On this page, I am jotting down any substance that I find to significantly improve my cognitive function. That means anything that improves my focus, motivation, productivity, mood, behavior, and general well being.
Table of Contents
Here are a list of substances that I have found to significantly improve my cognition:
- Curly (or flat leaf?) Parsley
- Boswellia frereana Frankincense
- Sage (Salvia officinalis)
- Diet Control
Parsley – An Overlooked Cognitive Boosting Gold Mine
Fresh and uncooked parsley is one of the best cognitive enhancers that I have ever tried. One major reason is due to it’s cost to effectiveness ratio; it’s dirt cheap compared to other nootropic supplements people buy and the difference it makes to your mind is highly observable. At least for me.
Parsley makes my mind lighter & clearer, and I am able to focus for very long periods of time on subjects that I have to study. In comparison, coffee ruins my memory and my ability to focus on what I need to study.
I generally consume a handful of fresh uncooked parsley at the end of my meals.
My intuition is that parsley improves cognitive function by improving the health of the digestive system, improving probiotic gut flora, providing nutrients that is commonly lacking in the American diet, by regulating the insulin response after food consumption, by slowing digestion, by improving brain health, and by stimulating the brain with essential oils.
Parsley provides a type of plant fiber that is very healthy for the human being. Supplementing fresh plant fiber to one’s diet feeds the probiotic population of gut microbes in the digestive system. Plant fiber & and an improved population of probiotic gut flora improves the health of the digestive system; for example, I assume that the strength of the stomach walls are improved as well as the membranes lining the whole inside of the digestive system. When these membranes are weakened, a person may get an ulcer.
There’s a reason why scientists say that our gut is like our 2nd brain.
Furthermore, plant fiber & probiotics improve a person’s health by having an anti-inflammatory effect. Plant fiber helps to absorb the bile from the liver & thereby help with the elimination of toxins that the bile may carry. As a result of improved bile elimination, a person’s cholesterol reading will be lowered by consuming parsley or other plant fibers. After all, the bile is made up of cholesterol.
Plant fiber may also slow down a person’s digestion. That means that his or her insulin spike is smoothed out, and as a result a person would not feel as sleepy after eating. This means he or she would be more awake, and better able to learn & memorize information.
Effect of parsley (Petroselinum crispum, Apiaceae) juice against cadmium neurotoxicity in albino mice (Mus Musculus)
Note that I found that cilantro does not have the same cognitive boosting effect. When I took cilantro, I did not think, “Oh hey! This is really boosting my cognition!”. So I speculate there is something particularly unique in (flat leaf) parsley that quite noticeably improves cognitive function. Perhaps the essential oil of flat leaf parsley is one of the keys to its brain boosting power.
Although I don’t find drastically noticeably cognitive improvement with cilantro, as I did with flat leaf parsley, cilantro still has many of the plant fiber benefits of flat leaf parsley. Additionally, cilantro improves hair growth, reduces sexual libido (I find it useful as a student), and most importantly improves the chelation of mercury from the body.
I need to check how flat-leaf parsley affects me compared to curly parsley. I think that curly parsley is better at lowering my blood glucose levels, or insulin response, to a near-fasting state such that I can clearly. I’ll have to test.
After consuming about a cup of pomegranate juice all on its own, I found myself energized in a beneficial way that I would never find with coffee. I find that coffee tires me out, makes me feel scatterbrained, and promotes brain fog & bad memory. But pomegranates give me a boost of energy and motivation, warms up my body with a healthy feeling (coffee makes me feel weaker), allows me to think clearly, and be more productive. Even NIH agrees, pointing out that:
After 4 weeks, only the pomegranate group showed a significant improvement in the Buschke selective reminding test of verbal memory and a significant increase in plasma trolox-equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) and urolithin A-glucuronide. Furthermore, compared to the placebo group, the pomegranate group had increased fMRI activity during verbal and visual memory tasks.
Boswellia Frereana Frankincense
Frankincense is an overall great medicine. But there are many species of frankincense with differentiating therapeutic attributes. B. frereana frankincense resin is specifically chewed or burned by muslim scholars to “open the mind” for improved learning and memory. And in my experience with chewing this tree resin, I do indeed find significant cognitive improvement. I am able to make mental connections a lot quicker. My short-term memory is enhanced. And with improved memory, I find that I am not lost when trying to learn a difficult subject with a lot of details.
How to use B. Frereana Resin?
You can use the Boswellia frereana frankincense resin, also known as Maydi or Coptic frankincense, to enhance cognitive function. It is said by the muslims scholars that B. frereana can “open the mind” for enhanced learning & memory when burned as incense or chewed as gum.
I find that if you want to chew on the B. frereana resin while you study, you need to use a small piece. A bigger resin piece requires more effort to chew, and becomes too distracting to focus on what you are studying.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Sage is a very powerful herb. I take it in the form of a tea. Just a cup gives me more focus, concentration, and energy that any cup of coffee. And there is no caffeine tolerance to worry about, which is another great benefit of sage.
For cognitive enhancement, less is more with sage.
Personally, because sage tea gives me headaches from increasing my blood pressure, I avoid using it as a nootropic. Otherwise, I would.
The one of the most accessible option for improving your cognitive function is through diet. Specifically, you would want to control the amount of food that you eat, and the type of food that you eat.
Fasting to Improve Brain Function
If you want to improve your cognitive function, it is essential to practice fasting or intermittent fasting- basically allowing your body to go for long periods of time without food. Before you begin the fast, you can eat as much as you want. But during the fast, you do not consume anything with calories. Fasting can last up to 24 hours without food.
Fasting allowing you to have steady energy levels throughout the day, and forces the body to adapt to run more efficiently- which also includes the brain.
Picking Foods for Optimal Brain Function
Additionally, you can influence the function of your brain by what you feed yourself. I usually try to make sure to have plenty of plant fiber in my diet in the form of fresh cilantro or parsley. Eating fresh cilantro & parsley with my meals leads to some of my regular food being replaced with these fibrous vegetables. The fiber may slow down the speed of digestion, so that you feel fuller for longer periods of time. These types of vegetables also are low in calorie. Incorporating cilantro into my diet blunts the glucose spike I may feel after my meals- meaning that I am less sedated after eating. You want to avoid sedation so that you can focus on what you are doing.
The types of foods that you pick may also influence brain function by nutrient content…
Fresh uncooked parsley, cilantro, and other similar plants consumed at the end of the meal really helps keep calories down by being low in calories as well as replacing some of the higher caloric dense foods of your meal. The plant fiber helps you feel full longer, and may slow down digestion. Slower digestion means lower uptake of glucose from the food, and less food stored as fat. That means a lower insulin spike, and thereby less sedation while you work.
As a reminder, here are a list of things I avoid because I have observed them to harm my cognitive function, meaning substances that make it harder to focus, concentrate, learn, and memorize- or just make me plain stupider:
Normally, people do not consider coffee to be bad for their cognitive function. I might be a unique case, because I have observed that coffee harms my digestive system, and tires me out very quickly. After drinking coffee, I find that I cannot stay focus for long periods of time, I become impatient, I have bad behavior, I am easily confused & anxious, my memory is worse, and it is a lot harder to learn information. I guess that means I need to stay away from coffee.
- Pomegranate Juice Augments Memory and fMRI Activity in Middle-Aged and Older Adults with Mild Memory Complaints [Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.]