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)

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 have been several studies on the effects of Ashwagandha and the brain with the conclusion that it might help in combating neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Science has found that Ashwagandha inhinits beta-amyloid plaques that are degenerative and toxic for brain cells.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that has been made famous via the ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda.


Barley Grass

(Hordeum vulgare L)
Barley Grass

Since Barleygrass has such a magnificent nutrient profile, and is generally used as a great booster for the body in all respects, it can be used to help all aspects of the mind as well.

Barley grass is known to contain vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, chlorophyll, live enzymes and amino acids. It is thought to include a balanced ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrate necessary for a balanced diet.

The discovery of young Barleygrass shoots as a dietary supplement were found by a Japanese scientist Dr. Hagiwara. Through testing and eating Barleygrass himself he found that the young shoots contributed to all aspects of health and wellbeing.


Bee Pollen

Bee Pollen

The main reason why Bee Pollen is thought to be good for the brain because of the amino acids 5-hydroxy L-tryptophan, dl-phenylalanine, L-tyrosine and L-glutamine which are thought to increase the levels of Epinephrine, Dopamine and Serotonin in the brain. These chemicals help our emotional balance and contribute toward feelings of happiness.

Bee pollen is one of nature's superfoods; rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and anti-oxidants. It is thought to be an immune system builder and also enhances vitality.

Bee Pollen was first used medicinally by the Egyptians and has become a popular supplement used all over the world.



(Bacopa monniera)

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

So how does Brahmi do this? 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 and acetylcholine. This process affects and regulates the balance of the mind to be more beneficial to our overall mood and cognitive process.

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 of blood that's 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.



(Theobroma cacao)

Raw Cacao?? A brain booster?? Yes!! Totally and unequivocally. Cacao and chocolate in general has always had the connotation of being able to impart happiness, improve mood and generate a better memory.

So how does Cacao react with the body to do this? Firstly it helps produce more serotonin, increases blood flow to the brain and contains the chemical anandamide which is a known mood improver.

There is a great history of use of Cacao in South America and the beans were once valued so highly that they were used as currency.


Catuaba Bark

(Erythroxylum catuaba)

Catuaba bark is best known for its ability to enhance sexual function in both men and women which has a lot to do with brain chemistry.

A Brazilian study found that Catuaba bark improved mental acuity and memory and thus helped improve mood. Catuaba also protects the brain with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action through helping the body be rid of free radicals.

Catuaba bark comes from a tree that grows in the South American Amazon Rainforest. It has been used for thousands of years as a stimulant and has become a an important economic resource for some Amazonian tribes.


Chia Seeds

(Salvia hispanica)

Foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be very beneficial to brain funtion. Chia seeds are very high in fatty acids and are thought to be excellent in this manner by lubricating the artaries of the brain and keeping it free from amyloid plaques. It is thought that the build-up of brain plaques are one of the contributing factors to Alzheimer's.

Chia Seeds are an ancient food crop used throughout South America and made famous by the Aztecs as one of their most cherished foods.



(Chlorella vulgaris)

Chlorella offers a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals with a huge nutritional range and has been described as the perfect food. For the brain it is thought that Chlorella fights oxidization and free radicals whilst also improving the memory through natural supplementation of Vitamin B12. Through this action Chlorella is able to fight the onset of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

This plant algae is thought to have an alkaline effect on the body. This effect is key in supporting the body recovering from ill health. Chlorella supports the body in the process of detoxification, this helps the muscles, joints, cells, blood and all the bodily systems recover from their toxic load.

Chlorella was first found in 1890 by Dutch microbiologist M. W. Beijerinck. After the discovery of cracking the cell wall, allowing the nutrient content to be absorbed into the body, Chlorella became a major commercial success. 




(Cocos nucifera)

Raw Coconut Oil specifically is thought to be very helpful in combatting Alzheimer’s through its exceptional fatty acid content, as has been demonstrated to good effect in several studies. Coconut mono triglycerides (fatty acids) 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.

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.



(Zingiber officinale (Roscoe))

This very popular spicy flavouring in cooking has some wonderful properties that help optimize the brain. When Ginger was used in studies with individuals showing decreases in serotonin, dopamine and the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, which all contribute to a healthy memory and mind; it was able to significantly boost neuropathic pathways and help in overall brain function.

Ginger not only restores neuro transmitters responsible for mind balance and happy feelings but also protects the brain from harmful toxins.

In China and India the medical properties of Ginger have always been known and have been part of the culture for more than a thousand years.


Ginkgo Biloba

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

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. Through the overall better functioning of the brain there was also less stress exhibited and anxiety levels dropped.

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.


Goji Berries

(Lycium barbarum)
Goji Berries

These little red berries have been found in one study to protect the brain against amyloid beta peptides which is a toxic plaque found in high levels amongst those with Alzheimer’s disease. Some claim that Goji Berries can also help improve memory and learning ability through the same action.

Goji berries / Wolf berries are known as the ultimate tonic for longevity and have been used in traditional Mongolian, Tibetan and Chinese medicine for 1000s of years.


