There are times in our life where our memory seems to be getting worse. Age and menopause problems certainly don't help much. In fact memory problems are one of the most frustrating problems that women complain about. These are my two favorite herbs for memory and concentration. I have used these herbs for years to help me with my writing. I am mildly dyslexic. Fewer mistakes are made when I take these herbs daily.
Gotu kola (Brahmi): Improves blood circulation to the brain. Many years ago, a friend of mine had an elderly father who suddenly was having more memory problems. I suggested gotu kola and he agreed to try it. He reported that his father improved after several days. I take it on a daily basis because it helps my writing. I do well on gingko as well but the brand that works best for me is expensive.
Gingko biloba: One of the best known herbs for memory is gingko. There have been clinical studies that show its benefit in slowing down dementia and Alzheimer's disease. It works by improving cerebral blood flow, especially in the area of the cerebellum. Gingko improves oxygen flow to the brain and the whole vascular system. It is also used to treat vertigo and tinnitus. Many clinical trials from Germany have shown that Ginkgo improves thinking, learning, and memory function, improves social behavior, depression, and daily activities. In many studies it has also helped slow down dementia deterioration.
The quality of the herbal supplement is critical: I was power of attorney for an older couple years ago. The wife had such severe dementia; she would ask the same question repeatedly. She drove the nurses crazy. I got permission from her doctor for the nursing staff to administer gingko. I tried the least expensive brand first, since cost was an issue. It did no good. I then tried two other brands. Only one of the brands worked on her. It had a dramatic effect on her severe dementia. She remembered more and repeated questions much less. The nursing staff and her doctor were surprised. She improved with only one of the three brands. Each brand was given six weeks to work. I persisted because I believed in the ability of the gingko to work. There is a quality difference in ginkgo products.
Clinical trials on gingko: Two clinical trials in the United States concluded that gingko was not effective for memory problems. Each trial involved a small group of patients. Many other larger clinical trials performed in Germany and Europe came out positive for ginko's benefits to memory and learning. One issue in the clinical trial differences is that Germany believes in and uses herbal medicine. They do not have a bias against herbs. In Germany, most herbs are prescriptions. The companies make money off herbal prescriptions as they do drugs. The pharmaceutical companies control herb sales. Gingko is the leading herbal medicine sold in both Germany and France. it is prescribed by physicians there. Five million prescriptions of gingko to be exact are prescribed each year. It is used to treat dementia, cerebral decline, and peripheral arterial insufficiency. Since German pharmaceutical companies have poured millions of dollars into double-blind government funded research, I would support their evidence over ours. Germany's research is not accepted by the Untied States' FDA here.
Clinical trial differences: Quality control may be the reason why clinical studies in the United States concluded it did not help patients. It is known fact that often the product used in US clinical trials is donated to the research project for free. The research company often does not test the quality of these supplements. In herbs this is crucial. Another problem could have been bias depending on who was funding the program. The dosage given and how long it was administered is important. If the study was not carried on for a long enough period, that could result in little or no improvement. Another factor could have been other drugs that the patients were also taking. Since many prescription and OTC drugs cause memory problems, that factor alone could have impacted the study in a negative way. These are all factors in why herbs may or may not work for you or in a clinical trial.
The second reason why both ginkgo and gotu kola help memory is in their antioxidant value. Antioxidants protect the nervous and cardiovascular system from destructive-free radicals. Free radicals are part of the reason our memory and mental functions decline.
Other herbs which are helpful for memory include ginseng and rosemary.
I use either gingko or gotu kola or both every day. It helps me write articles with fewer mistakes. My mind is much more focused and clear when writing, as well.
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