Herbal Nootropics: Smart Drugs For A Sharp Mind
Brainpower is crucial to get things done the right way. Next to the array of pharmaceutical memory boosters, nature offers a bounty of herbs that enhance cognitive skills.
Mental focus plays one of the most vital roles in our everyday life. It is what helps students succeed on exams, businessmen to stay sharp, and parents to stay on top of the daily tasks. However, over time, human memory naturally begins to deteriorate. The sharpness that you once boasted about becomes dull and less effective than it once was. For some, this moment happens earlier in life, others don’t notice any decline until well into advanced age. Many of us have experienced a sluggish brain at least temporarily - right when you need to remember something important, your mind tends to draw blanks. Fortunately, nature has provided us with a bounty of herbs that bring the mind back up to where it should be - the herbal nootropics.
What are Nootropics?
Nootropics are a class of drugs that act specifically on the cognitive abilities. Also called smart drugs, nutraceuticals or cognitive enhancers, nootropics tend to boost learning ability, memory recall, attention, strengthen learned forms of behavior, and motivation.
There are many different drugs that work in this way, and not all mechanisms of action are fully understood. Some nootropics, like Hydergin, are thought to increase the oxygen supply in the brain, thereby naturally increasing its capacities. Others are believed to alter the availability of the brain’s supply of neurochemicals such as hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters.
Safety obviously plays are major role when it comes to drugs that interact with brain chemistry. That’s why choosing a substance with a very low toxicity profile is necessary to avoid any unwanted adverse effects. From a holistic point of view, purified and isolated single compounds, as commonly used in prescription drugs, have a much more specific action, which is both useful and prone to cause imbalance. In nature, phytochemicals always appear embedded in a matrix of accompanying substances, which by themselves might appear inactive. However, this raw form tends to have a synergistic effect, meaning that a seemingly inactive molecule in a plant matrix might significantly enhance the overall effectiveness and safety of a preparation. A full-spectrum plant extract ideally preserves the composition and balance of its natural chemical profile, thereby significantly lowering the risk of causing a harmful effect.
While herbs tend to be milder and gentler in effect than prescription pharmaceuticals, they usually also cause few side effects. At the same time, just because something is of plant origin doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe - one single root of the hemlock plant is sufficient to kill a cow. However, all the herbs presented below have been in use for hundreds of years and have proven their safety in this time.
The Different Types of Nootropics
Nootropic drugs come in many forms. Chances are you might have been prescribed one in your teens - some the most common nootropic drugs include Modafinil, Piracetam, Ritalin and Hydergine. These types of Nootropic drugs are extremely effective in helping you stay awake, increase your memory, reducing your anxiety, and increasing your attention. While there are all kinds of people that take this kind of drugs, they are most commonplace on college campuses, where the availability is high and there is a strong demand.
These types of Nootropics do not fall under the natural Nootropic category, as they have been synthesized in a lab. Interestingly, Hydergine was developed by Albert Hofman, the same chemist who discovered LSD. Dr. Hofman himself took Hydergine for most of his life and swore by its cognitive enhancing effects.
Most of the common nootropic drugs do an excellent job at boosting your memory and enhancing your cognitive function, but some can cause sleep deprivation in the form of insomnia, serious hunger, thirst, and having you crash once the dose is reduced.
The following herbs are coming straight from nature’s stash box and can be used either in powdered form, or as a full-spectrum extract that concentrates the active ingredients of the herb.
Gingko Biloba is the best known herbal nootropic and is also widely sold as such. Many scientific studies are backing up this use and the herb is very safe to use. The leaves of the gingko tree are used in particular, and they have a long history of being used to enhance memory and to treat blood disorders. Gingko Biloba contains ginkgolides and bilobalides unique to this plant, as well as a range of flavonoids and terpenoids. The effectiveness of Gingko is supported by its use today in treating dementia and Alzheimer Disease. Researchers have found that this herb improves thinking, social behavior, and reduces depression. For this reason, it has been rightly dubbed the "brain herb."
Panax ginseng has been and still is one of the most popular herbal supplements in Asia. The roots of the Ginseng plant are very highly prized and can be found in almost any form - in pill, tea, liquid extract, dried extract, etc. What makes Ginseng such an effective Nootropic are the Ginsenosides. There are two categories of Ginsenosides in Ginseng - Rb1 and Rg1. These both work to boost stamina, help blood circulation, provide energy, reduce memory loss, and increase overall brain function. The product is considered to be very safe, however one should take care not to take too much of it - it can be very stimulating.
Scientifically known as Centella asiatica, this herb is essentially an annual plant that has been used for its medical and memory enhancing properties for centuries throughout Europe and Asia. This herb can be added to cuisine or it can be taken in supplemental form. Regardless what you choose, the Nootropic effects are astounding. Recent research has shown that those that take Gotu Kola have experienced a boost in concentration, mental clarity, increased attention, and better memory. Gotu Kola also works to relax the body and reduce anxiety.
Also known as Withania somnifera, this herb has been used for centuries in the Middle East and India. Its latin name means "sleep-inducing." While this herb does not directly induce sleep, it certainly does help the body relax while reducing anxiety and increasing mental clarity. The active ingredients that cause the nootropic properties are called withanolides. They work by affecting the GABA neurotransmitters in the brain. This supplement is a perfect solution for anyone that is looking to relax and enjoy clarity of mind. In addition to Nootropic properties, the herb also increases testosterone and motivation in men.
Huperzia Serrata has been used in Asia as a memory booster and immune system enhancer for centuries, where it is known to be extremely effective. Derived from a species of club moss, the Nootropic properties of this herb result from the compound Huperzine A, which works to reduce the effects of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that reduces the effectiveness of your memory over time. In addition to the nootropic properties, this herb is also distributed as a weight loss supplement. Therefore, when you take this supplement, you can nab the factor in your body that is one of the leading causes of memory loss.
Rhodiola rosea can be found throughout both North America, Europe and Asia. Typically growing in high altitudes, this herb is a survival master, thriving in cold bashing winds and rocky soils. Over the last few years, Rhodiola has experienced rising popularity in the West as an energizer that clears brain fog. Rhodiola is one of the most famous adaptogens, meaning that the herb adapts to the needs of the body. Increasing resistance to various forms of stresses, Rhodiola increases stamina and endurance. But rather than bringing on an energy rush, the energy is more grounded and clear-headed.
Focus Blend Tincture
Unlike the above herbs, our Focus Blend Tincture is a synergistic combination of nootropic herbs. The mix contains Ginseng, Gingko, Gotu Kola and Vinca Minor, all working together to increase focus and concentration. The blend increases the blood flow in the brain thereby delivering more oxygen which improves memory and focus.
Also scientifically known as Bacopa monnieri, this perennial herb is highly popular throughout North America, Asia, and South America. In India, it has been used as a memory enhancer for centuries and is a favorite among students. The central ingredients, the Bacosides, have been shown to increase cerebral blood flow. Brahmi is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, which is why it is named after the creator God of Hindu mythology - Brahmi.
Vinca minor has been extensively studied and its active ingredients used as a basis for pharmaceutical prescription drugs. The active ingredient, Vincamine, is a peripheral vasodilator that increases blood flow to the brain. Often used in conjunction with other nootropics such as piracetam, vincamine is said to combat the effects of aging and enhance overall brain function.