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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Kong Teck Chuan and Dr Angelica L Dumapit on February 1, 2023

Natural Ways To Support Brain Health

Do you notice that you're not as mentally sharp as you once were? You're not imagining things. Brain health may decline with age. These tips can help preserve your cognitive abilities before problems arise.

Brain health feature min scaled

Have you noticed that your brain health is not as sharp as it once was since you’ve gotten older? If so, you’re probably not imagining things.

  • Research shows that parts of your brain shrink as you age, especially the parts that control memory, learning, and other mental activities.
  • Additionally, communication between your brain cells may not be as effective.
  • The aging brain is also prone to decreased blood flow and increased inflammation. All of these factors can affect your mental function, even if you’re otherwise healthy.

The good news is that many elders retain their brain health well into their 80s and 90s, enjoying things like a more extensive vocabulary and learning new skills. The key is to start preserving your cognitive abilities while you are still young.

In this guide, our holistic health experts weigh in on how to support your brain health naturally as you age.

What Is Brain Health?

An aging man suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease being comforted by a caregiver
Brain health may naturally decline with age, but there are many things you can do to support your cognition.

Currently, there is no universal definition for brain health. However, the CDC defines brain health as the ability to perform all cognitive processes, including the ability to judge, learn, use language, and remember.

Meanwhile, the WHO states that brain health is a state of cognitive functioning that allows a person to realize their full potential over the course of their life. This includes sensory, social-emotional, motor, and behavioral domains, as well as the absence or presence of brain disorders.

The brain is responsible for three important functionings that affect our daily life: the control of movement and interpretation of senses; the maintenance of mental, emotional, and cognitive processes, and the maintenance of social cognition and behavior.

Conditions that affect the brain may emerge throughout the course of one’s life. They are characterized by brain growth disruptions, damage to the brain structure, or impaired brain functioning.

These may present as neurological or neurodevelopmental disorders, including:

How Does TCM View Brain Health?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), when qi (passive energy) and blood circulation are disrupted, it can generate Dampness, Phlegm, Qi Stagnation, and Blood Stasis in the meridian channels.

Furthermore, it can also weaken the five vital organs (Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lungs, and Kidneys) and induce a deficiency of qi, Blood, and yang (active energy). These factors can interrupt the distribution of nutrients to the brain.

 “A chronic Deficiency of the Heart, Kidney, and Spleen, Blood and Qi Stasis, and turbid Phlegm affecting the mind can aggravate one’s risk of declining brain health.”

TCM Physician Kong Teck Chuan.

How To Support Brain Health As You Age

Though some degree of memory loss and declining brain health is inevitable as we age, you can keep your brain sharp with certain lifestyle changes. 

Some natural herbs, concoctions, and acupoints are believed to manage qi and blood circulation disruption, hence improving brain health.

Stay mentally active and exercise regularly 

An elderly woman with white hair doing a puzzle
Doing puzzles can help support brain health as you age.

Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, helping to keep your memory sharp. Aim to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercises, such as brisk walking or light jogging. 

One study noted that regular practice of Qigong provided people with neurocognitive benefits that could help slow cognitive decline and boost brainpower. In TCM, it ensures good circulation of qi (vital life force) and blood in the meridian channels.

Indulge in mentally stimulating activities such as crossword puzzles, sudoku, and jigsaw puzzles to keep your brain active. Learning a new musical instrument or picking a new hobby are also great ways to keep memory loss at bay.

Herbal remedies

One study indicated that cordyceps can improve memory and learning. The herb works by reducing free radical damage, preventing oxidative stress, and protecting the nervous system.

  • Ginkgo biloba is also effective in reducing aging-related neurodegenerative conditions, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. It helps increase blood flow to the brain and helps brain cells utilize glucose and oxygen more efficiently.
  • Some ginkgo biloba products are combined with the essence of chicken, which has also been found to fight mental fatigue.
  • Health supplements derived from ingredients like astragalus (Huang Qi) and Panax Notoginseng (San Qi) also help with memory and dementia-associated symptoms. They work by boosting Qi, improving blood flow and preventing Blood Stasis.


Acupuncture can promote a better flow of Blood and qi (vital life force) and improve brain health. A few of the acupressure points that are effective include Bai Hui (GV20), He Gu (LI4), and Tai Chong (LR3).

“Bai hui clears the mind and improves brain function. It is one of the main acupoints used in treating stroke patients. He Gu and Tai Chong harmonize the Qi and Blood as well. They also aid the meridians, allowing them to be clear and flow well.”

TCM Physician Kong Teck Chuan

Focus on your diet and sleep quality

Your brain consolidates memories formed through the day during your sleep at night. Hence, ensure you don’t skim on your sleeping hours and try to get at least seven hours.

  • Avoid late-night TV watching and keep a regular nighttime routine. Most importantly, stay away from digital devices closer to your bedtime. 
  • A healthy diet is important for the brain to get nourishment. Keep your plate loaded with fruits and vegetables to get your daily vitamins and minerals.
  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and tuna and low-fat protein can help prevent memory loss. High-antioxidant foods, such as blueberries and green leafy vegetables, can also help preserve brain function.

Meet With A TCM Physician For Targeted Brain Health Support

TCM acknowledges the effect of aging on brain health and may have a remedy for you. Consult a licensed TCM practitioner to diagnose and categorize your body constitution and syndrome.

Your physician may prescribe acupuncture or herbal medication to improve the body and manage organ imbalances, which can help to improve brain health or prevent further deterioration.

Would you use the tips in this guide to keep your brain healthy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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