Are you always feeling down, exhausted, or depressed? Do you need a constant pick-me-upper to keep you energized and help you last through the day? Believe it or not, nootropic supplements actually help.
Here’s what you need to know about nootropic supplements, the best ingredients to keep your brain working, the most effective stacking methods, and everything in between.
We will periodically update this post as new research comes out, and further light is shed on these existing nootropic ingredients and any future nootropic. Think of it as an encyclopedia for nootropics. Do you remember those?
Understanding Nootropic Supplements To Improve Brain Health
Cognitive decline is common these days, especially in older individuals. Aside from doing brain exercises regularly, one of the ways to keep your brain functioning and in tiptop condition is by taking nootropics supplements. Which vary from herbal nutrients to synthetic derivatives that have a meaningful and impactful influence on brain and subsequently body health. Biohacking is the new way to stay ahead of the aging curve, and we live in such an exciting time why not do everything possible to maximize longevity and continue to be productive in our later years.
Nootropics supplements, also known as “smart drugs,” contain neuroprotective, and neuroregenerative properties, which help do the following:
- Slow down cognitive decline and other signs of aging
- Improve memory
- Keep you focused with increased concentration, which boosts one’s productivity
- Maintain structure of brain cells
- Minimize the possibility of memory loss
- Decrease anxiety, especially social anxiety and improve mood
- May influence general reasoning skills
Despite their benefits, headaches are the most common side effect experienced by users when taking nootropic supplements. This is because when you take smart drugs, your brain works harder and demands more acetylcholine, way more than your body is capable of producing. When this happens, the acetylcholine receptor sites get “burned out,” and may cause a headache.
Taking a stack with a choline source is critical in maintaining elevated acetylcholine stores. Other possibilities exist for minimal side effects and should be looked at on a per ingredient basis. Herbal nootropics are all GRAS certified by the FDA, and pose very minimal risk to very few people. Some people experience allergies to certain herbs and greens, and should have a blood test conducted to determine any potential allergies prior to ingestion of nootropics.
Click here to learn more about our herbal nootropics for complete brain and body health, performance, and recovery.
Get to Know What’s in Every Nootropic Supplement
There are tons of nootropic supplements sold in the market these days. Each supplement contains one of more of the following ingredients:
Initially, this ingredient is not considered as a nootropic, but consistent use revealed that it could not only affect cognitive function but also gives your overall brain health a boost.
5-HTP is made in the body from L-Tryptophan. Eventually, this component will be converted within the brain as serotonin, an important mood-regulating neurotransmitter. When there is enough serotonin in your brain, you may experience a boost in your mood, which also promotes proper sleep patterns. This could have a positive impact on your ability to focus as well.
In other words, 5-HTP can be a good “entry level” to nootropics. Just make sure you won’t mix it with antidepressants to avoid experiencing adverse effects.
It may not seem like an obvious ingredient for a nootropic supplement, but acacia fiber can be beneficial for your brain.
This ingredient is a high-soluble content fiber and considered as prebiotic to help regulate your metabolism. This could also help in regulating your digestion; hence aid in weight loss. Since it is also a good source of fiber, acacia fiber helps decrease gut inflammation and keeps you feeling fuller longer, thereby minimizing your cravings for unhealthy food.
This ingredient is an omega-3 fatty acid that shows nootropic benefits to keep your brain healthy. Algal DHA originally came from cold water fish, which has high omega-3 fatty acids component – plus environmentally sustainable.
Apart from this, algal DHA supplementation can improve cognitive function. It turns out that this ingredient has strong correlation with vocabulary and working memory. DHA, in particular, is also important for healthy brain structure and overall function. It boosts your memory and learning ability, thereby maintaining cognitive function.
Alpha-glycerophosphocholine, popularly known as alpha-GPC, is a cholinergic compound that contains lecithin molecule with two less fatty acids. This ingredient is popular for its cognitive-promoting properties. It also supports the brain’s cellular membrane and aid against cognitive decline.
Alpha-GPC is naturally occurring in red meat products and organ tissue. Due to scarcity of sources, most products that contain alpha-GPC were made synthetically.
Neurologically, alpha-GPC can increase brain acetylcholine levels, although this may be limited to the frontal cortex and not the cerebellum and striatum. A study also revealed that alpha-GPC, together with caffeine and phosphatidylserine could increase attention and reaction time, especially for those who are undergoing acute stress.
This ingredient also has a positive effect on memory and cognition. When administered, alpha-GPC promotes Protein Kinase C or PKC, which is associated with memory formation and long-term potentiation. Another study also showed that learning improved on rats without cognitive impairment.
Alpha-GPC requires 46 percent of CDP-choline, but these two components are different from each other. Alpha-GPC is more effective cholinergic compared to other choline sources, as revealed by a study showing that patients with dementia benefitted from the 1,000-mg dosage in terms of memory, behavior, and verbal symptoms.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)
ALA is a naturally occurring fatty acid that is present in the mitochondria and involved in metabolism of energy. It is also synthesized in your body and can be consumed by eating meat.
