There are many potential natural brain-boosting nootropic options out there. They can boost memory, improve mood, reduce stress and reduce fatigue. Stacking them is one way to get benefits from more than one class. Remember herbs and supplements have side effects and can conflict with medications so always inform your doctor of any you are talking and be mindful of side effects. These top five would give you a strong start on nootropics stacking.
Hurezine A is a plant extract that improves cognitive abilities and is quite fast acting. It acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor and prevents the release of a chemical that breaks down acetylcholine. It has a result of increasing acetylcholine (learning neurotransmitter) in the brain with improvements to learning, concentration, focus, and memory. Two studies have shown its benefits. A study on Alzheimer’s concluded “beneficial effects on improvement of cognitive function, daily living activity, and global clinical assessment in participants.” The other was a study on the learning performance of students in which they had significantly enhanced memory and significant improvements in language tests. Some research suggests it is used occasionally or cycled, rather than part of an everyday routine.
Bacopa Monnieri is a flowering herb commonly known as water hyssop. There is notable research behind it for memory enhancement and it is known as an antioxidant as well. A 2002 study showed significant results on retention of new information and follow-up testing suggesting this was due to less forgetting of newly acquired information. A study in 2008 found significantly improved performance in the area of working memory.
Lion’s Mane, also known as Yamabushitake, is impressive due to its benefits for nerve-growth factor (NGF), which is basically primary for the growth and survival of neurons. A study done in 2009 on people within the ages of 50-80 with mild cognitive impairments found significantly increased scores on cognitive function. Primarily, aside from the study showing benefits to cognition, we are looking at benefits to brain health, neuroplasticity, the formation of myelin and nerve regeneration.
Ginko Biloba is one of the most popular herbal supplements and one of the best-selling nootropics. It has been used for cognitive enhancement and to prevent cognitive decline. It is, in fact, a good starter nootropic. Now, in research primarily in aging adults, it does have a therapeutic aid in memory formation. Other benefits include flavonoids which reduce inflammation in the brain and terpenoids which increase blood flow. It has positive effects on anxiety, mood and also promotes better concentration.
Rhodiola Rosea is a herb often used in the area of anti-fatigue and adaptogen compound. It is often combined with other nootropics which make it quite popular for beginners. It has been used historically for enhancing stamina and muscle recovery. Effects are notable in regards to fatigue reduction and certainly when it comes to cognition if fatigue is an issue this can definitely have a benefit. A 2003 study demonstrated pronounced anti-fatigue benefits and mental work increased. Primarily we are looking at its benefits to blending with other nootropics well as well as reducing cognitive effects due to fatigue quite effectively.
Other of note you might consider are Vinpocetine (It is synthetic but derived from periwinkle), Ashwagandha and L-Theanine (if you use caffeine).
“Huperzine A for Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3781107/
“Huperzine A capsules enhance memory and learning performance in 34 pairs of matched adolescent” http://www.chinaphar.com/1671-4083/20/601.pdf
“Chronic effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on human memory” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12093601
“Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18844328
“A comment on Ginkgo biloba for mild to moderate dementia in a community setting by McCarney et al.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19153966
“A randomized trial of two different doses of a SHR-5 Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12725561