6 Powerful Herbs For Memory And Focus


Cognitive issues such as ‘brain fog’, memory and focus are becoming a real issue. When we think about the stress of the past few years, the pandemic and long covid - it all starts to make sense. These underlying issues affect memory and your ability to concentrate. So, if you feel like your brain is not what it used to be, you’re not alone.

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Many things can affect cognition, memory and focus, so it can take time to pinpoint what you should do. But a great place to start is addressing the likely underlying issues and turning to plants for help. Here are some herbs for memory that can support you.

Why Won't My Brain Work?

To be honest - probably because of stress. Stress in small doses can actually help with memory. But sadly, the more stress you experience, the more it affects how your memory and concentration work. 

When you're constantly stressed, you're in survival mode. When your brain's in survival mode, it isn't interested in remembering Aunt Joan's friend's name; it just wants to keep you alive. The brain spends its energy and resources on keeping you alive and not putting down long-term memories.

So it's no surprise that when you are chronically stressed, you feel foggy and struggle to recall anything. Thankfully there are many ways you can work to manage your stress as well as herbs you can take for memory.

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Inflammation And Memory

Inflammation is where the ‘brain fog’ from Covid and illness might come from. After you have been unwell, your body is struggling to get back to its ‘healthy’ baseline. Residual inflammation from fighting viruses and bugs can cause symptoms such as brain fog and poor concentration. This blog covers some great herbs for memory that address the underlying issue of inflammation.

 Mental Health And Memory

A change in your mental health can also affect how your brain works. When you are depressed or anxious, your brain goes back to that survival mode, so it‘s not interested in remembering your daily to-do list. Being overwhelmed has a massive effect on how you concentrate and remember things, so it is important to cut yourself slack or tell people you need more support to remember tasks.

Not being able to remember things or to carry out simple tasks that you have always done can be frustrating and make you feel like you are losing it. Sometimes you can forget how you drove to work, or if you turned off the oven or the tap or if you paid your bills on time.

Everyone forgets things, but if it is happening often, it's a sign you need to adjust a few things in your life. Recognising you need to change something is the first step and incorporating some herbs for memory can start to help you feel a bit more normal.

6 herbs for memory

1. Saint John's Wort

Saint John’s wort has been researched extensively as an antidepressant and is used worldwide for mild to moderate depression. Multiple clinical studies have confirmed its antidepressant actions with fewer side effects than standard antidepressants.

Saint John’s wort is an excellent herb for memory because it helps with underlying stress and mood issues. This will in turn help support your memory and cognition. It is a plant that requires consistent use, as the effects build over time, so it would be something you committed to trying daily - like in our Mood Boost.


2. Chamomile

Chamomile is synonymous with stress relief. So much so that it features in Peter Rabbit as a way to help poor Peter sleep after his traumatic garden experience. Most people know that chamomile helps with stress and sleep. It supports GABA production within your brain and helps with feelings of rest.

It can also help balance your stress response throughout the day (or night) and has one of the safest plant profiles, so can be used with children or if you are on medication. Similarly to Saint John’s wort, chamomile acts as a plant for improving memory by helping you balance stress and worry which means you can regain some mental clarity and focus. We use chamomile in our Rest and Calm, which also has a kids version.


3. Rhodiola

Rhodiola is an adaptogen that works on your HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal) axis, affecting cortisol levels which in turn helps to reduce stress. This plant can help support brain fog and issues around memory because it works on any underlying stress issues you may have. It also helps reduce inflammation and supplies energy when you are exhausted. Rhodiola is full of antioxidants, making it an excellent herb for memory.

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4. Turmeric

Turmeric is not a plant that comes to mind when you think of a brain herb; however, due to its high curcumin content, turmeric imparts a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on your body - your brain included!

After an illness or when under stress, your brain is working overtime. Lingering inflammation in long covid sufferers could contribute to their symptoms like brain fog. Plants like turmeric can help support recovery due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-plaque actions.

Turmeric contains a multitude of antioxidants that help support brain health as well as helping to protect from free radical damage that can occur from chronic stress. Curcumin is being studied for its ability to support the brain and see if it can help with cognitive decline (especially in patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease). An easy way to increase your turmeric intake is with our Anti-Flam tonic, which has three different forms of organic turmeric.



5. Iron And B12

When you are depleted in iron and B12, you’ll find it incredibly hard to focus on anything. Being low in iron makes you feel tired, but it also affects how your brain works and what it can retain. Iron is essential for so many chemical reactions in your body, and brain fog can be the first symptom of iron deficiency. You need iron for oxygen transportation around the body, for DNA synthesis and neurotransmitter synthesis. So if you struggle with low iron, this will have a real effect on how your brain is functioning.

While not a herb for memory, you could consider taking this essential mineral as a supplement. We suggest a liquid iron, or iron in an amino acid chelate form (for better absorption and lack of GI upsets).

You could also consider increasing foods higher in iron to help support your cognitive function and memory:

  • Red meats
  • Molasses
  • Shellfish
  • Dark green leafy vegetables

B12 is in the same boat as iron as it is incredibly important for your brain, energy levels and how your body reacts and responds to stress. B12 is found in animal meat, but if you are vegan/vegetarian, you can take some great supplements to support your levels.

As with everything, it might be best to get a blood test as a marker before you take a course of supplements - or work with your health practitioner. Only take iron and B12 consistently if you are advised to do so, as you can build up an excess.

6. Bacopa

Bacopa is another antioxidant herb. It helps combat free radical damage in the brain and works as an anti-inflammatory and adaptogen while supporting immune modulation. This plant works as a neuroprotective as well as supporting mental function. It supports blood flow to the brain and GABA and serotonin production, which then, in turn, helps mood and stress levels.

It helps support your memory by suppressing an enzyme called acetylcholine esterase. This enzyme is supposed to break down acetylcholine, but by suppressing its breakdown, it allows acetylcholine to stay in your brain a bit more, and that means you can pay more attention and remember things.

It has been traditionally used (and studied) to support attention, memory and recall in both people deemed cognitively healthy and those suffering from cognitive issues.


Your cognitive ability is deeply important to all aspects of your life. It is normal to forget things - you are human! But if you find that you are forgetting more than you are remembering or if you just feel like something is not quite right - please seek help from your medical practitioner. More than likely, you will be overworked or overwhelmed and supporting your nervous system will do you a world of good. But it might help to check it out.

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