5 natural 'drugs' to help you learn better
The Guardian suggests some herbal remedies that may be useful to cram notes in. Source: Shutterstock

By that, we mean the natural goodness grown on Earth, not illegal by law, i.e. good ol’ herbs.

While many turn to caffeine, energy drinks and even Adderall during exam season, some folks seek aromatic herbs to boost their performances.

And though less conventional, the aim remains more or less the same – inhaling or consuming the herbs or its fumes to alter the state of the mind, though the extent of its effectiveness still remains murky.

But that has not stopped exam go-ers from experimenting with the green stuff.

According to health food shop Holland and Barrett, the company has seen a 187-percent increase in the sale of rosemary oil, believed to improve memory retention, Evening Standard reported last week.

So, what are some herbal remedies that may be useful to cram those notes in? Here’s what The Guardian suggests:

1. Rosemary

According to Northumbria University’s head of psychology department, compounds from the rosemary herb can be absorbed into blood by inhaling the aroma of the herb’s oil. They can potentially react with the cholinergic system, which is involved in memory.

But Moss cautions this does not mean rosemary or other herbs will work as a “magic bullet”.

“It’s not just one molecule; there’s a number of them and you need the right molecules in the right proportions to get the beneficial effect. You might actually get some rosemary oil that does not have any beneficial effect.”

2. Peppermint


Last year, researchers at Northumbria found drinking peppermint tea can make you more alert, as well as enhancing and arousing mood and cognition, helping to improve long-term memory, working memory and alertness.

It may make you less anxious or tired as well, according to a study led by Dr Bryan Raudenbush, a professor of psychology at Wheeling Jesuit University.

“Given these results, it is reasonable to expect the presentation of peppermint or cinnamon odour while driving may produce a more alert and conscientious driver, and minimise the fatigue associated with prolonged driving,” Raudenbush said.

3. Cinnamon


Another herb that could help you power through those late-night revision sessions is cinnamon. Raudenbush’s team saw in the drivers they studied that driving for long hours made them angrier and more tired, but when they inhaled cinnamon scents, their alertness level increased

“Both cinnamon and peppermint administration led to increased ratings of alertness in comparison to the no-odour control condition over the course of the driving scenario,” Raudenbush said.

4. Sage

It seems those old wives’ tales on how sage can sharpen the mind may have some truth in them after all.

Researchers at the Medicinal Plant Research Centre (MPRC), based at the universities of Newcastle and Northumbria, found those who had taken sage oil could recall words better than those who did not.

“This research has serious implications for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, as it will inform drug research and development,” research team leader Nicola Tildesley said, as reported by Daily Mail.

“It could potentially be used on a much broader basis for anybody who wanted to improve their memory.”

5. Ginkgo Biloba

Chinese mothers have been feeding these nut-like seeds and spouting its benefits to their children for as long as one can remember. But does it live up to its reputation?

One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found people who took ginkgo showed no differences in attention, memory, and other cognitive measures compared to those who took the placebo.

“Sometimes we found beneficial effects and sometimes we did not,” Moss said. “These extracts differ considerably depending on where they are sourced from.”

Well, if all fails, there’s always the good ol’ chicken soup.

Photos by Shutterstock

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