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Do you take care of your lymph?
In Ayurveda, we start with an evaluation of the lymphatic system or the rasa dhatu, which acts as the body’s major plumbing system, draining waste and carrying the immune system to and from every other body system.
A new study has discovered that when people sleep, special lymph channels in the brain, called the glymphatic system, open and drain up to 3 pounds of neurotoxins from the brain and cerebral spinal fluid back into the general lymphatic circulation each year.1-4 The study suggests it takes about 6-8 hours of sleep to complete the brain-drain-plumbing process, which is compelling evidence that getting the correct amount of sleep matters.
Your Brain’s Hidden Caves Drain Neurotoxins
The study found that glymphatics are like hidden caves that open during sleep, and, much like the rest of the lymphatic system, drain toxic waste and proteins out of the brain. The study found copious amounts of neurotoxins drain during natural sleep cycles.
The most well-known neurotoxin, beta-amyloid, is drained through these glymphatics. The problem is that studies show that the less you sleep, the less the glymphatics can work and the more beta-amyloid accumulates in the brain. The catch-22 is that the more beta-amyloid accumulates in the brain, the worse you sleep and the worse your memory can become. Studies suggest that accumulation of amyloid plaque and sleep are bidirectional where the worse you sleep the more plaque accumulates and the more plaque you have the worse your sleep.5 Beta-amyloid plaque has been indicated in numerous cognitive and memory concerns that are only now starting to be more fully understood.6-8
Tarpaka Kapha: Mood, Memory + Brain Fog
With the discovery of the brain’s lymphatic (glymphatic) system dumping three pounds of toxins every year during sleep, a new understanding of how the brain washes itself of toxins and emotions has emerged.
According to Ayurveda, we feel emotional impressions (mental ama) in the emotional heart. This is called sadaka pitta—the aspect of pitta that feels everything. These impressions are then transported to the brain through the carrying channels of prana vata—the emotional aspect of vata.
Emotional impressions felt by sadaka pitta are carried and written into the memory by prana vata. Memories, impressions, and emotional constrictions are held by tarpaka kapha—the emotional aspect of kapha.13
Memories are written onto the fatty myelin sheaths surrounding neurons in the brain’s white matter, giving rise to the name tarpaka, which means to retain or record. According to Ayurveda, tarpaka records every human experience, from blissful to traumatic. Even impressions from our ancestors are stored in tarpaka kapha.6
If these tarpaka channels become congested, the mood can shift, memory can become compromised, and the brain can become foggy. The cause of this imbalance can be emotional trauma or the cumulative impact of stress, lack of sleep, and digestive weakness.
There are many strategies for addressing this imbalance, including Ayurveda’s most powerful glymphatic support, nasya (sniffing herbalized oil into the sinuses).9
Balancing blood sugar is critical as well to support healthy brain glymphatic and tarpaka function. Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), a known brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) supports healthy brain cell production, mood, and memory.11 Another great herbal supplement to consider is brahmi (Centella asiatica), found in LifeSpa’s formula Brahmi Brain, which has been found to support healthy cerebral microcirculation, mood, sleep, and memory.12
Is your brain draining properly? How do you support your glymphatics?