Best Nootropics for Cognitive Function and Mental Acuity
Nootropics are generally well-known for their ability to enhance the mind and improve cognitive function. Nootropics are sometimes considered the “authentic” limitless pill. Some of the nootropics on this list have been used for thousands of years for their ability to sharpen thinking, improve memory, and enhance overall cognitive performance. Some of them are even backed by several clinical trials and studies for their mental-enhancing abilities, including improving fluid intellect. For some individuals, just one cognitive enhancing nootropic is enough, while others may compose an entire nootropic stack, utilizing many of the nootropics on this list.
Top 15 Nootropics for Mental Acuity
Of the many nootropics for mental acuity, these are the highest functioning cognitive supporters available throughout Eastern and Western culture.
Ashwagandha is a powerful cognitive enhancing nootropic. The herb is well-known to improve overall brain function and maximize one’s learning potential and memory (Orr, 2014). The ability of the herb to improve general vitality, energy, and vigor, greatly contributes to its cognitive-enhancing properties (Choudhary et al., 2017). Many studies exist which showcase the herb’s ability to boost mental acuity, however, one recent, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in particular outlined its significant bolster to many cognitive functions (2017). It is also commonly used to improve facets of cognitive dysfunction (Ng et al., 2020). It is even prescribed as a treatment for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and numerous forms of dementia (2020).
Bacopa is one of the most versatile nootropics for cognitive function. The herb is commonly turned to for its brain-boosting benefits, including improvements to executive functioning, memory, concentration, learning, and more (Chevallier, 2016). It has been proven to reduce leanring time and increase memory recall (2016). Bacopa is found prominently used throughout Ayurvedic medicine, especially for brain-oriented conditions and benefits (Orr, 2014). Recent studies have proven the herb useful for increasing memory recall, memory storage, processing speed, and learning rate (Beshara et al., 2019). There are even studies which suggest it has the ability to improve cerebral blood flow (Aguiar & Borowski, 2013).
Black Hoof Mushroom
Black hoof Mushroom is very commonly utilized in Ancient Chinese culture and modern Chinese medicines for its benefits to cognitive performance (Pham-Huy et al., 2008). Ultimately, this herb is a powerful antioxidant, offering incredible relief to oxidative stress. The mushroom also offers incredible neuroprotective properties, energy that is required by the body, but not necessarily produced by the body (2008). The polysaccharides the herb contains are the primary and impressive conductors of its antioxidant activities (Wang et al., 2014). It has even been suggested that Black Hoof Mushroom can help prevent neurodegenerative disease (Choi et al., 2016).
Citicoline is one of the strongest nootropic neuroprotective supplements. Several studies have proven its ability to improve brain metabolism through the manipulation of numerous neurotransmitters (Secades & Lorenzo, 2006). It has been proven in scientific studies to improve overall cognition (2006). It has also been shown to reduce cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative disorders (Grieb, 2014). The nootropic has been theorized to possess cognitive enhancing properties due to its ability to increase phosphatidylcholine levels in the brain (Conat & Schauss, 2004). This is because phosphatidycholine is one of the most important brain chemicals responsible for brain function and cognitive performance (2004).
Ginkgo is one of the more versatile nootropics, especially when it comes to cognitive enhancements. Not only is it an antioxidant, giving the brain a better opportunity to relax and think, it also has been purported to increase blood flow to the brain (Balch, 2010). It has been suggested as a treatment for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases (Chevallier, 2016). The herb has thousands of years of history being used as a neuroprotective, cognitive enhancer; and its ability to improve cerebral blood flow contributes to its memory-boosting properties too (2016). In fact, multiple recent studies have outlined Ginkgo’s ability to improve both short and long-term memories (Balch, 2010). Additional studies outline its ability to improve the peripheral circulation system, thus promoting overall cognitive function (2016).
Gotu Kola has a lengthy history as a cognitive enhancing nootropic, dating back thousands of years (Gohil et al., 2010). The herb has been backed by many modern studies which showcase its ability to improve memory and brain function (Farhana et al., 2016). It has been used for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders and memory deficits (Walker & Brown, 1998). Asian and Ayurvedic medicines alike have turned to the plant for concentration boosts and increases to attention span (Farhana et al., 2016). Ultimately, it is one of the most powerful herbs for alertness and maximizing cognitive performance (Orr, 2014).
One of the most popular and effective nootropics for enhancing cognitive performance is Huperzine A. While it has had a strong history of use for its cognitive enhancing benefits throughout Chinese culture, it has been recently adopted in Western medicine and cultures as well (Walker & Brown, 1998). The herb has served as a supplement, as well as in herbal tea form. It is commonly used throughout the world for its memory and mental capacity-increasing potential (1998). Most of its brain-boosting benefits can be attributed to its ability to ass the blood-brain barrier (Zangara, 2003). It also offers incredible neuroprotective benefits (2003).
