Coffee Alternative Boosts Mental Focus

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Coffee alternative boosts mental focus

Reprinted with kind permission of LifeExtension

Sometimes you need a way to clear afternoon brain fog.

Coffee can do the trick, but for many people, drinking coffee later in the day can interfere with sleep, upset the stomach, lead to a jittery feeling, and result in a later "crash."

There is an herbal alternative.

Scientists have identified a unique spearmint extract that, like coffee, helps the brain focus.

It even boosts short-term working memory. But it's stimulant-free and won't cause any of coffee's common side effects.

Available in a convenient, instant spearmint tea, this extract contains high levels of phenolics, health-promoting compounds found in plants, particularly rosmarinic acid.

And this spearmint extract goes beyond offering a mental boost.

A recent, clinical study demonstrated that it also enhances the ability to quickly initiate unplanned changes in direction or speed. This can help performance during exercise or sports, and lead to fewer falls in the elderly.

Staying Mentally Sharp

A majority of Americans are very concerned about staying mentally sharp. While many turn to coffee for a daily boost in focus, attention, and concentration, almost two-thirds of consumers report that they are trying to limit their caffeine intake.

In fact, a whopping 64% of men and women in the U.S., and 74% of those over 55, drink coffee daily, in part for the short-term increase in focus it provides.

Researchers recognized the need for a drink that enhances mental focus as quickly as coffee, while being free of caffeine and other stimulants.

Role of Memory in Mental Focus

Working memory is the part of short-term memory that stores information and allows it to be used even while you're engaged in another mental task. It plays a crucial role in other cognitive abilities that include problem solving and decision making.

If your working memory isn't in top shape, that will make it harder to focus and concentrate.

Role of Memory in Mental Focus

Add to this the fact that working memory declines about 10% per decade after age 40, and even faster after age 70.

Nutrients that boost working memory can play a crucial role in being able to focus and concentrate, especially with increasing age.

Also important to cognitive function is spatial working memory. That's the ability to recall where items are arranged in space, such as the layout of your home or how to get around town.

Researchers investigated many options, and ultimately found that spearmint extract targets all these areas of mental focus and concentration.

Supporting Mental Focus

Scientists have demonstrated in various studies that spearmint extract enhances the underlying elements of mental focus. It can:

  • Boost alertness, mood, and vigor,
  • Improve working memory and spatial working memory,
  • Improve one's ability to get to sleep at night, and
  • In animals, promote the creation of new brain neurons, protect existing neurons, and boost neurotransmitter levels.

A recent study found that spearmint extract also boosts reactive agility, the ability to react rapidly when quick, sudden changes in direction or speed are needed. This type of agility can help prevent falls in the elderly and improve participants' sports and exercise performance.

Spearmint extract's effects for cognitive support have been verified in a range of studies.

Attention, Concentration, and Brain Function

Scientists found that just a single 900 mg dose of spearmint extract led to significant improvements in attention and concentration in human subjects in as little as 2.25 hours. With longer-term use, over 30 days, they continued to show these same cognitive benefits.

In one study, 11 healthy adults who were experiencing typical age-related problems with memory took 900 mg of spearmint extract with breakfast for 30 days. The volunteers were given a battery of computerized cognition tests one hour before taking the initial dose. These tests were repeated after four hours, and again after 30 days.

Four hours after the first dose of spearmint extract, average scores showed:

  • 46% improvement on a task requiring attention and concentration,
  • 121% improvement on a second task requiring attention and concentration, and
  • 39% boost in planning ability.

Thirty days after the initial dose, average scores demonstrated:

  • 35% improvement on a test of reasoning,
  • 125% improvement on a test of attention and concentration, and
  • 48% boost in planning ability.

These findings show that supplementation with spearmint extract has both immediate and longer-term benefits for cognitive function.

Next, scientists investigated this extract's effects on a healthy, young, and active population. In a double-blind study, 142 healthy, recreationally active men and women were enlisted, who took either 900 mg of a proprietary spearmint extract each day for 90 days, or a placebo.

Improvements in sustained attention were measured at day 30 and day 90. Scores on cognitive tests requiring complex attention were improved at day seven. Response times for correct answers were also faster.

The study authors concluded that this spearmint extract enhances attention and "improves cognitive performance in a young, active population."

Improvement in Working and Spatial Working Memory

Turning to effects on memory, scientists enlisted 90 people, averaging 59.4 years of age, who had age-associated memory impairment.

Participants in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study took either 900 mg or 600 mg of spearmint extract or a placebo every day at breakfast for 90 days. The extract was standardized to contain 24% total phenolics and 14.5% rosmarinic acid, one of spearmint's brain-protecting components.

After 90 days, the 900 mg of extract led to an improvement in working memory of approximately 15% and a 9% improvement in spatial working memory, compared to the placebo.

This suggests, "that this extract could improve working memory equivalent to that which may have diminished over a decade of life," the study's authors wrote.

