The Nootropics Library: Milk Thistle

Everything You Need to Know About Milk Thistle

General Information

Scientific Name: Silybum marianum (of the Asteraceae family)

Any Other Names: Mary thistle, Silymarin, Wild Artichoke

Primary Constituents: Bitter Principles, Flavonligans / Flavonoid (silymarin), Polyacetylenes

Country or Region of Origin: Native to the Mediterranean Region, Europe, and California

Known Uses: Depression, “Hangover Cure,” Liver Protectant & Liver Infection Treatment, Jaundice Treatment Anti-Allergenic, Hay Fever, and Increases Breast Milk Production


General History & Introduction

Milk Thistle is a spiny plant growing up to 5 feet tall with distinguishable white vein leaves and sprouting purple flowers (Chevallier, 2016). It is very prominent in open areas throughout the wild but is also cultivated ornamentally. The plant requires a lot of sun, though it is still a weed-like species, requiring little affection. The flower heads are typically in full bloom by mid-summer and the seeds are usually harvested before autumn. It has been used throughout Europe for its many health benefits for thousands of years. Most modern research (at least from the 1970s onward) has been focused on plant’s seeds and its constituent, silymarin (2016).

Nootropic Benefits of Milk Thistle


Europe was one of the first places Milk Thistle has been recorded for use as a treatment for depression (Chevallier, 2016).  This herbal remedy has spread in modern times to the rest of the world, as clinical trials and studies back its traditional use. One very promising study proved that silymarin can have antidepressant effects, citing its antioxidant-capabilities as one of the leading contributing factors (Ashraf et al., 2019).  This same study also credited the flavonoid’s depression-reducing power on its anti-inflammatory properties. Silymarin is also well known to increase neurogenesis in the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, activities which are well-outlined treatments for depression (2019).

“Hangover Cure” and Liver Protectant*

Milk Thistle has been long revered for its potential to alleviate the symptoms of a hangover (Chevallier, 2016).  Mostly this is because the herb exhibits pro-liver capabilities.  In specific, the seeds contain a high content of silymarin, which is known for its liver protective properties (2016). There are cultures throughout Europe and Asia which have used Milk Thistle for its positive effects on the liver and hangover for thousands of years (Rainone, 2005).


There are some studies which have suggested that silymarin might be able to detox the body in regards to some compounds absorbed from alcohol (Vargas-Mendoza et al., 2014).  There is also some research which inconclusively purport the herb might be able to disable inflammatory signals which are triggered by alcohol (Federico et al., 2017).  Still, many sources believe the herb could have positive impact potential on liver damage (Achufusi & Patel, 2020). It has even been suggested that the herb has the potential to protect the liver from toxicity and to promote restorative action in liver function (Chevallier, 2016).  It has even purportedly been used to treat hepatitis and liver cirrhosis (2016). Part of this magic can be traced to the herb’s ability to prevent free radical damage and stimulate fresh, new liver cells (Balch, 2010).  One recent study certified a reduction in liver-related symptoms in patients suffering from a liver disease (2010).

*It is important to remember that the jury is still out on Milk Thistle’s ability to cure the hangover, and that empirical data is still being collected to firmly outline its potential as a liver protectant.

Possible Regulation of Hay Fever and Allergies

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, can be a result of oxidative stress (Bakhshaee et al., 2011).  Milk Thistle provides natural antioxidant effects which can greatly reduce the symptoms of hay fever and seasonal allergies (2011).  It is also worth mentioning that the herb can still have an allergen effect on some individuals (Wojas et al., 2020). Though the connection is still unproven, the herb’s known use for hay fever may relate to its innate anti-inflammatory properties (Achufusi & Patel, 2020).

Other Uses


Milk Thistle is traditionally famous for its ability to replenish individuals who have been suffering a vegetable deficit (Chevallier, 2016).  It is also wonderful for women seeking to increase their breast milk production (although it is still recommended to approach a doctor before adding any supplement to a daily regimen, especially when pregnant or nursing).  There are accounts of Milk Thistle having positive effects in treating jaundice (2016). One study showed the herb’s positive effects on the kidneys and gallbladder (Balch, 2010). The same study outlined Milk Thistle’s potential treatment capabilities for adrenal disorders, inflammatory bowel disorders, prostate cancer, and breast cancer (2010).

Dosing and Usage Information

The flower heads and fruits are used as a tonic in many recipes. And while they were traditionally boiled and consumed like artichokes, modern times have offered advanced extraction techniques (Chevallier, 2016). The seeds are usually used for their silymarin content, which as previously mentioned aids the liver. Sometimes decoctions or tinctures of the seeds are crafted, however, mostly Milk Thistle is used as a dietary supplement (2016).  Milk Thistle supplements may contain extracts from the flower heads, the seeds, or both.  Dietary supplements typically list a daily serving size of 400 to 1000 mg of Milk Thistle extract.