This fat-soluble ingredient is a pyrrolidinone compound that belongs to the group of racetams. It helps increase blood flow and activity in the brain’s association cortex. Aniracetam is also known to assist in “collective and holistic thinking,” or in simple terms, putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
Aniracetam is a modulator of the AMPA receptor, one of the three subsets of glutamate receptors. It is able to release noradrenaline from neurons in the hippocampal cells. More importantly, having aniracetam in the nootropic supplement is important because of its neuroprotective abilities. It can reduce the damage done to your learning and memory as a result of brain trauma. Consequently, aniracetam protects your brain against scopolamine-induced damage and even does better than piracetam.
When it comes to anxiety and depression, aniracetam can be helpful as well. In terms of memory and learning, a study revealed that this ingredient reduces the rate of receptor desensitization in the hippocampus, which could lead to better memory formation. Aniracetam is also capable of boosting the release of serotonin and dopamine in the prefrontal cotex, thereby helping in improving your judgment.
Nonetheless, further studies are needed to check if aniracetam can reverse neurological changes or at least alleviate the symptoms associated with cognitive ailments like Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the popular herbs used in Ayurveda medicine is ashwagandha, which is also known as Indian Ginseng or King of Ayurveda. It means “smell of horse,” because of the root’s distinct horsey smell – apart from the traditional belief that taking this ingredient will give you the strength and virility of a horse.
More than the horse-like capabilities, ashwagandha is an adaptogen and is often supplemented because of its ability to prevent anxiety and stress-induced depression, which could date back to thousands of years.
At present, ashwagandha is used to provide neuroprotective capabilities to the brain. A study published in Neuro-Signals showed that this ingredient has the ability to induce neurogenesis, or the formation, development, and growth of nervous tissue. During cognitive decline, it is important that the human brain is able to go through this process – and ashwagandha can help you with that.
Thanks to its withanolide glycosides component, ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen; hence reduce the perception of stress. In addition, this ingredient offers anxiety-reducing effects next to its anti-stress properties. Ashwagandha also offers physical anti-fatigue effects to help you recover and get through the day.
Apart from these benefits, ashwagandha also offers anti-depressive effects to users.
Natural nootropics are gaining popularity and one of the popular nootropic ingredients is the creeping marsh plant called bacopa monnieri. Also known as water hyssop, this small, white flower with five petals is used in Ayurvedic medicine for many years to improve memory and boost cognitive enhancing abilities. Ancient Indians likewise recognized this ingredient as treatment for epilepsy.
Still, it is not the entire plant being used as a nootropic but the bacopasaponin alkaloid component that can be derived from the plant. This particular component has the ability to boost memory formation, retention, and restoration through either enhanced neuronal transmission or interaction with the serotonergic system, which influences acetylcholinergic transmission.
Since bacopa monnieri is an adaptogen, it has the ability to reduce the biochemical effects of physiological stress. On the other hand, there are minimal human studies conducted to check if this ingredient can address anxiety and depression.
The issue with Bacopa monnieri is that it is only concentration on one area of brain health, which is memory. Bacopa monnieri interacts with serotonergic and dopamine system, but the main mechanism of this ingredient is to promote neuron communication. It cannot improve your learning abilities or concentration level, which explains why this ingredient is often found in nootropic stacks.
This ingredient is from piperine, which is an alkaloid found in black pepper. Bioperine comes with nootropic and anti-inflammatory effects, which leads to boost in memory, better focus, and improvement in your executive function.
Aside from this, bioperine is useful for increasing the body’s ability to absorb and making bioavailable several nutrients like vitamin B6 and EGCC, which could be beneficial for your brain. Bioperine also comes with antidepressant effects simply by increasing one’s dopamine and serotonin levels, thereby lifting your mood.
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that not only improves endurance and physical strength but also provides mental stimulation and sensitizes neurons; hence an effective nootropic. It is also known as an adenosine receptor antagonist, which means it prevents adenosine from acting up; thus keeping you alert, awake, and stimulated during the day. People with Parkinson’s disease are also advised to take caffeine because it helps treat motor-control side effects of the condition. When it comes to mental or occupational stress, caffeine can augment stress-induced cortisol spikes, although higher doses are required.
Nonetheless, there is an issue about caffeine and its ability to reduce cerebral blood flow. While this may sound alarming, a study revealed that this doesn’t necessarily lead to less oxygen on your brain. Some people also claim that they experience anxiety upon intake caffeine. Experts suggest that caffeine-induced anxiety is more influenced by genetics and not the caffeine itself.
Scientifically known as Uncaria Tomentosa, cat’s claw is a type of vine that grows in the Amazon forest. Traditionally, this vine is used as an anti-inflammatory agent and to treat various conditions like stomach and intestine disorders, arthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
At present, cat’s claw can be used to eliminate free radicals in your brain and body that cause cellular damage. Cat’s claw supplementation can also be helpful to increase DNA repair and decrease DNA damage brought by chemotherapy.
Choline is a molecule used for its cognitive-boosting properties and among the most basic components for any nootropics supplementation. When it comes to nootropic benefits, CDP-choline takes the lead.
CDP-choline or Cytidine Diphosphocholine (Citicholine) is one of the three choline-containing phospholipids that can be supplemented orally. It is a molecule that confers choline into the human body and capable of being converted into uridine.
