It's the middle of the day and you have been spacing out for a good 20 minutes. At times like these, it can seem impossible to redirect your focus to the tasks at hand. Whether you are tired of, disinterested in, or frustrated by the subject on which you wish to focus, put down the energy drink and tune into these alternative remedies.
When you've reached that slump of the day that you dread, and a power nap is not in the cards, assistance is near in the form of energizing, clarifying, and relaxing herbs.
1. Coffee (Coffea arabica)
Coffee is not a bean at all, but in fact the pit of a berry! This is then dried, roasted, and brewed to produce an energizing beverage.
Researchers have verified that caffeine, the active ingredient in coffee, gives an effective boost of energy, and other compounds in coffee also work to improve cognitive function1. This helpful surge of motivation is observed to be paired with more efficient and logical thinking, and with an increased ability to concentrate.
In addition, studies have found an association between regular consumption of coffee (2 cups or more per day) with a lower prevalence of depression during a lifetime2. It also can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's3, a disease affecting memory.
2. Guarana (Paullinia cupana)
If coffee isn't quite doing it for you, guarana will. It more than doubles in caffeine content, which will make you very alert, though research points to additional compounds that improve cognitive performance4. In addition, guarana also contains additional antioxidants that have been linked to stress relief, and it's moderate sugar content can also work towards a more immediate surge in concentration.
3. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
When your cognitive function is slowed, you will have trouble handling simple to complex daily activities. Ginkgo possesses many unique flavonoid glycosides that have been used since ancestral times to enhance memory, learning, and thinking, among other cognitive abilities5. Ginkgo nuts are a great addition if you are looking into easing your daily performance and productivity. It will also help you interact in social situations, since many have reported that its stimulating effects can boost self-confidence.
4. Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)
Called the "fountain of life" in China, gotu kola is great for mental wellness. Instead of getting caught in worries, utilize this herb for the vitality you need. Studies have found that the triterpenoids in this plant calms you nerves and improves mental functioning6. You will not be as distracted by little things. It also helps fight insomnia, which otherwise makes completing tasks effectively nearly impossible.
5. Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
Maca, a root from the Peruvian Andean Mountains, is becoming more and more popular thanks to its many medicinal benefits. In addition to boosting energy and sexual health, maca - especially the black variety - can also improve memory and learning, and it acts as an antidepressant as well7.
With all the work and daily activities that you must tend to, it is perfectly natural to experience a slowing of mental functioning throughout the day. In these moments, make sure you are hydrated, breathing, and assisted by helpful herbal remedies. All of these are effective when taken in tea and supplement form, and will provide short and long term improvement for troubling concentration issues.
- Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology, Effect of Centella asiatica on cognition and oxidative stress in an intracerebroventricular streptozotocin model of Alzheimer's disease in rats, 2003
- European Journal of Neurology, Ginkgo biloba and donepezil: a comparison in the treatment of Alzheimer's dementia in a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study, 2006
- Journal of Psychopharmacology, A double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-dose evaluation of the acute behavioral effects of guaraná in humans, 2007
- Lost Crops of the Incas, pp. 56-65
- National Library of Medicine, Caffeine in the Diet
- USDA Plants Database, Coffea arabica
- Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, p. 244
- MedlinePlus Herbs and Supplements, Ginkgo
- University of Maryland Medical Center, Gotu Kola
- Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands, 2012
- Phytochemistry, Caffeine and related purine alkaloids: biosynthesis, catabolism, function and genetic engineering, 2008
- Neuropsychobiology. (1986). Effect of Coffee on the Speed of Subject-Paced Information Processing. Retrieved August 16th, 2021, from https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/118312
- Nutrients. (2018). Green Tea, Coffee, and Caffeine Consumption Are Inversely Associated with Self-Report Lifetime Depression in the Korean Population. Retrieved August 16th, 2021, from https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/9/1201/htm
- Jornal of Alzheimer's Disease. (2010). Caffeine and Coffee as Therapeutics Against Alzheimer's Disease. Retrieved August 16th, 2021, from https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad091249
- Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. (2004). Improved cognitive performance in human volunteers following administration of guarana (Paullinia cupana) extract: comparison and interaction with Panax ginseng. Retrieved August 16th, 2021, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0091305704002710
- Experimental Gerontology. (2016). EGb761 improves cognitive function and regulates inflammatory responses in the APP/PS1 mouse. Retrieved August 16th, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27220811/
- European Journal of Scientific Research. (2009). Comparison on Cognitive Effects of Centella Asiatica in Healthy Middle Age Female and Male Volunteers. Retrieved August 16th, 2021, from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Roxana-Omar-Dev/publication/241186717_Comparison_on_Cognitive_Effects_of_Centella_Asiatica_in_Healthy_Middle_Age_Female_and_Male_Volunteers/links/5e32502892851c7f7f0c338c/Comparison-on-Cognitive-Effects-of-Centella-Asiatica-in-Healthy-Middle-Age-Female-and-Male-Volunteers.pdf
- International Journal of Biomedical Science. (2005). Use of Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum) in Early Postmenopausal Women. Retrieved August 16th, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614576/