Which Natural Supplements Can Help To Support Brain Health?

Fresh Bright Green Leaves Of Ginkgo Biloba. Natural Leaf Texture

The recent news reported by the BBC about a breakthrough drug for the treatment of dementia will no doubt offer hope to millions of people and their families around the world. A global trial involving 1,736 people aged 60-85 found that a drug called donanemab was effective in slowing cognitive decline for some of the participants.

However, some patients suffered significant side effects from the treatment, including two who sadly died from swelling on the brain. Despite concerns about safety, the results of the trial have been widely hailed as a breakthrough by healthcare experts. 

There are still areas of uncertainty about if and when donanemab will be made available in the UK. Safety concerns aside, if the drug is approved there are other concerns about the cost and the ability of the NHS to deliver the necessary treatment programme at an early enough stage in the disease. 

Kate Lee, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Timely, accurate diagnosis is key, and currently only 2% of people in England and Wales receive their diagnosis through the specialist investigations needed to be eligible for these treatments.

She added: “Alongside this, these emerging Alzheimer’s disease drugs require regular infusions and monitoring, and the NHS is not yet equipped to do this at scale.”

Dementia is not an inevitable consequence of getting older, but is a disease that is caused by a mixture of risk factors. We can all take steps to help lower our risk of developing dementia, and to keep our brains sharp and active as we age. 

Even in older people who do not have dementia, the brain shrinks slightly, and this can lead to problems with memory, concentration, and emotional control. Experts recommend that taking regular exercise, not smoking, and eating a healthy balanced diet can help to maintain good health and reduce the risk of dementia.

Taking supplements is another popular way of boosting brain function. Many supplements are made with natural plant extracts that have been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. Here are some of the supplements that are believed to be most beneficial for protecting the brain.

  • Ginkgo Biloba

This supplement is a herb from the ginkgo biloba tree (also known as the maidenhair tree), native to Japan, China, and other areas of East Asia. The active components of ginkgo biloba herb are thought to improve blood flow and the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to vital organs, including the brain.

The ginkgo biloba leaf also has antioxidant properties, which can reduce inflammation and help to protect the body against a variety of diseases, including dementia. It is available in slow-release capsule form and as a tincture.

  • Marine phytoplankton powder

Marine phytoplankton is an ancient microalgae that is extracted from uncontaminated seawater and processed without any additives, preservatives, pesticides or stabilising agents. It’s packed with essential vitamins and minerals, and also contains amino acids, proteins, carotenoids, and fatty acids.

It is available in powder form and can be taken as an all-round dietary supplement. It has anti-inflammatory properties that may help to support brain health and improve cognitive ability. It may also improve mood, increase energy levels, and promote good skin and joint care. 

The powder is best taken in the morning, so that the extra energy levels don’t interfere with sleep. It can be added to juice, smoothies, or plain water. 

  • St John’s Wort

St John’s Wort has been used for centuries as a treatment for mental health conditions, including mild anxiety and depression. Many people take it as a supplement during the winter to help stabilise their mood during the darker months. 

It’s made from the hypericum perforatum plant, and is known as St John’s Wort because it flowers around the summer solstice and St. John’s day on the 24 June. It’s a wild shrub that commonly grows in Britain and produces bright yellow flowers. The active ingredients are hypericin and hyperforin. 

St. John’s Wort may also help to ease the symptoms of menopause, and promote a good night’s sleep. It can interact with other medications so it’s advisable to check with your doctor before taking it, and it is not recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

  • Curcumin

Curcumin is an extract of the turmeric plant, and is thought to help protect against the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It is a potent compound with anti-inflammatory properties and it can also ease the symptoms of joint pain, burns and scalding, and viral and bacterial infections. 

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