In the movie Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper, a struggling and broke writer discovers a pill that enables him to access and use 100% of his cognitive abilities. He becomes a master of his own world and a financial wizard, creating massive success using very few resources.
How awesome would it be if such a pill existed?
Well, it does….kind of. The world of nootropics is full of all types of supplements, herbs, and other substances that improve cognitive function, memory, creativity, and motivation. In what is now a $1 Billion industry, nootropics have been integrated into a variety of products. The legitimacy of the touted benefits vary, so it is important to know the facts or else you can run the risk of flushing your hard-earned cash down the toilet in an attempt to achieve peak performance for your mind.
Note: Technically, prescribed substances like Adderall and Modafinil are nootropics. So is nicotine, which surprisingly has positive cognitive benefits such as increased fine motor control, alerting and orienting attention, and working memory. (Obviously, smoking tobacco also carries significant negative effects as well). However, there is a reason prescriptions are required because of potential addictive properties as well as negative side effects. This post is all about nootropics that are found over the counter.
Here is the list of the most effective nootropics, both in their positive effects on cognitive performance as well as cost:
Rhodiola Rosea - this natural nootropic and adaptogen (an herbal medicine) fights fatigue, improves concentration, lowers stress, and betters your mood.
Schisandra - the berries from this flowering, Chinese plant have been used as folk medicine for thousands of years. In short, it raises dopamine levels and so is an effective treatment for depression or lack of motivation.
Ashwagandha - Known as “Indian Ginseng”, this herb is considered an adaptogen like Rhodiola, and is famous for its facilitation for learning and memory along with stress relief.
Melatonin - Have trouble sleeping? Before you skip down to the doctor and make a case for Ambien, or worse: drink a “night cap” to help fall asleep, try taking melatonin. The body naturally produces melatonin in order to enter sleep, so supplementing can help improve disrupted sleep patterns.
Chamomile - Latin for “Earth apple”, chamomile refers to flowers in the daisy family, which have been used in herbal medicines to treat hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, insomnia, ulcers, and hemorrhoids.
Coconut Oil - From “Bulletproof” coffee to skin creams, coconut oil has recently become a very popular oil in mainstream products. It is very high in saturated fat, and so is actually something to be careful of consuming regularly in large quantities. However, what’s not commonly known is that the saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which is processed differently than how the body handles saturated fat from dairy or meat in that the calories from coconut oil are mostly burned off. The oil can raise both HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol if eaten in large amounts, but also contains antioxidants. Also, the fatty acids in coconut oil can improve memory in Alzheimer’s patients.
Caffeine - Ah, good old caffeine! When it comes to a cost and cognitive effect standpoint, it is king. Coffee, tea, and energy drinks all rely on caffeine to deliver the most noticeable and desirable effects: improved reaction time, better alertness under adverse (i.e. tired) conditions, reduced anxiety (in low doses), and enhanced cognitive functions.
Alpha-GPC - this is a relatively new, yet promising supplement that is similar to arginine in its temporarily increased growth hormone production effect.
Gingko biloba - is perhaps the oldest of all nootropic compounds listed here, deriving from a species of tree dating back 270 million years in China. While studies have yet to prove cognitive benefits in healthy adults, there is some evidence for gingko to lessen the symptoms of dementia. The proven health benefits lie in its ability to treat high blood pressure, tinnitus, and altitude sickness. For athletes training at high altitudes, this can be a great nootropic.
Ginseng - There are many types of this root herb out there: American, Siberian, Chinese, Korean, Red, Indian, and Brazilian. While each strain has its unique benefits, all ginseng has one thing in common: it is an effective metabolic regularly that combats stress, improves sexual performance in men, and improves cellular health.
Forskolin- This plant derivative played a valuable role in Indian herbal medicine for thousands of years. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agent. It stimulates weight loss and increases memory formation and retention.
Acetyl L Carnitine - This amino acid is naturally occurring in the body, and assists in producing energy. It is used to treat a wide variety of mental disorders, including Alzheimer’s, depression, poor circulation in the brain, cataracts, and more.
Theobromine- You don’t know it, but you’ve probably eaten a fair amount of theobromine in your lifetime. Why? It’s found in chocolate! Theobromine is a vasodilator, which means it is a blood vessel widener, which can assist in circulatory issues but also, for an athlete, can yield a greater pump in the gym.
Vinpocetine- Unlike other supplements on this list, vinpocetine is synthetic. It improves blood flow to the brain, essentially, and a variety of associated cognitive benefits occur such as enhancing memory.
Bacopa- Like forskolin, bacopa is a plant that has been used in traditional Indian medicine for ages. It improves memory, fights anxiety, ADHD, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and as a tonic to fight stress.
The Bottom Line:
You’ll find these ingredients in SPEAR Performance’s Clarifeine & NeuroVolt, which is WAY more cost effective, and efficient, than purchasing all of these supplements individually. Not to mention, who wants to take dozens of pills every day? Don’t deny your brain the same level of peak performance that you work so hard to have for your body.