Updated: Jan 6
My posts are mostly devoted to teaching actors how to memorize their lines more effectively. But many of us struggle in general to maintain focus and mental clarity at all. Drugs like Ritalin and Adderall have become popular these days among those who want to enhance mental performance, stay awake, and work long hours to get ahead. But the health consequences of using these pharmaceutical stimulants and amphetamines can be quite grave. Adderall has a high potential for abuse and addiction. It can cause seriously dangerous cardiac events as well as psychosis and aggressive behavior.
Fortunately, there are many safe, natural options for boosting brain health and cognitive performance. Try some of these natural remedies to help you focus and get those lines memorized!
1. Royal Jelly
Royal jelly is a substance produced by honeybees to feed the queen bee and her young. It's incredibly nutritious (full of B-vitamins), antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory. Royal jelly has also been shown to boost brain function and improve memory. It increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that helps produce new brain cells and strengthen existing ones.
This is my favorite bee product that contains royal jelly, called B. Powered, made by Beekeeper's Naturals. It also has bee pollen, bee propolis, and raw honey, which makes for a super yummy overall health booster! One teaspoon in the morning is enough to get you going for the day.
Or for those special occasions when you really need to clear the fog and get a major brain power-up, try their BLXR Brain Fuel. These vials contain royal jelly as well as extracts of the herbs bacopa and ginkgo biloba (more on those later.)
2. Lion's Mane
Medicinal mushrooms have many health benefits. In particular, lion's mane, the "smart mushroom," is known to boost memory, cognition, and mental clarity. It's a great help for enhancing creativity and productivity.
This is the lion's mane supplement I recommend. It's organic and also contains ashwagandha extract and a supportive botanical blend.
Long chain omega-3 essential fatty acids (DHA and EPA) found in cold water fatty fish such as salmon and sardines are essential for the healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system. Unfortunately, most of us are not getting enough omega-3s in our diet so we are woefully deficient!
Try to eat more fatty fish, at least two 3.5 ounce servings per week. If you're not a seafood person or you just want to up your omega-3 intake, you should take a fish oil supplement. BUYER BEWARE THOUGH. Because fish oil is very delicate, if it's not extracted and manufactured properly, it is very likely rancid and toxic. Unfortunately MANY of the fish oils on the market are very bad.
Here are the two fish oil products I recommend:
Rosita brand Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil: Cod liver oil is a great source of omega-3 fats as well as vitamin A and vitamin D. The cod used in this product are sustainably caught and Rosita's extraction and manufacturing process is pristine. No heat or chemicals are used, and everything is third party tested for potency and purity. If you're not amenable to the taste, it also comes in softgels.
Ancient Omegas - Brain Power: The fish used in this product are also wild and sustainably caught. It also contains an herb and spice blend of organic ginger, peppermint, and rosemary for additional brain-boosting support.
4. Essential Oils
There are several essential oils that are known to increase brain health and enhance focus and cognition.
Warning: essential oils are extremely concentrated, potent substances. Be sure not to use too much! Using too much over time may actually cause you to develop an allergy. One or two drops is usually plenty. Diluting essential oils with a carrier oil such as jojoba or almond oil is also good practice.
Peppermint - Inhalation of peppermint essential oil has been shown in studies to increase attention, boost memory, and increase alertness. Before practicing a scene or running your lines, put a couple drops in your hands, rub them together, then cup your nose and mouth (be careful not to touch your eyes) to breathe in the fresh scent. You'll feel instantly energized and focused.
Rosemary - Remember in Ophelia's speech towards the end of Hamlet, she says "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance." Sure, she'd lost her mind at that point in the play, but it just goes to show that rosemary has been associated with memory for hundreds of years. In studies, inhalation of rosemary has been shown to enhance energy, improve memory, reduce stress, and improve mood.
Frankincense (aka Boswellia) - Frankincense wasn't given to the baby Jesus for nothin'! It's an amazingly beneficial oil that improves skin, reduces stress, boosts the immune system, and even fights cancer! Among it's many virtues, it improves memory and learning. You can inhale it or use it orally or topically.
5. Herbs/Medicinal Plants
Various medicinal plants are known to improve cognitive function. Here are a few of the most effective ones.
Bacopa - Bacopa is a plant that has been used to improve memory and treat brain disorders for thousands of years as a staple of traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It may even protect the brain from Alzheimer's disease.
Ashwagandha - Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb also popular in Ayurvedic medicine. It's a major stress reliever and immune booster. It also improves memory and reduces brain cell degeneration.
Ginkgo Biloba - Ginkgo biloba is a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine. Among its many health benefits, it protects against cognitive decline and improves brain function.
Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Amazon.com and I will earn a commission if you click through the relevant links in this post and make a purchase.