Annie Nilsson - Nov 2 2020
The brain-boosting supplements you wont want to live without
Better health is something that most of us strive for, and in our eyes everyone deserves the knowledge, tools and support to reach their goals.
When it comes to health and nutrition, adopting a plant-based lifestyle, eliminating sugar and processed foods, and eating organic is just the tip of the iceberg.
Controlling what we eat, when we eat, and getting smart with our supplements including vitamins, herbs and adaptogens are an easy addition with a big impact on your wellness.
Have you ever experienced one of those days where your brain just isn’t working? Perhaps you’ve hit the dreaded 3 pm slump and you’re practically ready to start snoozing at your desk (ahem...six cups of coffee a day is safe, isn’t it?).
Or maybe you continually wake up in the morning with zero motivation and energy to get through the day (we know we have, and it sucks).
Enter natural nootropics.
So what exactly are they?
Natural nootropics (sometimes referred to as ‘smart drugs’) are plant, herb and root extracts that can enhance your cognitive performance - boosting memory, motivation, creativity, alertness and general cognitive function.
From improving concentration to reducing brain fog and stress, nootropics function similarly to cortisol and can normalise bodily functions and strengthen the systems which have been impaired by excessive stress - without any harmful or synthetic chemicals.
Rising stars in the health and wellness industry, these brain-boosting supplements have surged in popularity largely due to the biohacking movements in Silicon Valley.
But while the tech nerds are going nuts for the prescription stuff (like Adderall and Modafinil), the natural versions are popping up not only in capsules, but in elixirs, coffee and even snack bars. You can even get herbal ‘stacks’ (i.e. blends) that are designed to precisely match your personal DNA!
Some of the benefits of natural nootropics include:
- Enhanced learning and memory
- Improved focus, attention and mental alertness
- Increase in mood-boosting neurochemicals (e.g. dopamine)
- Better memory storage and recall
- A boost in energy levels
- Lower anxiety and depression symptoms
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved blood circulation
- Protection from damage and degeneration
Some of our favourites
A cell-healing flower from the wild Arctic also known as Arctic Root is a flowering plant found in the arctic regions and at high altitudes of Europe and Asia. Its root has been used in natural medicine in Russia and the Scandinavian countries long before people were looking for study drugs and brain boosters.
Rhodiola is a cell-healing adaptogen, meaning it helps to relieve stress, avert fatigue and improve physical and mental performance, with a seriously magical ability to increase attention to detail-orientated tasks by improving concentration over a long period of time.
Studies published in the International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology show this brain boost can reduce mental fatigue and improve performance on work-related tasks by 20%.
Think Red Bull or caffeine, but without the nasty side effects (you can thank us later).
Rhodiola has also been used as an effective, natural treatment for anxiety and depression. Practitioners often call it the ‘magic bullet’ for mood, energy, stamina and concentration.
Also known as Maidenhair, this ancient Chinese memory enhancing tree is said to date back over 200 million years. It’s sometimes referred to as a ‘living fossil’ because it’s the only surviving member of an ancient order of plants.
While it may not be enchanted, this natural nootropic certainly has some extraordinary benefits - associated with memory improvement, enhanced cognitive function and increased blood circulation in the brain. Studies show it helps with attention, mood and processing speed. One report even suggests that Ginkgo Biloba extract may reduce symptoms of ADHD in children and teens.
It has also been found to reduce age-related decline in brain function, improving short term memory and thinking skills.
An aquatic Ayurvedic herb named after the Indian God, Brahma, Bacopa Monnieri is a therapeutic herb and a staple in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India.
Like Rhodiola, it acts as an adaptogen and helps to prevent the chemical and physical effects of stress (instead of just suppressing them like many modern antidepressants).
As a natural nootropic, it’s gaining popularity as a powerful memory and cognition booster. One study reports better word recall, attention, memory scores and focus after just 12 weeks of use.
It’s worth noting that for significant results, repeated use (about four to six weeks) of Bacopa monnieri is necessary, and is best taken with food.
Ashwagandha supports immune function, healthy thyroid function, and can help with adrenal fatigue, anxiety and depression.
But one of the coolest things about this adaptogen in particular is its ability to change depending on what your body needs. Ashwagandha can increase your energy when taken in the morning, but it can also help you fall asleep when taken at night.
Also known as the 'Mushroom of Immortality,' this wonderful little anti-carcinogenic mushroom has a range of benefits from improving circulation, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol to supporting your body with anti inflammatory properties.
It also supports both your immune and respiratory systems, making it oh so helpful for sufferers of respiratory illnesses like asthma. Note that it has a relatively distinct flavour, so best taken in something like a juice or smoothie.
Most of these can be found in herbal teas, tonics, powdered herb blends and supplements, rhodiola can also be found in mushroom coffee blends.
If you’re just getting into natural nootropics, or are looking for a new supplement to add to your collection, this is just a very small selection of the many brain boosting supplements out there.
Other popular natural nootropics include Lion’s Mane, L-Theanine, Huperzine A, Tyrosine, Citicoline, Acetyl-l-carnitine, Vinpocetine.
But before you dive in, it's important to note that most supplements (natural nootropics or not) don't replace a balanced diet. So, it's oh so important to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients to fuel your body so you can keep living your best life.
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