11 Ways You’re Lowering Blood Flow to Your Brain (and Why You Should Care)

11 Ways You’re Lowering Blood Flow to Your Brain (and Why You Should Care)

Blood flow is critical for life. It transports nutrients, including oxygen, to every cell in your body and flushes away toxins. Even though your brain, which weighs about 3 pounds, makes up only 2% of your body’s weight, it uses 20% of the oxygen and blood flow in your body. Anything that impairs blood flow or damages your blood vessels hurts your brain and your mental well-being.

On brain SPECT imaging scans, low blood flow is associated with depression, suicidal thoughts, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADD/ADHD, traumatic brain injury, hoarding, murder, substance abuse, seizure activity, and more. It’s also the #1 brain imaging predictor that a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease.

11 Blood Flow Robbers

1. Being sedentary or exercising less than twice a week

Over 90% of teenagers do not get the recommended level of exercise, which could be one of the major reasons why mental health issues among teens have skyrocketed in the last 30 years.

2. Too much caffeine

Drinking more than 2 cups of caffeinated beverages a day reduces blood flow to the brain.

3. Smoking or ingesting nicotine

Smoking constricts blood flow to the brain. On brain SPECT scans, the brains of smokers tend to look older than they are.

4. Excessive alcohol use

In particular, drinking alcohol lowers blood flow to the cerebellum, an amazing part of the brain that is associated with physical movement, which means it can make you less coordinated. Plus, people who drink every day have smaller brains.

5. Having a history of cardiovascular disease

Coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, and heart arrhythmia are all indicators that cerebral blood flow is decreased.

6. High LDL cholesterol

High levels of LDL cholesterol, and in particular having a high content of small LDL particles, is a sign that blood flow isn’t optimal.

7. Having hypertension or pre-hypertension

High blood pressure negatively impacts blood flow to the brain.

8. History of a stroke

Experiencing a stroke indicates that blood vessels are already damaged or vulnerable to trouble.

9. Erectile dysfunction

If you have blood flow problems anywhere, it likely means they are everywhere, including in the brain.

10. Pre-diabetes or diabetes

High blood sugar levels, associated with diabetes and pre-diabetes, cause blood vessels to become brittle and more likely to break, delaying healing and causing disease complications.

11. Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that lowers overall blood flow to the brain, especially in the areas that die first in Alzheimer’s disease.

3 Ways to Get Your Blood Flowing Again

If you want to keep your brain healthy, your mind sharp, and your mental health strong for as long as possible, you need to keep your blood flowing freely. If you have any of the lifestyle factors that lower blood flow, work to change your habits, and if you have medical conditions that impact blood flow, don’t hesitate to seek treatment. Here are 3 additional ways to boost blood flow.

1. Spend 10-20 minutes a day in prayer or meditation.

Both prayer and meditation have been shown to improve blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, decrease anxiety, and improve mood.

2. Undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)

HBOT is a simple, non-invasive, painless treatment with minimal side effects that use the power of oxygen to enhance the healing process and reduce inflammation. Before-and-after SPECT scans from a 2011 study showed remarkable overall improvement in blood flow following 40 sessions of HBOT.

3. Consider supplements.

Nutraceuticals with research-based evidence to help maintain healthy blood pressure and increase blood flow include ginkgo biloba, cocoa flavanols, omega-3 fatty acids, green tea catechins, and resveratrol.

At Amen Clinics, we use brain SPECT imaging and lab testing as part of a wrap-around evaluation and treatment plan to determine the root causes of your symptoms. We believe in using the least toxic, most effective therapies and strategies to optimize your brain function and feel better again.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of people who have already enhanced their brain health and overcome their symptoms at Amen Clinics, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.


  1. Dear Dr. Amen,
    THANK YOU for being so knowledgeable and for sharing!!! Very helpful.

    Comment by Kathy Memel — March 5, 2020 @ 1:46 PM

  2. I was wondering if there are any doctors in the San Antonio TX area who support your work. I have a 4 yr old TBI as a result of a fall at work and have not received any treatment for it. I was even diagnosed with post concussion syndrome. I’m still having problems but being 71 concerns me as I face my future. My funds are limited.

    Thank you for your work.

    Comment by Judy Jepson — March 6, 2020 @ 6:23 AM

  3. Does living with consistent stress restrict blood flow to the brain?

    Comment by Bret Loucks — March 6, 2020 @ 6:25 AM

  4. yes.
    solution: if you can change the situation do it, if its difficult for you or you don’t know how; I recommend you increase your awareness about the situation and know why it stresses you ,so you can find the best solution that works for you
    can’t escape; prayer and meditation helps.

