“The Mental level of creation is so vast one cannot conceptualize it. The mind is a seemingly on-going, ever creating and comparing, analyzing machine much bigger and grander than the emotional worlds.
It is quite obvious that the Mental part of God, or Creation, or whatever you wish to call IT, is vast and we all use it when we use our minds. For some the thinking process is consumed with memory (Causal) or the thought process itself, as one thinks (imagines) the past, or the future. The brain is the connecting link in the physical world to the seemingly infinite world of thought and the thought processes...(Dr Morse, True Spirituality)”
Along the divine path of spiritual alignment, we all desire moments of precise thought, focus and mental clarity. Memories shape identity and ego, and with the unraveling of linear thought, so too can the “self” become lost. Perhaps this loss is just the body and mind beginning to detach from the physical realm, and perhaps our culture has stigmatized a process that could otherwise be viewed as ethereal.
Regardless of what you believe, clarity of thought is an indicator of the state of your overall internal health. Brain fog, lack of focus, and confusion could be the manifestations of stagnancy; blocks in the flow of your internal river, or qi. It can take time to "unlock" the head area, or “drain the brain” as Dr Morse likes to say. But with the support of a raw diet and our detoxifying formulas, these channels can be restored.
When identifying the best herbs for memory and brain health, think of nootropics, neuroprotectives, circulatory stimulants and glymphatics.
Nootropic herbs are vasodilators, acting on the small arteries and veins in the brain. Introducing herbal nootropics to the system will increase blood circulation, supply important nutrients, boost energy, and increase oxygen flow to the brain. These herbs feed the brain and have a positive impact on memory, focus, and overall brain function. Nootropic herbs are used for:*
Enhancing cognitive function
- bacopa is a nootropic that is believed to increase cerebral blood flow and modulate neurotransmitters by supporting healthy levels of certain chemicals in the brain that are associated with cognitive function, such as acetylcholine and dopamine. Nootropic herbs also help improve memory and learning. Hamlet’s Ophelia pronounces “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” It is said that studying with a sprig of rosemary and then taking it with you to your exams will help with memory recall.*
- Modern multitaskers use nootropic herbs like ginkgo, bacopa and rhodiola to boost productivity and improve task performance. These herbs can enhance focus and concentration, which can be beneficial for people who need to work for long periods of time or those who need to complete tasks that require a lot of attention.*
Nervous System Support:
- Rhodiola, gotu kola, and ashwagandha are believed to have a positive impact on the nervous system as they seem to support improved mood and reduced feelings of overwhelming while promoting a sense of calm.*
Improving physical performance:
- Eleuthero, ginseng and licorice are traditionally used to improve endurance, reduce fatigue, and boost energy levels.*
Neuroprotective herbs are believed to protect the brain from damage and support healthy brain function. They are often used to help maintain brain health and to reduce the progression of age-related cognitive decline. Neuroprotective herbs are used for:
Age-related cognitive decline:
- Lion’s mane is a great example of a mushroom getting a lot of attention for helping to maintain brain health and reduce the progression of age-related cognitive decline due to its antioxidant content and its ability to promote nerve growth factor gene expression.
- Herbs like bacopa and ginkgo may be used to support recovery after a brain. Injury
Mental clarity & general brain health:
- Ashwagandha, eleuthero, ginseng, bacopa, gotu kola and ginkgo (to name a few) may be used to help improve mood and provide relief from occasional stressors. These herbs support overall brain health and wellness, regardless of age or specific health concerns.*
Circulatory stimulants increase blood flow to the brain, so they are a great addition to herbal supplements containing nootropic and neuroprotective herbs, as they increase heart rate and get blood moving. Often, circulatory stimulating herbs are pungent herbs with natural heat that dilate blood vessels and get the heart pumping. Think cayenne, prickly ash, ginger, turmeric, lobelia and oregano.*
The glymphatic system is a network of structures in the brain that helps to clear metabolic waste, including amyloid beta. Glymphatic herbs like turmeric, ginkgo, and bacopa (seeing a theme here?) support the functioning of the glymphatic system and help to improve the removal of waste from the brain.
Dr Morse says “Drain the head,” suggesting the use of glymphatic herbs. According to Dr Morse “lymph stagnation in the head can be difficult, and it can take a while to unlock this stagnation. It is important to work on the gut (like with GI Renew or GI Broom), combined with Brain and Nervous System and Blood Circulation. Drain the brain, drain the sinuses, get the lymph moving.”*
Seeing the same herbs listed across multiple categories? This is because of synergy! Herbs contain complex phytochemistry and can impart nootropic, neuroprotective, glymphatic and circulatory action on the brain. This 2012 review of Neuroprotective phytochemicals says it best:
“Herbal products contain complicated mixtures of organic chemicals, which may include fatty acids, sterols, alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, saponins, tannins, terpenes and so forth. Proponents of herbal medicines describe a plant's therapeutic value as coming from the synergistic effects of the various components of the plants, in contrast to the individual chemicals of conventional medicines isolated by pharmacologists...Roughly one-quarter to one-half of current pharmaceuticals originally were procured from plants.”*
Let's take a closer look at our supplement formulas containing herbs for memory and brain health.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is a low growing perennial herb that creeps along, blanketing the ground in damp, swampy areas of India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, South Africa, and Central and South America where it has a long history of use. The gotu kola monograph in Issue 90 of the American Botanical Council’s HerbalGram discusses the traditional uses from differing healing modalities of the region:
- Sri Lankans, noting that elephants, renowned for their longevity, eat the plant, began eating a few leaves a day in hopes of increasing their lifespan.
