Too much thinking, over active imagination and anxiety cause stress, and this stress, if chronic, has a negative impact both mentally and physically. Chronic stress causes neurons to shrivel, atrophy, shrink and eventually die.  The brain can tolerate stress for short periods of time, however if stress is chronic irreversible dementia type conditions can result producing a spectrum of memory deficit disorders.   With chronic stress the body overproduces a family of hormones called glucocorticoids which cause severe damage to nerves.  Researchers call this “glucocorticoid neurotoxicity”.

Short term stress can enhance memory, while long term stress leaves one frazzled and forgetful, especially at inopportune moments.  Short term memory occurs in one part of the brain and is accessible for about 30 seconds before it is gone.  Long term memory such as what we had for breakfast yesterday is filed in a different area than short term memory, while very remote memories such as our childhood home are stored in yet another compartment of the brain. What this means is that memory involves almost every area of the brain and when neural pathways are disrupted, memory is compromised. 

While the brain comprises about 3% of body weight, it requires about 20% of the body’s energy in the form of sugar.  Stress hormones lower blood sugar and rob the brain of its primary energy source for good memory. Long term stress also promotes depression which leads to further forgetfulness and lack of concentration.   

In addition to too much thinking, there are other stresses that affect memory including exposure to neurotoxins in polluted air, water and food.  Nerve damaging heavy metals, synthetic additives, solvents and pesticides are abundant in today’s world.  Free radicals from these environmental toxins injure both nerves and mitochondria, the energy producing factories within each neuron.  Add in unhealthy lifestyle habits and it is the perfect storm for memory impairment.

In conclusion, a multi-faceted approach is needed to address and disarm the destructive agents of chronic stress-related memory loss.  New research findings on stress induced memory deficit provide insight for memory enhancement: naturally! As is often the case, our lifestyle habits play an essential role in protecting and enhancing memory.  

Regular exercise, good quality food, refreshing sleep, spiritual nourishment, stress reducing activities including rest and relaxation, meditation, healthy nutritional supplements such as Acetyl L Carnitine, Ribose and N-Acetyl Cysteine, along with hormone balancing are essential tools to address chronic stress related memory loss.  My website newsletters on Alzheimer’s diseaseAdaptogenic HerbsExerciseSix Steps to Happiness and Detox have additional anti-stress and memory enhancement tips.  

Stress is the primary disease agent of the 21st century, and as we each learn to handle it gracefully, we can in turn remember to help our families, our communities and the world with clear, compassionate and joyful minds.

For more information on this topic I suggest the book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky.  

I hope you have enjoyed this month’s newsletter.  Questions and comments, as always, are welcome. 

In Health,
Jon Dunn, ND

Natural Health 

Dr. Jon Dunn, 
Licensed Naturopathic Doctor
Humans are the only animals who create disease from thinking too much.  In the past, virus and bacteria were the primary agents of disease.  Today, over active imagination, or thinking too much, is the primary agent of disease. One example of this is when stress from too much thinking leads to memory impairment.  This can be as simple as not remembering someone’s name, or as severe as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Dr. Dunn's informative and timely book is now available. You can find it on 
Memory Impairment  

Dr. Jon Dunn 

is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor (ND)  with nearly 20 years of experience. He provides the professional level of care people expect from a primary physician. Dr. Dunn's unique comprehensive systems approach effectively addresses your immediate health care needs to provide long lasting results - Naturally! 
The Family Guide to Naturopathic Medicine
Stress is the primary disease agent of the 21st century, and as we each learn to handle it gracefully, we can in turn remember to help our families, our communities and the world with clear, compassionate and joyful minds.
JULY, 2012
Naturopathic Health Care
American Assoc. of Naturopathic Physicians
California Naturopathic Doctors Association
Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians
Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers