Brain Longevity

The Breakthrough Medical Program that Improves Your Mind and Memory


By Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD

By Cameron Stauth

Formats and Prices




$8.99 CAD



  1. ebook (Digital original) $6.99 $8.99 CAD
  2. Audiobook Download (Unabridged)

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 1, 2001. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

In the tradition of Andrew Weil’s bestseller Spontaneous Healing, this is a physician’s breakthrough medical program for the brain designed to diminish the effect of memory impairment caused by stress, aging, and Alzheimer’s disease.

As we grow older and experience the stresses of life, at about age 40 many of us begin to have trouble remembering things, concentrating, and generally staying mentally sharp. This book contains a four-part program including nutritional, stress-relieving, pharmacological, and mind-body exercise therapies to help people overcome the undesirable effects of normal brain “aging”. By controlling cortisol, a hormone that is toxic to the brain and present in excessive levels as we age, Dr. Khalsa’s plan can help improve memory and emotional zest.

This is the first book to:
Describe a program that may diminish age-associated memory impairment
Feature a clinical method that can promote memory functioning impaired by Alzheimer’s disease
Detail the physical damage done to the brain by stress, how it adversely affects memory and our other mental abilities, and what can be done about it.



BRAIN LONGEVITY. Copyright © 1997 by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., with Cameron Stauth. Introduction copyright © 1999 by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

Warner Books

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

ISBN: 978-0-7595-2042-4

A hardcover edition of this book was published in 1997 by Warner Books.

First eBook Edition: January 2001

Visit our website at


This book is the product of the hard work and the vision of many people. Beyond that, it is the result of blessings and grace.

I would like to first thank my teacher, Yogi Bhajan, for his strength, his guidance, and his infinite love.

When it comes to hard work, I must salute my co-author, Cameron Stauth. He never wavered in his work ethic or intensity. His obsession with creativity and quality is impeccable.

Cam and I also wish to thank Maureen Egen, editor of this book, for her enthusiasm, her ideas, and her dedication to this long and arduous project. Maureen's insight, as well as that of Laurence Kirshbaum, CEO of Warner Books, was clear right from the start. To them and all their great staff—including Jackie Joiner, Harvey-Jane Kowal, David Smith, Karen Torres, Bruce Paonessa, Debbie Stier, and Martha Otis—we say thank you.

The vision of our agent, Richard Pine, of Arthur Pine Associates, exceeded even our own. He was instrumental in the creation of this book, and we will always be grateful for his important contributions. I'd like to thank Sabine and Andrew Weil, M.D., for directing me to him. Arthur Pine was also very encouraging and his advice, as always, was astute.

My personal thanks go out to Hal Zina Bennett, Ph.D., who helped me tremendously in the preparation of the initial proposal. I'd like also to thank and acknowledge Jerry M. Calkins, Ph.D., M.D., for his ongoing support, and Somers and Susan White, for their friendship and wise counsel.

Many other people were also of great help, including Jeanne Withrow, Meaghen Porte, Sandra Stahl, Nicole Hunscher, Joanne Yearout, Goldie Vickers, and Diane Paulson.

My heartfelt love and thanks to my wife, Kirti, who worked with me around the clock to bring our vision to fruition, and to the rest of my family: Hari, Sat, and Ethel.

The authors would also like to gratefully acknowledge the many physicians and scientists who generously cooperated with our research efforts. We especially want to express our appreciation to the patients who agreed to tell their stories in


The Cortisol Connection

The Cry of the Wounded Boomer

My first patient of the day tried to settle into his chair, but he was so tense that he just teetered on the edge of it, his arms clamped to his sides. He was a block of rigid muscles and right angles.

He was afraid that he had early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, and feared that I would soon doom him with that diagnosis. He knew that if he did have Alzheimer's, conventional medicine could do little to help him. He would simply have to wait for the terrible progression of symptoms to begin.

This man hated the idea of waiting passively while his brain disintegrated. He was a fit, fiery man of considerable success, who was accustomed to grappling with his problems until he solved them. He wanted to fight for his mental acuity, and that's why he'd come to me. He'd read in a medical update newsletter that I had developed a treatment program for memory loss and optimal mental function.

Before he had arrived, I'd done an extensive review of his medical records. Based upon what I'd seen, I was not at all convinced that this fifty-one-year-old man was indeed in the early stages of Alzheimer's. It appeared much more likely that he had a type of memory loss that is common among people his age. In most people, this type of memory loss does not lead to Alzheimer's.

When I explained this to the man, he seemed very relieved, and he let out a sigh. I could hear the air hiss out of him.

"Then what's going on with me?" he asked. "How come I've started to get so absentminded?"

I told him that, in all likelihood, he had some degree of what neurologists call "age-associated memory impairment," a condition that is virtually pandemic among people of approximately age fifty. Theoretically, according to most neurologists, losing some brain capacity at fifty is a "normal" sign of aging, just like diminished eyesight at age forty.

I told him I was pleased that he'd come to see me before his symptoms had become more pronounced, because preventing mental decline is much easier than reversing it.

If his memory problems were indeed relatively mild, I told him, he could probably regain full use of his ability to remember. He could also greatly increase his ability to concentrate. With improvements in memory and concentration, his learning ability would almost certainly improve. In all likelihood, he would experience a rebirth of brain power, as had many of my other patients.

Then I asked him how his memory problems were affecting his life.

He launched into a passionate litany of complaints. He said that over the past couple of years he'd begun to forget people's names, and to forget important items when he packed for business trips. Lately he'd had to stop being a referee at his daughter's soccer games, because he often forgot which team had last touched the ball when it went out of bounds. The girls on his daughter's team had been getting angry at him, and his daughter was becoming increasingly embarrassed.

His life at home was also suffering, he said, because he was often irritable. He didn't have much patience with his daughters, and he was tense so often that it was creating distance between him and his wife.

Almost every day now, he said, he had problems with what he called his "fuzzy brain."

In the morning he'd be unable to find his car keys, and at lunch he'd forget his wallet. He often forgot where he'd parked his car, and when he dialed a number, he'd have to recheck his Rolodex in mid-dial.

Years before, he said—when he'd had a steel-trap mind—these things had rarely happened.

At work, his memory was stunting his career. For twenty years he had sacrificed to reach his current lofty level, but now his job was in jeopardy. Before important meetings, he said, he would be given long legal briefs and be expected to read them, learn them, retain them, and then discuss them intelligently. He couldn't do this as well as he once had. He said he couldn't "shut out the world" anymore. Even without deadline pressure, it was harder for him to learn new information, such as his firm's new software system. He was relying increasingly on his secretary and his assistant. His secretary would remind him who he was having lunch with, and his assistant would preview his briefs and highlight the key points. They both covered for him when he tired out in midafternoon, and his assistant would return calls that he should have been handling himself.

Net result: His superiors were getting impatient with him.

The competitive atmosphere "inside the Beltway," as he put it, was intense. Some of the ambitious young lawyers in his firm, he said, were trying to grab his job. They seized an advantage every time he forgot a detail or made a slip of the tongue. He felt as if they were circling him in a pack.

I knew full well what he was talking about. I often heard similar versions of the same complaint. I even had a name for it: The Cry of the Wounded Boomer.

Baby boomers, who were just now hitting the "memory barrier" of their late forties and early fifties, were consulting me with increasing frequency. They were shocked by the sudden onset of age-associated memory impairment, and by the corresponding declines in their hormonal systems. They were suddenly losing the mental sharpness that had propelled their careers, and had allowed them to juggle families and jobs. They were also losing their endocrinological spark as their "youth hormones" dried up. Their sexual urges were flattening out, they were gaining weight, losing muscle and hair, and needing more and stronger coffee just to slog through the day. The boomers' loss was Starbuck's gain.

Most of them had the "dual curse": memory impairment, combined with decreased ability to concentrate. Each of these problems exacerbated the other, and both impaired learning ability. My midlife patients often told me that they just couldn't "soak up" facts as they had during their peak learning years. And they missed this wonderfully vital state of mind, just as much as they missed other aspects of their younger years.

But the worst thing of all, according to many of them, was that they were losing the inner fire that had once made them jump out of bed in the morning ready for action and full of fun. Now they pushed the "snooze" button, and got up grudgingly. Their lives had become dull. Fun was too much trouble. So was sex. Action was a chore. Life was … work.

