Herb Basics: Herbs and Memory

Need a mental boost? The following are a few of the best time-tested herbs to help improve memory.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba). Besides being useful for memory loss, studies have confirmed ginkgo’s effectiveness for mental fatigue, senile dementia, and an inability to concentrate. Ginkgo improves blood supply to the brain, increases the brain’s ability to use oxygen, and increases glucose uptake and energy production, thereby increasing aptitude and alertness. A commonly recommended dose is 3 capsules containing at least 40 mg of standardized extract daily–or follow the manufacturer’s or your practitioner’s recommendations. It often takes about two months before ginkgo’s effects are noticed.

Gotu kola (Centella asiatica). This herb has a longstanding reputation as a memory herb. It’s used in both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as by Western herbalists, for longevity and to improve mental function. A typical dose is up to eight 400- to 500-mg capsules daily or 20 to 40 drops of tincture twice daily.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Rosemary contains more than a dozen antioxidants as well as several compounds that help prevent the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Noted herbalist and Herbs for Health editorial adviser James Duke, Ph.D., recommends using rosemary in shampoos and baths for its aromatherapeutic effects. You can make your own rosemary shampoo by adding a few drops of the pure essential oil to your shampoo bottle.

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