Despite its many uses, one of the popular benefits of this ingredient is its effect on the human brain. One study showed that CDP-choline supplementation recorded an improvement in attentional focus. The elder people without dementia will also benefit from this ingredient because it helps promote and improve memory formation and recall as shown in a study.
On the other hand, a study published in the Journal of Pharmacological Sciences showed that CDP-choline supplementation could offer neuroprotective benefits to preserve memory, improve cognitive performance, and slow down hippocampal cell death.
Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)
B vitamins play an essential role in keeping your brain healthy. One of the vitamins your chosen nootropic supplement should have is cobalamin or vitamin B12. It is a water-soluble essential vitamin that aids in DNA synthesis and cellular energy production. Vitamin B12 also supports metabolic function through a process called methylation.
When it comes to brain health and as part of the nootropic supplement, cobalamin can be helpful as well. Vitamin B12 is lower on depressed people and cobalamin supplementation can be helpful to reverse depressive symptoms.
From the name itself, coconut oil is a type of oil derived from coconuts. Because of its healthy fatty acid content, this ingredient is used in many ways such as for cooking, supplements, and even in both cosmetic and non-cosmetic products.
More than that, coconut oil comes with neurological benefits as well. It comes with anti-inflammatory properties and pain-reducing effects. It is also notable that coconut oil can improve processing speed; hence helpful during exams or even social situations that require thinking.
Collagen is crucial in the human body because it is the main structural protein that extends to bone, connective tissues, and skin. It is also found in the tendons, ligaments, intervertebral disc, joint surfaces, and even to the dentin in your teeth, cornea of your eyes, gut, and up to the blood vessels.
In other words, collagen plays a critical role to be able to meet your body’s demands, which also includes enhancing your physical performance. Collagen, particularly grass-fed beef collagen, could also help speed up your recovery and regenerate tissues for faster healing.
In case you want to hide those aging marks like wrinkles, collagen can also help eliminate them and keep your skin nourished to reduce signs of aging.
Creatine is a small peptide and composed of amino acids, specifically glycine, L-arginine, and methionine. It helps increase bone density, improve strength, encourage muscle gain, and boost your athletic performance.
In terms of brain health, creatine can be beneficial too. It offers neuroprotective abilities against glutamate-induced excitotoxicity and protective effect on neurons in general. Creatine supplementation also increases mitochondrial function, which promotes neuronal growth and proliferation.
Experts also looked into creatine for its anti-depressive effects. It also enhances spatial learning, which can be beneficial especially for the youth. There was also a study examining the effects of creatine on sleep-deprived individuals. After administration of this nootropic, there was an improvement in mood, balance, and reaction time on subject participants.
Creatine is found in uncooked meat such as beef, chicken, and rabbit. Still, a study published in The British Journal of Nutrition showed that creatine supplementation could be helpful for individuals who follow a vegetarian diet.
One of the most popular ingredients found in many supplements is DHEA. It is the second most abundant steroid circulating on humans and serves as a precursor for other androgens like testosterone and DHT.
In line with this, DHEA has the ability to positively affect the human brain since it is also made by individual neurons, also known as nerve cells; hence classified as a neural hormone. It also helps improve one’s mood and offer improvement in overall mental function, especially for HIV patients.
Apart from HIV patients, DHEA could also improve one’s mood, which can be more beneficial for older individuals. DHEA could likewise boost one’s overall wellbeing and happiness level by increasing the circulation of beta-endorphins and other neurosteroids associated with happiness in one’s system.
Green tea contains catechins or four molecules that act as antioxidants. Out of these four molecules, EGCG is the most potent of all.
EGCG, especially when stacked with caffeine and/or L-theanine, improves brain health and overall function by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. It also improves memory, reaction time, and attention, especially for patients with mild cognitive conditions. Aside from this, EGCG can also reduce fatigue and relaxes and refreshes your brain.
There is a reason why most obstetrician-gynecologists recommend folic acid supplement to pregnant women. Also referred to as vitamin B9, folic acid is found in most foods with plant origin. It plays a crucial role in the growth of neonates, which is why it is touted as the “pregnancy supplement.” It prevents neural tube defects, or a permanent birth defect that happens when the developing embryo is receiving insufficient folic acid.
Aside from proper fetal development, folic acid is utilized in many nootropic supplements because of the benefits it can bring to the human brain. It provides neuro-protective nutrients to minimize cognitive decline. If you happen to exhibit depressive symptoms, then one of the causes could below folic acid. The good news is folic acid supplementation could help reverse the symptoms according to Psychological Medicine.
When it comes to natural remedies, gingko biloba will always make it on the list.
Harvested both as food and for medicinal purposes, gingko biloba contains flavonoid glycosides and terpenoids, both acting as monoamine oxide inhibitors. This herb is also capable of preventing blood clots by improving blood circulation all over your body and up to your brain and protects your organs against free radicals and oxidative damage.
In terms of brain health, gingko biloba is effective too, which helps boost your concentration and memory.
Gingko biloba may be one of the strongest herbal nootropics around when you stack it properly and further increase bioavailability.
