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Three natural herbs to boost brain power

By Brigitta Wohlmuth Mar 8, 2015

Stress and anxiety are natural recurring symptoms in the life of a university student. With deadlines and exams creeping nearer and nearer around this time, even with the best made plans every student would love to have a pill to take away the stress, calm the nerves and improve brain power. 

In a survey conducted by The River recently, 100 out of 400 students knew someone who had used performance enhancing “smart drugs” such as a Ritalin, Adderal and Dexedrine.  These drugs are not only illegal for those without a prescription, but can have a number of unwanted side effects including headaches, nervousness and dizziness.

There are many alternative ways to improve brain health and minimise stress. Exercise, dieting and meditation have all been proven highly effective. But what student has time for these “time stealers” right now? Even dining is done over books and keyboards these days!

So here are a few herbs, God’s gift to students, that are as easy as taking a magic pill to focus the mind, improve the mood and increase productivity and wellbeing. These supplements are natural, Ayurvedic, brain boosting herbs, with minimal side effects. Just be sure to consult you health practitioner first if you are already taking medication, or suffer from any allergies or illnesses. 

Ayurveda is one of the oldest healing systems in the world going back some 3000 years, and comes from India. Its basic belief is that the body has an internal mechanism to heal itself when it is brought back to balance using body, mind and spirit.

In India Ayurveda and yoga has always been used concurrently to bring about optimum health to both body and mind and prepare spiritual seekers for deeper meditation experiences by focusing and sharpening mental resolve. Hence their interest and focus on herbs to improve brain power.

Here are three common ayurvedic herbs that are recommended readily available at most health food stores. They usually come in capsules or in a tincture. 

Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri)- Simon Feiertag

Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri)

This herb is a commonly used ayurvedic medicine for memory enhancement and stress reduction.  According to article 5 Health Benefits of Brahmi,

“A recent, placebo-controlled study of 24 volunteers reported that Brahmi boosted cognitive performance.  These results support use of the herbs as a therapy by persons suffering from cognitive issues, short attention span, foggy memory and blurred focus.” 

If that’s not your average university student at this time then who is?

Ashwagandha flower. Photo: Claus Monroy

Ashwaghandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwaghandha is another top herb for the brain that does wonders for nervous exhaustion.  The article, Six Ayurvedic Herbs Every Doctor Should Know, says Ashwaghandha promotes mental clarity.

Research suggests Ashwanghandha may suppress stress induced changes of dopamine receptors… which may play a role in the development of chronic anxious behaviours.”

Ashwanghanda is also known as ‘Aryuveda’s Ginseng’ because it is a powerful energy booster. “It promotes stamina without stimulating the heart”, according to the same article.  It is also relieves insomnia, and even though many students are prepared to sacrifice sleep for study, getting proper rest is essential for optimising cognitive performance.

Tulsi, Indian Basil. Photo:

Tulsi- Holy Basil (Occimum santum)

Also known as the “Queen of herbs” this herb can be found in a tea mix and is good for mental tension, emotional difficulties, enhances stamina and supports overall wellbeing. Tulsi is well known for its healing power with the leaves being a natural tonic for the nerves. It can also sharpen the memory.

According to an article called 15 Insane Health Benefits of Tulsi Tea, Tulsi is an adaptogenic herb. 

“It contains anti-stress agents that help in soothing the nerves, fighting free radicals, and regulating blood flow in the body”.

So if you are looking for a quick and easy fix for the mind, to keep it healthy and focused, stress free and perhaps even joyful during exam time, maybe one or these brain boosters will work for you.

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