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Natural Nootropics: Top 5 list for better brain health

Natural nootropics have been breaking grounds lately for being regarded as more than witch craft and Amazonian voodoo. Often time’s people don’t realize that many of the drugs on the market today are here because of an identified compound found in a plant. There is a whole field of pharmacology dedicated to finding new compounds not yet discovered in some hidden undocumented plant. Even the common aspirin gained its roots from a compound found in the bark of the white willow.  People are now looking to the root of these drugs for optimal purity to naturally increase longevity, heart and brain health.

This is where Nootropics come in. This word has been thrown around a lot for just about everything from Adderall to colorful berries, it basically boils down to defining a substance (natural or synthetic) that works to improving mental performance.

Depending on your dietary choices you may be more interested in reaching this heightened visionary state through natural supplements. In this article I will share with you my top 5 list of herbal Nootropics and why they beat out the hundreds of others not on this list.

 

 

#1 Green tea as an herbal nootropic

I chose to start with green tea simply for its versatility. In the Nootropic world there is a practice called “Stacking” it refers to compounding two ingredients so they create a synergistic effect. Many plants in nature have this effect when mixing two different species together. Green tea is able to harness this co-operation of compounds directly within its own make up.

There are high levels of caffeine in green tea that give you the heightened sense of alertness normally associated with drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages. To calm this effect a compound called L-theninine found in the plant counteracts the caffeine in a sense giving you the sensation of calming mental alertness.

Main take away from Green Tea

  • Contains high amount of mental stimulating caffeine
  • Offers a 2 in 1 solution ( Caffeine + L-thenine )
  • L-thenaine works to calm the jitters normally associated with caffeine
  • L- thenanine has been used in Nootropic stacking paired with stronger doses of caffeine

#2 Club Moss (Huperzia Serrata)

This powerful herb has been used for generations in Chinese medicine to treat Alzheimer’s disease. It has been introduced into many clinical studies to test the efficacy of this medical claim.

Club Moss is native to China where it is considered endangered due to over cultivation and can even be found crawling in tropical regions of the united states.

 

This herbal supplement works by not only improve blood flow to the brain, but also increases the level of neuron activity within the brain. Thoughts begin to form more clearly due to the way it inhibits cholinesterase. Cholinesterase can be thought of as the end of a thought or mental stimulation inhibiting this amino acid through Club Moss supplementing lengthens the duration of synapses in the brain and can improve mental clarity while enhancing memory making it a perfect candidate for treating Alzheimer’s disease or even just cramming for a big exam.

 

 

Main take away from Club Moss

  • Has been used for centuries as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
  • Increases blood flow to the brain
  • Inhibits (blocks) the amino acid cholinesterase
  • A reduction of cholinesterase in brain increases the length of synapses
  • Has been shown to improve memory and cognitive performance

 

#3 Brain Boosting Yerba mate

Native to the sub-tropical regions of South America Yerba Mate has been used as an herbal beverage for centuries. It contains similar amounts of caffeine in comparison to green tea with all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life. The ancients who drank this brew named it the “Holly Tree” for the sense of energy it brought into their lives.

 

Where Yerba mate is superior to green tea is in regards to the lack of the amino acid mentioned above called thenanine. This means you get a mental boost similar to a cup of coffee without the acidity that follows.

 

As an added bonus Yerba Mate has a phytonutrient called “theobromine”. This compound is famously known for its presence in raw chocolate and contributes to the euphoric feeling many people associate with high quality chocolate.

Main take away from Yerba Mate

  • Yerba contains all of the essential vitamins to sustain life.
  • Similar to coffee in caffeine without the calming effects of green tea
  • Contains “theobromine” an excellent phytonutrient to stack with caffeine
  • Theobromine and caffeine when paired together release a sense of euphoria
  • Non- acidic

 

 

 

#4 The Herbal Nootropic – Cats Claw

Cats claw has been one of the most widely used herbs in North America and Europe since the early 90’s. it has a strong hold in the medical community for its versatility and variety of pharmacological alkaloids and amino acids. This plant is native to the Amazonian rain forest with the medicinal properties of the Cats claw focused in the trunk and bark of the vine.

Cats’ claw has been used to treat osteoarthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive issues and is seen as a silver bullet in most of these cases for its ability to adapt to different biological circumstances. The alkaloids found cat’s claw have also shown to increase blood flow to the brain leading to increased cognitive performance and making it a top contender in many herbalists nootropic arsenal.

There are a number of compounds within cats claw that can be attributed to its healing and responsive qualities. The ones in particular that are associated with brain functions and neuro activity are called “carboxyl alkyl esters” these compounds have been shown in studies to repair DNA and facilitate the recuperation neural functions. Supplementing with Cats Claw thus leads to a shaper mind that can quickly pick up on sensory ques.

Main take away from Cats Claw

  • Cats claw is one of the most widely used herbs in north America.
  • It is a versatile form of natural supplementing.
  • It’s adaptogenic qualities make it great for other ailments not just memory and cognition.
  • Cats claw has been shown in studies to rejuvenate brain functions.
  • Studies have shown it’s a strong contender for treating Alzheimer’s.
  • Can repair DNA and facilitate neural functions.

 

#5 Jatamansi (Nardostachys Jatamansi)

This high altitude loving herb has been used for its medicinal properties for generations in ayuverdic medicine. The Jatamansi plant that is native to the Himalayan Mountains has been cultivated so often for its rejuvenating qualities that it is near the point of extinction. When herbs like this and ginseng are so sought after they make it onto endangered species lists you can be sure to take notice.

As part of the Valerian family known for their mentally calming effects Jatamansi has been shown in clinical studies to be effective for treating depression, anxiety and cognitive disorders. Due to its ability to effect GABAB receptors the Jatamansic acid in Jatamansi when taken for more than 2 weeks or longer can increase dopamine and serotonin production. This increase in GABA activity will leave you feeling more at ease with the tasks at hand and could be the motivation you need to get the job done.

 

 

 

Main Take away from Jatamansi

  • Native to the Himalayan mountains
  • Listed as endangered due to over cultivation
  • Effects GABA receptors over longer doses
  • Increases Serotonin and dopamine release
  • Positively effects mood and sense of wellbeing

 

Hopefully now,

you have a better idea of how you can work century old medicine into your supplementing routine. These herbs have been trusted and passed down for generations for their obviously potent abilities. Unlike most chemically specific pharmaceuticals herbal supplements often have varying effects on each individual. Sometimes the need is not pronounced and other times it will feel like a gift from the gods. Whether your looking to finish a chapter in your novel, efficiently cram for an exam or trying to get your business off the ground adding these herbs to your “try it” list will work wonders for the road blocks you are bound to face.

 

 

 

Resources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8202559

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18512329

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