Unlock Your Mind: 4 Best Herbs for Memory Enhancement

best herbs for memory

Introduction: The 4 Best Herbs for Memory

This post is all about: how memory works; the function of the Brain and Nervous System; some herbal formula examples; and the absolute best herbs for enhancing memory. 

Any gamer will tell you that the most important skill to train your character in first is intelligence, and that’s because intelligence enhances the training of all other skills. The same mostly applies to real life. If we want to be good at anything in the game of life, enhancing our memory and general intelligence is a smart move. Luckily for humans, there are special plants which you can consume to increase memory, mental acuity, quickness, recall, perception, awareness, etc. They do this in a myriad of complex ways, and the results are long-lasting and almost always purely beneficial. 

This post will not focus on how to train your brain to memorise things – that’s a subject relating to how to utilise your Mind to train your physical body. Here, we’ll only be discussing how to improve the biological functioning of your physical nervous system and brain.

So let’s dive in, first by comprehending how the brain and nervous system work, and then by learning the 4 best herbs for enhancing memory. 


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best herbs for memory

The Brain, Nervous System, and Memory

To properly understand the boon of the 4 best herbs for memory, it’s helpful to understand how the brain and nervous system operate. 

The Nervous System
Your entire body is controlled by the nervous system. Imagine pure-white fibres stretching through your spine and brain, pulsing with energy, and you’ve essentially imagined what a human being is. The rest of the physical body is just ancillary. 

The CNS (Central Nervous System) consists of the nerves in the brain and spine, and is responsible for receiving sensory input from the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS, the nerves throughout the rest of the body), making decisions, and transmitting motor responses back to the PNS. The CNS is our conscious control over the nervous system.

The PNS is divided into two branches: The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), and the Somatic Nervous System (SNS). The SNS controls voluntary movements and sensations in the skin and skeletal muscles. The ANS controls involuntary functions such as heart rate, digestion, and perspiration. 

The ANS is further divided into two more branches: The Parasympathetic slows down the functioning of the nervous system, is the “rest-and-digest” segment. The parasympathetic is activated when the body is in a state of rest, and will slow down the heart rate, reduce blood pressure, relax the bladder to allow it to fill, increase sexual arousal and lubrication respectively, constrict the pupil, increase digestive enzyme production, and increase blood flow to the intestines.

The Sympathetic prepares the body for physical or mental activity, also known as “fight-or-flight”. Activation increases heart rate, increases blood pressure, constricts blood vessels directly to muscles, increases production of adrenaline, and decreases blood flow to digestive organs. Adrenaline increases heart rate, dilates bronchial tubes to increase breathing, and increases glucose production. 

Memory in Relation to the Nervous System

Memory is primarily associated with brain structures such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and cortical regions, but every neural pathway within the body is partially related to memory. For instance, the ANS is largely responsible for emotional experiences and the regulation of neurotransmitters throughout the body. When we’re looking to improve memory, neurotransmitters play a large role. Another example is nerves in the spine, which are associated with reflexive memory, memories to do with pain and pleasure, and motor learning. 

There are multiple types of memory, and most of us just want cognitive enhancement, but keep in mind that if we want to be successful in enhancing memory we need to think somewhat holistically. Memory is nothing less than networks of neurons being fired in unique orders, and neurons are the substance of the entire nervous system. We can take herbs specifically for memory enhancement, but we will have even greater success if we treat the entire nervous system (and for that matter the entire body). 

The Brain 

There are multiple regions of the brain responsible for memory. Much of our understanding about memory and relevant brain regions is thanks to past surgeries and brain operations, where parts of a living brain were removed and the patient was studied afterwards. 
Regions of importance in the brain include: the hippocampus, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, temporal lobes, cerebellum, basal ganglia, thalamus, and cerebral cortex. The hippocampus is perhaps the most important region – if you remove it, you maintain your old memories but lose the ability to create new ones. 

But understanding the different regions of the brain isn’t necessary. All we need to know is that the different regions of the brain interplay with one another. Billions of neurons form connections with each other, and these networks, interspersed throughout these multiple sections of the brain, essentially are memory. Memory is a series of networks of neurons, always active and alive, flowing with electricity. When we try to memorise something, we are firing a neural network multiple times, and in effect strengthening the existing networks and creating new ones relevant to the memory.  

Memory in Relation to the Brain

We can increase our brain’s ability to store and recall memory by enhancing a few biological factors: 

 Neuroplasticity Enhancement: Neuroplasticity is the ability for neural networks to reorganise themselves, upgrade the biological structures of the neurons, and overall strengthen the entire neural network system. Entire networks of neural pathways can reorganise as needed if there is a sufficient degree of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity can be enhanced by increased brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) production and release (this happens in the brain), or by enhancing neurotransmitter systems throughout the body, specifically those relating to glutamate or dopamine. 

Optimise Neurotransmitter Balance: Acetylcholine, glutamate, dopamine, GABA, norepinephrine, and sertonin are all important neurotransmitters related to neural network health and memory retention. Deficits in acetylcholine particularly are attributed to memory loss disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease. All of these neurotransmitters are produced in the brain/nervous system. When trying to enhance neurotransmitters, note the key word, neurotransmitter “balance”. Supplements are mostly ineffective due to the inability for consumed chemistry to cross the brain-blood barrier, not to mention other factors like the phenomenon of “if you take it, your body stops making it” (more relevant for hormones), and other long-term side-effects common when consuming singular extracted chemicals. Then there are pharmaceuticals, which work in destructive and unnatural ways. For instance, certain drugs attempting to increase acetylcholine inhibit an enzyme which is responsible for breaking down acetylcholine. (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: these people are mad scientists with absolutely ZERO(!) regard for long-term health. I think if the body produces an enzyme to break down a protein, it’s probably doing that for a reason.) But herbs don’t have these problems. Herbs are in a whole, holistic form, with an in-borne intelligence that allows them to modulate neurotransmitter balance.  

Neurogenesis enhancement: Neurogenesis is the production of new neurons. Enhanced neurogenesis would replenish neuronal populations and increase neural plasticity. Neurogenesis is very possible, and relies mostly upon factors of general health and brain health overall. 

Lymphatic clearance: “Experts” might say that inflammation is a major problem in the brain which leads to cognitive decline, but inflammation isn’t the problem. No matter what health condition a person is suffering from, the problem is almost never inflammation. The problem is the body’s inability to clear acids/cellular waste or toxins, which results in the healing process of inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s response to try to heal tissue. What we should really be trying to improve is not inflammation in the brain, but lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic system is the sewer system of your body, and in today’s day and age there is no more important system when it comes to the health of any region of the body. It was recently discovered that there is a “glymphatic” system (2012) in the brain; before then the medical theories did not think there was a lymphatic system in the brain (which shows their complete lack of understanding of health). Blood brings nutrients and sugars to the cells, and the lymph cleans and drains away the waste produced by cellular processes. It’s as simple as that. Luckily there are herbs which can increase lymph cell production and enhance the flow of lymphatic fluid, even out of the brain.

Optimise cerebral blood flow: Enhanced circulation can lead to better levels of nutrients, sugars (cellular food), and oxygen getting to the neurons. By enhancing vasodilation and microcirculation, we can ensure that the cells are properly fed. This will lead to increased mitochondrial efficiency as well and increased energy capacity in the brain. 

These are some of the main factors to consider when thinking of how to improve biological memory function. And when I consider all of them, I thank God I discovered herbs, and don’t have to rely on the human-made supplements/drugs that attempt to haphazardly jerry-rig our biological processes, or blast them with powerful singular extracted chemicals like a moron.

But anyway, let’s take a look at our list for the 4 Best Herbs for Memory Enhancement.

best herbs for memory

4 Best Herbs for Memory Enhancement

I could have included more herbs in this list, but these four are especially powerful in the arena of memory enhancement. Each of them has their own unique abilities, and utilising even one is enough to improve your memory. If you use them, you may not notice the effects immediately, but that doesn’t mean that changes in your brain chemistry aren’t happening. Memory is a subtle phenomenon, and in my experience as an herbalist, a patient, once their issues go away, will very quickly forget they ever had issues to begin with. For that reason, try to make it a habit just to use one or all of these herbs (with the advice of an herbalist if you have a complex health history or are using medications), and in several months the effects, which were minimal to begin with, will become irrefutable. 

Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary): Rosemary is esteemed for increasing memory due to its propensity for increasing circulation to the brain, but that isn’t the only reason it’s effective. It also acts a nerve tonic, an anti-depressant (neurotransmitter related), as well as a liver enhancer. The liver is the alchemist of the body, transmuting chemicals, and shipping them off into the blood as needed. If our desire is to ensure nutrients and necessary phytochemicals are transported to the brain, we can not do much better than Rosemary. 

Ginkgo Biloba: Ginkgo is one of the most widely studied herbs for memory enhancement. It increases circulation to the brain, regulates neurotransmitters, improves cerebral glucose utilisation (ATP production), and acts as a neuron protector. Ginkgo is the only surviving member of a long-extinct order of plants, and this is due to its unique protective phytochemical composition. When Hiroshima was destroyed by a nuclear explosion, a ginkgo tree remained standing less than 1200 meters from the impact site. This quality highlights its aptitude as a neuron protector. There is controversy over whether a standardised extract of the leaf is necessary to impart the beneficial effects. I personally would only use the natural-form leaf, whether in a tincture, tea, or capsules. This is an herb that has been used for aeons for this effect, before standardisation was ever popularised, and we see over and over the long-term negative effects of using isolated chemistry. 

Bacopa monnieri (Bacopa/Brahmi): A powerful herb in the Ayurvedic tradition, and sister herb to Gotu Kola (both are called Brahmi). Bacopa has a myriad of effects on the neurons, affecting not just the brain but also the autonomic nervous system. It’s known for improving memory, learning ability (hippocampus), and concentration. It relaxes the nervous system, works as a cardiac tonic, and as a bitter digestive. When you try bacopa, you’ll notice its bitter taste, and bitters are known for improving digestion. The autonomic nervous system is seated in the stomach, and this gives us a clue to Bacopa’s effects. This herb does not taste good, but it makes you feel good. 

Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola/Brahmi): Another powerful circulatory herb, and sister herb to Bacopa (some herbs have notable affinities for each other). Gotu Kola works in a similar manner to Bacopa, relaxing the nervous system while enhancing memory and concentration. It’s also a connective tissue builder, an adaptogen (stress-modulator), and general-health detoxifier. If you take nothing else from this post, let it be the incredible blessing of a Bacopa + Gotu Kola blend. That should do you pretty well for the rest of your life. I use tons of different herbs in large quantities, and there are very few I have as much love and respect for than these two in combination. 

Memory Formula

If I really wanted to go after my memory, I’ll tell you exactly what herbal formulas I’d make up for myself.

1) Capsules/Tincture of Bacopa + Gotu Kola, taken 3x/day
2) Tincture for the nervous system and endocrine glands: Rosemary, Ginkgo, Skullcap, Milky Oat Seed, Borage, Chamomile, St. John’s Wort 2-3x/day. Oh baby.. There are a lot of alternative options, and based on your other health goals or problems (e.g. lungs, sleep, anxiety, skin, etc.), you can subtract or add a myriad of different herbs to this combination and still get the memory effects as well as others. 
A general health/detox tea kidney, lymphatic, bowels, and liver: Burdock, Dandelion leaf/root, Cleavers, Nettle, Juniper berry, Red Clover, Peppermint, Corn Silk. For patients experiencing sleep problems (for instance), I’ve noticed that a general health tea in combination with a sleep tincture makes the sleep tincture work a lot better. The general health tea adds hydration (particularly important for kidney herbs), and is really what most people benefit from the most.

This Post was all about The 4 Best Herbs for Memory Enhancement..

If you've read the entire article, well done! You're on the path of increasing your knowledge of food and health and escaping the cave. Please leave a comment if you have any additional details, comments, or questions. Sign up to the newsletter, follow us on one of our social media for video content and updates, and I hope to see you again in a later post by Plato's Garden. If you are seeking an Iridology reading, an herbalist, or to walk a path of detoxification, take a look at our website. Plato's Garden offers low priced and high quality herbs, but in order to access them you must book a consultation. 
Justin McArthur

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