Gingko Biloba is an ancient and fast-growing Chinese tree with a long history of medicinal use in the East. In fact, it might even be the oldest surviving tree species on the earth; experts have dated it back a mind-boggling 300 million years. Can you believe it?
It works to improve your brain and mental performance on many levels. Firstly, it improves the blood flow to your brain, flooding the tissues with oxygen and improving memory and concentration in the process.
It’s also supremely high in antioxidants, which can protect the brain from the damage of free radicals, age-related memory decline and also Alzheimer’s disease.
Gingko also has a significant effect upon depression and low mood disorders. The flavonoids it contains are called terpene lactones and ginkgo-flavone glycosides (flavonoids) which help maintain levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain, and in turn improve both mood and thought processes.
It comes in many different forms – tablets, tincture and even tea form. Take between 80 mg and 240 mg per day, divided into at least two doses. It’s best to take the first dose after breakfast and the second after lunch, to ensure that you can still drop off to sleep at night. Be aware that it can take up to 12 weeks for the effects of gingko to become apparent. Be patient.
Ginseng has been used by millions of people over the years to boost their attention, improve their memory and beat dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Not only this, but ginseng is a fantastic adaptogen; a remedy that targets the effects of physical, emotional and environmental stress that can lead to ill health and disease. It works by reducing levels of cortisol in the blood stream and strengthening adrenal glands that can often become fatigued during difficult times in our lives.
Ginseng also contains high levels of antioxidants, which help protect our brains from the ravages of free-radicals, improve your ability to concentrate and might even target symptoms of ADHD and short-term memory loss in all ages.
You can enjoy ginseng as a tablet, capsule or even as a tea. Take 240 mg daily to see best effects.
Kava Kava is the central ingredient in the famous South Pacific Tea Ceremony, and works wonders on stress, anxiety, depression, migraine and even leprosy, according to some sources.
In South Pacific communities it’s used much in the same way as alcohol is used in many countries. Its power lies in the presence of kava-lactones, which are a great muscle relaxant, and give you that chilled-out, peaceful feeling that just isn’t matched by any other anti-anxiety substance. It’s a wonderfully soothing remedy, which helps dissolve anxiety, insomnia and stress.
However, there has recently been some concern that it could cause liver damage in certain individuals, a claim that has not been substantiated by any of the studies conducted to investigate these supposed side-effects. Communities all around the world continue to use kava kava to feel happier, at peace and perform at their best, and you can too.
The traditional form to consume kava kava is of course as a tea, but you can also get it in tablet or capsule form. Take 210-240 mg each day. Be aware that it does affect other medications you might be taking and it is not to be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women, or those with liver damage.
St. John’s Wort
St John’s Wort is a herb that grows wild in the meadows and roadsides of Europe and North America. It’s a powerful traditional remedy that has seen a recent surge in success owing to its ability to help treat depression and also the sunshine-deficient disorder SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). If you
need an herbal pick-me-up, you couldn’t go far wrong with St John’s Wort.
Its active ingredient is hypericin, a polyphenol, which helps boost levels of serotonin in the brain, leading to reduced anxiety and better sleep.
Studies have shown that it works effectively to combat memory problems, cognitive processing issues and superior learning when combined with Gingko Biloba. In tandem, they work to eradicate the toxins in your brain and boost those serotonin levels to help you feel positive, intelligent and in possession of a strong memory, and work more effectively than when used separately.
The recommended dose is 30 mg Ginkgo Biloba (24% extract) and 150 mg of St John’s Wort (0.3% hypericin). If you’d prefer to use St John’s Wort alone, aim for 300mg per day.
Saint John’s Wort interferes with some pharmaceuticals thus it is imperative to check with your physician before taking this herb. Do not use this herb if you are taking any pharmaceutical anti-depressants.
Gotu Kola is a plant that is native to India and Asia and is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat disorders of the nervous system and brain. Its active ingredients brahmoside and brahminoside act as a mild sedative, reducing your levels of stress and anxiety. It also helps to calm the central nervous system, allowing you to feel as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.
Acting like a super-food, it boosts your brain, improves your alertness, brain function and also your memory. Plus it’s packed with brain-healthy vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, G, and K and is also high in magnesium.
