Forget about ginkgo. Although often referred to as a brain booster, research has shown that it doesn’t have any greater effect than placebo. There are herbs and essential oils that do help, though, and some of these are listed here.
Please note that herbs and essential oils are medicinally active, and as with all medicines, not all of them are suitable for everyone, especially during pregnancy. Follow the links for more detail about contra-indications and usage, and never exceed the stated dose.
Sage and Spanish Sage
A study in 2003 found that Spanish sage, Salvia lavandulifolia improved memory retention, without any side effects. Its close relative sage, Salvia officinalis, has been used as a brain tonic for centuries and recent research has found that drinking a cup of sage tea helps improve brain function in Alzheimer’s patients, a hard mountain to climb, so it seems likely it will be helpful for people who aren’t suffering from this debilitating disease as well.
Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolium, also called gourmet parsley, is often used as a brain stimulant, particularly by people about to take an examination. You can eat it as a salad herb or use it in an infusion.
There are a number of essential oils which are used to fight mental fatigue, the most well known being rosemary. You can use it in an oil burner, add a few drops to your bath or blend it into a massage oil.
A Healthy Diet
Olive oil and rosemary, often found in the Mediterranean diet, have been shown to reduce mental fatigue. Cook with either, or preferably both to keep your brain on top form.
For optimum brain health, you need to get all your nutrients. Your brain uses a lot of energy, whether you are actively using it or not, and depends on the body (and vice versa) – which is why when you’re ill, you’ll often find your thinking gets fuzzy. Keep both body and brain in tip top condition by eating a healthy balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
Some nutrients are difficult to get from food, so I advise everybody to take a good one-a-day multivitamin and mineral combination tablet every day. Look for one that contains selenium, which is not only a great protection from some types of cancer, but is also a good indication that the mix you’ve chosen is comprehensive. The one I use is manufactured by Quest and is called Super Once A Day. It contains bioflavonoids and other things, apart from the regular vitamin and mineral mix.
On top of this, on days when you don’t eat fish, add a high dose (1000mg or more) fish oil capsule or equivalent. Fish oils have proven ability to boost brain power, and contain high levels of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Vegetarians and vegans will have to settle for flax oil, but research suggests that the body doesn’t absorb as much Omega-3 from vegetable sources as from fish, so if you’re a meat/fish eater, stick with the fish oils.
Your brain is the control system – the CPU if you like – for your entire body, so keeping it working well is essential for a fulfilling life. You can keep it on top form by following these simple tips.