Nootropics Depot's Guide to the Top 10 Natural Nootropics of 2018
With so many options to choose from, and many more arriving on the market each day, venturing into the vast world of nootropics and supplements can be a daunting task for beginners and experienced users alike. In fact, Nootropics Depot currently offers over 160 different products when you include both capsule and powder variations that are currently available. We recognize that can be a lot to sift through. Fear not though, as Nootropics Depot is here to help with our Guide to the Top 10 Natural Nootropic Supplements of 2018. While this list is in no particular order, it was compiled with a few key metrics in mind. This includes product popularity, customer feedback, and scientific research; with some input on our own office favorites as well. In other words, our valued customers contributed to this list just as much as we did! We are excited to present to you our Guide to the Top 10 Natural Nootropic Supplements of 2018...
Polygala tenuifolia Extract | 20:1 Extract
The first on our list is an extremely impressive natural extract called Polygala tenuifolia, which has a wide variety of benefits. Polygala is a favorite among us at the office and also among our customers judging by the slew of positive reviews on it! Polygala Tenuifolia, also known as Yuan zhi, is a root that has been used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine. The compounds contained within Polygala tenuifolia have a wide array of benefits throughout the brain and body. These effects range from supporting focus, all the way to promoting sleep quality. We often recommend Polygala tenuifolia to people who want a simple nootropic that will put a check in most "health benefit" boxes for them.
One of the compounds in Polygala tenuifolia, Yuanzhi-1, acts as a triple reuptake inhibitor. This means that it inhibits the reuptake of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. This mechanism of action results in calm focus and a significant increase in energy levels. It also helps support healthy stress levels. These effects are further enhanced by Polygala tenuifolia’s ability to enhance neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is a process by which our brains grow and adapt. In certain parts of our brains, such as the hippocampus, neuroplasticity is a key regulator of our mood. Often times, low mood can be traced back to decreased neuroplasticity in the hippocampus. Not only does neuroplasticity influence our mood, it is also one of the main mechanisms through which memories are formed. What makes Polygala especially interesting when it comes to mood and focus is that it is also an NMDA receptor blocker. It has been shown that blocking the NMDA system can make monoamine systems, such as the dopaminergic system, more sensitive. This should, in the context of Polygala tenuifolia, promote even higher levels of focus in conjunction with its triple reuptake inhibitor effect. The NMDA receptor also plays a key role in memory processing, which we discuss in more detail in our blog about magnesium here.
Polygala tenuifolia also contains compounds which help promote relaxation, such as tenuifolin. In fact, it seems like the stimulating effects of polygala tenuifolia are much shorter lived than its calming effects. This is interesting, as anecdotally we have noticed that we obtain a much higher quality of sleep when we supplement with Polygala tenuifolia later in the day. This is not entirely surprising, as tenuifolin has been shown to promote better sleep. Polygala tenuifolia, in addition to supporting memory, boosting focus, promoting healthy stress levels, and relaxation can also help protect the brain. It does this by promoting healthy levels of oxidation in the brain
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BaCognize Bacopa monnieri Extract
Next on our list is another highly effective natural brain health supplement used for hundreds of years in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Bacognize is a specialized extract of bacopa monnieri, which is produced by Verdure Sciences. The goal for this extract was to standardize for serotonin active bacopa glycosides, which Verdure Sciences managed to do at 12.5%. In contrast to other bacopa monnieri extracts, bacognize is particularly calming and is great for stress management. Bacognize, similar to Polygala tenuifolia, also significantly enhances neuroplasticity. It is thought that via this mechanism bacopa monnieri produces the bulk of its cognition enhancing effects. Due to this, however, the memory supporting effects of Bacognize take a few weeks to kick in. That being said, the calming effects can be experienced from the first dose.
One of the reasons why we believe Bacognize is a great
contender for being one of the best natural nootropics is the fact that it can
help promote sleep. This is important as sleep is highly implicated with
optimal cognitive function. The less we sleep, the worse off our cognitive function will be during the
day. Bacognize, due to its calming effects, is good at promoting the onset of
sleep. While asleep, Bacognize even seems to boost sleep quality, allowing you
to wake up refreshed and focused. Better yet, since Bacognize supports memory
over the long term, these effects will still be experienced if it is taken
purely before bed. This makes it, as far as we are aware, one of the only sleep support supplements that improves memory.
Want to Know More About BaCognize Bacopa monnieri Extract?
Learn more about BaCognize Bacopa monnieri by reading our blog BaCognize vs. Synapsa.
