Memory is a key component of brain function. It's the way in which we file and classify important information from methods and techniques for working to cherishing important moments. As we age, memory function can decline due to a host of changes in the human body. Fortunately, there are natural ways we can boost memory function and one of those ways is by drinking tea. Discover the best teas for memory with this quick guide backed by scientific studies.
Green tea is widely considered one of the healthiest teas on the planet. This tea contains a host of antioxidants known as catechins and flavonoids that give it a unique flavor and also offer extensive health benefits for cognitive function.
The antioxidants in green tea work to prevent oxidative stress caused by free radicals — highly reactive cells that are caused by pollution, sun exposure, and other aging factors. Oxidative stress is a process that breaks down natural cellular processes. You can think of it as the body's version of rust. By preventing these breakdowns, green tea can help support healthy memory and cognitive function.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging examined the effects of green tea on working memory in 20 healthy women. Participants received either green tea extract or a cornstarch placebo and underwent memory tests after a 24-hour period. The study showed that women who took green tea extract had significantly improved reading spans and memory recall (1).
In addition, green tea contains an amino acid known as l-theanine. This compound has been shown to improve focus and time spent in deep sleep cycles (2). Research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that l-theanine and caffeine helped to boost cognitive impairment. Participants who took l-theanine had increased brain theta waves — a key indicator of memory recall and cognitive performance (3).
Other true teas like black tea and oolong tea also contain l-theanine, though to a lesser extent than green tea. Just steep these leaves in hot water and enjoy a tasty cup of tea that can help protect brain health.
Gingko Biloba is a popular supplement in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for cognitive impairment disorders including Alzheimer's disease. Modern medical research has also shown it may be beneficial for boosting mental clarity and memory retention.
Research published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine examined the herbal tea and its effect on working memory. Researchers found that participants given gingko Biloba for 14 days had improved scores on working memory task tests (4).
Rosemary may help support brain health by improving memory recall. Research shows that aromas and scents are closely tied with memory. That's why fragrances like cinnamon or pine can invoke visions of Christmas as a child.
A study published in Fitoterapia found that rosemary worked to improve long term memory in scopolamine-induced rats. The rosemary helped to inhibit AChE activity and stimulated enzymes that support blood flow to the brain (5).
Gotu kola is an herb that belongs to the parsley family. It's popular in traditional medicine and has been sued to treat everything from wounds and burns to mental function. That's because this herb contains antioxidant properties that boast anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent cellular damage that affects the nervous system.
A study published in 2016 examined the impacts of Gotu kola extract on vascular cognitive performance. The study consisted of 48 patients who had post-stroke cognitive impairment. The participants took Gotu kola or folic acid for six weeks. Researchers found that both folic acid and Gotu kola helped to improve brain power and mental focus after a stroke (6).
Peppermint tea is a popular tea that helps to decrease stress and improve mood by affecting GABA receptors in the brain. These properties may also make it a beneficial tea for people looking to protect memory health.
A study published by researchers at Northumbria University found that people who drank peppermint tea had better long-term memory. The peppermint tea drinkers had a better recall of words and pictures compared to placebo. In comparison, participants who took chamomile tea had slower memory recall because of the calming effects of chamomile (7).
Ginseng is an herbal tea that tea drinkers love thanks to its ability to decrease fatigue and promote focus. A randomized trial published in Psychological Medicine examined the impact of ginseng on chronic fatigue. The study consisted of 96 subjects and researchers found that ginseng was beneficial in treating moderate fatigue (8). A second study found that ginseng helped to improve fatigue in cancer patients (9).
Pour yourself a cup of tea and help support healthy memory function. Teas like green tea and peppermint tea contain compounds that can help stimulate neurotransmitters to improve memory recall. These teas can also help boost energy and alertness, thus promoting better overall brain health.