Brain Boosting Herbs & Superfoods

Boost your brainpower with Herbs and Superfoods renowned for their benefits to the brain.

At Indigo Herbs we maintain that the key to good health mainly lies with prevention before cure, and that applies as much to the health of our grey matter as it does to any other part of the body.

All the usual healthy lifestyle choices apply – balanced diet, adequate sleep and emotional/spiritual fulfilment. Aerobic exercise is crucial, but as the circulatory system is working against gravity to get blood to the head, any exercise that inverts the body is particularly helpful: yoga is great for this.

Scientific studies show that many herbs, botanicals and superfoods stimulate the activity of the neurotransmitters (chemical messengers between nerve cells) – a healthier option than caffeine, too much of which can overwork the adrenal glands.

Botanicals can be used to sharpen thinking, improve memory and boost mood. Why not try one of our herbal tea blends? Calm and clear the mind with an afternoon ritual of infusing the loose-leaf herbs in a teapot. (You’ll be crocheting a tea cosy next...) Simply add boiling water, steep for 10 minutes, strain, pour, breathe deeply and enjoy.

Diet-wise, brain cells are hungry little things - wholefoods and superfoods provide a wide spectrum of nutrients in a natural and tasty way.

Did you know that at least 60% of the brain is made up of fat? The importance of eating healthy fats cannot be overstated. Healthy fats include; Raw Virgin Coconut Oil, Avocados and Nuts and Seeds.

Check out the list below and see what Nature has provided for your needs.



(Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha Benefits

Traditionally Ashwagandha has always been thought to be able to help combat symptoms of depression because it stimulates adrenergic signaling and lessens the chemicals associated with depression, such as clonidine and reserpine. 

There are several studies showing that Ashwagandha slows, stops or reverses neuritic atrophy (loss of neurons), and synaptic loss (the connections between them).

These neuro-protective qualities are due, in part, to the antioxidants present in Ashwagandha – repelling free radicals and preventing them from damaging cells in the brain. Age related degenerative diseases can be prevented and longevity increased.


(Bacopa monniera)
Brahmi Benefits

This water loving herb has a reputation for improving memory and mental function whilst also working to relieve anxiety and depression.

Having an antioxidant and neuroprotective action, Brahmi contains saporins and bacosides that interact with the neurotransmitters in the brain raising levels of serotonin, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), and acetylcholine. This process affects and regulates the balance of the mind to be more beneficial to our overall mood, memory and cognitive process.

The antioxidant compounds found in Brahmi also seem to work by protecting against the neural oxidative stress associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also believed to stimulate the brain’s own chemicals that protect neural cells.

Brahmi is named after the Hindu God Brahma, who is associated with great intellect and responsible for all "creative forces" in the world. Bacopa monniera is the authentic Brahmi, it is often confused with Hydrocotyle asiatica or Gota Kola which is also known as Brahmi in North India and Thailand.



(Brassica oleracea, Botrytis Cymosa)

Here's a surprise, Broccoli is great for the brain! It's all down to a certain chemical found in Broccoli called sulforaphane that protects and heals the membrane that surrounds the brain.

Essential to brain health are junction proteins which decline after brain injury. Sulforaphane helps rebuild these proteins elevating brain defence to peak health.

Broccoli dates back to the 6th century BC where it was meticulously bred from kale by the Etruscans.



(Cocos nucifera)
Coconut Benefits

Raw Virgin Coconut Oil can be very helpful in combatting Alzheimer’s symptoms through its exceptional fatty acid content, as has been demonstrated to good effect in several studies. Rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), these are broken down in the body and become ketones which help in cognitive function by breaking down amyloid plaque in the brain. Amyloid plaques and Neurofibrillary tangle are thought to be major contributors to Alzheimer's disease. These ketones can also be used by brain cells for fuel. 

The Coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm, and 100% pure raw coconut is packed with nutrients and vitality. For many cultures it is a main food source and confers energy, nourishment and wellbeing.


Ginkgo Biloba

(Ginkgo biloba, Salisburia adiantifolia, Salisburia macrophylla)
Ginkgo Biloba Benefits

In Japan Gingko Biloba has always been used to improve the mind. Recent studies have found that through the improved blood circulation in the brain from Ginkgo that it can protect and make cognitive processes faster. By improving blood flow to the brain, Ginkgo helps to improve memory, concentration and thought processes. Ginkgo may also help cognitive function by enhancing short and long-term memory, although it can take at least six weeks before noticeable improvements occur

Ginkgo Biloba is the oldest surviving tree on earth and is especially revered in Japan where it is grown next to many different Shinto temples.


Gotu kola

(Hydrocotyle asiatica)
Gotu Kola Benefits

In Asia this herb has always had a long standing as one of the best herbs for the brain. Several studies have shown that Gotu Kola has a complex action on the mind through enhancing neurite-dendrite growth and out branching in key areas of the brain. This action not only makes the mind calmer, sharper and more fluid but also protects brain cells from damaging toxins.

Gotu Kola has been used by monks and Yogis of the Far East for centuries as a means to enhance their concentration during meditation. In Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine it also plays an important role in helping memory loss and fighting aliments of the mind.


Green Tea

(Camellia sinensis)

Green tea contains caffeine which stimulates the mind improving memory but also a very important amino acid that crosses the protective blood membrane of the brain.

This amino acid, L-theanine, works with caffeine to stimulate the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA which leads to increased levels of dopamine and effectively calms the mind.

Green Tea has mystical beginnings stemming from the writings of the legendary Chinese Emperor Shennong in around 2737 BC.



