Self-improvement is big business. Americans spend an average of $9.9 billion, on self-improvement products, and non-pharmaceutical (over-the-counter) products make up a large portion of this number. Everyone’s looking for peak performance to stay competitive and be their best selves.
What Silicon Valley Is Getting Out Of Nootropics:
- Memory retention
- Problem-solving ability.
College students are already finding their way to nootropics, as well. Up to 20% of college students have taken nootropics. That number is only expected to increase as college gets more competitive.
What Qualifies Something As a Nootropic?
The word ‘Nootropics,’ comes from the Greek word ‘noos,’ meaning mind.
For a substance to be a nootropic, it must be:
- Have no side effects
This means certain prescription neural enhancers do not qualify as nootropics. These include popular pharmaceuticals like Adderall or Ritalin. There are copious nootropic non-pharmaceuticals, from vitamins to nutrition supplements.
As is always the case when a new market emerges, there are copious nootropics on the shelves. It can be difficult to separate the genuine article from snake oil.
Nootropics are frequently taken together in synergistic combos known as ‘stacks.’ Understanding a nootropic’s individual properties can help you create your own stacks. This will help you avoid overpriced brand names with questionable promises.
Here are 15 of the best non-pharmaceutical supplements to enhance your cognitive abilities. We have several links to quality suppliers of these supplements in the Resources page.
Omega-3 Fish Oil
Even those new to non-pharmaceuticals have likely heard of Omega-3 Fish Oil. Omega-3 is one of the most established cognitive enhancers on the market. It’s one of the most scientifically-researched nutritional supplements.
The neural benefits of these non-pharmaceuticals come from two key fatty acids. These fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA has great mood enhancing abilities. It’s also effective for reducing physical inflammation. DHA is a fatty acid mainly responsible for neural enhancement and cognitive development.
Main Facts About Omega-3 Fish Oil
Omega-3s fatty acids are necessary for optimal health but are not produced in the human body. This means they have to be ingested. This is why they’re known as essential fatty acids.
DHA and EPA are some of the most important fatty acids for decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, as well. They also play an important role in preventing heart disease.
Many countries around the world recommend taking at least 500mg of omega-3 fish oils a day.
Benefits Of Omega-3 Fish Oils:
- Lowers cortisol levels
- Increases blood flow and oxygenation
- Decreases cognitive decline
- Improves memory
- Decreases depression
- Lowers anxiety and aggression
- Reduces stress
- Increases mental accuracy
Omega-3 Fish Oils are some of the most reliable nootropics on the market. They’re a great place to start if you’re new to cognitive enhancement.
Alpha GPC is found in the human brain and is an essential source of Choline. Choline is an essential nutrient for cognitive functioning. Alpha GPC helps Choline cross the blood/brain barrier.
It’s also an important source of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is another of the most popular non-pharmaceuticals on the market. Alpha GPC is also one of the most cost-effective nootropics on the market. It’s available over-the-counter at many drug stores.
Benefits Of Alpha GPC:
- Effective in battling Alzheimer’s Disease
- Effective in treating strokes
- Helps stimulate growth hormones
- Easily absorbed in the body when taken with dietary fatty acids.
Alpha GPC helps Choline and acetylcholine cross the blood/brain barrier. Both Choline and acetylcholine help to boost neural signal transmission and repair neurons. As with Alpha GPC, it’s another good place to start when getting into non-pharmaceutical nootropics.
Like Omega-3 fish oils, Phosphatidylserine is a vital source of DHA and EPA, as well as amino acids.
Benefits Of Phosphatidylserine:
- Effective in treating low-level cases of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Effective in slowing down cognitive decline
- Helps with depression
- Diminishes Parkinson’s Disease symptoms
- Treats ADHD
- Enhances mood and relieves stress by reducing Cortisol levels
Fatty acids and Phosphatidylserine work together to create healthy cell membranes. The human body produces Phosphatidylserine, but most must be ingested.
Phosphatidylserine is another popular non-pharmaceuticals for preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and cognitive decline.
Huperzine A comes from the Chinese plant Club Moss. It’s another popular non-pharmaceuticals for diminishing the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Huperzine A is water-soluble so it can be drunk with water. It increases levels of acetylcholine in the brain, blocking the action of cholinesterase.
Huperzine A is particularly effective when taken in conjunction with other nootropics. Huperzine A works well with sources of choline and Alpha GPC. Combining the two increases the amount of acetylcholine in the brain.
Benefits Of Huperzine A:
- Protects Against Toxic Organophosphates
- Protects Neurons Against Glutamate Toxicity
- Helps with Epileptic Seizures
- Could Be A Safe And Effective Way To Treat Addiction
- Promotes Growth of Neural Cells
Huperzine A also has beneficial physical properties for the nervous system. Huperzine A protects the brain from oxidative damage. It also aids in recovering from spinal cord or traumatic brain injury as well as recovering from sepsis.
Huperzine A is useful for:
- Memory and learning enhancement
- Decreasing age-related memory impairment
- Increasing alertness and energy
Caffeine has been used as a nootropic for millennia. It’s definitely the best-known and widely-available of the non-pharmaceuticals.
Caffeine is available in:
- Energy drinks
- A wide array of nootropic supplements.
Caffeine is a bitter xanthine-derived alkaloid compound found in certain foods.
In moderate doses, caffeine:
- Increases life expectancy,
- Promotes weight loss,
- Enhances healthy skin and eyes.
Benefits Of Caffeine:
- Can be used to treat headaches
- Increases mental alertness
Caffeine is also effective when stacked with other nootropics. Combining caffeine with taurine, L-theanine, or glucose further enhances its cognitive-enhancing properties.
Caffeine is widely available and well-studied. It’s one of the best ways to begin investigating nootropics, safely and inexpensively.
Vinpocetine is another of the plant-derived non-pharmaceuticals. This nootropic comes from the Periwinkle plant. It’s also effective in combating cognitive decline. It’s thought to be effective in cognitive enhancement, as well.
Vinpocetine inhibits the enzyme phosphodiesterase type 1 (PDE1). It also reduces calcium levels between the cells. This increases blood flow. Vinpocetine has great antioxidant properties. Vinpocetine enhances delivery of oxygen to the brain as well as nutrition.
Benefits of Vinpocetine:
- Affects the brain blood vessels, brain blood flow, and brain cells themselves
- Helps prevent the neurotoxic effects of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Reduces viscosity of red blood cells and platelets
- Can be used to treat vascular diseases
Vinpocetine still needs further clinical research to fully verify its efficacy. It should be thought of as an “experimental” smart drug.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is another popular non-pharmaceuticals which are native to the human body. It can also be obtained via nutrition and supplements. L-Carnitine has proven to be effective in increasing memory, focus, and attention span.
It also enhances neural blood flow and diminishes mental fog by oxidizing free radicals.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is still being researched as a neural enhancer. Many of its effects are still being studied. Further research is needed to verify L-Carnitine’s many benefits fully.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine has been found to be effective in treating:
- Heart-related conditions like Angina
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Acetyl-L-Carnitine evens helps those suffering from Type II Diabetes to metabolize sugar.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is effective for those suffering from ADHD. It’s also effective for neurotypical brains. It’s another experimental smart drug, but worth a look for its potential.
Ginkgo Biloba is one of the best-known and well-researched of the non-pharmaceuticals. Ginkgo Biloba was once prescribed by doctors to help with memory loss.
Mental Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba:
- Improves concentration
- Reverses cognitive decline
- Heals fatigue
- Treats cerebral insufficiency
- Increases antioxidant activity
- Lowers oxidative stress
- Improves mental health
- Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia
- Combats anxiety and depression
- Helps treat ADHD
Ginkgo Biloba has a number of physical benefits, as well. Ginkgo Biloba is useful for improving circulation and motor performances. It can be useful for treating the reproductive system, as well. Ginkgo Biloba is useful for reducing PMS symptoms and improving libido.
Ginkgo Biloba is often the first nootropic someone discovers. This is largely due to its popularity and wide availability.
Bacopa Monnieri is another natural nootropic. It has a reputation for being highly effective for brain enhancement.
Bacopa Monnieri works by increasing the communication between neurons.
Bacopa Monniera has a wide array of antioxidant properties which help:
- Reduce mental fog
- Decreases anxiety
- Increase memory retention
- Enhances mental cognition
Bacopa Monniera has a wide array of physical and neurological benefits.
Benefits of Bacopa Monnieri:
- Reduces chronic stress
- Improves memory
- Helps treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia
- Assists in treating ADHD
- Regulates dopamine and serotonin
Bacopa Monnieri possesses a number of beneficial physical traits, as well. Bacopa Monnieri can help deal with chronic pain and regulating blood pressure. It is also useful for treating epilepsy.
Uridine Monophosphate plays a vital role in the synthesis of neural membranes. It’s also known to be good for reducing symptoms of bipolar disorder and depression.
Uridine Monophosphate works well in conjunction with choline and Omega-3 fish oils. Together, the three help in enhancing synaptic functioning and formation. Uridine, DHA, and choline can also help increase the number of synapses in the human brain.
Benefits of Uridine Monophosphate:
- Increases neural plasticity
- Can significantly improve verbal and logical memory
- Delay Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms
- Improve learning and memory skills
- Increases acetylcholine and dopamine production
- Can help treat bipolar disorder and depression
Uridine Monophosphate has a number of beneficial physical properties, as well.Uridine Monophosphate is useful for treating epilepsy.
Undine Monophosphate is also effective for:
- Protecting the heart
- Restoring the liver
- Reducing physical pain
- Treating inflammation
Uridine Monophosphate is highly effective as a cognitive enhancer and boosting memory.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that is useful for building proteins. L-tyrosine aids in producing dopamine and noradrenaline transmitters. L-Tyrosine is also manufactured from the amino acid phenylalanine.
It’s one of the most used non-pharmaceuticals for mood stabilization and reducing stress. L-Tyrosine helps maintain cognition and memory and reducing fatigue.
Benefits of L-Tyrosine:
- Increases dopamine levels in the brain
- Helps with performance under stress
- May help with treating ADHD symptoms
- Useful in treating depression
- Can help diminish symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
- Helps with Seasonal Affective Disorder
L-Tyrosine is one of the most popular nootropics for help with studying, as it diminishes mental fog.
Blueberry is one of nature’s greatest antioxidants. It also has a high level of anthocyanin content.
Blueberries or blueberry supplements can:
- Help slow mental decline,
- Enhance memory,
- Diminish mental fog, and can even
- Repair DNA damage
Blueberry may be taken as a nutritional supplement, an extract, or eaten as a fruit.
Benefits of blueberry:
- Improves long-term and short-term memory
- Improves access to words and memories
- Reduces blood sucrose
- Helps repair DNA damage
- Reduces oxidization in the brain
- Increases a sense of well-being
- Increases energy
As a plant extract, blueberry is one of the safest and most natural nootropics on the market. It’s a great place to start, for those looking to clear mental fog or repair cognitive damage.
Creatine has been popular among bodybuilders for some time. It’s been celebrated for its mental enhancing ability, as well, in the last decade. Researchers have found Creatine to increase working memory and intelligence. This is especially true in tasks requiring quick processing time.
Benefits of creatine:
- Great for memory, particularly short-term memory
- Reduces brain fatigue
- Enhances Mood
- Diminished age-related decline
- Protects the brain against plasticity
Creatine is not just for bodybuilding. It’s got a number of beneficial mental properties, as well, and is useful as a nootropic.
Nootropics is a vast and fascinating emerging field of study and research. These 15 non-pharmaceuticals are some of the best and most popular. They’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to brain enhancement.
Who knows what keys to our human potential may be discovered as nootropics develop?