Having trouble remembering where you left your car keys? Forgot to pick up an item from the grocery store? Has the appointment with your doctor that you scheduled last week totally slipped your mind? Weak memory can be quite frustrating in everyday life!
Memory problems are a quite common complaint, especially with increasing age. Various other factors can affect your memory like sleep deprivation, stress, depression, nutritional deficiencies (particularly B vitamins), underactive or overactive thyroid, drinking alcohol, smoking and use of certain medications.
Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions can also cause memory problems along with other symptoms. When dealing with such serious issues, it is best to consult an expert for proper diagnosis and treatment.
For general memory problems though, you can try some natural home remedies and incorporate healthy lifestyle changes.
Here are the top 10 home remedies to improve memory.
Almonds are an excellent Ayurvedic remedy to help improve memory and brainpower. They are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that boost memory. Due to their rich antioxidant content, almonds are good for your eyes, too.
- Soak 5 to 10 almonds in water overnight.
- The next morning, peel the skin and grind the almonds.
- Boil this paste with one glass of milk.
- Add some sugar or honey for taste.
- Drink it daily for 30 or 40 days.
Rosemary is another popular herb for improving weak memory. Even sniffing its aroma can help. In a 2013 study conducted at the University of Northumbria in England, researchers found that the aroma of rosemary can help improve prospective memory, which is critical for everyday functioning.
Prospective memory refers to the ability to remember to do something in the future (for example, remembering to get gas before a trip, return someone’s phone call, etc.)
- Steep one teaspoon of dried rosemary in a cup of boiling water for about five minutes. If you have fresh rosemary, steep a sprig in a teapot containing hot water for three to five minutes. Strain and add honey for taste, if desired. Drink it daily for a few weeks.
- You can also breathe in the aroma of rosemary oil or add a few drops of the oil to a room diffuser.
Note: As the effects of rosemary have not been studied on children, it not recommended for medicinal use in those under age 18. It can be taken as a spice in food, though.
3. Black Seed (Nigella Sativa)
Black seeds (scientific name, Nigella Sativa), also called kalonji, have great mind-sharpening potential, thanks to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuron-protecting properties.
A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that those who took two 500 mg capsules containing pure ground black seed powder daily showed improved cognition, memory and attention compared to those who took a placebo.
- Mix a little honey in one-half teaspoon of ground black seeds. Eat it twice daily for at least a few weeks.
- Alternatively, you can take this herb in supplement form after consulting your doctor.
4. Indian Gooseberry
Indian gooseberry, also called amla, is used in Ayurveda to enhance memory power and strengthen the nervous system.
A 2007 study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that an Ayurvedic preparation, Anwala churna can improve memory and help in the management of Alzheimer’s disease. Due to its high vitamin C and antioxidant content, amla also works as a good immune booster.
- Take one to three teaspoons of Anwala churna three times a day for at least a few weeks.
- Another option is to mix one teaspoon each of Indian gooseberry root powder and white sesame seeds, ground into a powder. Add one teaspoon of honey to this mixture. Eat it once daily for a few days.
This Ayurvedic herb has great mental benefits. It works as a brain tonic and has antioxidant and neuroprotective effects.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that brahmi (scientific name bacopa monnieri) helped improve word recall memory and decrease depression and anxiety. The study was conducted on healthy individuals age 65 and older.
- Consume one to two teaspoons of juice extracted from brahmi leaves two or three times a day. You can also add a little honey.
- Alternatively, you can mix one-quarter to one-half teaspoon of brahmi powder in a cup of warm milk, add a pinch of cardamom and drink it once or twice daily. You can also add a little clarified butter, also called ghee.
- Another option is to take this herb as a supplement by taking 300 mg of standard extract daily. Consult your doctor first.
Follow any of these remedies for at least a few weeks.
6. Fish Oil
Fish oil supplements have been found to help improve memory and reduce cognitive decline, thanks to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fish oil may also help prevent the formation of brain plaques linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Take fish oil supplements, containing at least 600 mg DHA, daily. For proper dosage and suitability, consult your doctor.
- You can also include fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines in your diet.
7. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil can help fuel the brain cells and thus improve memory and cognitive function. It is also believed to help prevent dementia and fight against Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, it will boost your energy, reduce cholesterol and improve the health of your skin and hair.
- Eat one teaspoon of organic, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil twice daily on a regular basis.
- You can also add coconut oil to your baking goods, salads and smoothies.
8. Cinnamon and Honey
Cinnamon and honey are good for relieving nervous tension and improving memory. Research indicates that simply smelling cinnamon can help enhance memory and cognitive function.
Plus, it is believed that eating honey at night before going to sleep helps prevent nocturnal metabolic stress. It also promotes sleep, which plays a critical role in the consolidation of memory.
- Mix a pinch of cinnamon in about one teaspoon of raw honey.
- Consume this mixture daily at night for at least a few months.
9. Asian Ginseng
Asian ginseng is traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as a memory enhancer. Scientists, too, are studying the memory-boosting potential of this herb. You can also use it in combination with ginkgo biloba.
Ginseng should not be taken for a prolonged period of time, but you can take it in cycles. You can take this herb for two or three weeks, take a break for three weeks and then start again. For proper dosage and suitability, consult your doctor.
Note: Asian ginseng may interfere with certain medications and is not recommended for children.
10. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is often used for memory disorders as it improves blood flow to the brain helping it function better. It has been found to help improve memory and thinking in those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. However, according to a study published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology, it may not be useful for improving memory in healthy individuals.
There is no recommended dosage of this herb, yet the general dosage is 40 mg, three times a day for those suffering from dementia. For healthy individuals, researchers studying this herb for improvement in cognitive function have used 120 to 600 mg per day but believe that it has not lived up to their expectations.
Note: Consult your doctor before taking ginkgo biloba as it may interfere with certain medications.
- Eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet including vitamins A, B12, C, beta-carotene, folic acid, zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium.
- Avoid high-fat diets and replace saturated fats in your diet with healthy fats.
- Include herbs and spices like holy basil, turmeric and black pepper in your regular diet as they help boost memory. You can also drink green tea as it is full of antioxidants.
- Give your brain a workout by practicing brain exercises, such as solving a challenging Sudoku puzzle or crossword.
- Try mnemonic devices to help remember things better.
- Engage in regular physical exercise as it increases oxygen to the brain and stimulates nerve cells to multiply.
- Get proper sleep. Sleep deprivation compromises your brain’s ability to operate at full capacity.
- A few minutes of sun exposure can also help improve brain function as it provides vitamin D.
- Keep stress in check.