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Cognitive enhancers are substances that have been shown to help improve your brain’s ability to function. Some reduce inflammation, others help fight free radicals, and still others directly improve the way your body makes and uses ever-important neurotransmitters. The following list of cognitive enhancers represents the best and most powerful herbs you can find.
Turmeric is derived from the root of a plant called Curcuma longa, and the active molecule inside the root is called curcumin. It’s common in curries and other spicy Indian foods, but the truth is that it’s just as powerful as it is delicious. Numerous studies have shown that turmeric offers antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and even antifungal properties. In fact, one recent study shows that it is effective at breaking up the plaques indicative of Alzheimer’s disease, which can slow its progression.
Cat’s claw is another herbal ingredient that has been proven powerful in not only improving mental function, but also in preventing neurodegeneration. It’s derived from a vine called Uncaria tomentosa, which grows in the Amazon rainforest. Its main function is to help prevent damage to DNA by fighting off free radicals, and over time, this can have a profound ability on your brain’s ability to remain healthy – even in the face of aging or disease.
Oat straw, or Avena sativa, is derived from wild green oats. There is evidence to suggest that it’s been used for medicine since the Middle Ages. Researchers think that it boosts certain types of brainwaves, called Alpha-2 waves, which are most prevalent during times of wakefulness and deep thought. They also think that oat straw directly improves inflammation in the brain, which opens up blood vessels and allows for the more efficient delivery of everything from oxygen to other nutrients.
Bacopa is an Indian herb derived from the Bacopa monnieri plant. It contains active agents called bacosides that are thought to repair neurons in the brain that have been damaged, and researchers also believe that these bacosides promote the growth of newer, healthier nerves. In the end, this helps promote better, clearer communication between synapses and neurons, which can immediately boost cognition and continue to provide improvements over time. It’s especially useful for helping to prevent age-related cognitive impairment.
Gingko biloba is one of the oldest and most well-known herbs on this list of cognitive enhancers, and for good reason. It’s been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to help improve the way the brain works. Researchers have found that it offers powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which improves the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the brain. It contains terpenoids and flavonoids, which are two very potent types of antioxidants, that fight off free radicals and protect your brain’s health.
Numerous studies have pointed out the benefit of ginseng for cognitive enhancement. Ginseng contains a compound called gensenoside, which has been studied several times in clinical settings. One such study at the Department of Neurology located at the Clinical Research Institute in South Korea gave patients ginseng root once daily for a period of 12 weeks. Their cognition continued to improve during the entire 12-week period, but slowly declined to the levels of the control group once the treatment stopped.
This list of cognitive enhancers is in no way complete, but it does account for the most popular ones and those that are commonly found as ingredients in brain enhancement drugs. Each one offers up its own unique benefits, but studies have shown that combining them is the best way to truly experience the best possible mental clarity.