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The Best Nootropics for Brain Health
Brain Health is one of the most important aspects we need to consider as it impacts every aspect of your life.
I’ve personally experimented with the majority of the below nootropics as cognitive performance and neuron protection is so important to me. Some of these you feel relatively soon and for other, it can take up to 3 months before a real change is observed. But there is no doubt about it: They work, and they work really well.
In the past I’ve struggled with word recall or a lack of concentration and it’s incredibly frustrating. I haven’t experienced this in more than a year since taking nootropic supplementation seriously!
Below is my list of top brain health boosting nootropic supplements:
Also known as brahmi, this is one of the most well-known nootropics for the brain, anything from supporting brain health, addressing memory dysfunction and even aiding epilepsy. It seems that the antioxidant effect of this nootropic assists with protecting neurons and DNA damage which leads to brain disorders. Because the molecules are small enough to directly enter the brain through the Blood Brain Barrier, the impact is very powerful.
Shop Here: Neuro Active Bacopa Monnieri 50% Extract
Probably one of the most famous nootropics, rightly so, it ashwagandha. There are even studies suggesting that it can improve intelligence! On top of that, it assists with cognitive development, memory and can assist with a number of brain disorders. The studies on this are highly convincing and to boost, supplementing with ashwagandha has also shown to help with fatigue and restore calm. It can do this due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
Shop Here: KSM-66 Ashwagandha Extract
Imagine taking a supplement that can actually speed up your mental processing! Think back to the movies Limitless and Lucy! OK maybe not that extreme but ginkgo has certainly been shown to improve memory and speed up the processing that happens in our brains when taken daily for about six weeks.
Shop Here: Neuro Active Ginkgo Biloba 24/6 Extract
Sound odd that such an everyday staple in most of our kitchens could actually have brain boosting powers? Another of nature’s gifts, vanilla’s main component is vanillin and has been shown to boost the development of neurons, so that you have a healthy, happy brain! It also has positive effects on mood and anxiety. Use pure, organic vanilla bean powder in your coffee and let it get to work on your neurons!
There are studies showing that caffeine can actually restore memory following impairment from, for example, Alzheimer’s. That just gives you some indication of how powerful clean, quality coffee or tea in the right quantities can be. Add on alertness and neuroprotective effects, it’s obvious why caffeine is arguably the most famous nootropic out there!
Shop Here: Kimera Koffee
No, don’t take up smoking! But improvements in working memory and memory consolidation are observed from nicotine use (for example nicotine gum). A word of caution, high doses of nicotine have the opposite effect and result in decreased cognition, and nicotine is addictive, so it’s important to dose in moderation, say for example 2mg per day (from gum, not cigarettes, which contain other health hazards besides the nicotine).
Weed! Sorry, no! The cannabis plant contains THC (which results in the psychoactive effects) and also CBD (makes up about 40% of the plant). CBD is responsible for enhancing focus and the potent medicinal properties which CBD has become so famous for. It allows for better concentration by reducing anxiety and is a potent addition to any nootropic stack.
Shop Here: Four Five
You can safely drink quite a few cups of green tea to benefit from its incredible anti-inflammatory effects, but it might be more palatable and realistic in supplemental form. A study performed on mice showed how green tea can delay age-related memory loss, and isn’t that exactly what we want for a long life of health and vitality?
Shop Here: NeuroActive Green Tea Extract
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
The studies here are extensive and demonstrate this wonderful mushroom’s ability to increase what is called nerve growth factor, which as the name says, helps neuronal growth and protects your neurons from damage. The benefits of supplementing with Lion’s Mane are both wonderous and numerous.
Shop Here: NeuroActive Lion's Mane 30% Extract
I mentioned that there was a synthetic nootropic that I think is very exciting, considered safe and well-worth incorporating into a healthy supplement regime. Noopept has been around since 1996 and was originally used in Russia to combat age-related cognitive decline. It’s considered very potent and works because it is able to improve alpha brain wave activity (which is a state in which you are able to commit information to memory, recall information easier and understand complex problems and solution them more easily).
Shop Here: NeuroActive Noopept
This powerful nootropic can cross the Blood Brain Barrier and enhance cognitive processes (memory, focus etc). It’s also an excellent anti-aging strategy for your brain!
Shop Here: NeuroActive ALCAR(Acetyl L-Carnitine)
Who doesn’t want better memory and better sleep? Taurine steps right up in both these departments. Taurine is an amino acid abundant in our bodies and a healthy diet really benefits from supplementation with Taurine.
Shop Here: NeuroActive Taurine
I’m always amazed that this nootropic isn’t more mainstream. Maybe it needs a cooler name, but it is a true all-rounder in terms of enhancing learning, memory and overall mental functioning. It improves the transmission of nerve signals between cells. If cells can communicate better, your learning capacity increases and you remember things better.
Shop Here: NeuroActive Uridine Monophosphate(UMP)
Aside from being an excellent spice in any kitchen cupboard and a favourite of mine on fried eggs, curcumin (from turmeric) has been used in the treatment of dementia and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). It’s able to do this due to its anti-inflammatory abilities and the benefits are astounding. Its meteoric rise in popularity of late is well-deserved, but important to remember is that it is best consumed together with black pepper as this makes it more bioavailable to humans.
