Many think that forgetfulness is only a sign of brain diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease; this is true but it is not in all cases, there are some factors that trigger forgetfulness in young people apart from brain diseases and we will be looking at them and the natural remedies for this condition because most of them are reversible.
Causes of forgetfulness
Aging: Forgetfulness is a normal thing that happens as one ages, this is known as “age associated memory impairment” and it affects 40% of people aged 65 and above; as a person gets older, changes happens in all part of the body and the brain is not excluded, the affected individual may notice that they don’t remember information as before, they lose their things easily and it takes longer to learn new things. All these mild forgetfulness are usually signs of aging and not signs of serious brain disease like Alzheimer’s disease.
To know if it is a sign of normal aging or a sign of Alzheimer’s disease; there are some signs or differences to look out for and some of them are:
- In normal aging, the individual makes a bad decision once in a while; while in Alzheimer’s disease, the individual makes poor judgments and bad decisions most of the time.
- In normal aging, the individual can miss a monthly payment while an Alzheimer’s disease patient has problems taking care of monthly bills.
- As one ages, it is normal to forget dates and remember it later while in Alzheimer’s disease, the patient loses track of the date or time of the year.
- During conversations, someone approaching old age forgets the word to use while someone having Alzheimer’s disease has trouble with conversation.
- A person that is aging loses things from time to time while an Alzheimer’s disease patient misplaces things regularly and is unable to find them.
- It is normal to forget a phone number but patients with dementia can forget what a phone is used for or forget how to use a phone.
Medical conditions: There are some medical conditions that can affect memory; this problem memory problem goes away when the person is treated; some medical conditions that can cause forgetfulness and memory problems are tumors, blood clots, infections in the brain, depression, insomnia, liver disease, thyroid disease, and kidney disease, head injury due to an accident, urinary tract infection, Parkinson’s disease and nutritional deficiencies. If you are having any symptoms along with forgetfulness, then you need to see a doctor immediately.
Emotional problems: Emotional problems like depression and anxiety can cause forgetfulness and in most cases it is mistaken for dementia; this can occur when one loses his job or a loved one, recently retires or is trying to cope with loss or grief. Divorce, loneliness, broken relationship, worry, stress and trying to deal with or go through the negative changes of life can make one confused and forgetful. Forgetfulness caused by emotional problems are temporary and memory is restored when the problem or the feeling fades; but if these feelings last for more than two weeks, it is important to meet a counselor or a doctor but these problems can be eased by supportive friends and family or by picking a new hobby or learning new skills.
Side effects of medications: There are some medications or a combination of medications that can cause forgetfulness as a side effect. Drugs that can cause this problem and damage alertness are anticholinergics (which is used to treat asthma, incontinence, insomnia, Gastrointestinal problems, muscle spasm and hypertension causes forgetfulness by blocking a brain messenger called acetylcholine; this messenger is involved with memory and learning). Sleeping pills, antidepressants, steroids, cholesterol lowering statins and opiate painkillers also cause this; people on these drugs usually forget names, words, appointments, and so on.
If you feel your medication is causing this or you started being forgetful after taking a drug; you can meet your doctor and discuss this, you can demand that your prescription drug be changed.
Unhealthy lifestyle: Heavy drinking and smoking can cause this; chronic intake of alcohol can impair the functions of the brain and cause memory loss, it can also react with medications and cause forgetfulness. Long term intake of alcohol can slow down neurogenesis; it reduces the levels of antioxidant in the body and exposes the brain to free radicals and oxidative stress and this will later lead to mental decline and diseases. It weakens the hippocampus, alcohol makes it hard for the brain to retain and make new memories and it even makes one forget people’s names and addresses; remember the phrase “drink to forget”. Alcohol also increases the risk of brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Smoking is the main cause of forgetfulness in young people; it poisons the body, it thins the cortical thickness of the brain, the more a person smokes the likely the individual is likely to forget things and it also increases the risk of dementia.
Smoking marijuana can cause over reaction of certain receptor in the brain and this can cause short term memory loss and forgetfulness; long term smoking of marijuana can lead to permanent memory loss.
Another unhealthy habit that can cause forgetfulness is sleep deprivation; when an individual regularly uses the time for night sleep to do other things and rarely gets up to 8 hours of night sleep every day can lead to this condition.
When a person forms a memory, the brain stores it during sleep, the best environment and time for the brain to store things is in the sleeping state. When an individual don’t get enough rest; he or she will be very forgetful and can forget things done or said just a few minutes ago.
