Best Nootropics for Depression and Mood

Nootropics that Improve Depression and Mood

Depression is no fun. It can corrode a good time, wreak havoc in one’s life, and ruin motivation. Depression may have many forbearing contributing factors, but it basically starts and ends in the brain.  And fortunately, there are many nootropics which provide an easy, natural solution, all in the form of a simple supplement. From traditional Eastern medicine to modern empirical studies, there are a variety of nootropic herbs which have been proven to reduce depression and give a positive, clear state of mind.

11 Herbs

Top 12 Nootropics That Help with Depression

Although there are many holistic approaches for combating depression, these nootropics are the top twelve best herbs for improving mood and decreasing a depressed state.


Stress and depression and debilitate the mind and body, but Ashwagandha can help.  The herb has been clinically studied to reduce overactivity of the mind and body, and promote recuperation and relaxation (Chevallier, 2016).  It can improve sleep, which also contributes to a positive mood and energy (2016).  Additionally, it contains adaptogenic benefits, especially in its supplement-extracted form (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998).  The herb has also been proven to reduce serum cortisol levels, giving the mind and body a better chance to promote an improved mood and state of being (1998).

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri

As a nootropic adaptogen, the herb offers a number of “destressing” properties (The Nootropics Zone, 2017). These properties give the mind and body an opportunity to reach a mood-based equilibrium, where depression can be reduced (or even eliminated).   The herb has the ability to dramatically reduce tension, a feature supported by numerous clinical trials (2017).  Some of the other assets this nootropic brings to the table include the ability to reduce nervousness, palpitations, insomnia, headaches, and concentration (Beshara et al., 2019).  By reducing oxidative stresses, it provides antioxidant properties that also contribute to the reduction of depression and promotion of a positive mood (Aguiar & Borowski, 2013).

Huperzine A

Probably one of the best studied nootropics for combating depression is Huperzine A.  This herb has revealed the potential to lessen almost all attributes and symptoms of depression (Du et al., 2017).  It can regulate numerous neurotransmitter levels and alter depression-oriented behavior (2017).  It can also improve cognitive impairments which result from depressive disorder (Zheng et al., 2016).  The ability for this nootropic to alter these mood disorders comes from its ability to inhibit AChE.  Basically, it improves the balance of Ach levels in the brain and reduces the feelings of depression and anxiety alike (Higley & Picciotto, 2014).

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm has been used as an antidepressant for thousands of years (Shakeri et al., 2016).  The herb has been proven to enhance mood, a claim backed by many clinical trials (2016).  Lemon Balm is even referenced throughout ancient texts for its ability to “lift the spirits” (Chevallier, 2016).  It can reduce short-term depression, improve long-term health and longevity, and ease anxiety (2016).  It is one of the strongest nootropics when it comes to impacting overall mood (Scholey & Stough, 2011).

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion's Mane

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is well-purported for its ability to decrease depression and improve mood (Beshara et al., 2019).  It can reduce negative symptoms of depression, and reduce anxiety.  Many notable studies back these claims, and support the herb’s ability to improve overall mood (Nagano et al., 2010).  The fungi’s ability to improve sleep contributes to an overall improved mental health (Vigna et al., 2019).  Some studies suggest the fungus could be an alternative treatment for depression altogether (Chong et al., 2019).

Longvida Curcumin

Longvida Curicumin’s ability to control mood is no new news.  The nootropic has been showcased several times for its ample mood-boosting ability (Cox et al., 2015), with most of these benefits stemming from its general health-promoting properties (2015).  Ultimately, Turmeric can enhance mood enough to combat depression (Ramaholimihaso et al., 2020).  It is a common alternative for treatment and management of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), as well as for reducing oxidative stress (2020).  Some recent studies have included FDDNP-PET scans which prove its ability to reduce plaque and tangle accumulation in the brain regions modulating mood (Small et al., 2018).


