Update from Patrick Holford on Free Test and Preventing Age-Related Memory Loss

May 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Healthy Ageing

You may have seen the item in the newspapers talking about important research that has been completed at Oxford University that shows that you can prevent both the age-related memory loss and brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease – and a 15 minute free on-line test.

In case you didn’t, I wanted to pass on this information that came to me from nutritionist Patrick Holford and that he has asked to be passed on to as many people as possible. It is important because what you do next can make all the difference to what happens to your mind later in life.

In essence, what has been discovered is that a toxic amino acid called homocysteine both predicts risk, and causes the brain damage that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s – and, most importantly, you can lower your homocysteine level (if you need to) with a simple B vitamin supplement. It is especially important to know your homocysteine level if you do have any signs of memory decline. A not-for-profit educational charity, www.foodforthebrain.org has created the first free, on-line Cognitive Function Test, validated for anyone over 50. It takes 15 minutes to complete.

If your score is slightly below par it becomes doubly important to know your homocysteine level. A level above 9.5 micromol/l (the average for people over 50 is 11micromol/l) is associated with accelerated brain shrinkage and memory loss. Your doctor can test your homocysteine level (or you can do it yourself with a home test kit from YorkTest Laboratories). If your Cognitive Function Test is below par it both gives you clear instructions on how to protect your memory and concentration, and generates an optional letter for your GP suggesting homocysteine testing.

If your homocysteine level is above 9.5 this important research has proven that supplementing high doses of vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid stop accelerated brain shrinkage and memory decline. The Cognitive Function Test explains exactly how much you need and how best to get them.

The first step is to take the free Cognitive Function Test. Chris is a case in point. At age 59 his memory was rapidly going downhill – he kept losing his car in multi-storey car parks. His homocysteine was 119, way above 9.5. Now, 12 months later, his homocysteine is below this cut-off point and, His memory and concentration is completely restored, his energy is so good he now exercises for an hour every day and his sex drive has returned. “You have saved my life, or, at least made it worth living again.” says Chris.

If you want to know the full story of this really important breakthrough then visit the Food for the Brain website. If you want to read more about what you can do to help yourself then read Patrick Holford’s book about everything that works in The Alzheimers Prevention Plan.

And, in case you have alrady forgotten it, the free, on-line Cognitive Function Test is at www.foodforthebrain.org

Natural Help for Memory Loss

July 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Health

We all forget where we put things, or the name of someone familiar can’t be recalled, and losing one’s memory is a major fear as we get older. Fortunately, there are a number of things can do to keep your memory sharp and active. There are plenty of ideas here from new supplements to tried and tested memory boosters so try them out and see what works for you.

There are supplements that can help to boost your brain power and Ginkgo biloba tincture has been proven in research to help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia. In one study, of those taking the leaf extract, 27 percent maintained cognitive functioning and memory, while 86 percent of the placebo group lost functioning BUT if you are taking a daily aspirin (though this is now no longer recommended) to avoid a stroke or heart attack then please be aware that the blood-thinning effects of aspirin are increased by ginkgo.

Something else that can prove useful is a remarkable brain cell nutrient called phosphatidylserine. This is a phospholipid found in all cells of the human body with higher concentrations in the brain cell membrane and its importance as a nutrient for the brain has been clinically proven. It forms a major constituent of brain and nerve cells and is essential for neuronal signalling and is a natural component of our diet in varying levels. As we get older, changes in the composition of these cells in the part of the brain called the hippocampus, lead to a reduction in the amount of information we can store and consequent memory loss. Clinical studies over a period of 20 years have shown that regular supplementation with phosphatidylserine restores and maintains adequate nerve cell function in a variety of ways which leads to improvements in long term memory and long term recognition.

If this sounds like something of interest to you, then I have been taking a supplement called memory lane which contains phosphatidylserine and, although I am still assessing the benefits, I think it does seem to be helping. Benefits that are associated with phosphatidylserine are enhanced memory, concentration and learning and in this particular formulation the phosphatidylserine is derived from soy (non GMO), so is guaranteed BSE free. The safety of PS supplementation is well documented and there have been no reports of adverse interaction with other medications.

If you are looking for some additional ways to help your memory than I can certainly recommend daily meditation is again it has been proven to help. Even five minutes a day will make a difference.

If you are not already a fan of any form of puzzle — crosswords, jigsaws, Suduko or anything else – then make a start now. Mental workouts and stimulus of vital aspects of keeping your brain active and encouraging memory. Go back to the old childhood game of memorising a number of objects on a tray or pick a favourite poem and learn it by heart until you can recite it without prompting. Doesn’t matter what you do, just do something every day that tickles your brain into action.

If you are suffering from high blood pressure then do your very best to lower it through diet and exercise as again it has been proven that lowering your blood pressure will improve your memory.

