Tips For Improving Memory; Improve Memory And Concentration With Natural Nootropics

Chocolate as a Nootropic

Cocao (chocolate) dark chocolate particularly contains theobromine, a vasodilator that can improve the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Cocoa is also known to contain phenylethylamine, a chemical that enhances focus and mood.
Cocao (chocolate) dark chocolate particularly contains theobromine, a vasodilator that can improve the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Cocoa is also known to contain phenylethylamine, a chemical that enhances focus and mood. | Source

Improving Memory, Focus and Concentration


Some proponents of neuroenhancement speculate that it will soon become standard practice (Greely et al. 2008)

An informal study carried out by Nature, ( international weekly journal of science) in 2008, purely with the intention of stimulating debate, found that 1 in 5 readers stated that they had used drugs to stimulate their focus, concentration or memory. A UK study concluded that the public awareness of cognitive enhancers was extremely low, however; media coverage suggests that the use of brain enhancers are widespread, and there is a growing market for nootropics, or what has become known as smart or lifestyle drugs and supplements.

What are Nootropics?

Nootropics come from the Greek words "noos" meaning mind and "tropos" growing. The most common form of nootropics is known as racetams. Piracetam is the first racetam. It was synthesized as long ago as 1963 by a little-known chemist from Romania and is now a buzzword for students looking for help with study and examination.

Nootropics or smart drugs and supplements are cognitive enhancers that can improve blood flow to the brain, boost memory and help to improve focus, concentration, alertness and creativity. These substances act within the brain to revitalize and protect nerve cells from damage.

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Memory loss may be anything from occasional forgetfulness to dementia. It can be mild, a form of distraction or lack of concentration when the body is overtired or not getting sufficient quality rest and sleep. Memory loss can also be a symptom of a serious condition that requires medical attention.

While memory loss occurs mostly in older people, it can also affect the younger brain, especially in study related stress, and may well be one reason more healthy young students are using energy or caffeine loaded drinks. These types of drinks help to improve focus, alertness and concentration, a favourite with students looking to gain an edge; However, too much caffeine can lead to serious health problems.

A team of Swiss researchers found that many highly stressed students are also using drugs such as amphetamines and medications for the treatment of ADHD. The students are using these drugs to help improve examination results, but the brain can be enhanced by the use of natural nootropics.

Memory deficiency can occur when the nerve in the brain (neurons) and the neurotransmitter pathways that help to encode, store and retrieve memories are damaged.

The main neurotransmitter associated with memory is acetylcholine, drugs, and supplements used to improve or enhance memory works by preventing damage to the brain, and by improving the acetylcholine pathways within the brain.

Nootropics are pharmaceuticals or natural herbal supplements that work by affecting the neurotransmitters in the brain. They act as vasodilators with the ability to improve blood flow and circulation and thereby, increase oxygen to the brain. There are different types of nootropic drugs, the majority of people who take them report an improvement in memory, mood, concentration, motivation and reaction time.

For this article, we will be looking at some herbal nootropics and vitamins to improve brain function, memory, and performance, but must be mindful that sleep and adequate rest plays a major part in maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.

A recent US study in the journal Science showed that the brain cells shrink during sleep to open gaps between the nerve cells or neurons to allow fluid to wash the brain clean, a function it can only perform during sleep. The researcher also suggests that failing to remove the toxic proteins may contribute to brain disorders. With its limited energy, the brain must choose between two functioning states, awake and aware or asleep and cleaning up. If we do not get good quality sleep, we do not achieve the functional state that allows the brain to get rid of the toxic substances that can damage its cells.


Source

How to Increase Concentration Power Naturally

Ginkgo Biloba is said to be the first tree to grow in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb destroyed almost all other vegetation.

Charles Darwin in 1959 referred to the Ginkgo biloba tree as a “living fossil.” The oldest fossil record is over 200 million years old.

Ginkgo biloba Benefits (Maidenhair tree)

Ginkgo is a herb derived from the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree, a large deciduous tree renowned for its beauty, hardiness and resilience, it is the world's oldest living tree species it is known to live for up to a 1000 years, the oldest trees are in China.

This primeval plant has been a firm favourite with landscapers worldwide. Ginkgo seeds were brought to Europe in the early 1700's and America later that century. It wasn't long before the beautiful old tree species would embellish city landscapes in the West where it continues to line many modern city streets like London and New York.

