Supplements from plants can support brain health through a variety of mechanisms. Each of these works in a different way.
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Bacopa monnieri is also called “brahmi,” which means “brain tonic.” The active ingredients are bacosides, and they work synergistically with a mix of other plant components to support memory and learning capacity. A research review that detailed a dozen human trials with participant ages ranging from children to seniors concluded that bacopa protects neurological function and enhances mental performance. Studies included more than 300 people, most of whom were healthy. In addition, small studies of children or adults with some cognitive impairment found that bacopa was also effective in these groups. Dosages varied from 150–320 mg daily.
The key therapeutic ingredient in red wine, resveratrol is also found in the Japanese knotweed plant, the source of many resveratrol supplements. A review of research found that resveratrol enhances the ability of the brain to produce energy by protecting mitochondria, the energy-generating components of cells, and supporting synthesis of new mitochondria. Human trials have found that 500 mg of resveratrol daily improved blood flow to the brain and boosted memory and mental function in postmenopausal women. In Alzheimer’s patients, the supplement reduced brain markers of the disease.
Montmorency Tart Cherry Juice
Known for helping to relieve arthritis, improving exercise recovery, and supporting sleep, tart cherry juice has also been shown to improve memory in older adults. At the University of Delaware in Newark, a study of 34 people between the ages of 65 and 73 found that 8 ounces of Montmorency Tart Cherry Juice taken in the morning and again in the evening enhanced memory by 23 percent and improved overall mental function as compared to a placebo.
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