What to look for in a Omega 3 Supplement

What to look for in an Omega 3 Supplement

fish oil supplement

Fish oil is a rich source of EPA and DHA which are needed for our health for many reasons that will be listed in this article.  These needed nutrients are found in the fatty tissue of cold water, oily fish. These are essential fatty acids and the body cannot make them thus we need to get them from food or supplement (1)

It has only been in the past 15 years that the actions of EPA and DHA have come to be understood. (3)   Until now there is still more research on DHA than there is on EPA (2). Because of research we have a better understanding of how these fatty acids work in isolation and in combination. 

This article will discuss the benefits of both EPA and DHA and ways to get them in your diet including vegan sources. 

Do You Need More Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids in Your Diet?

Most Americans are deficient in omega 3’s and instead consume an abundance of omega 6’s. While we need some omega 6’s in our diet, the current ratio contributes to inflammation and chronic disease. Add to that they most Americans are consuming their omega 6’s from processed, rancid oils instead of oils such as evening primrose. 

 

Signs you May Be Deficient in Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

  • Growth retardation
  • Behavioral changes
  • ADD
  • Poor motor coordination
  • Poor vision
  • Poor learning ability
  • Excessive blood coagulation
  • Edema
  • Weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Inflammation
  • Tingling in the arms and legs
  • Low metabolic rate
(8)

Why You Need Both EPA and DHA

mom with baby

  • EPA

o   Products that contain more EPA than DHA have been shown to be beneficial for depression. Supplements that had a lower ratio or EPA to DHA were judged to be ineffective.  Studies that showed promise had used 1 gram of EPA daily. (2)

o   EPA may also be helpful for heart disease and may aid to lower triglyceride levels due to its anti-inflammatory effects. (2)

o   Children with development problems may benefit from a product containing only high amounts of pure EPA (3)

o   After the age of 5 the development of the brain and the central nervous system starts to reduce the body’s need for DHA and the need for EPA increases (3).

o   EPA has been shown to help children with academic performance, focus, attention and reducing aggression.  (3)

o   Dry skin, allergies and eczema can also benefit from EPA use as it will help to reduce inflammation.

o   EPA has been shown to reduce cognitive decline and dementia

o   Aids in joint health (4)

o   Regulates insulin levels (4)

o   In one study, those with increased anxiety were given 2 grams of EPA daily and there was a statistically significant reduction in anxiety compared to those in the placebo group.  (11)

o   Increased EPA may help you to handle stress and may improve mood in the general population.  (11)

 

  • DHA

o   DHA is needed for healthy brain development and for the aging brain.  Low levels of DHA have been associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s Disease (6)

o   Children require DHA for growth and development

o   Once dementia has set in and there is brain damage, at this point DHA becomes important again.  Look for a product that contains 250 mg. of DHA. (3)

o   A 12- week study of DHA supplementation was found to improve blood flow to the brains of healthy young adults during cognitive tasks.  (6)

o   For women, low DHA is thought to be responsible in many cases of postpartum depression. (6)

 

  • EPA and DHA

o   Both are needed for pregnant women to ensure optimal brain and nervous system development of the fetus (1)

o   The average adult should look for a fish oil supplement containing 700-1,000 mg. of EPA and 200-500 mg. of DHA (1)

o   ADHD: children may benefit from one gram total

o   These long chain omega 3 fatty acids can affect metabolism of mood related neurotransmitters such as your serotonin and your dopamine.  Since both EPA and DHA have anti-inflammatory effects both can contribute to reducing depressive symptoms (6)

o   Both EPA and DHA have been shown to improve symptoms of Bipolar. (9) One study showed that omega 3 supplementations reduced mania and depression in youths with bipolar.  The dose in the study was 360 mg. EPA and 1560 DHA for 6 weeks. (10)

  • Bottom Line: for your health, you need to opt for a product that contains both EPA and DHA or eat fatty fish.

Food Sources

abstract-1238248_1280 (1)

If you want to avoid consuming fish oil, consume 3 ounces of fatty fish 3 times per week for general health.  Check your sources when buying fish as fish can be very contaminated.  A good place to look is www.seafoodwatch.org (for you sushi lovers, they also have a great list of which sushi options are the best and which to avoid)

 If I know I am going to eat, say salmon for dinner that night, I will skip taking my fish oil on that day. 

  • Wild caught Alaskan Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines (I like Wild Planet Brand)
  • Herring
  • Black Cod
  • Omega-3 enriched eggs
  • Anchovies
  • Cod liver oil

What If I have a Seafood Allergy?

