Focus and Concentration: Overview

We’re all a little bit hyperactive.

Most everyone can relate to having difficulty focusing and restlessness; some people more than others.

When difficulty focusing impairs the ability to function socially and/or academically, it is called Attention Deficit  Disorder (ADD), with or without hyperactivity. Officially, 6-7 % of children are affected (according to psychiatric DSM-IV criteria) and 30-50% of those individuals will remain affected as adults (2-5% of the population).

The official definition, however, leaves for a very wide gray zone. At one end of the spectrum are people with severe degree of dysfunction who should see a healthcare provider and often benefit from medical therapy.

Print Friendly

What causes difficulty focusing?

As much as anything else, difficulty focusing is a function of modern times. Never before in all of history have humans received so much stimulation. Almost from birth, babies are inducted into an environment dominated by unnatural sensory overload. Bright artificial lighting, unusual sounds, and even unnatural smells immediately saturate their world. This is quickly followed by accelerated learning to keep up with the fast pace of modern culture.

Considering the circumstances, it’s almost surprising that more children do not end up with problems focusing.

Why some people struggle and others do not, however, is more difficult to define.

There are hereditary tendencies, no doubt, but other causative factors may be possible. Excessive alcohol use by mother during pregnancy, birth trauma, low oxygen during birth, toxins, and food allergies have all been implicated, but none absolutely proven.

Healthy Tips from Dr. Rawls

The ancient Chinese suggested that everyone is born with a tendency for “monkey mind“, or being easily distracted.

Learning to control that monkey mind is important for anyone and everyone.

It’s a matter of learning how to become single minded; of being able to focus only on a single task and following that task through until the end. In our world of mandatory multitasking, this goes against the grain. Focus must be learned. For people with problems focusing, it is the greatest challenge of all.

Exercise is the easiest place to start. Focusing on one continual physical activity, whether it be running, biking, kayaking, swimming, hiking, surfing, or many other choices, is great for learning how to train your brain. It is a simple way to get your focus going in one direction. The more the activity requires your undivided attention, the more effective the exercise will be.

The next step is brain training. Another name for this is meditation – calming the monkey mind. Learning to focus on breathing and other single-minded tasks improves concentration and performance. There are lots of apps and audio files that can assist with this.

Natural supplements offer significant benefit with very low risks or side effects. Many natural supplements help to calm and focus the brain. There are actually three Vital Plan supplements that offer benefit for this purpose; Brain Boost™, HPA Balance®, and Energy Boost™. Each of them offers slightly different benefits, as explained below. They can be taken individually or all together for maximal benefit.

Good health habits matter. High carbohydrate processed foods disrupt hormone systems in the body and create imbalances in neurotransmitters in the brain. These same types of foods stimulate growth of abnormal bacteria in the gut which produce brain-irritating toxins. Simply avoiding processed and fast-food products is often enough to dramatically improve focus and concentration.

Even if you are taking medications, meditative or brain-training exercises to improve concentration can improve function and often reduce the need for higher doses of medications.

Natural supplements to support focus and concentration

vital plan's brain boost supplementBrain Boost™ | Supports cognitive function and focus.


Vital Plan HPA BalanceHPA Balance® | Improves mental focus and attention span by bringing balance to the body’s central hormone pathways. It is recommended for use when disrupted ability to focus is associated with stress or menopause.

vital plan's energy boostEnergy Boost™ | This supplement contains three herbal ingredients with stimulating qualities. For many people, stimulation can enhance focus.

*Statements on this page have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For medical concerns, please consult a qualified healthcare provider.

