08 Jun
Supplements and Herbs to Boost Brain Power

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just pop a magic pill and remember everything for an exam or important work presentation? Studies have shown that regular intake of certain supplements increases the ability to memorise information. There are many herbs, supplements and foods that can improve your brain; the effect of which can mean improvement of memory, learning, concentration, attention, reasoning, social skills, decision making, and focus. If you can combine these ‘brain foods’ with sufficient rest and exercise, you will have boosted your brainpower in no time. 

The brain requires a variety of nutrients to produce neurotransmitters – these are substances that control mood, behaviour, and mind. Studies have proven beyond doubt that nutritional supplements and herbs can increase IQ and enhance learning ability. ‘Smart nutrients’ (cognitive enhancing supplements) are natural substances that improve human intelligence. Here are a few that are easy to find and try out: 

Ginkgo Biloba: 

This substance has been used for thousands of years in Eastern cultures and is perhaps the most well-known of all memory enhancing herbs. It works by diluting the blood vessels in the brain and enhancing blood flow to the brain; thus supplying lots of oxygen to the brain. It also gets rid of harmful free radicals that damage brain cells. However, the results are not immediate. Taking the supplement continuously for a few weeks will start yielding results. 

Green Tea and Black Tea: 

Recent research has shown that these common constituents of the kitchen are very effective in combating the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. The most significant result seems to be that these prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine. This is a key chemical involved with memory and is lacking in Alzheimer’s patients. The effect of green tea is more lasting than that of black tea, which lasts only for a day. Double yay - it also works as an appetite suppressant and boosts metabolic function. 

Sage and Rosemary: 

A recent study shows that students who took sage performed better at a memory recall test. Scientists believe that sage contains substances that may increase levels of a chemical that transmits messages to the brain. Rosemary also helps stimulate the memory and alleviate mental fatigue. It also strengthens mental clarity. How exactly these substances help the brain remains ambiguous. 

Vitamin B Supplements:

A healthy diet should provide you with all the vitamins that are needed by the body. But at times of stress and fatigue, the body gets depleted of Vitamin B. This deficiency prevents the functioning of acetylcholine. Vitamin B also helps carry oxygen to the brain and this does away with harmful free radicals. Some natural foods like liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils, and green beans are rich in Vitamin B. Vitamin B Supplements also help to boost the level of these vital vitamins in the body. 


The most common deficiency is iron deficiency. Poor concentration, diminished intelligence, and a short attention span are all attributed to iron deficiency. Iron helps carry oxygen to the blood and its deficiency leaves the brain sadly lacking in oxygen. Iron deficiency can be detected by a simple blood test. Iron-rich food like lean meat, beans, iron-fortified cereals, and iron supplements help raise the levels of iron. But absorption of iron becomes possible only in the presence of vitamin C. Garnishing iron-rich food with lime juice is one of the most effective and natural ways to ingest Vitamin C with iron.

Two other things to keep in mind: 

  • Drink Water (or herbal tea)

 Water is an often overlooked but important necessity of the brain. The brain is 70% water, and a dehydrated brain works at a slower pace. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the brain hydrated with plenty of water to optimise brain function. 

  • NEVER take supplements with your morning coffee

A big no-no is washing your supplements down with your morning coffee. This prevents absorption. You need to wait at least 30 minutes. Ideally, take you supplements first thing in the morning with a glass of water. Side note: it is good practice to wait 1 hour upon waking before having your coffee so you don’t adversely impact your adrenal glands.  

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