Supporting Brain Function After Treatment
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), “For decades, cancer survivors have described experiencing problems with memory, attention and processing information months or even years after treatment.” Because many survivors receive chemotherapy as their treatment, this phenomenon was dubbed “chemobrain.” Julia Rowland, PhD, director of the NCI’s Office of Cancer Survivorship explains that doctors “are finally taking it very seriously.” She says that doctors “have to understand what the consequences of therapy are and that very few if any of our treatments are entirely benign.”
In addition, research from 2004 demonstrates that it is not just chemotherapy that can cause issues. Patricia Ganz, MD, and colleagues found that breast cancer survivors who received adjuvant chemotherapy and the antiestrogen drug tamoxifen performed significantly worse on neurocognitive tests than the women who only had surgery. A fascinating 2007 study involving identical twins, one who received chemotherapy and the other who had not, demonstrated that the twin who had chemotherapy had significantly more self-reported cognitive issues. A 2012 update featured in the Journal of Clinical Oncology featuring breast cancer survivors found that between 17 and 75 percent of the women who received chemotherapy were experiencing problems with attention, concentration, planning, and working memory anywhere from six months to 20 years after treatment.
It’s clear that supporting brain function in this population is important. In the scientific literature, there are two natural ingredients that have been shown to effectively support cognition: Citicoline (CDP choline) and Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus).*
Citicoline is an important brain-health nutrient that has been studied to support mental energy, focus and attention. Citicoline increases phosphatidylcholine levels in the brain. A 2012 study of citicoline found a significant improvement in attention and focus in healthy middle-aged women. A 2008 study also found via MRI imaging that 500 mg daily increased brain activity in middle-aged adults.*
Lion’s mane mushroom extract has a long history of use to support many aspects of health including brain function. A recent 2017 in vivo study showed that supplementation with Lion’s mane for two months increased exploration behavior and recognition memory in the hippocampus. In vitro studies have shown that Lion’s mane induces nerve growth factor synthesis in brain cells.
While these two natural ingredients have not been studied directly on post-treatment, their ability to support brain health is fairly well established. Both nutrients are generally considered safe and may help support brain function for post-treatment.
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