Multi-tasking: Though people feel productive when they multi-task, it makes one forget things; it prevents people from focusing on one thing or one task and this will lead to forgetfulness like forgetting names and words. When you are busy, the brain tries to give it its full attention but when you interrupt this by multi-tasking, the brain goes into “task-switching domain” and in this state, active focus and working memory is absent.
Poor diet: Poor diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies which can negatively impact the brain and impairs its function; one notable deficiency that can lead to this is vitamin B12 deficiency, it helps maintains healthy brain and nerve cells, it also aids in communications between the brain and the body, when this vitamin is deficient, memory problems and forgetfulness can occur due to brain shrinkage. This vitamin is also needed for healthy red blood cells. Meat, poultry, eggs, fish, nuts, cheese and milk are good sources of vitamin B12.
Stress: Stress which is now a normal way of life can cause forgetfulness; it can make one forget things within seconds. In fact buildup of stress weakens the hippocampus (which is the part of the brain that is in charge of spatial memory; this type of memory is related to your environment like remembering where you put things).
Chronic stress increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol which can impair the functions of the hippocampus and worsen memory and learning. Avoid or reduce stress and avoid picking up jobs that are too stressful because no matter what your health should come first.
Menopause: A 2012 study published in the North American Menopause Society analyzed the mental performance of 75 women who were experiencing menopause and the result showed that two-thirds of them complained of memory problems or lapses. During menopause, there is a decline in attention capabilities among women.
Toxins and chemicals: Exposure to toxins and chemicals can cause this; some jobs requires the use of chemicals that can affect the brain; farmers, factory workers, gardeners, cleaners, mechanics and those who manufacture these chemicals are at a high risk of forgetfulness. If you find yourself in any of these professions or in a poisonous environment, you have to protect yourself by sing protective clothing, gloves, eye glasses, face masks, etc. You can also pick another carrier or profession so that avoid this and also live long and have a healthy life.
Natural remedies for forgetfulness
Avoid the risk factors: The first step towards healing is not to start doing something new but to stop doing the wrong things; the causes of forgetfulness listed above are the risk factors and avoiding them will prevent this condition. If someone who experiences forgetfulness stops smoking, drinking or starts eating well, these condition improves. So the first step in handling forgetfulness is to remove or avoid the risk factors.
Avoid Medications: Both prescription and non-prescription medications can cause forgetfulness as a side effect; don’t self-prescribe drugs and drugs should only be taken when it is prescribed by a doctor. If your medication is making you forgetful, you can tell your doctor and he can change it for you or help take you off that drug.
Get adequate sleep: Deep night sleep repairs the body and boosts the functions of the brain; deep sleep at night for not less than 8 hours is vital for good memory, short term memories are converted to long term memories when we sleep.
Healthy nutrition: The brain depends on nutrients to function optimally and when this is lacking it malfunctions and memory is affected; below are lists of foods that are known to improve memory.
- Oily fish: They have rich amount of decosahexaenoic acids which is a type of omega-3 fatty acids that enhance the performance of the brain and boosts memory. These healthy fats keep the lining of the brain cells flexible and make it easy for memory messages to pass easily between cells. Sardines, salmons and other oily fish are rich sources of these healthy fatty acids; eat oily fish three times a week and you can take fish oil supplements if you please but you need to discuss it with your doctor first especially if you are on medications.
- Vitamin B: The B vitamins are important for memory and they include vitamins B6, B9 and B12; they improve the transport of oxygen and nutrient to the brain cells by increasing the production of red blood cells. They also reduce the levels of homocysteine which is a toxic intermediate of amino acid synthesis; deficiencies in vitamin B9 and B12 are associated with memory loss and cognitive decline. These B vitamins improve memory by aiding the functions of the brain, producing enough red blood cells and by converting homocysteine to methionine which will prevent the accumulation of toxic homocysteine.
- Pistachio nuts: These nuts are one of the best sources of thiamine; a deficiency in thiamine can lead to memory problems and difficulties remembering things, eating a lot of these nuts can help to reverse forgetfulness, if it is caused by a deficiency in thiamine.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral that improves memory and cognitive functions; it does this by promoting the formation of new brain cells (neurogenesis). Eat lots of foods rich in magnesium.
- Coconut oil: This oil is a perfect fuel for the brain; it is abundant in medium-chain fatty acids which serve as source of energy for the brain, it improves the functions of the brain and boosts memory. Consume this oil regularly, you can also cook with it or add it to smoothies or yogurts.