Side Effects

Milk Thistle is generally considered safe within established daily values.  Although rare, there are some minor adverse effects for some individuals (Mulrow et al., 2000). These side effects may include allergies, bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, headache, insomnia, nausea, or skin irritation (2000).

Other Important Information

Although not constituted, Milk Thistle has been called the “best remedy that grows against all melancholy diseases” (Chevallier, 2016). Despite its ability to (in some cases) reduce inflammation or treat allergies, it is known to produce allergies in some rare cases, and an allergy for Milk Thistle should always be determined before introducing the herb into any diet or supplement stack (2016).  The plant lacks water solubility, and thus makes for poor tea concoctions (Balch, 2010). This is the reason Milk Thistle is typically only consumed in capsule (extract) or food form.



Milk Thistle may not be the most exciting herb, but it is helpful and has been a part of holistic traditions for thousands of years. Some of the uses are supported with convincing empirical data, while some are not.  Still, more research on Milk Thistle is always pouring in, and it is arguable to say that the herb holds some sort of medicinal value for sure and that it can be easily administered as a dietary extract.  Besides offering purported liver protection, the herb also provides aid to depression, metabolism issues, and allergies (Chevallier, 2016).  Milk Thistle is certainly worth further investigation, as well as celebrating for the profound benefits it does offer.

A Note from NooFiles

This article is intended to be used for information only.  We want to remind you that consulting your physician is recommended before adding any dietary supplement of any kind to your daily regimen.


Achufusi, T., and Patel, R. (2020). Milk Thistle. StatPearls. Treasure Island, Florida. StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from:

Ashraf, A., Mahmoud, P., Reda, H., Mansour, S., Helal, M., Michel, H., and Nasr, M. (2019). Silymarin and silymarin nanoparticles guard against chronic unpredictable mild stress induced depressive-like behavior in mice: involvement of neurogenesis and NLRP3 inflammasome. Journal of Psychopharmacology. Vol. 33(5). Pp. 615–631. DOI:

Bakhshaee, M., et al. (2011). Effect of Silymarin in the Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis. Otolaryngology–head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 145(9). Pp. 904. DOI: 10.1177/0194599811423504

Balch, P. (2010). Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Fifth Edition. Avery Publishing. New York, New York. ISBN 978-1-58333-400-3

Chevallier, A. (2016). Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Third Edition. DK Publishing. New York, New York. ISBN 978-1-4654-4981-8

Federico, A., Dallio, M., and Loguercio, C. (2017). Silymarin/Silybin and Chronic Liver Disease: A Marriage of Many Years. Molecules. Basel, Switzerland. Vol. 22(2). Pp. 191. DOI:

Mulrow, C., Lawrence, V., Jacobs, B., et al., (2000). Milk Thistle: Effects on Liver Disease and Cirrhosis and Clinical Adverse Effects: Summary. AHRQ Evidence Report Summaries. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US). Vol. 21. Retrieved from:

Rainone, F. (2005). Milk thistle. Am Fam Physician. Vol. 72(7). Pp. 1285-8. PMID: 16225032.

Vargas-Mendoza, N., Madrigal-Santillán, E., Morales-González, A., Esquivel-Soto, J., Esquivel-Chirino, C., García-Luna Y González-Rubio, M., Gayosso-de-Lucio, J. A., and Morales-González, J. A. (2014). Hepatoprotective effect of silymarin. World journal of hepatology. Vol. 6(3). Pp. 144–149. DOI:

Wojas, O., et al. (2020). A case of allergy to Silybum marianum (milk thistle) and Eragrostis tef (teff). Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology. Vol. 16(23). DOI: 10.1186/s13223-020-00421-5

The Nootropics Library: Lions Mane Mushroom

Everything You Need To Know About Lions Mane Mushroom

General Information

Scientific Name: Hericium erinaceus

Any Other Names: Monkey Head Mushroom, Bearded Tooth Mushroom, Satyr’s Beard, Bearded Hedgehod Mushroom, and Pom Pom Mushroom

Primary Constituents: Hericenones, Erinacines, and Polysaccharides

Country or Region of Origin: Asia, Europe, North America

Known Uses: Cognitive Enhancement, Memory, Mood, Depression, Anxiety, Nerve Damage, Neuropathic Healing, Anti-inflammatory, and More

General History & Introduction

Lion’s Mane Mushroom could be called a semi-versatile nootropic, securing a prestigious place in both medicinal and culinary worlds.  The mushroom has a lot of history throughout Asia, as well as the Western world (Beshara et al., 2019). Although a fungus, the plant is revered in many cultures for its various medicinal and brain-boosting benefits.  It is also well known to possess powerful neuroprotective properties (2019). Typically, the mushroom can be found more profoundly at the end of the summertime and beginning of autumn (Sokół et al., 2016). It requires heavy humidity and reasonable water potential (2016). The studies and clinical trials on the mushroom existing to date generally focus on the plant’s fruiting bodies as the source of any documented effects.

