In our day-to-day lives, we are required to use a great deal of thinking and processing functions of our brain. Nootropics are known to enhance cognitive functions.
They are also known as smart drugs. If you’re a college student, an entrepreneur, athlete or a hardworking professional that could largely benefit from enhanced memory, motivation, mood, focus and concentration, this guide will be perfect for you.
What are the Basics of Nootropics?
The Hollywood film called “Limitless” featured the idea of taking pills that could turn a human into a super genius. Is that really possible?
Nootropics can be naturally-occurring or man-made that supplements one’s mental cognition to improve memory and the person’s ability to learn, while others promise increased focus and concentration. It varies from person to person.
Nootropics promises the following
- Enhance memory and learning ability
- Protection of brain from damages and diseases
- Supports brain function under damaging and disruptive conditions
- Promotes the efficacy of neural firing control mechanisms
- With minimal to no side effects and typically non-toxic.
What is a Nootropic Stack?
A common mistake for some users is increasing the dosage of their preferred nootropics for greater effects. But actually, upping the dosage can lead to lesser efficacy. It could result in diminished cognition, slower processing or unproductivity.
Experienced users usually customize their nootropics. They combine two or more supplements to achieve greater efficacy for improved cognition functions that any single supplement cannot do on its own. This process is called nootropic stacking and its product is called a nootropic stack. It’s a supplementation technique aimed to further maximize the abilities of one’s brain functions.
Ray Kurzweil, a famous inventor, takes around 180-200 supplements daily in his attempt to achieve longevity and immortality. But for beginners, two or three supplements will be sufficient to achieve potent effects.
It is also recommended to try a single nootropic first before deciding to stack them with others. This is because stacking nootropics are more expensive than trying a single one. You’ll be able to identify which of the individual nootropics are giving positive or negative effects.
Get started with nootropic stacks through these two ways:
There are available preformulated stacks in the market. You can buy them from supplement manufacturers who have created their own compound of nootropics into a capsule form.
Pros: These nootropics are guaranteed to be efficient to some degree and offers convenience when taking it on its own or use it as a base which can be expanded by taking other nootropics.
Cons: The disadvantage of using preformulated stacks is that you cannot experiment with dosages and its components Preformulated nootropics offer greater convenience but you also have to make sure that you stick to reputable companies.
Most people who get serious about nootropics opt for customizing their own stacks.
Pros: It gives the user the opportunity to be flexible and creative with blending their chosen nootropics. You can change your stack components and dosages that can be fitting for your own needs. Aside from that, it is much more practical. Buying a preformulated stack from a brand name also includes the costs for marketing, advertising, and packaging, making it more expensive.
Cons: Main disadvantage in customizing stacks is that beginners usually have very limited knowledge about where to start, what to take and how many doses are needed. However, researching will definitely help you a lot. We recommend that you stick to this guide to know more about the basics.
What are the Best Nootropic Ingredients?
Considering the ingredients of your customized or preformulated stacks is of huge importance. Your nootropic ingredients can be two types: synthetic or natural nootropics.
Synthetic nootropics are compounds created in the laboratory. Piracetam, a synthesized chemical with a chemical name 2-oxo-1-pyrrolidine acetamide, was one of the first laboratory compounds created specifically for improving cognitive performance.
However, if you prefer to completely stay away from chemicals, there are notable natural and herbal nootropics that are created with the same effects as the lab created compounds. Or you can mix and match herbal/ natural with synthetic nootropics to have greater options for your goals, from memory improvement to anxiety reduction.
What are the Best Natural and Herbal Nootropics?
BEST FOR MEMORY
Huperzine-A is a natural nootropic extracted from a Chinese club moss plant of the Huperzicaea family. It is one of the many vital nutrients of your brain.
It’s an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, which means it stops the breakdown of acetylcholine. Huperzine-A does not produce acetylcholine but it allows more acetylcholine to build up in the brain. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter found in the brain that primarily aids learning and memory.
There are minimal to no side effects and no toxicity, making it generally safe for human consumption. The research found out that it is highly beneficial in providing significant memory improvements for patients with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
2. Bacopa Monnieri
BEST FOR VERBAL LEARNING AND MEMORY
Bacopa Monnieri is an herbal nootropic from a plant of the Brahmi family. This has been used hundreds of years ago in many cultures for medicinal purposes.
It boosts cognitive ability and memory building and improving eye-hand coordination. Evidence suggests that it also aids in reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms. One study has shown that daily supplementation of 300mg for 12 weeks have improved participants’ thinking ability and memory.
3. Lion’s Mane
BEST FOR CELL REGENERATION
In traditional Chinese medicine practices, Lion’s Mane (from a rare mushroom) is usually used for its brain-boosting effects. Nowadays, Lion’s Mane can be easily found in gourmet food stores. It promotes nerve growth factor synthesis which supports the production of new brain cells.
Studies have shown that daily supplementation of a 750 mg dose over a 16- week period significantly boosts cognitive function, consequently reducing cognitive decline on participants aged 50-80.