L-Theanine is renowned for its ability to improve cognitive state and decrease depression (Ross, 2014). It is regularly used for its ability to reduce oxidative stress and promote calming effects on the mind (2014).  The nootropic also possesses powerful antioxidant properties which provide positive effects on mood and behavior (Dodd et al., 2015).  Many clinical trials have outlined its stress-reducing abilities, as well as its ability to promote an overall positive mental health (Hidese et al., 2019).  It has even been suggested that L-Theanine can improve dopamine, serotonin, and GABA neurotransmitter production in the brain (Nathan et al., 2016).


L-Tyrosine is a strong anti-depressant nootropic, possessing the ability to improve dopamine and norepinephrine production in the brain (Alabsi et al., 2016).  It improves nerve cell communication and reduces stress, contributing to its ability to improve mood and combat negativity (Young, 2007).  There are a lot of studies which outline the herb’s natural ability to decrease depression symptoms (Alabsi et al., 2016).  One study in particular showed the herb’s non-essential amino acid’s ability to bolster motivation, improve mood, and produce massive dopamine (McTavish et al., 2005).

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle is one of the best natural nootropics for depression, being first used in Europe for its mood-boosting properties (Chevallier, 2016).  The herb has been used in a lot of natural, hollistic remedies throughout the modern world, and clinical trials that back its use as an anti-depressant are pouring in (Ashraf et al., 2019).  One prominent study has proposed that the primary constituent of the herb, silymarin, can have powerful antidepressant effects due to its antioxidant-capabilities.  The same study also outlined the flavonoid’s ability to massively increase neurogenesis in the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, contributing further to its antidepressant activity (2019).

Poria Mushroom

Poria Mushroom is a powerful, natural anti-depressant that can favorably impact mood (Huang et al., 2020).  It provides antioxidant effects which reduce anxeity and depression (Lin et al., 2012).  It is also well known for its ability to promote peaceful, relaxing sleep (Chen et al., 2010), which can also improve depression.

Red Reishi Mushroom

Red Reishi

Red Reishi Mushroom is commonly used to boost mood and reduce depression (Socala et al., 2015).  Many studies have outlined itsa bility to moderate mood, neurotransmitters in the brain, and anxiety (2015).  Other studies suggest that the mushroom’s higher water solubility makes it a wonderful antagonizer of the 5-HT2A receptors, helping the herb moderate anxiolytic-like effects and contributing to positive, balanced mood (Matsuzaki et al., 2013).

Rhodiola Crenulate

Rhodiola is a powerful adaptogen and general tonic, typically turned to for its ability to improve the entire mind and body in many facets (Orr, 2014).  It has been a huge part of Chinese and Ayurvedic traditional medicines, and is well-known for its ability to improve mental endurance.  Its strength in terms of an energy booster affords it the ability to modify mood and improve productivity (2014). These properties make it wonderful for decreasing stress and depression, alongside its purported ability to resist chemical and environmental stressors (Beshara et al., 2019).

Final Notes About Using Nootropics for Depression and Mood

Many nootropics and holistic herbs exist to help reduce depression, improve mood, and combat a poor sense of self.  Utilizing the nootropics on this list within their designated daily values, together or alone, can help improve life altogether.  While some are more effective than others for each individual, after a little trial and error, the correct nootropic for each system will become clear.  Any of these nootropics are a great start for improving mood and eliminating depression. Adding an anti-depression nootropic to a daily regimen is an excellent idea for almost any nootropic stack.

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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Ashraf, A., Mahmoud, P., Reda, H., Mansour, S., Helal, M., Michel, H., and Nasr, M. (2019). Silymarin and silymarin nanoparticles guard against chronic unpredictable mild stress induced depressive-like behavior in mice: involvement of neurogenesis and NLRP3 inflammasome. Journal of Psychopharmacology. Vol. 33(5). Pp. 615–631. DOI:

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Chong, P., Fung, M., Wong, K., and Lim, L. (2019). Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder. International journal of molecular sciences. Vol. 21(1). Pp. 163. DOI:

Cox, K., Pipingas, A., and Scholey, A. (2015). Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population. J Psychopharmacol. Vol. 29(5). Pp. 642-51. DOI: 10.1177/0269881114552744

