Why You Can't Remember Anything - Memory Loss Causes and Treatment (2023)

Why You Can't Remember Anything - Memory Loss Causes and Treatment (1)

by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell

Do you feel like you can’t remember anything? Memory loss is a common problem and not just among the elderly. If your memory loss is affecting your daily life, you may wonder if this indicates a serious medical condition. Not necessarily. Sometimes memory loss is a simple matter of dietary and lifestyle choices. Let’s take a look at the common causes of memory loss and what you can do to treat it naturally.

Why You Can’t Remember Anything

From my research, I’ve come up with the 11 most common causes of memory loss.

These include:

1. Neurotoxic Chemicals in Food

Our food supply has changed quite drastically over the past 50 years. There are more chemically-derived food-like-products on your grocery store shelves than the wholesome, nutritious food your grandparents used to eat. As a result, more people are suffering from unusual health problems than ever before. One of these problems is memory loss.

Many of the chemicals in highly-processed foods are considered neurotoxic. This means they cause premature brain cell death, which can affect memory, cognition, and even behavior. One of the alarming facts about neurotoxins is that much of your brain cells have been damaged or destroyed before serious side effects are ever felt.

Here are some of the neurotoxic chemicals in food you should avoid:

  • Aspartame

Aspartame is a synthetic sweetener derived from genetically modified E. coli bacteria. It is highly toxic to the brain and has been linked to the development of seizures, migraine headaches, memory loss, sensory processing disorders, personality changes, and autoimmune disease, among others. Common food sources of this memory-sapping sweetener include diet soda, gum, some artificially sweetened yogurt, and processed snack foods.

  • MSG

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a savory-tasting synthetic flavor enhancer that is often found in Asian cuisine and processed snack food. It is an excitotoxin that over-stimulates your brain cells into an early death. MSG is also highly-addictive because it stimulates your brain’s reward centers each time you eat a food containing it. Over time, your brain gets used to this stimulation and you need more to get the same result. Meanwhile, your brain cells are being killed off, which affects memory, reasoning, and cognition.

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  • Food Dyes

Clinical research over the past 30 years has shown conclusive evidence that food dyes such as Red Dye 40 and Yellow #5 can do serious damage to the brain, especially that of a developing child. CT imaging scans done of hyperactive children who consumed Red Dye 40 showed hot spots in the upper-right quadrant of the brain; the part that processes emotion. Children (and adults) who are sensitive to these dyes experience brain inflammation and excitotoxicity, which can result in memory loss, sensory processing difficulties, and personality changes.

  • Pesticides

Pesticides are designed to be neurotoxic to insects but they have the exact same effect on human beings and animals when consumed. According to a study published by Occupational and Environmental Medicine, those in their 40s and 50s who had worked in the modern agricultural industry for at least 20 years had marked brain impairment and an increased risk for the development of dementia.

  • Sucralose

If you’ve switched to Splenda (sucralose) because you believe it’s healthier for you than table sugar, you’ve been fooled by a clever marketing scam. Splenda is chlorinated sugar and neurotoxic to humans. It can result in memory loss, brain fog, agitation, headaches, depression, and impaired concentration.

2. Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies are one of the most commonly-overlooked causes of chronic physical and mental health problems. Even those who eat a relatively-healthy diet experience nutritional deficiencies due to poor soil quality, low probiotic count, low stomach acid, and malabsorption of nutrients due to chronic digestive disease.

One of the most common nutritional deficiencies linked to memory loss is vitamin B12 deficiency. As you age, your ability to absorb this nutrient greatly decreases and you may need to begin a supplement to keep your levels in a healthy range. B12 can only be derived from animal foods, so strict vegetarians and vegans can be at risk for developing this nutritional deficiency.

Magnesium deficiency is a common mineral deficiency linked to memory loss and impaired cognitive function. Without this essential nutrient, memory loss, concentration problems, insomnia, and even mental health symptoms can result.

No matter how healthy your diet, nutritional deficiencies can still cause chronic health problems. This is why I recommend each of my patients begin a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement to fill in any nutritional gaps.

