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Do You Know the 9 Herbs and Spices that Fight Memory Loss?

Do You Know the 9 Herbs and Spices that Fight Memory Loss?

If you’re worried about forgetfulness, you might want to take a look in your kitchen cupboards. Why? Because some of the most common herbs and spices that people use to add flavor to foods may also fight memory loss. According to the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that spices may prevent or even halt neurodegenerative disorders commonly seen in aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are 9 herbs and spices that have solid scientific evidence showing neuroprotective and memory-enhancing properties. Be sure to stock up on these the next time you go to the market and try the brain healthy serving suggestions below.     

1. Cinnamon

The sweet/savory spice has been found to improve working memory in older adults and in people who are prediabetic while improving blood flow to the prefrontal cortex. It has also been shown to inhibit tau aggregation (the tangles seen in Alzheimer’s disease) and to lower cholesterol, fasting glucose, and HbA1c levels and improve insulin sensitivity. 

A healthy way to dish it up: Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in your morning shake for a brain healthy way to start your day.

2. Curcumin

A polyphenol mix from turmeric root that is used in curry, curcumin contains at least three curcuminoids that have been shown to decrease beta-amyloid plaques and inflammation. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, a special curcumin preparation with enhanced absorption (Longvida) improved memory and attention after just 1 hour. After 4 weeks, working memory, energy levels, calmness and contentedness (as measures of mood) and even fatigue induced by psychological stress were all significantly improved.

A healthy way to dish it up: Curcumin comes from the turmeric root. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric spice in soups, stew, or curries.

3. Ginger

An anti-inflammatory agent, ginger may protect against neurodegenerative diseases and reduce the oxidative stress that causes brain cells to age and die. Ginger also contains natural antiemetic agents to help decrease nausea and vomiting. It is also believed to help lower cholesterol. Note: Ginger has natural anticoagulant properties, so if you are taking anticoagulant medication, check with your healthcare provider before using ginger supplements.

A healthy way to dish it up: For a fragrant ginger tea, grate three teaspoons of fresh ginger root, place it in one cup of boiled water, cover and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain before drinking.  

4. Mint

When most of us think of mint, we typically think of toothpaste, gum, or breath fresheners. But mint leaves possess other powerful health benefits. According to a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, the scent of peppermint improves memory and focus.

A healthy way to dish it up: Add mint leaves to water or smoothies, or chop and add to any salad to give it a fresh, summery twist.  

5. Nutmeg

This aromatic spice contains myristicin, which helps to prevent the formation of beta-amyloid plaques (the plaques seen in Alzheimer’s disease). It also contains eugenol, a compound thought to be cardioprotective.

A healthy way to dish it up: Though commonly used in baking, nutmeg adds a delicious twist to lamb stew.

6. Rosemary

This well-known herb offers protection from the cognitive decline associated with dementia and may provide new hope in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Just the smell of rosemary has been shown to help memory.

A healthy way to dish it up: Probably one of the most versatile herbs for creating marinades and salad dressings, rosemary adds great flavor to salads, poultry, and meat.

7. Saffron

A 2016 study found that saffron may improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, multiple studies at the University of Teheran in Iran found that saffron was as effective as antidepressant medication in treating people with mild to moderate depression. Depression has associated with memory problems and forgetfulness. 

A healthy way to dish it up: Add about ½ teaspoon of saffron to two cups of quinoa while cooking for a mood-boosting side dish.

8. Sage

When you keep losing your car keys, it’s time for some sage. A 2017 review of the existing scientific evidence on sage shows that the aptly named spice revs up memory in both the younger and older generations, and it also minimizes the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Sage works by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which needs to be at high levels to boost memory.

A healthy way to dish it up: Add two tablespoons of chopped fresh sage leaves to enhance the flavor of winter soups.

9. Thyme

This flavorful herb helps to protect neurons in the brain from premature aging. It also increases the amount of active omega-3 DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids can increase working memory, executive function, and mood, and decrease brain atrophy.

A healthy way to dish it up: The next time you roast a turkey, rub it with two tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme leaves in addition to your other favorite herbs before cooking.

If you or a loved one is suffering from memory issues, understand that there are many things you can do to prevent or reverse memory loss. At Amen Clinics, we use brain SPECT imaging as part of a comprehensive evaluation to help us develop a personalized treatment plan to prevent or reverse memory issues. Our Memory Rescue program has already helped many patients improve their memory.

Speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.

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  1. Betty Ann Riley says:

    I am eighty five year old women with dementia. I am enjoying all the things you are discussing in the posts that I am seeing from you.

    Betty Ann

  2. Ruthie Cann says:

    How often do I use these herbs and spices to help brain functioning?

    • Naila Qazi says:

      Hello Ruthie,

      I am of Southeast Asian background and have used these herbs daily, three meals and sometimes some cultural savory beverages. So you can use them as many times and often.

      BUT the amount should be carefully used.

      You don’t use spoons full in each service, it’s always a half or a quarter of a tea spoons.

  3. madeline durant says:

    please let me know if there is anything to do or supplement to take for tinnitus. I am desperate for help

    • Ruth Kramer says:

      I am a Licensed Therapeutic Massage practitioner. Acupressure around the inside of the orbit of the outer ear can be very successful in relieving tinnitus. Hopefully it can be successful for you.

  4. Stephanie Grey FCN Director says:

    Thanks Dr Amen. Food is medicine for our minds, bodies and spirits!

  5. Elena Valentin says:

    I am a 80 years old. I tend to forget a lot. I have to older sisters. My mother died while suffering of dementia and alzheimer. Am I T risk. Please let know. Thanks.

  6. Patricia A Garner says:

    Thank you so much for the herbs and spices that Fight Memory Loss –


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