Memory Supplement

Jan 6, 1009 by

Memory SupplementWith the recent increase in quality among dietary supplements, today’s consumers are finding that the market for memory supplement herbs is growing in tandem. Following the nominal success of Ginkgo biloba as a treatment to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s in some trials, food chemists have been searching for herbal combinations that can build on gingko’s effects. The results are memory supplements that capitalize on several herbs to create tinctures that increase brain activity and thus improve memory function in clinical trials.

A memory supplement can work in a variety of ways: by boosting the immune system, the circulation of oxygenated blood to the brain, by reducing stress, and of course, by stimulating the production of neurotransmitters. Stress and anxiety can be devastating to short-term memory. Have you been unable to remember a test question when you’re sitting for an exam, even when you know you’ve studied up on it? Test-related anxiety and stress could be to blame. Herbs that reduce stress and calm the mind, such as gotu kola, rhodiola, and Bacopa monnieri, are among the most effective memory supplements; their calming effects allow you to regain the concentration and focus that is essential when transferring information from your short-term to long-term memory.

Other memory supplements work by facilitating the flow of oxygenated blood throughout the brain and body. For example, Gingko biloba is used as a memory enhancer and brain tonic in Chinese and complementary medicine for its circulation-enhancing effects. By increasing blood flow, natural blood thinners facilitate the delivery of blood, and nutrients, to the brain. Blood-thinning herbs vary from the exotic—such as vinpocitine, a compound made from a species of South American periwinkle— to the mundane: even garlic, taken in the diet or as a supplement, has blood thinning effects! Just remember to consult your doctor before using natural blood thinners: these herbs can interact harmfully with blood thinning medications, such as warfarin or Coumadin taken for high blood pressure.

Don’t discount a memory supplement that works holistically by supporting immune function and overall health. A healthy body means a healthy, flexible brain, and herbs that support increased energy can have a beneficial concurrent effect on memory. Take maca root, for instance: a South American member of the Cruciferae family (which also includes broccoli and radishes), maca root is used indigenously as a treatment for reproductive problems, certain kinds of cancers, and low energy levels. While it hasn’t undergone much clinical testing to verify all of these medicinal uses, there is some hopeful evidence that maca may act as a gentle stimulant to relieve both ordinary fatigue and the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Rhodiola, an herb we mentioned above as a stress reliever, may also work to stimulate the immune system, an important facet of overall health.

However, if you’re looking for a quick and tangible boost to memory and cognition, nothing works better than memory enhancing herbs that stimulate neurotransmitter activity. Many of the best and quickest acting memory supplement herbs work by boosting levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which has a crucial role in the formation and recall of memories. These “cholinergic” herbs inhibit the production of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the brain. Herbs in this category include Celastrus paniculatus (celastrus seed), Bacopa monnieri (brahmi), and Croton lechleri, a South American tree colorfully referred to as sangre de grado, or “blood of the dragon” for its dark reddish resin, which contains the tree’s active alkaloids.

As with dietary supplements, it is absolutely vital that consumers are selective with the supplements they use to improve memory. Pursuant to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, the Food and Drug Administration regulates dietary supplements as foods, and not as drugs. A dietary supplement is defined as a product taken by mouth that includes one or more ingredients that might be found in the human diet: these include vitamins, minerals, herbs and botanicals, amino acids, and any other compounds humans might derive from foods, such as enzymes or hormones. Dietary supplements are categorized as adjuncts to a healthy diet and should not form the sole basis of a person’s diet. Other than that, the FDA groups dietary supplements under the same umbrella as conventional foods.

This means that unlike pharmaceutical companies, supplement manufacturers are not required to prove the safety or effectiveness of their products. Sadly, the world is chock full of people looking to capitalize on the newly emergent market for memory supplements by peddling inferior products that haven’t performed in clinical trials.

Luckily, a little independent research can help you avoid getting taken for a ride. The first step to ensure that you’re buying a worthwhile product is to research how it has fared in independent tests. Look up information about each individual herb included in the mixture to find out what kinds of effects the plant has on its own, as well as any contraindications related to its safe use. Ask the hard questions: does this herb support memory holistically, or mostly work on a certain kind of memory (long-term versus short-term for instance). Does it perform equally well in different age groups? Does it start working relatively quickly, or does it contribute to holistic changes in the body that may take weeks or months to feel?

There are merits to memory enhancing herbs  that work over a long period of time as well as those with effects that can be felt in the short term. By having a clear idea of what you’re looking for in a memory supplement, you’ll be able to effectively research what’s out there to find the product that will produce the effects you want. Finally, make sure your supplements are manufactured professionally by a group with experience in herbal medicine. Despite what some companies and websites will have you believe, there is no reason to settle for anything beyond one hundred percent natural memory enhancement. The proof is in the test results.

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