Boost Your Brain Cell Growth With Herbs For Neurogenesis

herbs for neurogenesis

Herbs for neurogenesis – what are the best ones, and how do they work? Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Ashwagandha – protects nerves from damage and induces neuron growth.
  2. Rhodiola Rosea – promotes stem cell proliferation and increases 5-HT (serotonin) levels.
  3. Korean Red Ginseng – increases connections between neurons.
  4. Bacopa Monnieri – boosts the growth and density of dendrites, which are small extensions of your brain cells.
  5. Ginkgo Biloba – improves brain blood flow, promotes brain cell growth and repair.

In this article, we break down the science behind these herbs to further explain how they can help boost your brain cell growth.

Neurogenesis For a Sharp Brain

As you work hard to achieve your goals, you’ll want to have your brain at the peak of its powers. No matter what you want to accomplish, a sharp and quick brain is what you’ll need on your way there.

A good diet and exercise regimen are always your best bet when it comes to increasing neurogenesis. But sometimes you may look for other ways to boost up your brain cell growth. Luckily, this is where herbs for neurogenesis step in.

It was thought for a long time that we can’t grow new neurons. But modern science has disproven this notion; showing that we’re able to grow and reshape the structure of our brain throughout life. (1, 2)

Below, you’ll learn what neurogenesis really is, why it’s important to keep it as high as naturally possible, and how certain herbs can help you achieve that goal.

What is Neurogenesis?

Neurogenesis is the creation of fresh brain cells. It’s governed by a number of factors, one of which is BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). This is a protein that essentially stimulates nerve growth. (1, 3)

[alert type=”warning” icon-size=”hide-icon”]However, our BDNF levels reduce as we get older. And to make matters worse, unhealthy lifestyle habits like stress, sleep deprivation, and lack of exercise can speed up this process – leading to poor neurogenesis.[/alert]

Luckily, there are a number of ways in which you can maintain high natural BDNF levels, and by extension: high neurogenesis. From exercise to meditation and herbal supplements, all of which we’ll cover below.

Before that though, let’s see what neurogenesis actually does for you, and why it is important.

Benefits & Importance of Neurogenesis For Your Brain

As neurogenesis is a process of brain cell growth, this means it directly influences how your brain works and operates. A lot of nerve growth happens in the hippocampus, which is where many of your cognitive functions take place.

Memory

Neurogenesis is very important for memory formation and recall. The area of the brain where a lot of neurogenesis occurs – the hippocampus – is what controls your memory, mood, and other aspects of your mental performance.

Poor neuron growth in the hippocampus is linked to memory issues and the inability to recall information. Therefore, keeping neurogenesis high will have a positive impact on your ability to remember things.

Mood

Neurogenesis in the hippocampus doesn’t just affect how you think, but also how you feel. People with depression are shown to have a shrunken hippocampus. This area of their brains is reduced in size due to low neurogenesis. This indicates that neurogenesis and mood have strong ties.

What’s more, studies show that when you give an antidepressant to a depressed person, their neurogenesis increases. And if you block neurogenesis, the antidepressant stops working.

Read: 5 Brain Benefits of Phosphatidylserine

Cognition

Neurogenesis slowly goes down as we age. That’s inevitable. However, things like stress and poor sleep can reduce neurogenesis even further, and lead to cognitive decline. Brain cell loss in the hippocampus is also linked to other neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s.

However, by keeping neurogenesis high, we can potentially reduce the chance of developing these issues. One way to achieve this is by taking herbs for neurogenesis which I’ll show you below.

Best Herbs For Neurogenesis

Many of the best herbs for neuron growth come from Asian countries. This includes traditional Chinese Medicine, which has used numerous herbal formulas that are shown to enhance neurogenesis in the brain. (4)

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is best known for its stress-relieving properties. This adaptogenic herb works to reduce cortisol levels in your body, increasing your vitality and resistance to both physical and mental stress.

But another benefit of Ashwagandha is that it protects your neurons, and might even support nerve growth. Withanoside IV – an active compound in Ashwagandha – is shown to prevent brain cell loss from amyloid-beta plaque which is considered one of the culprits of Alzheimer’s disease. (5)

In terms of its other benefits, Ashwagandha also helps boost testosterone and strength in men. How does this relate to brain cell growth, you ask? Well, testosterone is shown to boost neurogenesis in the hippocampus via the mechanism of promoting neuron survival. (6)

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is another adaptogenic herb on this list. It has some unique benefits in terms of neurogenesis; Rhodiola seems to specifically boost 5-HT, which is a neurotransmitter also known as serotonin. It’s particularly effective in depressed individuals.

A low dose of Rhodiola could also promote neural stem cell growth and proliferation, repairing injured brain cells in the hippocampus. (7, 9)

Salidroside, one of many compounds in Rhodiola, is even shown to protect neurons from oxidative stress and damage. Due to these benefits, Rhodiola is without a doubt one of the best herbs for neurogenesis you can take. (8)

Korean Red Ginseng

Also called ‘Panax’ or ‘True Ginseng,’ this Chinese herb has some stunning benefits in regards to mood and mental performance.

