Top natural remedies to boost memory and brain power, increase acetylcholine the memory neurotransmitter, grow new brain cells and increase brain blood flow

Boost your brain’s cognitive and memory power with a tasty chocolate and spearmint beverage

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A special strain of spearmint rich in rosmarinic acid combined into a beverage with theobromine from cocoa boosts acetylcholine levels the brains primary memory neurotransmitter, boosts neurogenesis the growth of new cells in the hippocampus the brains long-term memory centre and improved neurovascular coupling the brains ability to quickly deliver blood to the part of the brain being used. The result is an impressive boost in brain power improving cognitive function, working memory, concentration and sleep quality.

Spearmint extract combined with cocoa improves mental abilities

Human studies showing supplementing a specific combination of rosmarinic acid rich spearmint and cocoa once a day with breakfast produced remarkable improvements in attention, concentration and cognitive function. Four hours after consuming the beverage planning abilities (called executive function) improved by 39%, other cognitive tests showed improvements ranging from 46% 221%![i]. after a month mental reasoning improved 35%, concentration improved 125% and planning ability by 48%. After 90 days subject taking 900 mg of the spearmint extract delivering 130 mg of rosmarinic acid gained a 3 fold improvement in working memory (our ability to hold and think about several things in our mind at the same time) compared to taking a placebo, subject taking a lower dose of 600 mg however did not experience a significant increase in working memory compared to placebo. The 900 mg a day group also experienced improvements in ease of getting to sleep and increased alertness in the morning.

Supplementing rosmarinic acid and theobromine

As far as I know nobody cells a separate rosmarinic acid supplement, it is a natural polyphenol compound present in many herbs (Salvia officinalis, Melissa officinalis, Thymus citriodorous, Perovskia artemisoides and Mentha spicata[ii]), however it’s not that easy to obtain the 130 mg of rosmarinic acid shown to be required to produce cognitive benefits. The only practical delivery system I know of is called CocoaMind which has been manufactured by Life Extension to reproduce what was done in the experiments. It’s supplied in individual sachets which make a chocolatey minty beverage delivering 900 mg of a special variety of spearmint standardised to contain 14.5% rosmarinic acid (130 mg) along with cocoa; the idea is you would consume one individual sachets each morning.
You know that feeling when your brain is firing on all pistons, really switched on and sharp, your memory is working, your focus is good, you can hold lots of things in your mind at the same time, quickly make plans and decisions, maybe you can do calculations in your head, when this happens you would have had good levels of the acetylcholine the neurotransmitter most active in cognitive and memory intensive tasks you would also have a good blood flow in your cortex and hippocampus the cognitive and memory regions of your brain. You may experience this state after a strong coffee and a good night’s sleep, well studies have shown that regular consumption of a combination of rosmarinic acid from spearmint and theobromine from cocoa can help improve your cognitive and memory capabilities.

Rosmarinic acid increases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine

Spearmint along with several other herbs contain a polyphenol compound called rosmarinic acid that inhibits an enzyme (acetylcholinesterase) that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is the primary neurotransmitter in memory intensive regions of the brain. The effect of this is to increase the levels of acetylcholine which boosts the brains working memory and cognitive functions.
Coffee also inhibits acetylcholinesterase, however coffee also increases the production of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, for some people this works out fine but for others they may feel a slump some hours later because the temporary increase in dopamine and norepinephrine rebound’s to a depleted state.
We now know that coffee is actually a very healthy beverage for the brain but the combination of rosmarinic acid rich spearmint and cocoa provides additional brain boosting effects, furthermore they can provide a caffeine free alternative for those few people who respond badly to caffeine, and the super additional brain boosting supplement for coffee drinkers.
I now consume spearmint, cocoa and coffee on a daily basis.

Besides rosmarinic acid and coffee there are several other remedies that boost acetylcholine.

