Usually, with age, certain brain functions begin to decline and make things difficult when it comes to independent functioning. This could include memory loss and forgetfulness, loss of judgment, reasoning impairments, loss of language ability, physical disability and other such symptoms.
These symptoms and conditions are grouped under dementia. There are several medications, daily practices and therapies that can help deal with dementia or at least reduce the chances of severe symptoms.
Another method in which you can maintain your brain health, as well as your general immunity, can be to consume herbs on a regular basis in small and condensed quantities.
These are unlikely to be completely anti-aging solutions but can certainly ensure that your cognitive health remains sharp for as long as possible so that you can remain independent even as you naturally age.
What Are The 5 Best Herbs For Mental Health?
How exactly can these herbs help? What properties do they contain that can have this kind of impact? Let’s find out.
1. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo or ginkgo biloba comes from a tree species from China. In China, in fact, ginkgo leaves have traditionally been used for medication and healing, with this practice spreading from the country to other parts of the world.
While the research itself is sparse on the evidence of the matter, there certainly is some reliable research that can point to the effectiveness of ginkgo as a herb to improve one’s cognition for people with dementia.
For instance, one study with 21 trials found that ginkgo managed to improve certain symptoms of cognitive impairment, although this was mainly the case with those with relatively mild symptoms.
Another study from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease conducted nine trials that lasted about 22-26 weeks which showed that a dose of 240 mg per day of the extract of these leaves managed to stabilize or reduce the rate of decline in certain cognitive functions.
There are several reasons why ginkgo can be potentially useful in this regard. For instance:
- Ginkgo has antioxidant properties that can neutralize the harmful free radicals in the body and reduce the risk of several conditions, including cognitive ones.
- It can improve blood circulation, including to the brain, which can help keep cognitive decline in check.
Sage is another herb that can help improve brain health and functions like memory, recall, attention, reasoning, learning and processing.
In fact, sage contains active compounds that can have these effects on the brain while also acting as a protective herb against neurodegenerative disease, as was examined by this review which found support for these functions but recommends further research and consideration of potency levels during administration.
Another research conducted by the Medicinal Plant Research Centre (MPRC) at the Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria tested 44 adults between the ages of 18 and 37 and found that those given sage oil showed better performance when it came to certain memory and cognition tasks.
There are numerous reasons that can point towards this kind of efficacy when it comes to general brain health and dementia.
For instance, the presence of antioxidant properties in sage (and several other herbs and spices) can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, thereby reducing the chances of certain conditions or symptoms turning severe.
While this kind of research is still developing and there are not enough developed and standardized medications and doses, you can still continue to consume sage by including it in your cooking and in some beverages to start working on your overall brain health and immunity.
Turmeric is a powder that comes from a flowering plant. This powder is then used as a spice to enhance the taste and appearance of food while also providing a range of health benefits. In particular, South and parts of Southeast Asia commonly use this spice in their regular meals.
Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin which provides it with its distinct yellow color and is also the main component that makes this spice healthy to consume as part of foods. In fact, turmeric has long since been used as a traditional medicinal substance in parts of the Indian subcontinent.
Based on the available research, turmeric has antioxidant properties and various anti-inflammatory effects on the body while also reducing the presence and danger of plaque and beta-amyloid that generally mark the presence of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to a study, the consumption of turmeric through curries among elderly Asian men led to better results in a Mini-Mental State Examination as compared to those who never ate such curries.
However, like the other herbs on this list, not enough research is in place to see the effects of turmeric and curcumin on dementia, especially through supplementation, although a slower rate or less intense development of the symptoms can be possible through frequent consumption through food, especially in combination with black pepper.
Basil is a culinary herb that belongs to the Lamiaceae or mint family. It is commonly used all over the world to enhance the taste of certain kinds of food as well as in traditional medicines in some parts of the world like India and China.
Basil contains a compound called fenchol that can play a protective role against cognitive decline and the development of the symptoms of dementia and, specifically, Alzheimer’s disease.
This mainly takes place through the inhibition of beta-amyloid plaque and tau protein build-up in the brain that can contribute to Alzheimer’s.
Testing done on mice has shown that memory, recall and retention can improve after the administration of basil extract in large doses, although the effects on human beings are still unclear.
Basil can also help with general immunity and a reduction in fatigue in the mind and body, leading to better focus and sharpness. You can start adding basil to your own food to feel the benefits, but you should wait for further advancements in medicine for more clarity on its role in the treatment or prevention of dementia.
Ginseng is a herb that is essentially the root of certain plants that belong to the Panax genus. It is commonly used in traditional medicines in China and has also been researched for its role in the improvement of certain cognitive functions such as learning and memory.
This is mainly due to the improvement in blood circulation to the brain that ginseng can lead to, as was found through a study conducted on the performance of rats. Additionally, another study also found that the application of certain compounds in ginseng can inhibit the beta-amyloid damage levels in the brain.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of ginseng can also boost immunity and improve cognition, even through its regular consumption through food.
While there are supplements available, it is better to not rely on those for cognitive health without consulting your doctor.
5 Best Herbs For Mental Health: Final Remarks
It is now clear that herbs like ginkgo, sage, turmeric, basil and ginseng are all useful when it comes to the symptoms of dementia.
While the research about using them for treatment and prevention is still ongoing, it is definitely possible for you to start consuming them naturally in your food, sometimes even directly, in small quantities to improve and maintain your sharpness, focus and memory.
Do not, however, take supplements or medications yet without consulting your doctor since the effects of these are still unknown.