Are you wondering what herbs you can use to help you and your family transition into Back-to-School mode? Whether you’re heading to the classroom, homeschooling, online schooling, unschooling, or no schooling at all these times we’re living in are tough. And, you’re likely wondering how in the heck you’re going to handle it all, am I right?
Let’s face it, your brain is likely being challenged in ways you’ve never imagined before. Whether you’re still adapting to working from home, or, you have to homeschool your kids; you’re probably wondering how in the heck you’re going to be able to manage getting your work done, helping them with their work, cooking dinner, maintaining your home, walking the dogs, all of the things. It. Is. Hard.
The good news is that there are plants out there to help you navigate the challenges you’re going through right now.
In this three-part Back-to-School series I’ll be discussing herbs that can help you with memory, clarity, focus, and keeping you sharp in general; herbs to help you with the stress and anxiety that can come with so many expectations, tests, change, and all there is to balance. And what about your immune system? We all know Back-to-School time brings about tons of sniffles, coughs, and other illnesses, and now we get to do it all in the midst of a pandemic. Neato. No pressure, right?
Since this time is all about learning and growing, let’s start with herbs that can maintain your brain, so you’re able to retain all of that wonderful knowledge and information, with a bit more ease. These herbs can even help you organize all of the new things on your to-do list, so you’re not stuck swimming in a sea of chaos.
So, onto the Brain-Taining (yup, we may coin that phrase) herbs, shall we?
Ginkgo ~ Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo is the world's oldest living tree! It’s been shown to bring blood up to the brain, both protecting your brain and improving your overall cognitive function. Studies have shown it can improve memory and speed up your ability to process information. It’s commonly used as an Alzheimer's preventative, and helps those with the disease improve their brain health. Ginkgo can help you stay focused, and retain information. I can’t help but think that because it is the world's oldest living tree, it’s passing down it’s memories of life to us. Maybe that’s some crazy hippie stuff right there, but seriously...
Rosemary ~ Rosmarinus officinalis
Rosemary is well-loved for its culinary delight in Mediterranean foods and beyond, but did you know that it can also help improve your memory? Pretty cool, eh!? It’s been shown that certain constituents in it can help improve cognitive function. And, as an extra bonus, it can reduce anxiety and improve your mood as well. When I was deep in my herbal studies, I would take walks around the cozy Portland neighborhood my school was in to get the blood flowing and energize myself. Fortunately almost every yard near that school had a huge rosemary bush. I’d grab a bit, and stuff it behind my ear to keep me alert for the rest of the day. Worked like a charm!
Gotu Kola ~ Centella asiatica
Gotu Kola has many great health benefits, but of note for Back-to-School time, it can greatly enhance your memory. As an added benefit, it’s an antidepressant, and antianxiety helper as well. So, if you suffer from test anxiety or get super nervous under pressure, having some Gotu kola on board can help you breeze through those tough times.
Brahmi ~ Bacopa monnieri
Brahmi is a commonly used herb in Ayurvedic practices. It’s well known to bring blood to the brain. It’s rich in antioxidants and helps protect the brain from deterioration. Brahmi is also famed for its ability to improve memory retention. Definitely a good friend to have when you’re cramming for your next test, or just trying to stay organized.
There are several ways you can take these herbs. You can take them in tincture form, as a tea (obviously my favorite), or if you’re into poppin’ pills, you can certainly do that too. Just make sure that wherever you get your herbs from, that they are sustainably grown and sourced, and made by some darn good herbalists!
Admittedly, I start every day with some coffee and a good walk. But, then I move on to the Where Is My Mind??? Blend, which has the Gotu kola, Ginkgo, and Rosemary in it. It really helps me to stay sharp and focused throughout my day, without the jitters that you can get from too much caffeine. So, if after you’re finished reading this, and eager to get some of these herbs to your head, I definitely recommend trying the tast-tea Where Is My Mind??? blend!
Hopefully, this article has helped you get an idea of how you’re going to Brain-Tain through all of these transitions. Leave me a comment below and let me know your other tricks for staying sharp and focused. And, of course, if you found this information helpful, share it with your friends! Together, we can make Herbalism #SpreadLikeWildFlowers!
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*Always remember to contact your healthcare provider when considering the use of botanical medicine as a possible treatment option and the medical considerations. While the information in this article is absolutely relevant, herbs work differently for each person and each condition.
**I am a trained herbalist and not a licensed or registered healthcare practitioner. I cannot diagnose health conditions, nor prescribe medicines legally; I am not a medical doctor. However, I will recommend or suggest medicinal herbs for various health complaints, as I do believe in the safety and efficacy of botanical medicine.
***The information I’ve provided is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your medical care provider before using herbal medicine, particularly if you have a known medical condition or if you are pregnant or nursing.
About the Author: Melissa Mutterspaugh
Melissa lives in Oregon, in the foothills of Mount Hood. She's a clinical herbalist, environmental educator, mother, wilderness therapist, lover, nemophilist, music loving maniac, and the founder of Mountain Mel's Essential Goods. She is passionate about inspiring others to take better care of our planet, through taking better care of themselves, naturally!
Hoffmann, David. Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003. Print.