BioCeuticals Article

Standardised herbal extracts: the key to cognitive function

Standardised herbal extracts: the key to cognitive function
Date: 2016-02-09
Author: Stephanie Berglin
Access: Public

Clinical evidence supports the use of the Ayurvedic herb brahmi for cognitive enhancement. Clinical trials have shown cognitive benefits across all age ranges, with long-term supplementation (12 weeks) leading to the most significant improvements.1

Clinical trials and traditional evidence show that supplementation with brahmi enhances a range of cognitive processes including verbal attention, memory acquisition, retention and recall, intellect and speed of information processing.1-5

The standardised extract of brahmi BacoMind® has been shown to support verbal attention, verbal memory and memory acquisition and retention in the elderly.2,5

Brahmi, and its active constituents the bacosides, may exert their effects through modulation of the cholinergic system and/or through antioxidant activity.4

The leaf of the ancient ginkgo tree is one of the most widely prescribed and consumed herbal medicines worldwide where it is used for conditions associated with cerebral vascular insufficiency, including memory loss, headaches, tinnitus, vertigo, dizziness and impaired concentration.6

The active constituents include flavonoids and terpenoids, the most important of which appear to be the ginkgolides and bilobalide.6 Ginkgo displays significant antioxidant activity and improves circulation through the veins, arteries and capillaries, including cerebral microcirculation, which may account for its effect on memory and concentration.7

Evidence indicates that both acute and longer-term ginkgo supplementation can improve memory and cognitive processing speed.6,8,9 A Cochrane review found ginkgo supplementation to be superior to placebo in improving cognition, activities of daily living, mood and emotional function in patients with acquired cognitive impairment.10

The medicinal use of ginseng extends over 5000 years, where it has been used as a general tonic, adaptogen and to improve physical performance.11

Animal studies have shown that the active constituents ginsenosides improve memory impairment and age-related cognitive decline.12,13 In humans, studies show ginseng standardised to 4.85mg of ginsenosides may support quality of memory, in particular secondary memory, as well as accuracy of attention.11,14,15

Clinical trials have investigated and show that the combination of ginkgo (standardised to 24% flavonesglycosides and 6% terpene lactones) and ginseng (standardised to 4.85mg ginsenosides) significantly improve memory, including quality of memory, working memory and long term memory.11,14

References available on request.