Everybody encounters brain fog, poor cognitive function, or low vitality at some point, but there are natural nootropics that can help you stay sharp and productive.
When compared to synthetic smart drugs, natural compounds can offer beneficial effects as good, if not better, without experiencing the negative effects.
However, some natural nootropics are certainly much better than others. So let’s understand which are the best compounds and the types of benefits they can offer.
What Are Natural Nootropics?
Nootropic supplements are substances, herbs, and drugs that can support brain health, improve cognitive functions, and related capabilities like focus, memory, and mood.
Synthetic nootropics are created in a lab and have effects that can be rather powerful. However, many downsides are known, specifically side effects, withdrawal symptoms, addiction, and risk of overstimulation.
Synthetic nootropics include racetams, pharmaceutical nootropics like Adderall and Ritalin, and other types of stimulant compounds.
On the other hand, natural nootropics still offer results as cognitive enhancers, but they are organic and naturally found in nature and the body. These supplements include herbs, plants, root extracts, and different types of mushrooms.
By choosing natural nootropics, you can avoid extreme side effects of synthetic nootropics, allergens, and other harmful chemicals while still boosting cognitive function and brainpower, either directly or indirectly.
However, to enhance mental function naturally with supplements, you need to know which options offer proven cognitive benefits while remaining safe.
So, if you are looking to improve cognitive function, these are the best natural nootropics:
Caffeine is the most popular nootropic and natural stimulant available. It is found in coffee, chocolate, black tea, green tea, sodas, and energy drinks and is primarily used to increase energy levels when tired.
Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, reducing mental fatigue and sleepiness while preventing slow brain function.
This can help with focus, alertness, and productivity, especially when output is impacted by brain fog and mental fatigue.
Furthermore, more research suggests that caffeine may also be suitable for overall brain health and preventing cognitive decline.
For example, long-term caffeine consumption is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease (1).
Caffeine is excellent for cognitive enhancement and is easy to add to nootropic stacks. Still, it is essential to note that some people are sensitive to side effects like anxiety, headaches, and insomnia.
2. Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa monnieri is an adaptogenic herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to enhance memory and improve cognitive function or protect the body.
Studies show that it is a potent nootropic herb that can improve memory and learning. It helps with recall, retention, information processing, working memory, spatial learning, faster problem-solving, and reaction time (2).
These results of active compounds found in Bacopa monnieri may be profound enough to treat overall symptoms of ADHD.
While more research is needed, some preliminary findings indicate that herbal nootropics containing Bacopa monnieri may even improve mood and reduce anxiety.
In addition, some of the physical effects of Bacopa monnieri can provide anti-inflammatory properties or the ability to fight oxidative stress, which may correlate with better cognitive functioning and the impact of aging on brain cells.
3. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola Rosea, also known as Arctic Root or Golden Root, is a plant root that has been used culturally in Europe for hundreds of years to manage stress, but it also offers natural nootropic features.
The collection of scientific evidence on the powerful herb shows that it offers many benefits for mood and can help you feel less stressed without compromising alertness (3).
Rhodiola Rosea may even reduce burnout and boost mental performance indirectly by limiting feelings of restlessness.
When taken as a supplement, Rhodiola Rosea can help you reduce mental fatigue because it stimulates neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
These brain chemicals require a balance for adequate cognition and mental clarity that the natural supplement may alleviate.
With so many potential benefits, many people use Rhodiola supplement in combination with other natural nootropics to burst specific effects like exercise performance, mental energy, or reduced memory.
4. Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as it has a positive effect on many aspects of the body and brain.
This fungus contains active ingredients that can have significant effects like Hericenones, Erinacines, and Amycenone, which can positively improve overall well-being.
Possibly the most essential quality is the ability to induce and stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which are proteins necessary for the regeneration of brain cells and the survival of nerve cells (4).
Because of these properties, Lion’s Mane mushrooms may be suitable for short-term memory, age-related decline, dementia, and recovery from brain damage, although more research is needed.
The fungi may even protect brain cells from disease and degeneration by reducing inflammation and providing nutrition that contributes to the results.
Finally, Lion’s mane may also have an antidepressant effect that may indirectly improve concentration. It is also available in many forms and can be made into tea, coffee, consumed in powder form, or ingested via capsules.
