Nootropics, commonly known as smart drugs, are cognitive enhancers that can be taken to improve mental performance. They have recently gained popularity within the market and come in both natural and synthetic forms.
Smart drugs are often taken by physically healthy people looking for ways to further enhance mental capacity. When nootropic supplements are formulated with quality, proven ingredients, they can boost memory, concentration, motivation, intelligence, and creativity.
Here's a further look at nootropics and how they can support cognitive function in healthy adults.
Here's a look at the 5 best nootropics and how they can enhance cognitive function.
1. BrainEssence™ (Pure Essence)
2. Alpha Brain (Onnit)
3. Qualia Mind (Neurohacker)
4. Focus without Stress Stack (Nootropics.com)
5. Mind Lab Pro (MindLabPro.com)
Nootropics, nicknamed smart drugs, aim to support brain health, which in turn could aid cognitive function, mental energy, and mental performance. Nootropic supplements often fall into two categories - natural or synthetic.
Natural nootropics contain only natural ingredients that support brain health and enhance cognition. Ingredients could include plant extracts, herbs, and other nutrient-dense, naturally occurring components. These are supplements that can be obtained without a prescription.
Synthetic smart drugs, on the other hand, are formulated with pharmaceutical agents that will alter brain function significantly. These options will likely require a prescription and could result in some unwanted side effects.
The most common and widely consumed nootropic used is caffeine. This psychoactive agent is naturally occurring in coffee, tea, cocoa, kola nuts, as well as many soda and energy drinks. It can also be taken as the standalone ingredient in a supplement or alongside other ingredients to enhance its effect.
Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain to help you feel less tired and more alert. A low to moderate intake works to increase attention and alertness, while also reducing your reaction time. A simple cup of coffee in the morning can be effective for people experiencing fatigue and tiredness, giving that boost of mental energy.
L-Theanine is another naturally occurring, organic ingredient that can help with brain health. It's an amino acid that’s commonly found in tea, but it can also be taken as a supplement. There have been several studies conducted on L-Theanine showing its effectiveness. The ingredient also has a calming effect without causing drowsiness or fatigue.
Even when consuming a small dosage of 50 milligrams, which is the standard amount in a cup of tea, there have been results of increased alpha-waves in the brain. These waves are linked to improved creativity.
L-Theanine becomes even more effective when taken with caffeine. Because of this, supplements often include both ingredients in their formulations.
Bacopa Monnieri is a natural herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to help improve brain function. This ancient herbal supplement has been shown to boost memory and mental processing when taken consistently for several months. Several studies have shown positive results where Bacopa Monnieri can speed up information processing and decrease reaction times.
This herb contains specific active compounds (bacosides) that protect your brain from oxidative stress. These compounds can also enhance signaling in an area of your brain where memories are processed, otherwise known as your hippocampus.
Extracting leaves from the Ginkgo Biloba tree has shown to benefit brain health, providing several positive effects to improve cognitive function. Supplements containing this naturally occurring ingredient can help boost short-term memory and mental processing in healthy adults.
Some research even shows the supplement can reduce stress, high blood pressure, and cortisol levels (a stress-related hormone). Although more research is needed, Ginkgo Biloba continues to prove effective when taken daily. The benefits seem to be a result of increased blood flow to the brain.
Ashwagandha, otherwise known as Withania somnifera, is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. It's another medicinal herb used in ancient Ayurveda medicine.
However, more research is needed on the herb. Some side effects come with the supplement, but many of the benefits are promising. This adaptogenic supplement can help to reduce stress and mitigate its impact on the body.
The ingredient must be taken for several months before noticeable results are shown. But once taken consistently for several months, users have experienced improved levels of inflammation, cortisol, and blood pressure. Because of the anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidant properties, ashwagandha can also work as a stress-relieving agent, helping with both the physical and mental effects of anxiety.