What You Need to Know

  • Phenolic compounds in spearmint extract have been shown in human studies to significantly improve focus and attention, as well as concentration, plus working memory and ability to get to sleep at night.
  • Preliminary data suggest that spearmint phenolics like rosmarinic acid promote the creation of new brain cells and protect existing neurons.
  • Recent research on humans shows that spearmint extract also improves reactive agility, the ability to rapidly respond physically.
  • Spearmint extract does all this without caffeine or other stimulants, making it a natural and healthy alternative to coffee.
  • A spearmint extract delivering high phenolic levels, especially of rosmarinic acid, is now available in an instant, sugar-free spearmint herbal tea. It comes in one-cup, convenient grab-and-go packets for a quick boost in cognitive performance.

Making it Easier to Fall Asleep

The results of this study also demonstrated beneficial effects on sleep and mood, both of which help support daily attention, concentration, and focus.

Participants in the 900 mg spearmint group reported improvements in their ability to fall sleep. And they were more alert when they woke up.

Making it Easier to Fall Asleep

The improvements were so pronounced that they were similar to those seen with commonly used sleep aids, researchers noted, but without the negative side effects that often come with them.

In addition to boosting daytime alertness and concentration, these effects might halt the longer-term decline in cognitive health associated with reduced sleep.

Using a standard psychological-rating scale, improved mood was observed in those taking 900 mg of spearmint extract.

Taken together, all these effects can make a huge difference in an individual's mental focus and function.

Promotes Brain Neuron Formation

Beyond improving cognition, the phenolics present in the extract promote neurogenesis, the formation of new brain cells.

In cultures of cells from the hippocampus, the brain's center of working memory, spearmint's rosmarinic acid significantly enhanced the growth of new cells.

Not long ago it was believed that people stop growing new brain cells after adolescence. But a 2018 study in the journal Cell Stem Cell found otherwise.

Postmortem examination of the brains of people who died at various ages revealed that healthy, older individuals without cognitive impairment or neuropsychiatric disease maintain neurogenesis well into old age.

This has changed medicine's view of brain aging. Now that scientists know new brain cells are being formed, the focus has shifted to learning how quickly an individual produces them. A person's neurogenic rate may be vital in determining how well the brain functions and focuses.

Research suggests that spearmint extract provides the brain with support to optimize its potential for neuron creation. This can lead to improved focus and long-term cognitive function, and may help those at risk for age-associated memory impairment.

Increases Neurotransmitter Levels

Spearmint has also been shown to protect existing brain cells and the blood vessels that nourish them.

Phenolics in spearmint inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, which breaks down the memory-associated neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

These phenolic compounds also inhibit harmful oxidative stress. One specific phenolic, rosmarinic acid, was shown to protect key memory centers of animal brains—such as the hippocampus and cortex—against cellular damage from this stress.

Improves Reactive Agility

In a double-blind study that appears to be the first of its kind, scientists recently assessed the effects of spearmint on a connection between mental and physical performance.

They gave 142 healthy, active volunteers, aged 18 to 50, either a placebo or 900 mg of spearmint extract daily for 90 days. Subjects avoided caffeine for 10 hours before and during the study. Using a special audio-visual device and footplates, researchers evaluated reactive agility, the physical ability to quickly react to a stimulus.

Improves Reactive Agility

At days 30 and 90, the spearmint group demonstrated significantly greater reactive agility than the placebo group, showing a faster association between cognition and physical response with spearmint supplementation.

The study's author concluded that the spearmint extract appeared to be safe and have potential benefits for athletic performance.

Another study demonstrated that participants subjectively experienced energy improvement. This double-blind experiment involved 10 healthy individuals who had been sleep-deprived for 24 hours, during which time they had participated in very stressful, antiterrorism training.

Unlike the placebo group, those taking 900 mg daily of the proprietary spearmint extract containing rosmarinic acid reported increased feelings of energy. They also reported experiencing greater attention and focus. However, the researchers found that the overall results were less than conclusive, and called for further study.

A Quick Mental Boost

All these successful, human studies employed 900 mg of aspearmint extract containing more than 50 phenolic compounds, standardized to 24% total phenolics and 14.5% rosmarinic acid.

This same dose of the extract is now available in just one serving of a sugar-free, instant spearmint tea.

Researchers achieved this high phenol concentration by using a gentle water-extraction process and an innovative drying technology. This preserves the phenolics and the rosmarinic acid more fully than typical steam-extraction methods.

This herbal tea comes in grab-and-go packets that make one cup of tea in seconds. Just pour the contents into a cup, add hot water, and stir—no steeping required.

This instant refreshment delivers an immediate boost in mental focus and working memory without caffeine, and without the potential for a later "crash."

Summary

People seeking an alternative to coffee can now get a quick boost in focus, attention, and concentration with a spearmint herbal tea.

Human studies show that phenolics like rosmarinic acid, abundant in spearmint, enhance mental focus and working memory during the day, and improve one's ability to get to sleep at night.

Early lab data suggest spearmint compounds may promote the creation of new brain cells.

A human study found that a spearmint extract can also increase reactive agility, a brain-muscle reaction that can benefit athletic performance. Another study showed that the extract enhanced feelings of energy.

In human trials the spearmint extract has been shown to be safe, without any adverse side effects.

Available in one-cup, grab-and-go packets that deliver a high concentration of rosmarinic acid and other phenolic compounds, this sugar-free, instant spearmint tea provides an ideal, caffeine-free way to quickly increase mental focus while improving cognitive health.

For references see original article here.

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