L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in green tea, but higher doses in nootropic supplements can provide more powerful outcomes for cognition, stress, sleep, and state of mind.
It increases alpha waves and regulates GABA, serotonin, and dopamine neurotransmitters.
Therefore, the most profound effects of the amino acid are related to a sense of calm focus and relaxation.
L-theanine can help relax the mind and body, which can reduce stress and help to prevent or treat sleep disorders. However, the great part about it is that it does so without dampening brain function.
In fact, L-theanine can make you feel more alert and improve mental performance and productivity. It will not only limit distraction caused by stressors but can also be great for creativity (5).
The improvement in attention span can have an impact on memory as well. When we can pay closer attention to a task, we are more likely to process the information and sufficiently categorize it for future recollection.
Ginseng is an essential component of Chinese medicine, and there are two primary varieties, American Ginseng and Panax Ginseng, also called Asian Ginseng.
Ginseng is fantastic for the immune system as it helps maintain proper blood flow and blood pressure and reduces the risk of inflammation and heart disease. These effects can also keep the mind sharp and boost brain function.
You may find that Ginseng also alleviates stress’s impact on cognitive fitness in healthy individuals.
The desired results of ginseng nootropics can also help maintain a positive state of mind and prevent a crash or reduce mental fatigue.
It is also one of the most accessible natural nootropics to add to your routine or to add to nootropics stacks.
Alpha-GPC is a natural nootropic that acts in multiple ways to improve mental functions. It is even used as a prescription smart drug for treating Alzheimer’s disease in European countries, but It can also be helpful for healthy adults (7).
The primary mechanism of action is increasing acetylcholine levels, a neurotransmitter critical for improved memory that can also improve learning, rapid thinking, and other facets of brain development.
Alpha-GPC impacts other neurotransmitters as well, which can relieve anxiety and improve your state of mind.
In addition, Alpha-GPC also aids with blood circulation, and with increased blood flow to the brain comes more energy, oxygen, and nutrients. With this comes better brain health and support for cognitive health.
As a result, the combination of these effects makes it one of the best nootropics readily available.
Citicoline, also known as CDP-Choline, helps with the breakdown and production of phosphatidylcholine.
It benefits age-related decline and may support intelligence by influencing choline and preventing deficiency associated with poor cerebral health, depression, and memory loss (8).
Compounds like Citicoline may also be suitable for brain injuries and the death of nerve cells. In addition, it offers acute results on the concentration that has been affected by brain fog.
Citicoline is one of the most researched natural nootropics and is widely used in nootropic stacks to enhance cognitive performance since it helps with memory, focus, and mental energy.
9. Huperzine A
Huperzine A is an extract from the Chinese club moss plant, a herbal nootropic used in Chinese medicine.
It stimulates brain cell communications and the production of neuro components to provide results for cognition and overall brain health support.
In addition, the Huperzine A enhances memory in the long run, which can be great for preventing the decline of critical cerebral functions.
Many people have found that Huperzine A affects their productivity and keeps them feeling fresh, youthful, and sharp, but more research is needed.
There may also be benefits for physical health, at least when combined with other substances, but it can also cause more side effects than other natural nootropics.
10. Omega 3
Omega 3 fatty acids (ALA, EPA, and DHA) are essential fatty acids. They are often called brain food because of their massive impact on cerebral functioning. This nutrient is usually found in fatty fish and nuts.
Omega 3 is necessary for proper sleep, cardiovascular fitness, cholesterol maintenance, regulation of energetic chemicals, and retention of information.
Because of this, essential nutrients like Omega 3 fatty acids are suitable for all-around cognitive outcomes, including recall, recollection, and complete physical and mental health (10).
They are also great for fostering creative processes, critical thinking, reaction time, and attention span. They may even reduce symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders.
As a result, Omega 3s are excellent for combining with other nootropics or as a standalone natural nootropic.
The best natural nootropics are not only as effective as any synthetic nootropics you can buy, but they are also less likely to cause any side effects.
In fact, there is no significant difference in positive results when compared to any synthetic nootropic compound, which is why we always recommend natural nootropics as a first option.
However, some nootropics are better for focus and attention, while others are more suitable for information processing, problem-solving, and reducing stress.
As a result, it is essential to know the outcomes you look for before taking nootropics, so you can select the smart drugs that target your specific needs.