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How Nootropics Make You Smarter

Pffft, food trends… am I right? From Atkins to Paleo and even breast milk ice cream (I kid you not) we’ve seen it all. So when someone claims you can eat yourself smarter, it may sound too good to be true. Centuries of Ayervedic medicine and scientific research beg to differ. The science of nootropics is making people smarter and helping combat brain degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Nootropics are substances that enhance your mental performance. They boost higher cognitive thinking, improve memory and keep you focused. They occur naturally but can be taken synthetically for times when you need to have your wits about you.

L-Theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea, most notably in matcha tea. L-theanine promotes both profound relaxation and sharp concentration—perfect for meditation or making it through a stressful day with supreme equanimity. Check out this study which shows the relaxing effects of L-theanine and this one which shows how it reduces stress.

Caffeine

You know this guy! If you’re drowsy or need to get your engines started in the morning, you probably reach for a cuppa joe. That would be because caffeine blocks adenosine receptors and makes you feel less tired.

Ginkgo Biloba

When ginkgo is taken as a daily supplement for six weeks, it has a positive effect on brain functioning. It improves neurocognitive functioning and significantly improves memory.

Ginseng

Ginseng balances free radicals and reduces inflammation and these are thought to be the reasons why it boosts cognitive abilities in the short term and combats brain degenerative diseases in the long term.

In one study, led by Andrew Scholey from Swinburne University, Australia, ginseng helped improve memory. “This preliminary study has identified robust working-memory enhancement following the administration of American ginseng,” said Scholey.

Like caffeine, studies show ginseng is effective at fighting fatigue by improving the uptake of blood sugar by cells which boosts cognitive abilities.

Rhodiola Rosea

If you have to perform under pressure, for an exam or when you’re giving a presentation to the board, it can be hard to stay focused. One way to help you perform at your peak is to take nootropics that reduce anxiety and stress.

Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen and natural herb that studies show reduces fatigue caused by anxiety or stress. This reduction of stress can lead to an increase in cognitive functionality.

Bacopa Monnieri

This nootropic is adept at increasing several brain functions including memory, reaction times and information processing. This herb has been a pillar of Ayervedic medication for centuries but must be taken for several months before the effects are felt. The active compounds in Bacopa Monnieri are bacosides which reduce oxidative stress in the brain and improve signaling in your hippocampus, an area of your brain in which memories are processed.

About

Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives with her husband and a very bad dog.

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