Nootropic Benefits of Lions Mane Mushroom

Cognitive Enhancement, Memory

Recent studies have outlined Lion’s Mane Mushroom’s ability to enhance cognitive function and improve mild cognitive impairment (Beshara et al., 2019).  It has been purported to have therapeutic effects on neurodegenerative brain disorders (2019). Lion’s Mane possesses a heavy influence on many mental attributes, especially concentration and attention-span (Nagano et al., 2010). Part of the mushroom’s brain-boosting benefits come from its ability to induce the nerve growth factor (Li et al., 2018).  One study focused on measuring the benefits of the mushroom to overall cognitive function ruled the mushroom produced significantly higher cognitive function scores (Mori et al., 2009). The increase in cognitive ability appears to build along with regular daily intake (2009). It would also be reasonable to suggest that the herb’s neuroprotective and antioxidant effects (Kushairi et al., 2019) may help promote and enhance memory function.

Mood, Depression, Anxiety


The nootropic fungus has a well-documented power to improve mood and reduce negative symptoms of anxiety and depression (Beshara et al., 2019). In fact, the herb has been the focus of much modern research for its depression and anxiety reducing effects, with some notable studies and clinical trials to sustain these benefit claims (Nagano et al., 2010). One recent study outlined the mushroom’s potential to improve mood as well as sleep disorders (Vigna et al., 2019). Another study examined the herb’s potential as an alternative medicine for the treatment of depression altogether (Chong et al., 2019). The study outlines several potential hypotheses for how the mushroom may hold key potentials for treating mood disorders and depression, and with excellent supporting data (2019).

Nerve Damage and Neuropathy

One traditional recipe to treat peripheral neuropathy involves making Lion’s Mane herbal tea or using the mushroom as an extract (Weil, 2004). It has been suggested the mushroom can be useful for stroke patients, as it contains a natural nerve growth factor (2004). In fact, it has recently been found in preclinical trials to offer improvements to patients suffering from ischemic stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and more (Li et al., 2018).  There is even recent evidence suggesting Lion’s Mane activates peripheral nerve regeneration following injury (Wong et al., 2016). And many studies exist which showcase the efficacy of Hericium erinaceus for overall brain and nerve health (Sabaratnam et al., 2013).



One study revealed the herb’s potential anti-inflammatory effects on macrophages (Mori et al., 2015), which are basically large cells found stagnant in tissues at the area of an infection or flare up. Another recent study has proposed the mushroom’s potential to relieve oxidative stress and inflammations which generally contribute to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative conditions (Kushairi et al., 2019). And while the mushroom may be able to offer preventative effects for many conditions from its anti-inflammatory properties, there is not enough research to determine exactly how far these properties may go (Friedman, 2015).

Other Benefits

It has been suggested that Lion’s Mane Mushroom might have the ability to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels (Beshara et al., 2019).  The plant is known to treat stomach ulcers, enhance immune function in the gut, and decrease neuropathic pain from diabetes (2019). The mushroom is able to effectively regulate intestinal mucosal immune activities (Sheng et al., 2017). The power in the herb’s ability to aide GI issues can be traced to its polysaccharides (2017).

Dosing and Usage Information

Lion’s Mane has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes throughout many ancient cultures for thousands of years in the form of tonics, herbal teas, and as a cuisine ingredient (CITATION). Today, the herb is most used as a dietary supplement.  Lion’s Mane Mushroom extract doses can range from 300 to 3000 mg a day. The strength of the extract matters a great deal in determining a healthy, effective dose of the mushroom.  Many full spectrum extracts of the mushroom’s fruiting bodies will be offered in dietary supplements suggesting daily servings of 400-800 mg.

Side Effects

Lion’s Mane is generally accepted as safe for short-term use. Some studies go as far as to say there are literally zero adverse effects (Mori et al., 2009). Still, it is always wise to approach your medical doctor before adding any supplement to your daily regimen.

Other Important Information

Hericium erinaceus is a member of the tooth fungus group and has a great deal of culinary use. It is a common ingredient in gourmet cooking, frequently served with shiitake or oysters (Davis et al., 2012).


Lion’s Mane Mushroom may have a fewer quantity of empirical studies and clinical trials, but those which exist are extremely promising and capable of sturdily backing many claims.  The mushroom has a historical presence in many cultures, and a modern, proven ability to offer several benefits.  The improvements that the herb offers to cognitive function, memory, and mood alone make it a powerhouse nootropic; however, the mushroom has so much more to offer the mind and body. The impressive herb earns two thumbs up and should be considered an essential part of any nootropic stack.

