By Amanda Capritto
You know the feeling: Staring at your computer screen, flipping back and forth between Facebook, email, and that thing you’re supposed to be working on… but not getting much work done at all. Brain fog can really put a kink in your day, or even your entire week.
When you need help staying focused and sharp, and coffee isn’t cutting it (hello, afternoon crash and burn), adding certain foods, herbs, and supplements to your healthy rotation may help — try these five herbs and supplements to beat fatigue and keep brain fog at bay.
Thanksgiving isn’t the only time to whip out the sage. This herb is loaded with antioxidants and contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties that may boost your memory. This herb is also known to make people feel more alert, calm, and happy.
How to use it: Add fresh sage to your diet by sprinkling it as a garnish on top of salads, pastas, or soups. You can also mix it into stuffings and sauces. To make sage tea, add two tablespoons of dried sage to a mug of boiling water. Strain the tea and enjoy.
An extremely popular plant in Ayurvedic medicine, ginseng has been used for centuries to boost immunity and energy. Thanks to lots of science, we now know that ginseng might improve overall cognitive function and duration — aka, may help you focus better for longer. Additionally, ginseng may improve your memory and reduce fatigue, especially in people with chronic illnesses.
How to use it: You can eat ginseng root raw or steam it slightly to make it softer. Try grating raw ginseng on top of soups or salads. To make ginseng tea, slice ginseng root and boil it in water, letting it steep for a few minutes.
3. Green tea
A well-known fatigue fighter, green tea might be a better choice than coffee to bring you out of your 3 p.m. slump. In addition to its mild caffeine content, green tea packs a serious antioxidant punch and contains an impressive amount of micronutrients. A substance called L-theanine in green tea has been shown to reduce anxiety, which can be helpful when you’re battling work deadlines and need to stay productive. L-theanine and caffeine work as a duo to improve brain function.
How to use it: Steep green tea in hot, but not boiling, water for several minutes. Boiling water may harm the tea’s catechins, a type of antioxidant found in green tea.
Another herb largely used in herbal medicine, ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means it can help your body cope with stress. In fact, it’s been used for more than 3,000 years to do just that, along with increasing energy and vitality. This herb may also improve your memory, reaction time, and productivity.
How to use it: You can find ashwagandha in capsule or powder form. If you take a capsule, follow the directions on the label. If you’re using a powdered form, try mixing it into hot tea, smoothies, oats, or soups.
5. Fish oil
Fish oil supplements are rich in two types of fatty acids that are essential for overall brain health: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
EPA has strong anti-inflammatory effects that help protect your brain from damage and aging, as well as mood-boosting properties. DHA has been linked to improved memory and reaction time and better information processing in older adults.
Fish oil supplementation has also been linked to improved attention span in children.
How to use it: The best way to consume healthy fatty acids is to eat fish and seafood. Two to three servings of oily fish per week should provide your body with enough DHA and EPA. If you find yourself having trouble eating that much fish, you can supplement with fish oil capsules or fish oil in liquid form.