Herbal Remedies - Improve Your Memory With Rosemary and Ginkgo Biloba
It's natural as we get older to find that we can become a little forgetful. You might forget where you left your keys or why you just walked into the kitchen. Memory loss like this may increase with old age for a number of reasons. As you get older, your brain can react a little slower due to neurons becoming damaged by a lack of oxygen or blood supply. Prescription medication can cause memory problems as can stress, depression and emotional problems. There are many medical causes for memory loss including diabetes, high blood pressure (increasing the risk of stroke), dementia, drug and alcohol abuse, vitamin B12 deficiency and amnesia. If you are worried about your symptoms, or if your memory loss is seriously affecting your lifestyle, then seek medical advice.
There are many ways to help improve your memory and concentration, including a healthy diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables and omega 3 fatty acids (found in oily fish, walnuts, flax seeds, cloves and oregano), regular exercise which improves circulation helping the oxygen supply getting to the brain, and by remaining social and keeping the brain active. If you don't use it you will lose it as the saying goes! There are some good tips for boosting the memory here.
There are also a number of herbal remedies that you can prepare easily at home that can help improve the function of the brain, increasing your ability to concentrate and to retain information, thereby improving your memory!
Rosemary - Rosmarinus Officinalis
Rosemary is traditionally known as the "herb of rememberence" and for good reason. It contains compounds that relax the digestive tract and can increase the effects of essential enzymes in the brain, helping to improve memory and concentration. It has also been shown to reduce stress, mild depression, and help with nervous exhaustion, all factors that can effect your memory.
Rosemary is an evergreen shrub that's easy to grow. It prefers a sunny spot in poor soil, and sprigs can be harvested all year round. It can also be bought fresh and dried in supermarkets, and is available as an essential oil.
This is a very enjoyable way to take rosemary to improve your memory and it can help the symptoms of mild dementia, although it will not cure it!
You will need:
1 bottle of good quality wine (Southern French or Californian wine is best for the high alcohol content and warmth of the sun)
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Bruise the rosemary and place in the bottle of wine
- Re-cork and shake every day for 2 weeks
- Once ready, drink one small wine glass a day after dinner.
Rosemary tea or infusion
This can be drunk as tea or as an infusion added to the bath, so the smell can lift your mood.
You will need:
About 30g fresh rosemary (or 15g dried)
500ml boiling water
- Wash and chop the rosemary if using fresh, place in a glass bowl
- Poor over the boiling water, cover, and leave to stand for 8 - 10 minutes
- Strain through a sieve (lined with muslin if you have some)
- Drink as a tea the same day (it can be reheated if desired)
Rosemary infusion can also be gargled to freshen breath! Use it several times a day and store in the fridge. Rosemary is also a delicious aromatic herb to add to meat dishes, and grown in the garden it can help ward off mosquitoes.
The ginkgo biloba, or maidenhair tree, is thought to have been around for over 225 million years, since the age of the dinosaurs. The dried leaves contain substances that work as a Nootropic by improving circulation to the brain, altering the availability of neuro-transmitters and enzymes which control the brain chemistry, and increasing oxygen supply. It improves concentration, short term memory and reaction time in the middle-aged to the elderly. If you are on prescription medication then check with your doctor of pharmacist before taking ginkgo, as it could interfere with it's effectiveness or safety.
Ginkgo biloba is a slow growing deciduous conifer that likes full sun and well drained soil. Harvest the leaves in the summer and then dry before use. Alternatively ginkgo extracts and preparations can be purchased from health food stores.
To dry the leaves:
Place on a baking sheet in an oven on it's lowest setting and the door slightly open for about 5 hours. Alternatively, hang in a well ventilated, dry environment for about 2 weeks. Hang the sprigs upside down so the oils inside all run to the leaves.
Ginkgo Biloba Tea
You will need:
2 tsp dried leaves per cup (if using fresh leaves they are less potent, use 5 leaves)
1 cup freshly boiled water
- Add the ginkgo leaves to the cup of boiled water
- Leave to steep for 10 minutes
- Strain and drink immediately
- Drink this tea once or twice a day.
Ginkgo biloba is also useful for circulatory disorders such as vertigo and leg cramps and it can help with asthma by opening up the bronchial passages, reducing inhaler use. Remember to check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are planning to use ginkgo for any medical complaint as it can interfere with prescription medication.