If you’re having memory problems, you may have tried some nutritional remedies, such as ginkgo, choline, or phosphatidyl serine.
That’s all well and good. But these nutritional supplements usually provide only minor improvements. That’s because the #1 cause of memory loss isn’t a nutritional deficiency; it’s a hormone deficiency.
You see, hormone levels tend to wane as you get older. And these lower hormone levels affect your body in a variety of ways. Deficiencies can affect your bone health, your organ function, your energy levels, and even your risk for getting cancer and heart disease.
Even your muscles have hormone receptors. If they don’t get the proper hormones, your muscles begin to atrophy. What most people don’t realize, though, is that the same thing happens in your brain!
But it’s much worse in your brain. Why? Because your brain cells have the largest number of hormone receptors in your body! Your hormones interact with the receptor sites in your cells to improve the cells’ metabolism. If these cells don’t get enough hormones, their metabolism slows down. And when your brain cells’ metabolism slows down, so does your memory.
One of the hormones that directly affects your cell metabolism is the thyroid hormone T3. You wouldn’t believe how many doctors misdiagnose a T3 deficiency as dementia. I’ve treated scores of patients who received a dementia diagnosis. But when I brought their T3 levels back up to normal, their “dementia” went away almost immediately!
How the “Sex” Hormones Affect Your Memory
But a T3 deficiency isn’t the only hormone loss that can cause memory problems. There are several hormones that can cause memory problems if you don’t have optimal levels. And if you’re over 50, your levels of these hormones are almost certainly depleted. Two of the most common are the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone.
Women typically see a big drop in their estrogen production through menopause. And that’s about the same time they begin to have memory loss. In fact, women in the middle of menopause frequently have trouble thinking clearly and focusing. They have trouble remembering things and concentrating. And they may develop mood disorders.
We don’t know for sure if these mood disorders contribute to a loss of memory, or if the loss of memory contributes to mood disorders. But it doesn’t really matter. Either way, estrogen and progesterone deficiencies can wreak havoc on a woman’s mental and emotional functioning.
The effects of male hormones deficiencies aren’t as noticeable. This is because hormones decline much more gradually in men. But I’ve fixed hormone deficiencies in male patients in their 60s. And they often report improvements in memory and concentration.
Another Easy Way to Fix Your Sex Hormone Levels
The adrenal hormones pregnenalone and DHEA also play important roles in memory. People with high levels of DHEA tend to achieve the highest scores on memory tests. The lower the blood level, the lower the score.
One advantage these two hormones have is that you can buy them both at your local health food store or pharmacy. They also tend to be a lot easier to use than typical estrogen and testosterone therapy. And DHEA, in particular, can help raise both estrogen and testosterone levels. So it’s a simple way to raise your sex hormone levels.
There is a drawback to taking DHEA. Women who take too much may experience hair loss, acne, or oily skin. If you’re a woman and you notice any of these signs while taking DHEA, simply reduce your dose and the problems should go away.
Men, however, need to be more careful. If they take too much DHEA, their bodies convert it to estrogen. This will decrease libido and increase body-fat percentage. It can also aggravate the prostate, increasing your risk for prostate cancer. And it can enlarge your breasts.
However, there is a form of DHEA that doesn’t have these effects. It’s called 7-keto-DHEA. It’s a regular metabolite of DHEA that’s naturally present in the human body. It’s not easily converted into testosterone or estrogen. The only concern about 7-keto-DHEA is that it may not be as effective as other forms. But it’s a much safer form for men to take. Women can take regular DHEA.
The Other Overlooked Hormone Deficiency That’s Very Common
You’re probably beginning to think that hormones are related to just about every bodily function. That’s because they are. And when you disrupt the normal function of these hormones, it almost always affects your brain.
The most common way to disrupt the function of our hormones is to get stressed. Stress is a memory killer.
Stress affects your memory in several ways. Long-term stress causes adrenal fatigue. And adrenal fatigue leads to lower adrenal hormones. As I mentioned earlier, deficiencies of the adrenal hormones can cause memory loss.
Stress also causes your body to release cortisol — another hormone — which can affect your ability to concentrate and remember. Cortisol influences the receptor sites in your brain cells. Patients treated with large doses of synthetic cortisone can even develop a psychosis.
When you experience trauma, infection, or some other stressful event, your cortisol levels skyrocket. These high levels make it difficult for you to think clearly and that affects your memory.
So both long-term and acute temporary stress can hurt your memory. Taking steps to reduce the stress in your life will allow you to see marked improvements in your brain function. One of the best ways to reduce stress is to simply meditate or pray for 30 minutes a day. The quiet time will do your body wonders. And it may give you the solutions you need to reduce the sources of external stress (such as job problems).
So What Can You Do About These Declining Hormone Levels?
Unfortunately, you can’t really get your body to make more of the hormones. While you can increase production somewhat, it won’t be enough to make up for the deficiencies. If you have a serious deficiency, even raising your levels by 50% may not make much of a difference.
To boost your hormone levels back up to their optimal levels, you may need to take the hormones themselves. I always recommend using bio-identical hormones instead of the pills most doctors prescribe. Those prescription pills are actually chemical drugs, not hormones. They just act like hormones in your body.
So talk to an integrative physician who uses bio-identical hormones. Natural hormones have fewer (if any) side effects and the health benefits are amazing. You may notice a lot of other improvements in your health as well. To find a physician familiar with bio-identical hormones, contact the American College for the Advancement of Medicine at www.acam.org.