It’s pretty easy to improve your physical health: eat clean, do a little cardio, do a little strength training, practice moderation. But what about improving brain function? That can feel so much more abstract, and that’s where adaptogens come in.
Since we can really only judge our brain health based on how we feel, it can be tough to tell what actually works. After all, any number of factors could be influencing how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling foggy, for instance, is it an indicator that you need a little herbal support, or does it just mean that you shouldn’t have eaten that chocolate chip cookie with lunch?
With such vague indications, how can you directly provide real support to your brain to optimize its function as you age? The answer is easy: adaptogens.
WHAT ARE ADAPTOGENS?
I like to joke that adaptogens are the solution to any common problem because, well, they pretty much are.
Adaptogens are substances that promote balance and negate the ill effects of stress in the body. And we all desperately need that. But oftentimes their benefits extend to the functionality of your mind as well, much like a natural nootropic.
Get your smoothies ready. The following herbs are not only adaptogenic but will improve your memory, focus, productivity, and clarity, too.
This powdered root is a widely effective adaptogen, and its brain benefits do not disappoint.
Studies on ashwagandha have shown that it promotes healthy cognition by improving memory and reducing brain fog. It has actually been shown to promote the formation of message-transmitting dendrites and mimics GABA, a powerful calming neurotransmitter in the brain.
Ashwagandha may also hold promise for Alzheimer’s suffers and has been shown to vastly improve focus, even in those with ADHD. What a resume!
Less widely known, but no less potent, rhodiola is an arctic root with huge benefits for the mind. It’s known for reducing stress while increasing mental energy, focus, and fortitude by making neurons more sensitive to dopamine and serotonin.
Widely acknowledge for its incredible antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties, rhodiola is also considered a powerful and potentially therapeutic treatment for those with neurodegenerative diseases.
Oh, and it is stress-busting while increasing energy, vitality, and stamina, so you’ll reap physical benefits alongside.
If you haven’t heard, turmeric contains a compound known as curcumin, which acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory in the body. What’s more, curcumin also has neuron stimulating, healing, and protective properties, which is why it is being researched as a potential healer for those who have suffered from Alzheimer’s or a stroke.
Other research has shown that curcumin may possess powerful antidepressant properties, potentially making it a natural, side effect-free option for those suffering from mild and moderate depression. Pretty much, if you have an inflammatory condition, curcumin is on the case.
4. SIBERIAN GINSENG
This adaptogenic herb can actually speed up processes in the brain, thereby improving your reaction time, which has both mental and physical benefits.
According to several studies, it has also been shown to improve your ability to better remember people, places, ideas, and things. Siberian ginseng may also improve an individual’s capacity to learn and absorb new information, which is crucial, especially as we age.
Who knew a humble herb could be as effective as years of practicing crossword puzzles!
Tasting a little bit like powdered butterscotch, maca is not just a powerful stress buster and hormonal balancer. It actually works in the brain to stimulate neural activity, reduce brain fog, and generally improve cognition.
With regular supplementation, it is considered a mood balancer, known for its ability to stabilize mood swings, depression, or anxiety. Even more interesting, maca has antioxidant and AcHE inhibitory properties, meaning it may keep your neurotransmitters from breaking down and have potential in treating neurodegenerative diseases, naturally.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE USING ADAPTOGENS
Some adaptogenic herbs are very powerful and can interact with certain conditions and medications, including antidepressants, birth control pills, and diabetes and thyroid medications. Always seek the advice of a trusted professional before embarking on any new herbal program.