13 Best herbs for brain fog to boost mental clarity

The best herbs for brain fog 1

Are you tired of feeling like your brain is wrapped up in a fluffy, hazy cloud, making it difficult to think clearly or focus?  That pesky brain fog can strike when you least expect it, turning even the simplest tasks into monumental challenges.

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Luckily, there are herbs that can help you clear the mental haze and reclaim your cognitive clarity.

Some herbs like Gingko Biloba and ginseng are acclaimed for their ability to improve brain function and prevent memory loss.

Herbal remedies, an integral part of ancient cultures worldwide, have been utilized for centuries.

From digestive problems to mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and even boosting mental energy and mood, herbal medicine has played a significant role in many cultures worldwide.

Fortunately, herbal remedies are now gaining recognition in modern scientific research and becoming more mainstream.

But while there are some herbs that can help you clear brain fog it is necessary to first address the cause.

Most of the time brain fog can be traced to lifestyle and some chronic illnesses.

However, the best herbs for brain fog can help.

Natural herbs have been known to boost memory and focus, mental energy, clarity, and even slow brain aging. 

But first, let’s take a moment to understand brain fog.

What is brain fog? 

Herbs for brain fog

Brain fog, often referred to as “mental fog” or “clouded thinking,” is a subjective feeling of cognitive dysfunction.

It’s characterized by a sense of confusion, mental slowness, forgetfulness, and a lack of mental clarity.

People experiencing brain fog often describe it as feeling as though their mind is trapped in a dense cloud, making it challenging to think, concentrate, and perform mental tasks effectively.

The symptoms of brain fog can vary from person to person and may include:

  1. Difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks.
  2. Memory problems and forgetfulness.
  3. Slower thinking and processing of information.
  4. Reduced mental clarity and sharpness.
  5. Feeling mentally fatigued or mentally “drained.”
  6. Confusion or disorientation.
  7. Difficulty finding the right words in conversation.
  8. Decreased attention span.

Brain fog can be temporary and mild, or it can persist and interfere significantly with daily life and functioning.

It may be associated with various underlying factors, such as sleep deprivation, stress, poor nutrition, medication side effects, certain medical conditions, or other lifestyle factors.

Understanding and addressing the root causes of brain fog is essential to alleviate its symptoms and regain mental clarity.

It’s often a sign that the body and mind need attention and care to function optimally.

What causes brain fog?

The cause of brain fog is largely lifestyle practices that lead to hormonal imbalances, inflammation, neurodegeneration, and metabolic diseases.  

The following are common causes of brain fog:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Overworking
  • Food sensitivities
  • Excess computer and electronic device usage
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor diet
  • Toxin exposure 
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Menopause
  • Infections like COVID 19
  • Chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, brain injury, anxiety, depression stress including chronic fatigue syndrome and adrenal fatigue. 

Many of these problems may affect the brain at a cellular level affecting the functions and processes of the central nervous system and manifesting as brain fog.

Best herbs for brain fog

When you finally determine that the lethargy and inability to focus you feel is brain fog, these herbs can help you clear the haze, think clearly, and boost your focus and mental power. 

1. Rosemary

Herbs for brain fog

First up on our brain-boosting journey is the trusty rosemary. This aromatic herb not only adds a delightful flavor to your meals but can also sharpen your memory and focus.

 A 2020 study in the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences found that rosemary extracts improved nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, anxiety, and depression commonly associated with cognitive dysfunction such as memory and learning.

According to research, rosemary has a positive effect on mood, learning, memory, pain anxiety, and sleep, all of which contribute to brain fog.

Try sprinkling rosemary on your roasted veggies or in your morning omelet to give your brain a tasty kick-start.

2. Ginkgo Biloba

best herbs for brain fog

Ginkgo biloba, or “Maidenhair tree,” may sound like something out of a fantasy novel, but its benefits are pretty real.

This ancient herb has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to enhance mental clarity and memory.

Ginko Biloba improves brain function in several ways.

It is a potent anti-oxidant thanks to high levels of flavonoids and terpenoid compounds and therefore neutralizes oxidative stress due to free radicals.

Gingko is also known to improve blood flow to various parts of the body including the brain which improves brain function.

study on patients with CAD found that supplementing with ginko immediately led to a 12% increase in blood flow throughout the body.

Ginkgo supplementation may help protect against heart and brain diseases, according to recent studies.

According to a study on patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, ginko boloba demonstrated potential benefits for cognitive function including improvement in general activities of daily living.

You can find ginkgo biloba in various forms, including supplements and teas.

3. Turmeric

herbs for brain fog

Turmeric is not just the superstar of your curry; Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help protect your brain and improve cognitive function.  

There have been many research studies around turmeric that showcase the neuroprotective properties of curcumin.  