- The Chinese Shennong Herbal (circa 1st-2nd century CE) refers to the plant as one of the “miracle elixirs of life” because a Chinese herbalist named Li Ching-Yun, who some believe lived to the age of 197, reportedly used gotu kola regularly.
- In Ayurvedic medicine, gotu kola is best known as a mental rejuvenator, or medhya rasayana, a tonic used to reduce mental fatigue and improve mental clarity.
Gotu kola, not to be confused with kola nut, is also well known as a connective tissue tonic and is used both internally and externally to support the healing of wounds as it promotes collagen synthesis and modulates scar tissue.*
Gingko biloba is one of the oldest living tree species on the planet. According to a research paper published in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry (2017), ginkgo supports:
- Improved blood circulation to brain.
- Improved functioning of the brain, eyes, ears, and legs.
- Reduction of occasional stress.
- Improved memory, attention and speed of thinking in healthy adults.
- Improved cognition especially in age related cognitive decline.
Ginkgo is also a well-known backpacker's companion for gaining altitude.*
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is a member of the lamiaceae, or mint family. You might not suspect this at first since it doesn't have as strong of a scent as so many of its aromatic cousins, but the square stem is a dead giveaway. Acquiring the name mad-dog weed in the 1700s, skullcap was once falsely administered as a cure for rabies due to its calming, antispasmodic effect. Regardless, skullcap is wonderful as a nervous system tonic that gently assists in the relaxation of smooth muscle throughout the body.*
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) for remembrance. This age-old herb for memory has the pungency attributed to so many circulatory stimulants while also containing rosmarinic acid and 24 different flavonoids, supporting a heathy inflammatory response and reduced oxidative stress in the brain and nervous system.*
Butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus)
Butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus) is, like so many herbs used for stimulating circulation, prickly. Unrelated to its plant therapeutics, butcher’s broom earned its name by being bundled and sold to butchers to sweep their chopping blocks. The root and rhizome are traditionally used as a vascular tonic, constricting (tonifying) blood vessels and moving blockages in the blood, especially those in the lower extremities, while also being a mover of the bowels. Butcher’s broom also stimulates urination and promotes sweating, so it is no surprise that it is incorporated into 10 of Dr Morse’s cellular botanicals formulas. It is the definition of a whole-body herbal detoxifier.*
Prickly ash (Xanthoxylum americanum)
Prickly ash (Xanthoxylum americanum) is expertly described in King’s American Dispensatory (1898):
“[Prickly ash] acts upon the secretions [of] the nervous and circulatory systems. The bark, when chewed, imparts an aromatic, sweetish taste, followed by bitterness and persistent acridity. Its sialagogue properties are remarkable, inducing a copious flow of saliva, together with a great quantity of mucus from the buccal glands. This is brought about both by its local and systemic action. In the stomach it creates a sense of warmth, and the flow of both gastric and intestinal juices is augmented. There is increased biliary and pancreatic activity. Under its action the kidneys become more active, and an increased urinary product results. Cardiac action is increased, the pulse becomes slightly accelerated, and the integumentary glands give out an abundant secretion.”*
Gardenia jasminoides can uplift the spirit by scent alone. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is the fruit that is made into tea and traditionally used for yin (cold) deficiency, and to support healthy mood and sleep, with a special affinity for the heart, blood, kidneys and bladder.*
Rhodiola rosea is a powerful adaptogen root in the Crassulaceae family, which is identifiable in its succulent shaped leaves. As its scientific name implies, the root has a rosy taste, and intensely astringent mouthfeel. Rhodiola is excellent at energizing and uplifting the system, and its jolt of energy supports you in ‘keeping up’ with the demands of everyday life. Rhodiola is traditionally used to promote focus and increase mental and physical endurance, making it a popular choice among athletes.*
Schisandra chinensis berry has a complex flavor profile that encompasses all 5 classic flavors, giving it the common name in China of wu wei zi or 5 flavor herb. With a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this complex flavor indicates a completely balanced herb (think tridoshic in Ayurveda):
“The skin and pulp are both sweet and sour; the seed is pungent and bitter; and the fruit overall is salty (HerbalGram Issue 106).”
Schisandra supports healthy digestion, respiration and urination, promotes healthy sleep patterns, and is a nervous system tonic.*
*FDA warning: This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.