It is easy for people living in modern times to consider ourselves more intelligent or technologically advanced than our ancestors. While this may be true in many ways, there are some tricks our ancestors used that most people have never heard of.

Many cultures across the globe used different herbs, roots, and extracts in order to improve their mental performance. In those days, mental performance was important, but not as much as it has been in modern times since the scientific revolution.

In the western world, most people utilize their brain in order to make a living and this is why the wisdom from our ancient ancestors is so well worth the time and effort. Using these four ancient herbs, you can improve various aspects of your mental performance and be more successful in your professional and personal life.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola RoseaThis herb is native to Russia, China, and some parts of Scandinavia. In fact, hundreds of years ago Viking warriors used to take rhodiola rosea as a way of improving their strength and adapting to the cold weather conditions. Given they were sailing across frozen waters, they needed all the help they could get!

Rhodiola is considered an “adaptogen”, which means it can help to reduce the body’s reaction to stress. There are also studies that show rhodiola can reduce symptoms of depression at a rate of 30 – 35% and even as high as 50% in some patients. This doesn’t mean that people suffering from depression or anxiety should stop taking their prescription medications, but rhodiola rosea might be a natural option to research.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa MonnieriA plant from traditional Ayurvedic medicine, bacopa monnieri is still used by communities in India to treat various diseases and enhance the mental capabilities of small children. Because it is so popular in India, many scientific studies have validated the claims about this herb.

One group of studies showed that bacopa could reduce anxiety and depression over 12 weeks. Another showed that bacopa monnieri could help to improve memory after 4 – 6 weeks of usage. If you decide to use bacopa monnieri, keep in mind that this herb is fat soluble and should be taken with some type of fat source.

Panax Ginseng

The Chinese were adept at finding natural medicines for their ailments. Panax ginseng was one of their favored options and it is still used in energy drinks and other modern products today. Ginseng has many names, but the most effective version for brain health is the panax variation.

Studies suggest that panax ginseng can increase math skills and general cognition. This herbal option also helps people to improve their sleep quality and relax more effectively. The traditional Chinese medicine men used panax ginseng for a host of other ailments, but the primary reason it was so effective was because of a psychoactive compound called ginsenosides, which makes the change in the human brain.


Very few herbs are as useful as ashwagandha. Traditional Indian cultures used this herb as a way of reducing anxiety and enhancing mental performance as a result. Think about the last time you had a test where you were anxious. Did you do very well? Most people perform poorly when they are stressed, which is why ashwagandha is so effective.

Also, secondary benefits of ashwagandha include neuroprotection and immune boosting as well. The compounds in ashwagandha can help to protect the neurological connections in your brain and helps to fight cancer in some situations.

Getting Started with Mental Performance Herbs

There is an entire world of supplements and drugs called “nootropics”, which are meant to improve mental performance. Thousands of people use these drugs to enhance their cognitive function and often the hardest part is getting started.

Instead of starting with a synthetic compound you’ve never heard of before, you can use these natural herbs instead. They are options that our ancestors have used for thousands of years and are now validated by modern scientific claims. The technology and science that we have at our disposal has showed us just how resourceful our ancient ancestors were. They also give us insight into how we can use the world around us in order to enhance our abilities.

Author Bio:

Mallory Roane is a health writer and enthusiast. She enjoys rock climbing, yoga, and the occasional rave, but her passion is working on enhancing brain health through the site Nootropedia.