You can now boost your brain function and slow age-related memory loss simply by using an herb that also treats stomach ulcers.

A small study recently followed 10 elderly, but healthy men for four weeks. The researchers gave the participants carbenoxolone (also known as licorice root extract) three times a day. They found that the herb boosted their verbal fluency by 10%.

The researchers also gave the extract to another 12 patients with type-2 diabetes. These patients already had memory problems. The researchers said this group also had a 10% improvement.

Chronic stress (such as a long-term illness) is one of the major causes of age-related memory loss. Stress increases the hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol cause brain structures to shrink. And these structures affect your ability to learn and remember. The larger they are, the more memory capacity you have.

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Licorice root extract lowers cortisol in the brain. It also triggers genes that boost your brain function and help improve your memory. Even though this study was small, it still confirms that brain cells have the ability to adapt even into your senior years. Changes we used to think are irreversible may not be.

Licorice root extract also does wonders for stomach ulcers. The only downside is that it can raise blood pressure. There are formulas on the market that don't have the component largely responsible for its hypertensive effect. They will say on the label "deglycyrrhizinated licorice root extract." My favorite is Rhizinate from Thorne Research or Enzymatic Therapy. It's available in many health food stores and on the Internet.

Ref: Nature Science Update, April 5, 2004; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2004.

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