If you have an allergy to shellfish, you may be able to still consume fish oil.  Fish allergies are typically a reaction to the proteins and thus a purified true fish oil should still be safe. (7)  But if you have a serious allergic reaction to fish such as anaphylactic shock, I would avoid fish oil to be safe and use non-fish sources instead. 

Plant sources

flax seeds

If you are a vegan or vegetarian (or have a fish allergy) and do not eat fish or take a fish oil supplement, you can take an algae supplement for your DHA.  But you will still need a source for your EPA. (4) 

You can get ALA from plant sources such as flax seeds and flax seed oil, walnuts, hemp, purslane and chia seeds but the conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA is small.  The conversion of ALA to EPA is anywhere from 3% to 20%. The proportion of ALA converted to DHA is small. (5) 

A study measuring blood EPA and DHA in a vegan population showed that 64 % had insufficient amounts and some were severely deficient.  This population’s intake of ALA was above the recommended intake as well.  (6)

We need an enzyme called Delta 6 Desaturase to make the conversion from ALA to EPA and DHA.  This conversion process can be blocked by alcohol, caffeine, high refined carb diet, trans fats and poor quality oils such as canola and vegetable oil, meds and street drugs, deficiencies of B6, B3, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc; toxins and certain conditions such as diabetes and aging.  (8)

A newer plant oil called Ahiflower oil from Buglossoides arvensis, has reportedly the highest level of non-GM omega-3 essential fatty acids.  The plant oil combines ALA with stearidonic acid.  The stearidonic acid converts EPA at a ratio of 30-35%.  This may be a good option to consider if you are a vegan or vegetarian.  (5). However, keep in mind what can block the conversion from plant oils into essential fatty acids. 

 

When to Use Caution

  • If you are going in for surgery stop taking fish oil supplements and tell your doctor of your supplements
  • If you have a fish allergy avoid all fish oil products to be safe
  • Fish oil supplements can affect blood clotting so if you are on a blood thinner, talk to your doctor first before supplementing.
  • If you are pregnant or breast feeding, research brands and where your fish is from to avoid contaminants.
  • Go slow when using fish oil as starting out on a high dose may cause stomach and digestive issues.  Start low and work your way up slowly
  • Always take fish oil with a meal that contains fat. It is best to take fish oil with your biggest meal of the day.  Since it is a fat soluble nutrient it needs fat in order for you to absorb and utilize it.

Bottom line

When choosing an essential fatty acid supplement, choose one that contains both EPA and DHA as you will benefit from having both.  Much of your brain is made up of DHA fats and EPA fats are found in every cell in your body. 

 

 

Resources

  1. https://ww.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/vitamins/fish-oil-and-omega-3/
  2. http://ww.nutraingredients-usa-com/Researach/EPA-stands-alone-as-a-depression-fighter
  3. https://igennus.com/nutrition/omega-3-science/epa-vs-dha/
  4. https://www.totalwellnesschoices.com/algae-vs-fish-oil-supplements/
  5. https://www.nutraingredients-usa-com/Markets/Powerful-PUFAs-The-many-health-benefits-of-omega-3s/?
  6. https://uintacountyherald.com/article/omega-3-fatty-acid-good-for-adult-elderly-brain-health
  7. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fish-allergies-omega-3/
  8. Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations of Nutrition. CA: Bauman College   
  9. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/there-strong-evidence-omega-3-fatty-acids-have-beneficial-effect-bipolar-disorder
  10.   http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/omega-3-polyunsaturated-fatty-acid-supplementation-associated-reduced-mania
  11. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-zone/201201/anxiety-and-omega-3-fatty-acids

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page

Use These Herbs for Perimenopause and Menopausal Symptoms

11 Herbs for Menopause and Perimenopause

lemon-balm

Around the age of 40 women begin perimenopause and the transition to menopause.  During this time levels of estrogen, progesterone and the androgens fluctuate.  Your body will spend years gradually and naturally going through this process. This transition can last 5 to 10 years and for some up to 13 years.   Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45-55.  During this time your periods may stop and then start again or may occur more frequently and may increase or decrease in intensity and flow. You are officially in menopause when your period has stopped for one full year.

Herbs to Ease Perimenopause/Menopause Symptoms

black-cohosh

Note: Always check first with your health professional when adding in herbs to your regimen. Some herbs interact with meds and some are not safe to take with certain health conditions. 