The Panax ginseng root comes from a plant commonly used in ancient medicinal practices. The root has nootropic effects that can help to improve memory, brain function, and mental energy in older adults. Even just taking a single dose of Panax ginseng has shown to reduce brain fog and fatigue, while also boosting mental performance with difficult tasks. This ingredient does not require a prescription, though there are limited studies and research on the root extract. Still, it can be used to treat learning and memory.
Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, Panax Ginseng is believed to boost brain function and enhance its performance by protecting your brain from oxidative stress. This also makes the root a good option to reduce stress and anxiety.
Unfortunately, a few studies have shown that long-term use can cause the body to adapt to ginseng, therefore making it less effective when it comes to the natural nootropic benefits.
This natural nootropic by Pure Essence contains quality ingredients and botanicals to support brain function. The company uses a blend of quality and beneficial nutrients to ensure your brain function and health are optimal. The purity and potency of each ingredient are tested and certified before use, ensuring each supports a certain aspect of brain health.
• Acetyl L-Carnitine
• Bacopa Monnieri
• Gotu Kola Leaf
• Chinese Club Moss
• Rhodiola Root
• Supports brain circulation and energy
• Improves neurogenesis and neurotransmitter levels
• Nourishes the kidney system
• Boosts energy, focus, memory, and mental clarity
• Improves mood and cognitive function
Alpha Brain is a dietary supplement and smart drug that helps to support brain function and cognitive wellbeing in healthy adults. It works to boost cognitive performance, improve memory and focus, and enhance mental speed. Alpha Brain was formulated to help make more alpha waves and support the production of neurotransmitters, which can promote lasting mental clarity.
• Oat Straw Extract
• Stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin
• Promotes attention and reaction time
• Supports memory, focus, and mental processing
• Caffeine-free and gluten-free
Qualia Mind by Neurohacker is one of the best nootropics, or smart drugs, for mental performance and brain fog. The ingredients are clinically researched and many healthcare professionals recommend this supplement. The formula and blend of nutrients is fact-acting, designed to fuel cognitive function while also supporting long-term brain health.
• Enhances brain-derived neurotrophic factor
• Supports neuron and synaptic function, prefrontal cortex activity, and neurotransmitter signaling
• Enhances stress resilience, energy, and metabolic support
• Improves memory, cognition, and mental clarity
• Fuels focus, concentration, and productivity
This Nootropic stack is powerful, combining quality ingredients without unwanted side effects. The brand recommends starting with a smaller dose and building up to a dosage that helps to improve brain function. This smart drug works well to relieve stress and boost mood, while also providing a calming effect.
• Supports relaxation, reduces anxiety and improves mood
• Enhances focus, motivation, cognition, and memory
• Improves verbal fluency
• Supports neuroprotection
Mind Lab Pro is a universal nootropic that contains several ingredients to support peak-performing mental clarity and cognitive function. It's formulated with 11 multi-tasking nootropics to optimize cerebral circulation, energy metabolism, brain wave function, neuroprotection, and neural regeneration.
• Bacopa Monnieri
• Organic Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Rhodiola Rosea, Bacopa Monnieri, and Maritime Pine Bark Extract
• Improves processing speed, memory, mood, attention, and creativity
• Repairs and maintains brain cell plasticity and supports growth
• Fights brain fog and mental fatigue for increased alertness and focus
• Oxygenates brain, clear toxins, and boosts micronutrient delivery
• Fights elements that lead to accelerated brain aging
Nootropics and smart drugs can help people wanting to improve brain memory and function, or even those experiencing cognitive decline. Smart drugs can come in either natural or synthetic substances. Natural nootropics can be bought without a prescription, while synthetic, pharmaceutical agents typically require a prescription.
Some of the best nootropics can enhance brain performance while providing several other health benefits as well. Many of the natural nootropics have stress-reducing and anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to cognitive advantages. This type of nootropic is often used in alternative medicine practices, where the effects are more subtle. However, when taken consistently for several months and combined with the right formulations, natural nootropics can be effective and helpful to improve mental performance.