A Note from NooFiles

This article is intended to be used for information only.  We want to remind you that consulting your physician is recommended before adding any dietary supplement of any kind to your daily regimen.


Beshara, J., Engle, D., and Haynes, K. (2019). Beyond Coffee. Monocle Publishing. ISBN 9781544505459

Chong, P., Fung, M., Wong, K., and Lim, L. (2019). Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder. International journal of molecular sciences. Vol. 21(1). Pp. 163. DOI:

Davis, R., Sommer, R., and Menge, J. (2012). Field Guide to Mushrooms of Western North America. Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 29. ISBN 978-0-520-95360-4

Friedman, M. (2015). Chemistry, Nutrition, and Health-Promoting Properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) Mushroom Fruiting Bodies and Mycelia and Their Bioactive Compounds.  J. Agric. Food Chem. Vol. 63. Pp. 32. DOI:

Li, I., Lee, L., Tzeng, T., Chen, W., Chen, Y., Shiao, Y., and Chen, C. (2018). Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines. Behavioural neurology. PMID: 29951133. DOI:

Kushairi, N., Phan, C., Sabaratnam, V., David, P., and Naidu, M. (2019). Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. Suppresses H2O2-Induced Oxidative Damage and LPS-Induced Inflammation in HT22 Hippocampal Neurons and BV2 Microglia. Antioxidants. Vol. 8. Pp. 261. DOI:

Mori, K., Inatomi, S., Ouchi, K., Azumi, Y. and Tuchida, T. (2009). Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother. Res. Vol. 23. Pp. 367-372. DOI:

Mori, K., Ouchi, K., and Hirasawa, N. (2015). The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Lion’s Mane Culinary-Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a Coculture System of 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and RAW264 Macrophages. Int J Med Mushrooms. Vol. 17(7). Pp. 609-18. DOI: 10.1615/intjmedmushrooms.v17.i7.10

Nagano, M., Shimizu, K., Kondo, R., Hayashi, C., Sato, D., Kitagawa, K., and Ohnuki, K. (2010). Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomed Res. Vol. (4). Pp. 231-7. DOI: 10.2220/biomedres.31.231

Sabaratnam, V., Kah-Hui, W., Naidu, M., and Rosie David, P. (2013). Neuronal health – can culinary and medicinal mushrooms help?. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine. Vol. 3(1). Pp. 62–68. DOI:

Sheng, X., Yan, J., Meng, Y., Kang, Y., Han, Z., Tai, G., Zhou, Y., and Cheng, H. (2017). Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology. Food Funct. Vol. 8(3). Pp. 1020-1027. DOI: 10.1039/c7fo00071e

Sokół, S., Golak-Siwulska, I., Sobieralski, K., Siwulski, M., and Górka, K. (2016). Biology, cultivation, and medicinal functions of the mushroom Hericium erinaceum. Acta Mycologica. Vol. 50(2). DOI:10.5586/am.1069

Vigna, L., Morelli, F., Agnelli, G., Napolitano, F.,et al., (2019). Hericium erinaceus Improves Mood and Sleep Disorders in Patients Affected by Overweight or Obesity: Could Circulating Pro-BDNF and BDNF Be Potential Biomarkers?. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Vol. 2019, Article ID 7861297. Pp. 1-12. DOI:

Weil, A. (2004). Natural Health, Natural Medicine. Houghton Mifflin Publishing. New York, New York. ISBN 978-0-618-47903-0

Wong, K., Kanagasabapathy, G., Naidu, M., David, P., and Sabaratnam, V. (2016). Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers., a medicinal mushroom, activates peripheral nerve regeneration. Chin J Integr Med. Vol. (10). Pp. 759-67. DOI: 10.1007/s11655-014-1624-2

The Nootropics Library: Lemon Balm

Everything You Need to Know About Lemon Balm

General Information

Scientific Name: Melissa officinalis

Any Other Names: Balm, Melissa, Bee Balm

Primary Constituents: Flavonoids, Polyphenols, Tannins, Triterpenes, and Volatile oils (citral, caryophyllene oxide, linalool, and citronellal)

Country or Region of Origin: Native in Southern Europe, Western Asia, Northern Africa; Cultivated Around the World

Known Uses: Nervous System Relaxant, Neuroprotective, Antispasmodic, Antiviral, Nerve Tonic, Cold Sores, Some Hormonal Treatments, Insect Sting Treatments, Fevers, and More


General History & Introduction

Lemon Balm is one of the most widely used nootropics for brain power and memory throughout recorded history (Chevallier, 2016).  It was once recorded that the balm is “sovereign for the brain,” offering incredible memory-strengthening powers and forcefully driving away sadness.  The herb has been prepared as a dietary supplement, tincture, salve, extract, herbal tea, and essential oil.  The derivative of the plant’s scientific name (Melissa) pays homage to the significant attraction between the plant and bees, literally translating in Greek to “Bee” (2016).