As a natural nervous system relaxant (Chevallier, 2016), it is no wonder Lemon Balm can help the mind can achieve its full potential. The herb’s antioxidant properties help reduce oxidative stress and give the brain a chance to completely perform (Rafieian-Kopaei et al., 2017). Ultimately, the herb has been a primary staple in many traditional holistic practices for its cognitive support properties (Aubert et al., 2019). There are even clinical trials which suggest enhanced cognitive performance (Shakeri et al., 2016). Most of its mental energy-boosting properties and attention benefits come from the herb’s potent polyphenol content (Scholey & Stough, 2011).
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane Mushroom has an innate ability to reduce depression and increase the brain’s potential for a balanced, peaceful function (Beshara et al., 2019). The mushroom can increase cognitive function, decrease some cognitive impairment, improve memory, and boost attention-span (Nagano et al., 2010). A lot of these abilities come from the herb’s nerve growth factor improvements (Li et al., 2018). Recent studies have been indicating Lion’s Mane’s ability to significantly improve cognitive function scores (Mori et al., 2009). A lot of these benefits purportedly come from the herb’s antioxidant and neuroprotective abilities (Kushairi et al., 2019).
While Longvida Curcumin has been long used for its ability to relax the body and mind, it has an even longer history being used for its cognitive function and memory-bolstering capabilities (Cox et al., 2015). One recent study outlined the herb’s ability to improve overall cognitive function, attention-span, and working memory tasks (2015). Other studies have proven the herb to be useful in the treatment of dementia and traumatic brain injury (Mishra & Palanivelu, 2008). These same studies showcased the plant’s incredible antioxidant benefits and its ability to improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients (2008). Other studies have proven Turmeric’s ability to favorably impact working memory (Kuszewski et al., 2018). Some research suggests the herb’s cognitive performance enhancing capabilities stem from its anti-amyloid brain effects (Small et al., 2018).
L-Theanine is one of the most turned-to nootropics for overall cognitive performance. This is likely due to its ability to increase cognitive function in several measurable ways. One study covered the nootropic’s benefit to concentration and learning ability (Vuong et al., 2011). Its ability to increase cerebral blood flow is a massive pro, giving the brain the cognitive advantages it needs (Dodd et al., 2015). Additionally, L-Theanine increases alertness, concentration, attention-span, and focus (Giesbrecht et al., 2010).
L-Tyrosine has the potent ability to improve both cognitive function and memory, especiallyin stressful situations (Young 2007). It cna increase mental processing skills and replenish cognitive resources on-demand (Colzato et al., 2013). The nootropic is also helpful in improving working memory (2013). Many studies and empirical trials have outlined the nootropic’s abilities as a powerful cognitive enhancer (McTavish et al., 2005). One study in particular proved L-Tyrosine has the ability to improve participants’ arithmetic skills, visual and audio monitoring skills, memory tests, and other attributes of cognitive performance (Colzato et al., 2013).
Not only is Panax Ginseng commonly used as a natural stimulant (Chevallier, 2016), but it is also well-known around the world for its ability to improve overall cognitive performance (Beshara et al., 2019). The herb has many clinical trials backing its abilities to enhance cognitive function in healthy adults, with many trials suggesting the herb can even help improve Alzheimer’s patients (2019). Some recent Russian studies show the herb to improve mental activity, increase attention-span and alterness, and even enhance the mental value of energy (Balch, 2010).
Although Poria Mushroom might be discussed less often than other nootropics, its ability to improve cognitive function cannot be ignored. In fact, it has a long history of being utilized as a memory and cognitive boosting nootropic (Lin et al., 2012). It has been suggested to have the ability to increase cerebral blood flow, allowing it to improve working memory and executive function (Sun et al., 2021). Poria Mushroom is often used as a treatment for neurodegenerative diseases and dementia (Lin et al., 2012). It is even used to enhance memory recall and learning ability (Wu et al., 2020).
Besides the fact that Rhodiola can massively decrease stress and offer the brain a balanced, adaptogenic atmosphere for function, it can also improve overall mental acuity (Orr, 2014). The herb is well-known for its ability to release mental tension (2014), enhance circulation to the brain, and act as a significant precursor for critical-important cognitive enhancing neurotransmitters (Tabassum et al., 2012). It is frequently combined with Ginkgo Biloba for enhanced mental endurance (Zhang et al., 2009), and is often chosen as one of the most potent nootropics for entrepreneurs (Al-Kuraishy, 2015).
Last Words of Wisdom on Using Nootropics for Cognitive Enhancement
Although there are many nootropics and herbs which can help improve cognitive performance, some clearly perform better than others. The above list encompasses the top 15 nootropics (in alphabetical order) used for improving cognitive enhancement and mental acuity. Many of them will help improve fluid intelligence, as well as crystallized intelligence. Taken together, some of these nootropics will even make a great nootropic stack, compounding the mental gains!
A Note From NooFiles
This article is intended to be used for information only. We want to remind you that consulting your physician is recommended before adding any dietary supplement of any kind to your daily regimen.
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