It’s not too early !!!!!!

As the Leaving Cert mocks loom just around the corner I can categorically say that it is NOT too early to start preparing for this year’s examinations. Natural remedies to boost brain function take time to kick in and their benefit is needed during the all important pre examination study period as well as during the exams themselves so now is the time to start taking them to reap their full benefits. Taking Fish Oil capsules for three weeks before the Leaving is going to be of minimal benefit to anyone!
I see their benefits as being twofold, to nourish and ‘prime’ the brain to aid comprehension and retention of knowledge and to offset some of the ill effects of what is undoubtably a highly pressurised time in any young person’s life, namely stress and all the ill effects it can lead to which can include nervousness, lack of sleep, poor digestion, low energy and mood and a below par immune system. Natural remedies can be used to both improve performance and minimize stress and here are some of our main suggestions.

Fish Oils
There are old sayings that eating fish will make you intelligent and that fish is brain food. Recent studies have shown that this may well be true and the reason lies in the omega 3 fatty acids, especially DHA which are abundant in the brain as they are in oily fish.
Studies have shown that an intake of natural stable fish oil increase DHA in the brain. Such fish oil also enhances the activity of a special enzyme in the brain, nitric oxide synthase, an important enzyme and a mediator of neurotransmission in the brain that is important for learning ability and memory.
Children with low blood levels of omega 3 have a lower overall mental capacity, especially, for example in solving mathematical problems and often have difficulty getting to sleep and getting up in the morning. This can be improved by fish oil containing both DHA and EPA. Fish oil has also been shown to have a good effect on children who are hyperactive and unfocused with difficulties for example in sustaining attention in school.
Too much stress, especially negative stress can lead to “burn out” problems. Intake of fish oil containing omega 3 increases not only the serotonin but also the dopamine in the body. The increased level of serotonin gives you a higher threshold for stress, while the increase in dopamine can make you calmer and more creative. Serotonin and dopamine are substances that control the information flow from nerve cell to nerve cell in the brain. Both are very important for the function of the brain.
In one study on adult people the function of the brain was measured by recording the speed of special brain waves which give an indication about the communication between different brain cells. Only two hours after intake of Omega 3 an improved speed was observed. DHA is found in large amounts in the nerve endings which control the information flow between the brain cells. After intake of Omega 3 the brain can thus treat the information with higher speed. This is why students in Japan load up the body with Fish oils before their university exams!

This herb, also known as Arctic Root, is known to be a mental enhancer which may boost memory and learning skills. In some studies improvements in these areas have been noted after as little as ten days’ treatment with Rhodiola extract. The herb is also a mood balancer and stress reliever.

B Vitamins
During any stressful period b vitamins are of importance for their role in adrenal support. A good formula to consider might be a Multivitamin rich in Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5), sometimes called the stress vitamin, magnesium for relaxation and better sleep, combined with other vitamins and minerals for their antioxidant and immune boosting properties. This would be of added importance if the student were a poor eater.

L Theanine
This is an amino acid found in green tea and it has the effect of increasing the bodies seratonin and dopamine levels leading to a state of relaxed concentration. Taking L Theanine in supplement form or drinking green tea, particularly powdered green tea or matcha would be ideal during study periods.

Concentration Essence
An energy remedy to help dispel mental fog, distractions and lack of focus that sometimes hit us when we need to concentrate most. With a clear and refreshed mind concentration is enhanced accordingly.

Rescue Remedy
To counter the panic that can occur on exam day or in the run up to it.

Add to the above a sensible exercise and wholesome diet plan and any student’s chances of success would have to be dramatically improved. Nor are all of these supplements necessary for everyone, all students are individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses. That said there are few who wouldn’t benefit from the combination of high strength fish oils and a multivitamin rich in vitamin B5. Yes I would almost make them mandatory!


If you would like to learn more still why not tune in to our Nutritional Therapist Nichola Forrest on South East Radio on Friday 30th January at 11.30am when she will be giving her take on preparing for exams.

I’ll end this post by reiterating what I started with, it takes time to reap the benefits offered by these performance aids and to make the most of them, now’s the time to start!