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 Brain Longevity:
An Integrative Medicine Approach: Brain Longevity - Mind Management for the 21st Century
 
 

2) The second pillar of Brain Longevity Therapy is stress management. It is crucial because chronic, unbalanced stress causes elevation of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol has a toxic effect on the memory center of the brain and can cause memory loss. The stress management tool of meditation decreases cortisol and enhances many aspects of mental function. Massage and guided mental imagery have also recently been shown to lower cortisol levels in the blood.

3) Exercise is the third pillar, and like ancient Gaul, is divided into three parts; mental exercise, physical exercise, and mind/body exercise.

3a) Mental Exercise. Nowhere more than in the brain is the old adage, "Use it or lose it," more appropriate. In fact, Einstein had a fairly normal brain when it came to his neurons. However, what was extremely unusual was the structure of his brain, rich in supporting glial cells. He was the Michael Jordan of mental athletes. My ninety-one year old mother is a prime-time example of how mental exercise helps maintain clarity throughout life. She has been on a Brain Longevity Program for a number of years and enjoys watching game shows. She gets a big kick out of beating the contestants to the answers.

3b)Aerobic reconditioning enhances mental function by twenty to thirty percent. As much as possible, it is included in every patient's Brain Longevity prescription.

3c) The ancient art of brain regeneration, and of innovative mind/body exercises, derived from my twenty years practice of advanced yoga and meditation, are important in enhancing global brain energy. One of my patients, a fifty-two year old attorney from inside the Beltway in Washington, DC, recently called to tell me that he is still enjoying success after four years on the Brain Longevity Program. He has completely reversed his age-associated memory impairment. He told me he never misses a morning of his Dr. Dharma mind/body exercises.

4) The final phase of Brain Longevity Therapy comes from the white hot forefront of anti-aging medicine. Among pharmaceutical drugs I use to help regenerate the brain cells is L-Deprenyl Citrate. Deprenyl is a medicine that has been shown to increase longevity in animals and increase important biochemicals in the brain. In recent studies of patients with moderate Alzheimer's Disease, Deprenyl improved attention, memory, verbal fluency and behavior. As Deprenyl may slow a decline in cognition it is an important component of Brain Longevity. As with all medications, there are reported side effects and contra-indications. Side effects associated with Deprenyl may include anxiety and insomnia if the dosage is too high. It may be contra-indicated in patients taking anti-depressants such as Prozac, and in those individuals suffering from heart disease. Deprenyl should only be prescribed and taken under the supervision of your doctor.

Hormone Replacement Therapy with Pregnenolone, DHEA and Melatonin are also part of the therapeutic options in the prevention and reversal of memory loss. Pregnenolone has been clinically shown to be useful in patients with memory loss, especially those who have difficulty finding the correct words. DHEA is currently controversial because of concerns over long-term use. When I prescribe DHEA as part of my program, I always have a blood level measured. If the patient is a male, I will also check their PSA blood test (prostate specific antigen) because of concern about the long term effects of DHEA on the prostate. Melatonin is useful for insomnia, jet lag and re-normalizing the body's biorhythms. It is my clinical observation that the generally recommended dose of 3-6 mg is too high. I prescribe 0.1 mg to 0.5 mg as a beginning dosage. Side effects with the higher dose include uncomfortably vivid dreams, morning headache and grogginess.

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 About The Author
Dharma Khalsa MDorn in Ohio and raised in Florida, Dharma Singh Khalsa. M.D. is a graduate of Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Dharma, as he is usually called, received his training in Anesthesiology at......more
 
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