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KSM-66 Ashwagandha Extract
Next on our list of Top 10 Natural Nootropics is another herb from Ayurvedic medicine: Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha, similar to Bacopa monnieri, is a great calming herb. However, Ashwagandha has great effect on supporting healthy stress levels. Stress is one of the major limiters of cognitive function in the modern world. Stress, in general, works according to a bell curve. Too little stress and you will struggle to get motivated; too much stress and you will have a hard time focusing on just one task and keeping calm. With stress, you want to be exactly in the middle. This is where you get all of the positives from stress, such as increased wakefulness, focus, and motivation, without any of the drawbacks of high stress levels. This can be hard to achieve sometimes. However, a special extract of Ashwagandha called KSM-66 can help achieve this balanced state of stress.
The active compounds in ashwagandha are called withanolides. These a group of naturally occurring C28-steroidal lactones built on an intact or rearranged ergostane framework. There are at least 300 different withanolides, which are mainly secondary metabolites of plants in the nightshade family.
KSM-66 is extracted according to traditional usage of Ashwagandha whereby it is extracted using milk. KSM-66 used this traditional knowledge to extract Ashwagandha using milk in the process, keeping in line with Ayurvedic practices. The end result is a potent Ashwagandha extract that retains the character of the initial plant material. Anecdotally this produces a very uplifting ashwagandha extract that can help you stay calm and motivated!
Want to Know More About KSM-66 Ashwagandha Extract?
Learn more about KSM-66 Ashwagandha by reading our blog KSM-66 vs. Sensoril.
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DynaMAX Enhanced Caffeine
One of the most popular nootropic stacks, and something that most beginners start with, is the combination of caffeine and L-theanine. It’s clear why this combination is so widely recommended. Firstly it is based off of one of the most commonly consumed nootropics world wide (caffeine) that for most people is much better than caffeine on its own. We agree with this school of thought, but also thought that it could use some improvement. First and foremost, the combination of one-part caffeine to two parts L-theanine can be a little bit lackluster for individuals who want a little bit more kick from their caffeine. The second limitation is that the effects, unfortunately, do not last very long. Since we are personally fans of the combination, we had the thought to improve the classic combination of caffeine and L-theanine. At first this started as an idea that blossomed into a small supply of the first prototype batch of an improved caffeine and L-theanine combination. This was so well liked by all that tried it that we decided to jump it ahead in our release schedule.
DynaMAX utilizes a slightly higher ratio of caffeine to L-theanine than the normal 1:2, with 150mg caffeine to 200mg L-theanine. This ratio preserves the calming effects of L-theanine, but allows the caffeine to exert a little bit more stimulation. In addition to this, we decided to add Dynamine methylliberine, a novel derivative of caffeine made by Compound Solutions, Inc. which is found in small amounts in coffee beans. When it came to to the caffeine forms, we also decided to come up with a novel caffeine blend that combines instant release anhydrous caffeine with both delayed and extended release microencapsulated caffeine using the ZumXR technology. The end result is quick and powerful, but smooth effect that we are willing to bet can stand up to a good cup of coffee and far surpasses mainstream energy drinks! Upon taking DynaMAX, after about 15 minutes, Dynamine methylliberine starts working its magic. This is usually experienced as a mood lift with gentle stimulation. After about another 15 minutes, the caffeine kicks in which gets potentiated by the Dynamine methylliberine. This results in quite a profound sense of stimulation and focus. However, before it becomes overwhelming, the L-Theanine steps in, and smooths out this stimulation. After about two hours, when the effects seem to be decreasing a little bit, the delayed release caffeine kicks in. This can be experienced as a quick jolt of energy that will keep you locked into whatever you are focusing or working on. The extended caffeine then carries the effects all the way to the 8-hour mark, letting you down slowly without much of a crash. Consider DynaMAX Enhanced Caffeine as a coffee alternative or energy drink alternative, or as a bit more advanced version of the tried and true combination of caffeine/L-theanine.
Want to Know More About DynaMAX Enhanced Caffeine?
Learn more about DynaMAX Enhanced Caffeine by reading Natrium Health's blog about how they formulated this novel energy boost supplement
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Natrium Health offers DynaMAX Enhanced Caffeine in a 60 count or 120 count jar.
About Natrium Health
Natrium Health is the sister brand of Nootropics Depot. To learn more about Natrium Health, visit their website by clicking here.
Nigella Sativa Extract | Black Seed Oil
If there is any one natural extract that made big waves in the nootropics community in 2018, then it has to be Nigella Sativa, which is also known as black seed oil or black seed oil extract. Black seed oil has been used for centuries as a supplement for most common ailments. However, it has recently experienced a resurgence of interest after a lot of high-quality scientific research was made available on Nigella Sativa. It has especially garnered significant interest due to its nootropic benefits that range from a significant calming/stress reducing effect to supporting memory.
