How great would it be if there was a way to boost your brainpower, improve your ability to focus and retain information, and feel overall more energised? Well, lots of people are trying to do just that by supplementing with natural nootropics. The use of nootropics is not a new concept but their popularity is increasing especially among the biohacking community. So, if your goal is to maximise your potential and smash some personal goals in the new year, then you’ll want to see what our top 6 natural nootropics are for 2022.
What are natural nootropics?
Nootropics are commonly referred to as “cognitive enhancers”. The term nootropic refers to any substance that may enhance one’s brainpower or mental skills. These substances can be either a nutritional supplement, a synthetic compound or a prescription medication. One of the downsides of nootropics as a nutritional supplement is that there is still relatively little evidence backing a number of them. The health benefits for these are generally based on anecdotal evidence or studies done on animals.
Benefits and risks
First things first, supplementing shouldn’t replace a well-balanced diet or lifestyle. If you think you are going to run on a diet of coffee, power bars and nootropics alone, you might be greatly disappointed. This type of lifestyle is simply not sustainable and puts the body under a lot of stress. Nootropics should be used to help you optimise the quality of work you are doing in combination with other healthy lifestyle practices.
Before diving into natural nootropics, we suggest that people first start by optimising their sleep, managing their stress, and eating a well-balanced and nourishing diet. These 3 lifestyle improvements alone should grossly improve your energy levels and brainpower. If you are already doing these 3 things well, then adding in some natural nootropics may help give you that extra boost you’re looking for.
As with any form of supplementing, you should ensure they are safe for your individual use. We recommend you speak with a qualified health practitioner to make sure there are no conflicts with medications you are already taking or any medical conditions you currently have. Also, some natural nootropics are best taken only short term as long term use may impact your adrenal function.
6 Natural nootropics that may help enhance your brainpower and energy in 2022
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Panax Ginseng
- Bacopa Monnieri
- Rhodiola Rosea
- L-Theanine and caffeine
Ginkgo is a widely used herb with both quick-acting and long-term cognitive benefits including memory and concentration. Ginkgo’s active components are made up of flavonoids and terpenoids, in particular ginkgolides and bilobalide. These active constituents are responsible for their antioxidant activity and their ability to improve blood circulation. It’s this blood circulation, particularly in the brain, that is thought to help with memory, concentration, and cognitive speed.
A Cochrane Review (a review of various research studies) found supplementation with this natural nootropic outperformed the placebo by improving cognition, activities of daily living, mood and emotional function. This study however was looking at people who already had some form of cognitive impairment. Whether ginkgo would have the same impact with an already healthy individual was not discussed in this study.
Panax Ginseng (aka American Ginseng) has been used medicinally for over 5000 years for its adaptogen properties and for improving physical performance. This natural nootropic may be used to help boost energy, manage stress, and improve thinking processes and cognitive function.
Ginsenosides is the active component of ginseng and is responsible for its clinical benefits. It’s this component that is thought to help improve memory quality and reduce age-related cognitive decline however these studies have primarily been carried out in animals.
Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi)
Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi) is an Ayurvedic herb naturally occurring in India. Evidence is increasing for its cognitive enhancing properties, but don’t expect this natural nootropic to show benefits straight away. Brahmi works better over time with the biggest cognitive improvements being seen after 12 weeks of use.
Clinical trials on Brahmi have found that it can help with verbal memory and attention, memory acquisition, retention and recall, intellect, and speed of information processing. How Brahmi works however is still not fully understood. Researchers believe that it may be through its effect on the cholinergic system and/or through its antioxidant activities.
Rhodiola is a natural nootropic used for improving sleep quality, enhancing physical performance, and improving brainpower. It exerts these functions through its adaptogenic ability and by helping you manage mental, emotional and physical stress. It also has anti-fatigue effects that may help reduce burnout.
Rhodiola is also thought to help improve mood and reduce stress by regulating your body’s cortisol levels. This improvement should generally help you focus more on the task at hand and help optimise your cognitive function.
Creatine is commonly seen in the muscle-building space however this isn’t the only thing it is good for. It can also be taken as a nutritional nootropic. Creatine can help your muscle cells produce more energy by increasing your phosphocreatine stores. These stores are required to help produce ATP which are then used by your cells for energy.
L-Theanine and Caffeine
L-theanine is an amino acid and works as a natural nootropic by helping reduce mental stress and anxiety. Studies show that taking L-Theanine in combination with caffeine can help increase focus, attention and reduce the caffeine jitters. Caffeine itself is also a really good natural nootropic! But be careful not to overdo the caffeine. We would suggest you avoid taking caffeine tablets because you can easily overdo your recommended daily intake. A great way to take this combination is by drinking green tea which naturally contains both caffeine and L-theanine.
Overall, natural nootropics may be a possible way of biohacking to enhance your brain function and memory and boost your energy. The best way of utilising these nootropics is to use them in combination with a healthy lifestyle so that you can optimise the work you are doing. These natural nootropics are generally considered safe however, it’s always a good idea to have a chat with a qualified health professional to make sure they are going to be working most safely and effectively for you.