Author: Jean Carper
Excerpt From: Your Miracle Brain
One of the most scientifically promising memory enhancers is a substance with the tongue-twisting name phosphatidylserine. Most experts simply call it PS. It’s a fatty nutrient present in all cell membranes, but most concentrated in brain cells. It has no trouble zipping through the blood-brain barrier. It gets to the brain within minutes after it’s absorbed. This is very good news for those whose brains need more PS. And that is about everybody over age forty. “I’ve tested close to a hundred compounds for their effects on human memory, and phosphatidylserine (PS) is the most impressive one I’ve found so far.” –Thomas Crook, former chief of the Geriatric Psychopharmacology Program at the National Institute of Mental Health and author of The Memory Cure.
PS is one of the few nonperscription memory boosters that commands respect from hard-core brain investigators, because numerous studies, most done in the early 1900s, indicate it can rejuvenate memory. Reportedly, more than twenty-five human studies, about half of them double-blind–the “gold standard” for testing–have found phosphatidylserine effective in revving up failing memory.
PS’s most credentialed champion is an authority on memory loss, Thomas H. Crook III, Ph.D. For fourteen years he was a research psychologist at the prestigious National Institute of Mental Health. As president of Psychologix, Inc. a research organization in Scottsdale, Arizona, he now conducts private research for pharmaceutical companies. It was Dr. Crook’s 1991 study that propelled phosphatidylserine to scientific notice.
“PS in not a magic bullet,” says Dr. Crook. “It’s not like you’re seventy-five and take it and you become twenty-five. But it is the first thing we’ve ever seen of many, many compounds that does have a clear measurable effect – and that effect is about twelve years of rolling back the clock. I really firmly believe that PS can roll back virtually all age-related memory impairment.”
What about Alzheimer’s disease? Not surprisingly, PS has been tested on people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. It may help in some cases, but overall, it has not proved as effective in treating Alzheimers, especially in the advanced stages, as in rejuvenating memory in ordinary people without the disease. For example, in 1992 Dr. Crook and colleagues at Vanderbilt University gave PS to patients with Alzheimer’s; they concluded it did boost cognitive functioning in the early stages of the disease. But in those with more advanced Alzheimer’s any PS-induced cognitive improvements were extremely modest and subtle.
Dr. Crook calls PS an ideal “memory cure” for the precise type memory decline that is typical after middle age. It’s unlikely PS will cure Alzheimer’s. Nor will it give you a super memory you never had before. But it may help restore the memory you would have had if normal aging had not eroded it. Bottom Line: PS may slow, stop, or restore memory losses due to normal aging.