HERBS FOR HEALTH MANAGEMENT

Herbs are a foundational root in medicine and health treatments, dating back thousands of years throughout every culture around the world. Modern Western herbalism comes from ancient Egypt. The Greeks developed a comprehensive philosophy of herbal medicine by 100 BCE and the Romans built upon it to create a variety of medical practices, some of which are still used today.

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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IMPACTS PSYCHOLOGICAL HARDINESS

Psychological hardiness is an individual’s resistance to stress, anxiety and depression. It includes the ability to withstand grief and accept the loss of loved ones. Alternative medicine is a more popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medical approaches but are often used along with conventional medicinal protocols.  Coping and dealing with stress in a positive manner play a major role in maintaining the balance needed for health and well-being.

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ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Interest in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Some of these remedies include:

St. John’s Wort.  More than 30 studies show it to be effective for treatment of mild forms of depression,…

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conscientiousness, optimism and sense of autonomy were all improved (Brown and Ryan, 2003; Rasmussen and Pidgeon, 2011). Physical evidence of altered brain activity due to mindfulness has been reported as well. Brain imaging results of individuals who practice mindfulness have shown increased activation of the prefrontal cortex, while the amygdala was inhibited (Creswell et al., 2007). The prefrontal cortex is important to executive functioning such as planning, decision making, problem solving and self-control, while the amygdala is the integrative center for emotions, emotional behaviors and motivation. Mindfulness seeks to regulate one’s emotions through critical thinking, and brain imaging results indicate changes that align and fulfill its purpose.


Mental sharpness is valuable and can help you maintain a high quality of life as you age. With the incorporation of exercise, eating well and mindfulness, keeping a keen mind is more attainable with aging. Naturally, everybody is different, so talk to your physician first to see if these tips may be right for you.


References


3 TIPS TO INCREASE MENTAL ACUITY

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

This article was team written by graduate students in the Nutritional Sciences and Pharmacology Students Association within the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Kentucky with faculty advisor Dr. Sara Police.

nutrient-rich diets (Goldberg et al., 2019). The intake of nutrients such as vitamin B2, choline, vitamin C and zinc – believed to affect memory – were found to be below the recommended dietary allowance for aging seniors. Additionally, a 2019 review of nutritional intervention studies reported eating a healthy diet could have neuroprotective effects (Samadi et al., 2019). The Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets were linked to reductions in oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which are associated with declining mental health. These diets focus on consuming whole grains, vegetables, fruits and fish over red meats and dairy. Conversely, high-fat and high-sugar diets were identified as detrimental to the mental health of Alzheimer’s disease patients.


MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness refers to taking care of one’s psychological well-being to alleviate mental distress such as anxiety, pervasive thoughts and emotions and rumination. This is achieved by practicing heightened awareness and non- judgmental acceptance of each moment in day-to-day living (Keng et al., 2011). Many different mindfulness practices, such as meditation and yoga, have research- backed evidence of their effectiveness. In studies exploring the impact of mindfulness on psychological wellness, participants’ self-esteem,

With aging, mental sharpness and memory can decline. However, we can and should strive to preserve our physical and mental well-being along life’s journey. Research has identified specific strategies that help preserve mental sharpness. Regular exercise, eating a balanced and nutritious diet and practicing mindfulness have been shown to retain mental sharpness well into the golden years.


EXERCISE

Between 2011 and 2015, a longitudinal study surveyed 1.2 million Americans about their exercise habits and self-reported mental health (Chekroud et al., 2018). Survey participants reported that irrespective of age, sex, race, socioeconomic background or type of exercise, physical activity reduced their mental health burden. Full-body exercise with a social component such as team sports, cycling or aerobics were the most beneficial. We know exercise is good for physical and mental health; however, the frequency, duration and intensity required to reap its benefits has been unclear until recently. Authors of this study reported just 45 minutes of exercise three to five times per week was helpful. Exercise has also been shown to improve sleep patterns, increase libido, reduce stress, elevate mood and increase energy (Sharma et al., 2006).


EATING WELL

Poor nutrition is not only harmful to your physical health, but it can hurt your memory, too. In a 2019 study, people with nutrient- poor diets had worse memory performance scores than those who had