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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: