Reminder: this information is not a substitute for medical advice! Consult a healthcare professional about whether these treatments are appropriate.
At least in theory, many vitamins and herbs could help prevent or treat memory loss. Unfortunately, there have not been enough clinical trials to test most of these theories. This is slowly changing as interest in alternative medicine has increased.
There are many reasons to be cautious about using vitamins, herbs and other supplements to improve your memory:
- Alternative medicine treatments can have side effects and interact with prescription medicines
- As with drug treatments, vitamins and supplements that seem to work in the lab may not be effective in humans
- It’s not always clear which ingredient in herbs or foods might be beneficial
- Scientists are still working to understand dosage and length of treatment necessary to make a difference
- Researchers often don’t know whether vitamins and herbs in pill, capsule or extract form are more or less effective than when eaten as part of a healthy diet
- In some countries, including the U.S., supplements are not regulated. Manufacturing processes may not be controlled, and actual contents may not be the same as what’s listed on the label.
Vitamins, supplements and aromatherapies that may be helpful include:
- Alpha-lipoic Acid
- B Vitamins
- CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10)
- Green tea
- Huperzine A
- Omega-3 Oils (Omega-3 Fatty Acids), Including Fish Oil
- Vitamin E.
Some herbs and foods not listed above may be helpful for memory loss, including certain fruits and vegetables, garlic, lemon balm or melissa, sage and rosemary. There isn’t enough research to prove or disprove these claims yet. Here are some examples of preliminary research into the benefits of these herbs and foods:
- Blueberry supplements may improve memory in rats.
- Garlic seems to protect memory in mice genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer’s.
- In two small Iranian trials, Alzheimer’s patients taking lemon balm extract [Melissa] and sage extract did better on memory tests those taking placebos.
- The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is sponsoring a trial of sage capsules for the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
- In lab studies, a substance in rosemary seems to protect brain cells.