How To Improve Your Brain The Natural Way

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Psychiatrists often jump straight to meds as a first-line defense against brain health issues. However, Dr. Daniel Amen believes that while medication can be effective for many people, there are safer, more natural methods that should be explored first. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Daniel and Tana Amen share another segment from The End of Mental Illness live class featuring content on supplements and strategies you can use which can be specifically tailored to your brain.

For more info on The End of Mental Illness live class and challenge, visit

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Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel. Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to

Dr Daniel Amen:              Hi, this is Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen:                      And I’m Tana Amen.

Dr Daniel Amen:              We’re so excited you’re with us. For this week series what we’re doing is we’re playing the live class from the end of mental illness.

Tana Amen:                      We wanted you to join us on this journey because we had such a good time in our class and the people who joined us had just saw such incredible transformation that we wanted to share the challenge with our tribe. So we wanted to share this with you and we hope that you will join us in the challenge.

Dr Daniel Amen:              Another problem with supplements is most people’s consultant is the teenage clerk at Dell Food Store or the grocery store and I’m like, no, I want to be your consultant on what you need. And in the end of mental illness there’s a whole chapter, it’s called Mind Medicine Versus Nutraceuticals. It’s chapter 16. What does the science say? There are 286 scientific references just for that one chapter. In fact, I’m so proud of my publisher Tyndale because they let me put all of the references in the book. And there actually is 61 pages of scientific references in the book. This book is the best referenced work I have ever done. But just in the supplement chapter alone, there are 286. And I love that chapter in large part … So let me actually go to it.

Dr Daniel Amen:              I put a table in here. And so I actually talk about scientific evidence. What gets A level scientific evidence, B level, C which means it doesn’t really work, d, we know it doesn’t work, in fact, may hurt you, and F. And then I listed both A and B level scientific evidence for anxiety, stress, attention, mood, memory, psychotic symptoms, sleep and addictions. And there are many things that have A level scientific evidence. This is a very important slide. You might want to take a picture of this slide because if you’re on any of these medications, it causes nutrient deficiencies. A lot of people go, “You don’t need a multiple vitamin if you eat right.” Who eats right? 90% of the population is low in omega-3 fatty acids. 90% of the population does not have five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Dr Daniel Amen:              I eat really well and I take a multiple vitamin every day. Neurovite Plus is, I would argue the best brain directed multiple vitamin on the planet. Why? Because I designed it with the science in mind. So if you’re on any of these medications, like if you’re on diabetes medication, you are probably deficient in B12 and CoQ10. If you’re on hypertension medication, B6, CoQ10, magnesium, potassium, zinc are likely low. If you’re taking statins, you’re probably low and CoQ10. Your doctor should have told you to take CoQ10s, omega-3 fatty acids and carnitine. Female hormones in oral contraceptives, why did they increase your risk of depression 40%? because they deplete things like folic acid, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C’s, zinc, selenium, CoQ10, saratonin and tyrosine.

Dr Daniel Amen:              So I recommend all of my patients take a multiple vitamin. All of them take omega-3 fatty acids. I did a study of 50 consecutive patients at Amen Clinics here in Southern California. 49 of them had suboptimal levels of omega-3. All of you should know and optimize your vitamin D level. That was part of the important numbers. And then whatever issue is specific for you. And multiple vitamins. Why? I said that. Most people don’t eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Omega-3s because, and I love this, my patients come back and said, “My hairdresser said my hair was thicker and prettier than it’s ever been,” since they started the omega-3s. Their nail person says, “Your nails are different, they’re thicker, they’re healthier. Why?” See, omega-3 has been found to help your heart, your skin, your eyes, your joints, and your brain. Plus it decreases cravings. And Omega-3 Power, I’m so proud of our omega-3. Why? Two capsules, three grams of fish oil, 1,440 milligrams of EPA and DHA, the omega-3s that help your brain.

Dr Daniel Amen:              So we do the omega-3 index on many of our patients. And these are my patients who just had terrible scores. We want that index to be 8% or above. And all of these are terrible. And then one of the people came to work in our marketing department who was taking two from a big box brand. These were from a Kirkland brand from Costco, and his omega-3 index was better than some, but clearly nowhere near optimal. And then we just had him take two of the Omega-3 Power, and that’s his on the top left. It went from 5.56% to 8.37% in two months. And then mine is the bottom left one. And one of our patients who is taking four in brain and body power max was 12.5%. It was phenomenal. And as your omega-3 index goes up, heart disease goes down.

Dr Daniel Amen:              So in order to take [inaudible [00:07:58] but it’s more expensive. Well not really when you consider you have to take six of one of the big box brands to equal two of Omega-3 Power. Vitamin D, why? Two thirds of the US are low in it. It’s a universal risk factor. It’s been associated with depression, Alzheimer’s disease, MS, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity. According to one study, it was responsible for 13% of all causes of death. It’s associated with low brain volume. Well that should scare the socks off anybody. Get your level measured and then optimize it. And your doctor will say normal is between 30 and a hundred. Do you want to be normal or do you want to be optimal? And so optimal, get more sun or take vitamin D 3 if your levels are low.

Dr Daniel Amen:              And there are a lot of great brands. We have one at Brain MD. I just want you to get your level healthy. Nutrient deficiencies, so this is why supplements are important, and this information comes from the CDC, that we’re deficient as Americans in magnesium, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, D and E, potassium and iron. But you shouldn’t just take iron. Brain MD has a brand new form of iron that is easily absorbed and easy on your stomach. But you want to measure your iron. If it’s low, if your ferritin levels, a measure of iron storage is low, you absolutely want to take it. If it’s high, you don’t want to take it. That’s why you have to measure it. You can’t change what you do not measure.

