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7 Ayurvedic Herbs to Help Boost Brain Power & Lessen Depression

Posted by on Apr 24, 2013

Bacopa Flowers

Bacopa Flowers

The sister science to yoga, ayurveda, offers many great techniques for keeping the systems of the body balanced. A specific set of herbs utilized in this more than 5000-year-old practice can help boost memory, reduce cognitive impairment, and even significantly help create feelings of well-being and lessened anxiety. There are literally hundreds you can use, but these are some of the top performers. If you suffer from ADHD, ADD, depression, anxiety, or other cognitive impairment, this will serve as important information for you. If you just want to boost your brain power and enjoy an uplifted mood, then these herbs can help too.

Brahmi – Maybe we aren’t all looking for the Supreme Knowledge of Reality, but that is what this herb translates to mean. It is also known as thyme leaved gratiola, or Brahmi Saraswati (in Sanskrit).  It is a super brain tonic known for relieving stress and anxiety, as well as improving concentration and mental sharpness. The active ingredients in the herb Brahmi are saponins called bacosides, specifically tetra cyclic triterpenoid sapoinins that make the herb effective. Bacoside A and Bacoside B are thought to be Bacopa’s most therapeutic constituents.

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This herb has been documented in literally thousands of clinical trials to be effective for helping boost intellect and reduce depression. It does this by boosting acuity but also keeping a person calm, essentially with a sedative effect. It has been prescribed for Alzhemier’s patients, people with ADHD, ADD, and slow cognition problems. Ashwaganda – This ayurvedic herb (also known as winter cherry) has also been used for centuries. It is named after the Sanskrit word for ‘horse’ and ‘smell’ referring to the smell of the root, but don’t let this deter you from trying it.  It is anti-inflammatory and vitalizing herb. It has been used to help patients recovering from radiation treatments and helps to regress cancer tumors. It is also adaptogenic (meaning it adapts to give your body what it needs) and mildly sedating so it is excellent for people who suffer from anxiety. It is used in the rural Himalayas to get rid of ‘brain fog.’ Its properties are comparable to American Ginseng. Vacha – Organic vacha is an herb everyone should keep in their medicine cabinets. It promotes brain clarity and a stable mood. If you do highly concentrative work or meditate, this herb can help to support those activities. It has also been known to increase creativity along with mental clarity. It can be very helpful for those who suffer from memory loss or have attention deficit disorders.

In the ayuverdic understanding of the body and mind, once grief, anxiety, obsession, mental-grogginess and post-stroke symptoms are lessened as with this herb, one can awaken latent brain functioning that is not presently used. This herb reduces vata and kapha excesses and increases pitta. If you are not familiar with your dosha – or ayurvedic type, you can read more here.

Mulethi – this herb is also known as licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). It has numerous curative properties aside from helping to re-vitalize the brain. It has both calming and stimulating effects and balances blood sugar levels in the blood so that you are less likley to have a sugar-crash. Mulethi also acts as a tonic for the central nervous system and rejuvenates the brain. Licorice extract and glycyrrhetinnic acid have been shown to act like ACTH, but with less toxic aftermath than when taking cartisone. This herb is also anti-arthritic and can help with Addison’s and Simmond’s diseases.

Bacopa – This herb with its little white, subtle flowers can help you think fast on your feet and help memory recall. It was first used and documented in 800 BC. It improves both long and short term memory. It increases the synaptic activity between neurons and neuronal networks and quickness the speed of nerve impulses. It also has anti-depressive and anti-anxiety effects.

Specifically, bacopa helps to promote the production of Acetylcholine in the brain – the neurotransmitter that ushers messages from one area to another. It is called Medhya Rasayana in ayuerveda because it enhances mental acuity and also promotes longevity. Scientific studies of the herb have proven it to be antioxidant and cholinergic (the support of the parasympathetic nervous system through choline or acetylcholine).

Calamus (Sweet Root) – This semi-aquatic plant is a perennial and grows in marshy spots in India and Burma primarily. The root of this plant is considered an aphrodisiac, and it is also diaphoretic (causes one to sweat out toxins), expectorant, aromatic, carminative (prevents the formation of gas in the intestinal tract) as well as a tonic for the brain while being both stimulative and sedative.

Calamus, or sweet root, also rejuvenates both the brain and nervous system and helps with digestive problems. Warriors of the Teton-Dakota once made a paste with the roots of this plant and spread it on their faces to combat fear when facing an enemy. The root is also known to do the same for mere mortals. Used as a distilled essential oil it can cause mild hallucinations, but in herbal form, only calms the mind.

Sandal Wood Tree – used primarily as an essential oil, this great-smelling herb can stimulate the pineal gland, an important endocrine gland associated to the Ajna chakra and enlightened thought. It has been used in perfumes, essential oils and aromatic incense for centuries partly for this reason. It helps boost brain power by helping the pineal gland make melatonin and seratonin, important neurochemicals for boosting mood and mental acuity. It also helps to relax the mind before meditation and has been shown to help prevent cervical breast and prostate cancers when used in an appropriate protocol.

Sandalwood has anti-infection and anti-inflammatory properties, and enhances our connection to our higher selves along with boosting concentration. It is important to use the right variety – Santalum albumbecause other types grown in other countries have no proven medicinal value.

The best thing about these herbs is that they have no side effects, are non habit-forming and they are very inexpensive compared to pharmaceutical drugs meant to do the same things. To read more about natural ways to cure the body and mind, investigate the book Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body & Mind Through the Art of Yoga.

 

About the Author

Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao TzuParamahansa YoganandaRob Brezny,  Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

References:

 

http://www.naturalwellbeing.com/blog/brahmi-for-brain-power

http://www.ayurvediccure.com/enhance-memory.htm

http://www.naturesmagicalfarm.com/herbs/bacopa.html

http://www.ayurvedaelements.com/articlebrahmi.php

http://www.healthbooksummaries.com/20_Things_You_Need_to_Know_About_Ashwagandha.html

http://www.dharmonyherbs.com/vacha

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