Having a difficult time keeping track of all the people, things, places, names, faces and appointments you’re supposed to remember? Maybe you’re not retaining bits of information you know would be useful but don’t end up recalling when the time comes? Luckily, the world of herbalism offers up several natural remedies for improving memory. Whether you’re suffering from memory loss, or simply flightiness of the mind, try these helpful herbs to sharpen up your mind.
1. Ginkgo Leaf
The gingko is believed to be one of the oldest living species of trees, and has been used in Chinese medicine for millenia. As one of the most extensively studied herbs in use today, gingko leaf has been proven to increase blood circulation, and has been found in some studies to help improve memory in patients suffering from dementia. However, gingko can also enhance mental performance and boost memory in people with normally functioning brains. Ginkgo leaves contain flavonoids and terpenoids, which are believed to neutralize free radicals and thus reduce or even prevent the damage caused by them. Other conditions that gingko effectively works against are claudication, glaucoma, macular degeneration and tinnitus. The recommended daily dose is 120 mg taken as a tablet, capsule, liquid or tea made out of the dried leaves.
This Peruvian root tuber is extremely high in antioxidants, making it one of the newcomers on the list of exotic superfoods. Because of its antioxidant properties, the root is believed to inhibit an enzyme that can damage cognitive functions. Since maca is also effective in helping the body increase strength and preserve energy stores, it can help in cases of memory loss or poor concentration ability caused by lack of energy. In addition, maca contains several nutrients and minerals, and is even said to act as an aphrodisiac that has proven to enhance sexual desire in men. The recommended daily dose is 2,000 mg or 1 teaspoon of maca root powder.
3. Dragon’s Blood
Found in the Amazon rainforest, this plant contains a blood-red sap that is used for treating tuberculosis, internal parasites, wounds and sore throats. However, recent studies have shown that the chemical structure of the tree sap contains antioxidants and alkaloids that fight the enzymes that break down compounds the brain uses for storing memories. The degeneration of these compounds is what causes the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Botanist James A. Duke creates an herbal cocktail with 2 drops of dragon blood that he enjoys daily as he aims to keep his mind clear and quick for his eighth decade. The recommended for dragon’s blood daily dose is ½ oz.
This herb has been used in China for centuries to treat several diseases, including memory loss and aging. A recent study has shown that ginseng can be particularly effective in recovering memory in stroke patients that suffer from dementia. As an energy booster, ginseng can also decrease blood pressure, headaches, insomnia and tremors, which can all lead to improved concentration. Tasty, organic teas containing ginseng can be found at many grocery stores, or the herb can be taken as tablet or capsule. The recommended daily dosage is up to 1200 mg, depending on your reason for taking the herb.
An Indian herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, bacopa is said to enhance memory, concentration and learning. This is because the bacosides, which are chemical constituents of the plant, protect synaptic functions of the nerves in the memory part of the brain, called the hippocampus. These synaptic functions receive and send off nerve impulses, which can degenerate with age. The herb is also said to help treat heart problems, asthma, bronchitis, digestive disorders and anxiety due to its antioxidant properties. The recommended daily dosage of bacopa extract is 100 mg.