The many uses and benefits of natural Nootropics (AKA smart drugs)
Natural nootropics are in a different class from controlled medical substances like Adderall and Modafinil. Those nootropics get the headlines because they are incredibly potent. But they also have a number of serious side effects.
Honestly, you don’t need them anyway as there are plenty of natural solutions that exist. You can make your own nootropic stacks (a stack is a combination of compounds that’s effects are greater than its individual parts).
However, you need to really do your research to figure out what can and what can’t go together. Remember: when you make a smart drug, you’re making something that will affect your brain.
The herbs, extracts and ingredients that make up nootropics can be powerful – and the benefits aren’t just limited to how they can affect your memory and focus. Certain nootropics have even been shown to support your weight loss efforts and aid you in keeping a positive mood.
The rest of this guide can help you find exactly what you’re looking for, or help you create your own nootropic stack so you can customise the benefits you receive.
What are nootropics used for?
Nootropics can be used for a number of needs; from improving memory, focus and creativity to calming anxiety and easing depression; these brain enhancing drugs can be hugely beneficial.
The uses benefits of nootropics
Our resident nutrition expert, Tony Gill, explains some of the uses and benefits of nootropics below…
You’ve obviously already figured out that nootropics can be powerful assistants when used and created properly.
Maybe you have a big project at work you, are preparing for exams, or just want to perform better on a consistent basis. Whatever your reasons, nootropics can help. After all, there’s a reason they’re commonly referred to as “smart drugs”.
I’ll go through the various nootropic benefits one by one and give you some solutions for creating your very own nootropic stack or to find an effective brain supplement that fits your needs.
The benefits of nootropics include:
- Improve focus and concentration
- Increase in creativity
- Better memory
- Ease anxiety, stress and depression
- Weight loss
Just keep in mind that these are not magical solutions. You’ll still have to put the work in. However, nootropics can help you achieve your goals quicker and easier than you could without them.
If you’ve just started your foray into nootropics, the best place to start is our Nootropics Beginners Guide.
If you’re already acquainted with nootropics and have a general idea of what they can do, then this is exactly where you want to be.
Nootropics to improve focus
These brain enhancing drugs can sharpen your concentration. Focus is what helps stop you from thinking about things you’d rather be doing, or that squirrel outside the window; it’s what helps you check items off your list.
Drinking a cup of coffee or tea to get focus from caffeine is certainly one possibility. But in order for it to truly be effective, you’ve got to drink the whole cup right away. Generally speaking that’s an awful idea because they both generally come out incredibly hot, who likes to wait, or cold coffee is intolerable.
So, check mark for caffeine being great for focus. But it can be harsh and the crash can be awful – especially if your crash coincides with your 2:30pm-ish dip.
L-Theanine, a compound found in green tea can smooth out caffeine. However, green tea does not have much caffeine so you would need to have green tea and a coffee to get the desired stack benefits, or you can take caffeine and L-theanine supplements. They have been found to play well together in more than just one study.
Now, here’s where you have to consider what you are taking nootropics for.
You’ve already discovered L-theanine and caffeine can increase focus. But what if you still have trouble remembering everything you just studied or the speech you’ve been preparing?
Memory enhancers – increase your cognitive abilities with Nootropics
Memory is tricky. You hear about it all the time with eye witness accounts – how someone’s original memory can be tampered with due to suggestions.
Memory is bendable. In some cases, it’s a little too flexible. In the worst cases, it can be hard to remember anything at all.
If you’ve got any of these problems and you’ve just been using caffeine and L-theanine to enhance your focus, are you effectively using your time? Or is there something better you can do?
You probably know that curcumin is high in antioxidants and that it is one of the best anti-inflammatory agents out there. But you may not know it’s also been known to enhance your cognitive function, specifically your memory.
Part of its ability is simply due to its astounding antioxidant capabilities. Less free radicals means better health in a lot of ways. And one of the pathways it assists with is your memory.
