Do you find it hard to remember a task you just finished minutes ago? Do you feel that you are suffering from brain fog?

Stress, information overload, and environmental toxins bombard us on a daily basis and can take a toll on our mental health. Exercise, diet and reducing exposure to electronic devices can help get the brain back in order. But at times, extra help is needed to restore that mental health.

To observe World Mental Health Day (October 10), here is a list of six herbs that can keep your mental health in top shape.

1) Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
This herb has been traditionally used as a herbal sedative that aids sleep. Anxiety can cause sleep disturbances in many people. Passionflower has anxiolytic (anxiety-relieving) properties that improve sleep quality. Studies show that consuming low doses of passionflower in a tea helps healthy adults sleep better and improves cognition and memory.[1]

How To Take It: The leaves and flowers of this vine have a mild flavor and can be used to make a soothing herbal tea. Steep 1tsp of the dried herb in one cup of boiling water. Drink this an hour before going to bed daily. Alternatively, you can have 30-40 drops of passionflower tincture in a glass of warm water before you sleep.

2) Kava
While we all long to relax at the beach and enjoy the gust of breeze on our face—an ideal recipe for fighting stress—, for those who can’t find the time kava could be the best alternative. Traditionally sued to relieve symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and stress, kava contains compounds called as kavalactones. These are non-narcotic and non-opiate alternatives to treating anxiety. In fact, some studies show that kavalactones are as effective as certain pharmaceutical drugs.[2]

How To Take It: Add three tablespoons of kava root powder to a glass of water. Add to a mixer and blend on high for four minutes. Strain it through a muslin cloth and squeeze the liquid into a glass. Drink this twice daily. To buy kava root powder, click here.

3) Saffron
The world’s most expensive spice, saffron can do much more than just add flavor or color to your food. It has been used for years for relieving mood disorders, anxiety and stress. Studies show that it is an effective antidepressant that lifts the mood, relieves mood disorders and significantly outperformed placebo in clinical trials.[3]

How To Take It: Add 10-13 (about 30mg) strands of saffron to a glass of warm milk and have it once every day.

4) Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi)
Commonly known as Brahmi, Bacopa monnieri has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to reduce stress, boost memory, and improve cognition. A study showed that bacopa reduced cortisol levels when compared with those taking a placebo.[4] An additional study shows that bacopa improves the health of brain cells and protects the brain against aging and age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s.[5]

How To Take It: Take about 450mg of brahmi extract twice daily. To buy it online, click here.

5) Mulungu Bark
Mulungu bark has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of Central and South America to calm the nerves, aid sleep and improve the mood. An active alkaloid in mulungu, erythrayine, can reduce anxiety and promote healthy brain function.[6,7] Flavonoids present in mulungu have antioxidant properties that support heart health and a healthier brain.

How To Take It: Put three to four drops of mulungu bark extract in a cup of water and drink this twice daily.  You can buy the extract here.

6) Rhodiola Rosea
This medicinal herb contains two powerful compounds, salidroside and rosin, that play a vital role in improving brain health. Salidroside is a potent antioxidant and rosin helps reduce inflammation of the nerve cells, possibly protecting them against neurotoxicity.[8]

A Swedish study found that both these compounds can reduce fatigue, improve the mood and lower stress hormones.[9] This could collectively improve mental performance and reduce stress and anxiety.

How To Take It: Take a 500mg supplement of rhodiola rosea extract once a day to improve mental health. To buy it, click here.

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page and read about other Natural Remedies here.

Read More:
Relieve It With A Herb: Sage For Mental Well-Being
Ginkgo Biloba: The Memory Herb
Food For Thought: 4 Brain-Boosting Herbs For Parkinson’s

References:
1. Ngan A, Conduit R. A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. Phytother Res. 2011 Aug;25(8):1153-9. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3400. Epub 2011 Feb 3. PubMed PMID: 21294203.

2. Connor KM, Davidson JR, Churchill LE. Adverse-effect profile of kava. CNS Spectr. 2001 Oct;6(10):848, 850-3. PubMed PMID: 15334034.

3. Hausenblas HA, Saha D, Dubyak PJ, Anton SD. Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. J
Integr Med. 2013 Nov;11(6):377-83. doi: 10.3736/jintegrmed2013056. PubMed PMID: 24299602.

4. Wellen KE, Hotamisligil GS. Inflammation, stress, and diabetes. J Clin Invest. 2005 May;115(5):1111-9. Review. PubMed PMID: 15864338; PubMed Central PMCID:
PMC1087185.

5. Rogers J. The inflammatory response in Alzheimer’s disease. J Periodontol. 2008 Aug;79(8 Suppl):1535-43. doi: 10.1902/jop.2008.080171. Review. PubMed PMID:
18673008.

6. Flausino OA Jr, Pereira AM, da Silva Bolzani V, Nunes-de-Souza RL. Effects of erythrinian alkaloids isolated from Erythrina mulungu (Papilionaceae) in mice submitted to animal models of anxiety. Biol Pharm Bull. 2007 Feb;30(2):375-8. PubMed PMID: 17268084.

7. Santos Rosa D, Faggion SA, Gavin AS, Anderson de Souza M, Fachim HA, Ferreira dos Santos W, Soares Pereira AM, Cunha AO, Beleboni RO. Erysothrine, an alkaloid extracted from flowers of Erythrina mulungu Mart. ex Benth: evaluating its anticonvulsant and anxiolytic potential. Epilepsy Behav. 2012 Mar;23(3):205-12.
doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2012.01.003. Epub 2012 Feb 29. PubMed PMID: 22381390.

8. Yeonju Lee, Jae-Chul Jung, Soyong Jang, et al., “Anti-Inflammatory and Neuroprotective Effects of Constituents Isolated from Rhodiola rosea,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, Article ID 514049, 9 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/514049

9. Olsson EM, von Schéele B, Panossian AG. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the
roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta Med. 2009 Feb;75(2):105-12. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1088346. Epub 2008 Nov 18.
PubMed PMID: 19016404.