Lack of sleep, added stress and heavy task loads may contribute to reduced memory. According to the University of Michigan Health System, mild memory loss is also a normal part of the aging process. Dietary supplements, such as ginkgo biloba and ginseng, may enhance memory skills and reduce the progression of memory-related diseases. Since dietary supplements may cause side effects and interact with medications, a doctor's approval and guidance is suggested.
Ginkgo biloba, also known as ginkgo, is an ancient tree species recognized throughout history for its healing properties. Though scientific evidence is lacking, the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, suggests that ginkgo biloba may prevent or reduce memory loss associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. It may also enhance memory function in older adults. Additional benefits may include improved cognitive function, social function and emotional well-being. Though ginkgo biloba is added to numerous dietary bars and beverages, supplements that provide bigger amounts of ginkgo may be required in order to significantly improve memory function.
Phosphatidyl serine, or PS, is a naturally occurring fat known to benefit brain function. According to New York University Langone Medical Center, PS may improve brain function, memory skills and mental concentration. It may also help prevent age-related cognitive decline, including memory loss. PS supplements are derived form soybeans or other plant sources.
The herb bacopa is recognized in Ayurvedic medicine as a memory enhancer. It is also believed to improve learning abilities and mental concentration, and may reduce instances of anxiety, cardiovascular problems and digestive disorders. Bacopa is found to not only enhance memory, but it improves overall brain function as well, according to a report in the 2004 issue of "Alternative Medicine Review."
Acetyl-L-carnitine, or ALC, is a compound derived from amino acids, protein's building blocks, that help the body convert fat into energy. Though the body creates sufficient amounts of ALC in healthy people, those with certain conditions, such as angina, may be deficient. The UMMC explains that though research regarding the effectiveness of ALC is preliminary, some doctors believe that supplementation of the nutrient may slow the progression of memory-related diseases such as Alzheimer's. However, UMMC also reports that other studies found no benefit, so more research is needed.
Siberian ginseng, a plant-derived supplement believed to promote immune function, may also have memory-preserving properties. Though research is preliminary, some people who take Siberian ginseng supplements claim to have heightened cognitive function and memory abilities. Siberian ginseng is available in liquid and solid extract, powder, capsule, tablet, dried root and tea forms. The UMMC warns that numerous Siberian ginseng supplements sold in the United States were to discovered to contain no ginseng at all. For this reason, Siberian ginseng should be purchased, approved and monitored by qualified natural medicine professionals.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Ginkgo Biloba History and Uses
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Phosphatidylserine
- Thorne Research: Alternative Medicine Review: Barcopa Monniere
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Carnitine Information and Uses
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Siberian Ginseng Information