Other remedies that increase acetylcholine activity
There are other remedies you can use to increase acetylcholine production including
  • CDP choline,
  • alpha GPC,
  • huperzine A,
  • bacopa,
  • DMAE,
  • American ginseng,
  • choline bitartrate
  • nicotine, believe it or not pure nicotine increases acetylcholine activity and is good for concentration but please don’t deliver this by inhaling tobacco smoke.
For more information on acetylcholine see Acetylcholine the Memory and Cognitive Neurotransmitter

Repairing and growing new acetylcholine circuits in the brain

It’s perfectly safe to use natural remedies to boost failing acetylcholine levels however if you notice a distinct decline in your cognitive thinking abilities or memory it implies your brain is ailing and you are losing neuroplastic and neurogenesis abilities so you should aim to regrow, restore and protect your failing acetylcholine circuits
I encourage you to do more than this alone, if you noticing a distinct decline in your cognitive function or memory it implies you are losing neuroplastic and neurogenesis abilities you should aim to restore function to the failing acetylcholine circuits in your brain; I’ve developed a treatment to boost production of the protein BDNF that repairs maintains and stimulates the growth of new connections in the brain. See How to Regenerate the Brain

Rosmarinic acid stimulates neurogenesis in the hippocampus the brains memory centre

The rosmarinic acid and possibly other polyphenols in spearmint do more than just increase acetylcholine, studies have shown they stimulate neurogenesis which is the growth of brand-new brain cells in the hippocampus, the hippocampus is a main memory structure in the brain. We used to think that the brain didn’t grow new nerve cells but we now know that at least the hippocampus does. We actually only produce a few thousand new neurones a day in the hippocampus but it adds up so much so that by the age of 50 a healthy brain will have basically regrown the hippocampus.
Studies have shown people with long-term mental health problems including depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, PTSD and schizophrenia have a loss of volume in the hippocampus in other words a small hippocampus, the good news is that if you bring your condition under control, reduce inflammation in the brain, reduce overactivity in your stress physiology and stimulate neurogenesis you can regenerate and increase hippocampal volume. For a fuller explanation of how to do this see How to Recover Lost Brain Function from Mental Illness.

Besides rosmarinic acid there are other things you can take to stimulate neurogenesis include
  • the amino acid taurine[iii][iv],
  • Lithium[v] (available as low-dose lithium orotate not the high-dose lithium carbonate that has so many side-effects),
  • blueberries,
  • curcumin from turmeric,
  • omega-3 fish oils,
  • antidepressants! If only we could get the benefits without the side-effects,
  • green tea rich in EGCg polyphenols and
  • believe it or not cannabis although it really matters which type of cannabis you consume and what dosage you use, microbe dose high CBD rich cannabis.
  • also believe it or not sexual experiences boost neurogenesis[vi] [insert ref].
So hypothetically you could have a beverage of spearmint and cocoa, eat some blueberries have a little cannabis then have sex for medicinal purposes to regenerate you hippocampus and memory:-) proving not all natural medicine treatments are a sacrifice.
There are however two other things you can do that are much more powerful than any remedy at stimulating the growth of new cells in the hippocampus: the strongest thing you can do is very vigourous exercise and intermittent fasting. In the section on Neurogenesis Growing New Brain Cells I discuss an exercise technique that takes only 6 minutes 3 times a week that can significantly stimulate regeneration in the brain and various types of intermittent fasting such as the 12 hours overnight technique or 2 days a week only eating 500-600 cal.

Rosmarinic acid is also neuroprotective

Rosmarinic acid also has antioxidant effects protecting the hippocampus and cortex which are both memory centres from oxidative stress.

