What exactly is a nootropic and how do they work? Nootropics are cognitive enhancers. They are substances that improve concentration, attention, energy, alertness and memory via multiple mechanisms. This overall improves brain function and assists in improving mental stamina and knowledge uptake. Read on to see how we can enhance your cognition with nootropics.
Nootropics work via multiple mechanisms, including:
- Improving circulation and blood flow to the brain. This helps to deliver nutrients and oxygen to help the brain work optimally, whilst removing wastes and other substances.
- They help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain and body to reduce tissue damage.
- They support in enhancing neurotransmitter levels. Neurotransmitters are then able to exert their effects in supporting concentration and attention span, whilst reducing anxiety and stress.
- Nootropics support neuronal growth and development of the neurons to enhance brain plasticity and new connections.
There are many different herbs that act as nootropics. Read on below to see how a few of them work in the brain.
- Bacopa is a brain tonic which also acts to enhance memory development and learning
- This herb effectively reduces anxiety via regulating your neurotransmitter levels to reduce stress and tension
- It repairs damaged neurons by enhancing kinase activity, neuronal synthesis, restoration of synaptic activity and nerve impulse transmission
- Bacopa supports mitochondrial function to enhance energy and assists in reducing inflammation
- Ginkgo reduces memory loss via improving blood circulation, resulting in an increased supply of oxygen, nutrients and glucose to the brain
- Ginkgo is an antioxidant, which means it helps to reduce and eliminate free radicals to prevent damage to neurons and brain tissue
- It offers neuroprotection to reduce neuronal damage and enhance the connections between neurons
- Gingko has been found to be beneficial in preventing dementia, especially via its actions in reducing inflammation and improving tissue perfusion
- Alike to other ginsengs, Korean Ginseng boosts energy levels and is tonifying to assist in supporting concentration and focus
- It is an anti-ageing and adaptogenic herb, meaning it increases our resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue by modulating immune function and the stress response (the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal-axis)
- Ginseng provides protection against neurodegeneration which is the loss of the function of neurons and a common presenting feature in dementia and cognitive loss
- It enhances choline uptake which is an important nutrient needed for learning and memory
- Schisandra acts as an adaptogen to assist in enhancing your resilience, and ability to manage stress.
- It increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain, which is often low in depression and bipolar disorder. BDNF reduces neuron damage, supports energy, learning, and improves memory. Schisandra increases BDNF to support these processes.
- Schisandra enhances mood and acts as an antioxidant to reduce inflammation in the brain
- It increases neuronal survival and reduces cell apoptosis and cell damage
- It assists in regulating the HPA-axis and neurotransmitter production
- Rhodiola is an adaptogen which can assist in improving stress management and coping, and reduces the impacts of stress on the body
- It supports energy production and reduces inflammation to improve focus and brain function
- This herb offers protection to neurons and allows the growth of new neurons, enhancing the connections made
- Rhodiola increases neurotransmitter levels including dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, which all have important roles in memory, mood and learning
- Rhodiola stimulates acetylcholine receptor function to enhance cognition
- Rosemary is memory boosting via its effects on reducing inflammation and free radical damage to prevent cell damage
- It assists in modulating the stress response and HPA-axis, whilst increasing neurotransmitter levels such as acetylcholine and dopamine to support learning
- It may reduce neuron death and neuroinflammation, whilst supporting circulation to the brain
- Rosemary reduces feelings of confusion, fatigue and anxiety to enhance mental energy and attentiveness
Wanting to boost your brain function and improve your attention span and focus? Book in a naturopathic consult today with Monique or Candace to see if these herbs can help you.