What Are Nootropics?
Nootropics are any compound, supplement, or drugs that’s intended purpose is to improve cognitive functioning. Nootropics are incredibly common supplements that are used by people to improve intelligence, focus, creativity, and motivation.
In addition to supercharging productivity, nootropics can make you actually FEEL smarter and help deplete levels of fatigue and stress. Olin other words, nootropics are also adaptogenic which means they can help your body manage stress and anxiety.
Since there are so many medicines, plants, and substances that offer similar benefits, there remains debate about what is and isn’t considered a nootropic.
According to Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, the first nootropics researcher, in order for something to be quantified as a nootropic, it must meet a number of criteria including:
- Improved learning and short-term memory retention
- Increased resilience to stress hormones and trauma
- Brain cell protection and communication
- Zero side effects
THERE ARE 2 TYPES OF NOOTROPICS
“Brain food” can be synthetically made of it can come from natural products like food. Obviously, purchasing a supplement is les time consuming, but if you are a purist, then yo uh may want to go the whole food route to get your focus on. Products like caffeine, lion’s mane mushroom, and green tea all are known to contain nootropic molecules.
Nootropics are not a new age thing. Chinese medicine and ayurvedic healing have been intertwining these powerful nutrients into their daily rituals for thousands of years, now. However, their popularity in western medicine has only recently blown up.
The demand for these “magic pills” have increased sales of both natural and synthetic nootropics across the globe. And in a market that’s poised to reach $5.9 million by 2024, you just might be wondering what nootropics can do for you? And whether it’s more fitting to go the synthetic route or natural route.
If you want to utilize natural nootropics, this is what you need to know.
What Are Natural Nootropics?
Nootropics are compounds found in nature that help improve cognizance and memory retention.
Natural nootropics are much safer than synthetic forms because, in their purest version, they don’t produce side effects. If you are interested in incorporating them into your diet, look for high-quality nootropic herbs that are standardized or that feature certain trademarks or labels (like GMP) which promote trustworthy manufacturing practices. Also look for Nootropics without artificial ingredients or common allergens. Here are some naturally-occurring nootropics found in nature:
Green Tea and L-Theanine
Green tea is a natural source of L-theanine - a common and powerful nootropic that helps increase attention performance, improving sleep, boosting reaction time, and promoting relaxation. It could also be therapeutic for patients who suffer from high anxiety. These benefits are linked to L-theanine’s neuroprotective effects, meaning it can restore and regenerate nerve cells to help with proper neurotransmitter connections.
Brahmi, or Bacopa monnieri, is a fundamental herb in Ayurvedic medicine that flourishes in wet, tropical environments and can survive well under water. Like many other natural nootropics, this powerful herb is known to support mental performance while reducing stress. Another perk of Bacopa Monnieri is that it contains adaptogens, which fight off the free radicals linked to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Ginseng is one of the most popular adaptogenic roots available. Stemming from traditional chinese medicine, it’s a long, light brown root with green leaves and a bitter flavor. The two most popular varieties are American (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian (Panax ginseng) - both of which have a positive effect on the immune system as well as neuro activity. Ginseng can help reduce blood sugar levels and increase concentration while helping with menopause, cancer, blood pressure, and heart disease.
Since ginseng is a powerful herb, it has the ability to interact with other drugs and may not be a good choice for people taking diabetes medications. Always, always, ALWAYS check with your doctor before adding any nootropic to your diet.
Also known as rosenroot, arctic root, or golden root - rhodiola rosea is grown in the mountains in cold climates. It has both antidepressive and anti-fatigue properties and is also used to treat anxiety in Russia and Scandinavia. To test its antidepressive effects, a study compared rhodiola to the antidepressant medication Zoloft. Findings showed that, while the chemical drug had a greater influence on reducing overall symptoms of depression - rhodiola rosea was easier to tolerate because it was generally without side effects.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s mane mushroom is a shaggy white mushroom that can be consumed cooked, raw, dried, or made into tea form for improved brain function. While there’s no definitive report linking lion’s mane to Alzheimer’s disease prevention, studies on mice have shown the mushroom to prevent the progression of amyloid-beta plaques in the brain. These are a major cause of inflammation, cell death, and brain damage in patients with the disease. More research is needed to see if the mushroom has the same effect in humans.
Other natural nootropics include but are not limited to:
- Ginkgo Bologna
While Nootropics can have many benefits for brain health, they shouldn’t be used as a substitute for healthy habits. Getting enough sleep, eating a nutrient-dense diet, and managing stress are fundamental for achieving optimal cognitive performance, says Chris D’Adamo, Ph.D. at the University of Maryland.
Once a person incorporates these changes into their life, nootropics can serve as an added bonus for improving mental sharpness and reducing mental fatigue.