History of Brahmi
Gotu Kola also known as “Brahmi”, which is derived from Hinduism meaning the “Brahman”. The Brahman is the unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world. In Sanskrit it is Sat-cit-ananda, which is being-consciousness-bliss and is the highest reality.
Throughout its history, Brahmi has been one of the more important herbs when it comes to Ayurvedic medicine. In India, the herb was used with newborn children, with the wide held belief being that the herb would cause the child to become more open minded and intelligent; essentially the Brahmi was actually believed to free the mind of the child.
Additionally, the herb was well known and used by the great sages of Indian philosophy, who appropriately gave it its name which means ‘knowledge’. Charaka, Ayurveda’s third legendary physician, who identifies the seasons and times of day when a particular plant’s medicinal powers achieve their maximum potency, states that the true value of brahmi lies in its outstanding performance against senile decay and loss of memory, and its capacity for enhancing verbal articulation.
One interesting piece of evidence for its effectiveness is given by Appa Rao in Medicinal Plants of India: “A double blind clinical test was conducted on thirty mentally retarded children, who were free from epilepsy and other neurological conditions, to study the effect of the drug extracted from Indian pennywort (brahmi) on general mental ability. The results indicated a significant improvement in both general ability and behavioural patterns when the drug was administered for a short period of twelve weeks.”
About the plant
Brahmi, a plant from the Umbelliferae family, is the Sanskrit name for the Indian pennywort, also known as khulakudi in Hindi. In the dictionary of herbs it is known as somavati or saraswati. It is a so-called ‘weed’ which is found growing wild in marshlands and reservoirs, and near the banks of rivers and lakes all over India and South Africa. This herb creeps along the ground, rooting at the nodes, and has small light green leaves fluted around the edges. In taste it resembles parsley, but unlike parsley it is slightly bitter. The entire plant, especially the leaves, is used for medicinal purposes. It is perhaps the most important nervine herb used in Ayurvedic medicine.
Brahmi and Brain Health
Gotu Kola has been shown to be a mild adaptogen, which means it can increase the body’s ability to adapt to a stressor. It also has antioxidant properties, which are essential for good cell health and preventing chronic diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Preliminary evidence suggests Gotu Kola may have nootropic effects. These effects include memory enhancement and improved cognitive function. Research on Gotu Kola also indicates that it is effective in stimulating circulation, which helps support brain health.
In addition to its adaptogenic and nootropic properties, Gotu Kola is used to increase attention span and concentration, and combat aging.
The cumulative information from the aforementioned studies indicates that Gotu Kola may be effective in alleviating the symptoms of ADHD, increasing concentration, energy, and memory. For these reasons, Gotu Kola may prove to be an effective natural study aid.
Consisting of triterpenoid saponins, sapogenins, Calcium, Phosphorous, Iron, Potassium, Beta-Carotene, Thiamine, Riboflavin and Niacin.
The fragrant Rhodiola rosea root, also known as roseroot, has been used throughout history in Iceland, Sweden, France, Russia, and Greece. Popular with the Vikings to enhance mental and physical endurance, this revered adaptogen was included in the first Swedish Pharmacopeia. This Alpine plant, also known as “Golden Root” has been prized by many generations above all other indigenous plants as “The Ultimate Traditional Medicine for General Health, Mental & Physical Performance and Longevity.”
The history, not myth or legend, of Roseroot’s extraordinary healing and invigorating properties extend back several thousand years, even to pre-written history of Siberia. For millennia, Roseroot was revered as a “gift of the spirits” by the people of the local region. Traditionally, this marvelous plant was given to betrothed Siberian couples to ensure the birth of many healthy children.
Spanning generations, the prime harvesting locations, time of year and method of extraction of the choicest of roots had been a well kept family secret, as well as a tightly controlled Governmental Russian secret. Only recently has the Western World gained the knowledge of Rhodiola rosea’s true adaptogenic and timeless health promoting properties.
In the west, Rhodiola rosea is still not well known. It has not made significant inroads in the North American natural products market. This may be due to the fact that most of the research comes from Russia and Scandinavia. Nearly 200 studies have been published mainly in Slavic and Scandinavian languages since 1960, rarely translated into English.
Roseroot and the Mind
To meet the challenges of life in today’s fast-paced, high stress world, Roseroot appears ideal. In human studies, Roseroot fights fatigue, combats stress, and possesses both antioxidant and anticancer properties. Roseroot protects body and mind against oxygen deprivation, enhances overall immune function, and promotes healthy sexual function in men and women. According to published science, this activity is largely attributed to a group of pharmacologically active compounds in the root called rosavins.