Du., Y., Liang, H., Zhang, L., and Fu, F. (2017). Administration of Huperzine A exerts antidepressant-like activity in a rat model of post-stroke depression. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. Vol. 158. Pp. 32-38. DOI:

Hidese, S., Ogawa, S., Ota, M., Ishida, I., Yasukawa, Z., Ozeki, M., and Kunugi, H. (2019). Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. Vol. 11(10). Pp. 2362. DOI: 10.3390/nu11102362

Higley, M., & Picciotto, M. R. (2014). Neuromodulation by acetylcholine: examples from schizophrenia and depression. Current opinion in neurobiology. Vol. 29. Pp. 88–95. DOI:

Huang, W., Chiu, W., Chuang, H., Tang, D., Lee, Z., Wei, L., Chen, F., and Huang, C. (2015). Effect of curcumin supplementation on physiological fatigue and physical performance in mice. Nutrients. Vol. 7(2). Pp. 905–921. DOI:

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The Nootropics Library: L-Theanine

Everything You Need to Know About L-Theanine and Camellia sinensis

General Information

Scientific Name: [L-Theanine: r-glutamylethylamide, Suntheanin] [Camellia sinensis – the Plant Containing L-Theanine; of the Theaceae Family]

Any Other Names: Theanine, Constituent of Camellia sinensis, Green Tea

Primary Constituents: L-Theanine

Country or Region of Origin: East Asia and Southwestern China

Known Uses: Reduce Stress and Anxiety, Lowers Elevated Blood Pressure, Increases Concentration and Focus, Promotes Relaxation

General History & Introduction

Camellia sinensis is better known as “tea” and is the second highest consumed beverage on the planet (Twilley & Lall, 2018). The Camellia sinensis plant grows as an evergreen shrub around 3-5 feet tall with dark, rough leaves and sweet-smelling, white flowers (Chevallier, 2016).  It is typically found in India, China, and Sri Lanka, where it has established itself as a staple herbal tea even in the earliest of cultures. There are a lot of ancient, cultural rituals in many Asian countries surrounding the drinking of the herbal tea (2016). Each tea plant produces enough leaves to be picked up to 4 times within a year (Shivashankara et al., 2014).

Camellia sinensis also has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine (Chevallier, 2016). It has also been well-accepted throughout Indian culture as an herbal tea (2016). And although Camellia sinensis has a lot of great benefits, one of its amino acid derivatives, L-Theanine, is primarily responsible for the plant’s nootropic effects (2016). L-Theanine is well known for its favorable effects on cognitive performance, emotional state and mood, sleep, and a variety of other health benefits (Türközü & Şanlier, 2017).

Important Note: L-Theanine is a derivative of Camellia Sinensis, which is commonly used to make green tea. Both L-Theanine and Camellia Sinensis offer profound cognitive and relaxation effects, only L-Theanine is considered a nootropic and Camellia Sinensis is usually only consumed as a tea. This article will reveal the positive benefits of items, and how their effects may compare and contrast.

Nootropic Benefits of L-Theanine and Camellia sinensis

Concentration, Focus, and Cognitive Benefits (both L-Theanine and Camellia sinensis)

L-Theanine has always been used for its cognitive performance enhancing capability, however, modern studies have begun to record its significant effect on measurable attributes.  For example, one study has measured the chemical’s effects on concentration and learning ability with encouraging results and future propositions for improving the chemical’s value in the brain (Vuong et al., 2011). The nootropic possesses an innate ability to increase cerebral blood flow, especially when it is used alongside caffeine (Dodd et al., 2015). This contribution to brain health is one of the main factors in its reported cognitive benefits (Dodd et al., 2015).


The nootropic provides the brain with increased subjective alertness and improved cognitive function (Giesbrecht et al., 2010). It is one of the primary nootropics benefiting from use alongside another.  In other words: L-Theanine works better when it is used with Caffeine. For example, one study on the combination of L-Theanine and Caffeine found participants to have significantly improved focus and attention-spans during a “demanding cognitive task” (2010).

