On This Page
- 1 10 Best Natural Nootropics
- 1.1 Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract (Hericium Erinaceus)
- 1.2 Cognizin Citicoline
- 1.3 Bacopa Monnieri Extract
- 1.4 Ashwagandha KSM-66
- 1.5 Longvida Curcumin Extract
- 1.6 Prima Purified Shilajit Extract
- 1.7 Polygala Tenuifolia 20:1 Extract
- 1.8 Caffeine & L-Theanine Combination
- 1.9 Nigella Sativa Extract (Black Seed Oil)
- 1.10 Cordyceps Mushroom
To be honest, I was hesitating for quite some time about whether or not I should actually publish my retake this list of 10 best natural nootropics of 2018 mainly because it was an article written and published by the team of Nootropics Depot itself.
But once I allowed myself an open-minded approach, reading thoroughly, I started seeing a lot of sense in the list. By the time I read through it all, I had realized I have purchased 7 out of the ten items on the list.
And all those purchases were from ND, but none of which had been due to advertisements. Rather, they were based on my own choice and interest as I have placed multiple orders from Nootropics Depot over the past couple of years.
The more I read and analyze the content, the more I realize how it is indeed enlisting some of what I think is amongst the best natural nootropics of…ever.
The team at Nootropics Depot managed to build a brand that stands out from any other manufacturer, and that is something, I can almost guarantee, is acknowledged worldwide. I liked their brand upon discovering the website for the first time, I liked it more after receiving my first box of nootropics traveling all the way from Arizona to Dubai, and I maintained the same level of admiration even after having my ShareASale application declined. If anything, I am now able to see the bigger picture as well as to what led it to the undeniably successful level they're operating at today.
To compile the list, they use customer data to analyze product popularity, customer feedback, scientific research, as well as their own team’s expertise. In other words, you can safely say that the list was based on the nootropic community coexisting online on reddit' nootropics, longevity, and whatever platform where nootropics are in discussion, opinions forming, knowledge growing, and endless research shares.
The list is in no particular order; therefore, I will rearrange it to best of my knowledge and experience, and push the 3 I haven’t had the chance to try to the bottom of the list for this apparent reason. And possibly to further push them to my cart from there.
These are the top 10 Best Natural Nootropics in 2018 according to ND, and in no specific order:
10 Best Natural Nootropics
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract (Hericium Erinaceus)
It didn’t take me more than two(hundred) seconds to figure out whether Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract or the next nootropic would make the #1 best natural nootropic of 2018. I knew the answer immediately when I compared it to the rest and realized that I had not run out of Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract (specifically, ND’s) since the very first time I bought it. This has got to give it quite the credit. Especially when knowing there is no psychedelic or psychostimulant effect of supplementing with it, although that is to some degree debatable.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom is a unique, down-to-definition nootropic. It is one of the few nootropics I know of that support, as well as promote neurogenesis. And that means exactly just what it implies: it is the process by which neurons are generated from neural stem cells and progenitor cells, nootropically speaking.In other words, it supports the regeneration and birth of neurons within the brain — a discovery that led to most of the speculation about it today.
It is also the main reason why I had been taking it throughout the past year. Secondary to that comes a collection of benefits such as enhanced neuroplasticity, improving depression, cognitive function, antioxidant, and the list goes on and on. You can read more in-depth about it in its respective page since it had earned one.
Again I notice that it didn’t take me long to decide whether Citicoline would rank at number two or three given the significant benefits I have personally experienced from both nootropics, as well as from those going to appear later in the list. I had used Citicoline for about six months before I decided to “upgrade” to the better choline source known as Alpha-GPC. I then started using Alpha-GPC as the replacement as my choline source for nearly a year – and still doing so today, taking 300mg per day, and occasionally might increase to 600 mg as desired.
However, I had already decided a while ago that once my large (120ct I believe) runs out, I am switching back to Cognizin Citicoline.
I was convinced to perceive the outcome of Alpha-GPC to win over that of Citicoline. But to my surprise, it turns out I much prefer and enjoy the benefits of Citicoline overall when comparing it to that of Alpha-GPC. But I wasn’t able to decide and tell until I had stopped supplementing with Citicoline for a while. Taking it after such a long and experimental break, upon taking Citicoline I felt as if I had finally put in the last piece of the missing puzzle. And by the way, turns out even that last piece doesn’t solve that puzzle of ours.
But if anything, citicoline will at least be a helping factor and will increase your chances of getting there, in comparison to other nootropics. Experienced users, especially the wiser, such as you and I (we deserve pride ok), already know about the phenomenon of racetam headaches. IF you are new to this, in short, the racetam class of nootropics, and possibly some of the most effective nootropics in the market as of now, are racetams.
