Memory and cognitive dysfunction from chronic Lyme disease and Lyme disease coinfections like Babesia and Bartonella can be severe. Once the infections have invaded the brain and central nervous system, they are capable of causing numerous cognitive deficits, including short- and long-term memory loss, difficulty retaining new information, compromised ability to read and write, an inability to make new memories, an overall feeling that you’re just not really “there,” and so much more.
Throughout my journey with Lyme disease, the vast majority of my symptoms have manifested neurologically. I have faced various memory and cognitive deficits, ranging from short-term memory loss and trouble concentrating, to full-blown amnesia and a complete inability to read or write. As a result, I have searched endlessly for natural ways to boost memory and cognitive function to improve my quality of life throughout the duration of my treatment. The following are the herbs and supplements that I have found most beneficial:
Herbal Remedies to Boost Memory and Cognition
Phosphatidylserine is supportive of a broad range of cognitive processes, including creation of both short- and long-term memories, memory retrieval, the ability to assimilate and recall new information. It is especially beneficial for memory and cognitive dysfunction caused by neuronal damage from Lyme disease, and coinfections, as it replenishes the brain’s supply of acetylcholine, which is a key neurotransmitter responsible for creating the neuronal connections required for encoding memories.
Phosphatidylserine may also be useful for individuals with Lyme disease who have difficulty sleeping. When taken at night, it helps promote healthy sleep patterns by lowering cortisol levels, thus leading to improved memory and cognitive functioning.
2. Gotu Kola:
Gotu kola boosts memory and cognition by reducing tissue inflammation in the brain, making it a great candidate for individuals who suffer from memory and cognitive issues due to neuroLyme disease. It is also helpful for people who have cognitive difficulties as a result of infection in the central nervous system, as it calms the central nervous system by modulating cortisol and adrenaline release. Furthermore, it promotes overall brain health by increasing cerebral circulation and oxygenated blood flow to the brain.
3. Lion’s Mane Mushroom:
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Lion’s mane mushroom is one of my absolute favorite supplements for memory and cognitive support due to its profound positive impacts on the brain and central nervous system. I also find it immensely beneficial when I am feeling low on energy, whether mentally or physically, as it seems to make a noticeable difference in both mental and physical stamina. This is no surprise, considering lion’s mane has long been known as the “smart mushroom” because of its noticeable effects on multiple aspects of cognitive function, including memory, attention, creativity and more.
The cognitive benefits of lion’s mane can, in large part, be credited to a group of compounds it contains that provide potent neuroprotective properties and restore myelin along the axons in the brain. To date, lion’s mane is the only mushroom that displays promising potential for nerve regeneration due to its ability to stimulate synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF).
A strong neuroprotectant, bacopa is an herb that has been used for thousands of years to enhance memory and cognition. According to research, as well as personal experience, bacopa is an exceptional herb for boosting numeric and spatial working memory, word recall and recognition, context memory recognition, and visual information processing — processes that are all crucial for proper assimilation of information from our environment.
5. Rhodiola Rosea:
Known for its ability to improve memory and learning, I can attest that Rhodiola rosea is profoundly effective for alleviating memory and cognitive dysfunction caused by neurological Lyme disease. I find that it not only increases memory and mental alertness, but physical stamina, as well. Since it is somewhat stimulatory in nature, I find it best to take in the morning in order to avoid interference with sleep.
Ashwagandha is another excellent herb for memory and cognitive support. It is a great adaptogenic herb that supports the body and mind during times of extreme stress, such as those seen in chronic illnesses like Lyme disease. Many people report that ashwagandha makes them drowsy, so it is best to take it at night the first time you take it to see how you respond.
I have personally found all of these herbs and supplements to be most useful for providing me with memory and cognitive support throughout the duration of my treatment for Lyme disease and multiple coinfections. However, they are but a few of the many herbs and supplements known to boost memory and cognitive functioning. If you are looking for ways to boost your own memory and cognition, I strongly advise you to conduct further research on all herbs and supplements to assess which ones may be of most benefit for your particular case. As always, please consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new herbal remedies.
This article was first published on ProHealth.com on October 9, 2016 and was updated on February 23, 2021.