8 Best Natural & Herbal Nootropics In 2024

Updated May 3, 2024 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci
(Estimated reading time: 11 minutes)

In this article, I'll take a closer at the 8 best natural and herbal nootropics. I'll cover the potential risks and side effects you may run into and the benefits you can expect.

Are you looking for a natural way to boost your brain power and improve your cognitive function?

Look no further than the world of natural and herbal nootropics. With a long history of use in traditional medicine, these natural supplements offer a safe and effective way to enhance your mental performance without the side effects often associated with synthetic drugs.

Today, I'll explore 8 of the best natural and herbal nootropics to consider and the science behind their potential benefits for your brain health.

Whether you're a student looking to ace your exams, a professional seeking to improve your productivity, or simply interested in enhancing your mental clarity, these natural nootropics may be just what you need to take your cognitive abilities to the next level.

So without further ado, let's dive in, shall we?

The best natural and herbal nootropics, according to scientific evidence, are:

  • Nooceptin
  • Bacopa Monnieri
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • L-Theanine
  • Panax Ginseng
  • Lion's Mane Mushroom
  • Ashwagandha

1. Nooceptin

Get the most out of your cognitive capacities with Nooceptin, an extraordinary combination of 7 nootropic ingredients designed to take your brain health to the next level.

Nooceptin is a powerful nootropic blend. You'll experience amplified memory retention and recall, heightened focus and concentration levels, and decreased stress or anxiety-related issues - all while boosting overall mental acuity.

Nooceptin contains the following nootropic ingredients:

  1. Citicoline - 200 mg
  2. Rhodiola Rosea Extract - 150 mg
  3. Bacopa Monnieri Extract - 150 mg
  4. L-Theanine - 200 mg
  5. Ginkgo Biloba Extract - 100 mg
  6. Lion's Mane Extract - 400 mg
  7. Panax Ginseng Extract - 200 mg

As you can see, Nooceptin contains no artificial additives or fillers, and its ingredients are natural herbal nootropics. It's also free of gluten and other potentially harmful chemicals.

It's also caffeine-free, so you won't experience jitters or energy crashes when you take it.

Nooceptin Pros

  • Contains 7 highly effective nootropic ingredients
  • All-natural
  • Free of artificial additives
  • Caffeine-free
  • Ships worldwide

Nooceptin Cons

  • Not ideal for people on a tight budget

Nooceptin in Summary

Nooceptin is a great option for those looking to boost their cognitive abilities without resorting to synthetic drugs or caffeine. Its natural nootropic blend includes some of the most powerful herbal ingredients on the market today and is free of potentially harmful additives.

It may be slightly more expensive than other nootropics on the market, but getting that natural boost you need could be worth the extra cost.

2. Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri (BM), or Brahmi, is an herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used for centuries to improve memory and cognitive function.

Studies have shown that it can help improve concentration, focus, and mental clarity. It is also believed to have anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects.

It contains active ingredients such as bacosides and bacopa saponins, which are believed to be responsible for its cognitive-enhancing effects.

Bacosides are a group of triterpenoid saponins with antioxidant properties that can help protect the brain from oxidative stress. They also help promote the growth of nerve cells and increase synaptic activity in the brain, leading to improved memory and learning abilities.

Bacopa saponins are a group of polyhydroxy steroids that can act as an anti-inflammatory agent and help reduce inflammation in the body. They can also improve blood flow to the brain, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach it and improving mental clarity and focus.[1]

A review of the neuropharmacological effects of Bacopa Monnieri was published in 2013. The study found that Bacopa positively affected cognitive performance, including improved memory, learning, and attention. It also showed that it could reduce anxiety levels and improve mood.[2]

Bacopa Monnieri Pros

  • Can improve memory and learning ability
  • Reduces anxiety and improves mood
  • Cognitive-enhancing effects
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • All-natural

Bacopa Monnieri Cons

  • Bacopa Monnieri can interact with certain medications for treating depression, anxiety, or seizures.

Bacopa Monnieri in Summary

Bacopa Monnieri is an all-natural herb that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to improve memory, learning ability, and focus.

It contains active ingredients such as bacosides and bacopa saponins, which can help protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation. Clinical studies have shown that it can improve cognitive performance, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.

3. Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea (RR) is an herb native to the Arctic and mountainous regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its adaptogenic properties and cognitive-enhancing effects.

Studies have shown that it can improve alertness, mood, concentration, focus, energy levels, and mental clarity. It can also help protect the brain from chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.[3]

The active ingredients in Rhodiola Rosea are thought to be rosavins and salidrosides, which have antioxidant properties that can improve cognition and memory.[4]

Rhodiola Rosea Pros

  • Improves alertness, mood, and mental clarity
  • Cognitive-enhancing effects
  • Protects the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation
  • All-natural

Rhodiola Rosea Cons

  • Interacts with certain medications, such as antidepressants

Rhodiola Rosea in Summary

Rhodiola Rosea is an all-natural herb that can help improve alertness, mood, concentration, focus, energy levels, and mental clarity. It contains active ingredients like rosavins and salidroside, which have antioxidant properties that can protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation.

4. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is a tree native to China and one of the oldest species. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries due to its potential medicinal properties.

In 2015, a comprehensive review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and adverse effects of Ginkgo Biloba were conducted to investigate its potential for treating cognitive impairment and dementia.

It was discovered that a dosage of 240 mg/day could bring about stability or slow down the decline in cognition, function, behavior, and global change up to 22-26 weeks for cognitive impairment and dementia patients - particularly those with neuropsychiatric symptoms.[5]

The active ingredients in Ginkgo Biloba are flavonoids, terpenes, and ginkgolides, which have antioxidant properties that protect the brain from oxidative damage and inflammation.

Ginkgo Biloba Pros

  • Improves cognitive function and behavior in patients with dementia
  • Slows down the decline in cognition
  • Protects the brain from oxidative damage and inflammation
  • All-natural and readily available

Ginkgo Biloba Cons

  • It can take weeks to see the results

Ginkgo Biloba in Summary

Ginkgo Biloba is one of the oldest species and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. A 240 mg/day dosage has been found to improve cognitive function and behavior in patients with dementia, as well as slow down the decline in cognition.

The active ingredients are flavonoids, terpenes, and ginkgolides, which have antioxidant properties that protect the brain from oxidative damage and inflammation. It is an all-natural and readily available supplement.

5. L-Theanine

L-Theanine is an amino acid, most notably in green and black tea. It is also available as a dietary supplement. In 2008, a randomized controlled trial was conducted to investigate the effects of L-Theanine on stress levels and cognitive performance, which revealed that it could reduce anxiety (measured using a manifest anxiety scale) and improve overall cognitive function.[6]

The active ingredients in L-Theanine are catechins and theanine, known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

L-Theanine Pros

  • Reduces anxiety and stress levels
  • Improves overall cognitive performance
  • All-natural and readily available
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties

L-Theanine Cons

  • Some people experience drowsiness after taking it

L-Theanine in Summary

L-Theanine is an amino acid most notably found in green and black tea but can also be taken as a dietary supplement. In 2008, a randomized controlled trial revealed that it could reduce anxiety and improve overall cognitive performance.

The active ingredients are catechins and theanine, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

6. Panax Ginseng

Panax Ginseng is an herb native to China, Korea, and eastern Russia. It has been used in traditional medicine for centuries because of its potential medicinal properties. The active ingredients in Panax Ginseng are ginsenosides, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans.

These compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help protect the brain from oxidative damage.

Ginseng and ginsenosides, in particular, have been studied for their potential to reduce primary cardiovascular risks factors such as dysfunction of ion regulation, signal transduction problems, oxidative stress, platelet aggregation, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and cardiac ischemia.[7]

The results from this study show that ginseng and ginsenosides can play a major role in preventing cardiovascular disease.

Through the inhibition of ROS (reactive oxygen species) formation, stimulation of NO (nitric oxide) generation, enhancement of vasomotor tone, improvement in blood circulation, and amelioration of lipid profile, ginseng, and ginsenosides have been found to be effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Panax Ginseng Pros

  • Improves cognitive function in healthy adults
  • Protects the brain from oxidative damage and inflammation
  • All-natural and readily available
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties

Panax Ginseng Cons

  • It can take several weeks to experience any benefits

Panax Ginseng in Summary

Panax Ginseng is an herb native to China, Korea, and eastern Russia that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries due to its potential medicinal properties.