In my opinion, many store-bought vitamins are often poorly absorbed (as determined by blood serum and cellular levels) and contain food dyes and other additives that can contribute to some of the health problems you’re trying to avoid.

3. Gluten Intolerance

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye and millions are unable to digest it. In addition to causing chronic digestive complaints such as bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, and constipation, gluten also has a negative effect on the brain of those who are intolerant to it. In the gluten intolerant person, gliadin (wheat protein) is turned into a morphine-like substance that acts as an opiate to the brain. This can affect memory, cognition, sensory processing, and behavior.

4. Autoimmune Disease

Those with autoimmune disease often experience problems with memory and cognition. Multiple sclerosis, Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, and Sjögren’s syndrome are all often associated with neurological dysfunction.

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5. Chronic Candida Infection

Candida is a type of yeast that grows naturally in your intestines and genital region. Kept in check, this yeast is actually beneficial to your health. When it grows out of control, however, it can become systemic, entering the bloodstream and causing a host of unusual and seemingly-unconnected symptoms.

Chronic candida yeast overgrowth often occurs as a result of poor diet, excessive antibiotic use, birth control pills, prolonged use of NSAID pain relievers, mercury toxicity, and excessive alcohol consumption. When your digestive system does not have enough healthy, active cultures (probiotics), it can lead to an overgrowth of candida yeast.

Symptoms of candida yeast syndrome include brain fog, memory loss, learning impairment, chronic yeast infections, frequent colds and flu, abdominal discomfort, bloating, flatulence, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

6. Excessive Stress

Stress can really affect your memory. For many, there is simply too much to juggle on a daily basis. I see the effects of it regularly in my practice. An abundance of stress also contributes to adrenal gland fatigue. Excessive stress as a cause of memory loss is common in teenagers though those in middle-age.

But the good news is that through lifestyle modification, including proper diet, exercise, meditation, prayer, counseling if needed, and proper supplementation, stress overload can be controlled.

A recent laboratory study revealed that mice exposed to repeated stress presented with impaired temporal order recognition memory, a cognitive process governed by the prefrontal cortex.

7. Lack of Sleep

Chronic sleep deprivation impairs your ability to process information and consolidate new memories. Just 1.5 hours of missed sleep each night can reduce daytime alertness by 32%. If you don’t get enough deep, uninterrupted rest each night, you may be tempted to pound down energy drinks but that can be counterproductive. They only offer you temporarily relief and are loaded with unhealthy chemicals that can cause unwanted side effects.

8. Alcohol Consumption

A drink or two won’t harm your health but excessive alcohol consumption can lead to permanent memory loss. Alcohol disrupts the activity of the hippocampus, which is responsible for the formation of autobiographical and explicit memories.

9. Developmental Disorders

People with autism, ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive development disorder often have difficulty with short-term memory.

A child with PPD, for example, may be told to do two chores but only get one done because the child simply cannot remember the second task long enough to complete it. Other symptoms of developmental disorder include inability to concentrate, attention problems, sensory processing difficulties, inability to read social cues, repetitive behaviors, and mental agitation due to frustration.

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10. Aging

Age-related memory loss often occurs as a result of a combination of B12 deficiency, insulin resistance, poor diet, and lack of exercise.

11. Concussion

Also known as mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), there are more than 3 million reported cases in the U.S. each year.

Natural Treatments for Memory Loss

1. Identify the Cause

The first thing to do in the case of memory loss is to identify the cause. Do any of the above-mentioned causes seem familiar to you? If so, that’s the place to start. Knowing the cause of your memory loss will help direct you to your best treatment options.

When a patient with memory loss come to see me, I begin with a comprehensive review of the patient’s history, and then proceed to a neurological examination.

Depending on the likely cause(s), I then order screening tests, which include a comprehensive metabolic profile, complete blood count (CBC) with differential, complete thyroid profile (not just a TSH), lipid profile, hemoglobin A1c, Vitamin B6, B9, B12, Vitamin D3, RBC magnesium, C-RP, sed rate, ferritin, urinalysis, and EKG.

I also review any medications the patient is taking, as some can cause problems with memory. Supplements the patient is taking are also reviewed. Diet and daily fluid intake is evaluated as well.

Depending on the results of these tests, and the nature and length of the patient’s memory difficulties, I often recommend an ultrasound evaluation of the carotid arteries and an MRI or CT of the brain.

Testing is customized, of course. A teenager with a sports concussion would not likely need extensive blood testing, as compared to an elderly patient with progressive memory loss.

2.Reduce Food and Environmental Toxins

Food and environmental toxins can lead to chronic neurological disturbances that could cause an otherwise healthy brain to malfunction. Teenagers and young adults are now experiencing the type of cognitive decline once reserved for unhealthy senior citizens who lived a hard and fast life. There’s no natural reason for this to happen.

The best thing you can do for your memory and your health is to reduce as many food and environmental toxins as possible. This means slowly weaning off highly-processed foods and trading them in for whole-food fare.

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It also means taking a close look at your cosmetics and cleaning products, many of which contain neurotoxic chemicals such as acetaldehyde and formaldehyde. There are plenty of natural, organic cleaners and cosmetics on the market to replace the products you’re currently using.

3. Eat a Brain-Building Diet

A brain-building diet includes foods rich in antioxidants and inflammation-fighting omega 3 fatty acids. These foods include blackberries, coffee, apples, organic chocolate (rich in polyphenols), wild-caught fish, turmeric, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil.

4. Get Regular Exercise

The hippocampus is crucial in the formation of new memories, connecting emotions to memories, navigation and spatial relations. Studies have shown that regular exercise improves the size and function of the hippocampus, leading to better brain function.

Regular exercise also helps reduce stress!

5. Use Proper Natural Supplements to Address Nutritional Deficiencies and Heal the Brain…..

What Is The Best Combination Of Natural Supplements to Promote Memory And Brain Healing?

For my patients struggling with memory problems, I recommendDiamond Nutritionals’ Memory Support Formula. It contains a synergistic blend of ingredients designed to improve memory without the side effects associated with prescription drugs:

These ingredients include:

  • Gingko Biloba – Ginkgo biloba is a medicinal herb that has been used successfully for centuries to treat memory loss and the symptoms of cognitive decline. It works by increasing blood flow to the brain and promoting healthy nerve conductivity.
  • Vinpocetine – Vinpocetine is an alkaloid derivative of vincamine, an extract from the periwinkle plant. It has shown powerful neuroprotective properties and been found to increase cerebral blood flow.
  • Huperzine – Huperzine works as a selective and long-term protector of the naturally occurring neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is essential for the enhancement of memory and learning. Huperzine is extracted from Chinese club moss.

It is very important to combine Memory Support Formulawith Foundation Vitamin and Mineral Formula for maximum healing. Foundation Vitamin and Mineral Formula contains the proper balance of vitamins and minerals essential to normal brain function and healing. This natural, 2-part supplement program has helped many over the years, including those with various forms of dementia as well as concussions.

The program is easy to follow. The dose is 1 Memory Support Formula capsule and 3 Foundation Vitamin and Mineral tablets once a day with a meal. These professional-grade formulations may be taken together.

It can be very frustrating to feel as though you can’t remember anything no matter what you do. This is especially true for younger people. Short-term memory loss and cognitive impairment can put a damper on your academic, personal, and social life but it doesn’t have to. Once you know what’s causing your memory loss, you’ll be better equipped to treat it naturally.

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Resources:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S009130570400067X
http://cpj.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/09/12/0009922813502849.abstract
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201191134.htm
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673696905401
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6099562
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3086677/
http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-2/186-196.htm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/

FAQs

What causes memory loss and treatment? ›

Possible culprits include: antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and pain medications given after surgery. Alcohol, tobacco, or drug use. Excessive alcohol use has long been recognized as a cause of memory loss.

What causes your brain to not remember? ›

Not enough oxygen getting to the brain when your heart or breathing is stopped for too long. Severe brain infection or infection around brain. Major surgery or severe illness, including brain surgery. Transient global amnesia (sudden, temporary loss of memory) of unclear cause.