Another essential benefit of Lion’s Mane is its ability to improve blood flow for brain health. It was also discovered that it has effects on reducing anxiety and depression.
4. Gingko Biloba
Gingko Biloba is considered one of the first known herbs from traditional Chinese medicine. Until now, it is still widely known for its health benefits. It helps improving blood flow and protects your cells from potential damages and diseases.
Evidence-based studies suggest the benefits of Gingko Biloba in improving memory and thinking. It showcases a positive influence on social behaviors and enhances abilities to function in everyday tasks.
5. Artichoke Extract
This nootropic is made from the extracts of artichoke leaves. Many studies suggest the benefits of artichoke extracts with its neural antioxidant properties. It inhibits the oxidation of harmful chemicals in your brain cells. Several nootropic users have been witnesses of its benefits in enhancing memory.
L-Theanine is an amino acid naturally found in teas, primarily green teas. As a supplement, L-Theanine is known for its effects in reducing anxiety symptoms without any sedative effects. Aside from its benefits in reducing stress, it can also help in reducing neurodegeneration.
In some nootropic users, they stack caffeine and L-theanine because of their benefits. Reports have shown that the mix of the two supplements increases one’s energy and levels of focus. The addition of L-theanine minimizes the negative effects of caffeine such as caffeine-induced insomnia and jitteriness, leaving you in an alert state but still relaxed which is considered perfect ingredients for productivity.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that acts as a natural mood regulator. It is usually taken as a pill and a non-prescription aid for depression. Tryptophan works by increasing the amount of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is also known as the happy hormone.
It is a neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining good balance. This amino acid, when used for this purpose, is typically taken 3 – 4 times a day which is around 8 – 12 in grams. One study also suggests that it aids in reducing memory deficits.
BEST FOR FOCUS, ATTENTION SPAN AND MEMORY
Citicoline is considered one of the best natural nootropics for helping with memory. It helps with the production of Choline and Uridine. These are two brain-boosting supplements that occur naturally in the body as RNA and neurotransmitters, respectively.
They support in treating memory impairment and recall. Additionally, improves attention span and overall cognitive decline.
One of the most widely known Ayurvedic plants is the Ashwagandha. It an herbal nootropic that supports long life and helps with mental capacity.
It has effects on neural protection which prevents the brain from damages and diseases. This plant also enhances memory, spatial and visual memory and reduces oxidative stress.
Cannabinoids are a group of active compounds found in a plant called marijuana. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that works to counteract the “high feeling” effects of marijuana.
There are notable components of CBD that inhibit acetylcholinesterase, a substance that promotes the development of β amyloid plaques that are usually found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Also, a popular medicinal herb found worldwide, Ginseng is a plant from the Araliaceae family. It was known to improve mood by reducing stress and increasing blood flow. Additionally, ginseng stimulates brain cells and exhibits anti-inflammatory properties.
12. Rhodiola Rosea
BEST FOR COGNITION AND MOOD
Another well-known traditional Chinese medicine that can help with cognition, mood, and energy is Rhodiola Rosea. Various studies have shown that even with a low dose, it aids a lot in reducing fatigue and improving cognition. However, if taken in higher doses, it was seen as a valuable tool to fight depression.
13. Omega 3 Fish Oil (DHA & EPA)
Omega-3 fatty acids are the most widely researched nootropics supplement. They have been learned to be essential to your overall health and wellbeing. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are two important types of omega-3.
The two have different functions and effects in your body. EPA is best for reducing inflammation in your body and reducing anxiety and depression symptoms, whereas DHA is responsible for improving mental performance by enhancing the rate and efficiency of the interconnections between the neurons in your brain.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid primarily aids in improving working memory and executive functions by using chemical signalers in the prefrontal cortex. Studies suggested regular consumption for improving athletic performance, particularly for active individuals.
Aniracetam is a compound in a group of the racetam family. It has been used since the year 1970s. It has become a popular choice among nootropic users and it doesn’t require a prescription. It works to enhance overall mood and cognition. It was also known to reduce anxiety, improves memory retention and doesn’t cause severe side effects.
This is not a complete list of the best ingredients you should be looking for essentially good nootropics. This is virtually an overview of most used and well-known nootropics that you can start trying. Remember, everyone’s brain chemistry is different. What works for someone, doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it will work out for you too.
There are various great nootropics formulas available on the market from numerous supplement manufacturers. Available natural and synthetic nootropics stacks reported by most nootropic users are potentially a good way, to begin with, nootropic stacking.
You can rely on this data to determine what could work the best for you. However, a great deal of research and experimenting is required if you want to make your own perfect smart drug stack.
Keep in mind and carefully consider your exact needs in choosing to ingredient for your stacks. Also, note that synthetic ingredients (although minimal) have more noticeable side effects than the natural or herbal ingredients. Choose what will be the best option for your kind of lifestyle.
Finally, nootropic stacking requires valuable knowledge of each compound you are choosing to mix together. Remember that some nootropics minimize the effects of other nootropics that they are stacked with.
So it’s highly important to learn about the effects that each component has on your body and from there, experiment with several compounds to achieve the maximum ability of your brain functions.
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