This adaptogenic herbal stimulant has been used as energy boosting agent in Russia and China for centuries. It stimulates the nervous system, helps with work, along with combating stress and fatigue.
The mechanism of action for Rhodiola is that it boosts dopamine and serotonin levels by inhibiting monoamine oxidase and helping opioid peptides. It’s also contains a number of phytochemicals, neuroprotective anti oxidizing agents and is a stress reducing agent.
MAO Enzymes antagonizes two of the primary Limitless neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine), Rhodiola blocks MAO Enzymes, so this nootropic is a case of your enemy of your enemy being your friend. It also boosts some of the positive endorphins (opioid peptide beta-endorphin) that fight stress and make you feel good.
A Russian study (A randomized trial of two different doses of a SHR-5 Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work) showed that it increased the capacity to do mentally demanding work while stressed or fatigued. An Armenian (Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue–a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty) study on +50 late night physicians showed a statistically significant correlation between a standardized extract SHR/5 of rhizome Rhodiola rosea and improved complex perceptual and cognitive cerebral functions. A 2002 Yechang, China study (The effect of rhodiola and acetazolamide on the sleep architecture and blood oxygen saturation in men living at high altitude) demonstrated that Rhodiola improves sleep quality for young men. A Netherlands study (Plant adaptogens increase lifespan and stress resistance in C. elegans) showed its function of minimizing chronic oxidative stress can increase lifespan as well. A 2008 California pilot study demonstrated that 340 Milligrams daily of Rhodiola had a significant effect on those dealing with generalized anxiety disorder. For these reasons Rhodiola is also effective at treating and preventing depression.
A 2009 study administered 570 Milligrams daily of SHR-5 extract, to those suffering from stress and fatigue. No serious side effects were reported and the improvements were significant: boosting mental performance, particularly concentration and cortisol level decreases in burnout patients.
Rhodiola rosea herb grows in cold regions such as eastern Siberia, the arctic and the rocky mountains. Chinese and Russian folk medicine has used it for centuries to boost energy. It is mentioned as early as first century AD by the Greek physician Dioscorides. Rhodiola herb is sold in tablet, capsule and tea form.
Rhodiola boosts sexual appetite and helps improve athletic performance by decreasing recovery time. Rhodiola also helps with altitude illness; it protects bodily organs from low oxygen hypoxia related damage.
Research has shown the following health-promoting applications of Rhodiola rosea:
o Stimulating effect on the central nervous system in small or medium doses.
o Builds physical endurance, and curtails recovery time after exercise.
o Improves function of thyroid without causing hyperthyroidism.
o Better functioning of thymus gland and protection from the involution that occurs with aging.
o Anti-depressive activity in persons with mild to moderate depression.
o Appears to increase learning, thinking, and memory.
o Improves physical fitness, mental fatigue under stressful conditions, coordination, and general well being.
o Increases intellectual capacity by improving perception and processing of information.
o Reduces stress-induced cardiac damage.
o As an antioxidant may protect the nervous system from oxidative damage by free radicals.
As far as phytochemicals, scientists have identified about 140 chemical compounds in Roseroot.
Phenylpropanoids such as rosavin, rosarin and rosin are typical components of Rhodiola rosea root. Other constituents include salidroside (a hydroxyphenethyl (tyrosol) glucoside) and the monoterpene rosiridin. Salidroside is present in a variety of species, including some outside the Rhodiola genus. The term rosavins is used collectively for rosavin, rosin and rosarin.
Other constituents of Rhodiola root include flavonoids, tannins and an essential oil. (In comparison with some other medicinal roots, Rhodiola root contains a low content of essential oil.) In terms of the characteristic rose fragrance of the root, several compounds with a rose odour and other floral notes have been identified from specimens grown in Norway. Geraniol was found to be the main rose-like odour compound, which is one of the most abundant monoterpene alcohols in the essential oil from roses.
Medicinal Mushroom Red Reishi
Red Reishi Mushroom is an herbal mushroom known to have miraculous health benefits, and is commonly known as the “Mushroom of Immortality”. It was first found in East Asia and has been used as a medicinal mushroom in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 4000 years. And, due to the rarity of the mushroom (it’s estimated that only 2 or 3 out of 10,000 trees will have the mushroom growing from it) it was only consumed by emperors and royalty.
