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Brain Boosters for Perimenopause

Natural Perimenopausal brain boosters

Perimenopause and menopause are gaining more attention in health education, a crucial development given that women spend one-third to one-half of their lives in this phase. Annually, approximately 2 million women in the United States enter menopause, translating to about 6,000 women per day. Projections indicate that by 2030, the global population of menopausal and postmenopausal women will reach 1.3 billion1.

The typical onset of natural menopause occurs at age 51. While it’s vital to monitor declining sex hormones such as estradiol, it’s equally important not to overlook the impact of stress and stress hormones. According to research by the American Psychological Association, a significant portion of American adults experience high levels of stress2. This is compounded by a notable increase in physician burnout3. Amid these challenges, women in perimenopause often manage multiple responsibilities including careers, family, and personal health.

Chronic stress is known to physically alter the brain, causing reduction in brain mass and weight, which in turn affects stress management, memory, and cognition4. This is largely due to its adverse effects on crucial brain areas such as the amygdala and hippocampus5. The amygdala plays a role in fear-based emotions and has direct communication to sound the alarm to the HPA axis. 

The hippocampus is a critical area for learning, memory, and emotion—In fact, postmenopausal women not on hormone therapy tend to have the largest rate of hippocampal atrophy which affects her short term memory.

Women already grappling with cognitive issues like brain fog due to decreased estradiol levels face additional challenges from ongoing high stress in their lives.

Brain fog

Chronic stress may also disrupt her circadian rhythm further worsening her bid for a decent night’s sleep. Cortisol production should decline as day turns into night. However, if she is wired up, anxious, or dealing with a full plate, she might find her ability to fall asleep or stay asleep becomes compromised. This, of course, can affect all systems in the body including her brain health. In fact, the system known as the ‘glymphatic system’ helps to detoxify the brain while sleeping. She may find herself waking more groggy and tired with less focus or short term memory on a particularly bad night.

In clinical practice, many patients seek “balanced hormones” yet lead lifestyles that are far from balanced. Addressing the fundamental aspects of stress—including setting boundaries, fostering community connections, engaging in play and joy, pursuing therapy, maintaining healthy sleep patterns, and employing stress-relief techniques—is essential for overall health. Even Darwin himself stated, “. . .when the heart is affected it reacts on the brain11.”

To support stress management, certain natural ingredients can be particularly beneficial:

L-Theanine, derived from Camellia sinensis tea leaves, is known for its ability to bind to glutamate receptors primarily as an antagonist, block glutamine and glutamate transporters, and increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), nerve growth factor, dopamine, GABA, serotonin, and glycine. It is renowned for enhancing alpha brain waves, which elevate calmness and focus without inducing drowsiness5. Many people choose to use it during the middle of a chaotic or overwhelming day for quick relief. It’s also beneficial just before bed if someone is having racing thoughts.

Magnolia Bark contains Honokiols, which not only inhibits the conversion of cortisone to cortisol but also possesses antioxidant, anxiolytic, and antidepressant properties6,7,8. This is particularly useful before bed when cortisol should drop low in favor of melatonin. If someone finds their cortisol start to spike at night due to stressful events, magnolia may help.

L-theanine molecule

Phosphatidylserine, a phospholipid found in cell membranes, plays a role in maintaining receptor activity and membrane fluidity. It helps reduce cortisol production by tempering the response of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)9. Like magnolia, phosphatidylserine may also be more beneficial before bed to relieve stress-induced insomnia.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) has been largely studied for its powerful anxiolytic effect without drowsiness. This is done through its action on the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA12. Passionflower can be incredibly helpful for those who need support in the middle of their day without the side effects of fatigue.

These ingredients collectively help mitigate the sympathetic nervous response through different mechanisms of action by offering holistic support during periods of heightened stress. The goal is to improve not only her sleep and energy but also her brain health as she makes this multi-year long perimenopausal transition. Pun intended, don’t sleep on her stress. Go deeper beyond “Do you feel stressed?” because the answer is likely a resounding yes!

Jones-Headshot

NCIMS Guest Blogger: Carrie Jones, ND FABNE MPH is an internationally recognized speaker, consultant, and educator on the topic of women’s health and hormones with over 20 years in the industry. Dr. Jones graduated from the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon where she also completed a 2-year residency in women’s health, hormones, and endocrinology.

She is the host of the Root Cause Medicine Podcast. She served as the Clinical Expert for the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center and is on Under Armour’s Human Performance Council. Currently she is the Chief Medical Officer at NuEthix Formulations and Head of Medical Education at Metabolic Mentor University.

Sponsored by NuEthix…want to know more about formulations with Dr. Carrie? Click here

Want to start your own tea garden?

herbal tea

Check out local to NC Camellia Forest Nursery!

We also have a local herbal garden expert in Black Mountain, at Mountain Gardens who can offer a nice overview of this amazing tea plant. 

Citations:

  1. Peacock K, Carlson K, Ketvertis KM. Menopause. PubMed. Published 2024. Accessed April 26, 2024. 
  2. American Psychological Association. Stress in America 2023. Retreived from Ortega MV, Hidrue MK, Lehrhoff SR, et al. Patterns in Physician Burnout in a Stable-Linked Cohort. JAMA network open. 2023;6(10):e2336745-e2336745. doi
  3. Yaribeygi H, Panahi Y, Sahraei H, Johnston TP, Sahebkar A. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI journal. 2017;16(1):1057-1072. doi
  4. Nobre AC, Rao A, Owen GN. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008; 17 Suppl 1:167-8. [pubmed]
  5. Honokiol Research Review. www.naturalmedicinejournal.com. Accessed April 26, 2024. 
  6. Talbott SM, Talbott JA, Pugh M. Effect of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense (Relora®) on cortisol and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2013;10(1). doi
  7. Woodbury A, Yu SP, Wei L, García P. Neuro-Modulating Effects of Honokiol: A Review. Frontiers in Neurology. 2013;4. doi
  8. Monteleone P, Maj M, Beinat L, Natale M, Kemali D. Blunting by chronic phosphatidylserine administration of the stress-induced activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in healthy men. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 1992;42(4):385-388. doi
  9. Nur Zuliani Ramli, Mohamad Fairuz Yahaya, Nur, Hanani Abdul Manan, Singh M, Hanafi Ahmad Damanhuri. Brain volumetric changes in menopausal women and its association with cognitive function: a structured review. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2023;15. doi
  10. PORGES SW. The polyvagal theory: New insights into adaptive reactions of the autonomic nervous system. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2009;76(Suppl_2):S86-S90. doi
  11. Janda K, Wojtkowska K, Jakubczyk K, Antoniewicz J, Skonieczna-Żydecka K. Passiflora incarnata in Neuropsychiatric Disorders—A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2020;12(12):3894. doi

 

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