Reduces Stress and Anxiety, Promotes Relaxation (both L-Theanine and Camellia sinensis)

L-Theanine has been revered throughout Eastern cultures for thousands of years for its ability to reduce oxidative stress and provide focused, calming effects (Ross, 2014). These antioxidant properties are present when the plant is brewed in tea form, as well as within L-Theanine supplements (Chevallier, 2016). There are studies which have shown the primary constituent has a significant positive effect on behavior and mood (Dodd et al., 2015).

One recent, randomized, controlled-trial suggested that L-Theanine can significantly relieves stress-related ailments and promotes overall mental health (Hidese et al., 2019). And some studies suggest that L-Theanine can increase certain neurotransmitters in the brain, which are responsible for promoting relaxation and regulating mood (Nathan et al., 2006). These neurotransmitters include dopamine, serotonin, and GABA (2006).

Digestive Treatments (both L-Theanine and Camellia sinensis)

Gut Flora are microorganisms (bacteria) which live in the intestines and aide in digestion activities. Some recent research suggests that L-Theanine may have the potential to improve Gut Flora in the digestive tract while also limiting the growth and spread of harmful bacteria (Saeed et al., 2019).  It is purportedly also able to reduce risks of infections within digestive organs (Li et al., 2016).  Some research even suggests the chemical can entirely prevent some digestive disorders (Wang et al., 2012).

One study has suggested that drinking unfractionated green tea can help prevent gastrointestinal disorders (Koo & Cho, 2004). More recent research has revealed the polysaccharides from Camellia sinensis flowers are able to regulate gut health (Chen et al., 2019). This same study suggested that the plant also ameliorated cyclophosphamide-induced immunosuppression (2019).

Other Benefits (both L-Theanine and Camellia sinensis)


Camellia sinensis herbal tea has long been used to treat a variety of skin and inflammation conditions (Chevallier, 2016).  It also offers many anti-bacterial benefits. The constituent L-Theanine is great for regulating and improving the quality of sleep (Türközü & Şanlier, 2017). It has also been proven to have positive effects on cancer, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.  The nootropic can even reduce the symptoms of the common cold (2017). Some research has shown that regular consumption of Camellia sinensis can reduce risk of pancreatic cancer (Wang et al., 2012).  Similarly, L-Theanine has been shown to have the potential to prevent and manage many different types of cancers (2012).

And one study revealed L-Theanine’s potential to improve immune function (Li et al., 2016). The chemical has been shown to possess an ability to improve nutrient absorption in the gut (Yan et al., 2017). Vitamins and minerals are literally absorbed better with L-Theanine, improving overall health (2017).

Dosing and Usage Information

Normally, only the leaves and buds of the Camellia sinensis plant are used, and this includes in the extraction of primary constituent, L-Theanine (Chevallier, 2016). Dietary supplements typically contain a maximum of 400 mg of L-Theanine extract.

Side Effects

Although more research is still required to draw ultimate consensus, one recent study on the safety and effects of using L-Theanine on a regular basis revealed the chemical as reliable and generally accepted as safe, even when consumed in larger quantities (Türközü & Şanlier, 2017). That said, while uncommon, some side effects may include headaches, irritability, and nausea (Giesbrecht et al., 2010).

Other Important Information

Sometimes Camellia sinensis is mixed with other herbs to create intricate herbal tea concoctions.  Cinnamon is one of the most popular additives (Chevallier, 2016).  The plant is used to produce all kinds of teas, including the traditional black, oolong, and green teas (Shivashankara et al., 2014).

The primary constituent responsible for the nootropic benefits of the tea, L-theanine, is also responsible for the flavorful taste of the tea (Vuong et al., 2011).


L-Theanine and its parent plant, Camellia sinensis, are extremely effective brain-boosters and have been well-known throughout many cultures as such.  They also offer relaxation-inducing effects.  L-Theanine’s nootropic benefits are constantly being investigated and backed by a growing archive of studies and empirical data. For this reason, L-Theanine has become one of the more popular nootropics, especially in Western cultures. And its effects on cognitive function and stress make it a great addition to most nootropic stacks.

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.


