There is a myth that every living being has a brain. However, the truth is that there are few invertebrates like jellyfish, starfish, adult sea squirts and sponges that possess only nerve nets to cater their body functions. In human beings, the brain is located in the head and it remains close to the primary sensory organs such as eyes, ears, nose and tongue. One of the most complex organs in the human body, it is said to contain more than a billion neurons for handling day-to-day activities using body parts. In recent times, mental and psychological illness have been on the increase due to change in lifestyles and a survey has indicated that people are diagnosed more with mental conditions such as chronic depression, dementia, personality disorders, Parkinson’s disease and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa.
So you must have now got the idea that this specific part should be properly kept under supervision. There are advertisements all over on how to make the optimum use of brain through meditation, brainwave entertainment, positive visualization, breathing techniques.
However, the best way to promote brain health is through following a strict healthy lifestyle and a proper diet which provides many of the essential nutrients vital to this body part. In this article on top 10 herbs for better brain health you will be given information on the top Mother Nature’s gifts to mankind that can carry out this function with ease. These herbs as well as their extracts can not only enhance the memory and brain power but also prevent various disorders of the mental variety.
Herbs can be best defined in medical terms as drugs of nature which contain medicinal components that can give benefits to the body. However, you also have to note that they can also cause side effects and cause harm if you do not follow the instructions on how they have to be taken.
So a humble request to sit straight and complete reading all the herbs given below in one shot!
In other terms, called as Chinese club moss. The main medical component or in other words, phytochemical beneficial to brain is Huperzine A. The medicinal components can break beta amyloid proteins that can cause nerve damage in the brain. The acetylcholinesterase inhibitor it is, cognitive function is enhanced, thus protecting degeneration of neurons. This process helps to improve memory and stabilization of body.
All these factors make this herb a prime candidate to be used against Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Rhodiola Rosea
This herb has other names such as King’s Crown and Aaron’s rod.
Known as an adaptogen, it assists in improving mood and relieves symptoms of depression. These factors are achieved due to the presence of endorphins (opioid peptides) and enhance the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
The phytochemicals that are active in Rhodiola are quercetin and proanthocyanidins (both are polyphenol antioxidants). This herb can increase the acetylcholine levels in the brain that contributes to better health in all parts of the body. Acetylcholine(chief neurotransmitter) is essential for memory, learning and having clarity of thoughts.
Research is on to know whether the presence of antioxidants and other constituents can increase memory and other functions in persons with dementia.
The volatile oils in this herb can stimulate the production of more levels of omega-3 fatty acid, known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the brain. This acid prevents dementia or age-related cognitive decline. The volatile oil components of this herb are known as borneol, geraniol and how can we forget the all important – thymol?
The flavonoids, when mixed with manganese, make a potent antioxidant combination and they are naringenin, luteolin, apigenin and thymonin. This herb also makes an excellent supply for Vitamin K and other minerals such as manganese, iron and calcium.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) makes the neurotransmitters positive by reducing the effect of stress hormone, cortisol. Next time, you hear about thyme, never forget that it has the highest number of antioxidants than any herb?
The phytochemical responsible for protecting the brain from paralytic stroke and other neurodegenerative conditions (Alzheimer disease) is known as carnosic acid. The other benefits are reversal of damage to nerve cells, dilation of cerebral vascular tissues, prevent breakdown of (what else!) neurotransmitters in the brain. The circulation of blood to the brain is also increased.
Another acid to make a sizable contribution is in the name of the herb itself – rosmarinic acid. In a study on aromatherapy where rosemary oil was used, one of the ingredients called as 1,8-cineole led to increased levels of acetylcholine in the brain and improved functions.
Similar to Rosemary, it contains carnosic acid that can prevent damage of nerve cells in the brain. Also, it also boosts the production of glutathione (anti-aging antioxidant). This anti oxidant is in use to treat a variety of neurological diseases (or shall we say disorders) such as autism, Alzheimer etc.
The breakdown of the important neurotransmitter is prevented – what more do you need to use this herb?
The leaves of this herb contain niacin, oleic acid, tannic acid, flavonoid glycosides, fumaric acid, flavones and other active ingredients such as thujone and cineole. The acetylcholine levels in the brain are increased whereas the number of the plaque forming beta amyloids goes down. So also goes down Alzheimer’s disease as in many cases, the disease is accompanied by a reduction of acetylcholine levels in the brain.
To boost your memory and for better brain health, add this herb to stews, soups, salad dressings or in simple terms, use sage as a – you heard it right – tea.
6. Ginkgo Biloba
The beneficial compounds in this herb are known as ginkgolides and also, bilobalides. They can actively prevent formation of clotting in the blood and increase circulation. The formation of harm causing beta amyloid proteins (believed to be the root of Alzheimer’s disease) is stopped by Gingko Biloba. However, you need to take this herb or its supplements for a longer time to get the positive symptoms.
As per a research, prior intake is beneficial in the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Known as an adaptogen and used in situations of stress, is there any doubt that Ginseng will stand away from making the mark as the herb for promoting brain health?
The phytochemicals responsible for good mental health are known as ginsenosides (or panaxosides). They are known as saponins and belong to the Rb1 class and the Rg1 class. Rg1 panaxosides enhance the spatial memory by activating neuronal activity in the hippocampus.
8. Green Tea
The antioxidants available in green tea are tocopherol, vitamin C, zinc, chromium, manganese and carotenoids.
The essential components for enhancing memory power are known as catechins (prominent: EGCG or epigallocatechin gallate). It makes a sizable contribution to memory by protecting the neurons and brain cells from damage (oxidative). EGCG gobbles the free radicals as well as reactive oxygen compounds produced from peroxidation of lipids.
Also, the production of new brain cells also takes place by the process of neurogenesis.
Known as a top herb that can assist both the sides of the brain (left and right), it rejuvenates the nervous system as well as the brain. The three benefits come in order – the brain gets the ability to withstand stress, focus on the goals and you feel less nervous and anxiety.
The dopamine receptors in the brain are stimulated and they help in simple ailments such as depression and also in major diseases such as Parkinson’s.
The saponin component in Brahmi which has been found effective against epilepsy is known as Bacoside A. also, the specific areas of the brain important for maintaining balance of neurotransmitters are also protected. It helps in relaxation of moods by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid, acetylcholine or serotonin.
The other active components in Brahmi are alkaloids, betulic acid, beta-sitosterol, bacopa saponins and stimastorol.
It reduces the symptoms of overwork and promote cognitive functioning and mental clarity. The brain cell deterioration is prevented and enhances the immune system. The harmful beta amyloid proteins that can form plaques in the brain are prevented from formation. The process of neurogenesis is also stimulated.
The majority of medicinal properties of Ashwagandha are related to two components, withaferin A and Withanolide D. Both are withanolides. The brain cells had more levels of glutathione that act as antioxidant and prevents age-related factors. This herb also possesses tryptophan the neurotransmitter for regulating moods.
If you know some more herbs which can help in better brain function, drop a review/suggestion/ tips in the Comments box. It will be answered and if found suitable, included in the next article.