Getting your brain back in gear after a long holiday weekend or after returning from a fun-filled vacation is no easy task, to say the least. Memories of lazy mornings and carefree days stay with us long after we return and can zap our mental energy. So what’s a mind to do? Think about our natural herbal allies, of course!
How to Work Smarter with Herbs
Every minute your brain performs hundreds of demanding and complex tasks, yet this busiest organ is one of the most overlooked in the body. Support healthy brain function with time-tested botanical helpers that:
- Fights mental fatigue due to intensive studying and over-work
- Lessen oxidative damage to brain cells
- Support healthy circulation to the brain
- Helps the body deal with stress
Breakthrough nutrients such as Phosphatidylserine (PS), Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), and Acetyl-L-Carnitine are known to boost brain power, but let’s not forget the traditional herbal remedies that have been used effectively down through the centuries to enhance mental performance such as:
- Ginkgo* is the oldest living tree species on the earth, dating back over 200 million years! No wonder this symbol of longevity is associated with physical and mental longevity. Ginkgo has been used as both food and medicine for more than 4,000 years, and current research shows the botanical compounds found in the leaves support healthy circulation to the brain, bringing vital oxygen and nutrients for healthy brain function. Ginkgo also contains antioxidants which help to protect against the damaging effects of free radicals.
- Gotu Kola*…If you find yourself putting out more mentally and physically than you’re able to put back in, then consider this rejuvenative botanical. Gotu Kola is the go-to herb for the “stressed-out” and those experiencing mental exhaustion from overwork. In Ayurvedic medicine (the 3,000-year-old traditional healing system of India), Gotu kola is recognized as a “medhya rasayna,” or an herbal tonic that helps to energize healthy mental function, clarity, and alertness.
As a note of caution, Gotu Kola should not be used in cases of hyperthyroidism.
- Lion’s Mane*…If it seems as if this mushroom is popping up everywhere, you’re right. Lion’s Mane is now a featured ingredient in everything from coffee to multivitamins and smoothie blends. It belongs to a class of mushrooms known as “functional” or “medicinal” mushrooms because their naturally occurring compounds have been shown to provide immune, cognitive, antioxidant, and liver support, to name just a few.
But why is Lion’s Mane the preferred choice for those seeking to boost brain power? Buddhist monks reportedly used this ancient mushroom to help them maintain their focus during long periods of meditation. Today, research reveals its unique polysaccharide compounds support mood and nervous system health and offer targeted benefits for healthy memory function and concentration.
- Rosemary*…Indeed ever since the time of Shakespeare, Rosemary has been a symbol of remembrance. The fragrant Mediterranean herb belongs in your spice cabinet as much as in your herbal medicine cabinet.
Ancient Greek, as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), used Rosemary preparations to support brain health, and today both the leaf and the essential oil are used to support cognitive function. Inhaling the scent of Rosemary oil while studying promotes mental recall, concentration, and focus.
Stress Less To Think Better
As anyone who has ever been stressed out over an overdue project or a looming deadline knows, stress kills creativity and concentration. No wonder herbs that support a healthy stress response are often included in brain-boosting blends. Some of the more popular botanicals include:
- Rhodiola*…This hardy root thrives in the cold, mountainous regions of Europe and has been used for centuries in the traditional healing cultures of Tibet, Russia, Central Asia, and Scandinavia. Rhodiola is a valuable adaptogen that helps to protect and maintain the body’s healthy response to physical and mental stress. This, in turn, supports healthy cognitive function, productivity, and attention.
- Ashwagandha*…The well-known adaptogen and Ayurvedic superstar promotes balance while helping the body to manage the daily stresses of a hectic schedule. The restorative root is used by itself or included in brain support formulas to promote mental alertness and positive mood.
- Holy Basil*…Yet another cherished Ayurvedic herb, Holy Basil or Tulsi, is so revered in the traditional healing systems of Indian medicine that it is known as “The Queen of Herbs” and “The Mother Medicine of Nature.” The age-old herbal remedy is proving to be quite helpful for the modern over-worked and over-stressed individual, as it supports emotional well-being, calms stress, and creates inner balance and harmony.
What other brain-boosting botanicals help you stay on task and power through the work week? Let us know.
*As with any herb or supplement, consult a physician before use if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.