Focus Nootropics: Top 5 Supplements

A nootropic can be described as natural or engineered substances that improve mental clarity and stimulation. This article will break down the top 5 nootropics to include in your supplement routine. Whether you’re looking to boost a grade point average, land that quarterly raise or simply realize your full potential nootropics work with a healthy body and mind to help you achieve your goals faster than expected.


#1 Oxiracetam

Part of the Racetam family known for their nootropic abilities, Oxiracetam was designed for its ability to stimulate cognitive functions. Oxiracetam has gone through hundreds of clinical reviews over the last 3 decades since it was first developed in the early 1980’s. It was quickly pushed through to studying the effects on human patients due to high safety levels with little to no side effects viewed early on. Oxiracetam works to improve the user’s focus, especially during mentally stimulating situations as observed during visual and auditory testing. The possibilities of this nootropic substance are still being discovered while new testing develops leading researchers to believe that it can be used as a treatment for degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

How does nootropic it work?

Oxiracetam works to increase focus by decreasing the activity of GABA receptors. The primary role of GABA receptors is to control the length of synapses in the brain, in relation to your thought process. Increasing the length of these synapses allows for deeper thought especially when faced with daunting tasks where memory and speed are required.

Oxiracetam and other racetams also have the ability to increase the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is associated with the parasympathetic nervous system and effects how we use energy in the brain. Many people taking Oxiracetam even choose to compound it with Acetylcholine to boost this energy efficient effect.

#2 Ashwagandha

For optimal focus to take effect the mind needs to be in a calming state. This is different from sedation as it is often associated with Ayurvedic medicinal herbs. Also known as Indian Ginseng, Ashwagandha has been supplemented in diets for thousands of years. Part of the night shade family Ashwagandha has been used for its adaptogenic qualities. This term is often used in naturopathic medicine for a plant’s ability to return the body to homeostasis or base line state. In doing this the plant has a way of calming the mind while improving memory, all without the sedative effects productive minds are trying to avoid.

How does this nootropic work?

Primarily unique to the Night shade family these plants including Ashwagandha contain compounds known as withanolides. This group of withanolides contains at least 300 compounds that are similar in structure to ginseng “panax” which attribute to their mentally enhancing effects. One of the withanolides found in Ashwagandha have been isolated to show blood enhancing abilities during preliminary research being made. The other main mechanism that makes Ashwagandha such a powerful nootropic for mental focus is the adaptogenic response it provides. This means that mental stress and fatigue are nullified allowing clearer thought to develop and unfold.

#3 L-theanine

Almost exclusive to the Green tea plant L-theanine when combined with caffeine offers your mind laser sharp focus. Caffeine alone is often great for keeping energy levels up and motivation in check, yet sometimes it may feel like the devil’s advocate playing too much into the stimulation which can result in anxiety or scatterbrain. Green tea extracts provide the best of both worlds in the way it gives your body caffeine to increase alertness and activity while the amino acid L-theanine works to keep your thoughts at bay. Often combined as a nootropic stack students have found great success combining caffeine pills with L-theanine to cram through a night of studying before a big exam. The added bonus for green tea is the lack of stomach issues that usually follow a night filled with pots of coffee due to the high acidity.

How does this nootropic work?

The driving force of this memory enhancing Amino is what causes your body to suppress glucocorticoids. These nasty compounds have a way of interfering with your body’s production and synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. By supplementing with L-theanine studies have shown a decrease in the effects of glucocorticoids whereby the amino acid acts as an antagonist working against the glucocorticoids. Many anti-depressants such as Prozac are designed as glucocorticoid antagonists, yet far more dangerous than L-theanine with adverse side effects. L-theanine has even been shown to decrease the effects of a stroke when present at the time of incident and has been linked to a 40% decrease in the likelihood of a stroke as shown by a large study published in China.


#4 Holy Basil ( Tulsi )

Native to India this intensely aromatic plant has been used as a common medicine in Ayurvedic practices for centuries and is often referred to as the “goddess of herbs”. It can be taken as a delicious nutty flavoured tea or in a more powerful tincture form. Meditation masters and novices alike often sip on the wonders of this plant before entering a highly focused meditation state. It has the ability to ease the mind while promoting alertness and stamina, perfect for those trying to relax without sedation. It is this calming effect that allows the mind to focus on tasks at hand rather than the dilution of unrelated thoughts. For those looking for more of a pickup it can me mixed with most other herbs to form a variety of different teas and goes great with loose green tea for that added caffeine to up the clarity.

How does this nootropic work?

Holy Basil has a number of phytochemicals that work on improving your immune system and mental state. One of the compounds isolated and thought to have the highest impact is known as Ursolic Acid. This compound has even been shown in studies to increase testosterone while decreasing fertility in males and should not be taken if making a baby is in the works. Like Ashwagandha and many other Ayurvedic herbs Holy Basil has adaptogenic qualities that allow the mind to ease into clarity without making you feel tired. It promotes a positive sense of wellbeing though the body returning to a point of homeostasis.

#5 Alpha Brain

Regarded as one of the original supplements to make waves in the nootropic scene, Alpha brain was designed by the performance enhancing company known as ONNIT.  Alpha Brain is packed with a variety of Herbs to create their own version of a nootropic stack. Together these ingredients work to reduce inflammation, increase the amount of neurotransmitters available within the brain and even improve REM sleep (the type of sleep associated getting a good night’s rest). Alpha brain goes one step further with these ingredients by implementing Swiss water extraction methods to get the most potent version of the brain enhancing Cats claw known as ac-11.

How does this nootropic work?

Alpha Brain took a unique approach to conjuring up their nootropic creation. They stuck with traditional medicinal herbs that have been used for centuries while narrowing down on what makes these plants so special. One of their star ingredients Alpha GPC outshines cheaper forms of Choline, bumping up the fast food standards of this important neurotransmitter pre cursor. Alpha GPC has been shown to be more effective through its ability to easily break the blood brain barrier. The second big leap this supplement takes is including Huperzia serrata derived from club moss. This herb works as an inhibitor of Acetylcholinesterase which breaks down acetylcholine the important compound increased by the inclusion of lecithin. You can be sure this company spoke to a fair share of chemists and shamans alike to get this combination right. Similar to the mind altering ayahuasca created in the Amazonian jungles, some plants work twice as hard if not at all when placed together.


 Chen Z, Li Y, Zhao LC, et al. A study on the association between tea consumption and stroke. Zhonghua Liu Xing Bing Xue Za Zhi. 2004 Aug;25(8):666-70.