Reishi comes in several different colors, although the red has proven to be more potent than the others. Reishi is commonly thought of as a spiritual mushroom that helps bring energy to the body and stillness to the mind. This is why it is extremely popular with yoga/meditation practitioners and is taking by the masters of Kung Fu and Tai Chi. In Chinese art, the mushroom symbolizes great health and longevity, as depicted in the Imperial City. It was a talisman for luck in the traditional cultures of China, and the goddess of healing, Gyangin, can be seen holding a Reishi mushroom.
There are several ingredients that make up the Reishi mushroom; one of these ingredients is called Polysaccharides, which contain beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is known for its ability to enhance the immune system. In fact it is one of the strongest immune system boosters known to man. Another active ingredient in Reishi is triterpenes. The type found in Reishi mushrooms is known as ganaderic acid. Ganaderic acid has a proven ability to symptoms of allergies by stopping the release of histamines. It can also improve the bodies use of oxygen and help the functioning of the liver. Ganadermic acids may also reduce blood pressure and control healthy cholesterol levels.
Benefits to “Mind”
While Reishi was recognized as being particularly beneficial for the sick and ill in ancient Chinese medical texts, it was perhaps better known as belonging to a special class of medicines known as ‘tonic herbs’. These are substances considered so foundational and important to overall health, vitality, and quality of life that they are encouraged to be taken daily for their numerous benefits, sick or not. Of the 50 or so tonic herbs recognized in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Reishi is considered to be one of the most sacred, earning it fantastic-sounding names like the Mushroom of Immortality and Mushroom of Spiritual Potency.
This is likely because many revered Taoists and monks have long claimed that Reishi is a powerful ‘Shen tonic,’ which translates loosely to an herb that ‘nourishes the spirit’. While this is a claim that cannot directly be verified by science, Reishi has consistently demonstrated the ability to profoundly relax the nervous system, calm the mind and induce a state of relaxed focus, for which it has long been valued by spiritual seekers, meditators and those looking to relieve the stresses of daily life.
A hearty and abundant medicine with much promise. Constituents include an array of alkaloids, triterpine acids, ergosterols, fumaric acid, coumarins, lactone, mannitol, and many polysaccharides.
Various forms of Ginseng have been used in medicine for more than 7000 years. Several species grow around the world, and though some are preferred for specific benefits, all are considered to have similar properties as an effective general rejuvenator.
Siberian Eleuthero is a distant relative of American and Asian Ginsengs (Panax sp.), with some overlap in its uses, but is a distinct plant with different active chemical components and does not contain ginsenosides, the active ingredients found in both Asian and American Ginseng. Eleuthero displays many properties common with true ginseng. Records of Chinese medicine describe the usage of Eleuthero for at least two thousand years for the purposes of increasing energy, longevity and vitality, improving general health, restoring weak memory, relieving stiffness and tension in the soft tissues and joints, as well as increasing resistance to respiratory infections.
Today Eleuthero is one of the most well researched adaptogens. Numerous experimental and clinical studies confirm its adaptogenic properties including ability to increase non-specific body resistance to stress, fatigue, disease, and harmful chemicals.
Clinical data supports the use of Eleuthero as a restorative tonic for enhancing mental and physical performance in cases of exhaustion and tiredness, weakness, and during recovery following an attack of disease, a surgical intervention or an injury. A review of clinical trials involving over 2,100 healthy individuals found that Eleuthero root improved resistance to adverse physical conditions such as heat, noise, increased work-load, and exercise. Eleuthero root also increased mental alertness and work output as well as improved both the quality of work performed under stressful conditions and athletic performance.
Eleuthero has been shown to normalize adrenal and thyroid function – the two critical self regulation mechanisms in our body. It also balanced blood pressure and blood sugar levels in both animal and experimental studies. While analyzing Eleuthero composition researchers have identified six compounds with antioxidant properties, four compounds exhibiting anticancer actions and two compounds producing immune-enhancing effects. Adding an Eleuthero preparation to blood samples from healthy donors resulted in 30-45% increase in phagocytosis – our body’s protective reaction involving capturing of waste material, harmful microorganisms and other foreign inclusions by white blood cells.
