Do you live in a state of constant brain fog and mental fatigue? Between work, home life, social life and just about every other thing we pack our schedules full of, it’s no surprise that our brains are burnt out, Dr. Josh Axe says.
We asked Axe to share his top supplements for boosting brain function, and Axe is adamant that synthetic is not the way to go.
“There’s actually a big rage going on right now over nootropic supplements, which are used to increase brain function and overall focus. But there are a lot of synthetic ingredients in those that I’m not a fan of,” says Axe, adding that these synthetic ingredients can wear out your adrenal glands. “A much better option for people is to use natural adaptogens and brain boosters.”
Here are four natural brain boosters Axe recommends.
“This is used in Chinese medicine to support what is called the gut-brain connection,” Axe says. “So if you’ve got issues with your gut and brain or autoimmune issues, lion’s mane mushroom is absolutely amazing.” Axe recommends using lion’s mane mushroom, a member of the adaptogen family, as a supplement anywhere from three months to a year or longer.
While there still is controversy surrounding the use of cannabidiol (CBD), like many in the health and fitness world, Axe is a major proponent of CBD for health and wellness. CBD oil, which comes from the hemp plant, has been shown in clinical studies to support the brain and nerve system, says Axe—specifically the parasympathetic nervous system.
“A lot of people today live in a fight-or-flight state of emotional stress,” Axe says. “If you’re in that state a few minutes a day, fine, but if you live in that state all the time like we do because of stress at work, stress with family, trying to get so much done, that’s not good. Here’s the great thing about CBD oil: It helps lower that stress and [supports] your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for digestive health and hormone balance.”
Rosemary Essential Oil
Diffusing it, using it topically or cooking with rosemary is great for the brain and nerve system, as well, Axe says.
Omega-3 fats are imperative for cognitive function—just adding more good fats into your diet will have a similar effect.
Caring for the adrenal glands
Another area worth paying more attention to and taking better care of, Axe says, is the adrenal glands.
“Your adrenal glands are kind of like your body’s battery. We use so much energy working, doing and not recharging. We have drained our battery. In traditional Chinese medicine, there are natural remedies for that,” Axe explains. The first remedy: Stop working so hard, take a little time off, unplug—something that was difficult for Axe.
“I started realizing that if I want to be healthy, I needed to schedule downtime throughout my week like going on a walk in nature without my cellphone, reading a novel, having lunch with a best friend, doing things that took my mind off things,” he says.
One simple—yet important—way to recharge your adrenals: Get to bed at a proper time and get a good night’s sleep, Axe says. “Schedule relaxation and rest into your week,” he advises.
Another way to recharge is by supplementing with certain herbs and mushrooms. Axe recommends adaptogens like Rhodiola rosea, which is also great for athletic performance, or Cordyceps mushrooms, which are used in ayurveda to boost your qi (energy). Other options include licorice root extract, ginseng and a B-complex vitamin. “B vitamins can really support your adrenals, as well, especially vitamin B12. So if you want to support that area of the body, that’s critical to doing so,” Axe adds.
Always check with your health care provider before making changes to your diet or fitness regimen.
Photo credit: Christin Hume, Unsplash; Mark Kuroda, kurodastudios.com