We’re faced with many distractions in our daily lives. From the outpouring of notifications from our technological devices, attention demanded from our workplace or loved ones, and the constant lingering feeling of the lack of self-care we require, our brains get overloaded. Concentration suffers, memory declines, fatigue sets in, and adrenals are taxed.
When we add in the natural effects of aging, we may experience additional cognitive challenges. Luckily, Ayurveda is well-versed in matters of the mind and shows us how to use a variety of herbs for concentration and brain function!
Ayurvedic Herbs for Concentration, Memory and Cognition
If you’re looking to enhance cognitive function, consider the following botanicals. Also referred to as nootropic herbs, these botanicals are known in Ayurveda and around the world to help with concentration, memory function and cognitive processing.
Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri)
Bacopa has been shown to significantly enhance memory. In 3 double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized studies, reports showed that Bacopa improved learning and decreased anxiety. Bacopa also supports a healthy nervous system, increases stability in memory, and enhances perception. It is safe for adults as well as children.
Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pleuricaulus)
In Sanskrit, Shankhapushpi translates to mangalyakushuma, which means a “bringer of good fortune and good health”. Shankhapushpi is often used for its ability to reduce stress and tension in the body. This allows for increased mental functioning, including clarity and concentration. Shankhapushpi also greatly reduces insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
Calamus (Acorus calamus)
A powerful and multi-faceted herb, Calamus has been proven in several scientific studies to be an effective antidepressant, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective herb. It is especially helpful in reducing memory loss and reducing anxiety. It works specifically against neuroinflammation, and oxidative stress, which is some of the main contributors to neurodegenerative diseases. In Ayurveda, Calamus is referred to as Vacha in Sanskrit, which translates to “communication” or “speech”. Calamus was used thousands of years ago by the ancient yogis and rishis to help them self-realize, and strengthen their practices. Although it is currently not approved for internal consumption in the USA, it is approved for topical application.
Brahmi (Centella Asiatica)
Also often known as Gotu Kola, Brahmi is a powerful nervine adaptogen, which helps relax the body, lower hypertension, increase intelligence, aid longevity of mental function, and strengthen memory and concentration. Brahmi is also effective in rejuvenating neural cells, calming the central nervous system, and aiding in better sleep, all of which in turn increases concentration and cognitive function.
Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia)
Containing high antioxidant activity and essential trace elements needed for cognitive function and concentration, Guduchi prevents free radicals from degenerating the cells of the brain. It helps the brain to process information better as well as enhances the memory.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Also known as Yasthimadhu, licorice has been used for centuries to help increase concentration and cognitive function. Licorice works specifically to reduce inflammation in the brain, strengthening receptor pathways, and reducing the symptoms of neurogenerative diseases. It’s soothing and demulcent properties help to nourish Ojas in the brain, also increasing stamina and retention in learning.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive and gentle formula that boosts overall health (including cognitive function), consider taking Chyawanprash daily. Chyawanprash is a revered Ayurvedic herbal supplement that contains several nootropics, such as Bacopa, Guduchi and Licorice, to rejuvenate and nourish the body and mind.
Ensuring the mind is functioning healthily is one of the most important factors when achieving and maintaining health in Ayurveda. It sets the groundwork for all other aspects of physiological function and in balancing the doshas.
Ceanna Saatsaz is a Licensed Master Esthetician, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, and Certified Professional Herbalist from Seattle, WA.