Lemon Balm comes from the Lamiaceae family, which are generally known for their aromatic fragrances and simple cultivation (APG, 2009). The plant gets its name from its leaves which produce a strong lemon-like scent (Chevallier, 2016). Typically, the plant will grow up to 40 inches tall. The herb has a long history of medicinal use throughout Asian, African, and European cultures for all types of ailments and effects (Aubert et al., 2019). Some of the suggested benefits of the plant include improved cognitive performance, nervous system relaxation, anti-inflammatory properties, fever-reduction, antidepressant effects, muscle relaxation, digestive support, and more (2019).

Nootropic Benefits of Lemon Balm

Neuroprotective & Cognitive Performance

Lemon Balm offers strong neuroprotective properties and is well-known to offer significant benefits to the brain (Scholey & Stough, 2011). The plant’s antioxidant properties help reduce oxidative stress levels in the brain (Rafieian-Kopaei et al., 2017).  Lemon Balm has been a staple in many traditional holistic practices for improved cognitive support (Aubert et al., 2019). The herb’s favorable effects on cognitive performance have been well-documented in many clinical trials (Shakeri et al., 2016). The plant’s heavy polyphenol content provides strong anti-fatigue properties which greatly aid mental attention and performance (Scholey & Stough, 2011).

Nervous System Relaxant

The volatile oils within the Lemon Balm plant have been long studied for their ability to calm down the central nervous system (Chevallier, 2016).  The volatile oils citral and citronellal are most responsible for these calming effects.  The antispasmodic properties of these oils also help the rest of the body relax, which aids in the overall calming of the CNS (2016). The herb’s innate ability to relax the heart can also have a positive impact on the nervous system (Steinhubl et al., 2015).

Anti-Inflammatory, Fever-Reducing Properties

In addition to its generally relaxing properties, Lemon Balm is great for reducing fever and general inflammation (Urtiu et al., 2018). It can greatly reduce the symptoms of (and treat) headaches. The plant is also a well-documented antihistamine, treating allergies and relieving some similarly relevant, uncomfortable symptoms (2018). The anti-inflammatory properties of the herb can be locally administered, or allowed to diffuse into the blood stream via consumption (Aubert et al., 2019).


For thousands of years, traditional holistic has called upon Lemon Balm for its incredible antidepressant effects (Shakeri et al., 2016).  The herb has been used in a variety of cultures for its ability to effect mood, and these effects have been studied and proven in many clinical trials (2016). Ancient texts suggest the herb is able to literally ‘lift the spirits’ (Chevallier, 2016).  Not only can it reduce short-term depression, but also improve long-term health [longevity].  Lemon Balm’s relaxing properties also play a large part in the herb’s ability to ease anxiety and depression (2016).  The herb’s calming properties have a significant impact on overall mood (Scholey & Stough, 2011).

Antispasmodic, Antiviral, and Other Uses


Lemon Balm is well-known to offer antispasmodic properties, as it greatly relaxes the muscles (Aubert et al., 2019). It can be effective as an antispasmodic remedy in general holistic sense, but one recent study has outlined the herb’s proven benefit to promote digestive comfort (Aubert et al., 2019).  This study analyzed Lemon Balm’s ability to treat mild GI complaints, chiefly bloating and flatulence, determining the herb to be of significant efficacy (2019).  It makes sense that Lemon Balm is a perfect herb of choice for many when it comes to GI issues, as it also possesses wonderful antiviral properties (Shakeri et al., 2016). One study even found the extract an amazing potential, natural remedy for the avian influenza virus (Pourghanbari et al., 2016).  In addition, Lemon Balm has been suggested and studied for its antibacterial, antifungal, and antitumor effects (Turhan, 2006).

Dosing and Usage Information

As a part of a nootropics or supplement regimen, Lemon Balm is typically consumed as a tablet or liquid extract. A normal dose is around 400 to 500 mg of plant extract. Topical applications (salves, balms, and liquid extracts) can be applied to cuts, scrapes, bruises, and cold sores (Chevallier, 2016).

It is also worth mentioning Lemon Balm can also be used as an essential oil. Normally only a few drops are required to relieve pain when applied as a topical pain reliever (such as during a massage). Consulting with one’s doctor before internally ingesting any essential oil is strongly advised.

Side Effects

Lemon Balm is generally considered safe, with minimal side effects.  These side effects, however rare, include headache and dizziness, indigestion, flatulence (gas and bloating), nausea, stomachache and vomiting, and in some very rare cases painful urine (Demirci et al., 2015).