The active ingredients are ginsenosides, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

7. Lion's Mane Mushroom

Lion's Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) is a natural herbal nootropic used for centuries to promote overall health and well-being. It is known for its cognitive-enhancing properties, which can help improve focus, memory, and concentration.

The mushroom contains compounds known as hericenones and erinacines, which are believed to stimulate the growth of nerve cells in the brain.

This can improve cognitive function, including better memory recall and enhanced learning abilities. Additionally, Lion's Mane Mushroom can be beneficial in treating depression and anxiety due to its adaptogenic properties.

Lion's Mane Mushroom Pros

  • Improves focus, memory, and concentration
  • Stimulates the growth of nerve cells in the brain
  • All-natural and readily available
  • Adaptogenic properties

Lion's Mane Mushroom Cons

  • The mushroom's potency can vary depending on its source/batch

Lion's Mane Mushroom in Summary

Lion's Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) is a natural herbal nootropic used for centuries to promote overall health and well-being. It contains compounds known as hericenones and erinacines, which are believed to stimulate the growth of nerve cells in the brain.

This can help improve cognitive function, including better memory recall and enhanced learning abilities. Additionally, Lion's Mane Mushroom can be beneficial in treating depression and anxiety due to its adaptogenic properties.

8. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, WS), an esteemed herb in the ancient Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine, is renowned as a Rasayana or tonic to treat diverse medical ailments. It is especially potent for its calming and nervine benefits.

This has led to numerous scientific studies investigating its adaptogenic and anti-stress properties. In experimental models, it was found to increase the stamina of rats during swimming endurance tests and prevent changes in adrenal gland ascorbic acid and cortisol levels caused by swimming stress.[8]

Pretreatment with Ashwagandha also showed significant protection against stress-induced gastric ulcers. According to Singh, Narendra et al., it was shown to have an anti-tumor effect on Chinese Hamster Ovary cell carcinoma and was effective against urethane-induced lung adenomas in mice.

In some cases of uterine fibroids and dermatosarcoma, long-term treatment with Ashwagandha was able to control the condition. It also has cognition-promoting effects, helping people with memory deficits and elderly people suffering from memory loss.

Furthermore, it can be used for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Alzheimer's due to its GABA mimetic effect, which promotes dendrite formation.

Ashwagandha also has anxiolytic effects, improves energy levels and mitochondrial health, acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, and can be used for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Ashwagandha Pros

  • Adaptogenic and anti-stress properties
  • Calming and nervine benefits
  • Increases stamina and protects against stress-induced gastric ulcers
  • Has an anti-tumor effect and is completely natural
  • Cognition-promoting effects

Ashwagandha Cons

  • As with most adaptogens, it can take weeks before the full effects are seen

Ashwagandha in Summary

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, WS) is an esteemed herb in the ancient Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine renowned for its adaptogenic and anti-stress properties.

It can treat numerous medical ailments, including neurodegenerative diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and depression.

What Are the Best Natural & Herbal Nootropics?

best natural herbal nootropics

According to my market research and personal experience with some of the nootropics on this list, the best natural and herbal nootropics are:

  1. Nooceptin
  2. Bacopa Monnieri
  3. Rhodiola Rosea
  4. Ginkgo Biloba
  5. L-Theanine
  6. Panax Ginseng
  7. Lion's Mane Mushroom
  8. Ashwagandha

Each herbal nootropic on my list is 100% natural and has a long history of safe use. They are backed by scientific research, so you can be sure they are effective and reliable.

If you want to experience the full benefits of these herbs and supplements, I would recommend taking them consistently for at least 4-8 weeks before seeing any noticeable results.

This is especially true for adaptogens like Ashwagandha and Rhodiola Rosea, as they take time to build up in your system before producing lasting effects.

How to Choose the Right Natural & Herbal Supplement?

The way you choose the right natural and herbal supplements for you depends on your individual needs. Some people may respond better to one supplement than another, depending on their body chemistry and the severity of their symptoms.

It is best to consult with a healthcare provider or a naturopathic doctor before taking any herbal supplements, as there can be potential interactions with medications or other supplements, such as SSRIs, birth control, and blood thinners.

