The field of nootropics continues to be one of the most exciting and fastest-growing areas of scientific discovery, with each year expanding the potential for optimizing the human brain and body.
Here’s a look at some of the best nootropics of 2018.
Mind Lab Pro
This is the best preformulated all-natural nootropic stack, designed for total brain optimization, that is currently available on the market.
Mind Lab Pro contains 11 nootropics working via 6 bio-pathways to optimize a wide array of cognitive functions with the aim to improve memory, mental performance, mood, and overall brain health. The stack components include Lion’s Mane, citicoline, bacopa monnieri, L-theanine, and more, in a convenient capsule form.
If you’re looking for the convenience of an effective “ready to go” preformulated stack that is designed by experts, look no further, Mind Lab Pro is our recommendation.
Read our Mind Lab Pro review for a detailed overview.
Adrafinil is a nootropic that enhances mood and cognition as it promotes wakefulness. Adrafinil is a truly unique stimulant that temporarily banishes fatigue without creating hyperactivity.
Originally developed as a sleep disorder treatment, its effectiveness as a stimulant and its proven nootropic benefits are making it increasingly popular with students, shift workers, and others who are interested in extending alertness while operating at peak cognitive performance.
Unlike amphetamine, caffeine, and other traditional stimulants that work by increasing overall psychomotor activity, adrafinil targets specific areas of the brain to selectively increase the availability of several crucial brain chemicals. Adrafinil works more gradually, provides a “smoother” energy, and wears off more gently than other stimulants, eliminating much of the euphoria or “rush” and rebound exhaustion “crash” typical of amphetamines.
Adrafinil is metabolized in the liver and transformed to the active metabolite Modafinil, which works in the hypothalamus and amygdala to increase the availability of hypocretin, histamines, glutamate, dopamine, and other brain chemicals associated with alertness, arousal, and cognitive function. Decades of study have shown that adrafinil is safe, well-tolerated, and has a very minimal risk of addiction when taken in moderate doses over brief periods.
Modafinil is now marketed as a separate drug and is available by prescription only in the US, Canada, and most other nations. Adrafinil remains unregulated and is sold without prescription as a nootropic or dietary supplement.
If maximizing both your energy levels and your cognitive capabilities are important to you, adrafinil could be a nootropic worth considering
Caffeine + L-Theanine
This combination of two naturally occurring supplements is a perfect example of the old adage about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts; caffeine and L-theanine are both common, familiar substances that each deliver a moderate cognitive boost on their own. But together they’re a nootropic powerhouse that boosts energy and alertness while reducing anxiety and increasing tolerance to stress.
Caffeine and L-theanine are both components of tea, and they’re undoubtedly the main reasons that tea tops the list of the world’s most popular beverages. Caffeine is a simple but effective stimulant that’s found in many beverages, including coffee and soda, but tea alone naturally combines caffeine with the calming, relaxing qualities of L-theanine. When taken in the form of tea, the caffeine + L-theanine combo is a mild and pleasant pick-me-up, but when taken in higher doses as a nootropic, it’s an effective brain-state modulator that improves energy, alertness, and mood while increasing feelings of calm well-being.
The combo works so well because of the synergy of the components. Caffeine, the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug, is a central nervous system stimulant that increases energy metabolism in the brain, increasing alertness but potentially causing anxiety and jitteriness. L-Theanine is a non-dietary amino acid that is known to increase levels of GABA, a brain chemical that has a distinct calming and relaxing effect. Research has shown that the two substances taken in combination provide cognitive benefits that neither alone offers.
Therapeutic doses of this powerful combo generally start at 50 mg caffeine and 100 mg L-Theanine, which explains why simply drinking tea doesn’t deliver with the same impact as nootropic caffeine + L-theanine in supplement form. The quantity of each component per cup of tea varies greatly depending on the type of tea used and how it was brewed, and consuming enough high-quality tea to get L-theanine in psychoactive amounts would be a time-consuming, expensive, and uncertain means of realizing significant cognitive benefits.
Fortunately, caffeine + L-theanine is also available in premeasured capsules, delivering the right dosages in the right ratio. Sometimes referred to as “the people’s stack” because of its low price and near-universal availability, this combination is safe, effective, very well tolerated, and is considered as an excellent introduction to the effectiveness of nootropics.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane Mushroom or Hericium Erinaceus, also known as Yamabushitake, Monkey’s Head, and Satyr’s Beard, is an ancient and venerable edible mushroom that is currently used in Asian cuisine and for centuries was an important traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of a variety of ailments. But this fungus is far more than a delicious dish or an interesting relic of the past; recent clinical trials suggest that the Lion’s Mane Mushroom has significant neuroprotective qualities, and is effective in the treatment of mild cognitive impairment.
The considerable nootropic capabilities of Lion’s Mane have been largely linked to the discovery of its ability to promote Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) production, a protein that is crucial for the survival and function of nerve cells. Lion’s Mane increases the amount of NGF in the brain, which enhances cognition by reducing inflammation, encouraging neural growth, and improving overall brain health.
Research shows that Lion’s Mane Mushroom reduces neurodegeneration and encourages neural regeneration, making it a valuable adjunct treatment in cases of nerve damage and raising the possibility of its viability as a treatment for neurogenerative ailments like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. It is thought to act by stimulating the production of Nerve Growth Factor, molecules which are known to encourage the spontaneous repair of damaged neurons.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom is also thought to be a mood booster that is effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety. Though the exact mechanism of this action is not entirely understood, it is believed to be separate from the production of NGF.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom is both affordable and widely available in a variety of formats, from pills to powders. If you’d like to bolster your mood and cognitive capabilities while protecting your brain, you may be one of the many users who discover a new interest in this very old nootropic.
Coluracetam is a lesser-known member of the racetam family of nootropics, smart drugs that act largely by increasing the availability of the “learning neurotransmitter,” acetylcholine. It is a derivative of piracetam, but unlike other racetams that use up the brain’s supply of choline as they improve cognitive capabilities, coluracetam works more indirectly, mainly by increasing the amount of choline available for the brain to work with.
Coluracetam has been shown to improve High-Affinity Choline Uptake in the brain, effectively enhancing choline synthesis. A sufficiency of choline for conversion to acetylcholine is essential to cognition, and animal studies have shown that a single dose of coluracetam improved learning impairment in brains that were exposed to neurotoxins.
While research on coluracetam is ongoing, it shows tremendous promise as a long-term cognitive enhancer, with potential as a treatment for depressive disorder, neurodegenerative diseases, and even as a brain health protectant. At present, its nootropic capabilities are largely undocumented by research, but many users report that it has a positive impact on a variety of cognitive abilities, from memory to learning capacity, and there is anecdotal support for the idea that coluracetam brightens mood, reduces anxiety, and promotes feelings of calmness.
Though coluracetam is a relatively new discovery and much remains to be learned about its effects and mechanisms of action, it is generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated when taken responsibly in moderate dosages.
If you’re looking for something new and innovative to add to your nootropic regimen, coluracetam could be just what’s needed to give your stack the boost you’re looking for.
Planning to start a new supplementation regimen? See our medical disclaimer.