Our brain changes, adapts and regenerates from the time we are born until old age, that's what emerges from the most recent scientific studies. So the idea that sees the brain as something static has been abandoned. But in order to allow the brain to put all its plasticity into play, also we are called to do our part, by regularly practicing moderate physical activity and by bringing to the table foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins, as we have seen in previous articles. Today, however, we try to understand if there are herbs and herbal teas that can help protect the brain and promote its plasticity.
Ginkgo biloba is a really beneficial seedling for the brain. In fact, it has been shown to improve the cognitive function and health of the blood vessels that supply the brain (Sangiovanni et al, Neural Plast, 2017). You can find ginkgo in the chemist’s or herbalist's shop in the form of tablets to be taken before meals. Be careful if you are taking blood clotting medications or if you have a surgery scheduled, even at the dentist, always talk to your doctor. Also bacopa, scientific name bacopa monnieri, is considered a useful remedy to increase memory and to improve the transmission between neurons thanks to saponins, antioxidant substances contained in it. Bacopa is taken in the form of a dry extract, pay attention during pregnancy and if you are taking medications, especially for headaches or antidepressants, as interactions may occur. But we cannot forget the coffee that, thanks to its intake in caffeine, is considered a drink able to increase and improve cognitive function. The orange-yellow color of saffron is due to its content in crocin, a carotenoid with neuroprotective properties with a specific action on the hippocampus. But crocin seems to play a role also in counteracting sadness and depression. Green tea protects the brain and improves cognitive function thanks to its flavonoid content. Ginseng, scientific name panax ginseng, stimulates the nervous system, awakens attention, protects the memory and plasticity of the synapses by showing itself as a valid modulator of brain neuroplasticity. You can find ginseng in the chemist’s or herbalist's shop in the form of tablets, in vials to drink but also as a whole root to prepare herbal teas. Some side effects of ginseng are headaches, sleep disturbances and gastrointestinal problems. Again, the ability of ginseng to affect clotting has been observed, so always talk to your doctor before starting treatment and in any case stop taking it two weeks before surgery (Qi et al , Curr Drug Metab, 2012). Rhodiola, scientific name rhodiola rosea, which is taken in the form of a dry extract, promotes brain plasticity. Finally, we can mention the mulberry extract, morus alba. This natural remedy, in fact, was able to act directly on the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is damaged in case of Alzheimer's disease, increasing the memory and density of neurons and reducing oxidative stress (Kaewkaen et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med., 2012).