This ingredient is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in plants such as barley. It is also a chemical analog of tyramine and shares similarities with phenylethylamine, thereby making it a bioavailable chemical that has the ability to cross blood brain barrier. It also acts as monoamine oxidase or MAO inhibitor inside the body.
MAO ensures that your central nervous system functions properly. Unfortunately, too much monoamine oxidase could cause imbalance, which leads to energy and mood problems – and this ingredient can control that.
Hordenine HCL provides cognitive-enhancing benefits by acting upon the neurotransmitter dopamine. This neurotransmitter promotes mental sharpness, pleasure, and natural energy. It also stimulates adrenals to produce adrenaline, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, which helps increase cellular metabolism.
This ingredient is also a super-charged version of coffee, thereby providing natural energy and sharp mental focus.
This ingredient was extracted from firmoss, a native of Southeast Asia and has long been used for its nootropic benefits.
Huperzine-A prevents the production of acetycholinesterase, a type of chemical that breaks down acetylcholine. When there is enough supply of acetylcholine in your brain, you can experience better memory, better cognition, and improved learning scores. This neurotransmitter also helps in the formation of new cells and prevents existing brain cells from dying.
L-theanine is a non-dietary amino acid found in the leaves of camellia sinensis; hence, closely associated with green tea.
Structurally, L-theanine is somewhat similar to neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate. Still, it was able to negate the bitter taste and mediates the umami taste of green tea. This ingredient is capable of crossing the blood brain barrier and can reach the brain, particularly the hippocampus, within an hour and stay there for up to five hours.
Aside from this, L-theanine supplementation increases αwaves, especially in healthy persons, those who are under stress, and even those who have somewhat higher baseline anxiety. This leads to a state of relaxation, which could also lead to arousal or mental alertness.
L-theanine can also be effective in reducing the symptoms and anxiety experienced by schizophrenic patients. It also boosts your ability to immediately recall things, although it has no effect on verbal and visuo-spatial memory. It can also improve your attention, a cognitive ability that is necessary to keep your brain in tiptop condition.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that helps in the production of catecholamines like noradrenaline and dopamine, which settles in the hippocampus. Noradrenaline helps in reducing stress, which translate to better mood and level of happiness, and may reverse memory loss.
When it comes to attention, a study showed L-tyrosine supplementation helped in promoting attention on children with ADHD. In case you are feeling sleepy, this ingredient could improve your cognitive performance even if you are sleep-deprived, although the jury is still out on whether or not it will disrupt sleep function.
More importantly, L-tyrosine acts as an antioxidant, which could also offer neuroprotective benefits.
This ingredient is an edible mushroom that is popular in traditional Chinese medicine. For thousands of years, the Chinese have been using this plant as an antioxidant and aid to regulate blood lipid and glucose levels.
What makes lion’s mane an effective nootropic is its ability to affect your brain health – in a positive way. Based on a study published in Phytotherapy Research, eating this type of mushroom could help in improving your cognitive abilities. This ingredient also increases nerve growth factor or NGF. This component is vital in growing and maintaining neurons in the brain, which leads to long-term brain health.
Magnesium is among the most important nutrients your brain and body needs for healthy function. Specifically, magnesium glycinate is a better kind of magnesium supplement due to increased bioavailability. Mg glycinate is a common sleep aid because it triggers the production and release of melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is involved in regulating your sleep wake cycle, and actually induces sleep. Serotonin is one of the pleasure neurotransmitters in the brain that regulates mood, sexual desire, social behavior, appetite, digestion, how you feel, and of course sleep.
Because of the presence of glycine, this ingredient offers a calming effect on your brain, thereby helping to relieve anxiety. A study also revealed that magnesium glycinate supplementation could improve chronic fatigue syndrome. This promotes better sleep as well.
You might have heard of malic acid because of your love for apples and skin care, but malic acid is also found in fruits and vegetables.
Aside from keeping your skin healthy, malic acid is also essential for brain health. It is a good natural treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome by boosting energy levels during restful states and improving mental clarity. Taking malic acid at night helps to restore ATP energy, and repair muscle tissue so that you are ready and able to tackle the next day. Since it helps repair muscle tissue it is beneficial post workout as well, but really can be taken to repair usual daily damage minus the training.
MCT or medium chain triglyceride, is the fat burning component of coconut oil. Don’t worry too much about fat because it helps in slowing down absorption of carbohydrate, thereby regulating blood glucose levels. This helps sustain your energy that could support mental processes such as critical thinking and focus among others. MCT powder also provides longer lasting energy to your brain; hence a powerful nootropic for mental fuel.
The best part is MCT powder is also keto-friendly.
This one of the strongest nootropics around. Initially, Modafinil was formulated and used to treat narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and other sleeping disorders. Fast forward today, this nootropic is used to promote alertness, especially for individuals who work on a shifting schedule such as nurses and doctors. Modafinil is also recommended for individuals who experience persistent fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness since it enhances the release of dopamine in your body.
More than keeping you awake, Modafinil also has benefits to your brain. It helps increase your memory, extend and sustain attention span, and improve mental energy. This nootropic also increases one’s concentration, focus, and general thinking.