Chen, D., Chen, G., Ding, Y., Wan, P., Peng, Y., Chen, C., Ye, H.,, Zeng, X., and Ran, L. (2019). Polysaccharides from the flowers of tea (Camellia sinensis L.) modulate gut health and ameliorate cyclophosphamide-induced immunosuppression. Journal of Functional Foods. Vol. 61. DOI:

Chevallier, A. (2016). Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. Third Edition. DK Publishing. New York, New York. ISBN 978-1-4654-4981-8

Dodd, F., Kennedy, D., Riby, L., and Haskell-Ramsay, C. (2015). A double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the effects of caffeine and L-theanine both alone and in combination on cerebral blood flow, cognition and mood. Psychopharmacology (Berl). Vol. 232(14). Pp. 2563-76. DOI: 10.1007/s00213-015-3895-0

Giesbrecht, T., Rycroft, J., Rowson, M., and De Bruin, E. (2010). The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness. Nutr Neurosci. Vol. 13(6). Pp. 283-90. DOI: 10.1179/147683010X12611460764840

Hidese, S., Ogawa, S., Ota, M., Ishida, I., Yasukawa, Z., Ozeki, M., and Kunugi, H. (2019). Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. Vol. 11(10). Pp. 2362. DOI: 10.3390/nu11102362

Koo, M., and Cho, C. (2004). Pharmacological effects of green tea on the gastrointestinal system. Eur J Pharmacol. Vol. 500(1-3). Pp. 177-85. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2004.07.023

Ross, S. (2014). L-theanine (suntheanin): effects of L-theanine, an amino acid derived from Camellia sinensis (green tea), on stress response parameters. Holist Nurs Pract. Vol. 28(1). Pp. 65-8. DOI: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000009

Saeed, M., Yatao, X., Tiantian, Z., Qian, R., and Chao, S. (2019). 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing reveals a modulation of intestinal microbiome and immune response by dietary L-theanine supplementation in broiler chickens. Poult Sci. Vol. 98(2). Pp. 842-854. DOI: 10.3382/ps/pey394

Li, C., Tong, H., Yan, Q., Tang, S., Han, X., Xiao, W., and Tan, Z. (2016). L-Theanine Improves Immunity by Altering TH2/TH1 Cytokine Balance, Brain Neurotransmitters, and Expression of Phospholipase C in Rat Hearts. Medical science monitor : international medical journal of experimental and clinical research. Vol. 22. Pp. 662–669. DOI:

Nathan, P., Lu, K., Gray, M., and Oliver, C., (2006). The Neuropharmacology of L-Theanine(N-Ethyl-LGlutamine). Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherpay. Vol. 6(2). Pp. 21-30. DOI: 10.1080/J157v06n02_02

Shivashankara, A., and Baliga, M. (2014). Polyphenols in Chronic Diseases and their Mechanisms of Action Polyphenols in Human Health and Disease. Academic Press. ISBN: 978-0-12-398456-2. DOI:

Türközü D., and Şanlier, N. (2017).  L-theanine, unique amino acid of tea, and its metabolism, health effects, and safety. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. Vol. 57(8). Pp. 1681-1687. DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1016141

Twilley, D., and Lall, N. (2018). Are Medicinal Plants Effective for Skin Cancer? Medicinal Plants for Holistic Health and Well-Being. Academic Press. ISBN: 978-0-12-812475-8. DOI:

Vuong, Q., Bowyer, M., and Roach, P. (2011). L-Theanine: properties, synthesis and isolation from tea. J Sci Food Agric. Vol. 91(11). Pp. 1931-9. DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.4373

Wang, J., Zhang, W., Sun, L., Yu, H., Ni, Q., Risch, H., and Gao, Y. (2012). Green tea drinking and risk of pancreatic cancer: A large-scale, population-based case–control study in urban Shanghai. Cancer Epidemiology. Vol. 36(6). Pp. e354-e358 DOI:

Yan, Q., Tong, H., Tang, S., Tan, Z., Han, X., and Zhou, C. (2017). L-Theanine Administration Modulates the Absorption of Dietary Nutrients and Expression of Transporters and Receptors in the Intestinal Mucosa of Rats. BioMed research international. DOI: