Herbs are natureâ€™s medicine, helping people to enhance their health and treat many health concerns. But have you heard of nootropics? Learn more about these brain-boosting supplements as we discuss the best natural nootropics for focus, anxiety, memory and energy.
What are nootropics?
Nootropics are compounds that enhance cognitive power of the human brain. Some are naturally occurring and some are synthetic.
Nootropics are similar to adaptogens in that they help the body adapt to stress and restore normal physiological function. They work to enhance memory, cognitio and alertness, and can also reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression. They do this by influencing brain waves, cellular energy, neurotransmitters, neuroplasticity, or hormones.
Each nootropic falls under a different category that affects the brain. Each one involves a different neural pathway, mechanism of action or part of the brain. These include brain repair, brain fatigue, brain cell health and longevity, brain signalling, brain energy, brain waves and brain blood supply.
By understanding the different ways each one can affect the brain, you can choose which one you think you might personally benefit from the most.
Who would benefit from a nootropic?
Anyone looking to boost their brain power, fight fatigue, or reduce depression/anxiety symptoms may benefit from a nootropic. This includes improving mental performance, focus, alertness or memory. Itâ€™s important to find the right nootropic for you and your individual health needs and concerns. Remember that what works for one person, may not work for you.
The Best Nootropics for Focus:
L-theanine is a common and potent nootropic. Itâ€™s a naturally occurring amino acid thatâ€™s found in a variety of teas, like black tea and green tea.
L-theanine is known for its power to increase mental clarity and performance, improve sleep and also encourage relaxation. This means that while itâ€™s regarded as a cognitive enhancing nootropic, it can also help relieve anxiety.
It is able to boost mental performance by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, like dopamine, serotonin and GABA. These neurotransmitters are responsible for invoking feelings of contention and wellbeing. L-theanine can also restore and regenerate nerve cells.
Studies have shown that the powers of this nootropic can be further enhanced when itâ€™s taken with caffeine, another nootropic. The two together can improve focus, awareness, energy and mental endurance to an even higher degree.
When two nootropics are paired together to strengthen their effects, they are known as a nootropic stack.
Looking to boost your focus with L-theanine? Our Green Tea Extract With Matcha Supplement Capsules are made with freshly-ground green tea and matcha leaves, which are rich in L-theanine and caffeine. These two nootropics create a relaxed, stable energy and increased productivity without the jitteriness of coffee.
Ginseng is one of the most renowned and popular nootropics for supporting neurological functions. Used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, ginseng is a plant with fleshy roots thatâ€™s classified by how long it is when itâ€™s harvested.
Fresh ginseng is harvested in the first four years, white ginseng is harvested after four to six years and red ginseng is harvested after six or more years. Beyond these classifications, the two most popular strains of this herb are American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, and Asian ginseng, Panax ginseng.
Asian ginseng is thought to contain a purer and more potent structure than American ginseng. It is believed to help increase mental performance and improve brain function because of the herbs strong anti-inflammatory powers, which can help to protect the brain from oxidative stress.
While ginseng also supports a range of other health benefits, itâ€™s always important to note that ginseng is best taken in courses rather than consistently. This is because studies suggest that the effects of ginseng can decrease with extended use.
Gotu kola, or centella asiatica, is a herb known as the â€œherb of longevityâ€. It has long been used in traditional Chinese, Indonesian and Ayurvedic medicine thanks to its ability to boost focus and memory, cognitive function, aid in repair and reversal to brain cell damage and eliminate free radicals from brain cells.
By forming dendrite branches, it promotes new channels of communication in the brain. It also prevents acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator that is involved in memory, motivation, attention and arousal, from breaking down.
A 2016 study researched the effectiveness of gotu kola in improving cognitive function in patients with vascular cognitive impairment (VCI), concluding that â€˜a gotu kola extract therapy of 1000 mg/day and 750 mg/day is effective in improving cognitive impairment after stroke infarctionâ€™. It also concluded that the gotu kola treatment used â€˜showed better improvement in delayed memory recall compared with folic acid treatment.â€™
Experience the incredible benefits of gotu kola with our organic and fresh-ground Gotu Kola Capsules.
The Best Nootropics for Anxiety:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 is commonly known for boosting brain function, but did you know that these nootropics are also effective at helping to combat anxiety?
Recent studies show that the polyunsaturated fatty acid thatâ€™s found in omega-3, has been found to be associated with a significant reduction in the symptoms of anxiety.
Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally found in oily, cold water fish like salmon and anchovies. Theyâ€™re essential for brain development and can improve cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain.
Looking for a vegan alternative to popular omega-3 supplements? Our Vegan Omega Totale Oil Blend is an excellent source of omega-3, 5, 6 ,7 and 9 and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Ginkgo biloba, one of the oldest tree species on the planet, is considered a living fossil, having lived through 270 million years. Ginkgo biloba has also been used in Chinese medicine for many years, dating back to the Chinese Materia Medica from 2800 BC.
This nootropic is often recommended for reducing anxiety because it can increase dopamine in the brain. Dopamine sends signals to nerve cells, controls the brainâ€™s reward and pleasure centres and helps regulate movement and emotional responses.
Ginkgo biloba increases cerebral blood flow, which improves oxygen and glucose availability to neurons. This is essential for neuronal health and may improve memory, cognition, learning and recall.
If youâ€™re looking for a natural nootropic to help you reduce anxiety, explore our Ginkgo Biloba Fresh-Ground Capsules.
Ashwagandha is a healing ayurvedic herb native to parts of Northern Africa and India. It is believed to impart the strength of a stallion. Revered as one of the top herbs in ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha supports health in a variety of areas.
As it mimics GABA in the brain, it inhibits nerve transmission and calms nervous activity. With sedative-like qualities, ashwagandha is often recommended for sleep, stress, and anxiety. By boosting GABA receptors and serotonin in the brain, it works on neuron receptors so that the connectivity of GABA can increase. This stops the signals in the brain that occur under a stress response, which reduces anxiety.
As an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory, ashwagandha repairs and protects the brain. It also increases connectivity in the brain by promoting dendrite formation. These are the branching neuronal extensions that convey and propagate electromechanical stimulation from cell to cell. By helping to regulate sleep and the physical and mental effects of stress on the body, ashwagandha may allow your brain and body to work more efficiently in a calm state.
Fushi Ashwagandha Capsules are recommended to relieve stress and for rejuvenatination.
The Best Nootropics for Memory:
Bacopa Monnieri, also nicknamed Brahmi, is a perennial herb named after the Hindu creator God, Brahma. It is native to Indiaâ€™s wetlands and other southeastern Asian countries. It can be dated back to ancient ayurvedic times where it was recommended for memorising long passages and enhancing cognitive function.
Bacopa is able to stimulate nerve cells and the brainâ€™s hippocampus, which is essential for all neurocognitive functions. It also affects the brainâ€™s levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter essential for memory and cognition.
The antioxidant effects of bacopa also prevent arterial plaque, and in turn prevent neurodegenerative diseases, like heart attacks and strokes.
It has also been recommended for reducing the effects of anxiety and stress with its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect. Bacopa may also help to regulate mood, as it modulates brain levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, sleep, memory, sexual desire, function, social behaviour, appetite and digestion.
Find out more about this multifunctional nootropic with our Brahmi Capsules.
Creatine is an amino acid which is used by the body to make protein and promote muscle growth. Itâ€™s a popular supplement amongst bodybuilders, but itâ€™s also useful for improving mental function.
Creatine binds with phosphate to create a molecule that is used to fuel brain cells. This burst of energy has been suggested to help aid short-term memory and reasoning skills.
This nootropic is produced in small amounts within our body and it is mostly only naturally found in animal tissue. Therefore, vegan and vegetarians must look for a synthetic version of this nootropic in order to supplement it into their diet.
Vinpocetine is a natural nootropic extracted from the periwinkle plant found in Europe and Japan. Itâ€™s a brain boosting herb that enhances cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain, decreases inflammation and regulates neurotransmitter levels.
