Herbs for neurogenesis – what are the best ones, and how do they work? Here’s a quick overview:
- Ashwagandha – stimulates the healing of nervous system from damage and improves communication between the nerve cells.
- Rhodiola Rosea – promotes stem cell proliferation, improves mood with increase in the 5-HT (serotonin) levels.
- Korean Red Ginseng – increases connections between newly generated brain cells.
- Bacopa Monnieri – speeds up the information processing in the brain through dendrites that works for conveying a message.
- Ginkgo Biloba – improves blood flow to the brain, improves cognition memory and prevent further damage.
Neurogenesis For a Sharp Brain
As you work hard to achieve your goals, you might desire to have your brain at the peak of its powers. No matter what you want to accomplish, a sharp and quick brain is what you’ll need on your way there.
A good diet and exercise regimen are always your best bet when it comes to increasing neurogenesis. But sometimes you may also look for other ways to boost up your brain cell growth. Luckily, this is where herbs for neurogenesis step in.
It was thought for a long time that we can’t grow new neurons. But modern science has disproved this notion; showing that we’re able to grow and reshape the structure of our brain throughout life. (1, 2)
Below, you’ll learn what neurogenesis really is, why it’s important to keep it as high as naturally possible. Let’s read how certain herbs can help you achieve that goal.
What is Neurogenesis?
Neurogenesis is the creation of fresh brain cells. It’s governed by a number of factors i.e. adequate quantity of Neurotrophins that are protein that essentially stimulates nerve growth. (1, 3); one of which is BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor).[alert type=”warning” icon-size=”hide-icon”]However, our BDNF levels decline as we get older. And to make matters worse, unhealthy lifestyle habits like stress, sleep deprivation, and lack of exercise can speed up this process – leading to poor neurogenesis.[/alert]
Luckily, there are a number of ways in which you can maintain high natural BDNF levels, and by extension: high neurogenesis by doing exercise to meditation and herbal supplements, all of which we’ll cover below.
Before that though, let’s see what neurogenesis actually does for you as an outcome of building brain cells.
Benefits & Importance of Neurogenesis For Your Brain
As neurogenesis is a process of brain cell growth, this means it directly influences how your brain works and operates. A lot of nerve growth happens in the hippocampus, which is where many of your cognitive functions take place like storage of information.
Neurogenesis is very important for memory formation and recall. The area of the brain where a lot of neurogenesis occurs – the hippocampus – is what manages your memory, mood, and other aspects of your mental performance.
Poor neuron growth in the hippocampus is linked to Neurodegenerative disorders and the inability to recall episodic information. Therefore, keeping the rate of neurogenesis high will have a positive impact on your ability to remember things.
Neurogenesis in the hippocampus doesn’t just involves your memory processes, but also how you feel. People with depression are shown to have a shrunken hippocampus. This area of their brains is reduced in size due to low neurogenesis. This indicates that neurogenesis and mood have strong ties. Loosing the quantity or quality in certain area/s of the brain may affect variety of psychological outcomes.
What’s more to it? The research studies show that when a depressed person begin carrying out the activities that boosts cell growth, their neurogenesis increases due to the consumption of the sources of relevant neurotransmitters e.g. dopamine and serotonin. On the contrary, neurogenesis is interfered when the sources of mood enhancing activities are stopped.
Neurogenesis slowly gets lower as we age. That’s inevitable. However, other factors involving stress and poor sleep can also reduce neurogenesis even further, and lead to cognitive decline.
Brain cells loss in the hippocampus is also linked to other neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s.
However, by keeping neurogenesis high, we can potentially reduce the chance of developing these illnesses. One way to achieve maximizing cognitive functioning is the optimal levels of required neurons by taking herbs for neurogenesis which I’ll find below.
Best Herbs For Neurogenesis
Most of the useful herbs for the health, repair and development of neurons comes from Asian countries. This includes traditional Chinese healing methods, which has used numerous herbal formulas that are shown to enhance neurogenesis in the brain. (4)
Ashwagandha is best known for its stress-relieving properties. This adaptogenic herb works to reduce cortisol levels in your body, increasing your vitality and resistance to both physical and mental stress.