Motherwort: This herb can be your ally in reducing irritability and anxiety that may occur during the transition time.  It can calm the heart during perimenopause heart palpitations.  If you have heavy bleeding during perimenopause, then don’t overdo the use of this herb.  It can aid in menopausal insomnia. Avoid this herb if you have low blood pressure.  Take in tea or in tincture.  50-80 drops 2-4 times per day in tincture form.  As a tea use 1 tsp. of dried herb.  Drink 4 oz. three times per day. 

Shatavari: This herb is a wonderful one to use during these times of transition. It is useful for hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, anxiety and memory loss.  It also is known to increase libido.  Use 30-60 drops 1-2 times per day depending on the severity of your symptoms.  As a tincture, use 40-80 drops 3x per day.  As a tea use of dried root and consume up to 2 cups per day.  Avoid if you have diarrhea and bloating or add ginger and consume as a tea only. 

Passion Flower: This herb has many uses and it is useful for menopausal mood swings.  It can aid in reducing panic attacks, calms irritability and helps with stress relief.  If you can’t turn your mind off at night, use passion flower.  Use in tea blend or take 60-80 drops of tincture 3 times per day.  Avoid with bipolar, schizophrenia and manic phases.  Do not use with MAOI’s.

Sage: This is beneficial for stimulating memory and is useful for the brain fog that is sometimes associated with perimenopause.   It is also good for excessive sweating which means it can be supportive for those with night sweats during perimenopause. It is also used for anxiety, hot flashes and fatigue associated with menopausal symptoms. Take in tincture 30-60 drops 2-3 times per day or use 1 tsp. in a tea blend 3 times per day. 

Fennel: While many of you may be familiar with fennel for digestive issues, fennel is used to offer hormonal support as well.  One of its main components appears to have natural hormone like actions.  It can be useful for bloating, menstrual pain and hot flashes.  As a tea use 1-2 tsp in one cup hot water. 

Skullcap: This herb is considered a brain tonic and is useful for ADD, poor memory and mental fatigue. It is also useful for PMS, menstrual pain/cramps, menopausal depression and mood swings, hot flashes and irritation.  Use in a tea blend or take ½ t. of tincture as needed.  Avoid with bipolar, schizophrenia and manic phases. 

Kudzu root: This herb is beneficial for PMS and peri menopausal symptoms such as acne, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.  Take in tincture form of 60 drops 2-3 times per day. 

Lemon Balm: Use this herb for menstrual cramping and depression associated with perimenopause.  This is considered a very safe herb and safe for children as well. However, if you have low thyroid uses it is best to minimize the amount of lemon balm you consume as it can lower thyroid function. 

Hops: This herb is used for menstrual cramping. This is best used in tea or tincture. It also has a sedative effect.  As a tincture, take 30-60 drops 2-3 times per day.  Avoid with usage of sedative medication.  Do not use if you have depression. 

Black Cohosh: This herb has been popularized for use for hot flashes yet it also has many other beneficial uses. This herb can also be useful for those with depression.  Avoid use of this herb if you have liver disease.  Take 20-40 drops of tincture per day. 

Chaste Tree Berry: Some of you may be familiar with Chaste Tree (Vitex) for hormonal support, however a word of caution-it is very easy to overdo it with this herb. Taking too much may increase progesterone levels and thus increase your symptoms.  If using this herb, take only one capsule per day in the morning or 15 drops of tincture in the morning.  Avoid usage if you are taking antipsychotic medications. 

Pycnogenol:  (actually it is 12 with the addition of this one but Pycnogenol supplement is not an herb per se rather an extract) This is a branded, registered trade form of  French maritime pine bark extract and has a number of uses.  It can be useful for endometriosis, painful periods, menopausal symptoms and can reduce fine lines and wrinkles (at 100 mg. per day).  A recent study builds upon evidence from previous studies showing that it can reduce elevated cardiovascular risk factors that are often related to perimenopause such as increased triglycerides, elevated blood pressure and blood sugar.  Those participating in the study also had reduced hot flashes, reduction of night sweats and mood improvement. 

Going Beyond Herbs to Reduce Symptoms

basket of veggies

For some of you with mild symptoms, an herb or two may do the trick.  For those of you that continue to struggle with symptoms your body may need more support than just a few herbs.  Addressing and identifying imbalances in the body will be key for you, such as addressing blood sugar, adrenals, thyroid, digestion and/or other areas to restore balance.  Dietary changes along with targeted supplementation may be needed depending on your current diet and symptoms.