Common to Asia, Ginkgo biloba herb has been used in Chinese medicine for over 5,000 years, ginkgo was described as a remedy for asthma and bronchitis in 2600 BC. This herb has a long and varied history, it has been tried for eye conditions such as glaucoma, and macular degeneration, sexual performance problems and many more. Currently, Ginkgo biloba is used chiefly to improve memory and concentration, for strengthen brain functioning and to improve blood circulation.

The Ginkgo nuts were documented in Japanese textbooks since 1492 and used at weddings and tea ceremonies as sweets and desserts. Ginkgo is known the world over and is said to be the most widely used herbal treatment for brain enhancement.

Although many components from Ginkgo biloba have been identified and isolated, only two are believed to be responsible for the many health benefits attributed to this remarkable plant, they are flavonoids and terpenoids.

Flavonoids are potent plant-based antioxidants, shown to protect the brain, nerves, heart muscles, blood vessels, and retina from damage, they also help to prevent some form of cancers. Flavonoids are found in blueberries, bilberry, chocolate and green tea. Some vegetables that are high in flavonoids includes broccoli, kale, spring onions, hot peppers, spinach and watercress.

Terpenoids, also known as Isoprenoids are a large and diverse class of naturally occurring organic chemicals present in all types of living organisms; they are the most widespread group of natural product. Plant terpenoids play a role in traditional herbal remedies and are being studied for antibacterial and other pharmaceutical benefits.

Terpenoids are the main building block of any plant resin or essential oil. They are responsible for the pleasant aroma and flavour of herbs, and aromatic plants such as mint, basil oregano, sage and rosemary, and the compound found in cannabis, they are the reason sniffer dogs can detect the drug.

Terpenoids help blood flow by dilating the blood vessels and reducing the stickiness of platelets. The natural health benefits of Ginkgo has been widely studied and recognized by traditional medical practitioners.

Ginkgo has been used to treat circulation disorders and to enhance memory. However, studies have yet to show whether ginkgo can reduce the risk of progression to Alzheimer's disease. The best results from Ginkgo are seen only after long-term use.

Conditions that may benefit from Ginkgo biloba includes:

  • Raynaud's disease

  • Alzheimer's disease and dementia

  • Intermittent Claudication

  • Blood pressure

  • Children with ADHD

  • Glaucoma

  • Memory impairment

  • Macular Degeneration

  • Tinnitus

  • Anxiety

  • Asthma

  • Altitude sickness

  • Insomnia

Ginkgo interacts with some medication, before taking this supplement discuss it with your doctor or healthcare provider.

Ginseng folliage and fruit

Source

The Mayo Clinic Finds Ginseng helps fatigue syndrome in cancer Patients

Diabetics, pregnant women and people taking blood thinning medication specifically, should not take ginseng before consulting their doctors.
Diabetics, pregnant women and people taking blood thinning medication specifically, should not take ginseng before consulting their doctors. | Source
Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha

Ginseng

Panax or Asian ginseng, and Panax quinquefolius or American ginseng are the most effective types of ginseng used in herbal or traditional medicine. Ginseng is an adaptogen, it contains properties that are capable of protecting the body from stress, both mental and physical, and helps in the return to normal functioning.

Often referred to as true ginseng, this herb contains a group of phytochemicals known as ginsenosides or panaxosides that are shown in different studies to improve memory, especially spatial memory (how the brain stores information about the environment that surrounds us, and the location of physical objects in space). The two subtypes of ginsenosides work by increasing neural activities particularly in parts of the brain that control memory, and also increases acetylcholine concentration in the brain.

Gotu Kola, a perennial creeping plant that is also an adaptogen, it helps the body to cope with stress by reducing the levels of stress hormones and by calming rapid firing neurons in the brain. Traditionally used as a brain tonic, Gotu kola has a potent nootropic effect when used to improve memory and cognition, particularly in elderly people.

Gotu Kola is used in the US in the treatment of varicose veins or cellulitis. In Ayurvedic medicine, Gotu kola is used for anxiety and is said to develop the crown chakra or energy center at the top of the head.

In India, this rejuvenative nervine medicine is regarded as, possibly the most spiritual of all herbs and is known as a promoter of long life. The herb is often used by yogis to improve their meditation. Gotu Kola is an important herb used in Ayurvedic Medicine since the Sri Lankans first notice that elephants, known for their longevity and extensive memory capacity, would happily feed on the plant's leaves.

