Ayurvedic Practices

Try These Mindful Herbs to Fight Forgetfulness

Certain herbal supplements can help boost memory and mental performance. Try these mindful herbs to boost your brain power.

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mindful herbs

Certain herbal supplements can help boost memory and mental performance. Try these mindful herbs to boost your brain power.

If you think you’ve been forgetting things lately, don’t worry. It’s not amnesia setting in —just the natural distractions that come with the demands of a busy schedule. The good news, according to some herbalists and neurologists, is that certain plants can help boost memory and mental performance, while slowing the negative effects of aging on mental vigor. The challenge? Deciding which supplements are right for you (and remembering to take them).

It doesn’t take a degree in neuroscience to know that the brain is a complicated organ. Neurons in the brain receive and send information with the help of neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine and serotonin. The hippocampus coordinates the placement of information, and the amygdala regulates needs such as sleep and sex and registers feelings of depression and stress. The process of aging, along with the presence of free radicals in the body, can serve to hinder all aspects of proper brain function.

All is not lost, though. Several key herbs, such as gingko biloba, can help you maintain acute memory. In 39 out of 40 Alzheimer’s disease trials, patients’ symptoms of dementia improved or at least slowed with gingko, according to Kenneth Giuffre, M.D., president of Trilobot Institute for Applied Cognitive Research and author of The Care and Feeding of Your Brain (Career Press, 1999). An antioxidant, ginkgo regulates nitric oxide to help our circulation, flushing out free radicals and enabling oxygen to course through the bloodstream. This sweeping action in turn enhances alertness and memory.

Rosemary also acts as an antioxidant, says Earl Mindell, Ph.D., herbalist and author of Earl Mindell’s New Herb Bible (Fireside, 2000). It aids memory by preserving acetylcholine. And gotu kola, extracted from a tropical weed, eases stress, which can impair memory. Mindell explains that under conditions of chronic stress, the excess hormones produced can damage brain cells, thereby hampering our ability to remember.

Should you decide to take these herbs, don’t be disappointed if you don’t notice an immediate, drastic improvement – —they take a few weeks to start working. And if you’re looking for maximum memory power, don’t forget sleep, exercise, meditation, and a healthy diet.

Try These 3 Brain Boosters

1. Gingko biloba:

120 milligrams daily in tincture or capsules

2. Gotu kola:

2–3 cups tea infusion daily

3. Rosemary:

4–6 grams in capsules (or in cooking) daily

See also The Best Herbs for Your Dosha