For instance, some of you may enter perimenopause sooner than others due to poor health or due to your diet. 

Estrogen dominance becomes an issue along with its side effects during perimenopause for some due to low progesterone levels.  The key is to find out what is the issue for you and then address it. 

The bottom line is yes, there is something you can do instead of having to put up with these symptoms for years!

If you live in Colorado you may want some of my organic herbal tea, Seasons of Change, for perimenopause/menopause relief.  http://trufoodsnutrition.com/trufoods-herbal-tea-blends/

 

Sources

Blankenship, V. (2016) Sage Herbal Foundations Program. Colorado Springs, CO. (notes from)

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Cech, R. (2016) Making Plant Medicine.  Oregon: Herbal Reads

Crow, D. (2016) Medicinal Plants & Spiritual Evolution Intensive.  Online Program (notes from)

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal Vade Mecum.  NJ: Herbacy Press

Winston, D. & Maimes, S. (2007) Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief.  VT: Healing

   Arts Press.

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/product-innovations/pycnogenol-R-Normalizes-Cardio-Risks-During-Perimenopause?

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page

5 Reasons to Consume this Every Day

Fermented Foods: 5 Reasons to Consume this food Group Every Day

sauerkraut

I’m sure you have heard about fermented foods and are wondering if this is just a fad.  Here are some reasons why fermented foods should not be just a fad but a food group to keep in your diet daily.

What are Fermented Foods?

miso-soup

Bacteria and yeast are used as part of the fermentation process that gives these foods a nutritional boost.  The bacteria convert sugars and starches into lactic acid through a process called lacto-fermentation.  The yeast undergoes a process called ethanol fermentation. 

These yeasts and bacteria that undergo the fermentation process boosts the nutritional content of the food. 

What it does to the food

  • Provides beneficial bacteria that promote gut health
  • Provides beneficial enzymes
  • Increases the amount of B vitamins, biotin, and folate.
  • Increases the bioavailability of minerals.
  • Provides short chain fatty acids (which helps to improve your immune function)
  • Provides you with GABA, your calming neurotransmitter

 

How can eating fermented foods help me?

kombucha

Optimize your Gut Health

Why this may not seem like a big deal, it is. Your immune system is in your gut and much of your serotonin is made in your gut. Your gut may be in bad shape from NSAIDS, antibiotics, unknown food allergies, the standard American diet and more. 

 

Ideally you want more “good” bacteria populating your gut as opposed to “bad” bacteria.  Fermented foods can help shift the balance since most people who consume the Standard American “crap food” diet have a disrupted microbiome. 

So, you can take all the supplements in the world, but if your gut is in bad shape, are you even absorbing and benefiting from these supplements or are you just wasting your money?

 

 A healthy gut can help to balance and support your endocrine system, immune system, digestive system, and nervous system.  So, as you can see, a healthy gut is critical to your well-being. 

 

Support your Immune System

The more beneficial bacteria you have, the stronger your immune system is to fight off colds, flu, allergies and more.  Almost 80% of your immune system is found in your gut, thus, it stands to reason that to maintain a strong immune system, one needs to support their gut health. 

 

Asthma and autoimmune conditions, among numerous other health issues, are all linked to having fewer good bacteria in your gut.  The less diverse your microbiota is, the greater association with many chronic health issues. 

 

Adding in probiotic rich fermented foods can also shorten the duration of a cold or upper respiratory infection. 

Aid in weight loss

Studies show that those with certain healthy bacteria in their gut can maintain a healthy weight while those with more negative strains have a greater incidence of gaining weight/difficulty losing weight.  Obese people have different gut bacteria than lean individuals. 

 

In a 2011 study, it was found that kimchee had a significant impact on weight and body fat of those who are overweight and obese in the study. In a 2010 study, obese people were assigned to drink fermented milk for 12 weeks. Those that drank the fermented milk had significant fat loss as compared to the control group. 

 

 Digestive/Bowel Issue Improvement

Those with IBS or IBD may have reduced symptoms of diarrhea and constipation when fermented foods are added into the daily diet.  Dr. David Williams states that to eliminate digestive issues, you need to improve the balance in the gut microbiome and one of the most effective ways of doing so is by adding in fermented foods.  Kefir in studies, has shown to improve symptoms of IBS and IBD.  Research has shown that anywhere from 50 to 75% of those who make this change (Adding in fermented foods) will notice a significant difference in their IBS symptoms. 

 

Improved mental health, mood control and behavior. 