Rosmarinic acid combats dementia/Alzheimer’s disease

Rosmarinic acid also inhibits the formation of amyloid beta plaque in the brain which is associated with the development of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease[vii]
If you want to enhance the effectiveness of rosmarinic acid to improve memory you can add boswellia serrata [viii] [ix]

Cocoa improves mental focus by improving Neurovascular Coupling

Regular consumption of cocoa has a remarkable effect on the brain of improving what is called neurovascular coupling; when we perform a particular mental task the cells in the area of the brain involved in that mental task require an increased blood supply, it’s just like a muscle needs an increased blood flow when it’s working, in the brain this is called neurovascular coupling.
If you have poor neuro coupling your brain doesn’t match the blood flow to where it’s needed very well causing poor performance just like poor blood supply to a working muscle would lead to poor performance and cocoa improves neurovascular coupling so your brain can switch on increased blood flow where and when it’s needed. After 30 days consuming cocoa subjects with impaired neurovascular coupling showed significant 10.6% improvements in their brains ability to improve blood flow to where it was needed, the time it took to perform mentally challenging tasks was significantly decreased and reaction time was increased [x].
A deterioration in neurovascular coupling proceeds impairment and cognitive function and so combating a decline in neurovascular coupling may slow the progression of cognitive decline.
For your information cocoa is basically chocolate without any of the cocoa butter fat, it typically comes in powder form.
What was interesting was that it didn’t matter whether the cocoa contained high or poor levels of the flavonoids which we all thought were the principle health promoting beneficial ingredient in cocoa and dark chocolate. Until this study I made a point of consuming cacao powder rather than cocoa powder because when raw cacao is roasted at high temperatures to make cocoa it destroys a lot of the flavonoids; but another study seems to have identified that it is another compound in cocoa called theobromine that is responsible for cocoa’s cognitive improving abilities[xi].

Can we grow even more brain volume from meditation and brain-training by combining cocoa with a brain work-out?

The improvements in neurovascular coupling and cognitive function occur immediately after we absorb cocoa into the brain and I think we may be able to use the increased blood supply to enhance the beneficial changes we obtain from brain training exercises. My thinking is by consuming cocoa before performing a brain-training exercise such as meditation or cognitive training the increased flow of blood, oxygen and amino acids to the area of the brain being given a ‘work-out’ may enhance the amount of neuroplastic growth and change the we can obtain from the exercise.
Brain scans of people meditating or focusing on a particular task show that blood flow increases in the regions of the brain being used, at least that’s how it works in healthy brains; this is the neurovascular coupling we expect to happen. We also know that repetitive meditation stimulates growth in the volume of brain cells and the number of synaptic connections in the specific regions of the brain being given a work-out; this growth in brain volume is sufficient to be seen in brain scans after just 30 hours of repetitive meditation training, however in my practice I recommend at least 50 hours is more optimal, do you want to do just the bare minimum for your brain health?
Neuroplastic change increases as the intensity of stimulation increases i.e. the more intensely active we can make a specific region of the brain become the more we stimulate neuroplastic growth in that area and an increased blood flow enables us to achieve a greater level of intense activity; it’s just like the more intensely we make a full work with heavier taxing weights the more we stimulated it to grow, if the blood supply to the muscles compromised you wouldn’t be able to give it such a big workout.
My idea is that by consuming cocoa before performing brain training exercises/meditation the increased blood flow may enable us to perform more intense and taxing workouts that will enhance our goal of stimulating the maximum neuro plastic changes.

Brain Gym How to make meditation an intensive brain workout

The reason I use and teach meditation is to exercise the brain and treat mental health problems. Meditation can grow and develop structures such as the cortex and hippocampus involved in declining memory and mental health problems, it can also shrink other structures such as the amygdala that when overactive contribute to anxiety and mood disorders.
I believe we can employ techniques developed in sports training to grow muscles to accelerate the rate at which we can change our brain. To grow muscle it is more effective to do several repetitions of very high-intensity exercise that tax and push a muscle to the limit of what it can do then rest for a minute and do another repetition.
Classical meditation technique involves holding one’s focus continuously on the meditation exercise for the duration of the meditation, the technique I teach involves performing several repetitions of highly focused meditation that pushes and taxes your brain to the maximum level you can achieve then take a rest break for a minute then do another session. It’s actually quite easy to intensify your focus on the meditation to the point at which it becomes taxing and I believe this technique stimulates the maximum neuro plastic changes, I think it can also make a long meditation session easier to do by breaking it up into several small sections.
I have not experimented sufficiently with preloading cocoa before meditation to see if it noticeably enhances the benefits of meditation, I’ll update this in the future.
I’m available for one-to-one meditation training either at my London clinic or via Skype, by the end of 2017 I should also be available for regular group meditation classes online (using Facebook messenger) enquire via email. I also practice holistic functional medicine specialising in using natural remedies for the treatment of mental and brain health problems.
For more information on improving brain health and my brain regenerated protocol see:
[insert BDNF protocol]
[releasing remodelling trauma]
[reducing neuro inflammation] [the anti-inflammation diet]