Bad memory? Pop a pill

January 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Drugs & Medication, featured, Health


Let’s face it we all get ‘senior moments’, I was regularly having them in my 30′s but then I always was ahead of myself. Lists help some people, a rubber band around the wrist is also an alternative, but now there is news of a possible ‘memory pill’ that could make forgetfulness a thing of the past.

Originally developed to treat Alzheimer’s, they are now being promoted to help with exam revision and memory loss – which of course is a much bigger, and more profitable, market. AstraZeneca is ahead in the race to get this product to market as an over the counter item as what they term a ‘lifestyle pill’. And here was me thinking it was something you only got in Sunday supplements.

This isn’t the first such drug to catch the eye of the consumer, and students have apparently been trying a drug called Provigil, used to treat narcolepsy, to help them stay awake. Whether for studying or partying isn’t known yet, but there is some evidence that ADD drugs like Ritalin are being used to help promote concentration – which they would certainly need if they are regularly using drugs to keep them awake beyond their own body’s tolerance.

It isn’t illegal to buy these drugs over the Internet, but there are risks as there are with all medicines. In particular these drugs can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels but not all clinicians agree. Barbara Sahakian is professor of clinical neuropsychology at Cambridge and she has likened these new cognitive drugs to products like Red Bull and other drinks that stimulate with caffeine and sugar, seeing them as not so different.

Not sure I agree, there is a limit to the number of soft drinks you can down to get a stimulant effect, but with drugs it is all too easy to just take another dose and we just don’t know what the cumulative effect in the system might be.

Brain probes could help alzheimer patients

September 15, 2008 by  
Filed under featured, Healthy Ageing, Medical Research & Studies

One of the most lucrative markets these days is for anything that help people lose weight, and much of that research is in the field of appetite suppression – and there is a large pot of gold for anyone who finds one with no side effects. However, a startling by product of such research being done at Toronto Western Hospital in Ontario, Canada, has accidentally discovered a way to trigger vivid memories.

The hero of the piece is an obese man who had volunteered to help scientists as they attempt to find a part of the brain that could suppress the appetite when stimulated electrically.

When the scientists stimulated the hypothalamus, which has been associated with hunger, the man suddenly experienced a vivid memory from 30 years before. It was complete in all details, the people, the place, the colours exactly as if he were back there. While the hypothalamus has not previously been associated with memory, it borders a part of the brain that is known to influence memory and emotion so it seemed like a logical area to explore.

The researchers then implanted a device in his brain that would constantly stimulate that section of the hypothalamus. The device is similar to ones that have been implanted in other parts of the brain to control tremor in Parkinson’s disease.

After three weeks of stimulation at a low level, the man’s performance on two memory tests improved significantly and this leads researchers to hope that they can develop the technique into a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. They are now testing the device to see if it can stem the memory loss that can be such a distressing part of Alzheimer’s disease.

Microsoft develop camera to help with memory loss

December 27, 2007 by  
Filed under Healthy Ageing, Medical Research & Studies

Microsoft is collaborating with a number of UK and worldwide studies in developing the use of an automatic wearable camera that takes photos continuously through the day. Researchers claim it can transform the life of patients with memory loss, and they are developing the ‘SenseCam’ camera at Microsft’s Cambridge laboratory.

SenseCam is a wearable digital camera that is designed to take photographs passively, without user intervention, while it is being worn. Unlike a regular digital camera or a cameraphone, SenseCam does not have a viewfinder or a display that can be used to frame photos. Instead, it is fitted with a wide-angle (fish-eye) lens that maximizes its field-of-view which ensures that nearly everything in the wearer’s view is captured by the camera.

It was in 2005 that Microsoft first started a trial with a 63-year -old patient from the Memory Clinic and Memory Aids Clinic at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge. This patient had amnesia resulting from a brain infection and typically would forget everything about an event within five days or less of it happening.

The patient was given a SenseCam and asked to wear it whenever the sort of event that she would like to remember was happening. After wearing SenseCam for the duration of such an event, she would spend around one hour reviewing the images every two days, for a two-week period. During the course of this period of assisted recall using SenseCam, her memory for the event steadily increased, and after two weeks she could recall around 80 percent of the event in question. What is perhaps more remarkable is that following the two-week period of aided recall, Mrs. B appears to have a lasting ability to recall the event even without reviewing the images.

Following the success of this first trial and the excitement it generated in both the research and clinical rehabilitation communities, Microsoft initiated a number of additional trials and are currently working with over half-a-dozen patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, and while these trials are ongoing the results to date are promising.

The programme has been funded with grants worth £220,000 for academics to investigate its health and medical applications. Among others, the money is going to the University of Exeter for a study of memory in Transient Epileptic Amnesia and to the Medical Research Council in Cambridge and the University of Bangor, Wales to study facilitated recollection in patients with dementia. Overseas, the University of Toronto and Columbia Medical School are collaborating on a trial with Sensecam to see if it could enhance quality of life in Alzheimer’s patients and the Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury in Alberta, Canada is studying if it could help with Memory recovery in brain injury patients.