Many of them had tried to rationalize their recent declines with talk about "acceptance" and "maturity" and "lowered expectations." Others had tried to deny their deterioration by pumping weights, dyeing their hair, and getting their tummies tucked. Many were self-medicating with caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and megadoses of vitamins.

Nonetheless, what I saw was a frightened generation.

And they had good reason to be scared. For years they'd struggled to build a foundation of security and prosperity for the last half of their lives, but now they were smacking headlong into an unexpected roadblock: the decline of their brain power and energy at the very peak of their career curves and family demands. Early burnout was not something they'd planned for.

In addition, I had discovered, almost all baby boomers with age-associated memory impairment were haunted by a dark fear: the specter of Alzheimer's disease. They knew that Alzheimer's—which usually takes about twenty years to develop fully—reduces people to virtual infancy. It renders them unable to speak, use the toilet, remember family members, or even smile. They also often become paranoid and hostile. And in that pathetic condition, patients often survive for up to ten years.

When these baby boomers had gone to their local doctors for help, however, they'd been told that no medical protocol existed for arresting or preventing Alzheimer's disease, or for treating age-associated memory impairment.

In general, the medical profession takes a lamentably passive approach to cognitive decline. According to long-standing conventional wisdom, nothing can stop Alzheimer's, or relieve age-associated memory impairment.

Supposedly, some memory loss is inevitable for virtually everyone, starting at about age forty-five to fifty. Age-associated memory impairment is one of the most common medical problems of people in midlife.

Alzheimer's disease is also commonly considered inevitable for a great many people. Today, Alzheimer's strikes up to 50 percent of all people who live to age eighty-five. Because of this high incidence, Alzheimer's is the third-highest cause of death by disease in America, after cardiovascular disease and cancer.

But I don't accept the inescapability of Alzheimer's, or of age-associated memory impairment.

I believe that Alzheimer's disease can be delayed and prevented.

I believe that age-associated memory impairment can be eradicated.

I believe that people in their forties, fifties, sixties—and beyond—can retain not only an almost perfect memory, but can also have "youthful minds," characterized by the dynamic brain power, learning ability, creativity, and emotional zest usually found only in young people.

These beliefs of mine—now shared by other cutting-edge researchers and clinicians—are absolutely revolutionary. Ten years ago, almost no one in medicine subscribed to these ideas; I certainly didn't. But now I'm positive they're true, for one central reason: the clinical results I have achieved. For a number of years I have been applying to the brain a unique medical regeneration program that is at the white-hot forefront of anti-aging medicine. This program employs complementary medicine, a relatively new clinical approach that combines Western technological medicine with the most powerful proven techniques from Eastern medicine.

I have become, to some extent, a medical pioneer, implementing a program that creates "mental fitness" and "brain longevity."

The results have been astounding. My patients have, quite literally, achieved the impossible.

I have helped people regain the minds they once had. Rejecting the assumption that all minds must deteriorate with age, I have helped many patients regain "youthful minds."

I have been able to achieve this, in part, because I have begun addressing an element of memory loss that has only recently emerged from the laboratories of brain research: the "cortisol connection."

The Cortisol Connection

Cortisol is one of the hormones secreted by the adrenal glands. It's secreted in response to stress. In moderate amounts, cortisol is not harmful. But when produced in excess, day after day—as a result of chronic, unrelenting stress—this hormone is so toxic to the brain that it kills and injures brain cells by the billions.

I am now certain that chronic exposure of the brain to toxic levels of cortisol is a primary cause of brain degeneration during the aging process. Over decades, excessive cortisol destroys the biochemical integrity of the brain.

I believe, further, that cortisol toxicity is one of the primary causes of Alzheimer's disease.

Defined very simply, Alzheimer's is a mental condition characterized by extensive death of brain cells. I am convinced, based upon my research and clinical work, that excessive cortisol production is one of the primary causes of death of those cells. The other causes appear to be genetic factors, environmental factors, metabolic factors, and decreased blood flow to the brain.

The genetic causes of brain cell death cannot be readily influenced yet, but the other causative factors can be.

I therefore believe that many of the primary causes of Alzheimer's disease and age-associated memory impairment can be avoided, and compensated for.

