Amnesia is a term used to cover the partial or complete loss of memory. It is most often a temporary condition and covers only a part of a person’s experience, such as immediate memory. Another effect of amnesia is the inability to imagine the future. The causes of amnesia are organic or functional. Organic causes include damage to the brain, through trauma or disease, or use of certain (generally sedative) drugs. Functional causes are psychological factors, such as defense mechanisms. Hysterical post-traumatic amnesia is an example of this. Amnesia may also be spontaneous, in the case of transient global amnesia. This global type of amnesia is more common in middle-aged to elderly people, particularly males, and usually lasts less than 24 hours.
The most common form of this disease is verbal amnesia. In this condition, the patient forgets words or names. An uncommon form of amnesia is temporary loss of memory, in which a person even forgets his own identity, including his name, age, family background, and any recollection of the past.
The main causes of amnesia can include:
· External trauma, such as a blow to the head
· Internal trauma, such as stroke
· Exposure to a toxic substances such as carbon monoxide
· Inadequate diet
· Brain tumors
In anterograde amnesia, new events contained in the immediate memory are not transferred to the permanent as long-term memory.
Retrograde amnesia is the inability to recall some memory or memories of the past, beyond ordinary forgetfulness.
Traumatic amnesia is generally due to a head injury (fall, knock on the head). Traumatic amnesia is often transient, but may be permanent of either anterograde, retrograde or mixed type.
Psychogenic amnesia results from a psychological cause as opposed to direct damage to the brain caused by head injury, physical trauma or disease, which is known as organic amnesia. This can include:
Dissociative amnesia is used to refer to inability to recall information, usually about stressful or traumatic events in persons’ lives, such as a violent attack.
Fugue state is also known as dissociative fugue. It is caused by psychological trauma and is usually temporary.
Posthypnotic amnesia is where events during hypnosis are forgotten, or where past memories are unable to be recalled.
Lacunar amnesia is the loss of memory about one specific event.
Childhood amnesia (also known as infantile amnesia) is the common inability to remember events from one’s own childhood.
Transient Global Amnesia is a well described medical and clinical phenomenon. This form of amnesia is distinct in that it can sometimes be seen in a special form of MRI of the brain.
Source amnesia is a memory disorder in which someone can recall certain information, but they do not know where or how they obtained the information.
Memory distrust syndrome is a term to describe a situation where someone is unable to trust their own memory. Excessive short-term alcohol consumption can cause a blackout phenomenon, with the amnesia being of the anterograde type. Long-term alcoholism or malnutrition can cause a type of memory loss known as Korsakoff’s syndrome. This is caused by brain damage due to a Vitamin B1 deficiency and will be progressive if alcohol intake and nutrition pattern are not modified.
There are no laboratory tests that are necessary to confirm amnesia nor are there any physical conditions that must be met. However, it is very important not to overlook a physical illness that might mimic or contribute to amnesia.
Very sophisticated psychological testing, called neuropsychological testing, can be very helpful in determining the presence of amnesia. Sometimes the diagnosis of amnesia can be aided by the use of brain scans such as the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Any neurological disorder represents a challenge, not only for the patients and their families, but also for the treating physician.Psychotherapy can be helpful for people whose amnesia is caused by emotional trauma. For instance, hypnosis may help some patients/clients recall forgotten memories.
Sometimes it is appropriate to administer a drug called Amytal (sodium amobarbital) to people suffering from amnesia. The medicine helps some people recall their lost memories. There are several herbs, vitamins, and supplements that may help boost memory and provide support for the brain. These work through various mechanisms: enhancing cerebral blood flow, increasing neurotransmitter levels, reducing free radicals, and restoring cell membrane fluidity. Other Amnesia treatments include sufficient sleep and rest, Relaxation and meditation.
The diet of a patient suffering from amnesia should consist of phosphorus-rich foods like cereals, pulses, nuts, egg yolk, fruit juices, and milk. Cow’s milk is especially beneficial and the patient should take as much of this milk as he can safely digest.
Almonds are very valuable for restoring a poor memory caused by brain weakness. Ten to twelve almonds should be immersed in water overnight and their outer skin removed. They should then be made into a fine paste and taken, mixed with one teaspoonful of butter or even alone. Inhaling ten to fifteen drops of almond oil through the nose, morning and evening, is also beneficial in the treatment of brain weakness.
Walnut is another unique dry fruit valuable in countering brain weakness. About twenty grams of walnuts should be taken every day. The value of walnuts is enhanced if they are taken with figs or raisins in a proportion of ten gram each, everyday.
Apples are useful in amnesia. The various chemical substances contained in this fruit such as vitamin B1, phosphorus, and potassium help in the synthesis of glutamic acid. This acid controls the wear and tear of nerve cells. Eating an apple a day with one tea-spoon of honey and one cup of milk is beneficial in the treatment of loss of memory and mental irritability. It acts as an effective nerve tonic and recharges the nerves with new energy and life.
All fruits such as figs, grapes, oranges, and dates, rich in phosphorus are valuable mitigators of amnesia, as they invigorate the brain cells and tissues. Their intake is highly beneficial in loss of memory due to brain debility.
The use of cumin seeds is another valuable remedy for amnesia or dullness of memory. Three grams of black cumin seeds should be mixed with two teaspoonfuls of pure honey and taken once a day, preferably, in the morning.
Five seeds of finely ground black pepper, mixed with one teaspoon of honey are also beneficial in the treatment of this condition. This preparation should be taken both in the morning and evening.
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is lipid-soluble and interacts with cell membranes, traps free radicals, and disrupts the pathway that leads to cell damage.
Vitamins B1 and B12-Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is water-soluble and necessary for the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Rosemary (Romarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is considered to be the most remarkable remedy for loss of memory. It is an antidote for mental fatigue and forgetfulness. A tea made from this herb, taken once or twice a day, is a refreshing drink and an effective natural remedy for enhancing mental agility.
Brahmi Booti (Bacopa scrophulariaceae)
About seven grams of this herb should be dried in the shade and ground in water, along with seven kernels of almonds and half a gram of pepper. This mixture should be strained and sweetened with twenty-five gm of sugar. It should be drunk every morning for a fortnight on an empty stomach.
The herb sage has also been found beneficial in the treatment of a weak memory or loss of memory. It acts on the cortex of the brain, mitigates mental exhaustion and strengthens the ability to concentrate. A tea prepared from dried sage leaves can be used regularly for this purpose.
Ashwagandha – A medicinal plant used in India to treat a wide range of age-related disorders. Its most remarkable effect may involve its ability to preserve the health of the aging brain.
Grape seed extract may play a specific role in protecting the brain by preventing the kind of neuronal toxicity experienced by patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Ginkgo biloba leaf extract is the most widely used in the treatment of memory loss in the elderly.
Vinpocetine is a synthetic compound extracted from the seeds of the periwinkle plant. It has several pharmacological properties, including antioxidant, vasodilator, and neuroprotective benefits.
Huperzine A., derived from the leaves of the Chinese club moss Huperzia serrata, demonstrates beneficial characteristics similar to those of ginkgo.
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