MARBLEHEAD – Studies have shown that smart people are actually more forgetful, which could have explained why MIT-educated biologist Peipei Wishnow began to feel absent-minded a few years ago. But this sudden inability to remember basic information like her office passcode was new for Wishnow, and it concerned her.
“My calendar is usually crystal clear, and it became blurry … I noticed that my multitasking capabilities really decreased. My concentration decreased,” said Wishnow. “I was very worried because my mother started having memory issues at 75, and then I started digging out what I could do to protect myself.”
Wishnow is the founder and president of Interceuticals, a Salem company that combines Western medicine, natural supplements and Eastern healing traditions. In December, the company launched Interceuticals Better Memory, a brain supplement that uses a special form of curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, to help mitigate aging-related cognitive decline. According to an 18-month study by UCLA scientists, curcumin can improve memory, recall, and mood in people with aging-related mild cognitive impairment.
Wishnow has taken Better Memory supplements herself, and noticed a marked improvement in not only her memory, but also her Seasonal Affective Disorder. “My multitasking abilities came back, and I didn’t have to look at the calendar anymore,” she said. Wishnow also noted how Better Memory helped her 93-year-old mother, who had become physically and verbally abusive because of dementia. After a few months of taking Better Memory, her mother’s mood improved, and she was even able to memorize and recite most of a new poem that she learned.
Wishnow was born in Hangzhou, China, where she learned about the benefits of ancient herbal remedies from her grandfather, a respected herbalist. She saw him cure a crying baby using acupuncture, and when she was a teenager, he was able to cure a skin infection using a combination of Chinese herbs. No other doctors were able to cure it for three years. “All of those things instilled in me that there is something so valuable in ancient medicine,” she said. “It treats a person as an individual, holistically. My idea is to combine Eastern holistic healing wisdom with Western scientific research and vigorous quality control.”
Wishnow came to the United States in 1985. She got her PhD in biology from Hunter College, and then did postdoctoral research at MIT and Caltech before working at a pharmaceutical company. Eager to incorporate Eastern healing into pharmaceutical research, she founded Interceuticals in 1997.
She now lives in Marblehead, where she is married to Jerry Wishnow, who produces media campaigns for nonprofit organizations, and has worked with the celebrated former Anti-Defamation League director Lenny Zakim to create the World of Difference Award. Jerry, who is Jewish, proposed to Peipei by presenting her with a fortune cookie – a perfect amalgam of Jewish and Chinese cultures – asking her to marry him. They then had two separate ceremonies – a Jewish wedding under a chuppah in their backyard overlooking Marblehead Harbor, and a separate Chinese ceremony in Hangzhou.
“In China, Jewish people have a good reputation,” she said. “We heard the Jewish people are a lot like the Chinese in terms of values. We work very hard, and emphasize education.”
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