The connection between memory and the gut/brain axis

There is more to remember about memory than one might think!

Short-term and long-term memory are functions that correspond to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, respectively. Yet like most functional centers of the body, the brain is interconnected to the lobes and the brainstem, and also with the enteric (gut) nervous system. Signals travel between the gut and the brain via the vagus nerve. The importance of regulating all of these centers is something science and medicine strive to understand.

Some early signs of brain aging include:

  • Bowel dysfunction due to insufficient enzymes (slow motility)
  • Inability to focus or concentrate on one thing for very long
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Increased sympathetic tone leading to increased heart rate while at rest, poor blood flow, and high blood pressure

Discoveries are being made all the time with regard to natural medicines and their benefit in down regulating destructive enzymes and amyloid that damage brain function. For example, flavonoids such as those found in turmeric and curcumin, and a host of other herbal remedies have a neuroprotective role in modifying the neurodegenerative processes of brain aging, including Alzheimer Disease.*  As it happens, skullcap (berberine) which is the Chinese herb Scute, is being studied extensively for its potential use as a Parkinson drug. This herb has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to treat infections of the gut.

Acupuncture also helps slow degenerative processes by stimulating neuroendocrine pathways that connect directly with the brain. The cerebellum, the center that controls our sense of movement, is important because this feeds to the cortex and higher centers of the brain to provide balance. Acupuncture stimulates the regenerative powers of these neurological centers, and provides a tone to the nervous system that is extremely beneficial.

In conclusion, the use of acupuncture and herbs offers a natural solution and true healthy aging medicine approach.


* The Journal of Neuroinflammation, 2008; 25(5):41