Daily I hear from clients, friends and family that they can’t seem to focus, concentrate or that their memory isn’t quite as sharp as it was. They ask me if there is anything that I can think could assist them. This is where my mind goes to Ayurveda for Memory.
Ayurvedic medicine is the traditional form of medicine used in India, and is the father of all modern medicine. Evidence of Ayurvedic massage can be traced to 5000 years ago.
In Ayurvedic philosophy the belief is that this specific massage balances out the tri-doshas – Vata (space and air), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth).
Tri means three – Dosha is the basic physical energy, meaning “that which changes”, and in Ayurveda it is your mind and body type.
We each have all 3 of the doshas within us, however they are in different proportions for every person – making it a totally unique mix for each individual. E.g. One person can be primarily Pitta, secondary Kapha and thirdly vata (least prominent). When the doshas are in balance we remain healthy and there is a free flow of energy (Prana) around the body. The flow of prana around the body is assisted by the 7 chakras.
Each dosha has a dominant sense and body system that it controls. When one or more dosha is out of balance it can activate the weak points in the body creating ill health and issues.
According to Ayurvedic science there are a number of causes for poor memory and concentration in adults. The main ones that are first considered are poor nutrition/malnutrition and chemical imbalances in the brain function – that may be either physiological or caused by other chemical sources such as drugs.
Vata governs movement in the body including the nervous system and it drives the communication of the nerves to the brain.
Kapha distributes energy throughout the body and it’s responsible for building up mental strength.
Thereby, from an Ayurvedic perspective, poor memory and concentration could indicate that both Vata and Kapha doshas need to be balanced. For some people it may just be only one of these doshas that needs balancing.
Marma massage is a traditional Indian therapy, and is derived from a branch of martial arts. There are 107 main Marma pressure points around the body, 37 of which are on the head and neck.
One excellent way to help yourself at home is to do Abhyanga, or self-massage daily. In Ayurveda herbal oils are used for massage, and these are always warmed first. One of the best Ayurvedic herbs for memory and concentration is called Brahmi. In the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2004 a study done by Uttar Pradesh in India and The Frankston Hospital in Victoria, Australia showed Brahmi to be helpful for memory control. If you cannot find Brahmi oil then sesame oil is a good second choice.
To start with warm up the head and neck by gently sitting and taking several deep breaths in and out through the nose. Then gently roll the head around to loosen up the neck muscles – do this very slowly and don’t force it if the muscles feel tight.
Put your warm oil in the palm of your hand and start by applying to the very crown of your head. Then get a bit more oil warmed between the palms of your hands and distribute the oil evenly over the scalp and hair. Start to massage your scalp using slow circular motions working from the crown out towards the hairline and neck – like you are shampooing your head. Use your fingertips and thumbs. Make sure that you are massaging the scalp, and start slowly using small circular movements then work deeper and you can make the circles bigger as you move across the scalp. Release any areas of tension using gentle rubbing or friction movements. You can also very gently tug at the hair and also squeeze the temples. The massage can be done on the neck also using the flat palm of your hand. The oils should be left on for about 15 minutes and can then be washed out.
The massage can be done without oils too, but then it should be done much more gently to reduce the chances of damaging the skin or pulling the hair out.
Do not do this massage if you have any major health issues or damage to the neck or head.
A professional Ayurvedic Indian Head Massage done regularly is also an ideal way to help with memory and concentration.
There are a number of Ayurvedic supplements and herbs that can be taken, and these are available over the counter from companies such as Pukka Herbs and Ayurveda Pura. However, as is with most things, it’s usually best to have a consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner who can check to see where the dosha imbalance lies and work with your own body constitution.