Cognitive Enhancing “Nootropic” Recipes
There are a number of herbs that are considered to be “nootropic”, a term that means substances (generally herbs, fungi and drugs) that enhance cognition in the form of improving memory, mental acuity, alertness, and executive function.
These are often suggested as preventative herbs to elderly people who potentially face the perils of dementia or alzheimers.
How do they work? There is no one main mechanism but some of the main factors include increasing blood flow in the brain and via adding nutritional factors (certain amino acid building blocks) that are useful for cerebral metabolism.
Like many conversations around herbalism, its key to address any issue that would be leading to cloudier thinking, confusion, lack of mental acuity and memory issues before just reaching for an herb. Poor diet, stress, sleep issues, exhaustion, physical and emotional trauma and illness patterns can also underly mental acuity issues.
Acorus, ashwaghanda, bacopa, bhringaraj, gingko, ginseng, gotu kola, green tea, jiaogulan, jyotishmati, licorice, lions mane, polygala, rhodiola, rosemary, shankhapushpi, white peony,
Some further reading on the subject.
Nootropics: The New Adaptogens by Renee Davis
Alzheimer’s Disease: Treatment with Chinese Herbs By Subhuti Dharmananda
Generally with nootropic herbs, people are taking them in capsules that contain an assortment of herbs along with supplements such as L-tyrosine, L-theanine, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, etc.
Though these may be helpful for some, I tend to think that capsules are often poorly absorbed and don’t contain enough good quality herbs to really create substantial improvements. That is why I steer people to making their own herbal preparations at home with good quality and fresh herbs.
One of the best herbs for reducing stress and improving cognitive acuity is known as Brahmi, AKA Bacopa monierri. Theres a lot of research that shows this is a wonderful herb to be taking for a variety of issues such as ADHD, anxiety,
In this first section I offer two syrup recipes. To make these syrups, simply add these herbs to a pot with enough water to cover by an inch and bring to a boil and then simmer. Allow for herbs to simmer for 40 minutes and then strain out herbs. With remaining liquid, allow the extract to simmer and evaporate off liquid until 24 ounces/pint and half is left. Then allow liquid extract to cool for a few minutes and then add 8 ounces of honey. You will be left with 32 ounces (1 quart) of syrup. place in jar and cap and then place in the refrigerator. Take two tablespoons (one ounce) 2 times a day. This is enough for about two weeks.
This is a formula for people who tend to be both restless and have difficulty in focusing. It is somewhat calming and not as good for those who tend to be spacey and lethargic.
ashwaghanda 1 ounce
jyotishmati 1 ounce
polygala 1 ounce
Acorus calamus 1 ounce
Albizzia bark 1 ounce
Bacopa 1 ounce
Strong Mind Syrup
This is a slightly more stimulating recipe that is good for those who feel dull in thought with challenges in memory and attentiveness but with no great signs of restlessness or agitation.
Rhodiola 1 ounce
Ashwaghanda 1 ounce
American ginseng 1 ounce
Gotu Kola 1 ounce
Gingko 1 ounce
Bright Mind Tea
These are herbs that are known to improve mood and cognition, clear brain fog and calm the spirit.
Jiaogulan 1 tsp
gingko 1 tsp
gotu kola 1 tsp
bacopa 1 tsp
licorice 1/2 tsp
Place herbs in a pint container and then bring water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of either mate or green tea if you would like to have it caffeinated.