forgetfulness from a cloudy mind. If you feel foggy and heavy-headed, your Chinese diagnosis would more likely be related to damp, which is Chinese medicine’s way of discussing poor fluid metabolism and mucus accumulation. The recommended treatment for those with a cloudy mind will be different than those whose main concern is forgetfulness. 

While I recommend that you consult with a specialist to get specific individualized care and formulas that are specific to you and your circumstances, here are some of my recommendations for natural remedies for focus and concentration: 

  1. Acupuncture: Studies have shown that acupuncture can help to activate the brain and positively affect brain function. Acupuncture can also induce a state of calm, which can help with attention, learning, and recall. Some of our patients find that a course of 6 treatments is all they need to improve memory and focus.
  2. Chinese Herbs to Help Improve Memory Function: I recommend certain Chinese herbs as natural remedies to improve memory and to treat all sorts of issues related to mental function. In Chinese medicine, the kidney system is related to brain function, so many of the herbs used to improve concentration are also kidney tonics. Here are some of my favorite chinese herbs that help improve memory and focus:
  • Ginkgo Biloba: There have been 125 studies in the past 10 years into the effects of Ginkgo as a focus herbal supplement, and most of them conclude that supplementing with Ginkgo increases blood flow to the brain, thereby improving memory and mental clarity.
  • Salvia: This herb is part of the sage family and has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to increase blood flow. In a 2003 UK study conducted by the Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at Northumbria University, young people who received an extract of Salvia essential oil showed improvement in word recall.
  • Acorus: Also known as Shi Chang Pu in Chinese herbology, this herb transforms damp and works well for people suffering from a heavy head and a cloudy mind.
  • Reishi mushrooms:  This powerful adaptogen has been prized for thousands of years throughout Asia for its’ ability to bring calm and help concentration.
  1. Herbal Formulas for Brain Fog Here are some herbal formulas that we frequently adapt and recommend to our patients as natural remedies for focus and concentration, depending on their individual symptoms.
  • Bu Nao Wan (Cerebral Tonic Pills). This is a common formula that is used for memory problems related to weakness in the kidney system.  This formula includes several herbs such as Wu Wei 
  • Zi (Schizandra) and Suan Zao Ren (Zizyphus): These herbs have been used for hundreds of years to calm the mind and help with focus.
  • Gui Pi Tang (Restore the Spleen Tea): This formula is frequently given to patients whose memory problems are caused by anxiety or over-thinking.
  • Shen Ling Bai Zhu Wan (Ginseng, Poria and Atracylodis Pills): These herbs are helpful for people who suffer from cloudy mind due to poor fluid metabolism and damp.
  1. Other Suggestions on How To Stay More Focused
  • Drop some bad habits : Smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking recreational drugs all affect memory. Try to cut back and/or cut out some of these harmful substances. 
  • Supplement with fish oil. Omega-3 is found in the brain in the form of DHA and works with a number of enzymes used for coordinating brain mechanisms. Supplementing with fish oil may help improve brain function and memory. 
  • Drink water. Your brain, like the rest of your body, is mostly made up of water so dehydration is an often overlooked cause of poor brain function. Make sure you stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Final Thoughts:
Chinese Medicine and acupuncture have so many benefits and can be particularly helpful with your memory issues. Try to incorporate some or all of these natural remedies to improve memory. You may also want to consult an acupuncturist or herbalist to get more personalized recommendations. Feel free to reach out to me to learn more. 

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Jill Blakeway Health Expert
Dr. Jill Blakeway is a renowned acupuncturist & herbalist, celebrated author, and the founder of Yinova, where she has been treating patients for over 2 decades. Jill has always been passionate about helping people achieve a healthy pregnancy—so much so that the New York Times has described her as a “fertility goddess” and named her as one of Manhattan’s top acupuncturists. She credits much of her success to combining the ancient wisdom of Chinese medicine with modern, conventional biomedicine. To this end, she joined forces with a reproductive endocrinologist to co-author the bestselling book, Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility about how to conceive naturally. She has also authored two other books on health and healing; Sex Again and Energy Medicine: The Science and Mystery of Healing.

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