6 Herbs & Spices That Boost Your Brain Health

If you want to give your brain a boost, consider your spice rack. When it comes to brain health, herbs and spices are showing great promise for enhancing memory, and even protecting against serious brain disorders like Parkinsonís and Alzheimerís disease. Here are my picks for the top brain-healing, memory-enhancing herbs and spices:

Ginger

Since†brain diseases (like countless other illnesses) are linked to inflammation, it is no surprise that anti-inflammatory spices like ginger can be helpful. Research published in the medical journal Neuropharmacology†found that ginger reduces the inflammation linked to brain disease and may therefore be helpful in the prevention or treatment of diseases like Parkinsonís. Additionally, research published in the journal Neurochemical Research found that ginger also prevents the reduction of the neurotransmitter dopamine involved in Parkinsonís disease.

How to use

Coarsely chop a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger and add to a pot with one quart of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and allow to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Strain. Drink 2 to 3 cups daily.

Juniper Berries

While juniper berries are primarily known for their ability to fight urinary tract infections and give the UTI system a boost, these lovely blue berries from the coniferous bushes and trees are demonstrating their ability to slow the progression of Alzheimerís disease. According to research, juniper berries are potent antioxidants that inhibit an enzyme linked to the brain disease, thereby showing promise in the prevention or treatment of the condition. Another study in the journal Neurochemical Research found that even regularly inhaling the essential oil could inhibit the enzyme involved in brain diseases, suggesting that the plant may also hold promise against Parkinsonís disease and dementia.

How to use

Use one teaspoon of dried juniper berries per cup of boiling water. Allow to infuse for at least 10 minutes. Strain. Drink one cup 3 times daily. Do not use for the long-term or in high doses. Avoid if you have kidney disease or while pregnant or lactating. Choose Juniperus communis.

Rosemary

This herb that doubles as an amazing holiday meal flavoring also has a long-time reputation for enhancing memory. This reputation likely stems from its ability to increase blood flow to the brain. In studies, rosemary demonstrates the ability to slow the degradation of the brain messenger chemical known as acetylcholine, which is in part linked to the formation of new memories, which likely accounts for its brain-boosting and memory enhancing abilities.

How to use

Add 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary needles to a cup of water and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain. Drink 2 to 3 cups daily.

Sage

Thereís a reason weíve come to associate this herb with those who hold wisdom in their later years. The plant has a lengthy history of use to prevent and treat memory disorders and brain diseases. In research a range of beneficial effects on cognition were noted with the sage species Salvia lavandulifolia, including improvements in word recall, mood, and overall cognition. The researchers concluded that its effects are likely attributable to inhibiting the breakdown of neurotransmitter linked to brain health. Sage also improved brain-muscle coordination and the formation of new memories. Since the brain messenger, known as acetylcholine, also tends to be depleted in people who suffer from Alzheimerís disease, sage may hold promise in the treatment of the condition.

How to use

Add one teaspoon of the dried herb to one cup of hot water and allow to steep for at least 10 minutes. Strain. Drink two to three times daily.


St. Johnís Wort

When you think of St. Johnís Wort, you probably think of depression, which the herb is indeed helpful for, but Swiss researchers also found that the herb has a protective effect against the beta-amyloid plaques linked with Alzheimerís disease. While the research for this application is still in its infancy, it is exciting to think that this already-proven brain-healing herb could be a treatment for dementia and Alzheimerís disease. Some pharmaceutical drugs interact with St. Johnís wort so be sure to check with your pharmacist or doctor if you are taking medications.

Turmeric

In a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology researchers found that just one hour after taking a supplement containing one of turmericís active ingredients, curcumin, study participants had a significant improvement in memory and attention tasks compared to the placebo group.

How to use

Add the spice turmeric to your soups, smoothies, stews and curries. Or use higher concentrations in†a standardized extract of curcumin. Follow package directions.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news Worldís Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty & Cooking.

218 comments

Sue H
Sue Habout a month ago

I'm all for keeping "the little grey cells" happy.

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hELEN h
hELEN hEARFIELD2 months ago

tyfs

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Sue L
Sue L2 months ago

I'm not familiar with Juniper berries so I read what it said and it made absolutely no sense. You are supposed to drink 3 cups of water a day that you have boiled dried berries in. And then the very next sentence tells you not to use for the long term or in high doses. So who determined that you should drink this concoction 3 times per day? If it is so good for you why shouldn't you drink it for the long term? And what constitutes a high dose? Seriously, people, don't take health advice from the internet without checking with professionals.

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Siddharth Bargate
Siddharth Bargate2 months ago

Tyfs

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Linda Wallace
Linda Wallace2 months ago

Thank you.

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Lesa D
Lesa D2 months ago

good thinking!!!

thank you Michelle...

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Hannah K
Hannah K2 months ago

thanks

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Ben O
Ben O2 months ago

OK, boosting my brain... : ~ ) Thanks!

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Diane E
Diane E2 months ago

Thanks. I love the smell of herbs too.

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Danuta W
Danuta W2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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