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What’s the best nootropic for boosting your brainpower?

Whether for end-of-year exams, professional challenges, or simply to maintain cerebral capacity as you get older, discover the best natural nootropics for stimulating cognitive ability.

Most powerful nootropics for the brain

Nootropics: natural ‘smart drugs’ that are very much in vogue

‘Nootropic’ is a term for any substance that improves cognition.

For decades, students and professional people keen to boost their concentration, memory and cognitive performance in general, would reach for medication prescribed to children and adolescents with attention-deficit disorders (ADHD). These were generally known as ‘smart drugs’ (1-3).

But for a few years now, particularly in student circles and in the world of start-ups, people are increasingly turning to more natural nootropics (4).

Each nootropic works on the brain in a different way: some address anxiety and thus improve concentration, while others stimulate the GABAergic system, or even the cholinergic system.

It’s for this reason that the most powerful nootropics are generally dietary supplements that combine several molecules to provide maximum benefit. Let’s begin with the best-known natural nootropics before moving on to the most powerful synergistic formulation at the end of the article.

The best-known natural brain-boosters

Eggs: for a shot of acetylcholine

Let’s start with an excellent little everyday booster . An essential element of cell membranes, choline is required for the production of acetylcholine, one of the most important neurotransmitters, involved in memory and learning.

The best food source of choline (which is not synthesised by the liver in sufficient amounts and must therefore be provided by the diet) are eggs, or more precisely, egg yolks(5-6).

Bacopa monnieri: the cognition plant

Used for more than 3000 years in Ayurvedic medicine, Bacopa monnieri contains active ingredients called bacosides, which are thought to be responsible for its benefits. This powerful adaptogen (7):

  • helps maintain good cognitive function;
  • plays a role in maintaining memory;
  • supports peripheral microcirculation and normal circulation, associated with brain performance.

That’s why so many people choose to take daily nootropic supplements containing Bacopa monnieri to support their brain function.

Lion’s Mane: an age-old mushroom

Lion’s Mane Mushroom, or Hericium erinaceus to give it its botanical name, is an extraordinary mushroom which resembles a long white beard, or indeed a lion’s mane, hence its name.

Extremely rich in beta-glucan polysaccharides, as well as in phenol derivatives called hericenones, this mushroom has been part of the traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia for thousands of years, where it is used for holding back the aging process and for preserving memory.

A number of studies have also examined its potential as a treatment for mental disorders linked to advancing age (8-10).

It’s thus regarded by many as a natural, traditional and powerful nootropic, and is widely consumed in the form of Lion’s Mane Mushroom capsules.

Rhodiola rosea: a cognitive stimulant

A perennial plant that grows in sandy, rocky and dry soils, rhodiola, or Rhodiola rosea, has been used since the time of Ancient Greece as a medicinal plant and has been studied since the 1960s to determine its benefits and active principles.

Rich in rosavin and salidroside, glycosides and phenylethanol derivatives, rhodiola stimulates energy metabolism, thus increasing levels of ATP and creatine phosphate in the mitochondria.

This is probably why rhodiola is recognized for:

  • protecting the body from stress;
  • having a beneficial effect on fatigue and headaches;
  • supporting optimal mental and cognitive activity (11).

Rhodiola is therefore also considered to be a natural and effective plant nootropic for boosting brainpower (as in, for example, the supplement Rhodiola rosea).

Green tea: focus on L-theanine supplements

An amino acid first isolated by Japanese scientists in 1945 from green tea leaves, L-theanine is thought to help increase levels of serotonin, and GABA (12).

Serotonin and 4-(2-aminoethyl)benzene-1,2-diol are considered to be ‘happy hormones’ because of their calming and anti-stress effects. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) meanwhile is not only a well-known inhibitory neurotransmitter of the nervous system, but is also involved in memorisation processes and cognitive function. It’s thought to act by modulating neuron activity.

These effects may therefore account for green tea’s huge popularity. To increase their intake of L-theanine, some people choose to take targeted supplements (such as Suntheanine®) (13).

The best nootropic of all: a synergistic formulation

As mentioned above, the most powerful natural nootropic is inevitably going to be a formulation that combines several natural nootropic substances to increase their effects.

So, when you combine Bacopa monnieri, Gingko biloba (recognized for supporting healthy peripheral circulation, associated with good brain reactivity), vitamin B12 (which helps reduce fatigue and is good for the nervous system), L-theanine, caffeine anhydrous (known for promoting concentration) and taurine, the end result is a natural and super-powerful nootropic for boosting brainpower: which is precisely what’s offered by the synergistic formulation Smart Pills.


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  2. DE OLIVEIRA CATA PRETA, Bianca, MIRANDA, Vanessa Iribarrem Avena, et BERTOLDI, Andréa Dâmaso. Psychostimulant use for neuroenhancement (smart drugs) among college students in Brazil. Substance Use & Misuse, 2020, vol. 55, no 4, p. 613-621.
  3. RYCHKOVA, O. V. Smart drugs are as a dangerous model of psychoactive substance use. Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2021, vol. 10, no 2, p. 44-54.
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  5. ZEISEL, Steven H. et DA COSTA, Kerry-Ann. Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutrition reviews, 2009, vol. 67, no 11, p. 615-623.
  6. WALLACE, Taylor C. A comprehensive review of eggs, choline, and lutein on cognition across the life-span. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2018, vol. 37, no 4, p. 269-285.
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  8. NKODO, Amelie. A systematic review of in-vivo studies on dietary mushroom supplementation for cognitive impairment (P14-021-19). Current Developments in Nutrition, 2019, vol. 3, no Supplement_1, p. nzz052. P14-021-19.
  9. SAITSU, Yuusuke, NISHIDE, Akemi, KIKUSHIMA, Kenji, et al.Improvement of cognitive functions by oral intake of Hericium erinaceus. Biomedical Research, 2019, vol. 40, no 4, p. 125-131.
  10. SHENG, Xiaotong, YAN, Jingmin, MENG, Yue, et al.Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology. Food & function, 2017, vol. 8, no 3, p. 1020-1027.
  11. CROPLEY, Mark, BANKS, Adrian P., et BOYLE, Julia. The effects of Rhodiola rosea L. extract on anxiety, stress, cognition and other mood symptoms. Phytotherapy research, 2015, vol. 29, no 12, p. 1934-1939.
  12. NATHAN, Pradeep J., LU, Kristy, GRAY, Marcus, et al.The neuropharmacology of L-theanine (N-ethyl-L-glutamine) a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent. Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy, 2006, vol. 6, no 2, p. 21-30.
  13. NATHAN, Pradeep J., LU, Kristy, GRAY, Marcus, et al.The neuropharmacology of L-theanine (N-ethyl-L-glutamine) a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent. Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy, 2006, vol. 6, no 2, p. 21-30.



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