Nootropics provide a great deal of cognitive and general brain health benefits. As a nootropic user you have a wide range of options to pick from on the rapidly growing market. Nootropics are generally categorised based on their mechanisms of action and origin. Most popular categories include racetams, cholinergics, anxiolytics, neurodilators and serotonergics.
However, nootropics in all of these groups are synthesized in laboratories. Therefore, if you prefer natural supplements you may be looking for the best natural nootropic to give you significant mental performance gains.
Interestingly, some users consider natural nootropics to be superior to the synthetic ones. The key advantage of natural supplements is their safety. They are known to result in drastic cognitive improvements without any side effects.
Although, all nootropics are 100% safe as it is one of the criteria, some synthetic nootropics may have mild side effects. As with other types, the strength of natural nootropic supplements varies quite a lot.
Below is a brief review of the top five natural nootropics for an increased mind power.
Bacopa Monnieri (aka brahmi) is a nootropic herb that naturally grows in India. Ayurvedic medicine, which is considered to be the world’s oldest healthcare system, has been using it for many years. Specifically, this herb is known for its tranquilizing, sedative, cognitive and memory enhancing and antioxidant effects.
Evidence shows that Bacopa Monnieri works by interacting with dopamine and serotonergic systems in the brain. In addition, it contains a number of active ingredients, such as alkaloids and saponins. All of these actions lead to a reduced anxiety (anxiolytic), improved mood and memory, a better sense of well-being and an increased neuroprotection.
From a cognitive point of view, long term use of Bacopa Monnieri improves learning capabilities, memory capacity as well as the ability to process various types of information more efficiently. The recommended daily dosage of Bacopa Monnieri is 300 mg.
Ginkgo Biloba (aka Maidenhair tree) is the oldest living tree species that grows in China. Today, as an herbal supplement Ginkgo Biloba extract is one of the best-selling around the world. Due to its popularity as a nootropic it is often called a “brain herb”.
In fact, in the United States it has been titled the best nootropic a few years in a row. It has traditionally been used to treat blood disorders as it is an effective vasodilator and improve memory capacity. Additionally, it is a very effective antioxidant as its leaves have two types of antioxidant chemicals – flavonoids and terpenoids.
Flavonoids are known for supporting various systems, protecting the nerves, blood vessels as well as reducing inflammation in the brain. Terpenoids are vasodilators that can increase the blood flow to the brain by widening the blood vessels.
“As a result, Ginkgo Biloba contributes to positive mood, reduces anxiety and supports deeper concentration.”
It is widely used in the treatment of dementia, intermittent claudication and glaucoma. The recommended daily dosage ranges between 120 and 240 mg. It should be taken for at least 4 – 6 weeks to see positive effects.
Lion’s Mane (aka Hedgehog Mushroom, the Latin name is Hericium erinaceus) is a safe and edible fungus also originating from China. It is used as an herbal medicine as well as a delicacy and has a long history in traditional Chinese medicine.
The Lion’s Mane may be the first “smart” mushroom to improve memory and mood. Lion’s Mane is an effective cognitive enhancer, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-hypertensive as well as a glucose and lipid levels regulator in the blood. Pills made of Lion’s Mane are also used to treat stomach ulcers. It is rich of various physiologically active ingredients (e.g., β-glucan polysaccharides).
Speaking of the supplement’s nootropic abilities, a study carried out in 2009 has concluded it is able to improve cognitive function. Other researchers have also stated that Lion’s Mane boosts the secretions of Nerve Growth Factors (NGFs). NGF is a protein which is extremely important for lifespan of the brain, as it promotes the growth and maintenance of neurons.
Huperzine A is a natural dietary supplement derived from Firmoss, a plant that grows in South East Asia. As a nootropic supplement it has been utilized by people for many years, but the actual scientific explanation for its effectiveness and mechanisms have only been provided recently.
This supplement is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Acetylcholinesterase is an enzyme which breaks down excess acetylcholine. Huperzine A influences the levels of acetylcholine by inhibiting the receptors that control the production of acetylcholinesterase, thereby improving the brain’s ability to transmit electrical activity.
It is a well-known fact that increased (or at least sufficient) levels of acetylcholine result in a number of cognitive improvements. Memory becomes sharper, while learning new information also gets easier. Acetylcholine protects apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the brain cells and is crucial when it comes to forming new ones.
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Vinpocetine is another naturally occurring nootropic supplement. It is an alkaloid of Periwinkle plant (Vinca Minor). These days it is synthesised in the laboratory environment and that is why a lot of people disagree about its natural credentials. Nevertheless, it is still one of the finest nootropics, simply because of how well its brain oxygenation effects are understood.
Trials have shown that Vinpocetine is a potent vasodilator. It has a massive short-term effect on increasing the blood flow. Improved blood circulation in the brain brings important nutrients and energy and removes unwanted toxins.
Therefore, important functions like focus and alertness are improved. The user usually enjoys more efficient memory and learning abilities. Vinpocetine is also known to be neuroprotective. Over the time it helps reduce the oxidative stress in our brains.
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Natural nootropic stacks:
Each of the above described natural nootropic supplements is very effective when used individually.
“However, for extra benefits you may want to combine several of them into a “stack”.”
Stacks have been shown to have a greater cognitive boosting capacity when compared to individual supplements. There are different ways of creating stacks. The first option is to buy all ingredients separately and build a custom stack yourself. This, however, requires experience and knowledge of each supplement and dosages (see below) in order to get it right. Therefore many users might shy away from that at first.
Much more convenient choice is to go for pre-designed natural nootropic stacks. Such natural nootropics stacks have blended various ingredients for user’s optimal experience.
Dosing can be confusing, especially if you combine several nootropics at once. It is very important to balance the doses depending on a number of different supplements taken, as their synergistic effect may be too strong to begin with.
Here is a good example: 100 mg of Bacopa Monnieri taken twice a day; 240 mg of Gingko Biloba in the morning (or split into two equal administrations); 0.5 g of Lion’s Mane once a day.
Once you gain some experience with a combination like this, you might want to add a high quality choline supplement like Alpha GPC. This will increase your synaptic plasticity and yield even greater results.