They are fantastic for different conditions. Moving onto the next one of the list.
Bacopa Monnieri Extract
Bacopa Monnieri is one of the most interesting natural nootropics in my stack. The amount of studies and research on this flower is endless. Moreover, it's another nootropic that has been in still is, in use today in Ayurvedic medicine. When it comes to something trusted and practiced in ayurvedic I almost instantly buy into it, I wouldn’t even have to see the facts, although I did, nevertheless.
Bacopa is known for its benefits on memory and secondly for its relaxing effect. “Sedating” some would say – which I only agree with if I had been awake for two days straight.
Most people use it once a day at 300mg, and ideally, results should be notable in about four weeks or so. I used it for a few months at 150mg per day, and for another few at 300mg per day, until I stopped due to the curiosity of trying the next nootropic, I found back then.
Today I rarely use it, but when I do, instead of 300mg I would take 700 mg in one dose for the calming and hippie peaceful vibe in puts me in. For which I agree on it being on this list. However, I feel I have to mention that I found it to be most effective at the lowest dose (I believe it's around 150mg – I was taking it as one of the ingredients in Mindlab Pro). But I was consistent with a daily intake of it for way over 4-5 months. Next one on my hit list:
I never realized how much of a natural gangster Ashwagandha sounds like when you add that KSM-66 next to it in the subheading.
Ashwagandha is a very effective adaptogen that people, again, take it on a daily basis and allow adaptation to it over time and is often spoken of as ‘that one natural nootropic that diminishes stress.
Ashwagandha works on the GABA neurotransmitter which is what results in stress and anxiety reduction.
It’s usually taken at 300mg once a day. I remember the first time taking ashwagandha I felt like I was in a bubblegum euphoric heaven without the bubblegum artificial plasticizing smell (which I like, btw).
I was amazed by how strong it had affected me, especially while knowing that my GABA receptors aren’t the easiest to poke and tweak after years of self-medicating with GABA supplements and medications. But that only happened on the very first time I took it. I’ve taken it many many times after but never felt as strong of an effect as the first time. It probably had a lot to do with my subconscious anticipation – I have to say.
I still have and take Ashwagandha every now and then, more often than not double the dose and take 600mg instead of 300mg, but I limit it to once or max twice a week. Reestablishing GABA relationship is not something I have on my mind….for the time being.
Longvida Curcumin Extract
To be honest, I haven’t quite noticed any measurable effects when I used to take curcumin, but I do believe the literature on it. Now after reading a bit more into it, I realize that it might have been the bioavailability of the brand that I had of curcumin, which I am gonna stop typing now, go to the kitchen, take a couple tablets and read the leaflet again – it had been over a year since I had last use it.
Hm. To my surprise, turns out I finished my first bottle and bought another one. I completely forgot about that. I got it from the Netherlands while in a rush going (late) after my flight – that’s why my brain probably did not process that scenario.
But if I had finished one and bought another, it must have been good….
Now curcumin extract is very popular and available in many different places and often for a low price depending on what you settle on when it comes to quality.
What intrigued me about Longvida is that they made it precisely to increase its bioavailability to the maximum. Curcumin’s bioavailability is “one of its most significant drawbacks.” Here’s what they had to say about it. I haven’t dived that deep into it to be in a place of forming or circulating my analysis.
“Longvida is a specialized extract of turmeric that addresses one of Curcumin's most significant drawbacks: bioavailability.
On paper, the effects of Curcumin are fantastic. Unfortunately, various studies have come to the consensus that regular Curcumin does not absorb readily in the body. There have been multiple 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 relatively 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 can transport 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 excellent 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 demonstrated 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 can enhance brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) significantly. BDNF is a primary regulator of neuroplasticity and cognition. By boosting BDNF levels, we can expect a significant boost in cognitive health support.”
They had me at BDNF.
PS: the brand I have is Solgar. It wasn’t precisely produced with a nootropical objective in mind.
Prima Purified Shilajit Extract
Now with Shilajit, quoting ND, its 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 plants and mosses. This would explain its complex chemical makeup and the 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 because the rocks that Shilajit oozes out of can be significant sources of heavy metals.”
This sold it to me without really processing all of that. Today I noticed the second part of the description where it talks about how shilajit increases the bioavailability of CoQ10 which is one of my favorite nootropics. Therefore, I’m going to pause this section here and take my daily CoQ10 now with Shilajit, which I haven’t in a while. I will continue writing this once done with the rest of the list. As to personal experience with previous use, I wouldn’t add it on this list.
The science behind it sounds compelling and makes a lot of sense nevertheless. It explains that the most notable effects of Shilajit are cell rejuvenation, which in turn boosts overall cognitive function. That is supposed to be sent to our mitochondria, and by so promote healthy levels of oxidation in there. Thereby, the mitochondria produce more ATP, and ATP is one of the significant sources of energy for our cells. And that’s how Shilajit is enhancing cognition overall.