But another benefit of Ashwagandha is that it protects your neurons, and might even support nerve growth. Withanoside IV – an active compound in Ashwagandha – is shown to prevent brain cell loss from amyloid-beta plaque which is considered one of the culprits of Alzheimer’s disease. (5)
In terms of its other benefits, Ashwagandha also helps boost testosterone and strength in men. How does this relate to brain cell growth, you ask?
Well, testosterone is shown to boost neurogenesis in the hippocampus via the mechanism of promoting neuron survival. (6)
Rhodiola Rosea is another adaptogenic herb on this list. It has some unique benefits in terms of neurogenesis; Rhodiola seems to specifically boost 5-HT, which is a neurotransmitter also known as serotonin. It’s particularly effective in depressed individuals.
A low dose of Rhodiola could also promote neural stem cell growth and proliferation, repairing injured brain cells in the hippocampus. (7, 9)
Salidroside, one of many compounds in Rhodiola, is even shown to protect neurons from oxidative stress and damage. Due to these benefits, Rhodiola is without a doubt one of the best herbs for neurogenesis you can take. (8)
Korean Red Ginseng
Also called ‘Panax’ or ‘True Ginseng,’ this Chinese herb has some stunning benefits in regards to mood and mental performance.
It contains something called Rg3, which shows anti-inflammatory and antidepressant effects. In other words, Panax Ginseng helps your brain work better and improves your mood. (12, 13, 14)
And when it comes to neurogenesis, Korean Red Ginseng looks effective at boosting nerve cell growth in both the hippocampus and the Subventricular Zone. (10, 11)
In your brain, Bacopa works by increasing dendrites, which are small extensions of your neurons. Think of them as branches on the tree. They allow your neurons to send signals to each other. The denser the branches, the richer and more efficient the signaling is.
In other words, by increasing the growth and density of your dendritic branches, Bacopa supports your memory and mood – in fact, studies have shown that it’s one of the best natural memory nootropics out there. (15)
Ginkgo Biloba is an old school brain supplement that you’ve probably heard of before. You may also know that Ginkgo Biloba improves memory. It achieves this by promoting brain blood flow, along with promoting neurogenesis and nerve repair.
In animal studies, Gingko improved the recovery of neural tissue following a stroke in animal studies. This is thought to be due to an activation of an antioxidant gene that boosts neurogenesis. (16)
Bonus: Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Not a herb, but a mushroom. Still, we had to include Lion’s Mane on this list because it’s shown some incredible neurogenesis properties.
A study gave Lion’s Mane Mushroom to animals that were disabled due to an injury. The treatment with Lion’s Mane repaired these animals’ nerves, including those in the brain. Allowing them to walk again. (17)
In humans, Lion’s Mane is shown to improve memory by influencing nerve growth factors, that, as the name says, help your brain create new neural tissue. (18)
Anything Else to Consider?
Alongside these herbs, it’s important to have a healthy lifestyle in place. Exercise daily, take enough sleep, follow beneficial diet – all of them are crucial in maintaining healthy neurogenesis in the brain.
Eating flavonoid-rich foods, along with brain stimulating workout or running daily at least, practising mindfulness & meditation are some of the ways to naturally increase brain cell growth and stay mentally sharp well into later years of life.
Further Reading: Best Ways to Increase Neurogenesis Naturally
Conclusion on Herbs For Neurogenesis
Neurogenesis is what allows your brain to show plasticity aka, change itself over the course of life.
Specifically, neural growth in the hippocampus is shown to be extremely important for memory, mood, and cognitive function. Low neurogenesis in this area of the brain links to several mental health problems and irreversible loss of functioning.
One of the ways you can support your neurogenesis is through regular exercise, restful sleeping hours, and a healthy diet plan. Avoiding sugar containing and inflammation causing foods do help while putting emphasis on foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and flavonoids that protect brain cells and increase nerve connections.
Another way to improve neurogenesis is by taking natural herbs listed above. From Rhodiola to Panax Ginseng, these all have scientific evidence showing their powerful effects on brain cell repair and growth.
