By Dr. Santosh Jalukar
Faculty: San Diego College of Ayurveda
It is true that “intellectual strength is more important than just physical strength”. This is all time true statement. For significant achievement in any field, Intellectual performance is rather most important tool and there could be hardly anybody who will disagree to this. Every parent dreams about best scoring of their child in academics in all the fields. There are end numbers of products available in the market today claiming such therapeutic benefits and also new products are coming up every other day. It creates confusion amongst consumers as to which products are genuine and which are not. The advertisements are also rivaling and hence it is essential to identify the appropriate one. Besides this, what are the other treatment options, what are the correct doses, how these formulations work, how is the knowledge stored, how does the recall process work, what diet is good for nourishing the activity of brain, importance of diet, importance of prayers, significance of exercise and rest? Here you will find answers to all such questions and their scientific basis. Ayurveda and Memory:
Ayurveda and Common Cold: While during common cold, blockage of olfactory nerve there is a total loss of sensation of smell. This is very common example experienced by most of the people. Similarly, if there is any kind of blockage in the optic nerve, the sensation of visual experience will be blocked; auditory nerve will result in impaired listening etc. You can buy a Kapha Massage Oil with Mustard, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Camphor for and rub in and around nose, outer lips.
For acquiring the knowledge, the body uses 5 sense organs. Ears, Skin, Eyes, Tongue and Nose are collectively called sense organs. The sensations experienced by these sense organs are transmitted to the brain. The sensory nerves conduct messages through chemical transmission and then they are stored in the brain. Unless the knowledge is stored properly, one can not use it at any point of time. To explain this concept, I wish to give one example. An infant, who is deaf since birth, remains dumb throughout the life. His vocal organs may be absolutely normal despite he could not process the knowledge of speaking which is essentially linked with hearing. Hence he or she will never know “what word is and how to pronounce it”. The prerequisite for uninterrupted transmission of these senses is to have the healthy state of the nerves and also they should be properly lubricated. The myelin sheath of nerves is made of about 80% lipid and about 20% protein. Therefore it is essential to maintain the lubrication by way of providing adequate unctuous vehicle. Proper lubrication to the sense organs help to improve the oxygenated blood supply and thereby help to establish the physiological functioning of specific sense organ. Applying a drop of oil or any other lubricant to finger facilitates inserting the odd-sized ring easily. This is an easy example to understand the importance in relation to the grasping ability of the sense organs. Oil and ghee are the main natural lubricants available since time immemorial. Ayurveda has described the properties of cow-ghee as follows:
“शस्तं धी स्मृति मेधाऽग्नि बलायुः शुक्र चक्षुषाम् ….”
It means that cow ghee improves grasping, storing and recall, the three aspects of brain function. You can buy cow-ghee for common cold here. It also stimulates appetite, improves quality of life, physical endurance, vigour and eyesight. Nose is the gateway of brain and any product introduced through the nostril has immediate access to the brain tissue. Even modern medicine has identified the potential of this path which bypasses the blood brain barrier and without much efforts, the valuable drug can be made bio-available in plasma and CSF in just 1.5 minutes. Use of nasal insulin is a well-known example to understand this phenomenon. Recently there is also nasal spray for calcium supplementation. Here is the first step towards improving the grasping capacity of the brain which mentions administration of ghee based product through nostrils. Ayurveda has described this mode of administration 5000 years ago by the name of ‘Nasya’ treatment. Besides cow-ghee, some valuable herbs like saffron help to impart phenomenal antioxidant effects on brain cells. It is scientifically proved and possesses a strong supporting reference. Nose is directly connected to the brain through olfactory apparatus; it is connected to ears through Eustachian tube, to eyes through lachrymal ducts. Therefore nasal treatment helps to restore the physiological functions of all these organs and nourish the brain’s grasping capacity. Ayurveda recommends 4-4 drops in each nostril daily to achieve the said therapeutic benefit. Despite improvement in intellectual competence, unknowingly this treatment imparts lots of other advantages like prevention of recurrent attacks of common cold, arrests hair fall, overcomes fatigue of eyes due to excess-reading, combats burning of eyes, protects occasional blocking of ears, protects vision defects etc. The ideal time to administer these nasal drops is early morning or late evening after the sun-set. One should lie-down for 5 minutes afterwards. Rarely the feeling of the drops coming into throat is noticed which may be ignored or one can have a sip of warm water. This nasal medication helps to speed up the grasping process of knowledge without any difficulty. A readymade preparation by the name of Cleverin nasal drops has been recently developed and approved by the Food and Drug administration which possess multiple therapeutic benefits attributed to grasping of knowledge by empowering the neurotransmission by cleansing and lubricating the sense organs.
Ayurveda to Build Memory in Children: After grasping, the second step of improving the intellectual process is of increasing the storage capacity. The knowledge acquired has to be stored properly which can be utilised later as and when required. It is scientifically proved that the active constituents from herbs like Brahmi, Shankhapushpi, Shatavari, Ashwagandha helps in improving the intellectual performance by different mode of action. Some help by way of enhancement of protein kinase activity, Increase in protein in hippocampus, alleviate stress and help to minimize the release of stress hormone, some have neuro-regenerative activity, some help by improving the oxygenated blood supply to the brain and some prevent oxidative damage by imparting anti-oxidant activity. In short these herbs play a major role to improve the storage capacity of the brain. It is as simple to understand that if more books are ordered in the library, it becomes essential to make additional arrangement of accommodating them by adding number of shelves. Most of the marketed Ayurvedic and herbal formulations work on this principle. The activity starts in about 2 weeks. Nobody can deny the fact that memory related functions can’t be measured like body temperature. Even then their efficacy remains unquestionable as huge amount of data is available across the world and also the safety parameters are well established. The important aspect is to know the quantity of each item in the formulation. If inadequate quantities are consumed, one can not expect the therapeutic benefits in desired time. Besides improvement in intellectual abilities, these herbs also possess several other benefits like improvement in physical endurance, improves hemoglobin level, keep RBC, WBC in right shape, improves the immunity, hair melanin, prevent calcium depletion, and delay ageing process. Besides dosage, it is also important to check the taste of the product as children are very fussy about taste. The herbs are basically bitter in taste but many brands are available which mask the bitterness perfectly and make the product not only palatable but worth loving. Cleverol is one of such approved brands which possess chocolate flavour and acceptable palatability.