Gotu kola

(Hydrocotyle asiatica)
Gotu Kola

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)

Pure Guarana has a significant amount of caffeine that is bound to vegetable proteins and tannins that make it more difficult to absorb by the body. This slower transition of caffeine into the system means that the effects generally are longer lasting than other caffeine rich substances. Caffeine can help focus the mind and improves the memory while it travels in the blood.

Guarana is known as a stimulant it has a nervine action and is known as a balancing yet uplifting tonic, boosting energy levels, enhancing memory and increasing physical endurance. It is thought to be more effective than coffee or ginseng at creating instant energy boost to body and mind and it is an anti-oxidant.

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.



(Cannabis Sativa)

It might be a surprise to some people that the mind can benefit from Hemp Seeds. The main reason is that Hemp Seeds have a near perfect ratio of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids and the brain uses these substances to keep cognitive function limber.

It has been scientifically proven that concentration and memory are improved when a diet is rich in Essential Fatty Acids. When these substances are lacking in a diet then memory and concentration become hindered.

Hemp has been used as a food source and medicine for thousands of years in Asia and the Middle East. Nearly every part of the plant can be used and is beneficial to humans.


Kelp Seaweed

(Laminara digitata)

Kelp Seaweed contains a lot of Essential Fatty Acids and Folic Acid. These two substances are very important for the mind to keep healthy and without them memory and concentration are significantly lessened. Folic Acid in particular is needed throughout life to aid the mind in functions like speech performance and help produce the happy chemical serotonin.

Kelp is a favourite delicacy of the Japanese and has a heathy 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. 


Korean Ginseng

(Panax Ginseng)

This is considered the real Ginseng and the most beneficial of all others in the family. Being an adaptogenic stimulant, Korean Panax Ginseng is able to make you focus and clear fog from the mind making concentration sharper. Another helpful aspect of Panax Ginseng is that it has been proven to lower levels of stress which makes the mind calmer.

The Panax Ginseng plant has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for a very long making it one of the oldest known medicinal herbs in the world. Many preparations have Panax Ginseng as an ingredient in TCM.



(Pinus sylvestris)

Pine has a dual purpose for the mind. Firstly, Pine Nuts are a rich source of Omega-3 oils and are one of the best foods to keep the mind limber. Secondly, Pine Resin can be burnt as an incense that has a calming effect to produce a clear, centred and one pointed purpose of mind.  

Pine Nuts were an essential food for some tribes of Native American Indians who stored them as a winter food. 



(Cucurbita pepo)

Pumpkin seeds are rich in essential fatty acids and provide and excellent source of Omega-3 which are a great brain food to keep the mind in good health. Also Pumpkin Seeds are a great source of Magnesium which is thought to have a great calming effect on the mind.

They rich in minerals and B vitamins, this making them a fantastic brain booster. They make a delicious healthy snack and are thought to be good for the urinary tract and for maintaining a healthy heart.

The ancestors of the modern Pumpkin are thought to have been cultivated around 5,500 BC by Native American Indians. Pumpkins come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and aren't just limited to the variety we see today at Halloween.


Reishi Mushroom

(Ganoderma lucidum)

The Reishi Mushroom is a highly treasured part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and recent studies have found that it can of great benefit to the mind. The chemical properties of Reishi have been found to relax the nervous system, stimulate brain neurons and help production of 'nerve growth factor'. This could make Reishi Mushroom very therapeutic for those suffering from Alzheimer's and Huntington’s disease.

According to legend the Chinese Emperor Ti from the Chin dynasty ordered 300 soldiers and 300 hundred beautiful women to set sail and bring the Reishi mushroom back to his kingdom. This Mushroom was so highly sought after that in China it was exclusively a tonic for the upper classes.



(Salvia officinalis)

If you want to become a real Sage with an enormous memory then taking this herb will definitely help.

Scientists have found that certain chemicals 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 snticosus)
Siberian Ginseng

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 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.


Tulsi (Holy Basil)

(Ocimum tenuiflorum)

One of the great benefits of India's most sacred plant is that it has the ability to effectively combat stress and free the mind making it 'light'. A study has found that continued consumption of Tulsi stimulates the brain in a way that is similar to antidepressant medications.

Tulsi helps protect cells in the body from becoming damaged while detoxifying and breaking down free radicals.

In the medical system of Ayurveda, Tulsi holds a high position for being one of the most helpful all round herbs. According to Hindu mythology the Tulsi plant is the incarnation of the goddess of abundance, Lakshmi.



(Triticum aestivum)

The nutritional profile of Wheatgrass is literally stunning. It's good for boosting energy and vitality levels and when it comes to the brain; it effectively combats mind fatigue, supports detoxification essential for the mind, eliminates unhealthy bacteria, balancing ph levels in blood, treating immune system deficiencies and aiding cell regeneration.

The first investigations into the properties of Wheatgrass occurred in the 1930’s when the Agricultural Chemist Dr. Charles Schnaber observed hens having a preference to young Wheatgrass shoots over all other food stuffs.