It contains something called Rg3, which shows anti-inflammatory and antidepressant effects. In other words, Panax Ginseng helps your brain work better and improves your mood. (12, 13, 14)

And when it comes to neurogenesis, Korean Red Ginseng looks effective at boosting nerve cell growth in both the hippocampus and the Subventricular Zone. (10, 11)

Bacopa Monnieri

In your brain, Bacopa works by increasing dendrites, which are small extensions of your neurons. Think of them as branches on the tree. They allow your neurons to send signals to each other. The denser the branches, the richer and more efficient the signaling is.

bacopa dendrites neurogenesis tree

In other words, by increasing the growth and density of your dendritic branches, Bacopa supports your memory and mood – in fact, studies have shown that it’s one of the best natural memory nootropics out there. (15)

Related: Bacopa Monnieri As a Nootropic – Full Review

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is an old school brain supplement that you’ve probably heard of before. You may also know that Ginkgo Biloba improves memory. It achieves this by promoting brain blood flow, along with promoting neurogenesis and nerve repair.

In animal studies, Gingko improved the recovery of neural tissue following a stroke in animal studies. This is thought to be due to an activation of an antioxidant gene that boosts neurogenesis. (16)

Bonus: Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Not a herb, but a mushroom. Still, we had to include Lion’s Mane on this list because it’s shown some incredible neurogenesis properties.

A study gave Lion’s Mane Mushroom to animals that were disabled due to an injury. The treatment with Lion’s Mane repaired these animals’ nerves, including those in the brain. Allowing them to walk again. (17)

In humans, Lion’s Mane is shown to improve memory by influencing nerve growth factors, that, as the name says, help your brain create new neural tissue. (18)

Related: Lion’s Mane Mushroom – 3 Surprising Benefits, Dosage, How it Works, and More

Anything Else to Consider?

Alongside these herbs, it’s important to have a healthy lifestyle in place. Exercise, sleep, diet – all of them are critical for maintaining healthy neurogenesis in the brain.

Eating flavonoid-rich foods, along with running daily and practicing mindfulness & meditation. These are some of the ways to naturally increase brain cell growth and stay mentally sharp well into old age.

Further Reading: Best Ways to Increase Neurogenesis Naturally

Conclusion on Herbs For Neurogenesis

Neurogenesis is what allows your brain to stay ‘plastic,’ aka, change itself over the course of life.

Specifically, neural growth in the hippocampus is shown to be extremely important for memory, mood, and cognitive function. Low neurogenesis in this area of the brain links to mood disorders as well as mental decline.

One of the ways you can support your neurogenesis is through exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet. Avoiding sugars and highly inflammatory foods while putting emphasis on omega-3 fatty acids and flavonoids that protect brain cells and increase nerve connections.

Another way to improve neurogenesis is by taking natural herbs listed above. From Rhodiola to Panax Ginseng, these all have scientific evidence showing their powerful effects on brain cell repair and growth.

References
  1. Life-long stability of neurons: a century of research on neurogenesis, neuronal death and neuron quantification in adult CNS. (source)
  2. Adult Neurogenesis in the Mammalian Brain: Significant Answers and Significant Questions. (source)
  3. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor. (source)
  4. Chinese Traditional Medicine and Adult Neurogenesis in the Hippocampus. (source)
  5. Withanoside IV and its active metabolite, sominone, attenuate Abeta(25-35)-induced neurodegeneration. (source)
  6. Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, but not estradiol, enhance survival of new hippocampal neurons in adult male rats. (source)
  7. Rhodiola rosea versus sertraline for major depressive disorder: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. (source)
  8. Protective Effects of a Rhodiola Crenulata Extract and Salidroside on Hippocampal Neurogenesis against Streptozotocin-Induced Neural Injury in the Rat. (source)
  9. The effects of Rhodiola rosea extract on 5-HT level, cell proliferation and quantity of neurons at cerebral hippocampus of depressive rats. (source)
  10. Korean Red Ginseng Enhances Neurogenesis in the Subventricular Zone of 1-Methyl-4-Phenyl-1,2,3,6-Tetrahydropyridine-Treated Mice. (source)
  11. Effects of Sun ginseng on memory enhancement and hippocampal neurogenesis. (source)
  12. Ginsenoside rb1 and rg3 attenuate glucocorticoid-induced neurotoxicity. (source)
  13. Antidepressant-like effects of ginsenosides: A comparison of ginsenoside Rb3 and its four deglycosylated derivatives, Rg3, Rh2, compound K, and 20(S)-protopanaxadiol in mice models of despair. (source)
  14. Ginsenoside Rg3 Alleviates Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Learning and Memory Impairments by Anti-Inflammatory Activity in Rats. (source)
  15. Enhanced dendritic arborization of hippocampal CA3 neurons by Bacopa monniera extract treatment in adult rats. (source)
  16. Ginkgo biloba enhances neurogenesis and improves recovery following a stroke in mice. (source)
  17. Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Following Crush Injury to Rat Peroneal Nerve by Aqueous Extract of Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr) Pers. (Aphyllophoromycetideae). (source)
  18. Yamabushitake. (source)
About Valentino M. 93 Articles
Valentino is a nutritionist, author, spiritual practitioner, and health coach. He's been researching nutrition and brain health since 2015, and has launched Valentino's Naturals to help people maximize their cognitive performance. When he isn't writing, Valentino loves to travel around Europe, spend time recharging in nature, and research topics within his field of expertise. More...

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