The third step: The 3rd and most important step of memory enhancement is the “recall process”. Many factors are responsible for affecting this process. Stress, fear, loud noise, lack of interest, inadequate exercise, wrong diet, weak concentration etc. are some major factors, which should be taken care of during the course of studies. Recently German researchers found they could use specific perfume at night to re-activate new memories in the brains of students during sleep and the volunteers remembered better on the next day. The test conducted showed the 97 % result and the control group performed only 84 %. During the studies, fMRI scan showed that the activity of Hippocampus was stimulated during inhalation of particular odour. Based on this research, a novel product in the form of Dhoop stick is prepared. This Cleveroma stick does not contain strong perfumes but it is composed by Ayurvedic aromatic herbs like Tulsi, Jatamansi etc. which improve the recall function of the brain. Students should light this stick in the bed room where they intend to sleep because the activity of hippocampus is at its best during sleep.
Prayers have scientific base: Prayers towards God and offering respect to seniors helps to strengthen the brain’s overall performance. This statement can be scientifically proved here. To understand this, we must match up few things together. It is an established fact that cortisol hormone is released due to stress or fear. This is therefore called stress hormone. Cortisol causes serious damage to the brain. Hence in acute and serious situations an individual becomes insane. He or she could not make any logical decision. Second situation when a child is thrown up, he laughs as he enjoys it. The confidence level of the child is to the extent that he is 100% sure about his security. Therefore in a situation where he should be afraid, he rather takes pleasure out of it. The hormone cortisol is not released and the brain remains away from its ill effects. A prayer towards God and offering respect to the seniors gradually builds the confidence level that a person feels enormous support. In olden days, it was a tradition but has a scientific base to offer respect to seniors and pray God before leaving for long journey. As there were no vehicles and even roads, people used to travel in either bullock-cart or ride on horses. Getting food during travel, climatic conditions, and possibility of attack from wild animals were major hurdles and only blessings used to be the moral support. The customs were simply followed but the hidden treasure is now understood by the modern world.
The purpose of lighting candle or oiled light during prayer also has a scientific implication as it plays a role of Tratak (a yogic practice for improving concentration). Lighting of Agarbatti and the aroma helps to improve the blood circulation to hippocampus which plays key role in recall process of the acquired knowledge. There are lots of Mantras to perform during prayers and the aroma helps to rehearse them in proper order and manner.
Importance of regular exercise: How much exercise you do is not important but how regular you perform it is rather more important. A 76 years old man reached the wedding hall slightly late for his own wedding is a fact known to the author. This was because he did not want to compromise with his exercise schedule. No doubt those taking rigorous exercise look well-built but, most of the times, their immunity is not up to mark. Their bones are also brittle and get fracture even with a small trauma. It is also found that such well-built individuals do not have an issue. This is because the optimum nutrition is utilized by the muscular portion and other systems remain under-nourished. Therefore is good to perform little but regular exercise. Apparently such people would not look as attractive in physical built, but their overall physical and intellectual abilities will be far better than a robust individual.
Intellectual exercise: As regular exercise can build good muscle power, same is the case with brain tissue. The more you keep them functioning, their performance will improve to the top. In the course of exercise, the muscular action is repeated in the same sequence many times which tones-up the muscle fibers. The brain also achieves improved ability by repetitively doing the same task. Forgetting is a natural process in living creatures. Man forgets more because his mind is diverted to too many subjects throughout the day. Intellectual performance can be further improved by meditation as it tones up the brain to stick to one subject and not to get diverted. Very few people remember the dreams on the next day. The only reason for this is the moment you get up, you see the watch, then think of the studies, then think of the bank balance, then the medicine to be consumed on empty stomach and so on. There are hundreds of such things that vanish off the experience of dream. Same is the case with studies. Try to focus more and more on the task and nothing other than your commitments. This is nothing but an intellectual exercise.
Some important things about diet: Human digestive system is fabricated by the creator of the universe for consuming vegetables only. If non-veg diet is cherished; make sure that it should not be more than once a week. There is a special recipe described in Ayurveda by the name “Pancha Khadya” which contains following 5 items. Dry dates, Raw dates, Coconut, Poppy seeds and cane sugar. This recipe helps to improve various brain functions and is extremely delicious too. Instead of fast-food, wafers, cookies,etc, this can be a best alternative to schooling children as recess time breakfast.
Tatak: Focusing vision at a particular point like a flame of candle or incense stick light for 2-3 minutes can help to improve concentration.
Many people ask as how long should the treatment be continued. It is essential to understand that these recommendations should not be considered as treatments. The recommendations are for improving intellectual performance. For better understanding, I always quote one example. Regular exercise is good for health. There are many people who do not perform any exercise at all even then they survive. But ultimately an overall health profile of both such individuals will differ in long term. These recommendations improve mental well being and also physical fitness. It is up to the consumer as how long they wish to be fit and fine.