5 Mood-Boosting Ancient Herbs and Spices

Brainfoods – with Vivid nutritional therapist, Milda
April 11, 2019
Meet L-theanine – The Potent Cognitive Enhancer
June 10, 2019

5 Mood-Boosting Ancient Herbs and Spices

Introducing our latest blog with Vivid’s in-house nutritional therapist, Milda.

**Note for readers – we love science. We aim to support all statements about brain health with credible, original scientific papers, not third-hand knowledge or hear-say. You’ll be able to find references to all studies at the end of each blog. If you want any further information please do not hesitate to email us!**

5 mood-boosting ancient herbs and spices

If you’re looking for natural ways to increase your moods and motivation, there may be some excellent items waiting for you right in your own spice rack. Ancient traditions from India to Peru cleverly used the power of plants for optimum functioning of the body- in both physical and mental realms.

Find out how some of these herbs and spices can help elevate your moods, boost motivation and promote feeling more Zen, simply by adding it to your favourite afternoon drink.

These are some of our favourites:


A staple in Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is certainly the spice to turn to when a little mood boost is necessary. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric has been studied for its potential to affect serotonin and dopamine levels (1). These are the neurotransmitters, responsible for good mood and motivation.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – turmeric has gained a real popularity among researchers in the recent years as science is only starting to unlock its full potential. Its packed with potent anti-oxidants and is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent (2).

Sip in: make a delicious golden milk or turmeric latter, add to cacoa drinks


A favourite spice in a baker’s pantry, cinnamon has a delicious sweet taste that works well in just about anything sweet (or savoury). But did you know that cinnamon is extremely effective at stabilizing blood sugar (a), which means better energy and decreased stress levels?

Packed with antioxidants (3), cinnamon may also boost brain function and moods by aiding memory and focus (4), making it a great companion for any time of the day. Not to mention it’s warming aroma that brightens up just about any day, whatever the pace in the office.

Sip in: sprinkle in your coffee or matcha for extra balance or simply brew a cinnamon tea when afternoon cravings hit.


It’s a dream to be told that something as tasty and delicious as chocolate may also boost your health. But we’re not talking about the regular ‘corner shop’ brand- to gain the benefits of cacao aim for the least processed original types of cacao, rather than a sweetened, processed chocolate bar (looking at you, snickers).

Seems like ancient Aztecs knew a thing or two about the potent benefits of cacao as its packed with polyphenols and flavonoids that may support increase state of calm, better stress resilience and improved mood (5, 6). Consider delicious taste an added bonus.

Sip in: a tasty morning latte instead of a coffee or make a luxurious afternoon tonic.


I bet that the first thing you think about when you have an itchy throat is ginger, honey and lemon tea. For centuries used as a staple medicinal and culinary root in Asia (from India to Japan), ginger has no doubt also gained popularity in the Western world.

Called a ‘miracle ingredient’ for a reason: it has potent antioxidant effects, ability to support healthy digestion and potential cancer-fighting properties (7, 8). Moreover, recent studies confirm what folk medicine practiced for centuries, as ginger is also effective in supporting the brain in healthy aging and lowering inflammation (9, 10). And that can only mean one thing- less inflammation, better cognitive function and better moods.

Sip in: try out a ginger latte for a balancing afternoon pick-me-up or add to your turmeric latte for an extra kick.


Considered a ‘luxury’ spice in kitchens all over the world, saffron certainly isn’t the cheapest spice to get your hands on. But considering its health benefits, you may want to change your mind: recent studies repeatedly confirmed crocin and safranal (main active components in saffron) aid serotonin production and therefore are effective in boosting moods and increasing positivity (12, 13). But that’s not all- crocin may also have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties (14), meaning it can help keep your brain happy and healthy.

Sip in: sprinkle in your coffee for flavour or add to your cacao tonic for a delicious punch.

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-008-1300-y
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28236605
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3854496/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24349472
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23364814
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24117885
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4211852/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26092628
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4211852/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26272123
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25384672
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26730329

Milda (DipNT mBANT rCNHC) is a Nutritional Therapist who empowers and guides people to take charge of their physical and mental health through the power of nutrition and lifestyle. She became fascinated by nutrition as it was the most effective tool in her own quest to escape stress, anxiety and chaotic eating habits, which then led to studies at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London. Milda is now based in the South-West, where she runs her busy clinic Nutrition Path, enjoys long walks in the woods and a steaming cup of matcha. You can find out more about Milda here: https://www.nutritionpath.co.uk/