Enjoy it as a tea for best results (it tastes similar to chamomile tea). But you can also take it in capsule or tablet form. The recommended dose for stress
relief and an improvement in performance 50 to 250 mg, 2 to 3 times daily.
Ashwagandha is a plant native to the Middle East and Africa and is a cousin of the tomato and the eggplant. Studies have shown that it might also help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and associated memory loss. This is because it inhibits the formation of plaque with the brain, which can kill brain cells and lead to the disease.
Additionally, it acts as a nootropic and boosts your overall memory, cognitive abilities and relieves stress all at the same time. It works by limiting the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream, and also has an overall relaxing and de-stimulating effect on the entire body, which can help with conditions like ADHD and Parkinson’s disease.
Its potent antioxidant action helps to defend the body against the free radicals that can lead to neural damage and it could actually help to contribute towards their repair.
To benefit from the positive effects of ashwaghandha, you can supplement with an amount that suits you. You can start with a dose of around 300-500mg and increase to around 6,000mg per day for stronger effects. Always divide your dose into at least two or three small doses throughout the day to aid absorption.
Lemon balm is a lovely lemon-scented herb with a long history of use in folk medicine as a sleep aid and gentle remedy for anxiety. Recent studies have also discovered that it possesses an incredible ability to boost your memory and improve your performance, especially when it comes to learning new
information. The best news is that many people have it growing in their garden, so can enjoy its benefits right away.
It contains a multitude of active ingredients that help to achieve its benefits upon your gray matter. Compounds known as eugenol and terpense help to calm your muscles and soothe your mind, and another called rosmarinic acid helps to control your levels of stress before it really begins to take its toll.
Studies carried out at Northumbria University discovered that a high percentage of students actually achieved better grades when they supplemented with high-quality lemon balm. This was owing to the action of several compounds, which improve the effect of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is vital to memory formation and maintenance, logical thought and overall cognition. So if you want to relax and improve your intelligence, lemon balm will be the perfect solution.
It’s best taken as a tea, so if you have a bush growing in your garden, harvest the leaves and brew up your own refreshing, fragrant cup. Otherwise, it may also be taken as a supplement. Experts recommend a dose of 600 to 1,600mg lemon balm extract per day.
Bacopa is an Ayurvedic herb with a long history of use for none other than cognitive enhancement. In fact, recent studies in Australia have confirmed that bacopa does indeed improve information processing, verbal learning rate and overall working memory.
It primarily works its magic by boosting levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which in turn will improve your mood and help deal with anxiety and depression too. But it doesn’t just make you feel good; it also helps to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia too.
This happens for the following reasons:
Firstly, bacopa contains a high level of antioxidants, which provide a protective effect upon the brain, prevent free-radical damage to the cells and nervous system and improve overall health. Secondly, bacopa helps to break down the beta amyloid proteins that can lead to plaque accumulation in the brain and lead to Alzheimer’s disease. And thirdly, it helps to heal damaged brain cells and nerve cells, making it uniquely beneficial for those suffering
from dementia and brain damage.
To enjoy the benefits take around 300 mg per day.
Huperzia is a type of moss that is native to India and South East Asia and it could be our best hope yet in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related memory loss. So much so that it has recently seen a surge in popularity, both in its use and research.
It works by increasing levels of the important neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter often comes under attack by certain bodily enzymes, which has the effect of reducing its levels in the body and thus preventing your brain cells from effectively communicating with each other. As a result, your memory declines, as does your cognitive performance.
Not only that, but it also helps to reduce the formation of plaque in the brain that leads to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and prevents brain and nerve damage from actually occurring at all. You can probably see why the world is so excited about this stuff!
If you are interested in finding out for yourself how it can boost your brain, take a supplement containing 50 to 100 micrograms of its active ingredient huperzia A.
Rhodiola is another one of the herbs that falls into the ‘adaptogen’ category. It works by targeting life’s stresses, such as physical, emotional and
environmental stresses and boosting the immune system and other bodily processes to cope. As a result, it has incredible healing powers that we still don’t know the true extent of.
