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Rosemary and Folic Acid Boost Brainpower

The problems of dementia and memory loss after stroke are common and significant. Studies continue to show that in addition to traditional medicine, herbs and supplements can be a safe tool in reversing the problem of dementia.

While researching stroke and recovery, I became interested in what herbs could assist mental function. I came across two nutrients reported to enhance memory:


This herb has been used for centuries to enhance memory. It is a shrub that is native to the Mediterranean region, Portugal and Spain, but can be grown at home or found in the herb section of your grocery store.

A number of modern studies support using rosemary as a memory aid. In October 2007, a group from the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, Calif., and in Japan reported that rosemary contains carnosic acid (CA), which fights free radical damage in the brain. Free radicals are thought to contribute not only to stroke and conditions such as Alzheimer’s, but also to the ill effects of normal aging on the brain. This aromatic herb is often used in soups, vegetables, meat, fish and egg dishes.

Folic acid

This nutrient has been shown to improve memory and mental ability. The Lancet reported in January 2007 that in a three-year trial on 818 people older than 50, short-term memory, mental ability and speech were all found to be better among people who took 800 micrograms of folic acid daily (twice the current RDA) than those who took a placebo. In June 2007, The Lancet reported that folic acid supplements can reduce the risk of stroke.

Good natural sources of folic acid, or folate, include:

  • Dark green, leafy vegetables.
  • Whole wheat bread.
  • Beans and peas.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Oranges and grapefruits.
  • Sprouts.
  • Yeast.
  • Liver.

You can also buy folic acid supplements and powder.

Our knowledge of the affects of herbs on memory will improve as time goes on. Studies such as those by the Burnham Institute, the Child Health Research program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and the Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Netherlands, have shown herbs might help memory. However, herbs are not FDA approved for memory enhancement. You should consult with your health care professional about the safety of any substance you consume.

By: Roger Maxwell, Stroke survivor, patent attorney, author of Taking Charge of Your Stroke Recovery: A Personal Recovery Workbook

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"Short-term memory, mental ability and speech were all found to be better among people who took 800 micrograms of folic acid daily."

Drink to Better Memory

Here’s a memory-enhancing drink I created with rosemary and folic acid:

  • 8 oz. vegetable juice, such as carrot, tomato or a mixed vegetable juice.
  • Add ¼ teaspoon of rosemary powder for a full dose of CA1.
  • Add ¼ teaspoon of folic acid powder, which provides 800 micrograms of folic acid.
  • Stir it briskly and drink!

The vegetable juice makes the herbs and nutrients palatable.

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