PS: The Brain Nutrient

Words: Dr Richard FIRSHEIN

It may seem incredible that you can safely boost mental clarity by consuming a little-known nutrient with a long-winded moniker. Phosphatidyl serine [PS] has rapidly been gaining notice and credibility over the past 30 years. More clinical trials have been run on PS than on any other nutrient targeting the brain. Several human trials demonstrate that, when used as a dietary supplement in a wide range of doses, phosphatidyl serine is incredibly effective at conserving stores of brainpower.

Here’s what Dr Parris Kidd, a well-known proponent of PS, has to say about this nutrient: “PS is the first — and only — memory nutrient of promise. I have seen elderly patients with severe memory lapses recall previously forgotten names within minutes after being on a supplement programme of PS.”

PS is a building block of all your brain cells. It’s one of four molecules known as the phospholipids, large fatty substances that hold together cell membranes. All cells depend on their protective membranes for survival, but nerve cells in the brain especially depend on this outermost layer in order to receive and conduct the impulses that allow us to think and move. Without PS, our neurons could not manufacture, package, or send out the neurotransmitters that travel from nerve cell to nerve cell, relaying messages throughout the brain. This is the secret to the heady success of PS.

I like to think of PS as the brain’s personal bodyguard, loyally protecting each and every neuron around the clock, monitoring the comings and goings of substances through the membrane and, most important, guarding the priceless intelligence within. By recovering synaptic and electrical activity within neurons, PS actually heals the brain — this encourages the restoration of mental function. Many studies show that PS, when administered to elderly subjects in various states of cognitive deterioration, significantly improves attention, concentration, recall of numbers and words, verbal ability, and short-term memory.

Dr Thomas Crook, founder of two memory assessment clinics in Bethesda, Maryland, US, used tests of basic, daily tasks to demonstrate that PS can facilitate recall of telephone numbers and misplaced objects, improve sight recognition, sharpen short-term memory, and help the mind focus on reading and conversation. Most studies on the benefits indicate that 300mg of PS per day is optimal dose for treating the mental malfunctioning caused by age-related cognitive decline.

PS not only preserves the skills we need to get through the day but enhances mood; it has been shown to increase sociability and decrease depression and apathy among subjects. Most important, PS improves our quality of life [QoL]. The best part — even younger people can use it, with a healthy diet and exercise, as prevention against future memory loss.

The following are some of the ways in which PS has been found to boost brainpower.

Behaviour. When mental functioning deteriorates, QoL and self-sufficiency often fall by the wayside. A study by G Palmieri and colleagues in The Clinical Trials Journal found that PS improved the ability of elderly subjects with moderate cognitive decline to complete activities required for independent daily living. PS also eased apathy and social withdrawal caused by cognitive deterioration.

Brain physiology. PET [positron emission tomography] scans and EEGs that monitor the brain in action provide further proof of the strength of PS. The EEG rhythms measured in the brain reflect the activity of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is often depleted with age, resulting in cognitive deterioration. A study showed that PS boosted the EEG rhythm in healthy young males by an average of 15-20 per cent. PET scans, on the other hand, track glucose metabolism in the brain: the more glucose is being consumed, the better the mind is working. The study indicated that subjects taking PS demonstrated higher brain activity on PET scans. 

Memory. A large study on PS conducted by B Cenacchi and colleagues in The Journal of Aging, monitored the effects of PS on 425 subjects with moderate to severe age-related cognitive decline. The researchers discovered that the nutrient benefited subjects in long-term memory storage, long-term memory retrieval, and total recall of past events.

Mood. Not only does PS improve cognitive functioning in the elderly, it can also repair associated mood problems. A study of elderly women on PS showed that the nutrient reduced anxiety and alleviated vertigo and depression. A study on elderly men suggested that PS can similarly boost mood. It comes as no surprise that lowered PS levels in the red blood cells are found in subjects with clinical depression. 

Stress. Phosphatidyl serine can be beneficial in younger individuals — it also prevents later brain deterioration and harmful effects of stress on the body. In The European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, P Monteleone and fellow researchers studied young, healthy men subjected to exercise-induced stress by bicycling to near-exhaustion. Men who took PS for ten days prior to the exercise session had reduced production of cortisol, which is usually released during stressful periods and can damage muscle as well as impair brain function.

Dr RICHARD FIRSHEIN, DO, is the Founder-Director of The Firshein Center for Comprehensive Medicine in New York City. He is a leading innovator and authority in the field of preventative and nutritional medicine, integrating Western and Eastern medical practices. He is Board Certified in Family Medicine and has served as professor of family medicine. An internationally recognised leader in the field of integrative medicine and healthy aging, a cancer researcher, prolific author and writer, Dr Firshein has written several ground-breaking books, including the bestselling Reversing Asthma, Your Asthma-Free ChildThe Nutraceutical Revolution and The Vitamin Prescription [For Life]. This article is ©Dr Richard Firshein.

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