1. Rafie Hamidpour et al, Medicinal Property of Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) from the Selection of Traditional Applications to the Novel Phytotherapy, Archives in Cancer Research, Vol 3, No. 4: 42, Dec 2015
2. Ilkay Erdogan Orhan, Centella asiatica (L.) Urban: From Traditional Medicine to Modern Medicine with Neuroprotective Potential, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2012, Article ID 946259, 8 pages
3. Kashmira J. Gohil,* Jagruti A. Patel, and Anuradha K. Gajjar, Pharmacological Review on Centella asiatica: A Potential Herbal Cure-all, Indian J Pharm Sci. 2010 Sep-Oct; 72(5): 546–556.
4. Wurtman RJ et al. Biochem Pharmacol. 2000; 60(7):989-92.
5. Rao AM et al. J Neurosci Res. 1999; 58(5):697-705.
6. Lopez-Coviella I et al. J Neurochem. 1995; 65(2):889-94.
7. Conant R, Schauss AG. Alt Med Rev. 2004; 9:1, 17-31.
8. Babb SM et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2002; 161:248-54.
9. Fiorvanti M, Yanagi M. The Cochrane Library, Oxford, England. 2006: 4.
10. Secades JJ, Lorenzo JL. Meth Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2006; 27 (Suppl B):1-56.
11. Watanabe S et al. Folia Psychiatr Neurol Jpn. 1975; 29(1):67-76.
12. Silveri MM et al. NMR Biomed. 2008; 21(10):1066-75.
13. Spiers PA et al. Arch Neurol. 1996; 53:441-48.
14. McGlade E. et al., Food and Nutrition Sciences. 2012;3:769-773.
15. Hashiguchi M, Ohta Y, Shimizu M, Maruyama J, Mochizuki M, Meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of Ginkgo biloba extract for the treatment of dementia, J Pharm Health Care Sci. 2015 Apr 10;1:14.
16. Yang G, Wang Y, Sun J, Zhang K, Liu J, Ginkgo Biloba for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, Curr Top Med Chem. 2016;16(5):520-8.
17. Nabavi SM, Habtemariam S, Daglia M, Braidy N, Loizzo MR, Tundis R, Nabavi SF, Neuroprotective Effects of Ginkgolide B Against Ischemic Stroke: A Review of Current Literature, Curr Top Med Chem. 2015;15(21):2222-32.
18. Gauthier S, Schlaefke S, Efficacy and tolerability of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761® in dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials, Clin Interv Aging. 2014 Nov 28;9:2065-77.
19. Solfrizzi V, Panza F, Plant-based nutraceutical interventions against cognitive impairment and dementia: meta-analytic evidence of efficacy of a standardized Gingko biloba extract, J Alzheimers Dis. 2015;43(2):605-11.
20. Tan MS, Yu JT, Tan CC, Wang HF, Meng XF, Wang C, Jiang T, Zhu XC, Tan L, Efficacy and adverse effects of ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis, J Alzheimers Dis. 2015;43(2):589-603.
21. Strike SC, Carlisle A, Gibson EL, Dyall SC, A High Omega-3 Fatty Acid Multinutrient Supplement Benefits Cognition and Mobility in Older Women: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Pilot Study, J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016 Feb;71(2):236-42.
22. Garrison R, Chambliss WG, Effect of a proprietary Magnolia and Phellodendron extract on weight management: a pilot, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, PubMed. Altern Ther Health Med. 2006 Jan-Feb;12(1):50-4
23. Kalman DS, Feldman S, Feldman R, Schwartz HI, Krieger DR, Garrison R., Effect of a proprietary Magnolia and Phellodendron extract on stress levels in healthy women: a pilot, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, PubMed. Nutr J. 2008 Apr 21;7:11
24. Talbott SM1, Talbott JA, Pugh M., Effect of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense (Relora®) on cortisol and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects, PubMed. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Aug 7;10(1):37
25. Biswajit Auddy, Jayaram Hazara, Achintya Mitra, Bruce Abedon, Shibnath Ghosal, A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans, JANA, Vol. II, No. I, 2008, pp. 50‐56.
26. Usharani Pingali, Raveendranath Pilli, Nishat Fatima, Effect of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera on tests of cognitive and psychomotor performance in healthy human participants, Phamacognosy Research, January‐March 2014, Vol. 6, Issue 1, pp. 12‐18.
