Our brain is powered by the things that we eat and drink, performing at its best when receiving a wide range of vitamins and minerals, and proper hydration. Many things should be taken into consideration when evaluating and seeking to improve brain health. This includes working on getting adequate regular sleep, engaging in appropriate levels of physical activity, and different elements of personal well-being and fulfilment.
Caffeine is the most widely used drugs in the world, with millions of people using it each day to stimulate their energy levels and sharpen attention. It stimulates the central nervous system, with regular use leading to mild to moderate physical dependence. It comes in many accessible forms such as coffee drinks, energy drinks or even caffeine pills that are available at most drug stores.
Even though it is so widely used, it can have negative effects such as contributing to anxiety levels, increasing heart rate, impacting quality of sleep, and as a diuretic can contribute to dehydration. Using some of the many natural compounds both alone and in concert have been shown to have efficacy in sharpening thinking and attention, boosting mood, and improving memory function. Here are a few worth checking out:
1) Rosemary is an evergreen shrub that most people probably have in their spice cabinet, boasting a flavorful taste and aroma while imparting a number of health benefits. Coming from the same family as mint, ingesting rosemary in the quantities used to flavor food likely won’t have any observable impacts, but there may be a cumulative effect over time. A more efficient way to derive the benefits from this natural compound is in the form of an essential oil.
• This substance has shown to have the effect of a cognitive stimulant associated with improvements in efficiency and proficiency at mental tasks, as well as improved memory retention. It may also have a protective effect against acute cognitive disorders like dementia through antioxidation.
• Rosemary is thought to boost immunity, relieve stress, improve mood, soothe stomach ailments, and act as an anti-inflammatory. Exposure to rosemary is also found to stimulate red blood cell production and blood flow, and act as an antibacterial, which serves to freshen bad breath.
• It can also be used as a local analgesic in the form of a paste or salve, or if ingested has been found to relieve headaches or other internal pains.
• There are many other benefits and uses of rosemary both as a cognitive aid and a therapeutic agent, check out this additional information to learn more.
2) Ashwaghanda is a powerful root-derived herb used since ancient times in healing a wide range of conditions particularly anxiety and depression. Translating directly as “the smell of a horse,” it means to say that it imparts the strength and robustness of a horse. Its ingestion is thought to rejuvenate and enhance brain function by helping to improve nerve cell formation and trajectory in the hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with memory formation and retention.
• While its specific mechanism of action is yet to be determined, its medicinal effects may combat the effects of stress, anxiety and depression by reducing overall inflammation and cortisol levels. The herb may assist mental clarity, information processing, and overall cognitive performance while also supporting immune system function. This is something that you can take every day in the form of a capsule, with the recommended dose being 600-1000mg twice daily.
3) Ginkgo Biloba is an herbal supplement that is derived from a tree that is the last living species of its kind, with its relatives having been found in fossils dating back 270 million years. Its been used for centuries as a healing element that may yield cognitive benefits, with some research suggesting that it may encourage neurogenesis and plasticity in the brain.
• It has a synergistic impact in improving cognitive function when used in combination with Ginseng, which I’ll discuss next. Its efficacy has been shown questionable through clinical trial, but remains to be widely used for its famed mental enhancement.
• It works by increasing blood flow to the brain and body, helping to spread oxygen and nutrients.
4) Ginseng is a broad term that includes nearly a dozen different plant species whose root has been popularly used to increase general mental function and vitality. It’s thought to potentially protect brain cells against oxidative stress and other toxins, which serve as a contributing factor to age-related mental decline.
• Its mechanism of action is found in bioactive molecules called ginsenosides, which are a kind of adaptogens that broadly act to improve health and reduce susceptibility to stress and infection.
• This mechanism may be rooted in its effects on our adaptability to stress, as it seems to make the body react healthier when faced with stressors. It is found to have similar effects as caffeine without the negative side-effects, and can be consumed orally as a beverage or tea or in supplement form.
• It has been used as a natural treatment for attention disorders such as ADHD and ADD, having fewer side effects than mainstream treatment. It is thought to have a host of other benefits including aiding prevention of premature aging, impacting diabetes management by regulating blood sugar levels, ant-tumor properties, and aiding weight loss efforts.
5) St. John’s Wort is derived from a yellow-flowering wild plant that has been used throughout human history to supplement depression treatment, but can cause serious side effects if you aren’t careful. It has been found to promote relaxation and relieve tension headaches, which is thought to be one of its mechanisms in improving focus. It is known to affect how the body utilizes and breaks down many drugs and substances, and as such should be used with caution.
• It acts as an inhibitor on receptors that are involved in neurotransmitter action and reuptake
These are only a few of many brilliant natural substances that can improve cognitive function, including memory, attention and mood. Making sure to eat a healthy range of foods, drinking plenty of water, and finding appropriate supplements that fill your body’s voids can sometimes be all that you need to improve your cognitive function healthily and naturally.