Do you struggle to remember what you had for breakfast yesterday, or does it seem like you can never remember where you put your car keys? If so, you’re like millions of other people who have short-term memory loss. Fortunately, these five important herbs for memory health can help, and some can even protect you from dementia and other neurological problems in the future.
Gingko biloba is a plant that grows almost exclusively in China. It contains antioxidants that strengthen the structure of your brain and nerve cells to protect them from free radicals, which can effectively destroy cells throughout your body. A study conducted in 2008 by the American Academy of Neurology found that people who took gingko biloba regularly had a 68% lower risk of developing mild memory issues than those who took a placebo. Other studies show improvements in mood and general disposition, which can also improve memory by reducing negative reactions to stress.
#2 – Rosemary
If you’re regularly using fresh rosemary in the kitchen, then you’re already off to a great start when it comes to choosing herbs for memory. This delicious herb contains a compound called carnosic acid, which has been shown to dilate tissues in the brain, allowing for better blood flow. A 2010 study published in Journal of Applied Sciences Research showed that rosemary may stimulate the release of monoamines, which are important for learning and forming new memories. Although dried rosemary can provide some benefit, the carnosic acid is more concentrated in its fresh, raw form.
#3 – Bacopin
Bacopin has become one of the most commonly researched herbs for memory in recent years, namely because of its efficacy. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that patients who used a dry extract of whole-plant Bacopin, or Bacopa mannori, could recall newly-learned information more accurately and quickly than those who took a placebo. Researchers still aren’t sure how it works, but they believe that it increases certain chemicals in the brain that are involved in learning and memory, including monoamines.
#4 – Ginseng
Ginseng grows wild in many parts of the world, and its roots are harvested, dried, and turned into powder or capsules. A 2010 study conducted at the MICM Centre for the Study of Natural Medicines and Neurocognition in Melbourne, Australia and published in Psychopharmacology showed that ginseng caused a “significant improvement of working memory” when compared to the effects of a placebo. It is thought that certain substances in ginseng, called panaxosides or gensenoside, facilitate the formation of new memories and protect memories that have already been made.
#5 – Green Tea
Green tea is one of the most powerful and medicinal products out there, and for good reason. A 2014 study conducted at the University Hospital of Basel in Switzerland and published in Psychopharmacology shows that it significantly improved working memory. Researchers added green tea extract to soft drinks, then asked participants to consume drinks with either the extract or a placebo. When placed in an MRI and asked to solve memory tasks, those who consumed green tea extract had more connectivity between their frontal cortexes and superior parietal lobules, which are responsible for forming new memories. It’s one of the most promising herbs for memory available today.
There are many herbs for memory on nutrition and drug store shelves, but not all of them have been scientifically proven. The five herbs listed here have been studied extensively, and researchers agree that they can go a long way toward helping you form and retain new memories.