Still, take it easy on your intake. Modafinil is effective in keeping you awake and energetic, but proceed with caution. This is the reason why this is a prescription-only drug to minimize possibility of addiction.
Noopept, or N-phenylacetyl-L-prolyglycine ethyl ester, is a synthetic nootropic molecule that is said to be similar to piracetam (or even more potent according to a study published in Journal of Molecular Biology). The human body can also metabolize it within 25 minutes after oral intake.
Experts believe that Noopept and Piracetam display similar EEG patterns. Noopept is capable of increasing alpha wave function and spindle-like activity in the human brain. When it comes to cognitive benefits, this nootropic is also effective.
Based on a study, Noopept helps increase neurotrophin factors, which leads to chronic improvement in memory and long-term memory enhancement. Enhanced cognition is possible because noopept can either trigger sensitizing effect on acetylcholine processes or induce neurotrophin production, where any of these two mechanisms may enhance memory formation.
Noopept can also be helpful in improving conditions of anxiety, fatigue, apathy, and irritability, which leads to better sleep, mood, wakefulness, reflexes, and learning ability.
This ingredient, scientifically known as avena sativa, is a green oat grass tops found in the “milky” stage just before the mature oat grains form a head. It is one of the popular natural nootropics found in many nootropic supplements sold in the market.
One of the many benefits of oat straw is its ability to trigger or increase specific type of lueteinizing hormone, which is capable of stimulating cell growth. It also helps in calming, soothing, and nourishing your nervous system, which can help in reducing anxiety and stress levels. Oat straw is also a good source of B vitamins, which could give your energy levels a boost.
That’s not all. If you are looking for a natural supplement to enhance your brainpower, oat straw can also help. It could improve focus, concentration, and attention, especially on elder adults.
Another part of the racetam family is oxiracetam. Compared to piracetam where it is derived, this nootropic ingredient has single hydroxyl group. Nonetheless, oxiracetam works similarly with other racetam family in enhancing learning and preventing cognitive decline.
As part of nootropic supplement, oxiracetam may help increase long term potentiation in the brain’s hippocampus, which leads to better memory formation. Older individuals could also benefit from oxiracetam supplementation; however, the effects are more on improvement of psychosocial function and verbal fluency rather than cognitive capacity.
Oxiracetam also has psychostimulatory properties, which is related to brain’s cholinergic system that facilitates arousal. The arousal effect may also be the reason why the memory enhancing properties of oxiracetam are prominent during supplementation.
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
Also known as pantothenate, pantothenic acid is one of the essential vitamins that fuels your energy tank. This vitamin also produces Coenzyme A (CoA), which is found in the human body.
Vitamin B is found in many food groups like beef, chicken, organs, and egg yolks. Root vegetables, tomatoes, whole grains, and broccoli are some of the best sources of pantothenic acid from plant products.
Because of this, pantothenic acid exists at higher concentrations in your brain relative to plasma. It also plays a positive role in sports performance because the body is able to transport fatty acyls to the mitochondria for energy production.
Phenibut was first developed and synthesized in the 1960s and was part of the standard equipment for the Soviet Union space medical kit – and there’s good reason why it is included.
This ingredient is derived from GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps reduce anxiety and provides a feeling of calmness. Upon intake, phenibut will travel all the way to the brain and target GABA receptor sites, both GABA-A and GABA-B, which is responsible for keeping you relaxed. This is also the reason why it is included in most nootropic stacks. Phenibut is not a sedative, which was vital for astronauts to remain alert and focused, but without any anxiety.
Today phenibut is used as a medication throughout Russia, and is an over the counter supplement here in the U.S.
Did you know that there is a thing called “love drug?” it exists and it goes by the name PEA. It is also an influencer of “happy hormones” like serotonin and dopamine, which keeps you in a good mood.
This powerful nootropic, which is also found in chocolates, works as a dopamine booster to relieve individuals against feelings of depression or anxiety. PEA also works as a neurotransmitter to positively affect one’s mood and overall sense of well-being.
Aside from this, PEA helps increase attention span, improve mental clarity and energy, boost learning capacity, and aid in formation of new memories.
PEA may have a hard time crossing the blood brain barrier, which explains why this is often taken in large doses and on an empty stomach.
This ingredient is one of the vital components for cognitive function.
Phosphatidylserine or PS is naturally occurring phospholipid and is an amino acid derivative compound that is fat soluble and similar to dietary fat, but with two fatty acids. It is commonly found in high amounts in your brain, particularly in the neural tissue, so it is vital for cognitive function. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease recorded an increase in dopamine and serotonin from phosphatidylserine supplementation, which usually decreases and leads to cognitive decline.
It was noted in a study published in Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics that PS supplementation improved attention deficit and hyperactivity symptoms of patients with ADHD. For healthy young adults, this ingredient showed significant improvement in the accuracy and processing state.
Stress is a common problem experienced by many and phosphatidylserine, together with algal DHA, can help reduce stress. Consequently, PS supplementation can increase spatial memory, shown with aging rats. A study published in Neurology showed that it can improve visual memory, thereby showing cognitive improvement.
When it comes to improving your cognitive abilities, piracetam will always be on top of the list.