One of the main compounds in black seed oil that is responsible for a bulk of its effects is thymoquinone. Most commercial black seed oils have around a maximum of 1% thymoquinone, which is in stark contract to our black seed oil extract that has a whopping 5% thymoquinone! In addition to this, our Nigella Sativa Extract is available as a powder rather than an oil. This makes weighing out doses much easier, in addition to allowing for convenient encapsulation. The main benefit of thymoquinone is a pronounced calming effect that does not cloud cognition. This is great as it allows for more relaxed focus which can be a great asset during times of high stress. Furthermore, it is also a great immune system booster. Again, this will help during periods of high stress where the chances of getting sick are much higher than normal. At this point, the added benefits of significant boosts to cognition is just the cherry on top for black seed oil extract!
Want to Know More About Nigella Sativa Extract (Black Seed Oil)?
Learn more about Black Seed Oil Extract by reading our Nigella Sativa blog.
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PrimaVie Purified Shilajit Extract
Shilajit is an interesting natural substance. Shilajit oozes out of rocks high up in various mountain ranges, such as the Himalayas, during summer months. The current theory is that it is composed of humification products of various different plants and mosses. This would explain its complex chemical make up and presence of various humic compounds such as fulvic acid. This also explains the often high heavy metal levels found in crude Shilajit that is widely available. This is due to the fact that the rocks that Shilajit oozes out of can be significant sources of heavy metals. This can make supplementation of crude Shilajit a little bit tricky. Luckily, we were able to work together with Natreon, the makers of Primavie Purified Shilajit, to offer a product with tested and consistently low levels. Primavie Shilajit is a highly potent, but also highly purified, Shilajit extract that has very low levels of heavy metals. This makes it one of the most efficacious and safest Shilajit supplements available to buy
Effects wise, Primavie Shilajit is most notable as being able to rejuvenate our cells and thereby boosting our overall cognitive function. It achieves this through its high fulvic acid content that is complexed with dibenzo alpha pyrone chromaproteins (DBP). Fulvic acid allows DBP to be shuttled to the mitochondria of our cells. Once there, DBP has the ability to promote healthy levels of oxidation in the mitochondria, which is very important for proper mitochondrial function. The more efficiently our mitochondria run, the more ATP they can produce. ATP is one of the major energy sources for our cells, and thus by allowing our mitochondria to produce more ATP, Shilajit can enhance cell function. Similar to Creatine, this should boost overall brain function.
Shilajit works as a great regulator of oxidation and optimizer of mitochondrial function. It is also very versatile and goes well with many other natural nootropic supplements such as Coenzyme Q10. Many people find that they really start to see shilajit work well when they take it at the same time as CoQ10, as shilajit increases the bioavailabiltiy of CoQ10 significantly.
Want to Know More About PrimaVie Purified Shilajit?
Learn more about PrimaVie Purified Shilajit by reading our Shilajit blog.
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Lion's Mane Mushroom Extract | Hericium erinaceus
Out of all of the natural nootropics on this list, Lion’s Mane Mushroom is perhaps the best known, especially among those interested in mushroom extracts. Lion’s Mane Mushroom is a unique mushroom that grows in various parts of the world and is prized both for its unique effects and as a culinary ingredient. Compounds contained within Lion’s Mane Mushroom, such as erinacines and hericenones, have the ability to elevate levels of a neuropeptide called nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF has similar effects to BDNF, however, it acts via a different set of receptors. BDNF signals through TrkB receptors whereas NGF signals through TrkA receptors. The end result is somewhat similar though and leads to enhanced neuroplasticity which may support cognitive function. In addition to this, enhanced NGF levels can significantly protect our brains from various stressors that we may encounter. This neuroprotective effect is further enhanced by Lions Mane’s effects on peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor alpha (PPAR Alpha). PPAR alpha is a major regulator of inflammation and appears to have the ability to exert robust neuroprotection. It has also been theorized that activation of PPAR alpha can lift our spirits and increase overall cognitive function.
As a cherry on top, Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract also has very positive effects on general health, especially immune health support and cardiovascular health. With this is mind, Lion’s Mane Mushroom is a great mushroom extract that has evidence behind it for supporting brain health, while also benefiting overall health.
Want to Know More About Lion's Mane Mushroom Extract?
Learn more about Lion's Mane Mushroom by reading our Lion's Mane Mushroom blog.
