Memory is a big marker of how healthy our sense of cognition is. So the more we can keep it, the better, right? There are three types of memory loss: short-term, long-term, and mild cognitive impairment.
Common causes of memory loss include substances (alcohol, medications), conditions (brain or brain lining infections, cancer treatment, dementia, epilepsy, head injuries, mental health issues, stroke, thyroid issues), nutritional deficiencies, and lack of sleep. If memory loss disrupts daily activities, seems to get worse or happens more frequently, it’s time to visit your doctor.
If you’ve been following our blog, you know how powerful herbs and mushrooms can be for health. In this blog, we review six herbs and mushrooms that could improve your memory so you can build the potential to prevent cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disease, and perform at your best, no matter what your age.
If you love this sweet and savoury spice already, you’re in luck! Cinnamon’s been found to improve working memory in older adults and improve blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, responsible for cognitive control functions such as attention, impulse inhibition, memory, and cognitive flexibility. It’s also shown to inhibit tau aggregation in neurons, a pathological signature in multiple neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain disease that causes progressive memory loss.
You don’t always need to make cinnamon babkas to get the benefits of cinnamon—sprinkle a teaspoon in a smoothie or add small amounts in your warm beverages or baked goods.
As we’ve covered in a previous blog, ginkgo biloba (commonly known as ginkgo) has the potential to benefit our mental health. An extract derived from the leaves of the ginkgo tree, this herb’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a range of conditions, including declining memory. It’s also been found to promote brain-enhancing properties.
In some cases, ginkgo biloba was shown to improve both memory and cognitive performance. It’s the most widely investigated and adopted herbal remedy for cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. In a 2014 study, ginkgo biloba offered added cognitive benefits among Alzheimer’s patients who were under conventional anti-dementia treatment.
Of the 11 ginseng species, the Panax genus—which includes American and Asian ginseng—is the true ginseng plant. Besides potentially boosting energy, the herb’s been found to enhance memory, reduce stress levels, and improve brain function.
Ginseng’s also been shown to benefit those with Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, participants assigned to the experimental group received 4.5 grams of ginseng daily for 12 weeks and showed improvements in cognition. Once they discontinued ginseng treatment, improved scores declined to the control group’s levels, concluding that Panax ginseng was clinically effective among Alzheimer’s patients.
According to a more recent review, scientists observed that in lab studies, ginsenosides—anti-inflammatory chemicals in ginseng—may help reduce brain levels of amyloid beta, amino acids in the amyloid plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
Besides potentially enhancing brain health and helping to balance our hormones, Lion’s mane mushroom may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Animal studies have found Lion’s mane and its extracts have shown to reduce symptoms of memory loss in mice and prevent neuronal damage caused by amyloid-beta.
We created our Lion’s mane product to help you maintain and balance the immune system.
Did you know that just smelling rosemary could help jog memory? In one study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, researchers tested rosemary and lavender aromas to understand their effect on cognition. Unlike lavender, rosemary significantly enhanced performance for overall memory and secondary memory tasks compared with the control group.
Researchers attribute this phenomenon to the compounds in rosemary such as 1,8-cineole or eucalyptol, which increases levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory. The compounds in rosemary act similarly to drugs that reduce the breakdown of acetylcholine to treat dementia. It may also provide hope in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
While smelling rosemary aromas or drinking it in tea form are popular, you can add this common herb to sauces, dressings, and other dishes.
This popular and pungent herb works by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine. A 2017 review of the scientific evidence on sage shows it could minimize cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and improve memory in both youth and seniors.
Ingestion is easy—you can even chop fresh sage leaves to enhance the flavour of tomato sauce, soups, and other dishes, or simply drink it in tea form.
Other potential memory-enhancing herbs you may already have in your pantry include ashwagandha, ginger, gotu kola, lavender, lemon balm, mint, nutmeg, saffron, thyme, and turmeric.
The compounds found in HAVN Life’s natural health products are proven to support memory, focus, energy, and overall cognitive function to help you achieve peak performance in your daily life. Be sure to let us know if you’ve benefited from them.