Green tea is an excellent source of antioxidants, it contains healthy medicinal phytochemicals such as epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG which protects the cells of the brain from damage, this is done by neutralizing reactive oxygen species ( ROS) and by removing free radicals. (ROS is chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen, a by-product of normal metabolism)

Recent research suggests that this antioxidant can also promote neurogenesis, the growth, and development of nervous tissue.

Green tea is one of the most studied substances to date and is believed to be able to enhance memory in several ways. Its phytochemicals can increase the activities of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine by blocking or inhibiting acetyl cholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in brain synapses. This helps to increase the level and duration of the action of acetylcholine to improve brain function.

Green tea is credited with many health enhancing qualities, from weight loss to cancer prevention; however, the research evidence is often found to be weak and contradictory.

Bacopa or Brahmi is an Indian aquatic herb belonging to the family Plantaginaceae, and is commonly referred to as Water-hyssop, it has been used in traditional Ayurveda medicine for hundreds of years. This potent antioxidant herb is used in the treatment of memory decline, inflammation, pain, pyrexia, epilepsy and in the management of neurodegenerative disorders. This herb has been shown to reduce the buildup of beta amyloid plaques on parts of the brain. Bacopa is believed to provide specific antioxidant protection to the part of the brain known to control memory, the hippocampus.

Swinburne University Canada, published a review of 10 years of research in 2013, examining the cognitive effects of Bacopa and specifically an extract of the herb (CDRl 08: KeenMind), they found that test results suggested that the extract improved cognitive function acutely, but further research was proposed.

The report also found that the acute effects of the extract, may include direct neurotransmitter changes, increase in blood flow or increases in energy metabolism, other mechanisms are likely to happen over a longer period.

Huperzia Serrata is a natural nootropic that is native to India and Southeast Asia. This unique herb has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries for treating conditions such as inflammation and fever. Huperzia Serrata contains the active ingredient Huperzine A, an alkaloid that can easily cross the blood-brain barrier and is now commonly used as an over-the-counter nootropic and dietary supplement. This phytochemical is currently undergoing clinical trials as a possible treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Huperzine A protects the brain from damage caused by beta amyloid proteins and glutamate.

Caffeine study done in Finland in 2009 found that people who consume three to five cups of coffee per day had a 65% less risk of dementia and Alzheimer's. However, since too much caffeine can have a detrimental effect on sleep, caffeine should be taken in moderation and earlier rather than late in the day.


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is another herb used in Ayurvedic medicine and known for its ability to enhance memory and improve brain function. Research performed on mice are encouraging, but more studies are needed.

Blueberries, strawberries, walnuts, and grape juice can decrease vulnerability to oxidative stress that comes with aging, resulting in enhancement of brain nerve communication through increased nerve or neural signaling and decrease in stress signals.

Collaborative research found that blueberry or grape juice supplements will increase verbal memory performance in people with mild cognitive impairment. These findings suggest that a greater intake of foods high in antioxidant such as berries, walnuts and grapes may be able to increase health and longevity and enhance brain and motor functioning as we age.

Vinpocetine is an alkaloid isolated from the periwinkle plant; it helps to protect the brain and improve memory by increasing blood flow. Although Vinpocetine is semi-synthetic, it is seen as natural, because of its source.

In some countries, Vinpocetine is prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Dementia. Studies on Vinpocetine and its effects on memory have shown great results but was said to be inconclusive.


vinpocetine for memory, learning and focus

Helps to protect brain function by reducing oxidative stress. Helps to enhance brain function with other cognitive actions such as learning and focus.
Helps to protect brain function by reducing oxidative stress. Helps to enhance brain function with other cognitive actions such as learning and focus.

Herbal Nootropic St John's Wort

A perennial herb commonly used for the treatment of depression.
A perennial herb commonly used for the treatment of depression. | Source
Source

Brain performance enhancement

What do you think about the use of drugs and supplements for brain enhancement?

  • It is a form of cheating
  • An extension of medical treatment
  • A legitimate lifestyle enhancement
See results without voting

What Vitamin Should I Take?

Vitamins to enhance Memory

Vitamin B works to reduce homocysteine levels, an excess of homocysteine are shown to cause cognitive impairment.

Omega-3 is essential for the function and growth of nerve tissue.

Vitamin D may have positive effects on cognitive function, found to be necessary for the production of dopamine.