Not all brain researchers agree on the causes of brain cell death. Alzheimer's causation is still being debated. But all brain researchers do agree on one thing: The brain is just flesh and blood. That sounds obvious, but the general public tends to overlook this simple fact. People often confuse the brain with the mind, even though the brain and the mind are two distinctly different entities. The mind is "software," the mystical and mysterious product of all that we are. The brain is "hardware," a bodily organ that requires nutrition, rest, use, and proper medical care.

Because people tend to forget that their brains are flesh and blood, they often overlook the physical care and maintenance of their brains. Millions of us expend enormous energy in physical fitness programs for our hearts and muscles—but we totally ignore the most important organ in the body: the brain.

What's the result of this neglect? Slow brain death. In almost all people, 20 percent of all brain cells die over the course of a lifetime. The size of the brain shrivels significantly. Brain power diminishes.

Furthermore, during the same years that your brain cells are dying, excess cortisol is causing a decline in the day-to-day function of your brain. Cortisol robs your brain of its only source of fuel: glucose. It also wreaks havoc on your brain's chemical messengers—your neurotransmitters—which carry your thoughts from one brain cell to the next. When your neurotransmitter function is disrupted, and when your brain's fuel supply plummets, it's difficult for you to concentrate and to remember.

Over the years, as your brain physically degenerates, it also loses its ability to properly orchestrate your hormone-secreting endocrine glands, which are a primary link between your body and your mind. When this happens, you suffer declines in energy, mood, sex drive, and immune function.

Unfortunately, many aging people passively accept such factors as diminished brain power, reduced sex drive, lowered immunity to disease, and loss of youthful exuberance. After all, they reason, aren't these problems a natural part of growing old?

No. They do not have to be.

Rebuilding the Brain

Modern medicine is entering a thrilling new era. New techniques are yielding incredible results. We no longer have to accept the same kind of decline that our grandparents did.

Especially encouraging are the results achieved by modern complementary medicine, with its panoply of treatment resources, ranging from ancient herbal remedies to the latest high-tech wizardry. Using this type of medicine, I have achieved clinical successes that are literally astonishing.

I explained all this to the Beltway attorney, telling him why I believed he was suffering from mental decline. In summary, I told him that the special problem with life in the fast lane—with all its excessive stress and cortisol overproduction—is that many hard-driving people experience neurological burnout before they are able to achieve their goals in life.

As I talked, the attorney grew increasingly gloomy.

But then I gave him the good news. I told him about "brain plasticity."

Until not long ago, researchers thought the brain was essentially static, that once damage was done, it couldn't be undone. But all the new technology of the past few decades, such as CAT, PET, and MRI, has shown that, because of the brain's unique regenerative power, blighted areas of the brain can be brought back to life.

The attorney became encouraged. His competitive fires began to burn.

The human brain, I told him, is the most complex, powerful organism in the universe. It has an unparalleled capacity for restoring its own function. Why? Because the brain doesn't store each of its memories in single, separate brain cells, or neurons. Instead, memories exist in networks of connected neurons—just as phone calls exist in networks of wires and stations. If one neuron is killed, the brain can switch its memory connection through another neuron, and retain the memory. Neurologists call this redundant circuitry.

The Beltway attorney, though, feared that perhaps too many of his brain cells had died, and that not enough redundant circuits were left.

So I gave him an illustration, as I often do, of just how many healthy, interconnected neurons he still had. I told him that if he started counting connections in just his higher-thought area alone, at the rate of one connection per second, he wouldn't finish counting for 32 million years.

In addition, I told him, each brain cell has "branches" that reach out to other brain cells, to make memory connections. As we age, our brain cells grow more and more branches, just as a growing tree keeps sprouting branches. Therefore, by middle age, we have far more branches than we did in our younger years. Those extra branches powerfully compensate for brain cell death.

Besides, I told the attorney, he already had far more knowledge in his brain than did any of his young competitors. Most of the millions of facts he had once learned were still in his brain. He just needed to have better access to those facts—and he could achieve that access by improving the biochemical function of his brain.

Also, not only did he know more than his young associates, but he probably had far better judgment than most of them did, simply because he had far more experience from which to draw wisdom. But he needed to be able to recall his experiences efficiently, so that he could skillfully apply the lessons that life had taught him.

