Here are 10 home remedies for brain health straight from a brain health expert.
This was one of my favourite interviews at this year's Migraine World Summit. Krystal L. Culler, DBH, MA tells us all about brain health and the 10 top strategies we can use to boost brain health.
The first question was “does the average person take good care of their brain?” Her reply was “no, but us migraineurs are.” Our brains are top of mind!
Change is hard. Brain health is 90% lifestyle and 10% genetics. Even for a 60-year-old, it's absolutely never too late. Brain care and brain health is for all of us. We can make change at any age.
Brain plasticity – the brains ability to adapt and change – is a lifelong process. All the lifestyle choices we are making – all of our actions – especially the things we are NOT doing for our brain care - matter!!!
You know the phases, symptoms, emotional, physical, and mental effects on your wellbeing that you need to manage. Make sure you work with health care providers so you build a solid pain management plan along with emotional support. Or any support you need.
Migraine, and whatever else you may be dealing with, all needs to be taken care of with your doctor or primary health care practitioner.
Practice restorative habits for your brain. During the night the body processes and clears out toxins – restores memories – we need deep REM sleep for that to happen.
7 - 9 hours per night is the desired amount of sleep you require if you wish to detox your brain fully. You do spend 1/3rd of your life sleeping.
People are changing now. They brag about getting loads of sleep. It used to be about how little sleep you got… more coffee = more productive. NO NO NO this is not good. Invest in a good night’s sleep.
Make sleep a priority. Have good sleep hygiene by creating a relaxing night-time routine.
There are 3 aspects to a good night sleep. Quantity, duration, and consistency – try to pin down these 3 elements.
Carl asked, “Can you catch up if you have a few nights of bad sleep?” she answered, “No no it does not work like a bank exchange.”
This is really important for the brain.
It’s one of the easiest things for us to do to boost our brain.
It's the best way to undo an ingrained pain pathway.
Exercise creates new brain pathways and new cycles. Move in way that can help you. It can have an antiinflammation effect. Get out of bed and stand for a few minutes, or do some gentle yoga poses when you are able to.
Add movement to your day. This is a great way to have something to support your health and wellbeing for free!
Stress has a full body impact. It hits from head to toes! You can also experience a let down migraine after stressors. Think through a strategy and find tools to help you manage stress.
The level of stress makes a difference. Intensity or duration for say a single mom – something small – takes 90 minutes to clear the body. If you go through the day with small stressors, you might find yourself exhausted and this could be why.
Find something to get you grounded and centered. There are loads of tools out there, find what works for you.
We need to eat to fuel our brain. And as much as we can, we need to eat healthy fatty foods like: healthy fat – avocado; berries any type of berry. If you have other dietary restrictions work with dietician or nutritionist and find what works for you.
One food she recommends is to eat walnuts. Omega 3’s can help people with migraine.
A small handful of tree-based nuts is great.
The brain is composed of 75% water. By the time you are thirsty you are already 1 – 2% dehydrated and at 2% your cognition is 30% impacted.
Layer that into having migraine or headaches – imagine how much we are affected.
Caffeine – the verdict is still out. It does seem to have dehydration effects after – so balance it – it can take 12 hours to clear your system.
Alcohol – glass of wine OR piece of cake. Make the choice between the two. There is a medication interaction with alcohol, it can cut the efficacy of the medication. Another thing to consider is which one doesn’t effect your sleep? With alcohol you can fall asleep easily BUT you don’t reach REM with alcohol… don’t get to the good restorative sleep.
Also, be an informed consumer with the medications you are on, this is very important.
She mentioned a Dementia risk at 21 units of alcohol per week. Just sayin!
The next 2 are easy home remedies for brain health... (imo!)
If you isolate at home – feeling lonely and alone – this is equivalent of smoking like 15 cigarettes per day in terms of your health and wellbeing.
Focus on what brings you joy and connect with one person a day. Not a long 2-hour phone call or zoom. But just something small. A text message or card… share a meal. Put in a little effort, this is important.
Seek out new opportunities where your brain is engaged. Keep increasing the activities – make it challenging – make your brain sharp. Stretch to arts or different media. Paint OR draw. Stretch beyond your comfort zone.
Learn new and different things as often as possible.
This may sound similar – but do something every day that makes your brain sweat continuously. Have a fitness routine for your brain. One thing that is a good brain workout and one of my favorite home remedies for brain health is - meditation.
Last but not least of the home remedies for brain health - this is a foundational pillar of brain care. You can start by keeping it simple. Purposely make one decision each and every day that is better for your brain care. "Today I will focus on hydration." Especially if you are recovering after a really rough migraine – nausea and vomiting – AND still… each day make one decision.
Migraine and Brain Function:
Chronic pain is considered a Central Nervous System Disorder. There are multiple components – as we know from living with (sensorial) Migraine. A migraine has emotional, cognitive, and behavioral elements.
Brain fog, memory loss, fear of dementia – are all common for people with migraine.
Question - “Is some level of cognitive decline to be expected as we age?”
There is a lot of research around age. There are super agers - people who are in their 80’s that have brains that are looking 60! It has been achieved through their lifestyle. So making the lifestyle choices we mentioned above – continue to learn, physically engage, stay socially connected, all the lifestyle factors above.
This will all build up your brain cognitive reserves – the brains ability to combat disease or loss.
There are national memory screenings you can go to. It’s never too early to start checking, so ask your doctor, or neurologist. Do a free online cognitive assessment.
Remember… we can influence 90%... its only 10% genetic.
I leave you with this final note to remember from home remedies for brain health.
Don't worry... if you missed the free online event, you can still register now and get your name on the list for the next year. Or you can purchase the package here. Click on the link for more details.
Home Remedies for Brain Health Reference:
1. Krystal L. Culler, DBH, MA. Strategies to Boost Brain Health. (2022) Migraine World Summit Interview