This increase in cerebral blood flow causes an increased absorption of glucose and oxygen by brain cells. This then results in better memory formation, concentration, better learning and higher mental clarity.
Vinpocetine can also boost memory function through its production of neurotransmitters. This is a result of it reacting with sodium, calcium and potassium channels.
As well as improving memory skills, vinpocetine is a natural anti-inflammatory agent with antioxidant properties. These protect brain cells from damage caused by free radicals.
The Best Nootropics for Energy:
As weâ€™ve already mentioned above, caffeine is another popular energising nootropic. Popular might be an understatement given that itâ€™s the most consumed psychostimulant in the world!
Caffeine works to stimulate the brain and boost energy because of a neurotransmitter called adenosine. Adenosine found in caffeine binds to adenosine receptors in the body. In doing so, adenosine blocks the receptors and prevents the nerve cells from slowing down and inducing drowsiness. Instead, it causes the opposite reaction and forces the nerve cells to carry on working without getting tired.
The result is an instant but short-term rush of energy, cognitive stimulation and an improved reaction time.
Found in a range of naturally-occurring products like cocoa, coffee and non-herbal teas, itâ€™s no wonder that caffeine is one of the most popular natural nootropics.
Rhodiola Rosea is a nootropic and adaptogenic herb, meaning that as well as offering all of the benefits of a nootropic, it can also help you deal with physiological and psychological stress too. It is often used in Russia as a remedy for fatigue, poor concentration and decreased memory.
This natural nootropic helps to combat tiredness by increasing alertness and stamina, while also boosting cognitive performance. Rhodiola does this by inhibiting the breakdown of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. This causes the concentration of these neurotransmitters to increase, which results in increased energy, stamina and cognitive function. Rhodiola rosea may also contribute towards neuronal regeneration, repairing and growing new neurons.
A study by Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment suggests that rhodiola rosea can be effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression. It assessed a fixed combination of rhodiola and saffron in mild-moderate depression. The study concluded that â€˜there was a rapid improvement in both depressive and anxiety symptomsâ€™ and called for a further double-blind placebo-controlled study to confirm these benefits.
Discover the energising and stress-combatting benefits of our Rhodiola Rosea Supplements. Our herbal supplements are fresh-ground from this seasonâ€™s harvest to ensure maximum efficacy.
Taurine is an amino acid produced by the body and found in a wide range of meat, fish and dairy products. Like creatine, taurine is much harder to source from plant-based ingredients, so vegetarians and vegans may need to find synthetic supplements of this nootropic.
This nootropic works by activating GABA, a calming neurotransmitter, and glycine receptors in the brain. This helps to minimise anxiety and insomnia, while increasing memory and mood. The resulting boost of GABA makes it excellent for aiding focus and calming a troubled or distracted mind.
Taurineâ€™s most famous use however, is for increasing physical performance. Itâ€™s a popular ingredient in many energy drinks and is often used to aid athletic performance. Some studies have suggested that it allows people to train for longer before feeling exhaustion thanks to its ability to protect cells and promote the growth of new ones. This has also been attributed to its ability to reduce soreness and muscle damage.
Itâ€™s a common misconception that taurine on its own boosts energy, but itâ€™s taurineâ€™s synergising effect when stacked with caffeine that really helps to increase energy. Caffeine on its own, or with sugar as itâ€™s often found in coffee and energy drinks, provides a hit of energy. However, it often comes with jitters which can trigger anxiety. This is where taurine comes in. The anxiety-alleviating properties of GABA found in taurine combats anxiety induced by caffeine. It allows anyone consuming energy drinks to reap the energising rewards of caffeine without feeling on edge.
So whilst taurine can boost energy levels on its own, itâ€™s much more effective when stacked with caffeine.
Looking to try the cognitive boosting powers of nootropics? Discover our wide range of natural nootropic supplements. These 100% organic brain boosters are available in capsule, tincture and oil form to suit you. Explore the collection here.