Vitamin E can protect neurons from injury caused by free radicals.

Minerals

Magnesium

Selenium

Calcium

Iron


Zinc

Conclusion

Some nootropics are basic nutrients and dietary supplements and are not considered harmful when taken as directed. However, like any supplement too much can be detrimental to health. Always consult your doctor before taking these or any other supplements and medication. The Information in this hub is for educational purposes only; it is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or care. Always do your research.

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40 comments

tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Prince Bethel, thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, I'm glad you found the hub useful. The brain is fascinating, even when we sleep it keeps busy, we must do what we can to help, but naturally.


Prince Bethel profile image

Prince Bethel 2 years ago from Africa

Nice hub. Informative and eye opening. The brain is the power house of our body. It has to function properly and naturally!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Dis-cover, nice to see you, glad you've enjoyed the hub.

Take care and my best to you.


dis-cover profile image

dis-cover 2 years ago from Serbia, Belgrade

Very informative, detailed and interesting hub. Great job!!! Voted up as awesome.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Aaron, so sorry, I seem to have missed this comment, I think it was labeled as spam, due to the link. Please accept my apologies, and thank you for stopping by.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi rasta1, great to see you here! Actually, it does say, under the image of the large bar 'particularly dark chocolate' but I do appreciate you emphasizing the point. Always a pleasure!


rasta1 profile image

rasta1 2 years ago from Jamaica

You should warn your readers that your referring to dark 100% chocolate and not milk chocolate or chocolate ice cream, lol.


Aaron 2 years ago

What a fantastic, well researched article. Well done M8. I can't wait to read more of your stuff. Best place in my opinion to get Nootropics or so called 'Smart Drugs' is http://www.intellimeds.co.uk


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi jpcmc, yeh... just what I thought, until I did the research for my next hub on Acid reflux and GERD. From one chocolate lover to another, enjoy ...but all things in moderation. :)

A pleasure to see you, take care and my best to you.


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 2 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

Yey, 1 more reason to eat chocolate. You made my day my friend. LOL


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Evan, I use the ginkgo supplements that contains the ginkgo leaf extract. However, the nuts are also known to have many health benefits. It's low in calories, high in fibre, protein and vitamins. The nuts are fairly safe to eat, but in some people with chronic kidney disease when eaten in large amounts it can cause seizures. Thank you again for stopping by, much appreciated.


Evan Smiley profile image

Evan Smiley 2 years ago from Oklahoma City

I have a question! Do you use the plant leaves of the Ginkgo baloba or the nuts? How do you use them? And where could someone get them?


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Christin, ashwagandha is another plant with many uses, I wish there were more hard evidence to show. Many of the home remedies have been used in Indian and Asian medicine for thousands of years, but there's very little research available. I'm glad you've found the hub useful, I appreciate you taking the time.My best to you.


ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 2 years ago from Midwest

I have used several of these herbs, but there are a few new ones I haven't tried. I love gotu kola, ginseng and ginkgo and have considered trying ashwaganda. Very interesting and informative hub. Voted up and shared.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Michelle, it's lovely to see you! Glad you found this useful, but your memory looks pretty good from what I can see. :) Always a pleasure, and the best to you for 2014.


midget38 profile image

midget38 2 years ago from Singapore

My memory's poor so I need a hub like this! Thanks for sharing,Jo! Sharing too!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Flourish, thank you for taking a look at this...it's certainly good news for us chocoholics, we don't really need an excuse anymore, although I'd prefer less fat and more happy. :)

When we get to that certain age the memory does begin to play tricks on us, and yes, it is very frightening when that happens. It's good to know that there are action we can take to help lift the fog.

My best to you for 2014.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

Good hub, Jo. I knew there was purpose in chocolate other than making me fat & happy. Cognitive issues must surely be frightening and are a part of many diseases and health conditions. Anything that can help ward off memory issues and "brain fog" will certainly be welcome news for those who are affected.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Devika, I was only thinking this morning that I haven't seen much of you lately and need to pay you a visit. Lovely to see you, glad you liked the hub. I'll take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Happy New Year!!


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Happy New Year to you tobusiness have a wonderful year of challenges. The foods we eat improves our health and memory great hub.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Frank, memory loss is unfortunately one of those things we'll all have to fight as we get older, and prevention is much better than cure. It's good to know there are ways to help ourselves.

