Nature always comes to our aid, even when it comes to counteracting neurodegeneration, but also poor concentration, poor memory, anxiety, stress and headaches. In particular, some herbs have been found to be particularly powerful for this purpose, such as rosemary, lavender and sage. This emerges from a very recent review that appeared in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience thanks to the work of an Iranian team (Faridzadeh et al, Front Neurosci, 2022).
Rosemary protects brain and memory
Rosemary protects the brain and cognitive function. Rosemary tea has been shown to improve mental activity, attention and concentration. Not only that, even inhaling rosemary oil has been shown to benefit cognitive function in older people, improving memory and also reducing daytime sleepiness. But rosemary in the form of extracts has also made it possible to counteract neuronal degeneration following head trauma and, in the long term, to improve memory and cognitive function in the case of dementia and Alzheimer's through the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme which degrades the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Inhaling rosemary oil at night has been shown, in the case of Alzheimer's, to reduce the formation of toxic aggregates of beta amyloid and tau proteins, the causes of this neurodegeneration, as well as to promote relaxation.
Then, rosemary has been shown to ease migraine attacks as well. Finally, rosemary helps reduce cell death in the case of Parkinson's.
Lavender and its neuroprotective properties
Inhaling lavender oil has shown neuroprotective properties in case of dementia, thanks to the action of lavender, which counteracts free radicals and apoptosis, namely cell death, of neurons. Lavender can help improve memory, even going so far as to reverse memory loss processes. Finally, lavender counteracts the action of neurotoxic substances, such as glutamate, and, if its oil is inhaled, it can help bring relief in case of an acute headache attack, as well as reduce the risk of recurring headaches.
Sage, memory and mood
Sage supports memory, even in young and healthy people. The benefits were also observed following the intake of a single dose of sage extracts, 150 mg. Not only that, sage extracts have also made it possible to improve mood and reduce the feeling of anxiety and stress. Finally, sage protects the brain from damage caused by free radicals, aggregates of beta amyloid proteins and excessive levels of aluminum.
Conclusions and warnings
The study has the merit of emphasizing the usefulness of three herbs, rosemary, sage and lavender, to protect the brain and cognitive function, both in young and old. These remedies can in fact improve concentration and memory, even in students, but they can also counteract the processes that lead to the development of neurodegeneration or the damage caused by toxins. You can enrich your dishes with these herbs, always without exaggerating, or resort to aromatherapy, inhaling a few drops of the chosen essential oil poured on a handkerchief.
Alternatively, you can dilute a couple of drops of essential oil in a carrier oil, such as sunflower oil, and massage onto your temples to ease headaches and to aid concentration.
Then there are the extracts, which can be purchased in chemist's and herbalist's shops, but in these cases it is always better to ask your doctor for advice before starting any treatment. Finally, you can prepare herbal tea. Bring a cup of water to the boil, remove from heat and add a teaspoon of rosemary, or sage or lavender. Leave to infuse for ten minutes, then filter and drink. Be careful during pregnancy and breastfeeding, never exaggerate with the doses and also in this case ask your doctor for advice if you are taking medicines.