As humans have evolved, so has our ability to become distracted. With the ever-pressing demands of life in today’s world, the need to stay focused takes precedence as we navigate through each day. Pharmaceuticals have made their way into many medicine cabinets; however, there are several herbs and essential oils that can naturally keep our brains in check and our bodies much healthier than the alternative.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is a perennial flowering plant in the Crassulaceae family and is harvested for its root system. The Vikings were known to consume this plant to keep them alert on long voyages and maintain their strength while in battle. Rhodiola is known as an adaptogenic herb, which keeps the body’s stress levels balanced. It energizes, improves mental capacity, stamina and increases serotonin and endorphins. Consumption of this herb should take place only in the morning because of its ability to energize.
Bacopa monnieri (Water Hyssop), also known in Ayurvedic medicine as Brahmi is a creeping semi-aquatic perennial with succulent-like leaves and white flowers. The whole plant is harvested, roots and all to obtain the special benefits that it has to offer. Scientific studies have shown that it increases the length and branching of nerve cells in the brain, which is linked to learning and memory. This plant fights oxidative stress and consumes free radicals. It is also known to assist with mood balance, lower blood pressure and reduce stress.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a small perennial evergreen shrub in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. The medicinal properties are in the roots of this plant and studies have shown Ashwagandha to reduce cortisol levels, helping to improve anxiety and sleep. Studies also show increases in attention, reaction time and overall memory function. When harvesting plants for their roots, it is of the utmost importance to find companies that practice sustainable and ethical growing practices.
There are many essential oils that can be used to uplift the mind and spirit and several that have a direct connection with increased cognitive function. Studies show that diffusing Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) oil, cognitive performance can be significantly improved. It is believed that the 1,8-cineole component makes this happen. This stimulating oil not only helps with memory, but it can also assist poor circulation, arthritis and promote hair growth.
Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) essential oil is invigorating yet soothing to your system. The oil is extracted from the seed pod of the plant and has been known to relieve mental fatigue and stimulate memory. This intoxicating and spicy oil balances energy improving brain health and assists with mental clarity. It is the perfect oil to use when you need to clear your head and get back to work.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) essential oil is scientifically proven to assist with depression and anxiety. It triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which regulates mood. This citrus fruit also has focus-enhancing properties making it a go-to oil if you’re having a hard time focusing from matters of the heart.
These were just a few of my favorite herbs and oils to keep you on track throughout your day. The herbs can be taken orally in the form of supplements, or you can drink them as tea. You can diffuse the essential oils into the air or apply them topically. As with all essential oils, it is important to dilute them in a carrier oil prior to applying them on the skin. Never consume essential oils because they are too concentrated and can cause sensitization within the body.
Take good care and stay focused!