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The Willow Journal

Nootropics: Herbs for Cognitive Health

Nootropics: Herbs for Cognitive Health

Written by Elliott Brinkley, Clinical Herbalist & Owner of Dancing Willow Herbs

Do you have a challenging time thinking clearly? Is your memory cloudy? Does your brain feel foggy? Or are you just wanting to optimize your cognitive health to mitigate neurodegenerative disorders that may arise down the line?

You may consider working with a class of herbs called nootropics. Nootropics are plants that support brain health & optimize cognitive function.


How do they work?

Nootropics help bring blood flow to the brain and detoxify/drain excess lymphatic fluid that can contribute to brain fog. They often interact with acetylcholine receptors which improve cognition, and mental capacity. This is why many of these nootropic herbs have been shown to improve memory, especially when used over long periods of time. Nootropics often contain antioxidants that are neuroprotective, and can help reduce the accumulation of damaging plaques. 

These herbs often have other benefits that contribute to their cognitive enhancing abilities. For example, many nootropics contain adaptogenic or nervine qualities. By helping to calm the nervous system, they promote a more focused attention. These are some of our favorite herbs for helping with attention deficit disorder or overall studiousness.

In this blog post we will introduce you to our favorite nootropic herbs so that you can start using them to support your cognitive health!


A Few of Our Favorite Nootropics


Bacopa is a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for supporting memory, and neurological function- especially in the elderly. Constituents in Bacopa, known as bacosides, are what are considered to protect neural synapses- especially in the hippocampus region of the brain, which regulates learning and memory. Many clinical trials have demonstrated Bacopa’s ability to improve memory, learning and cognitive performance. Interestingly, after 12 weeks of supplementation, the cognitive effects are typically more pronounced. This suggests that the benefits of Bacopa may compound over time.


Another Ayurvedic herb, Tulsi is one of my favorite plants for enhancing cognitive abilities in a calm balanced way. The fragrant nature of Tulsi is stimulating to the senses, and brings us into greater alertness of the present moment. Tulsi reduces stress, which contributes to more mental clarity and higher mental function. It is a brain specific adaptogen, meaning it helps to support resilience in the way that stress affects our mental state, mood and ability to focus. It also has powerful antioxidant properties which help to protect neural tissue from oxidative damage.


Rosemary has been classically used and widely recognized as a mental tonic. Rosemary improves circulation to the brain and invigorates the senses. In clinical studies, elderly patients were given seasoning doses of 750 mg of Rosemary and it was shown to improve memory recall and speed significantly. In addition to bringing circulation to the brain, Rosemary has neuroprotective compounds. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory constituents balance levels of acetylcholine and are therefore thought to help prevent neurological degeneration. Because of its warming and carminative qualities, Rosemary aids in digestion, gas and bloating. Through supporting the gut brain axis, Rosemary offers a deeper sense of mental clarity. 


Brain Tonic

Brain Tonic is our blend of nootropic herbs that support mental clarity, focus and memory. It contains these three brain boosting herbs (Bacopa, Tulsi & Rosemary), as well as many other well known and loved herbs such as Ginkgo & Gotu Kola. We have received many testimonials from our community reflecting that this blend has helped them preform better in school or work. It has helped them feel more mentally clear and present, and has supported their long term memory. 

Purchase it here!



Learn more

If you want to learn more about our other favorite nootropic herbs, as well as lifestyle and nutritional practices for supporting cognitive health, join us for our upcoming class Nootropics: Herbs for Memory and Cognition. 

This class will be held at Dancing Willow Herbs (1018 Main Ave, Durango CO) from 6:15-7:30 on Wednesday, June 14th.  

Limited space available, save your space here!