Wise Up!

Wise Up!
Balance Your Doshas
According to principles of Ayurveda, most memory and concentration problems are caused by an imbalance of the vata dosha, which governs thinking and movement. To balance vata, give yourself a daily head massage using sesame oil or a special vata-balancing oil, such as the one available from Banyan Botanicals. Put about an ounce of oil in your hand or pour it directly onto your scalp, then rub it in using a clockwise motion, starting with small circles that get bigger and bigger. Once you reach the hairline, give yourself an allover head massage. To think more clearly the next morning, put a towel over your pillow and sleep with the oil on your head. —James Bailey, L.Ac., founder of Sevanti Ayurveda in Santa Monica, Calif., and member of the board of directors of the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine

Experiment With Homeopathy
A homeopathic physician will always take a complete health history before focusing on one complaint—and will prescribe something that addresses the entire issue. But you can experiment with these four remedies to restore brain health.
1. If nervousness or anticipatory anxiety leaves you dull-minded and unable to grasp anything, try Gelsemium. It’s good for treating mental paralysis.
2. If you have too many things to do and think about, try Nux vomica. It works well when you’re overwhelmed with details.
3. If you’ve recently suffered any loss—of a loved one, a pet, a relationship, a job—try Ignatia. It can help free your mind from a preoccupation with grief.
4. If you’re menopausal or perimenopausal and feeling exhausted, emotionally flat, or irritable, try Sepia. It’s good when you don’t have enough mental steam to approach a project—or are so tired your memory is impaired.
Buy these remedies in 30C strength, and take two test pellets. (It’s very rare, but if you feel unwell after taking a remedy, consult your homeopath.) It may take three days to see results; if the remedy works, take it on an as-needed basis. Remember, you’re looking for a qualitative reaction, not a quantitative one. Less is more. —Joseph Kellerstein, N.D., homeopath, founder of the postgraduate program Homeopathy by the Book

Drink Your Veggies
A recent study in the American Journal of Medicine found that drinking fresh vegetable juice may help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It can also enhance dayto- day brain performance. To make your own brain booster, juice some broccoli, celery, carrot, and peeled cucumber. Cucumber, especially, has well-balanced minerals that are beneficial to brain health. —Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., president/medical director of the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation

Unclog Your Circuits
You can’t remember everything, so pick and choose what’s most important—download the rest to your computer, a handheld voice recorder, or a notebook. I keep the names of my colleagues in my head, but I keep track of birthdays in my computer. Why tie up your memory circuits with information you don’t need? Let some of it go to get better performance overall. —Gary Small, M.D., director of the UCLA Center on Aging, and co-creator of The Healthy Brain Kit (Sounds True, 2007) with Andrew Weil, M.D.

Remember Rosemary
The old adage “rosemary for remembrance” dates back to medieval times, and modern science suggests the herb improves recall, alertness, and overall cognitive performance by increasing blood circulation to the surface of the brain. Put one or two drops of rosemary oil on the top of each foot—deoxygenated blood returns quickly to the lungs from there, since it’s the end of the circulatory line. Choose a high-quality, organic essential oil such as those made by Simplers, Oshadhi, Original Swiss Aromatics, or Acqua Vita. You can do this several times a day as needed; but don’t do it at bedtime, or you’ll lie awake all night, thinking clearly. —Suzanne Catty, Toronto-based master aromatherapist and author of Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy (Healing Arts Press, 2001)

Work It Out
I believe exercise is the next frontier in brain health. I think it’s where science will find answers for increasing brain function and preventing degeneration. In animals, aerobic exercise has been shown to support stem cells in the hippocampus, which contribute to memory function. It also reduces obesity, another risk factor associated with cognitive decline. —Michael A. Schmidt, Ph.D., author of Brain-Building Nutrition (North Atlantic Books, 2007)

Try Yoga
Practicing yoga helps train your attention, and an ideal pose for that is Downward-Facing Dog. It’s the great neutralizer—if you’re tired and foggy, it will pick you up; if you’re overwrought and scattered, it will calm you and help you focus. It puts the head below the heart, which helps bring oxygenated blood to the brain. How to do it: Start on your hands and knees. Inhale deeply, then exhale and lift your knees away from the floor and press your thighs back so your body forms an inverted V. Spread your fingers wide, and keep your ears between your upper arms. Hold the pose for a few minutes to get the effect, but feel free to wiggle around a little. As you focus on the pose, let go of any distractions. —Richard Rosen, founder of the Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland, and author of The Yoga of Breath (Shambhala, 2002)