How Nootropics Can Enhance Brain Function (and are they vegan?)


How Nootropics Can Enhance Brain Function (and are they vegan?)


Seen Limitless?

What if I told you that the film was based on reality? That you could unlock extra brainpower and enhance your mental performance using natural vegan ingredients?

Well, smart drugs really do exist and they can enhance your intelligence, memory, focus, motivation, productivity, and creativity!

In fact, humans have been using some of these plants, herbs, and mushrooms to improve cognitive function for thousands of years.

In today’s blog, I’ll be taking a closer look at the science behind these mind-altering drugs, the difference between synthetics and natural nootropics, how to stack them to achieve desired outcomes, and the best vegan nootropics brand so you can try them for yourself!

Let’s dive in.

Disclaimer: this article is intended for informational purposes only. Nootropics are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. They should not be used as a substitute for healthy habits…so get back into the gym and eat that salad, go on!

What are nootropics?

You may not know it yet, but you probably already take a nootropic every day…in the form of caffeine.

A nootropic is any substance that is capable of altering, enhancing, or augmenting cognitive function without causing harm (e.g. sedative, stimulant, or toxic effects). Nootropics can be used to boost memory, creativity, productivity, and other executive brain functions.

The effects are usually caused by stimulation or inhibition of certain neurotransmitters, improved blood flow, increased energy production, and sometimes even brain cell plasticity.

Since natural nootropics are derived from plants and mushrooms, they are classed as dietary supplements. Whereas, synthetic nootropics are usually provided as prescription medication. But more on their differences below…

The word ‘nootropic’ is derived from the Greek ‘nous trepein’ meaning mind bend.

Are nootropics safe?

The definition of nootropic is a substance that can enhance brain function without causing harm. So yes, they are safe to use. Nevertheless, as with any substance, natural or synthetic, there’s always a possibility that it can be misused or cause unwanted side effects.

The nootropics we describe later in this article come from common natural sources, which have been used safely by humans for centuries.

By performing due diligence (doing your research, checking with your doctor, ensuring you don’t have any allergies, etc.) and then starting with small doses, you’ll be able to mitigate or completely prevent any risks.

Do nootropics work?

While nootropics won’t be giving you any superhuman capabilities any time soon, there have been a number of scientifically-backed benefits. One notable outcome of taking nootropics is the reduction of cognitive decline caused by ageing.

Here’s a review of some of the latest science surrounding natural nootropics.

Furthermore, although modern scientific research may be lacking for some nootropics, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that certain ingredients can be used to our advantage. For example, ashwagandha has been used for centuries to improve thinking ability and to cope with stress.

CBD is another great example of a natural compound that is only just receiving scientific attention despite its promising history with cultures all over the world. Just because something hasn’t been researched thoroughly yet doesn’t make it null and void. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that there are approx. 21,000 plant species with the potential for being used as medicinal plants.

And, as interest in nootropics grows, so does the funding designated to these intriguing compounds. So watch this space for more science coming your way!

There’s also a lot to be said for the placebo effect

Synthetic vs. natural

Synthetic nootropics are compounds made in the lab, designed to target specific cognitive processes. Although these are man-made, they are sometimes made to resemble biological components in order to mimic natural processes.

Natural nootropics come directly from nature, such as herbs, botanicals, and mushrooms! They’re sometimes slower-acting than synthetic (not in the case of caffeine) but also provide benefits in the form of supporting nutrients and adaptogens.

What’s more, natural nootropics often provide a more rounded effect. For example, when you drink a cup of tea, the caffeine can speed up your thought processing and the L-theanine acts as an adaptogen to counteract the anxiety. It might be why I can drink more than 2 cups of tea a day but any more than 1 coffee turns me into a jittering mess.

The potential synergies formed by combining natural nootropics and adaptogens is an intriguing new area of science and one that is growing fast…

What are adaptogens?

Many nootropics also act as adaptogens, which is why these terms are often used interchangeably. There are many crossovers.

However, the key difference is that whilst nootropics enhance cognitive functioning, adaptogens help the body and mind to deal with stress and restore ‘normal’ cognitive functioning. Similarly to nootropics, to be classed as an adaptogen, these compounds should not have toxic effects.

In other words, nootropics enhance brain health and performance whereas adaptogens reduce mental and physical stress.

What is a nootropic stack?

Nootropic stacks, or synergistic pairings, are a combination of 2 or more nootropics to achieve desired results. For example:

  • To combine their efforts to produce a single effect, such as enhancing concentration.
  • To produce multiple effects, such as boosting memory, increasing energy, and reducing stress.
  • To achieve single or multiple results whilst reducing/eliminating negative side effects, such as improving attention after taking caffeine whilst preventing anxiety. In other words, like drinking a calm-inducing cup of coffee.

Adaptogens that reduce stress are often combined with mind-enhancing nootropics to create a more rounded and sustainable effect on your mental and physical performance.

For more information on how to stack nootropics, take a look at this beginner’s guide by Nootropics Expert.

If you’re interested in psychedelics, microdosing, and neurogenesis, then I recommend doing some more research on Paul Stamet’s Epigenetic Neurogenesis Stack. This is a really fascinating branch of science!

Are nootropics vegan?

So far, all of the natural nootropics I have come across are from plant-based sources, which means they’re vegan-friendly. However, watch out for synthetics or added ingredients, since these could either be tested on animals, derived from animal products, or use animal-based ingredients.

What are the most effective nootropics and adaptogens?

Well, that depends on the results you desire. Here are some of the most well-researched and effective nootropics and adaptogens, alongside their effects:

  1. Rhodiola rosea – a herb with adaptogenic roots that reduce stress and mitigate burnout.
  2. Lion’s mane – a delicious mushroom that stimulates the growth and regeneration of brain cells, boosting cognitive function and supporting learning and memory.
  3. Caffeine – a psychoactive substance that blocks adenosine receptors, increasing your alertness and attention.
  4. L-theanine – a naturally occurring amino acid shown to have a calming effect whilst stimulating creativity.
  5. Bacopa monnieri – an ancient herb used in Ayurvedic medicine demonstrated to increase thought processing and enhance memory.

What is the best nootropic brand?

As a huge lover of coffee (and because I’m a mycologist with a lion’s mane obsession), I have to say that London Nootropics is the best brand I’ve tried so far.

The adaptogenic coffee blends not only use synergistic pairings to increase the effectiveness of their products, but they also taste delicious! They use premium, natural and 100% vegan ingredients, which are also free from preservatives and artificial sweeteners.

London Nootropics arrive in a letterbox-friendly cardboard box that’s elegant and sturdy enough to re-purpose or simply recycle. And the handy travel-sized sachets are perfect for my digital nomad lifestyle.

In addition to being a big fan of their Grind blend (because it contains lion’s mane), I also LOVE their Mojo blend for its smooth and balanced flavour…🤤 I’m drooling just thinking about it. For an extra luxurious cup of Mojo, I recommend stirring it into a mug of hot oat milk!

Get London Nootropics

Make sure you use the discount code ‘vegansisters’ for 10% off sitewide!

Alice Johnson

Alice Johnson

Writer, scientist, amateur mycologist | I write stuff for a living. Mainly about vegan things, science, fungi, and travel. Find out more at Alice's Cerebrum

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