Written by Michelle Matthews (Naturopath, BNat.)
Your brain is ever-evolving. It is not something which is fixed or stationary. In recent years, new research into brain plasticity (neuroplasticity) which is the study of the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of an experience (new and old), has helped to revolutionise how we think about our brain function and memory.
We now know that the brain has the ability to re-wire itself to adapt to changes, whilst the neurons in the brain can decline with age, it still has the ability to learn new things and change.
We all want to remain young, active and retain our memory as we age, right? There are in fact many steps you can take to help your brain and memory work to an optimal level. Whether you are trying to maintain the health of your already healthy brain, or strengthen your memory recall or retention. Some of these brain-boosting herbs may help support the function of the brain and the neural pathways within it.
Here are a few herbs to consider:
Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)
A traditional herb of Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used to help to improve cognition, memory, focus and memory recall. A good herb for general brain function.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)
Another popular traditional Ayurvedic herb, Gotu kola. It has long been used for rejuvenation and longevity. Traditionally, it has been considered a brain and nerve tonic, helping to improve memory and cognition. It also helps to support the health of the brain, assist with information processing, learning ability and memory recall.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
A traditional Chinese herb, Ginkgo is popular to aid in blood circulation. Ginkgo may help to support focus, clarity, mental function and support information processing. It also has the added benefit of being an antioxidant.
Lions mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus)
Interestingly, this mushroom looks like a lion’s mane! Traditionally used in Asian culture in countries such as China, Korea and Japan as a tea to aid in vitality and vigor. Lions mane mushroom has the ability to influence neuroactive compounds which lead to nerve growth and development in the brain. Improved cognitive function and recognition memory have also been noted with this herb.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
This fragrant herb is originally from the Mediterranean and European regions of the world, where traditional it was used as a remedy for many conditions. Sage can help to increase memory recall, and support clarity and concentration.
In addition to these herbs keeping the mind active can help boost the brain function too. Consider learning a new language, a musical instrument, take an art class, learn to dance, play board games or master Sudoku. Exercise may also help to give the brain a boost of oxygen a few times each week, which will also contribute to its health. These activities just may help to keep memory loss at bay.