The gut is considered your second brain.  A healthy gut therefore can mean a healthy brain.  Several probiotic strains have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in short term studies. For this reason, to get more variety of probiotic strains, it is best to not stick with the same fermented food to eat over and over. Mix it up; for instance, have kefir one day, kombucha the next, fermented vegetables the next day and so forth. 

 

Many of you know that GABA is your calming neurotransmitter. But did you know that fermented foods can supply you with GABA too?  Oral administration of fermented rice bran and other traditional fermented foods have been shown to increase GABA content significantly!  Whereas GABA in the oral form may have limited benefits due to absorption issues. 

 

Another study looking at 700 college students found that those who ate a variety of fermented foods has less negative emotions than before such as anxiety, fear, moodiness, worry, envy, frustration, and loneliness. 

 

It is possible that the fermented foods not only healed leaky gut but also provided some needed GABA. Even in psychiatry they are starting to recognize the benefits of fermented foods for mood disorders. 

 

Reduce the risk of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Some scientists have recently begun to consider the possibility that Alzheimer’s Disease is in fact an autoimmune disease. And as many of you may know, having one autoimmune condition puts you at risk for more autoimmune conditions down the road.  For any autoimmune disease, the immune system must be supported. So, it would make sense that gut health needs to be addressed for AD.  If you want to support your brain than I suggest that you add in fermented foods. 

 

Along with the benefits above, fermented foods can also benefit those with Autism and help prevent H-Pylori.  You don’t need a whole lot of fermented foods daily. Start with small amounts until you know how your body will react and slowly build your way up to say 3 tablespoons of fermented vegetables or a cup of kefir per day. 

 

 

What to add in

kefir

 

Look for the product to say raw and fermented. These foods should be in the refrigerator section of the store. 

  • Sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables: eat these cold, don’t heat them up. Bubbies pickles is a great way to get introduced to fermented foods. 
  • Kimchee: this is a Korean version of fermented cabbage, carrots, onions and garlic.
  • Kefir: usually made from cow’s milk but is also made from goat milk or coconut milk. It has more of a drinkable texture than yogurt. I buy goat milk kefir and find that it is relatively thick and mix in some of my paleo granola and have this for breakfast.   If you suspect any issues with milk it is best to opt for the coconut kefir or the goat milk kefir. If you have asthma or chronic sinus congestion, avoid the kefir until issues resolve.  Opt for the other fermented choices instead.  
  • Tempeh: Indonesian type of “cake” with a nutty taste and chewy texture. A good vegan source of protein too. 
  • Kombucha: a fizzy fermented tea. Most stores carry a variety of flavors now.  Don’t go overboard on the kombucha however. Some people who drink kombucha in excess amounts (i.e.: several bottles per day) report symptoms of gas and bloating. 
  • Miso: a fermented soybean paste which can be used in soups and sauces. A miso broth soup is a great way to start a meal and very easy to make. 

Notice I did not sat yogurt. While some yogurts may contain some probiotics, many others are sugary processed foods in disguise.  Yogurt is also not going to pack as powerful of a punch as the above-mentioned foods. 

Sources

Add Alzheimer’s disease to the list of autoimmune diseases

Can probiotics shorten the duration of the common cold?

Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function UCLA study shows

Consumer labs

Dr. David Williams

Fermented foods gaining popularity as health benefits become more widely recognized

Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry

Fermented kimchi reduces body weight and improves metabolic parameters in overweight and obese patients

Impact of Kefir derived lactobacillus kefiri on the mucosal immune response and gut microbiota

learn about the probiotic benefits of traditional fermented foods

Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics

Sauerkraut could be the secret to curing social anxiety

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the  book Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in addressing root causes not symptom management.    For more information, visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today!

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page

Mid terms, finals and Exams: 6 Herbs that can help with Focus, Memory and Concentration

Mid Terms and Finals: 6 Herbs that can Support Memory, Learning, Focus and Concentration

person studying

 

While a healthy diet rich in a variety of whole foods and one that supplies plenty of quality fats, protein and carbs from whole foods is ideal for brain health, we all know that is not always the case with our teens and young adult children who are in high school and college.

Below is a list of herbs and other nutrients that can support brain health during exams.   Either way, opt for one or two and see what works for you or your child. 

If you are pregnant or breast feeding do not take any herbal remedies.  If you are on any medications, consult with your doctor, herbalist, nutritionist or ND prior to taking any herbs or supplements as some can interact with medications. Always dose low and work your way up to higher dosage if needed. 

