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Herbs that Improve Mental Acuity

Sharmistha Sarkar
There are many herbs that help improve mental function. Herbs like ginseng and ginkgo biloba increase blood flow to the brain and thus help improve its function. Those like Brahmi and borage calm the mind, which in turn aids in boosting mental acuity.

Did You Know?

In England, rosemary was once believed to improve faithfulness owing to its memory-strengthening abilities. So, it was often given as a gift for the bride or groom at their wedding.
Research says that unhealthy eating, watching TV for long hours, playing video or mobile games for a long time, and lack of exercise are some of the primary reasons for mental tiredness and drop in mental function. To add to this, there is job stress, there are relationship issues, financial problems, tough situations, and difficult people to deal with.
This only adds to the mental strain and in the long run, may affect the brain's functioning. Less blood flow to the brain is the main reason why this happens. Hormonal problems, certain underlying health ailments, and advancing age are among the other reasons for declining brain function.
It manifests in the form of mental fatigue, lethargy, irritation, inability to concentrate, and feeling low. There are certain herbs that are known to help increase the blood circulation towards the brain and enhance its functioning.
The use of these herbs (extract or oil) is said to improve mental acuity. Here, we enlist these herbs (in alphabetical order) and their benefits.


Withania somnifera, also called ashwagandha, helps reduce exhaustion and protects the brain from brain cell deterioration. This herb helps improve clarity of thinking and boosts memory. It provides relaxation to the nerves.


This herb is helpful for individuals with behavioral disorders and is useful in the treatment of memory disturbances. It helps in enhancing mental clarity and learning abilities. It reduces anxiety effects.


It helps in calming the mind. It contains gamma linolenic acid (GLA), that is said to have positive effects on the nervous system. The seeds of the plant contain the oil.


Bacopa monnieri also called Brahmi, is considered as the best herb for the nervous system. It reduces stress and improves focus. It brings about mental calmness and is also effective in treating mental imbalance.
It improves the ability to learn, to retain what is learned, and the ability to recall things from memory. It is helpful for individuals with insomnia, anxiety, and mental fatigue. This herb has long-lasting results.


This is a culinary herb that helps improve mental alertness.


Chickweed or Stellaria media is rich in the neuronutrients phosphorus and lecithin. It helps in maintaining emotional balance.


Turnera diffusa or Damiana is a herb that helps in nervous frailness, anxiety, and lack of concentration. It helps to calm and alert the brain as needed. Damiana is also used as an antidepressant.


Dill is the fruit of the herb Anethum graveolens. It is known as a great food for the brain, and is said to improve mental alertness.


The antioxidants in ginger can help improve brain function. It has anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols.
A study in the November 2003 issue of Life Sciences said that ginger has the ability to protect the brain from free radicals. Two tablespoons of ginger and a few drops of honey added to a glass of boiling water, makes a healthy drink. Ginger can also be added to soups.

Ginkgo Biloba

It increases blood circulation to the brain, improves mental sharpness, improves focus, and alleviates the symptoms of depression. It has antioxidant properties. It is said to improve mental alertness.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it helps improve memory in patients with dementia. Studies have also shown that this herb has positive effects on early-stage Alzheimer's disease.


Studies have shown that ginseng increases blood flow to the brain, thereby enhancing concentration, alertness and intelligence. The Asian ginseng helps combat mental stress, and also helps improve memory and clarity of thinking.
Siberian ginseng is known to increase endurance to physiological and emotional stress. Studies in Russia have shown that this herb's roots have properties that can help improve mental sharpness. The dried, powdered root and rhizomes of this herb can be taken.

Green tea

Camellia sinensis or Green tea has antioxidant properties. It helps improve mental alertness and boosts memory. It is also of help in reducing mental fatigue.


According to studies, this herb has shown positive effects on the mental health of individuals. It improves memory and mental alertness. It also helps to elevate the mood.


Licorice roots are the underground stems of the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra. They contain a compound called glycyrrhizin, that may help slow the effects of aging on the brain and maintain mental sharpness.


Avena Sativa or oatstraw has superb nourishing and restorative properties which help improve concentration. This herb improves sleep, mental acuity, and reduces anxiety.


The flowering plant periwinkle, may help boost memory. Research shows that periwinkle contains a natural component vinpocetine, that helps carry oxygen and glucose to the brain.
Periwinkle may be useful for treating brain disease. Studies in Hungary have shown that periwinkle may improve memory and cognition in healthy individuals and in those in the early stages of dementia.

Rose and Lavender

They relax the mind and are helpful for individuals with anxiety and depression.


The smell of Rosmarinus officinalis, or rosemary helps relieve anxiety. Research has showed that it can increase blood flow to the brain, thereby improving concentration levels. This herb is also a stress reliever and an antidepressant.
It can help prevent memory loss. It can be added to meat dishes or to bread, buns, and baked food.


According to researchers, sage is a good brain food. It has been found to enhance mood and improve memory. It may be helpful for those with Alzheimer's disease.


Skullcap is a good brain herb and is also known as an effective antidepressant.


Spearmint (Mentha spicata) contains vitamins, antioxidants, and vital nutrients. The herb is rich in limonene, dihydrocarvone and cineole.
According to studies, spearmint tea enhances mental alertness. The smell of spearmint increases brain activity and reduces physical and mental fatigue.

St. John's wort

Extracts of St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) are useful for the treatment of depression and mood disorders. This herb is to be used only occasionally.


This spice helps protect the brain. Research conducted by Greg Cole, associate director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the University of California, showed that curcumin, which is the yellow pigment in turmeric, can fight inflammation and plaque.
Turmeric is said to be of help in preventing Alzheimer's disease.


Vacha is another herb for the brain. It improves memory, helps improve the ability to concentrate, and increases clarity of thought. It can also treat depression and mental sluggishness.

Yerba Mate

Yerba mate stimulates the nervous system. It contains more than 24 minerals and vitamins. It is said to increase mental alertness and thinking ability, and help boost physical energy.
This was a list of herbs that are considered to be of help in improving mental acuity. While some provide temporary relief from stress and mental fatigue, some have long-term effects on brain function. Before using any of these herbs as a remedy for health concerns, the advice of a medical expert or herbalist is essential.