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4 power herbs for optimal brain health
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4 power herbs for optimal brain health

Gain cognitive power and excellent memory with these four herbs
Representational image| Shutterstock

Bradley Cooper takes a magic pill to gear up his memory and cognition in the sci-fi flick Limitless. How we wish that pill were real. There are no pills that can instantly boost your memory and cognition. However, there is still good news. There are a few herbs for healthy brain that have the qualities to improve your memory power gradually.

These natural herbs for brain health are nootropics or cognitive enhancers. They are beneficial in enhancing thinking, learning, and memory functions, especially when cognitive abilities might be impaired. Nootropic herbs are extensively used in ayurvedic practices and are scientifically proven to improve mental clarity, focus, and sharpen your mind gradually.

These herbs are generally safe for use, but caution is advised. “Individuals in good physical health without any existing medical conditions can use them. However, those with underlying health conditions, or are undergoing treatment, might need to consult their doctor,” says Dr Somanath C P, psychiatrist, Healing Minds Clinic, Kochi.

Here are the four herbs that boost brain health, memory and cognition

1. Brahmi – for memory and alertness

 

Brahmi| Representational image| Shutterstock

Bacopa monnieri or Brahmi has a calming effect on the mind, helping you stay focused on tasks. “Brahmi also shows anti-anxiety effects. It acts via certain receptors in the brain and has a positive effect on memory, cognition, thinking capacity and alertness,” says Dr Somanath. He further adds that Brahmi has a positive effect on alertness and is essentially helpful for facilitating new learning.

According to a 2021 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, the simultaneous use of Bacopa monnieri supplementation and cognitive training could potentially enhance neurocognitive performance. It even shows positive influence on the brain microstructure of older adults.

How to consume: brahmi capsules, brahmi powder with milk, brahmi tea

2. Shankhpushpi – for relaxation and calmness

Shankhpushpi | Representational image | Shutterstock

Blue pea or Shanhpushpi  is said to calm frazzled nerves. Science has confirmed its ability to increase blood flow to the brain. “The herb helps with relaxation, calmness, and creating a balanced mental state, reducing the inclination towards anger to some degree,” says Dr Somanath. Preclinical studies have also suggested the same. In addition, blue pea has memory-enhancing, antioxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties.

How to consume: fine paste of whole plant, blue pea tea, extract in foods and beverages

3. Ashwagandha – for cognitive performance

Ashwagandha| Representational image| Shutterstock

Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng) has been used in ayurveda sinces ages for its overall well-being properties. Oral intake improves cognitive performance in healthy adults and in those with signs of cognitive decline. A 2020 study published in Phytotherapy Research showed that ashwagandha improves performance on cognitive tasks, executive function, attention, and reaction time.

Dr Somanath adds, “It also shows anti-anxiety and stress-relieving impact, reportedly alleviating chronic stress. Regarding the brain, it enhances a sense of calmness. Additionally, ashwagandha is known to have sleep-promoting effects, particularly when taken at night.”

Furthermore, research indicates that it can enhance overall immunity.

How to consume: root decoctions, fresh leaves, berries, tea, and capsules of root powder

4. Yashtimadhu – for focus and memory

Yashtimadhu | Representational image| Shutterstock

Liquorice or Yashtimadhu  is categorised as a nootropic which has the ability to improve memory, focus and cognitive functions, owing to its glycyrrhizin and flavonones content.

In ayurvedic practices, a fine powder of this dried root is used with milk for medhya (nootropic action). The roots and rhizomes of liquorice are considered an efficient tonic for the brain. Yashtimadhu increases blood circulation in the central nervous system, leading to ample nutrient supply, thereby improving the overall functioning of the brain. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, liquorice significantly improves memory and learning.

How to consume: liquorice powder, liquorice candy

Disclaimer: These herbs are regarded as safe. However, consult your physician before using them.

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