Growing Your Focus

If you or someone in your household struggles with focus or memory, learn which herbs to grow for a brain boost, and how to use them.

| March / April 2018

  • Incorporating these herbs into your diet can help improve memory and focus.
    Photo by Stocksy/Suprijono Suharjoto
  • Some of these herbs' recommended dosages can be via tincture.
    Photo by Getty Images/Jedraszak
  • Sage's leaves and flowers can be used in tincutres, foods, and teas.
    Photo by Getty Images/5PH
  • Ginkgo's fan-shaped leaves turn from a vibrant green to a bright yellow as the seasons grow colder.
    Photo by Getty Images/LianeM
  • Drinking tea is a practical and delicious way to take some of these herbs for better cognitive function.
    Photo by Getty Images/HeikeRau
  • Elephants, known to have strong memories, love to eat gotu kola, according to popular belief.
    Photo by Getty Images/nortongo

Increasingly, Americans both young and old are struggling to focus on the important things around them and remember what matters. According to recent findings, diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children are on the rise. Most disturbingly, the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) findings report that in three years’ time, ADHD diagnoses for children ages 2 to 5 increased by more than 50 percent. On the other end of the age spectrum, older adults are experiencing a rise in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia diagnoses.

Looking at the symptoms of ADHD, most of us can think of at least one middle- aged adult who fits this criteria as well. Inattention as well as hyperactivity and impulsivity are the main categories examined in the diagnosis and include those who fidget, can’t remember details, lack patience and organization, and struggle to focus.

Modern medical protocols suggest long lists of prescriptions and behavioral therapies to address the mounting wave of cognitive problems. While some of the children who are diagnosed with ADHD are merely active children in need of an outlet, many of them are truly struggling with an internal conflict that they’re ill-equipped to overcome. Older adults also suffer from cognitive problems with seemingly no explanation beyond genetics.

In every case, there is a large group of possible contributors, including chemicals and dyes in food, an abundance of sugar and unnatural sugar substitutes in food and drinks, heavy-metal contamination, food allergies, too much screen time, and too little exercise. In any comprehensive, natural plan to address focus and memory issues, these inputs must be considered. But often, lifestyle and diet changes aren’t enough.

The great news is that potential treatments consist of simple herbs you can grow right in your backyard. These herbs, used on their own with diet and lifestyle changes or in conjunction with behavioral counseling, can turn the tide in the life of someone for whom day-to-day situations can be both confusing and frustrating.

As with other medications, herbs come with precautions. Always research an herb before using it alone or in combination with other medications, and consult your healthcare provider to make sure it’s right for you or a loved one.

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