Updated: Oct 12, 2020
I love nutrition, I love lifestyle changes, I love essential oils, but herbs are my first love. I love how gentle (usually!) they are, and how fragrant and flavorful. I love how people’s eyes light up when I share about them as if they have discovered a whole new world. And I love, love, love how effective they are especially in regards to women’s health! This list today is just a peek into the amazing things that herbs can do and I hope that this encourages you to dive deeper into this magical world! Disclaimer: This post is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease or ailment. If you choose to implement any of these recommendations, do so with the partnership of your doctor, midwife, or a trained herbalist. The information contained here is for educational purposes only.
1.) Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Rosemary is a familiar herb to many of us, as it makes a regular appearance in our kitchens! However, Rosemary is not just a tasty kitchen herb, it is a revered medicinal herb with a long history! It was traditionally used as a brain tonic, and due to its strong ties to improving memory was often worn or carried at funerals as a token of remembrance. Northumbria University conducted a study that showed that even inhaling the scent of rosemary improved the ability to remember to complete a future task. (Think: pay the water bill, schedule that blog post, call that potential partnering opportunity, etc…) Sounds like it is definitely an ally to the harried mompreneur! It is delicious in food preparations of course, but to get the most out of it’s memory boosting properties we are going to want to find a more potent source. A tincture is great for this, or if you want something even more enjoyable try this memory elixir! *During pregnancy only culinary use of this herb is recommended. 2.) Ashwaghanda (Withania somnifera) Ashwaghanda is an herb that every mama needs in her toolkit. From helping the body manage the stress response, to encouraging sleep, to calming anxiety, to improving libido this one does it all! But before you decide that it is a sleepy herb, you need to know that it also increases energy and improves memory and learning! It does all of these amazing things by helping the body adapt to the stresses that it encounters. This action is how we get the term “adaptogen”. This is a great herb for almost anyone, but is especially indicated if you are feeling exhausted, depleted, or burned out. It is traditionally taken in warm milk like in this recipe. *This herb is not recommended during pregnancy or if you are sensitive to the nightshade family. 3.) Lemon Balm “Balm is sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory, and powerfully chasing away melancholy.” – John Evelyn This is one of my personal favorite herbs, and I even have it growing on my patio! (It is super easy to grow in a container, btw) I love it for its ability to reduce stress and anxious tension, but it has also been studied and shown to improve memory and concentration when taken regularly. I also love that it is even safe and tasty for children! I like to chop it up fresh and pair it with baked chicken or roasted vegetables. It also makes a refreshing hot or cold tea! *Since it is such a gentle food herb there are no known contraindications, but as always speak with your doctor or midwife if you are pregnant or nursing. 4.) Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) A traditional Ayurvedic herb, Bacopa has more recently become a popular herb in the West for its ability to improve brain function, and memory acquisition and retention. An easy way to take it is in extract form like this. In a small study in children with ADHD it was shown to reduce some of the more bothersome symptoms. So if this is something you struggle with, it may be worth discussing this option with your doctor! *Bacopa is not for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding or if you have hyperthyroidism. 5.) Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) Last but not least, Eleuthero! You may have never heard of this herb before but it has more studies performed on it than any other herb in the world! Eleuthero is used often to increase mental alertness, improve concentration, and improve performance after disrupted sleep such as night shift work. This is a great herb for those mornings when you wake up after kids getting you up 2.6 million times! It is more stimulating than the other herbs that we have talked about, so if you are experiencing adrenal fatigue or extreme exhaustion, then this may be an herb to save for later. I like to take this form for ease. Because it is so stimulating it is recommended to only be used short term to prevent overstimulation and insomnia. If you are sensitive to stimulants pay attention to how you react when taking this herb, it may be best to choose others based on your own constitution. *Not for use in pregnancy.