    Comment by Mehad Zain — March 9, 2020 @ 8:58 AM

  5. yes.
    solution: if you can change the situation do it, if its difficult for you or you don’t know how; I recommend you increase your awareness about the situation and know why it stresses you ,so you can find the best solution that works for you
    can’t escape; prayer and meditation helps.

    Comment by Mehad Zain — March 9, 2020 @ 9:00 AM

  6. Hello Judy, thank you for reaching out. We currently have 8 clinics: https://amenclinics.com/locations/. If you are unable to travel to one of our clinics, our Care Coordinators can provide additional resources and referrals closer to you: https://amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 10, 2020 @ 8:13 AM

  7. Is there a clinic in North San Diego County? Is Spect Imaging available down here? Thank you.

    Comment by Margaret Keyser — March 18, 2020 @ 7:08 PM

  8. Hello Margaret, thank you for reaching out. We currently have 8 clinics locations (https://amenclinics.com/locations/), and the closest to you is in Costa Mesa (https://amenclinics.com/locations/orange-county/). We’d be happy to reach out to you and discuss options at this clinic or resources closer to you if needed.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 19, 2020 @ 9:20 AM

  9. Regular exercise I believe its one of the best ways to increase blood flow to the brain.

    Comment by don — April 4, 2020 @ 12:08 AM

  10. Question- putting your body upside down increase circulation to your brain?
    Question – Does Medicare A/B cover any of yute services ?
    Question- Do you take any hmo insurance ?

    Comment by María — April 10, 2020 @ 3:29 AM

  11. I used to suffer from depression and anxiety right now I am just very anxious the medication I’ve been taking is lorazepam for like 20 years. Now the psychiatrist want me out of the medication but he hasn’t give me a sustitución for the withdrawal of the lorazepam. Until now all the psiquiatrics medication I have almost all the side effects beside all the allergies, migraine medication give me side effects too. Beside this problems I suffer from insomnia gastrointestinal problem and neuropathy in both legs and restless legs syndrome. I have gone to a lot of drs and until now nobody has give me medication to help me. I am taking gabapentin, omeprazol, mirtazapine. With the help of supplements I’ve been able to sleep like 4 hours daily. I am taking melatonin, magnesium, L-Theanine and GABA. I am allergic to valeriana. I would like your opinion I can’t afford to pay for treatment you have I have a tight income. Thank you

    Comment by Sirena — May 29, 2020 @ 10:32 AM

  12. Nice. Drank like fish for three or four years. Could not seem to quit. Then hit bottom, lost everything and then quit. That was forty years ago. I reflected on what in my life made me want to drink. What in my life I needed to change, and what I needed help with to change. Meditation, better diet, more exercise, and closer better relationships with people, the planet, and my understanding of a higher power made it not only possible to quit, but to live a fulfilling life that i didnt think was possible. So much more is possible in a life without addiction. Keep up your good work.

    Comment by Joe — June 17, 2020 @ 5:38 PM

  13. I have been suffering for energy blood flows to the brain over 8hrs, I have tried so many medications, know I felt constantly pains on my head. Please what else can I use for blood flows to all over my body and brain aither herbs or any

    Comment by Folashade — May 2, 2023 @ 8:41 AM

  14. Husband (74) had a stroke 3 years ago. He takes Plavix everyday. He's on a statin, and BP med. Not happy about that, but he's still with me, so I have to accept that until someone can get him off of those meds. Can he have beets , and ginko biloba while he
    takes these meds.

    Comment by Susan — May 5, 2023 @ 8:56 AM

  15. Good grief. Ways to improve blood flow to the brain after a list of disturbances like that are supplements and oxygen treatments? Seriously? How about treating diabetes and cardio disease markers with proper nutrition and exercise? Maybe get a sleep study and treatment for sleep apnea? Come on…..

    Comment by Jill — May 8, 2023 @ 4:33 AM

  16. Just diagnosed with not enough blood flow to brain, I do pray & trust the lord. I have peace and was wondering what else I can do. I take memmatine to slow Alzheimer’s. I’m 65 just had back surgery and still unable to BLT. Any recommendations??

    Comment by Rosalie Porter — June 30, 2023 @ 2:31 PM

  17. I suffer pain headache and my right side was sotf and make a s it sink I also got blind I'm doing treatment what strange me now I feel choke in brain. I feeltill under my right feet but thanks for the advise that it might be lack of oxygen I m taking high blood tablets also

    Comment by Jolinah Ditleditlemokg — January 13, 2024 @ 1:06 AM

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