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13 Natural Memory Boosters

13 Natural Memory Boosters

Do you find yourself forgetting appointments? Losing your keys? Remembering faces but not names? Memory lapses like these are common, especially if you’re over 40. But they don’t have to be. According to ayurveda, you can give your memory a power boost at any age. Try the tips below and see if they work for you.

Stay Active
At least five days a week, take a 30-minute walk in the fresh air, or do 12 cycles of the hatha yoga series known as the sun salutation. Add inversions like the shoulder-stand and plow pose to increase blood flow to the brain.

Two yogic practices–alternate nostril breathing and anuloma viloma–stimulate the left and right hemispheres of the brain and improve memory. Or try this exercise: Stand straight with your eyes gazing forward. Gradually inhale, constricting the epiglottis (located just behind the base of your tongue) as you tilt your head back, looking up at the sky at the end of the inhalation. On the exhale, keep the epiglottis constricted as you slowly bring your chin to your chest, looking down to the ground. You’ll know you’ve got it right if it sounds like the ocean when you hold a seashell up to your ear. Repeat this cycle 7 times.

Study Up
Memory is like a muscle–if you don’t use it, you lose it. Exercise your mind by memorizing a new prayer, poem, or Sanskrit scripture, reciting it every morning until you know it by heart. Then start learning a new one.

Feed Your Brain
According to ayurveda, memory-boosting foods include sweet potatoes, okra, spinach, oranges, carrots, milk, ghee (clarified butter), tapioca, and almonds.

Detoxify Your Body & Mind
A five-day mono-diet of kitchari (an ayurvedic rice and bean dish) will cleanse your system of ama (toxic residue), which can weaken memory–and lead to illness as well. To make kitchari, double rinse 1 cup each of basmati rice and yellow split mung dal. Add the rice, dal, and a small handful of chopped cilantro leaves to 6 cups of water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then reduce the heat to low and cook partially covered for 25 to 30 minutes. Eat kitchari garnished with freshly chopped cilantro and a teaspoon of ghee three times a day for five days to cleanse your body and mind.

Herbal Rx
Ayurvedic scriptures have a special classification for memory-boosting herbs: medhya (translated as “that which improves memory”). Some of the best herbs in this category include brahmi, jatamamsi, bhringaraj, and shanka pushpi, which can be found online or at Indian grocery stores. Here are a few ways to get these herbs into your system:

Make a Memory-Boosting Tea
Steep 1 teaspoon total of the four herbs listed above in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Strain and drink on an empty stomach twice a day.

Oil your Nostrils
According to ayurveda, the nose is the doorway to the brain, and thus, to memory. That’s why the smell of a particular flower may remind you of the day you strolled through Central Park in New York City, or why a waft of marinara sauce reminds you of family get-togethers. To stimulate the olfactory bulb (the nerve center in the brain that is responsible for your sense of smell) place 5 drops of warmed brahmi ghee (which you can purchase online) in each nostril at bedtime, lying down on your back with your head tilted up to the ceiling. Then inhale gently several times to help move the oil into the sinuses.

World-renowned ayurvedic physician Vasant Lad, BAMS, MASc, is the founder of the Ayurvedic Institute ( in Albuquerque, NM.

Yoga+ is an award-winning, independent magazine that contemplates the deeper dimensions of spiritual life—exploring the power of yoga practice and philosophy to not only transform our bodies and minds, but inspire meaningful engagement in our society, environment, and the global community.

Read more: Ayurveda, Exercises, Health, Mental Wellness

By Vasant Lad, Yoga+

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12:39AM PST on Feb 20, 2013


1:30AM PST on Feb 2, 2012

Thank you

7:36AM PST on Jan 13, 2012

Good advice , Thankyou....

7:11PM PDT on Oct 25, 2011

Thank you Robyn!

12:40AM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

Great article. Thanks for sharing.

2:00PM PDT on Apr 19, 2011

Interesting how people would react strongly to a Christian if he/she was evangelizing as aggressively as this Hindu practitioner is through Yoga and Hindu meditations--people are not only receptive to this (at least this overwhelmingly liberal Care2 crowd), but actively become evangelists themselves.

11:09AM PST on Feb 12, 2011

These were very informative tips...I usually exercise Yoga and breathing daily...learning new things to add to my existing routine really reduces stress and enhances the moves.

4:47PM PST on Feb 11, 2011

Sometimes I think that memory loss is a function of both stress and menopause. Thanks for the tips.

6:50AM PDT on Sep 2, 2010

Oil our nostrils is new to me. Will try.

3:48PM PDT on Jul 4, 2010

good to know

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