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Cordyceps Mushroom | 10:1 Extract | Cordyceps militaris
Cordyceps is a unique, stringy, and bright orange mushroom. Cordyceps has very pronounced effects on endurance and overall energy levels. However, it is oftentimes overlooked as a brain health supplement. The fact of the matter is that Cordyceps mushrooms actually have a very unique ability to support cognitive health.
One of the major pathways by which memories are encoded is the process of long term potentiation (LTP). LTP is the process by which stimulation of the NMDA receptor causes a signaling cascade in glutamatergic neurons which ultimately leads to the insertion of AMPA receptors on these neurons. Activation of AMPA receptors makes the likelihood of the NMDA receptor getting activated much higher. As we mentioned earlier, activation of NMDA receptors during the process of LTP can lead to the insertion of an AMPA receptor. Since AMPA receptor activation increases the sensitivity of NMDA receptors, the more AMPA receptors there are means the more readily LTP will occur. The basic premise of LTP is that the neuron keeps forming stronger connections through NMDA and AMPA receptors. What makes Cordyceps unique, is that one of the compounds contained in it, cordycepin, makes AMPA receptors more sensitive. Through this mechanism of action, cordycepin can make the process of LTP much more likely to occur, and thereby can produce a significant cognition enhancing effect.
Due to its unique mechanism of effect, in addition to the endurance enhancing effects and overall health boosting effects, we believe Cordyceps is one of the best natural nootropics available to buy. If you would like to explore the difference between our 10:1 extract (which is highest in cordycepin) and our regular Cordyceps extracts, then we would recommend our comparison blog between the two linked below. In general, when it comes to cognition, we want high cordycepin content and thus we would recommend our 10:1 Cordyceps extract for cognitive support.
Want to Know More About Cordyceps Mushroom Extract?
Learn more about Cordyceps Mushroom by reading our Cordyceps Mushroom blog.
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Choline has long been regarded as one of the "go-to" natural nootropics, especially for beginners. This is not surprising as choline is found in our diet and plays a vital role in regulating overall cognition and brain health. Choline is the primary precursor to one of the most abundant neurotransmitters in our brain; acetylcholine. Since acetylcholine is a key player in overall cognitive function and memory, the theory is that if we increase choline consumption then we will experience a boost in cognition. This is true to a certain extent, yet straight choline does not appear to make its way to our brains very readily. Cognizin Citicoline, however, has been shown to readily make it into the brain. Once in the brain, the choline can be taken up by cholinergic neurons, where it is then converted to acetylcholine. When metabolised, Cognizin Citicoline releases cytidine which is rapidly converted to uridine. Uridine has a lot of beneficial effects throughout the brain, and synergizes with choline to produce a significant boost in cognition. If you want to go a little deeper into the science behind Cognizin Citicoline and its associated research, then we would highly recommend reading our blog linked below.
Want to Know More About Cognizin Citicoline?
Learn more about Cognizin Citicoline by reading our Cognizin Citicoline blog.
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Longvida Curcumin Extract
Longvida is a specialized extract of turmeric, that addresses one of Curcumin's biggest drawbacks: bioavailability. On paper, the effects of Curcumin are fantastic. Unfortunately, various different studies have come to the consensus that regular Curcumin does not absorb readily in the body. There have been various solutions to this problem, the most popular of which is by using a bioavailability enhancer from black pepper called Piperine. This seems to work reasonably well but the permeation of Curcumin through the blood brain barrier and into the brain is still fairly low with this combination of Curcumin and Piperine. Verdure Sciences figured out a way to put the Curcumin molecule into a solid lipid particle called an SLCP. The SLCP acts as a sort of micro-capsule which has the ability of transporting Curcumin through the blood brain barrier and into the brain. Due to this, Longvida is one of the few formulations of Curcumin that can exert a significant effect on our brains.
So why do we want Curcumin in our brains? To start, Curcumin has great oxidation and inflammation regulating effects in the brain, which help with overall brain health and cognitive function. Curcumin has also been shown to enhance DHA synthesis. This is beneficial as DHA makes up a large portion of our brain and it has been shown that elevated levels of DHA can boost cognition. Curcumin also regulates glutamatergic function in the brain. This is important for keeping our brains in tip-top shape, especially during periods of high stress. As the cherry on top, Curcumin has the ability to significantly enhance brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is a major regulator of neuroplasticity and cognition. By boosting BDNF levels we can expect a significant boost cognitive health support.
Want to Know More About Longvida Optimized Curcumin Extract?
Learn more about Longvida Curcumin by reading our Curcumin blog.
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