[i] Functional Foods in Health and Disease 2015; 5(5):165 1 87 Page 165 of 187 Research Article Open Access Tolerance, bioavailability, and potential cognitive health implications of a distinct aqueous spearmint extract Kristin M. Nieman et al Biofortis  Clinical  Research, 211 E Lake  St., Addison, IL,  60101, USA; Human Nutrition and Health, Kemin Foods, LC, 2100 Maury  St., Des Moines,  IA,  50317, USA The Laboratory  of  Phytochemicals  in  Physiology, LS9  Bioactives  and  Health,  Interlab  Group, Department of Food Science, University of Parma, Parma, Italy
[ii] Pharmacogn Mag. 2012 Jan-Mar; 8(29): 37–41. doi:  10.4103/0973-1296.93316 PMCID:PMC3307200 Comparative study of rosmarinic acid content in some plants of Labiatae family Maryam Shekarchi, et al.
[iii] (Hernández-Benítez R, et al. Taurine enhances the growth of neural precursors derived from fetal human brain and promotes neuronal specification. Dev Neurosci. 2013;35(1):40-9. 4.
[iv] Gebara E, Udry F, Sultan S, Toni N. Taurine increases hippocampal neurogenesis in
aging mice. Stem Cell Res. 2015 May;14(3):369-79.)
[v] Zhong Nan Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban. 2011 Jun; 36(6): 461–476. doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1672-7347.2011.06.001 PMCID: PMC3172812 NIHMSID: NIHMS321617 Neuroprotective action of lithium in disorders of the central nervous system Chi-Tso CHIU and De-Maw CHUANG
[vi] Sexual Experience Promotes Adult Neurogenesis in the Hippocampus Despite an Initial Elevation in Stress Hormones Benedetta Leuner, et al. Published: July 14,
[vii] Am J Pathol. 2009 Dec; 175(6): 2557–2565. doi:  10.2353/ajpath.2009.090417 PMCID: PMC2789642 Phenolic Compounds Prevent Alzheimer’s Pathology through Different Effects on the Amyloid-β Aggregation Pathway Tsuyoshi Hamaguchi, et al.
[viii] Iran J Psychiatry Behav Sci. 2016 Sep; 10(3):e681. Published online 2016 Aug 15. doi: 10.17795/ijpbs-681 PMCID: PMC5097832 Combined Administration of Melissa officinalis and Boswellia serrata Extracts in an Animal Model of Memory Mohaddese Mahboubi, et al.
[ix] Turk J Med Sci. 2016 Nov 17;46(5):1573-1578. doi: 10.3906/sag-1503-43. Boswellia serrata gum resin aqueous extract
upregulatesBDNF but not CREB expression in adult male rat hippocampus. Khalaj-Kondori et al.
[x][x] Neurology. 2013 Sep 3;81(10):904-9. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182a351aa. Epub 2013 Aug 7. Neurovascular coupling, cerebral white matter integrity, and response to cocoa in older people. Sorond FA et al.
[xi] Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004 Nov;176(3-4):412-9. Epub 2004 May 5. Methylxanthines are the psycho-pharmacologically active constituents of chocolate. Smit HJ et al.
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