Piracetam is a synthetic compound and prototype for racetam supplements, which is used to treat cognitive impairment. It shares similar structure with GABA, a neurotransmitter, since it is also a cyclical derivative.
As a nootropic, piracetam enhances fluidity of cellular membrane and increases glucose and oxygen consumption; hence better cognition. Apart from this, a study in the journal Psychopharmacology showed that piracetam offers better short-term working memory while another study published in the same journal revealed that it can also help people with dyslexia when it comes to learning. In case you are suffering from depression associated with cerebrovascular disorders, you should know that piracetam could reduce depressive symptoms.
Can piracetam reduce the risk of cognitive impairment? The answer is yes, although most studies published are of short duration.
Unfortunately, piracetam is more effective on older people or anyone who experience cognitive decline. Healthy people who use this type of nootropic experienced little to no cognitive effects.
Pramiracetam is a synthetic racetam molecule that has structural similarities with piracetam, its parent molecule. It was synthesized and a modification of piracetam, but with more anti-amnesiac potential. This component may also be detected in the brain, but is poorly absorbed across the blood brain barrier.
Pramiracetam comes with cognitive enhancing effects. It also has the ability to alter brain wave functions, as evidenced by its influence in EEG readings.
One of the most notable functions of pramiracetam is its anti-amnesiac potential. One of the earliest studies showed that the amnesia-reversal potential is at 96 percent, whose potency is higher than piracetam. It is also able to enhance object recognition memory and long-term memory formation.
Prevagen: A Unique Formula to Boost the Brain
The ingredients mentioned above are beneficial for the brain. On the other hand, there is one nootropic supplement that is slowly gaining popularity because of its unique formulation – and it goes by the name Prevagen. It also has major drug backers behind it so you've likely seen it advertised on tv.
Prevagen’s main ingredient is apoaequorin, a type of protein responsible for the glow of jellyfish. This main component is synthesized to improve and restore one’s memory, and boost overall brain health. It also enhances one’s sleep quality and duration. The manufacturers also claim that this supplement is helpful and effective for older individuals.
Despite the promising benefits, Prevagen’s main ingredient remains a controversial nootropic. Apoaequorin is not natural and an ingredient that is synthesized may have adverse effects on one’s health. Prevagen manufacturers were also sued by the Federal Trade Commission and New York State Attorney General for making false and unsubstantiated claims about Prevagen.
Also known as Isabgol, psyllium husk is a native in many countries, especially in Asian countries such as Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. Psyllium husk is a great source of arabinoxylan, a soluble dietary fiber that keeps you feeling fuller longer; hence a great source of weight loss. This ingredient is also great in promoting digestive health and maintaining glycemic balance.
In terms of brain health, psyllium husk can be a good addition to the nootropic supplement because of its ability to increase the absorption and effectiveness of brain enhancing nutrients.
Resveratrol is one of the antioxidants that are earning raves because of its effect in the human body. Pterostilbene, a component of blueberries and grape products, is a methylated stilbene molecule with similar structure with resveratrol – although the former is more potent.
When tested on mice, experts found out that pterostilbene offers anxiolytic effects even at low dosage. Although the effect of higher dosage was not observed, experts theorized that this ingredient can be a potential therapeutic drug for anxiety disorders. It could also be a good memory and learning tool since it is shown to improve cognition.
This ingredient is a patented compound that binds caffeine with pterostilbene, a potent antioxidant. When this happens, it could help slow down the body’s ability to absorb caffeine, thereby prolonging its effects and keeping you alert and energetic longer. More importantly, it reduces the possibility to caffeine crash.
As a nootropic ingredient, Pure Energy is capable of affecting several neurotransmitters modulated by adenosine such as dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate among others. It can also increase cortical activation in your brain, speed up the ability to process information, and improve concentration.
If you are looking for the most well researched bioflavonoid, then the throne belongs to quercetin. It is found in many fruits and vegetables, but apples and onions have the highest levels of this ingredient. It is also neuroactive and has similar abilities with caffeine, although quercetin is less potent.
As a nootropic ingredient, quercetin provides brain protection against oxidative stress. It also protects your brain against inflammation; hence making it beneficial for those who have Alzheimer’s disease.
Also known as golden root, rhodiola is considered as an adaptogenic herb that gives your overall mental performance a boost. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine and regarded for its ability to promote both physical and cognitive vitality.
Compared to other natural and synthetic nootropics, rhodiola preserves and not increases one’s cognitive function. A study published in Central European Journal of Medicine also showed that this Scandinavian herb can enhance memory. It also has the capability to reverse the memory-impairing effects of scopolamine.
Fatigue is something rhodiola can address as well. This ingredient is can help reduce perceived fatigue and the eventual impairment of cognition resulting from fatigue, especially on individuals with high stress or subject to high workload.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
This is also one of the essential vitamins your body needs to function well. Riboflavin is responsible for producing flavin adenine dinucleotidde (FAD) and flavin mononucleotide (FMN), which are required by enzymes in the human body.
In terms of brain health, riboflavin can also be helpful, especially if you are prone to migraine. The cause of migraine is unknown, but a study published in Neurological Sciences revealed a common characteristic on patients with migraine: impaired mitochondrial function. It turns out that this essential B vitamin is an essential component of mitochondrial ATP production; hence helpful in treatment of migraines.