Another study demonstrated that a Eleuthero root exhibits strong antiviral activity. It inhibited the reproduction of human rhinovirus (one of the major causes of the common cold), human respiratory syncytial virus (cause of respiratory illness), and influenza A (flu) virus in infected cell cultures. Eleuthero has even been shown to improve short-term memory and overall mental performance in healthy individuals. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study done on middle-aged people found that Eleuthero significantly improved their selective memory, feelings of well-being, and activity levels.
Eleuthero’s anti-fatigue effect as well as its beneficial influence on endurance and the capacity to work (both mentally and physically) might be explained by its ability to increase the capability of the body’s cells to utilize phosphorus-containing energy molecules and to dispose of various byproducts of metabolism. Furthermore, Eleuthero has been shown to increase the resistance of rats to the toxic effects of harmful chemicals.
Siberian Eleuthero is known all over the world now as one of the best adaptogenic agents ever used by man. There just isn’t much else that can deliver so much wonderful raw working energy. It is truly the king of adaptogens.
Summary, Siberian Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosis) also known as Siberian Ginseng is more tonifying than the true Ginsengs (Panax sp.). It is neutral energetically and so is appropriate for daily use. Taken regularly, it enhances immune function, increases cortisone levels and anti-inflammatory response, and it promotes improved cognitive and physical performance in human studies. Also remember, unlike the Panax sp. it will lower high blood pressure, not raise it (unless it is already very low).
Eleuthero for the Brain
No less than 35 clinical studies have shown eleuthero improves physical and mental performance under stressful conditions.
Eleuthero seems to:
- Speed up your reaction time so you can quickly make assessments and take action.
- Improve learning and memory.
- Even sharpen vision and strengthen hearing.
Research on Olympic athletes, astronauts, explorers, divers, sailors, factory workers, pilots, train operators and miners all showed eleuthero allowed them to work harder and better longer. It’s a favorite among Japanese businessmen who work 12-hour days in a tough and competitive work environment.
Researchers who were studying eleuthero in a 2010 study along with two other adaptogens think part of eleuthero’s power is its ability to protect your brain from the damaging effects of stress. Preliminary research indicates eleuthero might stimulate the production of two special proteins – Neuropeptide 7 and Hsp72. These two proteins seem to help protect your brain cells when they are under stress.
Eleuthero has also been shown to help make it easier for your cells to access nutrition and oxygen while helping cells get rid of waste. For the cells of a stressed brain, this is like a refreshing drink of water. By nourishing your brain cells and keeping them free of junk, eleuthero may help your brain perform at a higher clip when you need it to.
The major constituents are ciwujianoside A-E, eleutheroside B (syringin), eleutherosides A-M, friedelin, isofraxidin and acanthoside-D.
Turmeric May Be One of the Most Useful Herbs in the World
The exact origin of turmeric is not known but it originates from South or Southeast Asia, most probably from western India.
Turmeric is a sterile plant, and does not produce seed. It is thought to have arisen by selection and vegetative propagation of a hybrid between the wild turmeric (Curcuma aromatica), native to India, Sri Lanka and the eastern Himalayas and some other closely related species.
Turmeric has been grown in India since ancient times. It reached China by 700 AD, East Africa by 800 AD and West Africa by 1200. It was introduced to Jamaica in the 18th Century. Today, turmeric is widely cultivated throughout the tropics.
Turmeric was probably cultivated at first as a dye, and then became valued as a condiment as well as for cosmetic purposes. It is often used in cooking as a substitute for the more costly saffron. In the 13th century Marco Polo wrote of this spice, marvelling at a vegetable which exhibited qualities so similar to saffron.
Familiar to the contemporary world as a prime component of curry powder, the orange-yellow rhizome’s striking colour lent it a special aura in ancient India. It has always been considered an auspicious material in the sub-continent, both amongst the Aryan cultures (mostly northern) and the Dravidian cultures (mostly southern) and its value may extend far in history to the beliefs of ancient indigenous peoples. Turmeric’s common name in the north, haldi, derives from the Sanskrit haridra, and in the south it is called manjal, a word that is frequently used in ancient Tamil literature.
Turmeric has a long history of medicinal use in South Asia, cited in Sanskrit medical treatises and widely used in Ayurvedic and Unani systems. Susruta’s Ayurvedic Compendium, dating to 250 BC, recommends an ointment containing turmeric to relieve the effects of poisoned food.
Many spices have powerful medicinal properties, which is why they’ve been used to promote healing for thousands of years prior to the usage of synthetic drugs.