Other Important Information


Typically, only the aerial parts of the Lemon Balm plant are used to create calming tonics (Chevallier, 2016). The plant can be used to reduce the likelihood of a cold sore outbreak (preemptively).  It has been used to treat hormonal issues, possessing strong antithyroid properties.  For this reason, Lemon Balm has been prescribed to people with overactive thyroids.  It can be used to treat restlessness and irritability, purportedly even helping people with sleep disorders.  Some traditional medicines use Lemon Balm to treat tooth aches, feelings of nervousness, and panic attacks.  It can also treat acidity, nausea, and bloating (2016).


Lemon Balm is a versatile herb with truthworthy benefits, mostly backed by hard, empirical data. It would be easy to suggest Lemon Balm is a popular nootropic and a true wonder plant, but still may vastly underestimated in terms of holistic healing powers. The herb has a lot of uses which justify keeping some around the house or adding it to a daily supplement regimen. Whether it is a topical salve for some minor cuts and cold sores, or a daily answer to mood, anxiety, GI issues or cognitive performance, Lemon Balm is undoubtedly noteworthy. It is easily arguable that the herb would be a great asset to any holistic medicine cabinet.

A Note from NooFiles

This article is intended to be used for information only.  We want to remind you that consulting your physician is recommended before adding any dietary supplement of any kind to your daily regimen.


Angiosperm Phylogeny Group – APG (2009). “An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III”. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. Vol. 161(2). Pp. 105–121. DOI:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.

Aubert, P., Guinobert, I., Blondeau, C., Bardot, V., Ripoche, I., Chalard, P., and Neunlist, M. (2019). Basal and Spasmolytic Effects of a Hydroethanolic Leaf Extract of Melissa officinalis L. on Intestinal Motility: An Ex Vivo Study. Journal of medicinal food. Vol. 22(7). Pp. 653–662. DOI: Chevallier, A. (2016). Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Third Edition. DK Publishing. New York, New York. ISBN 978-1-4654-4981-8

Chevallier, A. (2016). Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Third Edition. DK Publishing. New York, New York. ISBN 978-1-4654-4981-8

Demirci, K., Akgönül, M., Demirdaş, A., and Akpınar, A. (2015). Does Melissa officinalis cause withdrawal or dependence?. Vol. 69(1). Pp. 60–61. DOI:10.5455/medarh.2015.69.60-61

Pourghanbari, G., Nili, H., Moattari, A., Mohammadi, A., and Iraji, A. (2016). Antiviral activity of the oseltamivir and Melissa officinalis L. essential oil against avian influenza A virus (H9N2). Virusdisease. Vol. 27(2). Pp. 170–178. DOI:

Rafieian-Kopaei, M., and S., K. (2017). Melissa officinalis L: A Review Study With an Antioxidant Prospective. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med.  Vol. 22(3). Pp. 385-394. DOI: 10.1177/2156587216663433

Scholey, A., and Stough, C. (2011). 11 – Neurocognitive effects of herbal extracts. Behaviour and Psychiatric Illness. In Woodhead Publishing Series in Food Science, Technology and Nutrition, Lifetime Nutritional Influences on Cognition. Woodhead Publishing. Pp.272-297. ISBN 9781845697525. DOI:

Shakeri, A., Sahebkar, A., and Javadi, B. (2016). Melissa officinalis L. —A review of its traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology. J Ethnopharmacol. Vol. 188. Pp. 204–228.

Steinhubl, S. R., Wineinger, N. E., Patel, S., Boeldt, D. L., Mackellar, G., Porter, V., Redmond, J. T., Muse, E. D., Nicholson, L., Chopra, D., & Topol, E. J. (2015). Cardiovascular and nervous system changes during meditation. Frontiers in human neuroscience. Vol. 9. Pp. 145. DOI:

Turhan, H. (2006). Lemon balm. Handbook of Herbs and Spices. Food Science, Technology, and Nutrition. Woodhead Publishing. ISBN: 978-1-84569-017-5

Uritu, C., Mihai, C., Stanciu, G., Dodi, G., Alexa-Stratulat, T., Luca, A., Leon-Constantin, M., Stefanescu, R., Bild, V., Melnic, S., and Tamba, B. (2018). Medicinal Plants of the Family Lamiaceae in Pain Therapy: A Review. Pain research & management. PMID: 29854039. DOI:

The Nootropics Library: Ginkgo Biloba

Everything You Need to Know About Ginkgo Biloba

General Information

Scientific Name: Ginkgo Biloba (from the Ginkgoaceae family)

Any Other Names: Maidenhair Tree, Bai Guo (Chinese)

Primary Constituents: Bilobalides, Ginkgolides, Flavonoids

Country or Region of Origin: Native to China, Also Cultivated in France, South Carolina (United States)

Known Uses: Memory, Concentration, Circulatory and Blood Flow Issues, Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-allergenic, Asthma, Dementia, Depression, and More

General History & Introduction

Ginkgo is one of the oldest trees on the planet, if not the oldest, with the first growing dating beyond 190 million years old (Chevallier, 2016).  It has found its place in ancient, traditional Chinese medicine. Ginkgo’s medical and therapeutic uses have been well-researched in modern times as well.  In fact, it is one of the most widely used medicinal herbs in the Western world (Roland & Nergård, 2012). The leaves are typically turned into an extract which can be used to treat a variety of ailments and conditions. Some of these maladies include but are not limited to circulation and blood flow issues, asthma, allergies, weak bladder, incontinence, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, multiple sclerosis, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and even glaucoma (2016).

