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.