Many of us have witnessed the sad and scary effects of dementia on a person’s life and that of those around them. Characterized by a deterioration in memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform daily activities, it is a common concern among individuals as they age. It has a huge impact on their quality of life and independence. While there is no definitive cure for dementia, there are steps that can be taken to help prevent its onset and improve brain health.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a group of symptoms affecting the brain’s ability to function properly. It is a progressive condition that often affects older individuals but can also occur in younger individuals. Common signs of dementia include memory loss, difficulty with language and communication, changes in mood and behavior, and impaired reasoning and judgment. (1)
Dementia is not a specific disease but rather a collection of symptoms that various conditions can cause. It’s estimated that about 60% of people with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which is the most common cause. Other types include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal degeneration. In addition to the physical changes that occur in the brain, dementia often causes emotional and behavioral changes. These symptoms can include anxiety, irritability, apathy, depression, and aggression.
While there is no cure for dementia, there are things that one can do to help prevent it. The risk of developing dementia can be reduced by:
- following a healthy diet
- staying physically active
- participating in mentally engaging activities
- avoiding environmental toxins
- managing chronic health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure
- getting enough sleep
There are also plenty of herbs and plants found in nature that, while they may not cure dementia, they can help with general brain health and symptoms related to dementia.
8 Best Herbs for Memory, Brain Health, and Preventing Dementia
Certain herbs have been found to have properties that support memory and brain health. Let’s explore the eight best herbs for memory and brain health:
1. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm, also known as Melissa officinalis, is an herb known for its calming properties. It has been used traditionally to improve cognitive function and memory. Lemon balm contains compounds that have been found to have antioxidant and neuroprotective effects, potentially aiding in the prevention of dementia. (2)
2. Bacopa monnieri
Bacopa monnieri, commonly known as water hyssop, is a herbaceous plant that has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It is known for its cognitive-enhancing properties and has been found to improve memory and learning abilities. Bacopa monnieri contains compounds that support brain health and protect against oxidative stress. (3)
Ginseng is a popular herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It has been found to support cognitive function and improve memory. Ginseng contains various bioactive compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which may contribute to its cognitive-enhancing properties. (4)
4. Gotu Kola
Gotu kola, also known as Centella asiatica, is a herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory. Gotu kola contains triterpenoid compounds that have been found to enhance brain function and promote neurogenesis, the growth of new neurons. (5)
5. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It is known for its cognitive-enhancing properties and has been found to improve memory and cognitive function. Ginkgo biloba contains antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress and improve blood flow to the brain. (6)
Read: Massive Study Shows Vitamin D Supplements May Help Fend Off Dementia
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera or Indian ginseng, is an herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been found to have neuroprotective effects and improve cognitive function. Ashwagandha contains compounds that reduce inflammation, enhance antioxidant activity, and promote the growth of nerve cells. (7)
Turmeric is a spice commonly used in cooking, known for its vibrant yellow color and distinct flavor. It contains a compound called curcumin, which has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin has been found to improve memory and cognitive function, making turmeric a valuable herb for brain health. (8)
Sage is an herb with a long history of use for its medicinal properties. It has been found to enhance memory and cognitive function. Sage contains compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which may contribute to its cognitive-enhancing properties. (9)
Don’t Wait Until You Have Signs of Dementia to Do Something About It
While dementia is a challenging condition with no definitive cure, the use of certain herbs may aid in preventing its onset or symptoms and promoting general cognitive health. Lemon balm, Bacopa monnieri, Ginseng, Gotu Kola, Ginkgo biloba, Ashwagandha, Turmeric, and Sage are among the best herbs for memory and brain health. Incorporating some of these herbs into your daily routine and a healthy lifestyle may contribute to maintaining cognitive function and overall brain health as you age.
Keep Reading: Before Dementia Sets in, Your Body Will Give You These 12 Early Warning Signs
- “Dementia.” Examine
- “Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial.” BMJ Journals. S Akhondzadeh, et al.
- “Bacopa monnieri for people with or at risk of Alzheimer’s disease .” Examine
- “Ginsenosides: A Potential Neuroprotective Agent.” Hindawi. Mengmeng Zheng, et al. May 8, 2018.
- “Effect of Centella asiatica on cognition and oxidative stress in an intracerebroventricular streptozotocin model of Alzheimer’s disease in rats.” Wiley Online Library. MH Veerendra Kumar and YK Gupta. July 15, 2003.
- “Efficacy and Adverse Effects of Ginkgo Biloba for Cognitive Impairment and Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” IOS Press. Tan, Meng-Shan, et al. November 21, 2014.
- “Scientific basis for the use of Indian ayurvedic medicinal plants in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders: ashwagandha.” NCBI. M R Ven Murthy, et al. September 2010.
- Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Science
- “Salvia (Sage): A Review of its Potential Cognitive-Enhancing and Protective Effects.” Springer Link. Adrian L. Lopresti. November 2016.