With busy work schedules, long commutes, and a million small minor details to take care of in modern life, it is no wonder that people can feel frazzled and unable to concentrate or remember things. And with so many people coming down with Alzheimer’s disease and the rates of this getting higher every day, it is no wonder that so many people are seeking out natural ways to enhance and nurture their brains.
One way to do this is the use of herbs and spices. These potent plants, long valued for their medicinal properties and their flavor alike, have also been studied for their ability to treat depression and to enhance various cognitive functions and help prevent the advance of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Four of the best herbs to help improve the brain are listed below.
There is probably nothing that this deep golden spice, used so widely in India and Southeast Asia, cannot do. Its active ingredient, curcumin, is a powerful antioxidant and it is this property which has some many scientists studying it as a cure or preventative treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. It has been shown that regular use of turmeric is able to prevent the formation of the plaques which build up in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients and cause the dementia and other devastating symptoms. (1)
This delicate, much-valued spice is not just great for flavoring many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern recipes. It also, according to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, has the ability to treat mild depression as effectively as Prozac, but without the side effects of antidepressants that cause so many patients to become noncompliant with their medications. There have also been multiple laboratory studies done on animals which show that regular use of saffron may also help enhance learning and memory. (2)
This herb is aptly named, as it has been proven that the roots of Chinese sage in particular have compounds which are similar in structure to many drugs which are used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. In one study even small amounts of sage root extract were able to significantly enhance learning and memory in participants who used it, according to a study later published in the journal Pharmacological Biochemical Behavior. Its strong effects on the brain are thought to be due to its strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. (3)
The effects of this spice are so powerful that studies have shown that even smelling the aroma of cinnamon oil or chewing cinnamon gum can greatly enhance the memory. It also has been shown to enhance visual-motor skills, attention and the ability to focus. It has also been shown to have other health benefits that might help to enhance cognitive function, including the ability to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. (4)
These herbs can be found in any grocery store and are also versatile, easily added to a variety of soups, casseroles, salads and even desserts. But the effect they can have on depression, memory loss and other cognitive functions are significant and well worth the effort of including them in the diet.
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