A study published in the journal Molecules shows that curcumin had efficacy in Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease both neuroinflammatory progressive diseases associated with memory, cognitive dysfunction, and brain fog.

According to the research, curcumin decreases oxidative stress associated with these illnesses.

A study in Molecules also shows that Curcumin in turmeric Prevents the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by preventing the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, likely an inflammatory condition.

Furthermore, the same research found curcumin may improve Alzheimer’s by modulating other factors of the disease process including improved insulin signaling binding copper and lowering cholesterol. 

So, spice up your life and sprinkle some turmeric into your dishes, or try a comforting cup of golden milk. Remembering a sprinkling of black pepper helps with curcumin bioavailability.

4. Ginseng

Ginseng, often referred to as the “king of herbs,” is your go-to herb when you need an energy boost and mental clarity. 

It can help fight fatigue, improve concentration, and keep that brain fog at bay. Research shows ginseng is effective in ameliorating anxiety and depression associated with stress, conditions that usually lead to brain fog symptoms.

Additionally, a 2018 research in Biomed Research International shows that ginsenosides, the main constituents of ginseng are neuroprotective against epilepsy, depression, cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, conditions associated with brain dysfunction.

Whether you prefer it as a tea or supplement, ginseng will help clear the fog.

5. Sage

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Sage isn’t just for cleansing your space; it can also cleanse your mind of brain fog! Sage has been associated with improved memory and cognitive function. 

Research shows that several varieties of sage including clary sage have neuroprotective activity.

According to research, sage protects against amyloid beta-induced neurotoxicity associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The same research also found that sage supports BDNF activity, which supports neuron growth, and differentiation enhancing learning and memory.

Plus BDNF is usually lower in Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairment conditions, the study asserts underlining an association between low BDNF and cognitive dysfunction.

Sage is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb.

And since many mental health disorders are associated with increased oxidative stress and inflammation, reducing inflammation and oxidative stress is important in improving cognitive function.

Furthermore, per the same research, sage has antidepressant and anxiolytic effects both of which are known to affect cognition, memory, attention, and learning which are common in major depression and many anxiety disorders.

You can use sage in cooking or enjoy its benefits by sipping on some sage tea. Just be careful not to go overboard – sage is pretty potent!

6. Peppermint

Peppermint doesn’t just freshen your breath; it can also freshen up your thinking. 

Peppermint’s invigorating aroma and menthol can help wake up your senses and boost your alertness. 

Try some peppermint tea or simply inhale its delightful scent for a quick pick-me-up.

Remember, while these herbs can work wonders, they’re not magical cures. 

 

7. Tulsi

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Holy basil, also known as Tulsi, is highly valued in Ayurvedic medicine.

Research shows that tulsi protects organs from chemical, physical, metabolic, and physiologic stress through various pharmacologic effects. 

Tulsi also helps reduce the effect of toxic stress by calming the mind and providing antidepressant and anxiolytic benefits.

Plus tulsi provides positive effects on memory and cognition and improves mental clarity and nervous system function. 

8. Gotu Kola

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Gotu kola, unlike the caffeine-laden cola you may reach for, for a boost of energy, is actually good for you.

Gotu kola, the scientific name Centella Asiatica, has been used in Asian Ayurveda medicine for thousands of years and is known as ‘the herb of longevity.’

 Research shows that Gotu kola may have an anti-depressive effect, help relieve stress, anxiety, and insomnia, as well as help with pain. 

Also, Gotu kola is shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, improve joint pain, and even detox the liver.

 Every one of these effects helps improve brain fog. 

Depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia affect attention, focus, and memory, causing fatigue and inability to concentrate. 

So, by improving these problems, Gotu kola helps memory, focus, and brain function.

9. Bacopa monnieri

Bacoba Monierri also known as water hyssop or brahmi is a creeping plant found in wet tropical landscapes.

Bacopa Monnieri has been used in Ayurveda for hundreds of years to enhance memory and relieve insomnia and anxiety.  

While Bacopa Monnieri is used for various ailments, it is well-known in Ayurveda as a neural and memory enhancer(source).

Bacopa enhances cognitive function, improves memory, and helps you stay focused. Per a study published in Rejuvenation Research, Bacopa contains antioxidant properties that are neuroprotective.

Researchers found that administering bacopa significantly increased glutathione the body’s main antioxidant in the brain as well as vitamin A, E, and C levels.

These antioxidants then protect the brain from oxidative stress associated with many mental health conditions that cause cognitive decline and brain fog. 

 A 2018 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that administering 300mg a day of bacopa enhanced cognitive performance in the subjects.

 Another study compared the Bcopa antianxiety effect to lorazepam and found BM had a similar effect on anxiety. Bacopa also prompted cognition as opposed to the amnesic effect of lorazepam.   

