Herbs for Mental Alertness

Written by pamela gentry
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Herbs for Mental Alertness
Ginseng is said to a produce a more alert and focused mind. (Blue Jean Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Busy schedules combined with a lack of sleep can leave you feeling drained and mentally exhausted. People commonly turn to caffeine and sugar to give them a quick boost; however shortly after comes a crash that leaves you more drained than before. Certain herbs may serve as an alternative to caffeine and sugar to improve mental alertness. However, before taking any herbal remedy get approval from your physician.

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba provides mental alertness by increasing the flow of fresh, oxygenated blood to the brain. Used long-term, Ginkgo biloba may improve memory. With short-term use, taking Ginkgo biloba may provide improved concentration. As a bonus, Ginkgo biloba may help women who suffer from the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. People taking blood-thinning drugs and those who have epilepsy should not take Ginkgo biloba.


Known by many for its aphrodisiac properties, ginseng was first used in traditional Chinese medicine. The herb's anti-inflammatory quality is useful to the body in many ways. Ginseng is believed to reduce stress by relieving emotional and physical fatigue, as well as increasing mental alertness and improving concentration. Those with high blood pressure, a cardiovascular condition or an infection should not take ginseng.

Yerba Mate

A popular drink of South America, yerba mate herbal tea contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. Yerba mate has naturally occurring minerals such as calcium, iron, selenium, potassium, phosphorous and magnesium. It contains stress-reducing B complex vitamins as well as vitamins A, C and E. However, yerba mate also contains the stimulant caffeine. For these reasons, yerba mate tea has the reputation of boosting your mental and physical energy.


Used in the ancient Indian science known as Ayurveda, bacopa herb is believed to strengthen the mind as well as the heart and nervous system. Classified as an "adaptogenic herb," bacopa may soften the effects of stress, promoting a more relaxed and focused mind. According to Ann Hearden, C.N., of "Bacopa: Ayurvedic Nourishment for the Mind," bacopa may be useful in reducing anxiety and depression while improving memory and attention span.

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