Do not try all of these.  Pick one or two that you feel addresses your needs. 

Mid- term and Finals Brain Boost

Herbs to Take to Help with Studying and Test Taking

 ginkgo-flower-picture

  • Huperzine A: This is not an herb per se but is a compound that is found naturally in some plant species.  The most common plant that it is extracted from is the Chines Club moss.  Take 50-200 mcg. one time daily.   Used for memory, learning enhancement, alertness. This is also used for cognitive decline/dementia in the elderly.  You can take it with or without food. 
  • Bacopa monnieri: This plant that is found in warm wetlands has been shown to nourish the nervous system, boost brain function, and enhance memory and learning.  This herb may be even more effective when combined with Brahmi (Gotu kola) It can be helpful for memory, focus, clarity, mood, attention, learning and concentration.   Research on Bacopa’s memory enhancing effects is still ongoing but current studies are promising.   Studies used 300-450 mg. extract per day for 12 weeks. 
  • Brahmi (Centella asiatica): This  plant is also known as Gotu Kola and is a plant that is grown in tropical climates or in higher, cooler elevations of China or India.  Brahmi has been shown to  decongest the brain lymphatic system and can drain 3 pounds of toxins from the brain each year! When used with Bacopa, these two herbs can work together to boost brain function, memory and learning.  For studying use Bacopa and Brahmi together for enhanced brain effectiveness. Take 500 mg. 3 times per day after each meal. 
  • Vinpocetine: You may want to start stocking up on this product now as it may not be available to the public in the future.       Vinpocetine is a synthesized compound derived from an alkaloid found in the leaves of the Vinca minor plant or from Voacanga seeds.  It is said to increase blood flow to the brain and is used as a memory enhancement.  There have been no reports of adverse effects of taking Vinpocetine so my personal thoughts are that the FDA wants to take this off of the natural health food store shelves because they want to use it in new drugs they are bringing to market.  Take 10-20 mg daily and up to 60 mg. but this high dose is most often used for age related decline. 
  • Rosemary: Rosemary is used for poor memory and has a long history of memory enhancement.  One study showed that those who had been exposed to rosemary via aromatherapy had reduced anxiety, increased alertness and exhibited better performance on memory testing.  Rosemary is available in enteric coated capsules and a daily dose would be 4 to 6 grams. However, even smaller quantities may be sufficient. 
  • Ginkgo biloba: this is the worlds oldest living species of tree.  The leaves are used in herbal remedies.  It is used for age related decline and early onset Alzheimer’s but also shows promise for memory and concentration.  Oral doses taken by healthy volunteers showed that ginkgo is capable of improving cognitive function, mental sharpness, concentration and memory.  Most trials have shown amounts of 120 and 240 mg. of Ginkgo biloba extract used. If purchased in tincture form, start with one dropper per day and work up to 3 droppers per day as needed.   I have found Ginkgo to be dose dependent, meaning more is not always better.  Start out slowly.  If you suffer from migraines avoid this herb. 

When Purchasing Herbs Know this!

ginkgo-leaf

Many products when tested contain little if any of the actual herb or do not contain the correct part of the herb or the correct constituents.  If you buy your herbal products from a discount store (many of them that I will not name personally) know that you are probably wasting your money. When purchasing herbs it is best to use reputable and trusted companies. Some that I like (I have no affiliation with any of these companies) include www.bayanbotanicals.com, Gaia herbs, and Herb Pharm.   You can find some of these brands locally but others you may have to order online. 

A Word of Caution!

rosemary

Everyone thinks more is better. This is not always the case with herbs.  Many are dose dependent.  Follow the guidelines here and always start low and slow and work your way up to a dose that works for you.  Each body reacts differently to herbs based on your body’s needs.  Start using one to two herbs prior to exam time so that you have a plan in place already to help you. 

This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not meant to be used to treat, diagnose or cure.

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit her site at  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like here fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Sources

https://examine.com/supplements/huperzine-a/

https://www.ncbi.nlm/nih.gov/pubmed/23772955

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4124189

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22747190

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116297/#!=po1.47059

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Regulation/FDA-rules-vinpocetine-not-a-legal-dietary-ingredient-despite-successful-NDI-filings

 

Other Sources

Balch, P. (2012) Prescription for Herbal Healing.  2nd Edition. NY: Avery

Gaby, A. (2006) The Natural Pharmacy. Revised and Updated 3rd Edition. NY: Three Rivers Press. 

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism.  VT: Healing Arts Press. 

 

 

 

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page