Dr Daniel Amen:              So again, for everyone, multiple vitamins, omega-3, measure and optimize vitamin D. And there is scientific evidence, I talk about it in the book for magnesium, GABA and theanine to calm anxiety. Green tea, zinc and Rhodiola for focus. Saffron, SAMe, curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids for depression. Ginkgo, phosphatidylserine, huperzine A for memory. And you know, one of my favorite parts of this chapter, Mind Meds Versus Nutraceuticals, I take on depression, anxiety, ADHD, addictions, insomnia. And I go, what are the things to do before medication? So you’ve heard me say this, I’m not opposed to medication. I use medication in the docu-series with Justin Bieber. Medication was important for him. But we did the natural things first. And for a lot of people that’s all it takes.

Dr Daniel Amen:              So if I had an anxiety disorder, I would first check your blood sugar, because if it’s low like his is, he has to eat four or five times a day. Or if you’re anemic, you have low red blood cells, it will make you anxious. If you have high thyroid. So check and fix those things. Meditation and hypnosis, extraordinarily powerful. Slow, deep breathing whenever you’re anxious, three seconds in, six out, it helps to calm your anxiety level. Calming exercises like Tai-Chi. Of course, you want to kill the ANTs, the automatic negative thoughts that steal your happiness. And supplements like magnesium, GABA and theonine. And if you work through this program and you’re still anxious, then we can talk about medications.

Dr Daniel Amen:              If I was an evil ruler and I wanted to increase the incidence of mental illness in America, I would make diagnoses just based on symptoms without any biological data. I just think that’s insane. I don’t know what else to say. I would ignore natural treatments and use medications as first line treatments for mood, anxiety and temper issues in 10 minute office visits in a family practice doctor’s office. I just am not a fan of psychiatric medications prescribed quickly because once you start them, you may have a heck of a time stopping them. And I’d have insurance companies deny care for prevention and only pay money when people are sick.

Dr Daniel Amen:              All right, so what are your tasks? So many questions to get to. Is SaMe okay to take with depression medicines? If you’re not bipolar, SaMe can be helpful, but again, go take the brain health assessment. SaMe is really good for people who are type four. It’s really not that good for people who are type six or might have depression and have other types. Cognitive behavior therapy, huge fan. When I talk about [inaudible [00:13:27] therapy, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Okay. Tasks for the week. Download the A- level evidence supplement lists. So I took that out of the book for you. I still want you to order the book. Day two, walk like you are late for 45 minutes. I actually want you to do that four or five times every week.

Dr Daniel Amen:              And if you could only walk a mile an hour when you’re 80, you have a 90% chance you’ll die before you’re 90. But if you’re 80 and you can walk at three miles an hour, a pace of three miles an hour, you have a 90% chance you’re going to live until you’re 90. That’s why walk like your late. But don’t trip, falls, got head injuries, which go to all sorts of problems. Day three, we have a music download for you from Brain Fit Life on focus. It’s beautiful. Was developed by my friend Barry Goldstein. Four is download the anxiety natural ways to heal the brain checklist. Five, download the depression natural ways checklist. Six, don’t drink any of your calories that day. And seven, we have a handout for you on the end of mental illness, food rules and an elimination diet.

Dr Daniel Amen:              If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, joint pain, skin breakouts, go on an elimination diet. Just do it for a month. I get more positive stories from the elimination diet than virtually anything else I do. Okay. Couple of minutes for questions. I still have no real answer to omega-3 supplements. Too scared to try again. Omega-3s, high quality fish oil takes out all of the fish protein and our chief scientist said if you’re allergic to fish, you can still take the fish oil. I mean, you may just want to take one and see how you react, but I’ve never had anyone tell me they had an allergic reaction to it.

Dr Daniel Amen:              Questions. “I’m a big believer in tech timeouts. I often give myself up to a whole day without tech.” Bless you. “How can I get my kids, 18 and 15, to understand the benefits of the practice?” You need to live it. It sounds like you are. And then tell them, have technology companies purposefully create addictive gadgets to steal mind share. And there is a higher increase of depression, suicide and obesity in people who get addicted to their gadgets. Speaking of evil ruler, have you studied red dye? I have, and as I mentioned, that was actually one of our best blogs ever that red dye can actually cause an explosion of increased activity in the brain, making people more irritable. How do you feel about CBD? I think we mentioned this. I’m sort of on the fence, I want more research to be done.

Dr Daniel Amen:              It’s the wild west. There’s companies and clinics popping up everywhere. They’re putting CBD into wine and restaurants and I’m like we need to be more careful. They go, “Oh, but CBD is not psychoactive.” Nonsense. If you’re telling you it works for social anxiety, it’s totally psychoactive. And once you start it, will you be able to stop it? Sleep apnea, is it bad for your brain? Husband refuses to wear the sleep apnea machine, the CPAP machine. You know, losing weight can help with it, but if you’re not getting oxygen, just imagine this. If somebody strangles you that’ll make you anxious and upset. Your brain uses 20% of the oxygen in your body. When you have sleep apnea, you go into an oxygen debt state, and it’s going to increase the risk of all sorts of physical and emotional problems.

Dr Daniel Amen:              So try to share this with him or in session one where I actually showed a scan of somebody who had sleep apnea. It’s just a nightmare for you. And you want to make sure you get it treated. And I’d just continue to go back to the sleep doctor and work on all of the options. All right, I’m out of time. I’m so grateful that you’re part of the brain health revolution.

Tana Amen:                      If you’re enjoying the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating as that helps others find the podcast.

Daniel Amen, MD: If you’re considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast 10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at or a 10% discount on all supplements at For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.