Memory Loss

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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2020-01-10 (EDT)

Memory loss refers to the inability to recall past events, whether short term or long term. Memory loss can be temporary and reversible, or long term and degenerative. Many people associate memory loss with the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's disease, yet it often is due to other factors that are not progressive in nature.

Memory Loss
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Memory Loss
Causes Food Reactions, Smoking, Allergies, Infections
See Also General Conditions, Respiratory Conditions
Books Books on Neurological Conditions
Articles Articles on Neurological Conditions

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

Article Age-Related Cognitive Decline, NDNR, 2011 July

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. With memory loss the causes are variable and include lifestyle and environmental factors. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing to memory loss. Although memory loss is often considered a normal part of aging, it is in fact more likely associated with organic disorders, neurological illness and traumatic brain injury or other factors.[1]


  • Regular physical exercise, including aerobic conditioning, can decrease the risk of memory loss.[3]
  • Cognitive exercises including crossword puzzles, music, art, and headline discussion can help to preserve cognitive function. Just as physical exercise is important in preventing dementia and cognitive decline, cognitive exercise is protective against cognitive decline. Interestingly, Alzheimer's Disease risk declines based on years of formal education, further suggesting that cognitive stimulation decreases risk of memory loss, dementia, and AD.[3]



  • Studies have shown that increased stress has significant impacts on development and progression of cognitive decline. Stress causes the release of cortisol which has been shown to inhibit learning and memory. Techniques used to reduce stress, such as meditation, have been shown to positively benefit cognitive function.[3]
  • Individuals with depression, especially if accompanied by melancholia have a distinctly more impaired cognitive function.[4]
  • Anxiety is associated with a decrease in memory loss and cognitive function.[5]
  • Multi-tasking and lack of focus on the task at hand decreases memory retention, which many individuals associate with memory loss.


  • Trauma
  • Head injury increases the risk of memory loss.[3]

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications
  • Several medications are known to cause memory loss as a side effect, including anticholinergics and sedatives.[6]

Diagnostic Testing

Testing should focus on uncovering the underlying process leading to memory loss.

Related Symptoms and Conditions

The following conditions are associated with memory loss:[6]


  • Age related memory loss was initially thought to be due to loss of neurons in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. This theory has been disproved, and it is now postulated that loss of nerve cells producing dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin may be implicated in memory loss.[1]
  • Memory loss can manifest in many ways including loss of short-term memory, long-term memory, memory registration, concentration, and working memory. Depending on the degree, and cause of memory loss, there can be a significant impact on quality of life and ability to perform activities of daily living. In the case of traumatic brain injury, symptomology is dependent on the degree and area of the damage.
  • It is important to distinguish between true memory loss and lack of retention due to multi-tasking or lack of concentration on the events taking place.

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Memory loss is typically a chronic disease requiring individualized treatment and frequent re-assessment.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

Home Care strategies include:

  • Making lists can help manage memory deficits.


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Increased physical exercise can be beneficial due to increased blood flow to the brain and production of growth factors important in nerve health.[3]
  • Individuals that are sedentary have greater decline in mental functioning. Individuals that walk on a consistent basis have improved memory and cognition.[8]
  • Stress relief is important in treatment. In particular, meditation has been shown to decrease cortisol levels, thus preventing further damage to hippocampal neurons. In general it has been shown that meditation has positive benefits on cognition, and meditators have a greater life expectancy than nonmeditators.[3]
  • Spending time outside has been associated with increased memory and cognition.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for memory loss include:

Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture recognizes the different disease processes involved in memory loss and the following strategies are commonly employed based on individual presentation:


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [1]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Aging, Memory, and the Brain. Harvard Women's Health Watch;7(11).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Pizzorno Joseph E, Murray Michael T (2006) Textbook of Natural Medicine 3rd ed, Elsevier.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Khalsa DS. (2007) Rakel: Integrative Medicine 2nd ed. Saunders.
  4. Withall A, Harris LM, Cumming SR (Jun 2010) A longitudinal study of cognitive function in melancholic and non-melancholic subtypes of major depressive disorder. J Affect Disord.;123(1-3):150-7. PMID: 19698995.
  5. Castaneda AE, Tuulio-Henriksson A, Marttunen M, Suvisaari J, Lönnqvist J (Feb 2008) A review on cognitive impairments in depressive and anxiety disorders with a focus on young adults. J Affect Disord.;106(1-2):1-27. PMID: 17707915.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ferri: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012 1st ed Section 1A Amnesia
  7. Knopman (2011) Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias: Goldman's Cecil Medicine 24th ed., Chap 409 Saunders
  8. Winchester J et al. 2013 Walking stabilizes cognitive functioning in Alzheimer's disease (AD) across one year. Arch Gerontol Geriatr;56(1):96-103.
  9. Prousky Jonathan (2008) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition CCNM Press.
  10. Hershoff Asa (2000) Homeopathic Remedies, A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and their Homeopathic Treatments, Avery Publishing Group, New York
  11. Ullman Robert, Reichenberg-Ullman Judyth (1997) Homeopathic Self-Care, the quick and easy guide for the whole family. Prima Publishing