Your brain needs fuel just like your body does. There are many brain-boosting supplements available, but some are synthetically produced. The problem with the synthetic process of “isolating” a compound for a supplement is that your body may not recognize it the same way it recognizes the natural version.
If you’re looking for natural options, here are ten herbs proven to boost your brainpower:
Madagascar Periwinkle or “Vinca” contains more than 400 active alkaloids. Vinca improves blood supply to the brain which increases the oxygen and glucose available for your brain to perform well. Vincristine, found in Periwinkle, is known to counter the decline in intellectual and academic abilities due to cancer-causing agents in children. The alkaloids in Periwinkle also raise levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Ginseng (Asian Ginseng, Oriental Ginseng, or Siberian Ginseng) is an adaptogenic herb used to help resist stress and boost energy, concentration, and mood — without the negative effects found in stimulants like caffeine. Ginseng can improve memory and attention, lengthen mental and physical endurance, and ease anxiety. Ginseng has been used as a natural alternative to synthetic ADHD and ADD medications, with fewer side effects.
3. Gotu Kola
Gotu Kola is used to improve memory, concentration, and mental performance. This herb is another known adaptogen, which means it can lower stress. Stress affects your brain’s ability to process information and think clearly. Physical stress responses such as shallow breathing and even frowning causes the brain to release cortisol, which is detrimental for brain. Gotu Kola can help minimize your stress response, which in turn boosts mental performance.
Rosemary is known as the “herb of remembrance,” and is used in aromatherapy for improving memory, concentration, and mental clarity. 1,8-cineole, the chemical constituent of the plant is responsible for this effect, and it becomes more concentrated when produced in essential oils.
This scent of Rosemary has been shown to improve speed and accuracy in mental tasks. In one study, the more 1,8-cineole was absorbed by a participant through smelling rosemary the higher they scored on tests.
5. Ginkgo Biloba
This herb improves cognitive function especially when used together with Ginseng. In a study by David Kennedy at Northumbria University, researchers found marked improvements to mental performance and speed when completing tasks.
If you’re taking blood thinning medications please check with your doctor before ingesting; Ginkgo can cause brain bleeding if the two treatments are used together.
6. Yerba Maté
Yerba Maté is a shrub that can be used to stimulate the mind, increase concentration, and ease depressive moods. Studies found positive effects on learning and memory from consuming Yerba Maté tea; reserpine, one constituent of the tea, demonstrated the ability to improve short-term memory.
7. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is an herb often used as a supplementary treatment for mild to moderate depression. The herb has been shown to promote relaxation and relieve tension headaches — which in turn helps you to focus.
8. Golden Root
Golden Root (also known as Arctic Root, Roseroot, or Rhodiola Rosea) is another potent adaptogen that helps lower cortisol. Expert Zakir Ramazanov notes in his book, Rhodiola Rosea for Chronic Stress Disorder that in reducing chronic stress responses, users will experience increased physical energy, and improvements in cognitive function.
9. Parsley and Thyme
Adding herbs like parsley and thyme to your diet it may help boost your brainpower. This is due to a flavonoid, apigenin, found in these herbs. The flavonoid is also found in other plants like chamomile, and vegetables like celery and red pepper. In a recent paper published in the journal Advances in Regenerative Biology, scientists found that apigenin boosts neuron formation and creates strong connections between brain cells.
Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) also known as waterhyssop, is an Ayurvedic herb native to the wetlands of six continents. It has been utilized used by Indians for thousands of years.
Acting as a “micronutrient” Ayurvedic therapies known as Rasayanas, which included Brahmi, were shown in studies to “retard brain aging and help in regeneration of neural tissues” while also “producing an anti-stress, adaptogenic and memory enhancing effect.” In another study (using female rats), the long term consumption of bacosides (a class of chemical compounds in the plant) was shown to promote healthy brain aging.
Zyana Morris is a passionate health and lifestyle blogger who loves to write about prevailing trends. She is a featured author at various authoritative blogs in the health, fitness and lifestyle industry. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.