As I mentioned in the Beginner’s Guide to Nootropics, curcumin has notoriously low bioavailability – really only a few percent of it can be used. So if you see a supplement without black pepper extract, steer clear of it. Black pepper extract unlocks doors and allows curcumin to step through so your body can utilise it.
Alpha GPC is another great compound to help memory. It has similar capabilities to curcumin, but its benefit is in being a precursor to acetylcholine – which benefits memory. It’s a long road to take as its effectiveness depends on how well your body can convert it to acetylcholine.
Easing anxiety, stress and depression – using nootropics to calm an anxious mind
Anxiety can cause loss of focus. It can be completely debilitating to the point where work or study just isn’t an option. Then memory becomes an issue.
Depression is much the same.
The good news is there are nootropics for anxiety, stress and depression. And they are alternatives to anxiety medication.
However, most of these nootropics are going to work on the same pathway as anti-anxiety and depression medications – serotonin.
Serotonin is a logical place to start because it’s is believed to impact your emotions. It’s a simple matter of how much is in your body at any given time. In other words, the lower your serotonin levels, the worse you feel. The opposite is also true. So it should be obvious why boosting serotonin levels with things like tryptophan is so attractive.
Back to the problem of taking a serotonin boosting supplement while you’re taking SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). If you have too much serotonin in your system, it can lead to confusion, agitation, rapid heart rate, twitching, coma and even death.
So before taking anything like that, be sure to discuss your plans with your doctor first.
Rather than serotonin, there is another brain chemical that can be increased to help reduce anxiety – dopamine.
L-tyrosine, an amino acid which helps produce dopamine, and Rhodiola Rosea are the perfect answer to the issue with serotonin nootropics.
Rhodiola is a well-known adaptogen. Adaptogens are rare herbs that have the ability to help you moderate stress without affecting other biological functions. But rhodiola has a few other tricks up its sleeve.
It can increase the amount of oxygen your blood vessels carry. More oxygen means more energy. Yes, it’s really that simple.
More importantly, it can increase your sensitivity to dopamine and serotonin.
Nootropics aren’t the only way you can get increase your serotonin levels, though. You can support your serotonin levels through the night by taking a natural sleep supplement.
Find out more in our article on natural sleep supplements.
Nootropics to aid weight loss
Interestingly enough, there are some who use nootropics for weight loss. I say “interesting” because it doesn’t seem to make sense. How can increased focus and memory help you lose weight?
Well, one part of this is more obvious than the rest. Caffeine is commonly found in pre-workout supplements because it can give additional energy to help push through a workout and reach new pinnacles.
Phenylethylamine, for instance, increases your alertness; but it also has a thermogenic effect. Simply stated, it helps burn fat for energy. If your body doesn’t make enough phenylethylamine, you will probably be OK if you take it – as long as you don’t take too much and it’s done under the care of a doctor.
If you wind up taking more than you need, it can cause the opposite effects of a nootropic – namely, it’ll increase your anxiety and cause agitation.
A few others are derived from bitter orange. One of them, synephrine, should absolutely not be combined with caffeine as it can cause heart attacks and stroke.
Modafinil, a banned substance, can also help lose weight by decreasing your appetite. However, when you lose weight due to a decrease in appetite, you generally also start losing healthy muscle mass because your body isn’t getting the nutrients it requires to maintain them.
The best way to lose weight is to eat better and exercise properly. Caffeine can certainly help. It’s your best choice of the ones mentioned here because it will help you work out harder rather than rely on unnatural supplements with serious side effects.
Building a comprehensive nootropic stack is a complex process. You’ve got to delicately balance the nootropics you choose. But you’ve also got to make sure each ingredient has the appropriate amount.
We’ve taken care of the science and delicate balance by making a nootropic stack that can help you with focus and memory. Neuro Focus Plus is the result of years of research and iterations to come up with an effective nootropic we can stand behind 100%.