No matter what you call it, not being able to remember things is often frightening and frustrating at the same time. Everyone has those “senior moments” now and then, when you just can’t remember where you put those keys, but when it starts happening too frequently and interferes with your ability to function in life, that is more serious.

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While there has been a lot of research on memory loss, it has not been able to find just one cause. Like most things in life and in medicine, there are multiple causes. That means that the best results will come from treating those multiple causes at the same time. That is common sense, and it was also the conclusion of a recent landmark study by UCLA, where they took patients with memory loss, and then tested them for the many underlying issues that can affect the brain negatively, and then corrected each of those things.

Correcting these issues requires the active participation of the patient and his or her family. Often lifestyle issues must be addressed. It is not as simple as taking a prescription medication pill and hoping that it will solve all your problems. But patients who are motivated can often see dramatic results, as the published paper shows. Many were able to return to work and function at a much higher level than before.

Some will need to take special nutritional supplements to correct metabolic deficiencies in their brain, some will need to replace bioidentical hormones that are critical to brain function, some will need to treat an underlying stealth brain infection, some will need to detoxify heavy metals in their brain through chelation, and some will need to change their diets and exercise habits to improve their blood sugar regulation since high sugar is toxic to the brain. A nice “side-effect” of these interventions is that patients feel better and are much healthier overall.

Unfortunately, these types of treatments are not always covered by insurance. Our health system will mainly treat you with medication after you are sick, but will rarely help you to stay well or recover from your illness by correcting the underlying causes. However, your brain does not have a deficiency of Namenda or any other prescription memory drug, and those drugs obviously do not address the multitude of issues mentioned above that caused the problem in the first place.

It is important to remember that once a brain cell has died, no treatment can bring it back to life. That is why it is important to intervene as soon as possible. However, the right treatments can improve neuronal function in those brain cells that are struggling to survive, and prevent or slow down any further neurologic decline.