The more efficiently our mitochondria run, the more ATP they can produce. ATP is one of the primary 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.”
Polygala Tenuifolia 20:1 Extract
This is one of the newer to the inventory I believe, so I haven’t had the chance to try it yet. Therefore I can’t share a personal opinion. According to Nootropic Depot though, Polygala is a serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor.
“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 ability to enhance neuroplasticity.” then go further into explaining;
“Neuroplasticity is a process by which brains grow and adapt. In certain parts of the brains, such as the hippocampus, neuroplasticity is a crucial regulator of mood. Often, the low mood can be traced back to decreased neuroplasticity in the hippocampus. Not only does neuroplasticity influence mood and well-being, but it is also one of the primary mechanisms through which memories are formed.
What makes Polygala especially interesting 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 crucial role in memory processing“,
“….Polygala tenuifolia, in addition to supporting memory, boosting focus, promoting healthy stress levels, and relaxation, also help protect the brain. It does this by promoting healthy levels of oxidation in the brain.”
Judging by this description, I wouldn’t be surprised that it made it to the list, sitting at the top as the best natural nootropic off the list. I’m very curious now.
Caffeine & L-Theanine Combination
If you’ve made it far enough in your nootropics journey to be reading this sentence, then it goes without a saying why combining caffeine with l-theanine would make it to the list. In case you didn't, you can read about it here.
The only combination I use of this 100:200 mg caffeine/theanine ratio is Nootropic Depot’s, so I’ve seen and can understand why a company or consumer would want an enhanced version of the supplement.
Frankly, I don’t respond very well to caffeine so having my bulletproof coffee in the morning keeps me away from using caffeine/theanine. I do, nevertheless, take l-theanine with my coffee every day.
However, ND list this in as an enhanced formula with 150mg caffeine instead of the commonly known 100:200mg ratio. Additionally, they are using a technology called ZumXR that enhances the absorption and delivery of both in a way that they complement each other even more than they do when taken together, which now is almost going to be called “the old fashioned way.”
They explain more about the extended release saying: “DynaMAX utilizes a slightly higher ratio of caffeine to L-theanine than the regular 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 unique caffeine blend that combines instant release anhydrous caffeine with both delayed and extended release microencapsulated caffeine using the ZumXR technology. The result is quick and powerful, but the 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.”
They continue onto saying “consider DynaMAX as a coffee alternative or energy drink alternative, or like a bit more advanced version of the tried and true combination of caffeine/L-theanine.”
Nigella Sativa Extract (Black Seed Oil)
Talks about black seed oil as a nootropic has been circulating for a while on Reddit and such platforms. But outside the nootropic community, black seed oil has been in use for many years. If anything, I’m almost sure it was more widely used back in the day than it is today.
I remember my grandma stuffing it in foods whenever she found the opportunity to do so. Little did I know she was all about nootropics…
Now in our current days, researchers studied the seeds extracts with all the fancy pansy technologies that weren’t accessible to our ancestors back then. They were able to prove its beneficial effects of producing a calming effect and reducing stress, as well as supporting memory.
A little science from the ND guys explains: “most commercial black seed oils have around a maximum of 1% thymoquinone, which is in stark contrast to our black seed oil extract that has a large 5% thymoquinone…..the main benefit of thymoquinone is a pronounced calming effect that does not affect cloud cognition. This is great as it allows for a 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 usual. At this point, the added benefits of significant boosts to cognition is just the cherry on top for black seed oil extract.”
And quite frankly it makes a lot of sense based on my readings on black seed oil. Last but not least (because the list is not structured as to 1 being the top one):
Now out of all the nootropics mentioned, this one I have yet to hear of. But the fact that its a mushroom extract, I’m gonna allow myself the pleasure of finding out why it made it to the list of 10 best nootropics of 2018. The description written on cordyceps mushroom on ND’s article makes me very open to it:
“Cordyceps is a unique, stringy, and bright orange mushroom. Cordyceps has very pronounced effects on endurance and overall energy levels. However, it is often overlooked as a brain health supplement. The fact of the matter is that Cordyceps mushrooms have a unique ability to support cognitive health.”
They go on to explain the mechanism of action on how those benefits are achieved: “one of the major pathways by which memories are encoded in 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 action, 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.”
Although the list ends here, I feel like MindLab Pro deserves to be on the list as well due to the fact that it has 13 different, natural nootropics. I can barely split a piracetam or noopept capsule in half – evenly…and they somehow manage to shove all 13 nootropics into the capsule. Nothing beats that product in terms of convenience. Nothing.
Original Nootropic Depot's article can be found here.