Curcumin—one of its most well-studied bioactive ingredients—exhibits over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, including potent anti-cancer properties. Curcumin is also capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, which is one reason why it holds promise as a neuroprotective agent in a wide range of neurological disorders.
Researchers have previously investigated curcumin for its potential role in improving Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke damage. It can also promote brain health in general, courtesy of its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
One of the ways it works, which is similar to vitamin D, is by modulating large numbers of your genes. But unlike vitamin D that influences thousands of genes, curcumin has been shown to influence about 700 genes.
Previous research has also demonstrated that curcumin acts by inserting itself into your cells’ membranes where it changes the physical properties of the membrane itself, making it more orderly.
Yet another part of the answer for turmeric’s multifaceted benefits lies in the herb’s ability to affect signaling molecules. For example, curcumin has been shown to directly interact with:
- Inflammatory molecules
- Cell survival proteins
- Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV1) integrase and protease
- DNA and RNA
- Various carrier proteins and metal ions
There are 92 Constituents in turmeric, some of which are antioxidants including vitamins C and E, proteins, high in vitamin A, carotenoids, magnesium, selenium, iron, niacin, potassium, selenium, and cineole which stimulates the central nervous system and also helps the body to dispose of contaminants and waste. 1-alpha curcumene, 1-beta-curcumene, camphene, camphor, various forms of curcumin.
Vasodilator & Superfood Ginger
Ginger is one of the most well researched herbs in the world. For over 5000 years, the Indian and Chinese civilizations recognized it for its powerful health-enhancing properties.
Ginger has a long history of use in South Asia, both in dried and fresh form. The Hindu epic Mahabharata written around the 4th century BC describes a meal where meat is stewed with ginger and other spices. It was also an important plant in the traditional Indian system of Ayurvedic medicine.
In the Manasollasa literature written in the 11th century AD ginger was mentioned as a flavouring for buttermilk drinks. Its use as a food became much more widespread by the 13th century AD with the advent of Muslim rule in India. It became popular to prepare meat dishes and drinks using ginger pastes. Fruit juices, tea, buttermilk and curd products were spiced with ginger.
Ginger was also highly important as an article of trade and was exported from India to the Roman empire 2000 years ago where it was valued more for its medicinal properties than as an ingredient in cookery.
It continued as an article of trade to Europe even after the fall of the Roman empire, with Arab merchants controlling the trade in ginger and other spices for centuries. By medieval times, it was being imported in preserved form, to be used in sweets.
Together with black pepper, ginger was one of the most commonly traded spices during the 13th and 14th centuries. Arabs carried the rhizomes on their voyages to East Africa to plant at coastal settlements and on Zanzibar. During this time in England, ginger was sought after, and one pound in weight of ginger was equivalent to the cost of a sheep.
A Powerful Brain Booster
Research published in Evidence Based Complementary Medicine found that the consumption of ginger by middle-aged women improved cognitive ability. Sixty healthy participants were randomly given either a placebo or standardized ginger extract (400 and 800 mg once per day) for two months. The volunteers were then evaluated at the one and two month mark for memory and cognitive function. Those who received the extract demonstrated a considerable increase in memory, while brain oxidative stress was reduced.
Another study discovered ginger root helped minimize monosodium glutamate (MSG) neurotoxicity. After male albino rats were given a daily dose (4 mg/per kilogram) of pure MSG for thirty days, a significant decrease in the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine along with the brain neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin was observed. However, when an injection of ginger root extract (100 mg/per kilogram) was given for the same length of time, the hormones and neurotransmitters significantly increased. Researchers then found that when both were administered simultaneously, the extract mitigated the damaging effects of MSG – leading the team to conclude that ginger acts as a potent protective agent.
As an excitotoxin, MSG is linked with Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, autism and attention deficit disorder.
Whether contending with age-related cognitive decline or toxic food additives, ginger is an exceptional protective root. Including it in your daily diet is a powerful health affirming habit. Use it as a flavorful spice in cooking, freshly brewed as a tea or in extract form to help preserve brain and nerve health now and in the future.
1,8-cineole, 2-octanone, alanine, alpha-carotene, alpha-linoleic acid, alpha-phellandrene, arginine, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, betaine, campesterol, capsaicin, capsanthin, carvone, fiber, folacin, glutamic acid, hesperidin, isoleucine, isovaleric acid, kaempferol, manganese, myrcene, p-coumaric acid, potassium, proline, quercetin, scopoletin, solanine, thiamin, thujone, tryptophan, valine, zeaxanthin, zinc.