Do you want to improve your cognitive function, or simply ensure that it remains intact as you age? If so, you need to know about nootropics. The word “nootropic” was coined in 1972 by Corneliu E. Giurgea, a Romanian psychologist and chemist. The term has evolved to describe an expansive collection of drugs, supplements, and other substances used to improve memory, creativity, motivation, and other cognitive functions.

If you are familiar with nootropics, your first association with the word is likely to be laboratory-synthesized supplements. Those only rose to prominence over the course of the last six decades, however. There’s a whole world of natural nootropics made from plants and herbs that people have been using for centuries to enhance their brains. Since the beginning of recorded history, cultures around the world have set down accounts of preparations relied upon to improve memory, open the mind, prevent decline, and more.

The Deep Roots of Natural Nootropics

Many of the substances now identified as natural nootropics, like ginkgo biloba, bacopa monnieri, and Lion’s Mane mushroom, have roots in ancient medical traditions established hundreds of years ago in Asia, North and South America, and Europe. Increasing numbers of clinical studies offer concrete data on how these natural nootropics affect the health and function of your brain. Here’s a quick rundown of the effects of six of the best all-natural brain boosters out there.

  1. Bacopa monnieri: this herb can help you learn new information more rapidly and retain it more completely. It also reduces stress levels and mood swings, helps to improve memory and focus, and flushes out free radicals.
  2. Panax ginseng: a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), panax ginseng can help improve short- and long-term memory, attention span, and overall cognitive performance. Its effects on cognition seem to be related to its ability to alleviate fatigue.
  3. Snow fungus mushroom: this nearly translucent mushroom is a potent immune system stimulant. It also increases superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity in the brain, improves recall, and even helps correct memory impairment.
  4. Lion’s Mane mushroom: thanks to its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, this mushroom offers a wealth of valuable benefits, including protection against neurodegeneration associated with aging and the development of toxic amyloid beta peptide plaques. It can also improve your ability to understand and communicate complex concepts.
  5. Reishi mushroom: extensive testing revealed that reishi contains hundreds of biologically active compounds. Its benefits include stimulating the production of nerve growth factor, molecules that nurture and protect your brain cells.
  6. Ginkgo biloba: one of the most exciting effects of ginkgo biloba is its ability to increase cerebral blood flow, the foundation of healthy mental function. It also helps to improve memory, ease social anxiety, regulate moods, and protect against neuronal damage.

Why You Should Try Supplement Stacking

The documented benefits of these substances have remained remarkably consistent over the centuries since they first came into use. The main difference between the preparations used in ancient times and the supplements we take today comes down to the method of delivery. These powerful natural remedies can now be purchased in the form of pills or powders with standardized levels of active ingredients, rather than in the form of teas and tinctures.

The greater level of precision and control available to us today is especially important when it comes to combining—or “stacking”—these supplements. The practice some now call “stacking”—meaning taking a targeted combination of two or more supplements that work together synergistically—is actually a time-honored treatment approach. Practitioners of many ancient medical disciplines recognized that the benefits of various plants and herbs can be magnified when taken together.

For instance, all six of the supplements discussed above can enhance your cognitive function when taken on their own. When taken in combination with each other, however, a synergistic effect ensues that allows you to truly maximize the benefits of the different supplements. The resulting changes to your brain chemistry are more profound than those generated by any of the individual supplements on their own.

All the Synergy, None of the Guesswork 

The number of possible supplement “stacks” you could create is dizzying, and many intrepid individuals post detailed accounts of their experiences testing out various combinations. You can also easily access expert advice on the best stacks to take to address various concerns. For instance, Ben Greenfield, a nutrition and fitness expert, recommends combining ginkgo biloba, bacopa monnieri, and lion’s mane to boost focus, memory, and learning. Greenfield also notes that this combination can help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Perhaps the most important element of supplement stacking, and one that rarely gets the attention it deserves, is determining the correct dosage of each component. As Greenfield explains, “putting together the same dosage of each component that you would take individually is not typically a wise choice due to the way that each supplement blends together.” He also notes that establishing whether you’ve picked the correct dosage can take up to 12 weeks, plus an additional 12 weeks after that any time you adjust the ratios. Creating your own supplement stack is, as he puts it, “a game of patience.”

Rather than purchasing separate supplements, researching recommended dosages, and going through an extensive process of tweaking various combinations, you may prefer to purchase supplements with predetermined ratios of various natural compounds. A well-designed combination supplement takes all the guesswork out of the equation, and it can be more cost-effective, too. To enrich your cognitive function and ensure your brain remains sharp for years to come, click here for insider access to the best brain-boosting nutrition supplement available.