27. K.N.Roy Chengappa, Christopher Bowie, Patricia Schlicht, David Fleet, Jaspreet Brar, Ripu Jindal, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Adjunctive Study of an Extract of Withania somnifera for Cognitive Dysfunction in Bipolar Disorder, J Clin Psychiatry, 74:11, November 2013, pp.1076‐1083.
28. Usharani Pingali, Raveendranath Pilli, Nishat Fatima, Effect of Withania Somnifera Extract on Mental Stress Induced Changes in Hemodynamic Properties and Arterial Waveform Reflections in Healthy Subjects, Current Topics in Nutraceutical research, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 151‐158, 2013.
29. P.Nalini, K.Manjunath, N., K.Sunil Kumar Reddy, P.Usharani, Evaluation of the analgesic activity of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera in healthy human volunteers using Hot Air Pain Model, Research Journal of Life Sciences (May 2013), Vol. 01, Issue 02, pp. 1‐6.
30. Pingali Usharani, Nishat Fatima, Chiranjeevi Uday Kumar, Evaluation of a highly standardized Withania somnifera extract on endothelial function and biomarkers of oxidative stress in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled study, Int. J.Ayur. Pharma Research, 2014; 2(3): 22‐32.
31. P. Usharani, P.V. Kishan, Nishat Fatima and C. Uday Kumar, A comparative study to evaluate the effect of highly standardized extracts of Phyllanthus emblica, Withania somnifera and their combination on endothelial dysfunction and biomarkers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, IJPSR, 2014; Vol. 5(7): 2687‐2697.
32. Nobre AC1, Rao A, Owen GN, L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state, Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:167-8.
33. Simon P. Kelly, Manuel Gomez-Ramirez, Jennifer L. Montesi, and John J. Foxe, L-Theanine and Caffeine in Combination Affect Human Cognition as Evidenced by Oscillatory alpha-Band 34. David Winston and Steven Maimes, Adaptogens, Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, Healing Arts Press, Copyright 2007
35. Donald Yance, Jr., CN, MH, RH(AHG), Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism, Healing Arts Press, Copyright 2013
36. Sebastian Pole, Ayurvedic Medicine, The Principles and Traditional Practice, Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, Copyright 2006
37. John K. Chen and Tina T. Chen, Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, Art of Medicine Press, City of Industry, Ca., Copyright 2001
38. Merrily A. Kuhn and David Winston, Herbal Therapy & Supplements, second edition, Wolters Kluwer Health / Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Copyright 2008
39. David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG, Medical Herbalism, the Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont, Copyright 2003
40. Medicines from the Earth, Lecture notes, Conference May 31-June 4, 2013Annual conference on herbal medicine, Black mountain, NC
41. Lisa Ganora, Herbal Constituants, Foundations of Phytochemistry, Herbalchem Press, Copyright 2009
42. Bone and Mills, Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, 2nd ed., Churchill/Livingston, Copyright 2013
43. Sheldon Saul Hendler, Ph.D., M.D., FACP, FACN, FAIC, PDR for Nutritional Supplements, 2nd edition, Thomson Reuters, Copyright 2008
44. PDR for Herbal Medicines,4th edition, Medical Economics Company, Montvale, N.J., Copyright 2007
45. Mark Blumenthal, Editor, The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs, American Botanical Council, Copyright 2003
46. Leslie Taylor, ND, The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs, Square One Publishers, Copyright 2005

Vital Plan Products
Natural herbal blend to promote memory and focus
120 capsules
add to cart
Have a question?
Call us at (800) 951-2414
or click the form below: Ask Now

Header Goes Here Make it effective and short

  • List Item #1
  • List Item #2
  • List Item #3

Sub- Heading Text Goes here Tease them