What’s driving cognitive health?

Published: 16-Jan-2019

As the human lifespan continues to increase, modern populations are growing progressively concerned about healthy ageing and cognitive decline1

Most people can think of at least one person they know that has suffered from Alzheimer’s disease or another debilitating cognitive condition.

Although ageing consumers are a target audience for cognitive health, they are not the only ones shifting their attention towards improved cognitive function. Younger demographics, especially millennials and gen-Z, find improving cognitive health necessary to stay relevant in a competitive lifestyle.

Regardless of age, enhanced cognitive ability is relevant to a myriad of activities as consumers try to balance work, studies, family life and other responsibilities.2 The desire to both maintain and augment brain performance is a key component in the brain health supplements market, which is expected to grow by 19.6% until 2024.3

Many consumers take care of their health through diet, exercise and intellectual stimulation. They are also actively seeking supplements that are both naturally developed and tailored to their personal nutrition needs.4 Multitasking, tight deadlines, longer working hours and less sleep are a few examples of daily habits that are negatively affecting brain health.5

As such, cognitive health solutions must help consumers of all ages to enhance mental performance, memory, concentration, energy, sleep and/or help to control or inhibit stress, depression and age-related cognitive deficits.

There are a variety of products that have been driving sales in the brain supplement market, including vitamins and minerals such as B-complex vitamins and magnesium, natural molecules such as DHA and HTP-5, and herbal extracts such as ashwagandha and sage (see below).

In addition, clinical trials for several herbal extracts have shown significant benefits in the area of cognitive performance, including ginkgo, ginseng, Bacopa, Salvia (sage) and curcumin.6–9

Owing to its GRAS status and the growing interest in natural solutions for healthy living, a great focus has been put on the genus Salvia (sage) for its cognitive benefits. Specifically, Salvia officinalis has been experiencing a resurgence of interest and extensive clinical testing has shown a significant boost for cognitive health in young adults and aged populations.8,10,11

The Scholey et al. study demonstrated a clear benefit in cognitive performance within 1 hour of administering 333 mg of S. officinalis extract (Sibelius: Sage) to healthy elderly volunteers.8

The effects of this treatment had a substantial and rapid impact on secondary memory (recognition and recall) from baseline versus each period tested (1, 4 and 6 hours). The sage extract was also shown to have powerful effects on accuracy of attention. With memory enhancement being the largest segment in the cognitive support marketplace, the S. officinalis extract of Sibelius: Sage proves to have a great opportunity.3

Today’s population is unique in how they are beginning to approach ageing and their health. People are living and seeking to remain independent longer, which means maintaining an active physical, social and mental lifestyle … or healthy ageing.

This means that taking an active role in one’s healthcare includes taking supplements and being open to alternative and natural therapies. Overall, cognitive health is a top health concern for people of all ages and providing a strong story on efficacy through further clinical research will be key to maintaining and building consumer trust.


  1. www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/ageing.
  2. M. Knott, “Brain and Cognitive Health: Bright Young Things," Food Manufacture (2016): www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Article/2016/08/18/Food-producers-meet-growing-demand-for-brain-health-products.
  3. www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180628005958/en/Global-Brain-Health-Supplements-Market-Analysis-Industry.
  4. S. Vouche, "How Consumer Lifestyle Trends Impact the European Supplements Market," Vitafoods Insights (2017): www.vitafoodsinsights.com/market-trends/how-consumer-lifestyle-trends-impact-european-supplements-market.
  5. K. Butler, "Brain Health by the Numbers," Natural Products Insider (2016): www.naturalproductsinsider.com/claims/brain-health-numbers.
  6. D. Ong, et al., "Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba Effects on Cognition as Modulated by Cardiovascular Reactivity: A Randomised Trial," PLOS ONE 11(3), 1–20 (2016).
  7. C. Neale, et al., "Cognitive Effects of Two Nutraceuticals, Ginseng and Bacopa, Benchmarked Against Modafinil: A Review and Comparison of Effect Sizes," British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 75(3), 728–737 (2013).
  8. A.B. Scholey, et al., "An Extract of Salvia (Sage) with Anticholinesterase Properties Improves Memory and Attention in Healthy Older Volunteers," Psychopharmacology 198(1), 127–139 (2008).
  9. J. C. Kuszewski, et al., "Can Curcumin Counteract Cognitive Decline? Clinical Trial Evidence and Rationale for Combining w-3 Fatty Acids with Curcumin," Advances in Nutrition 9(2), 105–113 (2018).
  10. D.O. Kennedy, et al., "Effects of Cholinesterase Inhibiting Sage (Salvia officinalis) on Mood, Anxiety and Performance on a Psychological Stressor Battery," Neuropsychopharmacology 31(4), 845–852 (2006).
  11. N. Tildesley, et al., "Positive Modulation of Mood and Cognitive Performance Following Administration of Acute Doses of Salvia lavandulaefolia Essential Oil to Healthy Young Volunteers," Physiology & Behavior 83(5), 699–709 (2005).

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