Studies show that over the holidays, the average person gains at least 6 to 7 pounds. So, it is (as I’ve characterized it in the past) a relentless assault on your physiques.
Let’s assume it is not the case for you Readers, here. So, we can concentrate on bigger and better things. We will cover some herbs that are healthy for your brain…both for cognition and from a physiological perspective in other ways. If they do not directly enhance the formation of neurons, they enable better circulation and blood pressure and have adaptogenic qualities that will benefit you. Here we go!
As a refresher, an adaptogen is an herbal food/substance that alters the body either by form or function to bring it toward homeostasis. The word “homeostasis” refers to your body being at a normative/normal level of function. The interesting thing about adaptogens is that they can work for two people with dissimilar conditions. A diabetic may suffer from the inability to produce insulin to counteract blood sugar. An adaptogen will help to lower that blood sugar and/or to help produce insulin. Conversely, someone suffering from hypoglycemia processes their sugar at a higher or faster rate…due to metabolism, or increased insulin production. That same adaptogen will work for the hypoglycemic individual, but in the other direction, by keeping that blood sugar at a more stable level…according to the body’s needs.
The human brain is a marvelous apparatus that we are now only beginning to understand in terms of its capabilities and functions. There are some supplements that you can take that will help in terms of brain “improvement” that you may be interested in.
Ashwagandha: We have covered this herb in depth in another article, but studies have shown here that it increases the ability to develop new connections between neurons (those are brain cells). Ashwagandha lowers inflammation and can reduce plaques that form in the blood vessels of the brain. As an adaptogen, the herb is a stress-reducer and can increase your ability to learn things. It is being experimented with as a preventative for Alzheimer’s Disease. Also known as Withania somnifera.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea): This is another great adaptogen. This herb has had extensive experience and testing in the former Soviet Union as a mainstay for both the USSR’s Olympic athletes and also with their military. The root is the source of the herbal supplements, and it is extremely beneficial for recovery, as well as for use with stress and anxiety. Rhodiola improves both mental and physical performance.
Ginkgo biloba: Undoubtedly you have either heard of or used this one. It is concluded that ginkgo (as it’s called) will actually heal and repair brain cells, and enable your mental clarity of function as you age. Memory and attention are the primary areas that ginkgo benefits. Used for thousands of years in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), ginkgo biloba has withstood the test of time and science for being another weapon in the fight against cognitive decline that comes with age and/or illness.
Rosemary: Yes, the spice, that’s right! Rosavins are good for the brain, and its use is not confined just to eating it. By inhaling/smelling the essential oil, it helps with mood and mental clarity in the discipline known as aromatherapy. Rosemary helps with memory retention and learning.
Gotu Kola: Another ancient herb used primarily in the Ayurvedic medicine of India. The herb is a tonic that improves the circulation of the body overall, and it also helps with memory retention. Gotu kola is highly adaptogenic and will restore balance to the body and the brain.
There is abundant literature in your health food concerns, as well as all over the Internet concerning these herbs. There are others as well, but this is good to get you started. The beauty of it all is that they work in other areas that are useful, and do not take much to incorporate into your diet or everyday routine. Always check with your doctor to see if any contraindications exist if you’re using any medicine.
You can find these herbs in any health food store, along with most of your “big-box” stores such as Wal-Mart or Target. They are affordable and highly effective. The brain is one of the most neglected parts of the human body and is taken for granted. Don’t forget about it! And if you find yourself forgetting it? Perhaps these herbs will help you to remember…and then you can take it from there.