We’ve all been there: it’s 3 p.m. on a Wednesday, and you are just over it. There’s a mountain of emails in your inbox, piles of paper on your desk, and a looming 5 p.m. deadline on your shoulders. It’s time for productivity to kick in, but nothing seems to be working.
Instead of reaching for the third Diet Coke of the day, why not try some of nature’s remedies? There are tons of mind-boosting herbs out there that can help you relax, get to work, and stay on track. Here are a few of our favorites, plus how you can prepare them to best increase your productivity.
Even people living in medieval times knew about the brain-boosting power of sage. For centuries, it has been used to increase focus and cognition, and even so, its true powers are still being fully discovered. A recent study proved that sage has the ability to lower anxiety, improve mood, and up productivity. It has also been shown to raise cognitive abilities among Alzheimer’s patients.
Lucky for you, sage is a delicious and versatile herb that can be enjoyed in a variety of different ways. Try adding some to your salad greens or butternut squash soup at lunch, or, for an easy snack, add some to your favorite trail mix. You can also crisp the leaves with oil, making a chip-like snack for emergency brain-boosting.
Rosemary is another herb that has been proven to better brains. Many studies have shown its effectiveness in improving cognitive function, and, interestingly, have also suggested that it can be beneficial across lifetimes. Children that were exposed to the aroma of rosemary had improved working memory, while elderly patients saw reduced cognitive decline under the same circumstances.
The best way to reap the benefits of rosemary is to waft it. Try rubbing rosemary essential oils on your hands, wrists, and temples in moments of need. If you would prefer to ingest it, it is delicious finely chopped on chicken, vegetables, and ricotta toast.
One of the trendier herbs on this list is ashwagandha. Though it has been employed for centuries in Ayurvedic medical practices, it has only become popular in the United States in the past five or so years. The amazing herb is on the rise for good reason–the adaptogenic herb helps to ease the mind and reduce anxiety, therefore boosting brain function.
Ashwagandha should be enjoyed on a full stomach to avoid discomfort. We like to drink it as a tea in the morning or mixed into warm milk in the evenings.
What can’t basil do! It’s easy to grow and enjoy, and it also is incredibly beneficial to brain health. This specific varietal of basil has been used in eastern medicine for years, utilized for its calming, stress-relieving, and cognition-enhancing properties.
While similar in appearance to more-common sweet basil, holy basil has not been used much in the culinary world. Try steeping it in hot water, adding a bit of honey or agave, and enjoying it as a tea to quickly and easily reap its benefits.
Lemon balm is the unsung hero of your herb garden. Often overlooked for more popular herbs, it is just as easy to grow at home–and can provide incredible brain benefits. Recent studies have proven that lemon balm has shown it to be useful in combatting and treating Alzheimers, as well as increasing memory and soothing anxiety in neurotypical patients.
Lemon balm makes a great tea, but it can be enjoyed in many ways. Try adding some to homemade pesto or sprinkling over roast veggies for an extra hit of brightness.