The health supplement market are brain supplements aplenty. Many of these natural nutrients and herbs are proven successful over the years to aid the brain and nervous system.
They are marketed to help beat depression, anxiety, stress, memory loss, sleeping problems, etc. At least by taking these natural brain supplements, you won’t be plagued by a laundry list of side effects from conventional medicines.
But as a reminder, if you’re currently taking medications, don’t just stop taking them immediately. And neither should you combine your medications with natural supplements.
Here is a list of some potent herbs and nutrients with solid reputation in the area of brain and nervous system health:
Potent Brain Supplements
SAMe aka “Sammy”
One of our “feel-good” hormones, serotonin, needs to be switched “on” (methylated) before it can do its stuff. Without SAMe donating one of its methyl groups to serotonin, this hormone will not work (and depression can easily sink in.) This process is called methylation.
Of all methyl donors, SAMe is the most active of all. So important is SAMe that without it there could be no methylation; and without methylation there could be no life!
The problem faced by up to 50% of adults is the decrease in SAMe production as we aged; and abnormal methylation ensues. This increases not only brain disorders, but also heart diseases and even some cancersall of which are linked to improper methylation!
Okay, here’s the good news …
SAMe can be taken as a brain supplement. And of all the brain supplements in the market, SAMe should top your list. However, be weary. SAMe is easily destroyed by the stomach’s powerful acid. So consider taking it in its enteric coated form. Trust me, you do not want to flush this invaluable nutrient down the toilet.
PS & PC
Phosphatidyl serine (PS) is a key human brain phospholipid (phosphorus-containing lipids) derived from soy lecithin. As a major structural component of brain cell (neuron) membranes, PS plays an essential role in intercellular communication.
Besides PS, phosphatidyl choline (PC) is another naturally occurring brain phospholipid that forms the structural elements of all body cell membranes especially our brain and nervous system. PC is a precursor for the important neurotransmitter, acetylcholine.
In short, PS & PC are ideal brain supplements that play a critical role in cognitive function, including learning, maintaining concentration, memory, and mood.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a fatty acid that functions like a vitamin, but not classified as a vitamin. As a coenzyme, ALA plays an important role in the metabolism of glucose that produces energy in cells.
ALA also has strong antioxidant properties. Because it is soluble in both water and fat, ALA is sometimes referred to as the “universal antioxidant.”
Top “8” Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits A must-read!
Herbal Brain Supplements
Known in India for centuries as “brahmi” meaning a brain tonic, bacopa is used to enhance clear thinking; support memory function; improve learning problems as well as concentration and relaxation.
In vitro studies, this “smart herb” provides antioxidant protection for critical memory centers and helps to reduce the effects of stress on the brain.
Though bacopa extract benefits primarily the brain, it’s also beneficial for the immune system; and may even have some anti-inflammatory cum anti-aging activity. This is because of its ability to enhance the activity of other naturally occurring antioxidants.
This is one potent brain herb to look out for!
Vinpocetine is another rare but potent brain nutrient that has been extensively researched and found to help support brain metabolism and memory function.
Extracted naturally from the leaves of the lesser periwinkle (vinca minor), vinpocetine has been used as a ground cover plant in gardens for centuries.
Research suggests vinpocetine may improve cognitive performance and short-term memory loss that is sometimes experienced with stress or aging. Animal studies have shown that vinpocetine significantly increases circulatory parameters including total cerebral blood flow.
This “smart flower” also increases the synthesis of several neurotransmitters that affect such critical brain functions as memory recall, focus and mood.
A purified extract from a plant called the Chinese club moss, Huperzia serrata, huperzine A is a natural brain supplement that supports age-related memory and learning impairment. This very expensive phytonutrient protects and increases acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter that acts as a messenger molecule in the brain.
It is also used for treating a muscle disease called myasthenia gravis, for increasing alertness and energy, and for protecting against agents that damage the nerves such as nerve gases.
Milk Thistle Extract
Milk thistle (silybum marianum) is an herb that is well-documented in early traditional herbal medicine.
Grown wild in Europe and America, it has been used as the key constituent that exerts a protective effect against substances potentially harmful to the liver.
Did you know, as a bitter herb, milk thistle may also rid you of toxins; boost immunity; provide antioxidant protection; and may be used as a depression remedy?
In 1597, Gerard quoted milk thistle as an herb to expel melancholy; in 1694, Westmacott called it a “friend to the liver and blood.”
Green Tea Extract
Another antioxidant brain supplement, green tea extract contains numerous compounds, including polyphenols particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and catechins.
The free radical scavenging properties of green tea extract act through multiple mechanisms to support overall health and well-being.
Amino Acid Brain Supplements
Amino acids can also act as neurotransmitters or precursors to other neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
Supplementing with amino acids such as L-tyrosine and L-tryptophan can increase brain serotonin levels; this may produce positive effects on our emotional well-being.
A non-essential amino acid, L-tyrosine also plays an important role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine; and the thyroid hormone epinephrine (adrenaline), thus supporting healthy glandular function and stress response.
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is an extract of Griffonia simplicifolia seeds from coastal West Africa. It is the direct metabolic precursor of serotonin, our body’s mood-regulating neurotransmitter; it is also important for the protection of melatonin, our sleep-related hormone.
5-HTP is actually an amino acid that is made from tryptophan. It is one of many “mood-lifter” natural antidepressants that can rival pharmaceutical medications designed to combat depression on the market today.
What sets this brain supplement from other pharmaceutical medications for depression is that it is known to work on patients who have tried conventional forms of treatment but to no avail.
Brain Supplement Formulas
Looking for a one-of-its-kind brain supplement? As I previously mentioned, they are aplenty in the market, You can of course go for single nutrient supplements, or a “combi” formula which includes ALL the ingredients above (and more).
My preferred choice? I’d pick the latter. The reason is simple … the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.
Product synergy and its delivery system are two very important features (there are many more!) that I’d look for when choosing a high quality (brain) supplement.