Several years ago, a young man approached me in a supermarket and asked me about my tattoos. He was writing a book about ink art and especially classic older tattoos. The one on my forearm was one he’d never seen before, and he asked if he could photograph it for his book. I consented. I told him I’d gotten my tattoos fifty-four years ago. Actually, I had a homemade tattoo on the side of my bicep, which I had covered over with a big eagle.
I always thought my tattoos were unique. I’d never seen them on another person, not once over all these years. That was, until the other day! Katrina and I took our car to be serviced at the dealership, and both of us settled into the waiting area to read. It was then that I noticed an older couple sitting across from us. I saw the two tattoos on the man’s arms and, I’ll tell you, it was like looking into the mirror! I jumped up from my chair and went over to the elderly gentleman and showed him my arms. He had the exact two tattoos I had! As we spoke, he revealed that his eagle covered over an older tattoo—just like mine did. Now, go figure, what were the odds?
As we spoke, we discovered we had both lived in New York City when we were younger. Then he asked if I was in the Navy when I got the tattoos. I told him I was not, and we went on with our conversation. Then he asked me again if I had been in the Navy when I got my tattoos. I replied again that I had not. Once more, we went back to reminiscing, and he asked me a third time if I had been in the Navy when I got my tattoos. At this point his wife nudged him and said, “You already asked that several times!” It became evident to me that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
We all experience memory lapses, like misplacing car keys or forgetting someone’s name or the title of a movie. Despite being frustrating, it generally isn’t a cause for alarm. As we age, it can just take a bit longer to process new information and recall it. This slowing down of the memory process doesn’t blank out recall completely. This “normal” forgetfulness isn’t dementia.
Physiological memory glitches, however, are more serious. What happens in Alzheimer’s and dementia is that there’s a decline in hormones and proteins that are required to make new brain cells and neurotransmitters. If the cellular requirements aren’t met, then function becomes impaired. This is when the brain’s hippocampus, which is responsible for the retrieval of memories, begins to deteriorate. There are studies that show high blood pressure can lead to memory loss, as well as certain prescription drugs. Alcohol abuse is also a culprit. Many people when depressed reach for a drink, which brings a greater sense of depression. Depression has also been associated with poor memory. And, of course, the disease we know as Alzheimer’s, which is the progressive loss of brain cells, certainly plays a role in the damage to memory and brain function.
It’s very important to exercise the brain to keep it healthy! Your muscles become flabby if you don’t exercise them, and likewise with the brain. Years ago, I made a commitment to work on my memory skills. I decided to demonstrate this by recalling a mixed deck of 52 playing cards in perfect order before a live audience. Not only did I need to practice this feat with a stopwatch every day for six months, I also needed to feed my brain the right nutrients.
At that time, I started taking the herb mucuna because I discovered the power of L-dopa in rebuilding the brain’s neurotransmitters. (The neurotransmitters are like the communication cables of the brain. If the lines are down, so is the signal and so is the memory.) Mucuna, a natural organic supplement, richly supplies the brain cells with L-dopa, which is converted into the neuro-hormone dopamine. This gives you a feeling of overall well-being and a sharper memory.
Several years later I discovered the second herb I take every morning. It’s called bacopa, and it helps protect neurons and increase reaction time. I’ve noticed how it sharpens my short-term memory. Not only can it make you mentally sharp, but if you’re involved in any sport that requires fast reflexes, then this herb may be for you!
The third thing I do for brain health is consume organic coconut oil daily. I enjoy it mixed in herbal teas and also in smoothies. There are numerous studies available online praising its amazing benefits in improving memory.
When we parted from our new friends at the car dealership, Katrina and I remarked on how grateful we are that we’re doing so many things to keep our bodies and brains in tip-top shape. And every time I look at the tattoos on my arms, I’m reminded how precious memory truly is.
Reflections from Turtle Lake,
p.s. While I just shared with you my personal experience with mucuna and bacopa, there are several others herbs that are also very helpful. Why don’t you take a peek and see if these might be right for you? Just click here.
DISCLAIMER – THIS INFORMATION IS PRESENTED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES AND IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, OR CURE ANY DISEASE OR TO SUBSTITUTE FOR THE ADVICE PROVIDED BY YOUR OWN PHYSICIAN AND/OR OTHER MEDICAL OR MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.