10. Rhodiola Rosea

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Rhodiola has been shown to improve stress, anxiety, and mental fatigue.

A  2022 review published in Molecules highlights Rhodiola rosea’s potential to counteract this mental weariness and improve mental performance.

By modulating the body’s response to fatigue, Rhodiola rosea offers respite from the fog and may enhance mental endurance.

The same review underscores Rhodiola rosea’s role in improving cognitive function, citing multiple studies.

This includes enhancements in attention, memory, and speed of audio-visual perception, all of which contribute to heightened mental clarity.

Rhodiola rosea may hold the key to unlocking sustained alertness and focus.

The aforementioned review also discusses a study on young physicians during night duty, where Rhodiola rosea demonstrated the potential to combat mental fatigue, providing a much-needed boost in mental energy.

Stress and anxiety are notorious culprits when it comes to brain fog.

The review in question, as well as numerous other studies, confirms Rhodiola rosea’s ability to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Its adaptogenic properties help the body better cope with stressors, ultimately promoting mental clarity even in challenging situations.

 

11. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen herb that has been used in Ayurveda medicine for thousands of years to reduce stress and boost cognition, memory, and energy levels. 

 Research shows ashwagandha may reduce stress and anxiety both of which are associated with brain fog.

A 2017 randomized controlled study found that ashwagandha was effective in improving memory and cognition in people with mild cognitive impairment. 

Ashwagandha also has anti-inflammatory properties. And research shows that inflammation plays a role in many mental health disorders many of which are associated with brain fog.

2021 study found that ashwagandha administration in patients experiencing COVID-19 brain fog led to reduced inflammation markers and improvement in brain fog.

Additionally, ashwagandha also improves stress, anxiety, and sleep. A 2019 study published in Cureus found a statistically significant improvement in stress levels, a significant reduction in cortisol, and anxiety, and improved sleep with 600mg of Ashwagandha over an 8-week study period.

And since anxiety, stress, lack of sleep, and brain fog go hand in hand, decreasing stress, and anxiety, and improving sleep also helps lift brain fog. 

Ashwagandha can be taken in pill form, as tea, or simply put the powder in smoothies. 

12. Lions mane

herbs for brain fog

 Lions mane is a medicinal mushroom and is all the rage these days on many social media platforms and showing up in all manner of infusions and powders online. And it turns out it’s worth the hype.

 Research shows Lion’s mane supports nerve growth and brain health. Compounds Hericenones and erinacines isolated in lion’s mane can induce neurotrophic growth factor (NGF) in nerve cells, maintain healthy brain cells, helping you stay sharp and focused.

Additionally, Lion’s mane may also help boost the immune system(source).

As mentioned already, infections lead to mental fog and exhaustion so by keeping infections away you protect your brain function as well.

According to a study published in Pub Med, lion mane extract stimulates the innate immune system. 

13. Reishi mushrooms

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Reishi mushrooms have a long history of use in many Asian countries. In China, reishi is regarded as “the herb of spiritual potency.” Research suggests that Reishi mushrooms, scientifically known as Ganoderma lucidum, contain bioactive compounds that can positively impact brain function.

These compounds are believed to enhance cognitive performance, memory, and overall mental acuity.

One of the primary culprits of brain fog is stress and anxiety. Reishi mushrooms are adaptogens, which means they help your body adapt to stress and maintain equilibrium.

By calming your nervous system, Reishi can help lift the fog created by stress and anxiety, allowing your mind to stay clear.

Reishi mushrooms may play a role in improving sleep quality.

By calming the mind and reducing anxiety, reishi can help you achieve deeper and more restful sleep, allowing your brain to recharge and wake up clear-headed and refreshed.

Also, research shows reishi has a positive effect on depression through its activity on serotonin and noradrenaline, and is also antianxiety for both conditions.

Other studies show that reishi may have a neuroprotective effect, help with the growth of new nerve cells, and improve Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive dysfunction.

Conclusion

Brain fog is a common phenomenon in our modern life mostly due to lifestyle factors that lead to stress, anxiety, depression even neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, and many metabolic diseases such as diabetes that are associated with mental fatigue, and brain fog.

It is important to improve lifestyle factors such as sleep, healthy nutrition, healthy relationships, and work-life balance to improve brain function.

Additionally, herbal supplements such as these listed can help boost mental health and function thereby improving brain fog. 

But remember to your health care provider before starting on new supplements.

And also keep in mind not all supplements are good for everyone. Follow the guidance of your medical provider.

Don’t let your brain fog keep you in a shroud of mental dysfunction.

The best herbs fog can help.

the best herbs for brain fog
Herbs for brain fog

 

Read next: The best superfoods for brain health.

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