Nootropics have the power to improve our ability to focus, strengthen our memory, and boost our overall brainpower.
When it comes to nootropics, they can essentially be divided into two distinct categories: natural nootropics and synthetic nootropics. So, which is better? We’ll delve into exactly what defines a natural from a synthetic nootropic and the benefits and downsides of each.
Synthetic nootropics are formulated in a lab. They’re not found in nature however, some types of synthetic nootropics mimic components naturally found in the body, plants, and herbs.
Synthetic nootropics include pills, capsules, liquids, and powders that are categorized by regulating authorities as drugs or medicines.
In order to be available for purchase or prescription, synthetic nootropics need to undergo extensive trials and demonstrate effectiveness and safety.
In some cases, synthetic nootropics are categorized as supplements rather than medicines, which contain brain health-related components that complement a healthy diet.
Synthetic nootropics include:
- Synthetic dopaminergics
- Synthetic stimulants
- Some vitamins and minerals
Natural nootropics are herbs, botanicals, or food products that come from nature and can help improve brain activity. They include whole plants, parts of plants or other edible substances such as oils.
Natural nootropics are almost always considered supplements.
There are two main categories of natural nootropics: foods and botanicals (herbs).
- Foods: certain foods are the “forgotten nootropics”. Some foods contain powerful nootropic components and generally don’t undergo extraction or other processing.
- Herbs and botanicals: botanicals are plants or parts of plants, and they were often used as medicine in traditional health systems. Herbs usually refer to the green parts of plants and are often identified by their aromatic properties.
Foods, herbs, and botanicals can be found in their whole, natural form, or as pills, capsules, liquids, or powders. If they’re not found in their whole form, herbs, botanicals, and nootropic foods generally undergo drying, evaporation, or extraction to make it easier to ingest the active ingredient.
Natural nootropics are very diverse and may use many different ingredients which form a nootropic ‘stack’ when combined. (Stack is just a word for a mix of ingredients, natural or pharmaceutical, intended to work together to produce a stronger nootropic effect).
Some examples of natural nootropics include:
- Coffee and tea with caffeine
- Coconut oil
- Bacopa Monnieri
- Panax ginseng
- Lion’s mane
- Ginkgo Biloba
Benefits of Natural Nootropics
Whole foods, herbs, and botanicals that are known to have nootropic compounds contain several other vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are beneficial for your health and nutrition.
The primary benefit associated with natural nootropics is they can provide strong nootropic effects without the need to use pharmaceuticals. Natural nootropic pills can help concentration, motivation, and many other important aspects of cognition.
Natural nootropics help concentration and mental performance without the same kinds of risks while remaining very effective. This is thanks to their reliance on more natural substances, which means they work synergistically with your body.
In addition, many natural nootropics, or ingredients they contain, have been used for hundreds of years. For example, caffeine is used in some natural nootropic pills to help concentration and has been used to enhance cognition since the 15th century.
Herbs and botanicals that are categorized as nootropics are often also categorized as adaptogens. Adaptogens are components in some plants that help the body easily deal with stress in different parts of the body. In addition to helping the body cope with and restore itself after neurodegenerative cognitive impairment, herbs and botanicals can also help the body fight against the following conditions:
- Chronic inflammation
- Metabolic disorders
- Age-related diseases
- Stress-induced fatigue
Allow for longer-term use
Natural nootropics generally have fewer perceptible negative effects in comparison with smart drugs, in that they generally do not cause restlessness or over-activity as can happen often with synthetic nootropics.
Natural nootropics are thus more useful as long-term pills to help concentration, as they can increase overall productivity, motivation, and focus without the drawbacks commonly associated with pharmaceutical smart drugs.
Natural nootropics are a very effective way to get a boost to your brain, without the risks associated with synthetic nootropics. Natural nootropics are often as effective, or more effective, than pharmaceutical smart drugs, as natural nootropics can enhance cognition while avoiding side effects like restlessness or jitters.
In addition to this, natural nootropics are much safer and more likely to be legal than pharmaceutical nootropics and can have highly useful effects such as improving performance under pressure.