Can memory loss be cured? ›

There's no cure for some causes of short-term memory loss, including dementia from Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. However, there are medications that may help to slow progression and ease your symptoms, including short-term memory loss.

What is the best medication for memory loss? ›

Cholinesterase inhibitors are the first choice of treatment for memory loss. The doctor may also prescribe the single-dose drug combination Namzeric to treat moderate to severe memory loss.

What is the best test for memory loss? ›

The steps listed below are the common steps a person will go through when being evaluated for memory loss, behavioral disorders and other related problems.
  • Neurological Exam & History. ...
  • Neuropsychological Testing. ...
  • Laboratory Tests. ...
  • Neuroimaging. ...
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Exam. ...
  • EEG.

How do doctors test for memory problems? ›

In addition to a general physical exam, your doctor will likely conduct question-and-answer tests to judge your memory and other thinking skills. He or she may also order blood tests, brain-imaging scans and other tests that can help identify reversible causes of memory problems and dementia-like symptoms.

What are the 3 foods that fight memory loss? ›

What are the foods that fight memory loss? Berries, fish, and leafy green vegetables are 3 of the best foods that fight memory loss. There's a mountain of evidence showing they support and protect brain health.

Is there a pill for memory loss? ›

Memantine (Namenda) is approved by the FDA for treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. It works by regulating the activity of glutamate, a messenger chemical widely involved in brain functions — including learning and memory. It's taken as a pill or syrup.

Why I forget things so quickly? ›

Forgetfulness can arise from stress, depression, lack of sleep or thyroid problems. Other causes include side effects from certain medicines, an unhealthy diet or not having enough fluids in your body (dehydration). Taking care of these underlying causes may help resolve your memory problems.

What part of the brain causes memory loss? ›

Amnesia can result from damage to brain structures that form the limbic system, which controls your emotions and memories. These structures include the thalamus, which lies deep within the center of your brain, and the hippocampal formations, which are situated within the temporal lobes of your brain.

What mental illness affects memory? ›

Depression has been linked to memory problems, such as forgetfulness or confusion. It can also make it difficult to focus on work or other tasks, make decisions, or think clearly. Stress and anxiety can also lead to poor memory. Depression is associated with short-term memory loss.

Are there any drugs that improve memory? ›

Prevagen is an over-the-counter (OTC) supplement that claims to support brain health and boost your memory.
...
There are currently five medications that are FDA-approved to treat memory loss caused by Alzheimer's disease:
  • Donepezil (Aricept)
  • Memantine (Namenda)
  • Namzaric.
  • Rivastigmine (Exelon)
  • Galantamine (Razadyne)
18 May 2021

What medication causes memory loss? ›

Here are 10 of the top types of offenders.
  • Antianxiety drugs (Benzodiazepines) ...
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs (Statins) ...
  • Antiseizure drugs. ...
  • Antidepressant drugs (Tricyclic antidepressants) ...
  • Narcotic painkillers. ...
  • Parkinson's drugs (Dopamine agonists) ...
  • Hypertension drugs (Beta-blockers)
9 Feb 2016

How do you know when memory loss is serious? ›

10 warning signs
  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
  4. Confusion with time or place.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
8 May 2017

Can memory be improved? ›

Our memory is a skill, and just like other skills, it can be improved with practice and healthy overall habits. You can start small. For example, pick a new challenging activity to learn, incorporate a few minutes of exercise into your day, maintain a sleep schedule, and eat a few more green vegetables, fish, and nuts.

Videos

1. "Why Can't I Remember My Childhood? Dissociative Amnesia 101 | Psychotherapy Crash Course
(Támara Hill, MS NCC CCTP LPC)
2. How memories form and how we lose them - Catharine Young
(TED-Ed)
3. MEDUZA, James Carter - Bad Memories ft. Elley Duhé, FAST BOY
(Meduza)
4. All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault) (Lyric Video)
(Taylor Swift)
5. The Caretaker - Everywhere At The End Of Time - Stages 1-6 (Complete)
(vvmtest)
6. PTSD and memory: why can’t I remember my trauma?
(Dr. Harry McCleary)
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