In addition, be sure to check the product label and research the supplement thoroughly before taking it. Always buy your herbal supplements from a trusted source that uses high-quality ingredients.

This will ensure you get a safe and effective product backed by scientific evidence.

What Are the Benefits of Natural & Herbal Nootropics?

The benefits of natural and herbal nootropics are manifold.

They can help improve cognitive function, enhance memory, reduce stress and anxiety, increase energy levels, protect against age-related memory loss, improve mental clarity and focus, sharpen your senses, and promote overall health.

These supplements are also beneficial for those who want to maintain their mental performance as they age and for people with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Herbal nootropics are also a great choice for those who want to take a natural approach to improve their mental health without using synthetic chemicals or drugs.

Natural nootropics can help promote neuroplasticity, which is the process of forming new neural connections and strengthening existing ones in the brain. This helps with learning and memory formation and can even slow down age-related cognitive decline.

What Are the Side Effects of Natural & Herbal Nootropics?

Even though the nootropics on my list are natural, some users may still experience side effects from taking them.

Side effects can include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness and digestive issues

If you experience any adverse reaction while taking these supplements, it is best to discontinue use immediately and consult with your healthcare provider.

That said, most people tolerate natural and herbal nootropics very well when taken as directed.

Do Natural & Herbal Nootropics Really Work?

So do I personally think that natural and herbal nootropics work?

Yes, I do.

I have used them myself for many years with great success. My cognitive performance has improved, and I have also experienced increased focus, reduced stress and anxiety levels, and an overall better sense of mental clarity.

These supplements can help support healthy cognitive function when used as directed, so I highly recommend trying them if you want to improve your mental performance.

If you're brand new to the world of nootropics, I highly recommend looking into nootropic blends like Nooceptin. These blends are formulated with the right combination of natural herbs and nootropic ingredients to help you reach your desired state of mental clarity.

My Final Thoughts

What do we know about natural and herbal nootropics?

We know that they can be beneficial for improving cognitive performance, enhancing memory, reducing stress and anxiety, protecting against age-related mental decline, promoting overall health, and more.

Natural and herbal nootropics are also generally well tolerated with few side effects when taken as directed.

In my opinion, they are a great option for those who want to improve their mental performance without using synthetic chemicals or drugs.

If you decide to try them, just remember to consult your healthcare provider and thoroughly research the supplement before taking it.

Until next time, stay safe and stay smart,

John Bartholdi

References
  1. Phrompittayarat, Watoo et al. β€œStability studies of saponins in Bacopa monnieri dried ethanolic extracts.” Planta medica vol. 74,14 (2008): 1756-63. doi:10.1055/s-0028-1088311 β†‘
  2. Aguiar, Sebastian, and Thomas Borowski. β€œNeuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri.” Rejuvenation research vol. 16,4 (2013): 313-26. doi:10.1089/rej.2013.1431 β†‘
  3. Lu, Yao et al. β€œEffects of Rhodiola Rosea Supplementation on Exercise and Sport: A Systematic Review.” Frontiers in nutrition vol. 9 856287. 7 Apr. 2022, doi:10.3389/fnut.2022.856287 β†‘
  4. Darbinyan, V., Kteyan, A., Panossian, A., et al. β€œRhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue - a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty.” Phytomedicine vol. 7,5 (2000): 365-71. doi:10.1016/s0944-7113(00)80078-1 β†‘
  5. Tan, Meng-Shan et al. β€œEfficacy and adverse effects of ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD vol. 43,2 (2015): 589-603. doi:10.3233/JAD-140837 β†‘
  6. Nobre, Anna C et al. β€œL-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state.” Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition vol. 17,S1 (2008): 167-8. β†‘
  7. Lee, Chang Ho, and Jong-Hoon Kim. β€œA review on the medicinal potentials of ginseng and ginsenosides on cardiovascular diseases.” Journal of ginseng research vol. 38,3 (2014): 161-6. doi:10.1016/j.jgr.2014.03.001 β†‘
  8. Singh, Narendra et al. β€œAn overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda.” African journal of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicines : AJTCAM vol. 8,5 Suppl (2011): 208-13. doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.9 β†‘