- Selenium: This mineral is a powerful antioxidant that can stop the activities of reactive oxygen species which can lead to oxidation of the brain cells.
- Carrots: They are rich sources of carotene which helps in boosting memory.
- Calcium: A deficiency in this vital mineral can lead to memory loss; hypertensive drugs cause memory loss as a side effect because they block calcium channels on cell membranes and these drugs are known as calcium blockers. Calcium helps in signaling the brain to release neurotransmitters which help in communication between nerves.
- Eggs: Eggs help in improving memory; they are one of the best sources of choline which the body uses in making acetylcholine which is a chemical messenger involved in memory. Choline is found in the myelin sheath which helps in insulating the nerve fibers in the brain and this aids rapid transmission of electric impulses. Eggs are also rich sources of vitamin B12, this vitamins helps the brain function properly and boosts memory.
- Iron: A deficiency of this mineral can lead to memory loss; this mineral is required for hemoglobin to function well; hemoglobin helps in transporting oxygen in the blood to all parts of the body. If hemoglobin s lacking, the transportation of oxygen to the brain will be obstructed and this can lead to impaired brain functions like memory loss. Eating iron rich foods will helps the transport of oxygen to the brain.
- Walnuts: Walnuts are regarded as food for the brain because they help boost memory; they are shaped like a brain and they are rich in alpha-linolenic acid which is a type of omega-3 fatty acids that the body uses in making DHA. They are also rich sources of ellagic acid which is an anti-oxidant that protects the brain from oxidation and damages caused by free radicals.
- Zinc: A deficiency in zinc can lead to short term memory loss; this mineral is important in the brain, it is even stored in the vesicles found in the synapses and it is released from there with glutamate, a neurotransmitter. Once zinc is released in the brain, it acts at different voltage-gated ion channels and it is responsible for opening and closing certain ion gate.
It also contributes to and aid transmission between nerves.
- L-tyrosine: The brain uses this amino acid to produce dopamine, the biochemical messenger responsible for mental alertness and memory; rich sources of L-tyrosine are chicken, turkey, fish, almonds, yogurt, cheese and pumpkin seeds.
- Berries: Berries are very effective in slowing the rate of age related memory loss; they are rich in therapeutic compounds like anthocyanidins and flavonoids which fight and reduce the rate of cognitive decline. Try to eat at least a cup of berries in a week; berries include blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries.
- Ginkgo: This powerful herb is referred to as the “brain herb” and it is widely used by herbalists because it is very effective in boosting memory. One major way this herb improves memory is by increasing the circulation of blood to the brain; it dilates blood vessels and reduces the stickiness of blood. It also increases the production of energy within the brain by increasing the uptake of glucose by the brain cells and it improves the transmission of nerve signals.
- Sage: The active ingredients in this herb trigger the transmission of messages within the brain; it boosts the ability to recall words and it is used for Alzheimer’s patients.
- Artichokes: This herb improves mental clarity and acuity; you can eat them as usual or you can an elixir of artichoke. To do this, pull the artichoke leaf apart, leaf by leaf. Put the leaves in a jar and add water to cover the leaf. Cover the jar and place it in a pan with water and boil for two hours; you can add more water to the pan but not to the jar. Then you strain the content of the jar and squeeze the artichoke leaves to get out all the juices. Put this juice in a jar with lid and take three tablespoons of this four times daily.
- Ginseng: This herbs\ prevents and fights memory impairment; it also activates the activities of neurotransmitters that promote or enhance memory.
- Green tea: The Chinese drink this tea for good memory; its active compound epigallocatechin-3 gallate is a potent antioxidant, it combats and prevents age-related degenerative diseases, it improves memory and cognitive function and taking this tea daily is an excellent way to boost your memory. Other herbal teas that are good in improving memory are sage, rosemary, marjoram and basil.
- Rosemary essential oil: This essential oil can boost memory when inhaled; it also boosts mental performance and alertness. It lowers the levels of cortisol and relieves anxiety. You can inhale it, add it to creams and massage oils; oil burners and you can cook with the fresh herb but do not ingest the essential oil. You can also add two drops of the essential oil o your handkerchief and carry it with you, anytime you feel down or losing memory you can just put the handkerchief on your nose and inhale the essential oil on it.
Other home remedies for forgetfulness;
Puzzles: Puzzles that tasks the brain and makes it function well. Regularly play Sudoku, chess, crosswords and other brain challenging puzzles.
Reading: Reading stimulates healthy functions of the brain; critical reading increases the flow of blood to the brain and this helps the brain to function well.