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Are There Herbs That Help with Memory?

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A woman in her apron smelling a pot of fresh herbs.

Are you worried about memory loss or forgetfulness? You’re not alone. Memory problems are common, especially as we age. While mild forgetfulness is a normal part of aging, memory problems that affect daily life can be more serious. 

Memory care in senior living communities can help loved ones with memory or cognitive impairment by providing the personalized support and care they need. Apart from a pharmaceutical approach to memory care, there are alternatives, such as medicinal plants or herbs that can help support memory. Ginseng, peppermint, and gotu kola are some herbs that can help boost or improve memory. 

Signs of Memory Loss & Cognitive Problems

Memory loss and cognitive decline can indicate Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. When a loved one starts showing the following signs or symptoms, speak to their doctor about what you can do to safeguard their memory:

  • Memory loss for recently learned information
  • Forgetting important dates or events
  • Asking the same questions over and over
  • Relying more on memory aids or family members to remember things

Herbs That Help with Memory

While some techniques help with memory, such as learning a new skill, following a routine, eating healthy, exercising, and volunteering, some herbs can boost cognitive health and enhance memory

It’s important to note that some herbs can interact with medications, so speak to your doctor before taking any herbs. 

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Also called Indian ginseng or winter cherry, ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic remedy used as a brain rejuvenator. One study showed enhanced memory and improved executive function. Some benefits of ashwagandha include:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Inhibits neural cell death
  • Restores synaptic function
  • Neural regeneration
  • Improves auditory–verbal working memory, processing speed, and social cognition

Gotu Kola 

Gotu kola is a familiar herb used in Chinese, Indonesian, and Ayurvedic medicine. It is believed to promote intelligence and improve memory. In one study, taking a daily higher dose of the extract improved working memory. 

Gotu kola contains compounds that can improve blood flow to the brain, protect brain cells from damage, and reduce inflammation.

Properties of gotu kola include:

  • Inhibiting cell death
  • Reduces oxidative stress
  • Promotes dendritic growth and mitochondrial health
  • Improves mood and memory


Brahmi, or Bacopa monnieri, is an Ayurvedic herb that grows in South Asia and helps with mental stress, memory loss, epilepsy, and insomnia. Studies showed brain function improvement, including the speed of information processing and reaction time.

Its properties include:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Improves memory, attention, and executive function
  • Inhibits neural cell death
  • Delays brain aging


Rosemary essential oil has compounds called terpenes that enter your bloodstream and can directly affect your brain. It may help improve cognitive performance, including speed and accuracy. 

Sage (Salvia)

Sage contains compounds that improve mood, alertness, attention, and memory. Medicinal properties include luteolin, rosmarinic acid, camphor, quercetin, and apigenin. Sage helps inhibit the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays an integral role in brain function. 

A jar and a small pouch of ground peppermint and a bowl of peppermint against a grey textured backdrop.


Studies show that inhaling peppermint essential oil, a mixture of spearmint (Mentha spicata) and water mint (Mentha aquatica), can boost alertness, memory, mood, athletic performance, and energy. 

Rhodiola Rosea 

Rhodiola rosea is a herb used for centuries in traditional medicine to improve memory, alertness, and endurance. It can also reduce mental fatigue, boost brain function and mood. One study shows supplementing with Rhodiola rosea improves feelings of exhaustion, impaired concentration, and lack of joy. 


Guarana contains caffeine, saponins, and tannins. It is believed to be beneficial for energy and brain function. Because of its stimulating effects, you can find it in energy drinks and supplements.

Some studies show that supplementing with guarana alone or combined with other nutrients may help boost attention, alertness, and memory performance. 

Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)

Cat’s claw is a tropical vine in the Amazon rainforest and other parts of South and Central America. It contains oxindole alkaloids, polyphenols, glycosides, pentacyclic alkaloids, and sterols. 

Pre-clinical studies suggest cat’s claw may be effective for memory loss and cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. However, there is a need for human studies to confirm findings. 

Benefits of Memory Care at The Fairways at Naples

While there is no cure or specific medication to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss, there are things you can do to help protect your memory as you age. 

To see what The Fairways at Naples offers a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia, schedule a tour or call to speak to one of our specially-trained memory care advisors. 

Written by Fairways At Naples

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