I assured the attorney that he still had a lot left to work with and that if he worked hard at his brain longevity program, as had other patients before him, he would probably soon begin to feel better than he had in years. His memory would, in all likelihood, return to practically full capacity within about one month. His concentration would become much sharper. As his memory and concentration improved, his learning ability would increase. As the left and right hemispheres of his brain began to function with improved coordination, his problem-solving creativity would expand. Also, his endocrine function would probably stabilize, and he'd stop tiring out in the middle of the afternoon, and also start to feel more cheerful and buoyant.

Eventually, I said, he would probably begin to feel like he had as a youngster. This would happen when his brain, nervous system, endocrine system, and metabolism became physically recharged.

When that happened, I said, he'd be able to stop worrying about the younger attorneys in his office—and they'd start worrying about him. He would regain the powerful memory and crystal-clear focus that had once vaulted him to the top of his profession. And he would regain the emotional zest that had made his family love him.

If he successfully completed his brain longevity program, I said, he might even achieve a mental condition that I refer to as a "twenty-first-century mind"—a mind that knows how to continually regenerate itself. He might no longer be locked into the old linear pattern of aging ? degeneration ? death.

If he could achieve that, he would, in a critically important way, be freed from the awful tyranny of time.

When I finished telling him about what my brain regeneration program would entail—and what it could reasonably hope to offer—he sounded tremendously relieved. His voice no longer seemed as if it were trapped in his chest. I had returned to him a very precious thing: hope.

Good Science and Good Sense

Before my next patient consultation, I stepped outside into the crackling dry air of Tucson, Arizona, where my clinic was located. I sat by the fountain outside my office and soaked up the sun's golden radiation.

As I sat there, I reflexively began to do a powerful Eastern-medicine technique—an ancient yogic mind/body exercise that increases blood flow and energy flow to the brain.

Within minutes I could feel an almost magical surge of energy and calm. If I'd taken a blood test at that moment, it would have indicated a marked reduction in my serum cortisol. If I'd taken a cognitive function test, it would have shown that my ability to concentrate had become elevated.

I took advantage of my mental boost by focusing on a problem I needed to solve. I could feel my mind zeroing in on the problem, to the exclusion of everything else, and I began to formulate some creative solutions. For a few minutes time fell away, and it felt fantastic. When you can focus completely, you're able to experience your life fully in the here and now, free of worry, regret, and boredom. You march to the beat of your own heart, instead of the ticking of the clock. You're able to discover alternatives that your harried mind has overlooked.

I gradually pulled out of my problem-solving reverie, and enjoyed a few minutes of gazing at the beautiful setting around me.

My clinic was part of a lovely, sunny campus of physicians and other health practitioners who collaborated on cases. Even by the standards of advanced complementary medicine, our medical complex was extraordinary. Our campus housed the offices of a medical doctor, a chiropractor, a clinical nutritionist, a message therapist, and an herbalist. The doctors here gave each patient access to each practitioner, to ensure an all-encompassing treatment program.

The Western medical paradigm has one major fault: It's too fragmented. Specialists tend to focus too narrowly, often addressing only single, isolated elements of complex health problems. Western medicine constantly strives to reduce each illness to a specific, isolated cause with a single "magic bullet" cure.

For example, in conventional Alzheimer's research, there is a strong tendency to search for a single cause, such as aluminum toxicity or a genetic predisposition. This reductionist approach, while very effective in many scientific endeavors, overlooks a fundamental fact of biology: that most degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's, have a number of different causes, and may have different causes in different people.

Even though I believe that excessive cortisol production is probably an important cause of Alzheimer's in many people, I think that other factors also play significant roles.

By the same token, I am convinced that no single drug will ever cure Alzheimer's, stop age-associated memory impairment, or create optimal mental function. The only effective way that I have found to combat Alzheimer's and age-associated memory impairment, and to optimize brain power, is to apply a multifactorial


On Sale
Jan 1, 2001
Page Count
464 pages

Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD

About the Author

Dharma Singh Khalsa is Board-certified in anesthesiology, pain management, and anti-aging medicine, he is president and medical director of the Alzhiemer’s Prevention Foundation and a member of the advisory board at Tuscon’s Miraval Life in Balance resort.

Learn more about this author