Take part in studies of safe medicinal plants for the mind and brain ?.

  • Do you think you memory is not what it was?
  • Are you concerned about the current epidemic of dementia?
  • Are you open to the idea that medicinal plants could help, bearing in mind that modern drugs like aspirin come from plants?

If you’ve answered yes to these questions, why not take part in future studies looking at how plant medicine can help memory? To express your interest and to agree to being placed on the studies database please email Nicolette Perry nic@dilstonphysicgarden.com.

The Dilston Physic Garden charity conducts research into safe science-backed plant medicine which have evidence to show they enhance the mind, such as improving memory and sleep.

Our first pilot clinical trial for memory tested a combination of 3 European plant medicines on word recall in health people. Results showed that the group aged 63 years and under, who took the memory tincture, improved in their ability to remember correctly by over 50%, compared to those who didn’t take it in the same age group.

In 2022 we are currently conducting a clinical trial in South-East and West Northumberland to test the effects of plant medicines to improve Memory – see more information on the right of this page.

We are also currently exploring pilot studies involving combinations of plants to improve general cognitive function, cognitive function in long-covid and in carehomes in the North East of England, and to improve quality of sleep and dreaming – please email info@dilstonphysicgarden.com for more information.

More about our clinical research

In our research we study plant medicines that have the effects indicated by long-standing traditional use and focus on plants for the mind and brain, since so much of our well-being depends an optimal state of mind.

All volunteers in the studies are under the supervision of one of our associated medical herbalists, registered with the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and all studies go through a Clinical Trial Ethics Board.

Rather than major multicentre trials involving objective measures, we plan to conduct small – but statistically valid – pilot trials involving objective measures, but also self-assessment – i.e. using individual subjective experience. Self assessment was used in our 2019 Dream Club pilot study currently under analysis 2021.

Such studies involve people of all ages (over 18) with normal mental health, voluntarily taking a safe medicinal plant preparation, once or twice a day for a set time (week or months). During this time they complete a self-assessment form or objective online assessment, before, during and at the end of the trial period. According to best clinical practice, volunteers would be randomly divided into two groups, one taking the plant medicine and the other taking a placebo, or with all volunteers taking the plant medicine or placebo at different times (called a cross-over study) and all with no one knowing which they are talking (‘blind’). We aim to publish all results in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

If you’d like to be part of one of these studies, would like to donate to a particular study or volunteer your help in designing and carryout out a useful and meaningful study, please email us.

Plant Medicine Memory Study 2022: Can plant medicines boost your memory? 

Scientists at Dilston Physic Garden, NIMH medical herbalists and The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew are running an exciting second natural plant medicine memory study in Northumberland.

People taking part are between the age of 45 and 75 years old, live in West or South-East Northumberland and are not diagnosed with a condition such as Alzheimer’s. The trial is being conducted to test the effects of a novel combination of safe science-backed plants reputed in history to improve memory, by scientists and medical herbalists at Dilston Physic Garden with support from the Make My Day Better Charity & The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, The Ridley Family Charity and CogProSystem.

What is the purpose of the study?

In the process of getting older, changes can occur in cognitive performance, which are also affected in diseases such as Alzheimer’s. You may have noticed that you do not remember things as you did in your younger years and/ or be worried about protecting your memory. Cognitive performance can also be affected in post-viral conditions such as those experienced in long-COVID.

There are medicinal plants which are reputed through history to support and improve memory and cognitive function, and which are used today as Plant Medicine in the practice of Herbal Medicine. A number of these medicinal plants now have scientific research, including clinical trial evidence, to show they are safe and can help improve memory and cognitive function in the young and the old, and in some cases in Alzheimer’s. These medicinal plants work by different mechanisms, such as by increasing the brain’s key memory and attention signal (called acetylcholine), by lowing oxidation and inflammation (both of which can help protect the brain) and also by affecting brain cell growth.

In addition, the practice of Plant Medicine is based on individual prescription. This means that, for example, a group of people who each want to improve their memory may each be prescribed a different combination of plant medicines, each individual prescription being decided according to the person’s individual condition/s. It is important that more scientific research is carried out on Plant Medicine in order for their effects to be more widely known and understood.

The aim of this study is to test the effects of novel combinations of plant medicine on the memory of healthy people aged between 45-75 years and to analyse the results for age, individual prescription, current supplements/ diet and experience of COVID-19/ long-COVID.

Background to the study

A major concern in the ageing population is the perception of memory deficits and fear that this might signal Alzheimer’s disease. So far there are no medications that prevent memory decline and dementia; physical exercise and some cognitive strategies are helpful, but the use of plant medicine is relatively unexplored. And yet certain medicinal plants traditionally used to enhance memory have been shown in randomized controlled trials to increase memory test performance and there are current drugs for dementia treatment that are derived from plants. Researching this area since 1995, we have discovered and published that a medicinal plant combination improves word recall in older adults. To take this finding further and provide more authoritative advice for older people concerned about their memory, we will conduct this expanded controlled trial, including in the same combination with a further additional evidence-based medicinal plant and increasing both the dose and duration of treatment, and as well as comparing this ‘standard’ plant medicine for memory with an individually prescribed plant medicine for memory.

Further information on medicinal plants for memory
There are prescription drugs derived from plants used to treat the cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease.  For example galantamine is derived from a compound in the bulbs of snowdrops and daffodils (though don’t eat snowdrop bulbs as they are poisonous!). However, for normal mild memory impairments, some of which may be a prelude to more severe problems, there are no approved medications or preventative medicines.

People concerned need to consider alternative options which include physical and psychological strategies, as well as regularly taking preventative brain boosting medicinal plants. There are number of plants that grow in the UK with memory enhancing properties.  For these medicinal plants there is both traditional evidence, based on long standing experience and practice, and scientific evidence, based on modern lab science and the results of controlled medical clinical trials.

However, none of this evidence is sufficient for any one plant extract to be accepted in orthodox medical practice, yet. Further evidence, based on standardised extracts, dose and testing procedures, and long-term use is needed. Such trials have been conducted in academic and clinical institutions. None, as far as we know, in the community where the investigators are practising medical herbalists. This is the focus of the new trials. The results of first trial we conducted in collaboration with medical herbalists and the BodyWorks Centre in Hexham, Northumberland, showed the plant medicine given improved word recall, in under 63-year-olds by over 50%.


To take part in a next study at Dilston Physic Garden please email info@dilstonphysicgarden.com.