6 Natural Supplements to Enhance Your Memory

6 Natural Supplements to Enhance Your Memory

Written by Alex Reid
Posted December 2, 2013

For some, it's a natural part of aging.

For others, they've been struggling with it for their entire lives...

We know it as being absent-minded or chronically forgetful. No matter what these folks do, it seems like their memory won't get any better.

Unfortunately, unless you suffer from Alzheimer's or dementia, it can be very hard to get your hands on FDA-approved memory enhancers.

It may surprise you to learn there are natural herbs that have been taken for thousands of years for this purpose: to enhance short- and long-term memory. And in fact, many of them have scientific evidence to support their effectiveness.

Here's a list of the six most potent natural memory enhancers available — and what you should know about them.

Choline is not actually an herb, but rather a type of vitamin B found in things like eggs and fatty meats. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine (pronounced ah-see-tul-co-lean), one of the most important neurotransmitters responsible for memory and attention span.1 The loss of certain neurons that utilize choline is associated with the development of Alzheimer's and impaired cognitive function.2

Snowdrop flower contains galantamine, the chemical at work in your brain. Remember acetylcholine from the previous paragraph? Well, that neurotransmitter is broken down in the brain by an enzyme known as “cholinesterase.” We don't want that to happen, because the more acetylcholine in your brain, the better your memory tends to be. Galantamine acts to inhibit the breakdown of acetylcholine by reducing the effect of the cholinesterase enzyme, thereby improving memory. In fact, the FDA has actually approved galantamine for treating Alzheimer's disease.3 One company4 even claims the Greek hero Odysseus used the snowdrop flower to fuel his legendary memory and mental power.

Gingko Biloba is derived from an ancient tree species native to China. This herb has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine. Ginkgo acts similarly to galantamine, inhibiting the breakdown of certain brain chemicals that help with the formation and retaining of memories. Studies differ on how effective gingko really is, though it has been shown to be effective for loss in cognition due to dementia5 and may help improve attention in healthy individuals.6

Omega-3 fats are important components of your brain cells... so it would make sense that supplementing your diet with omega-3-rich fatty fish or fish oils would be a great way to keep your memory sharp. In fact, one study7 found that supplementing your regular diet with omega-3 for six months can improve memory and reaction time.8

What most people don't know is that the type of omega-3 is important if you're to get the full benefits. There are three types that we consume: ALA, DHA, and EPA. ALA is found in high amounts in flax seed and walnuts. It also happens to be the most useless form of omega-3s. Your body is not able to efficiently convert ALA into a form your brain can use. DHA and EPA are what you want to look for in your foods and supplements; they're found primarily in fatty fish. In fact, the study I mentioned above used DHA as its primary source of omega-3s. EPA plays an anti-inflammatory role, which is important for overall health; however, but when it comes to brain health, DHA is king. It's the most bio-available form of omega-3s you can eat. That means it is the most easily converted into stuff your brain can use.

Chinese club moss is another traditional Chinese medicinal herb. The primary brain chemical found in the plant is Huperzine-A, shown to work similarly to galantamine and gingko biloba. It helps slow the breakdown of the ever-important memory neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Studies show that it may help improve cognition in those with Alzheimer's,9 while others show it can improve memory and learning performance.10

Ginseng has been used in China for ages; however, ginseng is also native to North America. (It looks like the Chinese really cornered the market on memory-enhancing herbs, huh?)

Researchers have found that, when combined with ginkgo: "The Ginkgo/ginseng combination was found significantly to improve an Index of Memory Quality, supporting a previous finding with the compound. This effect represented an average improvement of 7.5% and reflected improvements to a number of different aspects of memory, including working and long-term memory."11

Are you currently using a memory-enhancers that I did not include on my list? You can send them to me via Twitter @HealthwireKen... or "Like" our Health Wire Facebook page and post your message on our wall.

Yours in health,

ken_signature

Ken Swearengen for Health Wire

P.S. Supplements are just the first step in improving your memory. If you're looking for more effective, long-term ways to increase mental sharpness well into your 60s, 70s, and 80s, I recommend checking out this report on simple memory-boosting tips you can do at home. It will show you several easy and impressive ways to supercharge your memory and help protect your brain from developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Notes:

[1] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/94/6/1584.abstract?sid=3af7108c-0055-49f4-9dfb-52bd432c1dfd 

[2] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711103239.htm 

[3] http://www.drugs.com/pro/galantamine.html 

[4] GalantamMind by Western Health Products 

[5] http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2318/10/14 

[6] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00213-005-2206-6 

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23515006 

[8] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10678121 

[9] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080415194410.htm 

[10] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10678121 

[11] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11140327 

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