Productivity warriors and cognitive creatives are looking towards smart drugs as brain boosting aids. Nootropics have been around since the 1970s, but are starting to re-emerge due to anecdotal evidence saying they decrease stress and increase mental stamina, they “are broadly defined as anything that enhances your cognitive capacity and performance, from memory to creativity, motivation to concentration,” says Jennifer T. Haley, MD, FAAD.
Nootropics can be a single substance or a blend, it is really anything that helps to improve cognitive function on the consumer level, which are typically not FDA regulated, are natural, and have no to very limited side effects.
Ginseng is also categorized as a nootropic due to its benefit of treating stress, promoting improved brain function, and antioxidant support. One study showed the participants to have improved calmness and improved ability to do math.
Fatty acids or medium chain triglycerides have been studied for the brain health properties, especially in those with Alzheimer’s disease. One study found MCTs to help increase brain energy by 9%; most notable research suggests MCTs provide energy to dying brain cells, keeping neurons alive in Alzheimer’s disease. MCTs support general brain health, boost brain energy, are anti-stress, and provide antioxidant support.
The amino acid L-theanine is a major component of black tea, it helps to promote feelings of calmness and supports increased brain activity. One study found it to increase mental focus and arousal. Another study found it to result in a reduction of stress responses.
“Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic nootropic that may improve cognitive function, enhance memory and learning, and protect the brain. It also helps with emotional calming and protects against emotional stress,” says Haley. It has been found to be helpful at alleviating brain fog, and to help improve symptoms of stress, fatigue, exhaustion, and anxiety.
Maca root also functions as a nootropic working to benefit increased mental energy, better focus, feelings of calmness, and improved overall memory. It has been found to work directly upon the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland to help boost focus, mental energy, reduce stress, alleviate depression, and calm anxiety while stimulating brain activity.
CoQ10 may help your cells to create energy, reduce headaches and protect the brain from harmful compounds that might lead to brain disease.
PPQ added to meals was found to result in strong evidence suggesting that it may help cells to create energy and enhance mitochondria related functions such as mental focus.
“By increasing your body’s ability to make ATP — the energy currency of your cells — it gives you more brain energy and more body energy.” says Dave Asprey, founder and CEO of Bulletproof.
“Royal jelly is one of the most amazing superfoods for the brain, and as a bonus it’s keto,” says Beekeeper’s Naturals CEO Carly Stein. “While bacopa monnieri plant extract and ginkgo biloba leaf are two adaptogens that [are] powerful for the brain and underrated.”
The brain health industry is growing strong with a projected worth of $11.6 billion by 2024. If you haven’t seen or heard of these brain boosters just yet they will likely be making more of an appearance soon enough. Not all nootropics will work the same for each person, and each one has a different use. As always it is recommended to consult with a medical professional before starting any supplement or medication to ensure what is best for you.
Nootropics may be the micro-brain boost that you have been searching for. This on the go lifestyle even has some using time on the porcelain throne to catch up on emails, and it can be taxing on the body and mind.