- Life-long stability of neurons: a century of research on neurogenesis, neuronal death and neuron quantification in adult CNS. (source)
- Adult Neurogenesis in the Mammalian Brain: Significant Answers and Significant Questions. (source)
- Brain-derived neurotrophic factor. (source)
- Chinese Traditional and Adult Neurogenesis in the Hippocampus. (source)
- Withanoside IV and its active metabolite, sominone, attenuate Abeta(25-35)-induced neurodegeneration. (source)
- Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, but not estradiol, enhance survival of new hippocampal neurons in adult male rats. (source)
- Rhodiola rosea versus sertraline for major depressive disorder: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. (source)
- Protective Effects of a Rhodiola Crenulata Extract and Salidroside on Hippocampal Neurogenesis against Streptozotocin-Induced Neural Injury in the Rat. (source)
- The effects of Rhodiola rosea extract on 5-HT level, cell proliferation and quantity of neurons at cerebral hippocampus of depressive rats. (source)
- Korean Red Ginseng Enhances Neurogenesis in the Subventricular Zone of 1-Methyl-4-Phenyl-1,2,3,6-Tetrahydropyridine-Treated Mice. (source)
- Effects of Sun ginseng on memory enhancement and hippocampal neurogenesis. (source)
- Ginsenoside rb1 and rg3 attenuate glucocorticoid-induced neurotoxicity. (source)
- Antidepressant-like effects of ginsenosides: A comparison of ginsenoside Rb3 and its four deglycosylated derivatives, Rg3, Rh2, compound K, and 20(S)-protopanaxadiol in mice models of despair. (source)
- Ginsenoside Rg3 Alleviates Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Learning and Memory Impairments by Anti-Inflammatory Activity in Rats. (source)
- Enhanced dendritic arborization of hippocampal CA3 neurons by Bacopa monniera extract treatment in adult rats. (source)
- Ginkgo biloba enhances neurogenesis and improves recovery following a stroke in mice. (source)
- Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). (source)
- Yamabushitake. (source)
Dr. Nazish Idrees Chaudhary, PhD.
Consultant Clinical Psychologist & Senior Lecturer UCMD UIRSMIT Department; Clinical Placement Supervisor LSPS Psychology Department, University of Lahore, Pakistan
◆Program Director, Civil Fellowship Training for Addiction Professionals, Silver Lining Rehabs Pakistan
◆Clinical Practice, Khalid Clinic, Gulberg 3, Online counseling and psychotherapy sessions since the pandemic
◆Certified NLP and Hypnotherapy Practitioner
◆Diploma Dialectical Behaviour Therapist, 150 CPD, UK
◆Dip. Couple and Relationship Therapist, 150 CPD, UK
◆Certified Addiction Prevention Coordinator, UNODC
◆Certified Addiction Coach, PFRD, Columbo Plan, Pak
◆Certified Diet and Nutritional Advisor, 200 CPD, UK
◆Enhancing memory Diploma Certification, UK by COE
◆Member YPA (PAK), ISSUP (Sri Lanka) and IAHT, UK
◆President IYPS and V.P. ISSUP Lahore Chapter
◆Former lecturer, Punjab University College of Information Technology ◆M.S. Clinical Psychology, University of Central Punjab, 2016 (Silver Medalist) ◆Conducted several awareness Training and Workshops, Volunteer therapeutic services
and Won Award for that in Comsats Abbottabad National Conference 2017 ◆Other experiences, PIMH, Children Hospital, Ehsas Clinic, SOS Children Villages, Special Children Centre, University of Home Economics, Mayo Hospital
- Psychological flexibility scale for university students: scale development employing exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. Journal of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Volume 11, No. 2, September 2020.
- Efficacy of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for the Management of Suicidal Ideation & Deliberate Self-Harm: A Case Study from the Clinical Population in Lahore, Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Medical Research (PJMR), 59, 2, 24 June 2020.
- Effect of Dialectical Behavior Therapy on Trait Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Regulation of Suicidal Patients in Pakistani Context. Global Scientific Journal (GSJ), Volume 8, Issue 2, February 2020.
- Culture-Bound Syndromes in Pakistan: Implications and Strategic Vision for Health Management. Pakistan Journal of Neurological Sciences (PJNS), Volume 14, Issue 4. September 2019.
- Treatment Outcomes of Dialectical Behavior Therapy on the Level of Suicidal Severity and Distress Tolerance in Suicidal Patients. International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research, Volume 8, Issue 9. September Edition, 2017.
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