Nootropic Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba

Memory, Concentration, Brain Booster


Ginkgo Biloba has been used for thousands of years for its studied ability to improve memory, concentration, and overall brain function.  A lot of the plant’s contributions in this realm can be traced to its benefits to cerebral blood flow and circulation (Chevallier, 2016).  Improving cerebral circulation gives memory and concentration a giant boost (2016). Many studies have greatly outlined the plant’s ability to improve both short-term and long-term memory, and the cerebral circulation boost has a lot to do with the efficacy of such benefits (Balch, 2010).  Some studies indicate an improvement to the peripheral circulation system, also promoting brain function and memory (2010). These same studies have backed up claims that Ginkgo can enhance concentration (2016).   One holistic encyclopedia even suggests the herb can protect the brain (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998)


Ginkgo is known for its potent antioxidant effects, especially within the brain, cardiovascular system, and retina (Balch, 2010).  The impressive flavonoid content within the plant boasts powerful longevity effects (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998).  Due to these outstanding benefits to the body, the plant has been considered throughout Chinese holistic healing history as an anti-aging herb. They also respected the plant for its ability to improve the body’s resistance to the environment (1998).  The antioxidant properties of Ginkgo Biloba are one of the reasons the herb is so popularly prescribed around the globe in the medicinal world (Beshara & Haynes, 2019). The potent antioxidant effects are also one of the reasons Ginkgo offers such positive effects in terms of improve cognitive function (Kaur et al., 2018).



Ginkgo possesses amazing anti-inflammatory properties, even being able to reduce inflammation where there is nerve tissue damage (Chevallier, 2016). This has especially proven helpful for multiple sclerosis patients.  And that makes sense, since the plant provides enhanced blood flow to the central nervous system.  It has even been suggested to strengthen and support nerve tissue (2016). Chinese medicine has long turned to Ginkgo for the anti-inflammatory effects its fruit and seed possess, often referring to it as a tonic for the body (Orr, 2014). Many recent studies are showing Ginkgo to have the ability to significantly decrease oxidative stress and reduce neuroinflammation (Kaur et al., 2018).

Circulatory Issues

Ginkgo is well known for its ability to enhance circulation with numerous published empirical studies, even in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Balch, 2010). The leaves of the Ginkgo plant produce some of the plant’s most potent medicinal properties for improving circulation and blood flow (Chevallier, 2016). The Ginkgo leaves are usually extracted to make a strong tincture, liquid extract, or pill/tablet. And as previously mentioned, these extracts have especially been useful in improving cerebral circulation.  The plant’s ability to inhibit the platelet activating factor (PAF), reduces the likelihood of a blood clot and stroke (2016).

Ginkgo Biloba is also a purported, natural treatment for erectile dysfunction.  One study revealed that participants were experiencing more erections (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998). In fact, the erections were not just more frequent, but also improved in quality and duration.  This is probably due to the herb’s ability to improve circulation and blood flow.  Other studies revealed the plant’s ability to offset sexual dysfunction caused as a side effect of antidepressant drugs (1998). It is also worth noting that the plant is great at improving blood flow to the lower region of the body (Conkling & Wong, 2006).

Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Many Neurological Conditions

Truly, the jury is still out on how effective Ginkgo Biloba may be as a treatment for Alzheimer’s and Dementia, however, there are many clinical studies which have found a variety of positive benefits (Chevallier, 2016).  Even this smaller collection of empirical data promoting the benefits of the natural herb for those suffering from neurological or brain-related conditions is encouraging.  As previously mentioned, the herb’s ability to improve memory (2016) is most certainly useful for those suffering from memory loss due to age or a neurodegenerative condition.  One recent study proved its substantial benefit to dementia patients (Balch, 2016).  And the plant is even shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease altogether (2016).

As previously mentioned, Ginkgo Biloba can provide significant benefits to patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998).  The herb has been empirically proven to improve cognitive impairment and overall mental function in MS patients.  It is able to improve attention, executive function, and memory performance (1998).  There are even studies which purport that the herb has a positive effect on anxiety (Beshara & Haynes, 2019).

