By Katie Byrnes, Guest Writer
The adult human brain weighs about three pounds. It contains a billion neurons that use twenty percent of the oxygen and blood in the body. Research indicates that brain function may be enhanced with the regular consumption of specific nutrients and herbs. This article will describe the possible brain-boosting benefits of several herbs. The Herb Crew and Wellness Crew prepare numerous products that contain these herbs.
Tumeric is a member of the ginger family. It has been used for 4,000 years in southern Asia to treat a variety of conditions that include digestive issues, atherosclerosis, and depression. Curcumin is the active ingredient in tumeric. It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Curcumin seems to increase the level of a brain chemical called brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). BDNF enhances the production of new brain neurons that is essential for optimal learning, memory, and mood. Low levels of BDNF are linked to serious brain diseases such as major depression, OCD, and dementia. Curcumin is thought to fight depression because it boosts levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Its antioxidant properties help protect the brain by reducing inflammation. Excess inflammation is not only associated with heart disease, it is also linked to brain disorders such as depression, psychological stress, and dementia. Curcumin is thought to reduce the formation of the brain plaques that are found in Alzheimer’s disease. It is easy to add tumeric to your diet—it is available in the spice aisle of the grocery store, or can be purchased fresh from the herb crew, thin slices can also be added to food. It is absorbed into the body much better when consumed with black pepper. Tinctures are also available.
Sage is a member of the mint family. It is considered a memory enhancer that may work by protecting levels of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain. A study in Britain concluded that healthy young adults performed better on word recall tests after taking sage oil capsules. In addition, people with mild Alzheimer’s disease improved their learning, memory, and information processing after taking extracts of two different sage species for four months. Sage can easily be added as a fresh or dried herb to food, or a therapeutic tea can be prepared by steeping two teaspoons in a cup of hot water.
Rosemary is an evergreen shrub; the leaves are a commonly used herb in cooking. In addition to its ability to add a pleasant flavoring to foods, rosemary can be used in aromatherapy. Rosemary essential oil is used to increase concentration and memory, and to relieve stress. Aromatherapy studies suggest that a combination of rosemary and lavender essential oils may lower cortisol levels and help reduce anxiety. Rosemary oil should not be ingested, as it could be toxic.
Ginkgo Bilbao is considered one of the best-known brain herbs. The flavenoids and terpenoids in the leaves are antioxidants that are able to fight off free radicals in the body, keeping them from damaging DNA within cells. There are some studies that seem to indicate that a concentrated extract made from the leaves allows the flavenoids to protect nerves and the terpenoids to improve blood flow to the brain. Gingko extracts are also believed to help reduce anxiety, and improve memory and the speed of mental processing in healthy young adults.
Each of the herbs mentioned in this article has a long history of use for strengthening and healing the body. However, each herb also has the potential to cause damage if improperly used. The herbs may interfere with other medications. Before dosing yourself to relieve stress or to improve test scores, be sure to read instructions carefully or check with a health practitioner on the proper use of the herb. For the brain to function at its best add a few herbs to your health regimen, but also get enough sleep, eat a well-balanced diet that includes foods rich in Omega-3 fats, and exercise.