You can get riboflavin from food sources like avocado, leafy veggies, and milk.
Spirulina is blue green algae (due to its color) that is easily produced and non-toxic species of Arthrospira bacteria. It is a great source of protein for vegans as well as vitamin B12. Aside from protein, it is also a good source of GLA and ALA fatty acids and carbohydrates.
Among its many health benefits, spirulina plays an active role in your brain. This ingredient offers neuroprotective benefits brought by dopamine losses. It also has neurogenesis benefits by protecting stem cells in your brain and reducing any form of inflammation, thereby enhancing stem cell proliferation. Spirulina could also reduce neurodegeneration of motor neurons, which leads to improved motor function.
As of this writing, preliminary evidence showed that spirulina may have antidepressant actions, although this requires further study.
This ingredient is a starch extract derived from the cassava plant. It is commonly used in pudding, but some countries use tapioca as a snack or sweet candy. It is also part of many cultural diets because of its nutritional combination of vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals, and organic compounds. Don’t worry about an expanding waistline because tapioca is low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.
More than that, tapioca dextrin can be good for the brain. It is rich in B vitamins, specifically folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6, which reduce neural tube defects in infants among others. It is also a good source of carbs, which are broken down into usable energy, hence keeping you up and about throughout the day.
Tapioca dextrin acts as a medium to increase the deliverability and bioavailability of other nootropic ingredients and therefore plays a critical role in brain health as a transport mechanism. Lowering blood sugar, helping you feel satiated, and losing weight are just side perks.
This ingredient belongs to the “xanthine alkaloid class.” Theobromine is derived from cacao plant and also considered as a stimulant for the nervous system. Since it came from cacao, it is one of the ingredients for chocolate, which explains why you experience alertness and wakefulness. This is possible because theobromine binds to adenosine, thereby increasing one’s mental alertness and mental energy to get the job done.
If you need your brain to work, or something to fire up your neurons to be able to work faster, or you need to speed up the way your brain processes, then taking theobromine can be an excellent way to achieve that.
The best part is theobromine is more subtle than caffeine with the effects longer-lasting.
Uridine is a natural compound and one of the building blocks to Ribonucleic Acid or RNA. RNA is responsible for storing memories in your brain and facilitates protein translation at neuronal synapses. This is because it is easily absorbed within the liver and capable of crossing blood brain barrier.
When taken, uridine helps improve one’s working memory and enhance fluid intelligence. This makes it easier for the user to concentrate on the task, regardless of the demand. Some say that uridine can also increase mood and overall motivation level, which helps decrease stress and anxiety among others. Still, further studies are needed to back up this claim.
Aside from supplements, broccoli, yeast, liver, tomatoes, beer, and sugarcane are good sources of uridine.
Valerian root was once commonly used as a plant decoration. At present, valerian root is among the most sought after ingredients not just for its brain benefits but also for what it can offer for your health.
When taken, valerian root increases GABA or gamma aminobutyric acid. This chemical regulates nerve cells and calms anxiety similar to psychotropic drugs sans side effects. If you constantly feel stressed, this ingredient can help get rid of it because of the ability to increase GABA. Aside from providing relief against anxiety, GABA makes it easier for the mind and body to relax, thereby keeping stress levels down. This is also why it is commonly used in a sleep aid stack.
Vinpocetine, which was derived from Vincamine compound, is a synthetic alkaloid derived from vincamine, an active ingredient of the periwinkle plant. It may not be popular in Western countries, but this ingredient is used in other parts of the world to slow down neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. This is because vinpocetine favors certain neuroorgans, particularly basal ganglia, thalamus, striatum, visual cortex, and glutamen.
Over the years, it has also been used to treat cerebrovascular disorders and even address cognitive impairment associated with aging because of its ability to be rapidly absorbed by the brain. Another study published in the European Journal of Ultrasound revealed that this ingredient increases cerebral blood flow and oxygenation in the brain, which leads to better memory and higher level of alertness, especially on stroke patients. If you had a recent brain injury, vinpocetine can also help offer neuroprotection capabilities to avoid further damage in the brain.
That’s not all. Vinpocetine is a non-competitive inhibitor of PDE1 enzyme, which comes with anti-inflammatory properties and promotes vasorelaxation. It also increases attention and processing speed, especially when paired with gingko biloba.
Another natural ingredient that is beneficial for brain health is wheatgrass. It came from sprouted wheat seeds that are about seven to 10 years old. It will be then extracted from the leaves to get the juice, dried, and converted into powder or tablet form.
Wheatgrass is an excellent source of vitamin K, an essential nutrient that is vital in producing protein that will support the growth of brain cells. This protein also regulates cells that are responsible for synthesizing myelin sheath or the outer covering on nerve cells that keeps the nerves functioning. Aside from this, vitamin K also synthesizes sphingolipids, or a group of specialized fat that control growth of brain cells, build cell membranes, and ensure communication between the cells.
Wheatgrass is also a good source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that protects your brain from free radicals that could cause damage. Vitamin C also helps in the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters that keep you alert, motivated, and more able to concentrate.
