Age-related complications due to Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss are well known. Intensive research in more recent years to develop drugs to improve mental functioning are on-going. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a number of pharmaceutical drugs. However, use of these drugs by individuals who do not yet have mental health conditions is presenting difficulties to public policy makers. As an alternative, many people turn to the use of natural supplements to increase mental health and maybe delay or prevent the loss of memory that comes to many as they age.
The alternative to pharmaceutical drugs is to use natural remedies in form of food or supplements. As opposed to pharmaceutical drugs, natural supplements are used to enhance mental functions before the onset of mental decline. Taking the right natural supplements can improve the health of your brain right now and protect against memory loss in the future.
What are the benefits of mental enhancing natural supplements?
Mental enhancing natural supplements do not heal diseased parts of the brain but instead, the supplements enhance existing areas. The mental enhancing natural supplements benefit brain functions in the following areas:
- Perception or awareness
- Comprehension, and
- Decision making
What are the most popular mental enhancing natural supplements?
Curcumin in Turmeric
Curcumin is nutritional “Gold” for Your Brain. It is the main effective ingredient in the Indian spice turmeric. Curcumin is responsible for turmeric’s brilliant gold color and most of its health benefits. Curcumin protects your brain in an impressive number of ways, including:
- Increasing levels of compounds that are responsible for happiness. In fact, curcumin is as effective in treating depression as the popular antidepressant Prozac.
- Increasing blood flow to the brain, hence giving you stamina during exercises.
- Reducing the compulsiveness and associated memory loss of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
- Remarkably improving both memory and attention in healthy individuals
- Significantly improving working memory, energy, mood, and reducing stress.
Tumeric’s properties as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplement/spice help to reduce brain inflammation and break up brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s. As a matter of fact, seniors in India who consume turmeric as a regular part of their diet have some of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s in the world.
Coffee is one of the world’s most popular mental enhancing natural supplements. Caffeine, like many other mental enhancers, affects key parts of your brain. Thus, many individuals rely on a cup of coffee to wake up in the morning. Caffeine is found in coffee, chocolate, and tea. It is consumed by billions of people every day. However, caffeine is addictive. After consuming caffeine every day for years, your body gets accustomed to it. Before long, you can hardly get going without having your caffeine fix!
The benefits of that morning coffee aren’t just in your head: caffeine has beneficial effects on the human body including:
- Increased memory absorption and retention
- Liver detoxification
- Hair growth stimulation on balding men and women
- May help reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s or at least delay the onset of the disease
- Increased stamina during exercise
- Lower risk of erectile dysfunction among men and significantly less sperm DNA fragmentation.
L-Theanine in Green Tea
Theanine is derived from green tea leaves. Tea is native to eastern Asia. L-Theanine is commonly taken together with caffeine. In fact, it can be argued that caffeine by itself is too weak to provide any real mental benefit. That’s why they combine L-Theanine and caffeine together. There’s a good reason why L-Theanine is combined with caffeine: the two components work opposite to one another. L-Theanine is the “downer” to caffeine’s “upper” effects, so to speak.
How does that work? Well, caffeine is a powerful stimulant which also has some negative effects on the body. It increases your blood pressure, for example, and can cause anxiety. When you take L-Theanine and caffeine at the same time, L-Theanine counteracts these effects. The awesome thing is that these counteracting effects eliminate many of the downsides of both components while concentrating the benefits.
L-Theanine commonly found in green tea by itself boosts:
- Enhances visual information processes, and
- Improves your focus.
Flavanols in Dark Chocolate
Just like caffeine, flavanols are consumed by millions of people every day. Flavanols are essential plant chemicals found abundantly in cocoa. Dark chocolate has high levels of cocoa, which makes many chocolate bars an excellent source of flavanols.
Flavanols, unlike many of the mental enhancement supplements discussed here, are linked to mood enhancements. So you can get smarter and feel happier at the same time. Other benefits of flavanols include improved cardiovascular health – something that always positively affects the performance of your brain.
The secret power of flavanols lies in the antioxidant properties, which stimulate the brain. Astonishingly, these same flavanol antioxidants “light up” other areas of the brain involving learning and memory.
Although the effects are relatively weak compared to other mental enhancement supplements discussed here, flavanols have some surprisingly wide-ranging mental benefits. It is important to remember that these benefits only apply to dark chocolate. Other sugary milk chocolates often counteract the benefits of the flavanols.
Bacopa Monnieri (Water Hyssop)
Bocapa Monnieri has been used for nearly 2000 years to help improve brain function. This herb was supposedly used by Indian scholars to aid in their memorization of long tracts of scripture and continues to be utilized as a mental booster.
One of the most commonly-cited benefits of Bacopa Monnieri is memory enhancement; it works with the part of the brain associated with memory. It is also used to prevent the mental decline normally associated with aging. Research is currently underway to study the effectiveness of Bacopa in the treatment of diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and epilepsy, all of which involve brain dysfunction. So far, the results have been encouraging.