(Paullinia Cupana)
Guarana Benefits

A study conducted at the University of Tasmania entitled, “Psychological and Cardiovascular Effects of Guaraná and Yerba Mate: A Comparison with Coffee” found that Guarana produced the greatest alertness and improvement in the performance of mental tasks. Whilst coffee produced a peak in alertness after 30 – 45 minutes, this rapidly fell away in comparison to the effects of Guarana which were still continuing, and increasing, after 150 minutes. This may be due to its naturally occurring caffeine being released slowly, thus maintaining a steady supply of natural energy.

Guarana doesn’t just rely on caffeine to provide energy and stamina – it contains xanthines which have been shown to enhance physical and mental performance. Also containing flavonoids and alkaloids, in clinical studies alkaloids were shown to stimulate the central nervous system, enhancing alertness, mental clarity and reducing fatigue. 

Guarana comes from the Amazon and were cultivated first by the Sateré-Maué Indians who consider the plant a medicine and is heavily integrated into their culture.


Kelp Seaweed

(Laminara digitata)
Kelp Benefits

Kelp is incredibly high in iodine, a crucial mineral - without which your brain cannot function properly. A common symptom of iodine deficiency is brain fog, Dr. S. Cunnane suggests that iodine is the primary brain-selective nutrient in human brain evolution, surmising that iodine deficiency is the main cause of decreased intellect. Iodine is a critical nutrient for pregant mothers due to the essential role it plays in fetal brain development.

Kelp is a favourite delicacy of the Japanese and has a healthy tradition within other cultures. It has has been eaten in Japan for thousands of years but came from those who first inhabited the Okinawan Islands. 


Lion's Mane Mushroom

(Hericium erinaceus)
Lions Mane Mushroom Benefits

Also known as "Nature's Nutrient for your Neurons", Lion's Mane Mushrooms contain the cyathane derivitives hericenones & erinacines which act as nerve growth factors (NGF).  A small protein that is needed for the maintenance and growth of certain neurons, NGF is crucial to the overall health of the brain and central nervous system. By increasing this growth, it could potentially be possible to slow or reverse cell degeneration in the brain — the main characteristic of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Used for 1000's of years in Asia, Buddhist Shaolin monks used the Lion's Mane Mushroom in meditation practices, believing it enhanced their concentration thus enabling them to better cultivate the mystical life force "Qi". 



(Salvia officinalis)
Sage Benefits

Used for centuries to clear the mind and improve memory, Sage has now been extensively studied and science agrees with the old wives tales. One study found that even the smallest amount of Sage significantly improved memory in comparison with the placebo group. The study concluded that Sage is "capable of acute modulation of cognition in healthy young adults.”

Another study found that certain phytochemicals in Sage are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors which means that it can help with reducing depletion of cholinergic and noncholinergic neurons in the brain. Lessening of these neurons over time leads to a build-up of amyloid plaques that are one of the causes of Alzheimer's disease.

In the 10th century Arab physicians believed sage could impart immortality if it was taken with regularity. The Greeks also had high regard for this herb and used it in many medical concoctions.


Siberian Ginseng

(Eleutherococcus Senticosus)
Siberian Ginseng Benefits

Siberian Ginseng is not actually the same plant as the Korean Panax Ginseng but is very similar in effect. Being an adaptogenic stimulant, Siberian Ginseng calms and focuses the mind through its beneficial phytochemical process of encouraging the adrenal glands to secrete stress fighting hormones. Continued use of Siberian Ginseng balances every aspect of the mind and body.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine Siberian Ginseng has the characteristic of being able to conduct and nurture 'Chi' making the whole body stronger and more agile.


St John's Wort

(Hypericum perforatum)
St John's Wort Benefits

St Johns Wort has a great reputation as being a great herb for the mind. It contains the unique chemicals hypericin, hyperforin, and subtle flavonoids which may interact with brain receptors to make more serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine available. These natural chemicals are essential for the mind to feel balanced and calm.

This palnt has been a remedy for many ailments in Europe for centuries. The early Greek and Roman medical practioners Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Theophrastus and Galen all noted St. Johns Wort as a remedy for snake and reptile bite.



(Curcuma longa)
Turmeric Benefits

Turmeric is linked to improved brain function, especially in the areas of memory and attention span - curcumin has been shown to boost levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain.

Recent research indicates that Turmeric also helps to protect the brain against the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. The study found that curcurmin (the active compound in Turmeric) enhanced the immune system's ability to clear away amyloid plaques. Beta-amyloid is a toxic protein that is formed in the brains of Alzheimer's patients when amyloid protein isn't processed properly. 

Used for centuries as a popular curry ingredient, it's worth noting that India has the lowest dementia rates in the world.



(Juglans Regia)
Walnut Benefits

Bearing a striking resemblance to tiny brains, Walnuts are packed with brain boosting nutrients and are recognised as one of the ultimate brain foods. They contain a number of neuroprotective compounds, with the highest amounts of Omega 3 of any nut – this fatty acid is critical to the health and smooth functioning of this most important organ. Some recent research has found that Walnuts can also increase neurogenesis – the growth of new brain cells – a crucial aspect of maintaining brain health. They have been shown to improve the signalling amongst neurons within the brain and various properties within Walnuts could possibly prevent neurodegeneration, a process which can lead to a whole host of disorders.

Walnuts are literally loaded with brain enhancing nutrients such as the “morale vitamin” B1 and the “mood vitamin” B6. Other neuroprotective nutrients are; gallic acid, vitamin E isomers, melatonin, folate and polyphenols.

Archaeological evidence has found that Neolithic peoples were consuming and cultivating walnuts 7,000 years ago but it was the ancient Greeks and Romans that spread this nut throughout Europe.