A Happy New Year to You, I hope it will be a productive and prosperous 2014.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

thanks for the information tobusiness you know the fear of losing my memory sticks in me very strong.. at least I have some news to help combat it or at least put up a valid effort..right?


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Shanmarie, lovely to see you, thanks for stopping by, I'm glad you were able to find some new information here.

Best wishes to you for the New Year.


shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 2 years ago from Texas

Very interesting and useful information here. :) Some of it I was already aware of, but I also learned quite a bit.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Jackie, Alzheimer's is a very testing condition, very hard to cope with, especially when it attacks a loved one. The scary thing about this condition is that more of us will be affected either directly or indirectly in the future, we need to find ways to prevent and cure this horrible illness. Thank you for checking this out, always appreciated and a Happy New year to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Ruby, thanks for taking a look at this. Green tea is a great source of antioxidant, I should really drink more of it...chocolates and omega-3 fish oil are my drugs of choice, I've recently added ginseng and ginkgo to the mixed. Many of us are having to work and stay active for much longer, so we need to find ways to keep body and brain well conditioned. Take care and my best to you.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

This is so interesting. I am all for natural things for all medicine is is chemicals to hide the symptoms! My mom had Alzheimer's so i try to do all I can to avoid getting that and it seems my memory is pretty sharp but we just cannot learn enough about these things can we? Thanks for doing such a great article to help. ^


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Joelle, that is so very nice of you! I often have the same problem placing comments either it doesn't work or it records twice. I'm at work at the moment and it's a very busy New Year for me, my short tea break is almost up so I catch you later. Have fun.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

Great info. here. I drink green tea daily, and take many of the vitamins you have listed. I am thrilled that dark chocolate is a memory improver. lol..Thank you for sharing. I think i will check out the ginkgo.....


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 2 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

Happy New Year to you too and to your family! I wanted to add it in my previous message but I could not return to my comment ... very strange! And I was trying so hard that I forgot to give you the up, interesting, etc. .... but it's all done now :-)


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Jamie, I'm with you there. My brain is the proverbial sieve, I need all the help I can get, but naturally. Thank you for stopping by, always a pleasure. Take care and a Happy New Year to you and your family.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Joelle, It's good news about chocolates, I just love Belgian chocolate, unfortunately, I have to be careful about the hips :)

You're right about Alzheimer's, we desperately need a cure. There are many studies into ginkgo as a possible treatment for the condition but so far there's nothing to get excited about, we need something solid soon. Thank you for the visit, support and insightful comment, always appreciated. Take care and have a very Happy New Year.


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 2 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

Very interesting and useful, Jo! I love chocolate.... I blame it on my Belgian origin ;-)

When you write about the benefits of Ginkgo biloba I was thinking right away of Alzheimer. I hope that one day they can figure out for sure of some remedy to help people with that condition. It will remove quite a burden of our society!

I was surprise to read that Ginkgo biloba had so many other applications as well. I think doctors should prescribe that to kids with ADHD instead of Ritalin!

Thank you for sharing another great and interesting hub, Jo! Definitely voted up, useful, interesting and just awesome!


jhamann profile image

jhamann 2 years ago from Reno NV

Thank you Jo, I need help in this department. Jamie


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Eddy, such a pleasure to see you! So glad you found this useful, thanks for stopping by, I wish I was spending the New Year in Wales, but alas, it's not to be, maybe next year. :) Wishing you the very best for 2014.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

What an interesting read Jo and your obvious hard work has certainly paid off here.

voted up for sure ad wishing you a great year ahead.

Love from wales.

Eddy.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Bill, It comes with the territory! But if there are natural ways to improve the grey cells as we get older, with no detrimental effects, I'll certainly give it a try. Thank you for all the wonderful support over the last year, always a pleasure. Wishing you a very bright and prosperous New Year.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Very helpful and very timely. There is no doubt my memory is slipping with the years. I appreciate this information and will act on it. Now, I hope you have a fabulous New Year my friend. Thank you for your friendship in 2013.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Faith, did you see the size of my Christmas bar above? I'm taking no chances. :)

Thank you for the this wonderful comment and visit, the first one is always special. Have A Very Happy New Year.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Wow, Jo, this article is packed full of great and useful information! I knew the whole time while eating chocolate I was actually doing good : ) well...dark chocolate. Superb write and very informative. Up and more and sharing. Happy New Year, Faith Reaper

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