Feature photo: Bacopa monnieri (common name – Brahmi) Photo: Sudhir Ahluwalia
The most popular cognitive health-focused herb supplements contain ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, and Bacopa monnieri. The lion’s mane mushroom (Hericeum erinaceus) found growing in temperate locations across the world is another species and turmeric is also recommended for their cognitive health improvement property.
A study published in 2003 indicated red ginseng leads to the improvement of cognitive functions in Alzheimer’s disease patients. (Lee ST et al, 2003) An open-label clinical trial showed ginseng helped improve cognitive functions in Alzheimer’s disease patients.
Bacopa monnieri known as Brahmi in Ayurveda is recommended by healers as medicine to aid recovery from exhaustion, stress, debility and treat an entire range of cognitive disorders that include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia Asperger’s syndrome, insomnia, depression, recovery from alcoholism or drug abuse and autism.
Ginkgo biloba is one of the top-selling herbs in the US. studies indicate the herb can be useful in managing dementia, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. The herb is generally well tolerated but it can increase the risk of bleeding if used in combination with warfarin, antiplatelet agents, and certain other herbal medications. (Sierpina VS et al, 2003) There are more than 120 published clinical studies on ginkgo mainly from Europe.
Ginseng is another popular herb that is well regarded in North and East Asia for its cognitive properties. More on ginseng here.