Zinc is an essential mineral that regulates many enzymes and at the same time, comes with antioxidants and immune-boosting properties. One of its variants is zinc picolinate, which is bound to picolinic acid and the best absorbed form of zinc. This helps reduce anxiety and give your brain health a boost. The best part is you don’t have to worry about side effects.
Zinc picolinate is absorbed at a higher rate as compared to zinc citrate and zinc gluconate.
Nootropics and Stacking for Optimized Brain Health
Stacking nootropics is not as easy as mixing the ingredients together and drinking it. In fact, you need to be careful on what you put because it could make or break the efficacy of nootropics.
The truth is there are tons of combinations you can try when it comes to stacking. To make sure you make the most out of every ingredient’s, here are some things you need to consider:
- Identify the results you want to achieve. The nootropic stack for depression is different from that of boosting mood or memory.
- Read reviews. This will give you an idea on what works and what doesn’t.
- Educate yourself first about nootropics. The more you know about the ingredients and the better informed you are, there is a higher possibility that you know what to use and then stack.
- Add a little bit of piracetam powder, especially if you are just starting with nootropic stacking. You can never go wrong with this.
- Keep it simple first, then add later on. More isn’t always better. If you are only starting with stacking, then it is highly recommended that you keep it simple – for now.
Below are some of the best and most effective nootropic stacks:
The Basic: Choline and Piracetam
This is the most basic yet one of the effective stacks you should try first because of the similarities in their mechanisms. Racetams take a while before the effects kick in and adding choline could help jumpstart and eventually amplify the effects. Several studies also show that choline supplementation, when coingested with piracetam, is more effective in increasing your memory and boosting your cognitive function.
You might experience headache when taking this combination and that’s normal. This happens because more neurotransmitters are released, thereby giving your brain a difficulty time to adjust quickly.
L-Theanine and Caffeine: A Combination Worth Trying
This combination is one of the stacks that are gaining popularity these days. Unlike racetam with choline supplement, l-theanine and caffeine is mild enough to be taken everyday and strong enough to give you a boost and increased energy levels. They keep you alert and less susceptible to distractions.
The best part is that this combination gives you the stimulating effects of caffeine sans anxiety, palpitation, or increased blood pressure among others; thanks to l-theanine as well.
L-Carnitine and ALA: A Relationship Worth the Risk
Some also take this combination because of the similarities in the mechanisms of both ingredients. ALA offers potent reduction of oxidation, thereby increasing the antioxidant enzymes in your body. On the other hand, L-carnitine, together with ALA can increase mitochondrial density.
The Racetam Combination
If you are taking nootropics for quite sometime, then combining racetams could be beneficial for you. This is because even if they have similar effects, the combination could boost various cognitive abilities all at the same time.
For instance, aniracetam is a great mood enhancer. Piracetam benefits could last throughout the day but the effects may not be powerful. On the other hand, oxiracetam is effective in improving your logical thinking ability and memory. When these three racetams are combined, you get to enjoy an enhanced mood, better memory, and improved logical thinking throughout the day.
When it comes to stacking nootropics, remember this formula: racetam + choline supplement + natural nootropics. You can never go wrong with that.
The Newbie Guide to Nootropics
The ingredients mentioned above mean well and promise to give you the best nootropic benefits to keep your brain healthy and functioning at an optimal level. Still, there are some things you need to remember:
- Nootropic supplements are not the cure to anything. Don’t be fooled. Nootropics is an ideal supplement to maintain a healthy lifestyle and not to treat existing conditions. Consequently, this type of supplement is not a substitute. Eat healthy, sleep well, and exercise regularly, too.
- Stacking depends on your needs. Every person wants to achieve a specific result. Identify that result first before you stack to make the most out of nootropic ingredients.
- Measure, especially if you are making your own stack. Use a scale to accurately weigh portions to maintain balance. Nootropic ingredients come with little to no side effects, but this doesn’t mean you are safe all the time. Keep in mind that too much of something is not good for the body, so measure accurately.
- Watch out for possible attachment, and even addiction. Physical or mental addiction is possible, so don’t be a victim. Listen to your body to help you determine whether you are starting to be dependent on nootropic supplements and discontinue use as soon as you can.
- Quality above all. Nootropic supplements are not created equal. Before you settle with one, make sure you explore your options first, read reviews and recommendations, and educate yourself about nootropics. This way, you are sure that you are giving the best for what your brain and body truly deserves.
- Track results. This way, you can determine which nootropics work for you and which ones must be eliminated.
Are you ready to start your nootropics journey?
We only make products that we ourselves use. Mind and Mend came about as myself and Dr. Anthony Gustin had been experimenting with many different individual supplements and nootropics for years and these combinations we have found to be the most effective for the greatest number of people. At the end of the day, helping patients recover 1 on 1 was very satisfying, but eventually not enough. As misinformation continues to rise as do obesity rates, and metabolic disorders, and we felt that we could help the greatest number of people through nutritional education and have a far greater impact on society than just treating patients 1 on 1. We encourage everyone to experience Mind and Mend for themselves, and therefore be the judge.