Other Benefits

The seeds of the Ginkgo plant are commonly prescribed by Chinese medical professionals for issues with the urinary tract or the bladder (Chevallier, 2016). They are also brilliant for reducing wheezing and treating a general cough, although it is important to remember to remove the husk of the seed first, which only contains toxins and none of the plant’s useful constituents. The seeds also help reduce excess phlegm, treat vaginal discharge, and improve incontinence (as well as other bladder issues) (2016).  In Ayurvedic practice, the herb was traditionally used to manage cholesterol (Orr, 2014).

There is a lot of research which indicates Ginkgo Biloba can be used to treat depression and with great efficacy (Chevallier, 2016). It has especially good antidepression effects on individuals over the age of 50, or patients who suffer from cerebrovascular insufficiency (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998). Recent studies have outlined the plant’s great ability to aide recovering stroke patients (Balch, 2010).  It has also been used to treat hearing problems, macular degeneration, and impotence (2010).  It is reasonable to argue that the Ginkgo plant is one of the most diverse holistic herbs on the planet.

Dosing and Usage Information

Although there are many ways to prepare the Ginkgo plant, a tincture or tablet is one of the most common methods for consumption.  There are many high quality Ginkgo biloba extracts sold as dietary supplements, which usually suggest a dose of around 120 to 300 mg per daily pill.  This is also the dosage noted as safe in most holistic resources (Beshara & Haynes, 2019). 

It is worth noting that there are differences between preparation methods in terms of effects.  The traditional preparation method of a tincture extract (using the leaves only), is the best administration method when using Ginkgo for poor circulation, blood-related issues, or asthma (Chevallier, 2016).  Liquid decoctions of the seeds are the best way to use Ginkgo for wheezing, or treating a cough (2016).  The capsule/tablet method (usually consumed as a dietary supplement) is best for memory loss and most of the other benefits the Ginkgo plant offers (2016).

A standardized extract of Ginkgo Biloba is normally  24 percent flavoglycosides and 6 percent terpene lactones (Conkling & Wong, 2006).

Side Effects

Although the plant does have the potential to create some unpleasant side effects, they are minimal and rare.  Some of the side effects which have been reported in some studies include headaches, dizziness, upset stomach, constipation, tachycardia (fast heartbeat), and allergic skin reactions (Conkling & Wong, 2006).

Other Important Information


It is important to note that Ginkgo Biloba can create issues for persons taking anticoagulants (blood-thinning medication) or those who regularly take over-the-counter pain medication (Conkling & Wong, 2006).  Although anyone who is considering adding a dietary supplement to their daily regimen should consult a physician beforehand, it is especially important for individuals on anticoagulants or OTC pain medicine to discuss Ginkgo with their doctors.  It should also not be used by anyone who is about to undergo surgery or a dental procedure.


The Ginkgo plant is an extremely versatile herb, possessing the ability to improve seemingly endless conditions and ailments. The studies, empirical data, clinical trials, and other research have shown the plant to offer incredible benefits with almost no side effects.  The side effects which do exist are minimal, trivial to say the least. In terms of treating neurological, neurodegenerative, or circulation issues, the plant is unbelievable and well-revered across the globe. Ginkgo is one of the most popular nootropic herbs for improving mental response times and memory, and maximizing learning potential (Orr, 2014).  To summarize, Ginkgo Biloba is a powerful and capable nootropic worthy of a place in nearly any nootropic stack.

A Note from NooFiles

This article is intended to be used for information only.  We want to remind you that consulting your physician is recommended before adding any dietary supplement of any kind to your daily regimen.


Balch, P. (2010). Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Fifth Edition. Avery Publishing. New York, New York. ISBN 978-1-58333-400-3

Beshara, J., Engle, D., and Haynes, K. (2019). Beyond Coffee. Monocle Publishing. ISBN 9781544505459

Chevallier, A. (2016). Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Third Edition. DK Publishing. New York, New York. ISBN 978-1-4654-4981-8

Conkling, W. and Wong, D. (2006). The Complete Guide to Vitamins and Supplements: The Holistic Path to Good Health. Avon Health Publishing. New York, NY. ISBN: 978-0-06-076066-3.

Kaur, S., Sharma, N., Nehru, B. (2018). Anti-inflammatory effects of Ginkgo biloba extract against trimethyltin-induced hippocampal neuronal injury. Inflammopharmacology. Vol. 26(1). Pp. 87-104. DOI: 10.1007/s10787-017-0396-2

Murray, M., and Pizzorno, J., (1998). The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Third Edition. Atria Paperback. ISBN 978-1-4516-6300-6

Orr, S. (2014). The New American Herbal. Clarkson Potter Publishers. New York, New York. ISBN 978-0-449-81993-7

Roland, P. and Nergård, C. (2012). Ginkgo biloba–effekt, bivirkninger og interaksjoner [Ginkgo biloba–effect, adverse events and drug interaction]. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. Vol. 132(8). Pp. 956-9. Norwegian. DOI: 10.4045/tidsskr.11.0780