Ancient Herbs for Protecting the Brain

In philosophy, ‘mind-body dualism’ pertains to the relationship between these two components of human beings – addressing the two parallel worlds we experience as one entity. Whatever happens to body is reflected in the mind, and vice versa. As Plato said “νους υγιής εν σώματι υγιεί – healthy body in a healthy mind.”

Aging as a natural phenomenon impacts our body and our intellectual parts.

Modern medicine and technological advancements offer humans the potential of reaching their ‘technical life span’ of approximately 120 years of age, although some age-related diseases are still being investigated, with scientists working on cures or prevention. Among them are the spectrum of dementia diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

Dementia is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder considered as normal aging in the past, but today, AD is an important memory disorder and there is a need for management. There are many hypotheses about the causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Management of the disease includes medications like donepezil, but often with side effects. Also, phychosocial interventions also work, as various activities stimulate the brain.

As usual, prevention is better than a cure, however. There are many herbs in traditional Chinese medicine that are said to help the brain and prevent this neurodegeneration. Gingo biloba and ginseng as individual herbs or extracts seem to have a positive effect on complementary therapies, but there is a need for more research to prove the range of effectiveness.

Gingo biloba is a beautiful tree, threatened by extinction, and it is the only ancestor of an ancient group of extinct plants from the Pliocene Age – the dinosaur era! In other words, it is a living fossil! There is some evidence that it prevents dementia but more research is needed to prove it. We do know that it promotes good blood circulation, helps with anxiety, and enables the body and mind work more efficiently.

Ginseng is a panacea for every disease and it has been used for thousands of years in China, and there is modern research to prove many of its uses. It acts in the nervous system, reduces stress, and stimulates the body and mind. But be careful! It stimulates, it but it does not cure!  Its main ingredient, panaxsaponin, seems to enhance psychomotor and cognitive performance (benefiting Alzheimer’s patients) and brain function, but more medical trials should be done to prove it. Also, you must not take it for more than a month – and avoid mixing with caffeine. Stop for some months, then start again.

* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an Msc in Botany-Biology.




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