Shop Here: NeuroActive Curcumin Plus
This ancient medicinal root is famous for its brain-boosting superpowers. Impressively, even a single dose of 200-400mg has been shown to reduce brain fatigue and significantly improve performance on complex mental tasks.
Shop Here: NeuroActive Panax Ginseng Extract
Not just a bodybuilding supplement it would seem! When it enters your brain, it combines with phosphate, which creates a molecule that the brain can quite literally use to fuel its cells. Brain food! Benefits include improvements in short-term memory and reasoning skills.
Shop Here: NeuroActive Neuro Boost
Yes, the name is a mouthful, but if you can mumble your way through it, it’s a really magnificent little compound that plays a big role in brain health. The beauty of it is that it naturally occurs in high concentrations in the brain and assists with decreasing stress, boosting focus and concentration and maintains the structure of your brain cells. Supplementing with this nootropic aids this natural process for maximum effect.
Shop Here: NeuroActive Phosphatidylserine 50%
This is a true beauty and rapidly gaining popularity amongst people-in-the-know! The quick science: it is a precursor (i.e. needed to make) an important chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) in your brain called acetylcholine. This chemical messenger optimises memory, new learning and overall brain health. It is again naturally found in the brain and supplementing shows massive potential for stroke prevention and dementia which is often caused by reduced blood flow to the brain.
Shop Here: NeuroActive Alpha GPC
Neuroprotective abilities aside, L-Theanine can positively impact the mental and physical symptoms of stress, which plays a role in improving attention, focus, memory and learning. It’s ability to improve sleep has a host of benefits for your brain, as the brain is best cared for in our sleeping hours.
Shop Here: NeuroActive L-Theanine
Known as the golden root, there are a myriad of studies supporting this plant extract’s ability to improve cognitive function, enhance memory and learning and protect the brain. Packs quite a punch in my view.
Interested in remembering your own name into your golden years? Lithium is showing exciting promise for preserving cognitive function and detoxifying the brain of bad stuff.
Shop Here: NeuroActive Lithium Orotate
Formulations from OPTMZ that support brain health:
- PRIMESELF Prime Mind
- NeuroActive Neuro Mind
- NeuroActive Medi Mushroom 4in1 Stack
- NeuroActive Neuro Day Plus
- NeuroActive Neuro Choline
As you can imagine, combining nootropics can be more effective than using any one nootropic on its own because they tend to compliment each other really well!
Your focus area could be enhanced cognitive performance. Or maybe you want to treat fatigue and depression and associated memory-loss without necessarily being too worried about long-term cognitive enhancement. It’s a little bit like a recipe to figure out…
There are so many brain-boosting supplements out there, so how do you know what is right for you? We are all individual, so we all have individual needs when it comes to which nootropics work best for our personal needs. Experiment with what works for YOU and what you feel you need! However, if experimentation is not your thing, here are some Bonnie and Clyde, vetkoek and mince, peanut butter and jam kind of combos mentioned by famous biohacker Ben Greenfield that hit the mark for most people:
Caffeine and nicotine
In my varsity days, my best mate used to sit outside on the patio every morning with strong tea and a cigarette. I sat with her for coffee and giggles. There’s a reason why caffeine and cigarettes have been such a popular combination over time. Besides the fact that caffeine may actually protect against some of the negative effects of cigarettes (no, this is not carte blanche to smoke as long as you drink coffee), but the combination would seem to be pretty powerful in terms of enhancing locomotive performance and your cognitive abilities. Again, in moderation as nicotine is addictive especially when in excess and can have the opposite effect when abused – so micro-dose!
Caffeine and L-Theanine
Nature is amazing. Green tea perfectly pre-packages both caffeine and L-Theanine, and it turns out that this combination can supercharge concentration, focus and energy levels while simultaneously reducing anxiety. What a power couple. But I think one person can only drink so much green tea. For this reason, I love the Kimera brand of coffees as the beans are actually infused with L-Theanine, which means all the benefits of caffeine without the jitters! You can, in fact, combine coffee with any L-Theanine supplement for this clever caffeine hack.
Caffeine, Tulsi and Astragulus
Tulsi is a calming herb (classified as an adaptogen) and also goes by the name of holy basil. Like L-Theanine, it can take the jittery edge off of caffeine, but when combined with caffeine and astragulus, it provides real longevity and brain health benefits.
Ginkgo, Bacopa and Lion’s Mane
Ding, ding, ding! Used over a period of 3 months, this stack is said to give you mental alertness over a period of 6 hours at a time without any side effects like irritability or jitteriness. This stack delivers on mental focus, memory, learning and cognitive performance. So be patient with results on this one, it could be well worth it!
Final Thoughts on the Brain Game
Introducing nootropics, specifically selected for your own personal goals, can be a game changer for your brain functioning and brain health. Choose smartly, be patient and let nature’s gifts work for your own Optimised Self!
Shop our full range of Brain Health Nootropic Supplements here
This information does not serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is for informational purposes only and does not provide a comprehensive explanation of the different compounds. Always consult your doctor first when making any changes to medication or supplementation.
- Thea is the founder of Neolaia – Biohacking SA and passionate about all things biohacking, functional medicine, holistic and ancestral wellness. She enjoys the occasional triathlon, is fanatic about yoga and the gym and loves n=1 biohacking experiments more than anything else! Learning about the latest in scientific research for health and wellness and applying this knowledge is what makes her happiest!