Feeling forgetful or absent-minded on occasion? It’s perfectly normal (and human!) to feel a little scattered now and then, but if you’re increasingly forgetting names and appointments or frequently misplacing your keys, it might be time to give your mind and memory a little Ayurvedic TLC.
The Ayurvedic Perspective on Mind & Memory
There are three aspects of learning and memory according to the Ayurvedic texts:
1) Adhi, the power of acquisition or learning
2) dhriti, the power of retention and processing; and
3) Smriti, the ability to recall.
We all possess these abilities to vary degrees, depending on our individual makeup and Ayurvedic constitution. Vata-predominant types are generally fast learners, but equally fast forgetters. Pitta types tend to have fiery intellects and selective memory; they tend to remember practical, useful things. Kapha types might take a little longer to learn, but once they’ve mastered something, they’ll never forget. Below, you’ll find some recommendations to help support your brain’s ability to learn, retain, and recall whatever your doshic makeup.
1. Feed Your Brain
Your brain needs nourishing foods to do its job well. Largely composed of water and fat (yep, it’s the fattiest organ in your body), your brain thrives on “brain foods” like walnuts, ghee, olive oil, sweet and juicy fruits, and soaked almonds, sunflower seeds, raisins, and dates. These foods deliver easily-digestible protein and glucose, your brain’s basic fuel. (Tip: try our Ayurvedic Veggie Brain Burger recipe, which features brain-nourishing walnuts!) Other great brain foods include panir, lentils, dhal, and other beans and split peas. Spices can help too. Cumin opens the shrotas (channels) of the brain, and black pepper increases medhya agni, the mind’s processing fire, which enhances the transformation of thought.
Fresh is also key. Eating lots of old, packaged, canned, or frozen foods can lead to ama (toxins), because your brain cells aren’t able to properly metabolize the ingredients. Over time, the accumulation of ama in one’s body (amavisha) can lead to a loss of smriti (recall). So next time you’re thinking of snacking on prepackaged cookies or chips, try reaching for a fresh date shake, a handful of nuts, or a sweet berry smoothie instead.
2. Try Brain-Boosting Herbs
Certain Ayurvedic herbs support all three learning abilities dhi, dhriti, and smriti at once. Gotu kola, ashwagandha, and bacopa are all touted as mind and memory boosters, and they work synergistically in Intelligence Plus. This formula helps with mental fatigue while promoting self-confidence and positive emotions to make learning more enjoyable. Whether you’re cramming for midterms or working toward that new promotion, Intelligence Plus helps you stay focused and perform under pressure.
3. Eat Antioxidants
Your brain relies heavily on oxygen in order to function. For this reason, it’s particularly susceptible to oxidative damage. There has been a lot of talk over the years about free radicals and the possible harm they pose. Free radicals are actually a natural part of your system, but when found in excess, they can do damage. The human brain is susceptible to free-radical damage if not kept in a balanced state. Antioxidants have been proven to have the effect of neutralizing free radicals, and they help protect tissue from oxidation. Maharishi Amrit Kalash, a potent mix of 38 whole Ayurvedic herbs, fruits, and spices, has been clinically shown to be 1,000 times more powerful as a free radical scavenger than vitamins C or E.
Also, remember to breathe.
4. Hydrate with Helpful Herbal Tea
A simple thing like dehydration can make it hard for you to think clearly! Be sure to sip water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Better yet, drink Worry Free Tea, which enlivens the connection between dhi, dhriti, and smriti. Fresh fruit juices also give your brain a boost of hydrating nutrients (and they taste delicious).
5. Rest Your Noodle
More than a century’s worth of research supports the fact that a good night’s sleep does wonders for your mind and memory. For that reason, getting to bed at a reasonable hour each night (ideally, before 10 p.m., when Pitta time starts) is very beneficial for keeping your mind agile. Trouble falling asleep? The Ayurvedic herb bacopa, which is found in many of our formulas including Intelligence Plus, calms the mind and promotes a deeper quality of sleep. Taking Worry Free tablets a few hours prior to bed, along with Blissful Sleep, can help you fall asleep. If you tend to wake in the night, try Stress-Free Emotions a few hours before bed along with Deep Rest. Meditation and yoga are also particularly helpful at calming the mind during the day to help promote better sleep, come bedtime.