We've found that many of our patients suffer from poor memory and foggy thinking, and I think most people can relate! Chinese Medicine has a unique approach to increasing mental clarity and focus, in addition to helping prevent memory loss...
So how does Chinese Medicine view the mind, known as the "Shen"? And how does it explain decline in memory and mental alertness? Well, the quality of our memory depends on four vital organs and their corresponding energetic meridians - the Kidney, the Heart, and the Stomach/Spleen.
The Kidney, which is the origin of our "essence" (life force) is the basis for the mind and all of our mental processes. As it is said, "If the essence is strong, Qi flourishes, if the Qi flourishes, the mind is whole." Our essence is the chief resource fueling our energy, thought process, and ability to perform daily activities. As we age, our essence begins to wean and our memory likewise declines. While our essence gives us the fundamental ability to recall short term memories and helps us feel clear minded and focused, our Stomach/Spleen maintains and nourishes our memory over time. In other words, the Stomach/Spleen creates the Qi that allows us to replenish and sustain our essence and maintain mental agility as we age. Now, in TCM, the Heart is where our mind and memory resides. Our long term memories are protected and maintained by the Heart. (Because the Heart is sensitive to stress and emotional upset, it is obvious why stress can make our mind and memory feel cloudy). According to Chinese medical texts, "If the Heart is strong and blood abundant, there will be normal mental activity, a balanced emotional life, a clear consciousness, and a good memory."
With the tips below, you can focus on nourishing your area of weakness - long term memory, short term memory, or both. However, it is important to keep all of the organs discussed above and their energetic meridians balanced and healthy as we age...
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are super effective for improving memory and clearing away mental fog. In addition, below are some at-home suggestions for keeping the Kidney, Stomach/Spleen, and Heart happy, plus a delicious recipe from "Ancient wisdom, Modern kitchen" to improve memory...
Kidney - avoid excess alcohol, caffeine, and overexertion, eat black foods like black sesame seeds and black beans, as well as walnuts, seaweed, and kidney beans.
Stomach/Spleen - avoid excess worrying and overthinking, mindfully eat regular meals full of warm bland foods like rice and pearled barley, mung beans, and sweet potatoes.
Heart - stay calm and reduce daily stressors as much as possible, seek joy and laughter, eat red foods like goji berries, beets, red dates, and cinnamon.
1/4 cup walnuts
1/3 cup dried soybeans
3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons honey
6 cups water
1. Soak soybeans for at least 10 hours at room temperature, then drain
2. Place soybeans, walnuts, black sesame seeds, and water in a blender or food processor and blend well
3. Strain the mixture to remove solids
4. Transfer liquid to a heavy pot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently, lower heat to a simmer and stir for 8 minutes
5. Stir in honey and serve warm