It contains phenylpropanoids, which can boost mental performance and also calm the body, as well as an antioxidant effect that helps to protect the brain from plaque formation that may also cause Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. And as well as all of this, studies have shown that consumption of rhodiola can slow the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and as a result could postpone the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It really is an excellent all-rounder that is perfect for stress, grief, memory problems and dementia.
It also has an anti-anxiety action, which helps to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the bloodstream, and supports the entire nervous system to help clarify thought processes, improve mental calculation and overall performance.
Additionally, it increases levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the bloodstream, which continues to boost that happy feeling – even if life isn’t quite going the way you wanted it to.
For best results, take between 100 and 1000mg each day, divided into two doses.
If I had to choose just one culinary herb to take with me to a desert island, it would most definitely be oregano. It has so many health benefits, and also tastes delicious added to all kinds of vegetable dishes – there really isn’t anything that comes close.
Oregano actually helps to alter our brain waves, helping us to feel more relaxed, less anxious and also learn new information much faster and more effectively. This comes down to its two active components, carvacrol and thymoquinone, which increase both alpha-1 and beta-1 brainwaves.
Studies have also shown that it improves neurotransmitter function, increasing levels of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline in the body – all hormones that keep depression and low mood at bay, and feeling happier and more focused on the task at hand as a result.
It’s a delicious green leafy herb that can be added to any dish you love the most. You can also use oregano as an essential oil. Simply pop a few drops in your diffuser and enjoy the uplifting scent. And lastly, you can take it as a supplement too – start with 400mg twice a day.
Rosemary is such an uplifting herb, and I am always reminded of walks across the hills of the Mediterranean when its scent hits my nostrils. It’s an herb with a great ability to improve your cognition, make you feel great and also boost your mood and memory. Better than that, it also positively affects the speed and accuracy in which you’re able to respond to a stimulus, making its affect similar to, and also superior to, that of caffeine. This is because of a compound known as 1,8-cineole, which can help boost prospective memory. This is the type of memory you use when you need to remember a sequence of future tasks, such as attending a meeting or sending that important email.
Let’s not forget that rosemary is also a potent antioxidant and also possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which fight free radical damage in the brain and enhances memory and concentration. This is because of the presence of two important compounds: caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid. It also contains carnosic acid – a phytochemical which helps to protect your brain from strokes and age-related regeneration.
The best way to enjoy rosemary is of course in your food and it tastes wonderful combined with most vegetables, especially those considered to be part of the Mediterranean diet, such as peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini.
You can also enjoy rosemary as a dried herb, an extract or even as a tea. If you are opting for the extract, take two 400mg rosemary capsules up to three times a day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid rosemary.
Thyme is packed full of those brain-friendly omega-3’s and will help protect your brain against age-related degeneration, as well as improving your overall brain function significantly. It’s a penetrating and fragrant herb that is also high in vitamin C, iron, manganese, and iron.
It’s also high in flavonoids, including apigenin, naringenin, luteolin, and thymonin, making it a brilliant antioxidant. And lastly, one of its active ingredients, thymol, help us feel happier and maintain levels of essential fatty acids in the brain.
Thyme works brilliantly in vegetable and bean dishes, so throw it into your meals to up the flavor and reap the brain-boosting benefits.
For hundreds of years, the memory-boosting powers of sage have been very well known. But it turns out that this is no old wives’ tale – sage really is as good for your brain as they say. It helps boost the chemical messengers in the brain and by doing so, improves memory and overall performance.
Recent research into the effect that sage has upon Alzheimer’s disease has shown that it also has a secret-weapon – it is able to inhibit a damaging enzyme called acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which damages the brain and leads to the onset of the disease. This also boosts levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and improves overall memory and learning.
It’s another of the green leafy herbs that taste wonderful and offers incredible anti-oxidant effects. One particular anti-aging antioxidant named carnosic
acid is able to raise levels of glutathione in the brain by improving blood flow to the cerebral arteries. Clearly good brain blood-flow is essential if you want to possess great thinking power.
Sage is delicious when added to soups, stews, salads, and can even be used to make dressings. Why not grow some of your own sage on your windowsill at home and add it to your food regularly?