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nootropics: the new smart drug



When it comes to focus, concentration, cognitive clarity and memory, the prescriptions abound. And as we navigate the extreme sport of life with power and perspective, our brain holds many of the most valuable keys to our highest potential. So while I do not subscribe to the notion that drugs are the answer to all ailments, I do see a valuable place for nootropics which happen to be nature’s smart drugs.


Nootropics are brain-boosting compounds that have [rightfully] taken the spotlight as many have the science-driven capacity to enhance cognitive function and unlock your mind's full potential (Frank et al., 2017a). While the research on nootrsopic supplements is evolving daily, here are a few standout performers that may just provide the brain “bouys”  you’ve been seeking. 


The brain-boosting nootropic roster: 


 

GINKGO BILOBA - THE FOCUS FERN

 

This well-known herb has been used for centuries to treat memory loss and lack of concentration. Studies suggest that doses of 120-240 mg per day can modestly improve memory and cognitive processing (Frank et al., 2017d). For older adults, 40-120 mg three times a day may help combat age-related cognitive decline (Ginkgo, n.d.).

 

L-THEANINE - THE CALMING COMPOUND

 

Found in green tea, this amino acid has shown promise in reducing stress, anxiety, and ADHD symptoms while improving cognitive performance and attention (Frank et al., 2017b). A small cup of black tea contains about 24 mg of L-theanine, while matcha packs a punch with 46 mg (Keenan et al., 2011).


 

RHODIOLA ROSEA - THE MIND ROSE

 

This adaptogenic herb not only supports the adrenal glands and helps manage stress but also boosts brain function during times of fatigue (Frank et al., 2017c). Doses of 100-600 mg are generally considered safe and effective (Rhodiola rosea, n.d.).


 

BACOPA MONNIERI - THE MEMORY MAMA 

 

Used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, Bacopa has been shown to improve memory, attention, and information processing (Pase et al., 2012). A typical dose is 300 mg per day, standardized to contain 55% bacosides (Bacopa monnieri, n.d.).


 

PANAX GINSENG - THE VITAL ROOT

 

This ancient herb has been used to enhance cognitive function, reduce fatigue, and improve mood (Geng et al., 2010). Doses of 200-400 mg per day are commonly used (Panax ginseng, n.d.).


Nootropics offer an abundant reminder that nature has so many medicinal properties. And while no herb or supplement could ever replace nourishing food and thoughtful lifestyle design they offer a catalyst to clarity we crave. 

And until you’re using nootropics, or maybe because you love simplicity as much as we do - here are your neat and tidy cliff notes: 


  1. Nootropics are compounds that enhance cognitive function with the potential of translating to enhanced memory, attention, concentration, mood, and motivation.

  2. Research on nootropic supplements is very promising and consistently evolving.

  3. Natural nootropics like Ginkgo Biloba, L-Theanine, Rhodiola Rosea, Bacopa Monnieri, and Panax Ginseng have shown potential brain-boosting benefits.


But even more importantly, here’s how you can weave nootropics into your life:


  1. Consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting any new nootropic supplement to ensure compatibility with anything else you’re taking. Herbs are medicine, after all!

  2. Incorporate one nootropic into your life at a time with consistency. Try to punctuate your day with the nootropic of choice where you need it most [i.e when you feel the most “mind mud”].

  3. Weave nootropic supplements into a nourishing lifestyle that includes regular movement, food your body understands, and adequate sleep. Otherwise, you may not leverage the full capacity of nootropics to support you. Curious about laying some foundations with food? Consider a tiny tutorial on building the foundational plate found HERE.


As we continue to explore the world of nootropics, we are excited to see what new research emerges and how these supplements can support our cognitive well-being. And as you weave them into the tapestry of your life, don’t forget to tune into how you feel, what you’re noticing evolve and what is worthy of deep celebration. 


Remember, the habits that get rewarded are the ones that stay. 


Until next time, stay curious and take good care of that beautiful brain of yours!


Wellness Finds: One of Ellie's Favorite Things: London Nootropics


 

References: 


Bacopa monnieri. (n.d.). Natural Medicines Database. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=761


Frank, K., Patel, K., Lopez, G., & Willis, B. (2017a). Nootropic research analysis. Examine.com. https://examine.com/supplements/nootropic/


Frank, K., Patel, K., Lopez, G., & Willis, B. (2017b). Theanine research analysis. Examine.com. https://examine.com/supplements/theanine/


Frank, K., Patel, K., Lopez, G., & Willis, B. (2017c). Rhodiola rosea research analysis. Examine.com. https://examine.com/supplements/rhodiola-rosea/


Frank, K., Patel, K., Lopez, G., & Willis, B. (2017d). Ginkgo biloba research analysis. Examine.com. https://examine.com/supplements/ginkgo-biloba/


Geng, J., Dong, J., Ni, H., Lee, M. S., Wu, T., Jiang, K., Wang, G., Zhou, A. L., & Malouf, R. (2010). Ginseng for cognition. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (12), CD007769. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD007769.pub2



Keenan, E., Finnie, M. D. A., Jones, P. S., Rogers, P. J., & Priestley, C. M. (2011). How much theanine in a cup of tea? Effects of tea type and method of preparation. Food Chemistry, 125(2), 588–594. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.08.071


Panax ginseng. (n.d.). Natural Medicines Database. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=1000


Pase, M. P., Kean, J., Sarris, J., Neale, C., Scholey, A. B., & Stough, C. (2012). The cognitive-enhancing effects of Bacopa monnieri: A systematic review of randomized, controlled human clinical trials. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 18(7), 647–652. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2011.0367


Rhodiola rosea. (n.d.). Natural Medicines Database. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=883

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